Encyclopedia Titanica

Thomas Edgar Major

Thomas Edgar Major was born in Stoke Newington, Middlesex, England in the last months of 1876(1). He was the son of Thomas Rowe Major (1848-1893) and Mary Simmonds (1851-?).

Both his parents were natives of Dorset and had married in St George's Church, Fordington on Boxing Day 1871 when his father was described as a printer by trade. He had three known siblings: William Henry (b. 1874), George Herbert (b. 1880) and Mary Anne (b. 1883).

Thomas first appears on the 1881 census when he was living at 17 St George's Terrace, Islington. The family would shift to 13 Melgund (?) Road, Islington by the time of the next census in 1891. Thomas, then aged 14, had already left school and was working as a clerk. His father passed away in 1893 and the family appear on the 1901 census residing at Colne House, Islington, his mother then working as a seamstress to support the household; Thomas was absent, perhaps at sea.

Although not certain when Major first went to sea he first appears on crew manifests in July 1902 when he was working as a waiter aboard Campania, specifying his local address as 17 Roxburgh Avenue, Liverpool and his ship prior to that as Soudan.

Thomas was married in Christ Church Highbury, Islington on 23 October 1907 to Elizabeth Jane Shoard (b. 30 September 1879 in Clerkenwell, Middlesex), the daughter of brass founder William Shoard and the former Sarah Cole. 

Marriage certificate
Marriage record between Thomas Major and Elizabeth Shoard

Thomas and Elizabeth had just one child, their daughter Pearl Georgina Elizabeth (b. 8 October 1909).

On the 1911 census Major, his wife and daughter were listed as living at 9 Old Park Villas, Palmers Green, North London, the home of his widowed mother-in-law Sarah Shoard, and he was described as a ship's steward.

Thomas was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton and when he signed-on again in Southampton for the maiden voyage on 4 April 1912 he gave his address as Criterion Res., Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a bath steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.

Thomas Major died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His widow Elizabeth was remarried in September 1917 to Percival Frederick Harper (b. 7 March 1889), a clerk, and remained in Southgate, London where she died in 1939. 

His daughter Pearl was married in 1930 to Robert Spearmint Leach (1906-1987) and they had a son named Robert in 1934. Her second marriage was in 1960 to Ralph Griffin. Pearl settled in Hove, Sussex and died there in 1989 aged 79.


  1. His birth was registered in St Saviour Southwark in the final quarter of 1876. 

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Mrs D Lack

    Is there any known photo's of Thomas Edgar Major as I am a relative of his and would like to know what he looked like. I also understand he sailed on the Olympic so would there be any photo's of the crew members from that.

  2. Mr Major

    I'm another Major born and raised in Northern Ireland and was also curious to know if any photos of either Thomas Edgar Major or surviving crew steward William Major?

  3. Nigel Moore

    Hi Mrs D Lack, Mr Thomas Edgar Major is my great great uncle. Basically My mums dad father is the brother of Mr Thomas Edgar Major bath steward on the titanic. here is a photo of his brother, who I’m not yet sure of his name, as my mum is Trying to contact other family members to get his name. What I can say... Read full post

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Thomas Edgar Major
Age: 35 years (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Elizabeth Jane Shoard
Last Residence: at The CriterionSouthampton, Hampshire, England
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Belfast on Monday 1st April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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