Encyclopedia Titanica

Thomas Francis Myles

Thomas Francis Myles

Mr Thomas Francis Myles was born in Fermoy, Co Cork, Ireland on 9 January 1849.

He was the son of Michael Myles (1804-1874), a businessman and landowner, and Margaret Barry. He had one known sibling, James (b. 1851), and possibly a sister named Bridget (b. 1848).

He studied at St. Colman's College, Fermoy and on graduation sailed from Liverpool to India aboard a cargo ship commanded by a cousin, visiting Bombay and Calcutta. Later he travelled to America and sailed the length of the Mississippi. He decided to settle in America and in 1872 he arrived in Boston, with only one pound to his name and no family. He became a naturalised citizen in 1878.

He was married in Southbridge, Massachusetts on 16 September 1877 to Mary Theresa Kennah (b. July 1849), a Massachusetts native born to Irish parents, and the couple went on to have nine children: Leo Thomas (1878-1957), Frances Mary (1879-1880), Mary Frances (1881-1884), Frederick Kennah (1882-1948), Gertrude Ellen (1884-1980), Agnes Mary (1886-1965), Thomas Raymond (1888-1890), Elizabeth Ann (1890-1966, later Mrs Christopher Mahan) and Eileen Lane (1894-1958, later Mrs Joseph Henry McLaughlin). The family are shown on both the 1900 and 1910 census records living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 55 Hammond Street on the latter record.

Thomas eventually earned enough to invest in real estate and owned at least ten rental properties by the time of his death. In 1890 he built a home in Cambridge, Massachusetts for his family which he named "Idlewild" and had planned to build a new home in Waban, Massachusetts.

In late 1911, he travelled back to Ireland with his daughter Gertrude to settle part of the family estate and oversee custodianship of his brother James (b. 1851), a tailor who is said to have been afflicted with learning difficulties and who was unable to read or write. He was Thomas' last surviving family member in Ireland.

Myles' return journey was booked on an earlier White Star liner which was withdrawn from service due to the coal strike. He transferred to the Carpathia but it was filled to capacity so he finally booked second class passage on the Titanic, which he boarded in Queenstown. Lawrence Beesley described Mr Myles in his memoir of the sinking:

"... Engaged in a conversation with them is a gentleman whom I subsequently identified from a photograph as a well known resident of Cambridge, Massachusetts, genial, polished, and with a courtly air towards the ladies, whom he has known but a few hours..."

It was later mistakenly reported that Myles daughter Gertrude had been travelling with him. Myles died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Following his loss his son Frederick had a violent breakdown, leading to his arrest for disorderly conduct.

Three weeks after the tragedy a survivor from New York City visited the family to tell them that Myles had been in a lifeboat but stepped out saying "Women and children first". The survivor also told them he saw Myles leading a group in prayer trying to encourage and calm them. They knelt with him on the deck and together they said the rosary and asked god for protection and help in their hour of need. He was possibly mixed up with Father Thomas Byles.

Myles' estate, valued at £2686, 16s, 8d,  was settled in Dublin on 5 November 1912 and granted to his daughter Gertrude.

Thomas' widow Mary never remarried and remained living in Hammond Street with her children. She died on 28 December 1928. Her last surviving child, Gertrude, died in 1980.

Myles' brother James remained in Fermoy for the rest of his life and died in 1920. 

References and Sources

Hudson Observer, 17 April 1912, Jersey City Man Hears Father and Sister are Safe
Hudson Observer, 18 April 1912, Crazed with Grief by Father's Death
Jersey Journal, 18 April 1912, Son of Titanic Victim is Driven Insane by Grief
Jersey Journal, 19 April 1912, Brother Claims Distracted Son of Wreck Victim
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Titanic Communtator
(1997) - Don Lynch's Passenger Manifest
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)

Newspaper Articles

Jersey Journal (18 April 1912) BAYONNE MAN SAVED, HOBOKEN BOY LOST
Hudson Observer (18 April 1912) CRAZED WITH GRIEF BY FATHER'S DEATH
Newark Evening News (19 April 1912) LOST FATHER IN SHIP; HAS MENTAL COLLAPSE
Search archive online


Gavin Bell, UK
Arthur Merchant, USA
Elizabeth Mahan, USA (grandaughter of Thomas Myles)

Comment and discuss

  1. John O'Malley

    Hello, I just have a brief question regarding Mr. Myles. In the book "Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy" and I believe in other sources, it is referenced that Thomas F. Myles filed a property claim for 50 lb butter and 10 lb of tea, worth $15. Does anyone know how this strange lost property claim was made if Mr. Myles perished in the sinking? Was it a family member who sent in the claim, or was there an identity mix up regarding the claimant. Does anyone know? Just curious.

  2. Bob Godfrey

    I can't comment on the grocery bill, but Myles' widow filed a claim against WSL for over $20,000 in total for the loss of her husband and his property.

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Thomas Francis Myles
Age: 63 years 3 months and 6 days (Male)
Nationality: Irish
Marital Status: Married to Mary Theresa Kennah
Last Residence: in Fermoy, County Cork, Ireland
Occupation: Gentleman
Embarked: Queenstown on Thursday 11th April 1912
Ticket No. 240276, £9 13s 9d
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

Page Options

Watch this page

Improve this Biography

If you have any corrections or something to add please  get in touch