Mr Thomas Hewitt was born in Everton, Liverpool, Lancashire, England in 1875; his birth was registered in the second quarter of that year and he was baptised on 31 May.
He was the son of John Hewitt (b. 1841), a coachman (later a dock labourer), and Jane Peate (b. 1834). His father was Scottish and his mother from Wigton, Cumbria, the daughter of a mariner. They were married in Liverpool’s Holy Trinity Church on 31 December 1863.
He had six siblings: Margaret Ann (b. 1864), John Henry (b. 1866), William (b. 1871), Joseph (b. 1872), Janet (b. 1878) and Alexander (1880-1880).
Thomas first appears on the 1881 census with his family living at 40 Adelaide Street, Everton and they were still at the same address by the time of the 1891 census and Thomas, aged 15, was described as a railway porter.
Thomas was not present for the 1901 census and was by then already working at sea. He appears on shipping records as early as 1897, firstly serving aboard Majestic. The following year he began a long career with Cymric which lasted until at least 1902. By 1906 he was serving as an assistant steward aboard the Empress of Britain, his address at the time being 2 Moss Lane, Aintree.
Thomas was married in Christ Church in Everton, Liverpool on 16 September 1902 to Ada Emily Jones (b. 25 October 1875 in Liverpool) who was the daughter of engineer William Jones and the former Sarah Robinson. The couple exchanged gold watches as part of their nuptials, both engraved with “From Ada to Tom” and “From Tom to Ada”.
The couple had two children: Edna (b. 12 June 1903) and Leslie (b. 8 September 1905). By the time of the 1911 census the family were living at 96 Devonfield Road, Walton, Liverpool but Thomas was again absent. With the White Star Line moving its main terminus from Liverpool to Southampton, family state that Hewitt was intent on eventually moving to the latter city to be closer to work. It was custom for his wife and children to accompany him to the train station to see him off on his journeys. On his last offing Thomas waved from the train until his family were out of sight, something that he did not usually do; Ada later pondered as to whether he had a premonition that he might not see his family again.
Hewitt was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again in Southampton for the maiden voyage on 4 April 1912 he gave his address as 96 Devonfield Road, Liverpool. His previous ship had been the Vandyke and as a bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Thomas Hewitt died in the sinking. His body was later recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#168) and buried at sea on 24 April 1912.
NO. 168. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 35. - HAIR, DARK.
CLOTHING - Black suit.
EFFECTS - Gold watch and chain; keys; gold signet ring.
NAME - H. HEWETT.
His effects were returned to his family, including the gold watch which had been given to him by his wife. The watches exchanged by the couple remained in the family and in the 1990s were donated for display in the Liverpool Maritime Museum.
On each anniversary of the sinking Ada would place a memorial to her husband in the local newspapers, this one from the Liverpool Echo on 15 April 1915:
HEWITT—In ever loving memory of Tom, the dearly-loved husband of Ada, who passed away April 15, 1912. (Ever remembered).
And another from the Liverpool Daily Post, 16 April 1918:
HEWITT—In dear remembrance of TOM, April 15 1912. “Only those who have loved and lost know the meaning of the word ‘Gone’”—Ada, Edna, Leslie.
Ada never remarried and remained in Liverpool for the rest of her life, forever at 96 Devonfield Road. She reportedly never cared to discuss the Titanic and the loss of her husband, her family believing that it was an intensely private part of her life. The tragedy presented itself again in the 1950s when two films about the Titanic were released, both apparently causing a ripple in the Hewitt household. Ada died 13 September 1966.
His daughter Edna never married and later worked as a shorthand typist; she died in a Liverpool nursing home on 18 June 1989. Son Leslie later became a bank clerk and was married in 1934 to Elizabeth Ledson (b. 1906) and had four children: Jean, Bryan, Bernard and Patricia. Leslie died in Liverpool on 11 March 1981.