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.


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

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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

(2020) Thomas Russell Kerr Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1551, updated 14th January 2020 00:54:00 AM)