Encyclopedia Titanica

Thomas Ford

Thomas Ford

Mr Thomas Ford was born in Bootle, Lancashire, England in 1879.

He was the son of an English father, Matthew Ford (b. 1832 in Lincolnshire), an ironworks labourer, and an Irish mother, Delia Mary, née Parsons (b. 1841) who had married in late 1867.

Thomas had five known siblings: George William (b. 1869), Matthew (b. 1870), John Henry (b. 1871), Mary Ann (b. 1873) and David (b. 1875).
Thomas first appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 3 First Street, Bootle, Lancashire and his father was now working as a dock labourer. His mother died in 1886 and when the remaining family appeared on the 1891 census they were living at 26 Stafford Street, Bootle and Thomas was still a schoolboy. His father later died in 1898 and Thomas most likely went to sea as a young man and it appears he was not present for the 1901 census.

Thomas was married in Southampton in 1907 to fellow Liverpudlian Sarah Murray, née Blake (b. 9 April 1868).  Sarah was previously married in 1895 to John Patrick Murray (b. 1872 in Liverpool), a ship's stoker, and they are known to have had at least four children: Catherine (b. 1895), John Patrick (b. 1897), Anne (b. 1900) and Mary Jane  (b. 1904). The fate of John Patrick Murray is not clear but he seems to have died around 1904.

Thomas and Sarah would have one child of their own, Thomas George (b. 18 May 1908) and the large family would appear on the 1911 census living at 36 Russell Street, St Mary, Southampton and Thomas was described as a ship's stoker.

When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Ford gave his address as 36 Russell Street, Southampton. His previous ship was the Olympic and his wages were £6, 10s per month.

At the time of the collision, Thomas was off-watch and was in his bunk sleeping. He woke his mate Charles Hendrickson and the pair went to the forward well deck where they saw chunks of ice and they also noticed that the ship had stopped. Hendrickson returned to his quarters and was later joined by Ford who reported that the ship was taking on water in the forward stokeholds. Hendrickson went to investigate for himself before heading to the upper decks and the pair did not see each other again.

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

His widow and children were later assisted by the Titanic Relief Fund. Sarah never remarried and remained in Southampton, later living at 30 King Street by the time of the 1939 register. Her address was listed as 5 Queens Walk when she died on 8 January 1944.

His son Thomas later worked as a cellarman and jobbed as a bandsman, later joining the merchant navy and serving aboard a number of renowned vessels. He remained in Southampton the rest of his life, married in 1943 to Florence E. E. Murrey (b. 1924) and had a son Melvyn the same year. He died in 1983.

Comment and discuss

  1. Thomas Ford

    Thomas Ford said:

    Hello Everyone, while going though my family's genealogical record I have discovered that I am related to Thomas Ford, leading fireman on-board the Titanic. I have read his biography on the site and was wondering if anyone had any additional information on him and, if possible, his actions during the sinking. Also, what exactly did a leading fireman do? Thanks

  2. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Hello Thomas and welcome to the board. I have the following on Thomas Ford: Ford, Thomas. Lived at 36 Russell Street, Southampton. Occupation - Leading Fireman. 30 years old. (Born in Liverpool). (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 103. Ford, Sarah, widow. Stepchildren: Mundy, Catherine; John; Ann; and Mary. Ford, Thomas, child. All class F dependants. In memoriam, The Hampshire Independent, Saturday, April 17, 1915: In loving memory of Thomas Ford . . . He's gone the one we loved so dear, To his eternal rest, He's gone to Heaven, we have no... Read full post

  3. Samuel Halpern

    Samuel Halpern said:

    Thomas, A leading fireman was was in charge of a section of typically 8 to 10 fireman and 4 trimmers assigned to a boiler room during a 4-hour watch period. All firemen and trimmers worked 4 hours on and 8 hours off. The leading firemen had their own living quarters on G deck port-side forward. There were only 15 leading firemen on board, and with 5 boiler rooms to feed, 5 of them would be on duty at any given time. What we know about Thomas Ford comes from his mate leading fireman Charles Hendrickson. He and Thomas Ford shared the 4 to 8 watch. That means he worked 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. and... Read full post

  4. Thomas Ford

    Thomas Ford said:

    Thank you very much for the information. It certainly means a lot to me since I was named for him. If you like I can add some additional family information for him. Sarah Ford never remarried and the entire family relocated to Pennsylvania in 1918-1920 and his son Thomas became a coal miner in the Wyoming Valley. We knew of his relationship to Hendrickson since they were bunk mates and apparently we believe they were friends on shore as well having previously served together on the Oceanic i think and it was Hendrickson who later got Thomas to join him on the Titanic. I don't know if this is... Read full post

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Thomas Ford
Age: 33 years (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Sarah Murray
Last Residence: at 36 Russell Street Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Leading Fireman
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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