Encyclopedia Titanica

William Theodore Ronald Brailey

William Theodore Ronald Brailey
William Theodore Ronald Brailey

William Theodore Brailey was born in Walthamstow, Essex, England on 25 October 1887.

He was the son of William Richard Brailey (1863-1931), a native of Plymouth, and Amy Jane Greenwood (1870-1941) from Middlesex who had married in London in 1886. He had three sisters: Mabel Violet (1890-1982), Lily Sunshine (b. 1893) and Daphne Olive Vera Eileen (1909-1986). His father, William, was described in various capacities according the census records, including insurance superintendant and clairvoyant.

William first appears on the 1891 census when he and his family were living at 69 William Street, Upton, Slough, Buckinghamshire. The family would have moved to Leyton, Essex by the time of the 1901 census and are listed as living at 36 Merton Road. The 1911 census shows William and his family now residing in London at 71 Lancaster Road, Kensington and he was described as an unmarried pianist and professor of music. He was at one time a member of the Pier Pavilion Orchestra beforre joining a music college. Reportedly interested in aviation, he was associated with the Freshfield Aerodrome in Southport Lancashire and had a wide circle of friends in that town. He was reportedly engaged to be married to a young woman from Southport.

William travelled on the Titanic in Second Class on ticket number 250654 as one of the eight-strong orchestra and he embarked on 10 April 1912. He and his bands mate John Wesley Woodward had previously both served aboard the Carpathia.

William Brailey and all his colleagues in the orchestra were lost in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

Research Articles

Senan Molony Titanica! (2004) Titanic's Band: Killing Them Softly.
Just how many people did the ship's orchestra kill?

Newspaper Articles

Southport Visitor (20 April 1912) SOUTHPORT PASSENGERS ON THE TITANIC.
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
Southport Guardian (24 April 1912) THE TITANIC : ANOTHER SOUTHPORT VICTIM


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
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Janette C. Ammon

    Janette C. Ammon

    For over a year it was baffeling to find a W. Theodore Brailey. Who is my step-fathers last name. We have dated alot of the Brailey family history already. But in all of my Titanic books. The name of W. Theodore Brailey was only mentioned once in the Discovery Channel's latest book. This web site has help us the most. So far it is the best Titanic web page there is on the internet. Janette C. Ammon Landing, New Jersey USA

  2. Jan Lugenbuhl

    Jan Lugenbuhl

    Fascinating. This is such a frightening, shattering event; those poor souls died of both fright and exposure. It is unbearable to contemplate. I WISH there was further information on pianist W. Theodore Brailey, the tophatted musician. Surely somenewspaper interviews provide his birthdate, marital status, etc. He and the entire band are heroes in the truest sense. Excellent site, but perhaps even further information could be researched and included. Jan Lugenbuhl New Orleans

  3. RileyGardner17

    Interesting how despite so many accounts of the band playing there doesn't seem to be much detail about the actual band other than "they played at the First Class Stairway Entrance". No description of instruments, the song accounts are all over the place (such as "The Star Spangled Banner" being played), the number on deck, etc. I know the situation certainly didn't call for someone to stop and observe to make note, but us in the modern day can so easily wonder why. A shame indeed. That being said, is there any word at all about what the pianist, Theodore Ronald Brailey, did that night? I... Read full post

  4. Christophe Puttemans

    We can't know that for sure. Of course, it is very unlikely a piano was dragged up to the Boat Deck for Brailey to play on. Obviously he was capable of playing other instruments, but we can't say for sure if he took another instrument or simply ditched the band. BTW, same story for piano player Percy Taylor.

  5. Kylar

    Theodore Brailey could play cello and flute, and according to The Band That Played On by Steve Turner, Jock Hume has 2 violins with him that night, plus Taylor could play clarinet. I think they did that.

  6. Alex Clark

    So perhaps ANTR isn't so far out with wind instruments in the band. :) Could they not have played the pianos below decks? Independently of the rest of the band?

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr William Theodore Ronald Brailey
Age: 24 years 5 months and 21 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Engaged
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 Identified

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