Encyclopedia Titanica

Leslie Williams

Leslie Williams
Leslie Williams

Mr Leslie Williams was born in Tonypandy, Glamorgan, Wales during the summer of 1888.

He was the son of Lewis Williams and his wife Elizabeth (née Davies?) (b. 1857 in Aberdare) who had married around 1873 and he had seven siblings, losing one in infancy. His surviving siblings were: Charles Henry (b. 1875), Elizabeth (b. 1881), Lewis (b. 1883), Margaret Anne (b. 1885), Harold (b. 1887) and Edith May (b. 1891).

He first appears on the 1891 census living at 4 Fernley Terrace, Clydach, Ystradyfodwg, Rhondda, later moving to 19 Gleaner (?) Street, Ystradyfodwg by the time of the following census. Then aged 12, he had already left school and was described as an apprentice boilermaker.

Leslie was married in 1910 to Lillie Thomas (b. 1 July 1891), also a Tonypandy native and the couple had a son, Leslie James (b. 29 October 1910). The young family appeared on the 1911 census living at 59 Primrose Street, Tonypandy and Leslie was described as a blacksmith's striker.

Williams was also a professional boxer (bantamweight) and was travelling to the USA under contract for a series of boxing contests. He was travelling with a fellow Rhondda boxer, David Bowen, and was the better known of the two. His ring weight was 122 lbs and he was regarded as a promising fighter.1 He and Bowen booked passage through the Cardiff office of Dean and Dawson, tourist and steamship agents, 67 St Mary Street, Cardiff (ticket number 54636, £16, 2s). Originally supposed to have travelled aboard Baltic,,2 they changed plans in order to receive new suits they were having tailored and eventually boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers.

They boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers, travelling on joint ticket number 54636 which had cost £16, 2s.

Both Leslie Williams and David Bowen were lost in the sinking. Williams' body was later recovered by the MacKay Bennett (#14) and was buried at sea on 22 April 1912.

NO. 14. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE. 28. - HAIR, FAIR.

CLOTHING - Green overcoat; blue serge suit; red striped shirt; two scarves.

EFFECTS - Two pocket books; two gold rings; one pair silver cuff links; ticket; Papers; knife; etc.; £3 10s; and $30 in gold; £2 6s, 6d. in silver and copper Coins.

THIRD CLASS TICKET. - NAME -LESLIE WILLIAMS,
Prof. Boxer 59 Primrose St., Tony Pandy.

LESLIE WILLIAMS. WELSH BOXER'S BODY RECOVERED BY THE MACKAY BENNETT. Nearly one hundred of the dead from the Titanic have been picked up by the steamer Mackay Bennett. The first list yesterday contained the name of Leslie Williams, the young Welsh boxer, whose body has been embalmed, and will be taken to Halifax. Williams, in company with another boxer named Dave Bowen, were journeying to America to fulfil engagements arranged for them. Bowen's body has not yet been recovered. — Sporting Life,  24 April 1912

His wife had been pregnant at the time of the sinking and gave birth to a son on 25 July 1912 and named him Harold Charles.

In Memoriam
In Memoriam Card
(Courtesy of Henry Aldridge & Son)

Lillie Williams was later remarried in 1915 to a Daniel Winter (1893-1953), a coal miner, and had a large family with him before her death on 27 September 1981 aged 90.

His son Leslie later worked in the coal mining pits and was married and had four children. He died aged 54 on 17 May 1965 in the Cambrian Colliery disaster when an explosion caused by firedamp resulted in the death of 31 miners in Clydach Vale, Rhondda.

Leslie Williams' posthumously-born son Harold died on 13 November 1971 in Trealaw, Rhondda.

Notes

  1. They were trained in South Wales by George Cundick. In his younger days George had been sent to India with the British Army, where he won many trophies for his boxing talents.
  2. Some newspaper sources say it was the Lusitania, to sail on the 6th. Yet another gives the vessel as the Lucania

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Leslie Williams
Age: 24 years (Male)
Nationality: Welsh
Marital Status: Married to Lillie Thomas
Last Residence: in Tonypandy, Glamorgan, Wales
Occupation: Pugilist
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 54636, £16 2s
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 14)
Buried at Sea on Monday 22nd April 1912

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References and Sources

Rhondda Leader, 27 April 1912

Newspaper Articles

Chas A. Barnett Boxing (6 April 1912) Two Trippers to America.
Leslie and Dai ought to do well.
Chas A. Barnett Boxing (13 April 1912) Off to Uncle Sam's Land
Williams and Bowen on their way to America.
Belfast Newsletter (16 April 1912) WELSH PUGILISTS ON BOARD
Freddie Welsh’s sparring partners
Chicago Examiner (20 April 1912) 2 Boxers Die on Titanic
Professional boxers lost their lives when the Titanic foundered. 
Chas A. Barnett Boxing (27 April 1912) The Tragedy of the Deep
Benefit Proposed

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Comment and discuss

  1. Barbara Henry

    Barbara Henry said:

    I've been looking for information concerning Welsh connections to the Titanic. Am seeking info on Halifax burial of Leslie Williams a native of Wales. He and his friend, David Bowen, were on their way to America to become prize fighters. They both went down with the Titanic. Anyone with gravestone number for Leslie Williams at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax NS please contact me. Enjoy all the Titanic sites like this one and for opportunity to input. I will have more to post later on serveral Titanic passengers whose stories I have uncovered. Barbara Henry Perry, New York

  2. Geoffrey Moseley

    Geoffrey Moseley said:

    Mr Leslie Williams, a Third Class Passenger was my maternal grandmother's first husband. I was really pleased to see some comment about Mr Leslie Williams and would like to see his actual date of birth recorded. He was 24 when he died, not 28 as stated. I will endeavour to obtain his actual date of birth so this can be recorded. Mr Williams 4 grandchildren from his son (also called Leslie) are my first cousins. If Leslie Williams had not died when Titanic sank, I would not be here now. Geoffrey Moseley Tonypandy, Wales

  3. Lowri baber

    Lowri baber said:

    Tudalen gwych. Er cof am y rhai wnath farw. Er cof y pobl Cymraeg. Lowri Rhiannydd Baber, Porth, Rhondda, South Wales

  4. Rhiannydd

    Rhiannydd said:

    Er cof am Leslie Williams a David Bowen. Tonypandy a Treherbert, South Wales

  5. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil said:

    Now that's what I like to see on the ET site - Cymraeg! I had a couple of articles in the Welsh newspapers a few months ago regarding my work on Harold Lowe (who was born in North Wales, raised in Barmouth, went to sea first in Welsh schooners and who spoke Welsh fluently), and was contacted by a man who has been doing some intensive research on the lives of the passengers mentioned above, Williams and Bowen. I don't know if he plans to publish his work, but I certainly hope he does. ~ Inger

  6. Lisa Moseley

    Lisa Moseley said:

    I really enjoyed looking at Leslie Williams's document as he was my fathers cousins grandfather.

  7. Lisa Joanne Moseley

    Lisa Joanne Moseley said:

    Re: Hi, I'm Lisa Moseley. My father was his wife, lily's, second husbands childs, childs child i think. I'd just like 2 see if you knew anymore about him. If you do could u please send me some information on him. Thankyou very much.

  8. Chrissie Brown

    Chrissie Brown said:

    I am a distant relative of David John Bowen who died on the Titanic. I believe that David was born in Treherbert c.1886 and was the niece of my great-grandmother May Bowen. May married David Rees and lived in the Glyncorrwg valley outside Neath, and then moved to Llanelly. I am a great grand-daughter of May Bowen and granddaughter of May's daughter Phyllis Rees. I am trying to gather information on the Bowen family in Treherbert, and discover his parents and siblings. If there are any other relatives out there, I would love to hear from you. Also if anyone has any more information on... Read full post

  9. Bernard Leslie Jones

    Bernard Leslie Jones said:

    Re: My grandfather told a family story that his father was a friend of Leslie Williams. Mr Williams asked my great grandfather to name his first born son after him shortly before he departed for America. He did as asked, and my grandfather was born on 4 July 1913. His given name was William Leslie Williams. I don't think my grandfather and Mr Williams were related; they merely shared a common Welsh surname. A final postscript to this story is that my parents named me after my Granddad. My middle name is Leslie

  10. Chrissie Brown

    Chrissie Brown said:

    An interview with the author Clive Joseph on BBC Wales radio on Easter Saturday about the boxers Dai Bowen and Les Williams

  11. Chrissie Brown

    Chrissie Brown said:

    Clive mentions that David John Bowen was a feather weight boxer. Was he the Welsh champion? I know that he wasn't married (as some sites assume) as condolences were sent to his mother (not to a widow). If anyone is related to him, please get in touch. I'm trying to expand his family tree. He was my grandmother (Leah Rees)'s uncle.

  12. Bob Godfrey

    Bob Godfrey said:

    Hallo, Chrissie. If you haven't seen them already, check out the ET biographical entries here:

  13. Chrissie Brown

    Chrissie Brown said:

    This report is incorrect, in that Dai Bowen was not married.Only his fellow boxer Williams was married.

  14. Arun Vajpey

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Leslie Williams and David Bowen are being currently discussed in another thread but that has to do with the general issue of class mixing (or not) on board ships of those days. I did some research about them and came up with some very interesting information that is more relevant to this thread. Basically it tells the story of how David 'Dai' Bowen was not really meant to be on the Titanic at all but fate placed him there instead of someone else. I corresponded with Welsh Boxing site and various Welsh media outlets and received a detailed reply from Gareth Jones, the... Read full post

  15. Steven Christian

    Steven Christian said:

    Hi Arun. Have you run across this yet?

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Acknowledgements

Gavin Bell, UK
Dave Gittins
David Huxtable
Sian Prescott
Karan Price