Encyclopedia Titanica

John Gill

Mr John Gill was born in Congresbury, Somerset, England around early 1888.1 His parents were Richard (1865-1924), a coal merchant's carter born in 1865 in Somerset, and Annie, née Sampson; she was c. 1864 in Somerset and was christened 4 January 1865 at St. Peter’s Church in Bishopsworth, Somerset. Before she married John’s father, she had been a general servant and lived in Bedminster.

John Gill’s parents married 18 May 1886 at St. John’s Church in Bedminster, Somerset, in the Church of England tradition. They produced two children; Henry (Henry Joseph R., born late 1886?), and John, b. 1888.

Tragedy struck in 1890 in the summer of 1890 when Annie died, aged only 25.

In 1891, John, his father and brother were living with his grandparents, James and Jane Gill in Congresbury, Somerset. For some reason, the two young boys were listed as the sons of the elderly couple.

His father married Minnie Louisa Pitts (1866-1943)  29 December 1893 at the church of St. Philip and St. Jacob in Bristol, England. His new wife, and subsequently Henry’s and John’s stepmother, was born in the summer of 1866 at Weston-Super-Mare in the Axbridge district of Somerset.

Richard and his new wife went on to have some children, including James, b. 1895, Charles, b. 1901, Evelyn, b. 1907, and Percy Nunny, b. 1 February 1911.

In 1901, John lived in Congresbury with his parents and brothers Henry, 15, and Willie, 6. There were also two boarders living with them.

He had left Southampton, England, 9 February 1907 as a third class passenger on the steamship St. Louis and came to New York 18 February 1907. He was noted as an unmarried farm labourer aged 19. His last place of permanent residence was his native Congresbury, England, and his destination was Stoughton, Michigan. He was 5’6’’ tall, had brown hair and brown eyes.

In 1910, he lived in Rutland Township, Dane County, Wisconsin, and was noted as an unmarried farm labourer ’working out,’ aged 22.

He returned to England at some point in late 1910 or in 1911.

John married Sarah Elizabeth Wilton (née Hodder) on 14 February 1912 at the church of St. John the Evangelist, Clevedon. Sarah was born in 1890 in Portishead, Somerset, the daughter of Frederick William Hodder, a postal worker, and his wife Emma, née Stambury. The couple later lived at the home of his parents-in-law at 3 Griffin Road, Clevedon, Bristol and John worked as a chauffeur to Rev. C. R. Braithwaite, vicar of Hewish St. Ann, near Puxton.

John Gill boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 233866 which cost £13 and purchased from Cook & Son in Bristol). His exact destination in the USA remains unknown, but it is thought he was going there to set up a new home for himself and his wife; perhaps he was going back to Wisconsin. Before going to the USA on the Titanic,

John Gill died in the sinking and his body was subsequently recovered from the sea by the MacKay Bennett (#155) on 23 April. He was buried at sea the following day:


CLOTHING - Dark clothes; pajamas underneath.

EFFECTS - Pocket comb; pocketbook; gold watch and chain; silver match box; keys; pocket knife; gold ring; $4.60 in silver; 9s. in various coins; $43.00 in notes; collar button.


2 Griffen Road, Cleveden

Following an exchange of letters, the effects were returned to Gill's widow.

Gold watch and chain
Silver match box
$43.00 in notes,
$4.60 in United States silver,
65c in United States nickels,
9 shillings in silver,
7 pence in copper
Goldring, initials J.W.G.
Pocket knife
Pocket comb in case
Case containing leads for pencil
Collar stud Pocket book with few miscellaneous papers
Bunch keys
Letter addressed to Mrs J.W. Gill.

Following his loss a large portrait of John and his wife taken on their wedding day was placed in the porch of the parish church where they had wed. A special hymn, composed by the Reverend Braithwaite, was sung by the congregation in his honour.

John's widow Sarah was never remarried. She continued to live in Bristol and died there in 1968 aged 77.


  1. His birth was registered in early 1888 in the Axbridge district of Somerset (Congresbury was part of that district).

References and Sources

Somerset Standard, 1912, Article
Certified Copy of an Entry of Marriage
Letter from Thomas Cook and Son.
Letter from Richard Gill to the Provincial Secretary, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Letter from Sarah Gill to the Provincial Secretary, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Record of Bodies and Effects: Passengers and Crew, S.S. Titanic (Public Archives of Nova Scotia) (#155)
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Coroners Report (Public Archives of Nova Scotia, RG 41, Vols. 75-76)
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)

Newspaper Articles

Somerset Standard John Gill

Documents and Certificates

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr John Gill
Age: 24 years (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Sarah Elizabeth Wilton Hodder
Last Residence: in Clevedon, Somerset, England
Occupation: Chauffeur
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 233866, £13
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 155)
Buried at Sea on Wednesday 24th April 1912

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