Mr Thomas Instance (Fireman) was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England in early 1881. He was the son of William Instance (1849-1931), a general labourer, and Emma Stote (1846-1898), both Southampton-natives who had married in 1877.
He had five known siblings: William Frederick Stote (b. 1874), Joseph (1878-1881), Albert (1883-1945), Emma (1885-1961) and Alfred (1887-1961).
He first appears on the 1881 census as a two-month-old when he and his family were living at 34 Dock Street, St Mary, Southampton. By the time the 1891 census was conducted the family were living at 7 Wharf Street, Southampton. Thomas apparently went to sea at an early age and worked as a stoker.
He was married in Southampton in early 1900 to Georgina Orman (b. 8 June 1876 in Southampton). The couple had a son named Cyril Orman (b. 1898) prior to marriage and went on to have a daughter named Emma Mahala (b. 1907).
The family are not identifiable on the 1901 and 1911 census records. Their daughter Emma, however, is listed as living at 43 Shayer Road, Southampton in the latter census, the home of a Mr and Mrs James Hack, and she is described as their adopted daughter.
The marriage between Thomas and Georgina later broke down and his wife became involved with an Irish-Canadian named William Long (b. 1874) who had two sons from a previous marriage: William (b. 1908) and John Albert (b. 1909). Thomas and Georgina settled together in Canada with her two children to follow her later; son Cyril departed England aboard Laurentic in August 1910 and her daughter apparently some time in 1911.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Thomas gave his address as 12 Guillaume Terrace, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Teutonic and as a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Thomas Instance died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
No. 205. (English) The husband, a fireman on the Titanic, was drowned. He is survived by his wife living in Canada and earning a living for her two children as a charwoman. Her eldest boy, fourteen years of age, works in an office, earning five dollars a week. The widow, who is not strong, was seriously ill after the disaster, and the appropriation of this Committee was sent to provide medical treatment and necessary living expenses. As her husband was a member of the crew of the Titanic, letters were written immediately to ascertain whether the widow could recover under the English Workmen's Compensation Act. Information was received that she had deserted her husband, that her youngest child does not belong to him, and that, for four years before his death, she had not been dependent upon him for her support. She has letters from him, however, indicating that he expected soon to rejoin her and the children. A small fund was raised for her benefit by the citizens of the city in which she lives, and is now on deposit in the bank. In addition, she has received £50 from the English relief fund. ($100). - Red Cross files
His widow Georgina later lived with William Long, her children and step-children in Saskatchewan, appearing there on the 1916 census living in Saltcoats. Whether she and Long were ever married is not clear (she was still listed as Instance at the time of her death) and she died in York, Ontario on 7 November 1928 and is buried in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto.
His son Cyril was married in 1923 to Hilda Annie Walker (b. 1897) and they had a son named James Cyril (b. 1926). It is believed that Cyril later settled in York, Ontario and he was still living as of 1972; what became of him thereafter is not certain. His son James died in 2003. What became of Thomas' daughter Emma is not known.