Encyclopedia Titanica

Percy Cornelius Taylor

Cellist in Titanic's orchestra

Percy Cornelius Taylor
Percy Cornelius Taylor

Mr Percy Cornelius Taylor (Musician) was born in Hackney, London, England on 20 March 1872, later being baptised on 5 May that same year in St Philip's Church, Hackney.

He was the son of Martin Taylor (b. 1838) and Emily Wheeler (b. 1846). His father, a printer and compositor, hailed from Yorkshire and was married to London-born Emily Wheeler in 1866. Percy had five known siblings: Frederick Martin (b. 1867), Henry William (b. 1868), George Hardcastle (b. 1874), Walter Guy (b. 1882) and Emily Catherine (b. 1885).

He first appears on the 1881 census when living with his family at 30 Brabone Grove, Camberwell. His father died in 1890 and by the time of the census the following year the family is living at 173 Hollydale Road, Peckham and his mother is described as a grocer and Percy a clerk, presumably for his mother. There is seemingly no trace of the family on the 1901 census.

Percy was married in Christ Church, Lambeth on 20 May 1906 to a widow named Clara Alice Davis, née Talbot. Clara was born in Camberwell, London on 29 November 1872, the daughter of Henry Talbot, a gas fitter, and Clara Elizabeth Norris. Her first marriage had been in 1903 to Ralph Hubert Davis, an auctioneer, but he died after less than two years of marriage in 1905 aged 28. Her sister Minnie Eliza (b. 1876) had been married in 1901 to George Hardcastle Taylor (b. 1874), Percy Taylor's younger brother and it is presumed that Percy and Clara met through their respective siblings.

Percy and Clara are not believed to have had any children and when Clara appeared on the 1911 census she was living with her parents at 158 East Dulwich Grove, Camberwell and described herself as an actress and worked as a concert artiste. Percy was unlisted and likely at sea. The couple later lived at 9 Fentiman Road, Clapham, London.

Percy was a cellist in Titanic's orchestra and travelled on a group ticket (number 250654) as a second class passenger with his bandmates. Percy, alongside all of his colleagues in the orchestra, died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His estate, valued at £164, 4s, was administered to his widow Clara on 29 June 1912. Clara was remarried on 24 August 1918 to Albert Grafton Pearce (1869-1946), also a musician and concert artiste, and moved to Weston-super-Mare, Somerset where she died in 1957.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Percy Cornelius Taylor
Age: 40 years and 26 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Clara Alice Davis (née Talbot)
Last Residence: in London, England
Occupation: Musician
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 250654
Cabin No. E
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton, 10 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/780B)

Research Articles

Mike Herbold Titanica! (2001) George A. Brereton - Mystery Man
New research reveals the tragic fate of one of the Titanic's notorious gamblers.
Helena Wojtczak Titanica! (2002) Elsie Bowerman: Feminist and Barrister
One of the Titanic's survivors was also a key participant in the movement for womens' suffrage.
Senan Molony Titanica! (2004) Titanic's Band: Killing Them Softly.
Just how many people did the ship's orchestra kill?

Newspaper Articles

Worcester Evening Gazette (20 April 1912) Brave Musicians of Ship Meet Fate Trying To Drown Cries of the Perishing Passengers
Toronto Daily Star (24 April 1912) Nearer My God, To Thee, Is Musicians' Prayer
Those on the Titanic Played It Knowing Their End Was Close at Hand


(1912) Concert by the Apollo Club, Brooklyn in aid of musicians' families


Senan Molony Titanic Review (2011) The Band That Played On
Senan Molony reviews Steve Turner's new book about the musicians aboard the Titanic The Band that Played On


Nearer My God to Thee
White Star Line Repertoire
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Comment and discuss

  1. Loretta Thomas

    Loretta Thomas said:

    Hi all, does anyone know anything more about Mr Taylor than is found in the biography on ET? I've found the reference to his estate, probate granting his effects to his widow, Clara Alice Taylor. She was born Clara Alice Talbot in 1873 and married three times, her second husband being Percy (married 1906). I've seen the banns for Percy and Clara, read 6, 13 and 20 May 1906. In 1911 she was living with her family, recorded as Clara Talbot but also as married for four years; her occupation was actress. No sign of Percy. I can't find him in the 1911 census using the age he was supposed to be... Read full post

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