John Simmons was born in Leigh, Kent, England in early 1872, later being baptised on 10 March that same year.
He was the son of George Simmons (b. 1835 in Kent) and Mary Ann Evans (b. 1833 in Surrey) who had married in 1857. One of eight children, his siblings were: Emily (b. 1858), Alice Ann (b. 1859), Eliza (b. 1862), Florence (b. 1863), Mary Ann (b. 1866), Joseph (b. 1869) and Fanny Olive (b. 1878).
John first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family were living at an unspecified address in Leigh and his father was described as a cricket ball maker, the family later showing up on the 1891 through 1911 census returns living at The Green in Leigh. John would follow his father into the cricket ball making trade, working for Messrs Duke & Son of Penshurst, Kent and he would be described as an unmarried cricket ball maker on the 1911 census.
Simmons boarded the Titanic in Southampton on 10 April 1912 as a third class passenger (ticket number 392082, which cost £8, 1s), describing himself as an unmarried general labourer. His exact destination is not known but contemporary press reports state that he was travelling to the USA to join an uncle who was a well-to-do farmer.
John Simmons was lost in the sinking and his body was not among the recovered.
LOCAL RESIDENT OF THE TITANIC--Amongst the steerage passengers on board the ill-fated Titanic was Mr John Simmons, a native of this village, son of Mr George Simmons, residing on the Green, near Old Oak TRree. Mr Simmons was formerly in the employ of Messrs Duke and Sons, cricket ball makers, and was leaving home to join his uncle, a well-to-do farmer, in the United States. It is greatly to be feared he is amongst the missing, and much sympathy is felt for his aged parents, who naturally are in great distress of mind. Mr Simmons was a member of the Leicester Lodge of Oddfellows, M.U., Penshurst. - Kent & Sussex Courier, 19 April 1912)
Another contemporary article from an unidentified newspaper makes some dubious claims:
... Mr John Simmons from the village of Leigh, near Tonbridge was also on the Titanic. Formerly a cricket ball maker with Messrs Duke and Son of Penshurst, Mr Simmons was making his way to America with Mrs Helen Toomey from Tonbridge who had secured a new position with the Bishop of Indianapolis...
Ellen Toomey was a passenger on Titanic and was of Irish origin and she was indeed bound for Indianapolis, albeit travelling in second class. The link between Simmons and Toomey has not been established.
Both his parents continued to live in Leigh; his father died in 1920 and his mother the following year. They are buried in Leigh Churchyard and John is remembered on their headstone:
In Loving Memory Of
Died 31st October 1920 Aged 87
Mary Ann Simmons
Died 7th March 1921 Aged 88
Jack, Son of the above
Drowned on the Titanic