Mr Thomas Russell Kerr

Glasgow-born Titanic fireman

Mr Thomas "Tommy" Russell Kerr was born at 6 Charles Street in Dennistoun, Glasgow, Scotland on 28 April 1885.

He was the son of Thomas Russell Kerr (1845-1909), a boilermaker, and Sydney Bruce (1857-1893), both Glaswegians by birth who had married on 17 August 1882. 

He had two known siblings: brother James Bruce (1883-1940) and sister Sydney Bruce (1889-1967, later Mrs Robert Gaskell).

Thomas and his family relocated to Liverpool, England around 1890 and appear on the 1891 census living at 44 Eldon Road in that city. His mother died in 1893 and his father was remarried to an Irish woman named Mary (b. circa 1855) sometime thereafter. They appear on the 1901 census living at 39 Ascot Street, Liverpool and Thomas was described as a labourer. When he first went to sea is not certain but he first appears on crew manifests in 1907 when he was working as a fireman aboard the Majestic.

Thomas was married in Southampton in late-1909 to Johanna Crimmins (b. 1893 in Southampton, daughter of Daniel and Johanna Crimmins). By the time of the 1911 census Thomas was absent but his wife was listed as living with her uncle and aunt John and Alice Leahy at 7 Hartley Street, Lower Canal Walk, Southampton. The couple would later have a daughter named Sydney on 27 December 1911 and the family were attendees of St Joseph's Church.  

When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Kerr gave his address as 7 Hartley Street, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a fireman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £6. Also serving aboard was his brother-in-law James Crimmins, the elder brother of his wife Johanna.

Tommy Kerr died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His widow Johanna was remarried in 1914 to Michael Murphy and had more children and later moved to Birkenhead where she died in 1961. What became of his daughter Sydney is unknown.
 

Notes

  1. He gave his birthplace as Liverpool in the ship's crew agreements
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Allan Clarke said:

    Hi, This is a bit of a long shot. My mother was from Liverpool and I always heard that she lost an uncle on the Titanic. She referred to him as a stoker and though she could not remember his name, she told me it sounded like Curry. The only lead I had was that he married Kate Jennings a few months before the disaster. Kate was my grandmother's sister and my mother was well versed in the tragedy. Recently, my father told me that he thought his name was Kerr. I checked out the sign-on sheets and found a Thomas Kerr, age 26, from Liverpool. Has anyone come across any information on... Read full post

  2. Bob Godfrey said:

    Allan, just a small point but the book 'Titanic Voices' mentions that 'stoker Tommy Kerr' was brother-in-law of James Crimmins, also a stoker, who survived.

  3. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Also, his wife's name was Johannah. Phil G.

  4. Brian Meister said:

    Hello Allan, Thomas Kerr, as Phil Gowan has stated, had been married to Johanna, who is listed as his wife in the Mansion House Relief Fund booklet that I have. He had a sister and a child, both named Sydney. I am not sure about how the Kate Jennings connection fits in.

  5. Colleen Collier said:

    Hi Allen. Sometimes the longshots are the only leads that pay off. A cousins maiden name was the only lead that finally yielded the bulk of my husbands family line. I only wish I had "Titanic People" to help me Luck to you! Please let us know when you do find out!

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  6. Allan Clarke said:

    Hi, Thank you for the information. My mother said that as a little girl she remembered the story of her lost uncle because of two particular accounts. One, was that he had promised to bring his new sister-in-law, mom's mother, a bird in a cage from New York when he returned. What the story is behind that elludes me. The other thing that kept coming up was the family politics. Apparently, not many people cared much for the fellow that Kate later married, and it was common place to hear about "poor Kate, who lost that wonderful man on the Titanic, only to end up with so and so!" What I... Read full post

  7. Bob Godfrey said:

    Allan, I hope you'll keep trying - it's hard work and can be frustrating, but there's great satisfaction in getting a result! There are online sources for checking parish records but it won't be easy if you know the name of only one of the two parties involved in a wedding. It might help you to know that there was only one Kate Jennings (and no Katherines) born in Liverpool who could be aged in the likely range 16-32 in 1912. This Kate was born in March 1891, but I'm afraid that's all I can tell you about her. Allowing for the vagaries of memory, The 'fireman' could possibly be one of... Read full post

  8. Bob Godfrey said:

    The marriage registers for All Souls Church, Collingwood St are now held at the Liverpool Record Office. These are available to the public, or (for a fee) the staff will search for the info you need. The LRO web page, with contact email address, is here: You might be able to arrange a trade discount! Please keep us informed of developments.

  9. David Huffaker said:

    I know this original posting was a long time ago but Johanna Crimmins married Thomas Kerr in 1909 - Southampton. (BMD index)

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA

References and Sources

United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth and Sheila Jemima (1997) Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage, Sutton Publishing, Southampton City Council. ISBN 0 7509 1436 X
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Thomas Russell Kerr (ref: #1551, last updated: 26th March 2018, accessed 1st October 2020 22:00:31 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/thomas-kerr.html