Mr Samuel James Metcalfe Hocking was born in Stoke Damerel, Devonport, Devonshire, England in the Spring of 1876.
He was the son of William John Head Hocking (b. 1851), a house decorator, and Elizabeth Jane Gourd Maddock (b. 1851), Devonport natives who had married in 1874, and Samuel was one of eleven surviving children from a total of fourteen. His known siblings were: William James (b. 1875), Thomas Bazeley (b. 1877), Horace Richard (b. 1880), Mabel Margery (b. 1881), Albert Charles (b. 1882), Elizabeth Jane (b. 1883), Frank Claud (b. 1885), Ann Ellen (b. 1886), Beatrice May (b. 1887), Margaret Holman (b. 1889), Ethel Louise (b. 1890) and Ernest Sydney (b. 1893).
Samuel was reportedly born at 3 Fore Street in Stoke Damerel and his family appeared here on the 1881 and 1891 censuses although he is not present with them on the latter census and his whereabouts at the time are unknown. The family appeared on the 1901 census at an address in Antony, Cornwall but later returned to 3 Fore Street in Stoke by the time of the following census. His father died in Devonport in 1910 and his mother in Cornwall in 1942.
Samuel was married in 1900 to Ada Ralph (b. 1876), also from Devonport and they appeared together on the 1901 census living at 2 Molesworth Villas, Stoke Damerel and he was described as a house decorator, originally working for his father. He later became a confectioner and owned his own shop at 103 Fore Street, Devonport1 where he and his family also lived, appearing there on the 1911 census. Samuel and his wife had four children in total with only two surviving: Dorothy Louisa (b. 1908) and Frank Claud Ralph (b. 1911).
Hocking boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 242963 which cost £13). Travelling alone, his destination in the USA was to have been to his brother Thomas Hocking who was living at 98 Liberty Street, Middletown, Connecticut. It was planned that his wife and two children would join him there at a later date. During the early part of the journey he befriended the newly-married Cornish couple John Henry and Sarah Chapman of St Neot.
Hocking wrote a letter to his wife dated 11 April 1912 and it was posted at Queenstown.
My Dear Ada
It is a lovely morning with a high wind but no heavy seas, in fact it has been like a millpond so far but I expect we shall get it a bit stiffer in the Bay of Biscay if this wind continues. This will be the ship for you, you can hardly realise you are on board except for the jolting of the engines that is why it is such bad writing.
I am longing already for you to have a trip. I wish it had been possible for us all to come together, it would have been a treat. I have fallen in with a young couple from Liskeard named Chapman. He has been home for six months holiday and got married and now they are now going out together. He like myself worked for his father but could not get on with him, so I am pleased I have met someone nice, in fact you don't meet anyone rough second class. I have a bunk to myself which is pretty lonely but still I would rather be alone than have a foreigner who I could not talk to. There are two beds in a bunk and a couch so when you come out, and I hope it will not be long, you will be able to manage with the two children splendid.
I hope you are keeping alright, also the kiddies. I suppose they ask for me? You must get out a good bit and the time will pass quicker. Tell Penn his fags are my only comfort and I am smoking a few!
Write me a few lines to 98 Liberty Street, Middletown, Conn, USA and I shall get it when I get there. I turned in at 10 o'clock last night but could get no sleep owing to the rattle of water bottles, glasses and other things too numerous to mention, so I was glad to get up at 6 o'clock, but I suppose I shall soon get used to it.
Don't forget to address letters J Hocking c/o Mr I Hocking.
Now dear Ada I must draw to a close as we are getting pretty close to Queenstown and I am afraid of missing the post, so with lots of kisses to you and the children, and best respects to Mabel and all at home.
The administration of his estate was completed on 21 August 1913. His effects, totalling £70 passed to his widow Ada.
His brother Thomas in America, whom Samuel had been en route to, lived in New York for the rest of his life and was married with three children. He died in 1944.
Samuel's widow Ada never remarried and later lived in Plymouth where she died in 1939 aged 63. Her daughter Dorothy never married and died in Swindon, Wiltshire in 1979.
Samuel's son Frank was married twice with two children from his first marriage and one from his second. He later moved to Kent before settling in Surrey where he died in 2001 aged 90.