Mr John Gill was born in Congresbury, Somerset, England around early 1888. 1
He was the son of Richard Gill (1865-1924), a coal merchants' carter, and Minnie Louisa Pitts (1866-1943), both natives of Congresbury. His parents were not married until 1893 and John and his brother Henry (b. 1886) appear on the 1891 census, minus their mother, living with their paternal grandparents James and Jane Gill on Main Road, Congresbury. Perhaps smarting from their grandsons' illegitimate status, the two young boys were listed as the sons of the elderly couple.
The 1901 census shows John and his family living at an unspecified address in Congresbury, his parents now married and with several more children. His parents would have ten children in total although by the time of the 1911 census, when they were living in Ivy Cottage, Congresbury, would only admit that four were still living: William James (b. 1895), Cecil Charles (b. 1902), Evelyn (b. 1907) and Percy Nunny (1911-1992). There is no trace of John himself on the 1911 census, but by 1912 he was working as a chauffeur for the Reverend C. R. Braithwaite, vicar of Hewish St Ann, near Puxton.
John was married on 14 February 1912 to Sarah Elizabeth Wilton Hodder at St. John the Evangelist, Clevedon, Somerset. 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.
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 destination in the USA is not known but the intention was that he was to set up home for he and his new bride.
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:
NO. 155. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 31. DARK - HAIR.
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.
NAME - JOHN W. GILL,
Following an exchange of letters, the effects were returned to Gill's widow.
Gold watch and chain
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.
Articles and Stories
Somerset Standard (1912)
Steve Coombes, UK
Hermann Söldner, Germany
- There is no identifiable birth record for he or his brother Henry.
References and SourcesSomerset 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)
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)