Joseph Wakefield 1 Thomas was born in the closing months of 1888 in Gloucestershire, England and his birth was registered in Chepstow in the last quarter.
His exact background is not certain but he is believed to have been born in Tidenham, Gloucestershire, the son of Edgar Joseph Thomas (b. 1852), a shipyard labourer, and Elizabeth Price (b. 1851). Both his parents were natives of Tidenham and had married in 1888.
Joseph first appears on the 1891 census when he and his parents were living at 13 Pen Mael (?) Terrace in Tidenham. His father died in 1894 aged 41 and his mother was remarried in 1897 to a widower named James Selwyn (b. 1846 in Littledean, Gloucestershire), a carpenter who had several children from his previous relationship. Joseph, his mother, stepfather and stepsiblings appear on the 1901 census living at 28 Carmarthen Street, Gloucester.
Joseph was married in Southampton in late 1909 to Rosina Alma Barrow (b. 1890 in Southampton, daughter of Charles Barrow and Emma Groves) and they had one son, Arthur, the following year. They appear on the 1911 census living at 18 Newman Street, Shirley, Southampton, the home of his widowed father-in-law Charles Barrow, and Joseph is listed as a seaman.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 20 Newman Street, (Southampton) and his previous ship as the Olympic. As a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6. Also serving aboard, as a ship's butcher, was his brother-in-law Charles Henry John Barrow, the brother of his wife Rosina.
Joseph Thomas was lost in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in the Hampshire Independent (April 1912):
THOMAS--On April 15th, on s.s. Titanic, Joseph, the dearly beloved husband of Rosina .... [illegible]... Southampton, aged 25. At God's command he fell. "Thy will be done."
His widow Rosina had been pregnant at the time of the disaster and gave birth to a son named William before the close of 1912. What became of Joseph's wife and sons is not certain but they are believed to have remained within the Southampton area.