Mr Thomas Pears

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Thomas Pears
(© Geoff Whitfield, UK)

Mr Thomas Pears, 29, was born on 7 May 1882 the fourth son of Andrew Pears. He had five brothers and three sisters. He was the great great grandson of Andrew Pears, the founder of the soap-manufacturing company, A & F Pears Ltd, and the grandson of Francis Pears the two executives initials forming the name of the company.

Unlike Thomas, the eldest brother Francis did not go into the family business, but after his marriage to the daughter of the Vicar of Holy Trinity, Twickenham, went with his younger brother Roger, the fifth son, to Burma where they ran a successful India Rubber Plantation.

Tom joined the family soap manufacturing firm in 1903 and was eventually appointed manager of the Lanadron Works situated at the back of Lanadron House on the corner of London Road and Linkfield Road, Isleworth. He was not a director of the firm of A & F Pears but he was certainly a director of a subsidiary firm, Lanadron Rubber Estates Ltd. He was responsible for the profitable running of the Isleworth Works and also of Lanadron Rubber's estates in Malaya.

Tom was married on 15 September 1910 to Edith Wearne and they lived at "Mevagissey" (named after the Cornish village where the family had originally lived), St Johns Road, Isleworth, Middlesex.

Between them they had a wide circle of friends in the neighbourhood and Edith was reported as endearing herself to all those who knew her. They worshipped together at St John the Baptist Church, Woodlands, Isleworth, where Tom had been proposed as a sidesman.

Tom was a popular and respected manager and a keen sportsman. He supported the Pears' Athletic Club and participated in motor car and motorcycle races. Two gold medals remain in the possession of the Crowe family. Inscriptions on the medals record his participation in 'The 23 Hours Run, London - Edinburgh on May 28-29, 1908 Car' and 'The 24 Hours Run, London to Edinburgh, June 5th and 6th, 1908, Car'. Tom had had the two medals mounted as table napkin rings, inscribed 'T.P' and 'E.P' respectively.

In 1912, three years after his father's death, Tom prepared to cross the Atlantic, possibly to look at a site for his company's expansion into America. He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first class passenger (ticket number 113776 £66, 12s), he and Edith occupied cabin C-2.

At 6.05 p.m. on 13 April a radio message was sent from the Titanic via the S.S. Potsdam to the company's Isleworth Works, which read 'All well, telephone Hampstead [his wife's family address] and Pyrford'. The message would not arrive at the works until 1.30pm on Monday 15 April leading to considerable confusion over whether Mr Pears had survived or not.

Edith was rescued in lifeboat 8.

Back in Isleworth, the above wireless transmission was not received until after news of the sinking and it was incorrectly assumed that both Tom and Edith had been saved. Later when neither name appeared in the published lists of survivors the gravest fears began to be entertained as to their safety, especially when it was realised on the 16th April that the wireless message had preceded the disaster. A cable sent on 18 April from the Carpathia said 'Edith safe, all hope for Tom'. A second cable, which seemed to be reliable, reported that both had been lost but, shortly afterwards, a third cable was received from English friends in New York that Mrs Pears was in good health and was staying with them at the Hotel Woodward and that she intended to sail for home on 20 April 1912. By now it was known that Tom had indeed perished at sea.

Memorial services for Tom Pears included one held on Sunday 21 April at St John's, Isleworth, attended by about 1,200 people, including many of his local workforce, collections at these services were donated to local charities that he had been connected with.

Probate was registered 19 August 1912 to John and Roland Pears effects to the value of £16,763 10 7d.

Tom Pears is named on the family memorial at Isleworth Cemetery, Middlesex.

 

Articles and Stories

Chicago Daily Journal (1912) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Brian Ahern said:

    Here's a page discussing the brave, tragic military service of Frank Bernard Wearne, Edith Pears's brother: It's complete with photos of him and a few anecdotes of his last days.

  2. Martin Williams said:

    That's extraordinary - I was under the impression that VCs were awarded only very, very rarely...so for ex-pupils from one school to win FIVE...wow! By the sounds of it, they more than deserved them. What a bloody conclusion to the so-called 'Gilded Age'. Did I read somewhere that, aside from Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon, the Pears were the only other English couple travelling in first-class? Julia Cavendish was American by birth, so I don't know whether she and Tyrell would qualify. Although my own interest chiefly revolves around the grander first-class passengers - the DGs, Noelle... Read full post

  3. sashka pozzetti said:

    I suppose that considering the other passengers included Lucile who was a working re-married middleclass divorcee, and Guggenheim was travelling with his 'barely concealed' mistress, things in first class weren't too formal!!

  4. Martin Williams said:

    Yes but...'formal' is only a relative term, isn't it? In my earlier post, I took Thomas and Edith Pears as examples to illustrate my point that the social dynamic in first-class was actually much more varied and complex than most people imagine (or as James Cameron showed in that maddeningly simplistic film of his!) There was almost as great a difference between Colonel Astor and Thomas Pears as there was between Thomas Pears and the humblest steerage passenger. Fifth Avenue and Newport are a long, long way from Isleworth! And I very much doubt that Edith bought her clothes on the rue de la... Read full post

  5. sashka pozzetti said:

    So how formal was the "lapin Agile"?!!!!

  6. Martin Williams said:

    Or should that be - what kind of woman did Benjamin Guggenheim meet there? Not somebody he'd introduce to his wife, that's for sure. But we're getting off the topic of this particular thread, which is Thomas and Edith Pears.

  7. Brian Ahern said:

    Martin - it's such a breath of fresh air to have someone discussing passengers whose stories I've always wanted to delve into. The Pearses were among the passengers I put as favorites on that thread, precisely because they weren't typical. My sense is that British travelers of their type generally preferred Cunard, leaving White Star to the showy Americans. I'd say they belong to the class represented by the characters in "Howards End" (I assume you've read that? There's that great line after Colonel Fussell has offered to rally the county families for miles around to call on Margaret.... Read full post

  8. Martin Williams said:

    Forster's 'Howards End' is a magnificent book which was later turned into an equally magnificent film. I first read it when I was in my teens but returned to it last year and was simply blown away. It isn't an easy read by any means but when you 'crack it' - and I've only just scratched the surface, further readings will yield greater and greater riches - it simply takes your breath away. It may be a truism but the English middle classes are, as you say, a law unto themselves; they always have been and they always will be. The nuances and gradations separating the various levels WITHIN... Read full post

  9. sashka pozzetti said:

    Howard's End is a wonderful book and film. Some of it was filmed near to where the actual 'Howards End' is. E. M. Forsters other books are also very interesting to read , and to learn from. Passage to India is good, because the class issues are laid bare in conrast to the customs of a foreign land. Maurice will be interesting to anyone who has posted on Gays on the Titanic, and is interested in middle class attitudes to sexuality. I would not read his short stories again though they are really strange!

  10. Brian Ahern said:

    The book and the movie are both simply beautiful. The book especially I would fail to do justice to. Sashka, another reason I find Maurice interesting is that it deals with the contrasts between the upper classes (the Durhams) and middle classes (the Halls) more than Howards End does. Martin, I've taken note of those recommendations. Thank you. And, as it happens, I have in idle moments pictured the Wilcoxes and Schlegels on the Titanic. When you think about these richly drawn characters placed in that context, it drives home the endless number of ways in which the disaster was a... Read full post

  11. Martin Williams said:

    Thanks for this, Brian. My thoughts are pretty similar to yours! The theory that wealthy Americans preferred travelling on White Star vessels, whilst the British usually opted for Cunard, is one that I've heard ventured a couple of times now and I'm curious to know if it's mere conjecture (although it would make a kind of sense) or whether this was accepted as a 'fact' at the time. In this particular instance, how would Thomas and Edith Pears have come to be travelling on the 'Titanic'? Would they themselves have selected the ship or would they merely have told a travel agent the date... Read full post

  12. sashka pozzetti said:

    When I fly I choose an aircraft based on the price, where it goes from, and what I think of the service. Nice food, facilities,flight times and a safety record help me decide. I expect the Pears considered some of the same things. Some people like to go by a national Airline, like you suggest might happen with Titanic, others don't care. On a long Journey I would think the rooms and food would be one of the main things.

  13. Brian Ahern said:

    One thing I've wondered about is how switching bookings from one ship to another worked, especially since people seem to have often switched from one line to another. There was the couple whose name I forget who reportedly booked one of the the mega-suites before switching to the Mauretania. The Harts were, according to Eva Hart, switched from the Philadelphia.In 1915, there were the people who switched from the Lusitania to the New York because of the submarine warnings. I can see how switching from one IMM line to another would gain you a rebate, but Cunard of course wasn't part of... Read full post

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  14. Martin Williams said:

    Thanks, Brian. I imagine that I too would have been quite selective - I would much have preferred the 'Lusitania' to the 'Mauretania' (all that lovely plasterwork) but would have chosen an 'Olympic' vessel over either! I don't know how much experience the Pears had on the Atlantic but I'm guessing not much - so I doubt they compared the relative merits of this ship to that so closely. I imagine that they simply took advantage of a rare opportunity to cross by the swankiest means possible. Reading her profile, it sounds as if Edith Pears was a VAD during the First World War - at least, this... Read full post

  15. Bob Godfrey said:

    VAD nurses were paid the standard rate for nursing employment, but those with independent means were encouraged to donate their pay to the Red Cross. It's true that some of the volunteers had never scrubbed a floor or made a cup of tea in their lives before, but the representation of social classes in the VAD detachments was probably not far different from that in the Nation as a whole. See my postings in this thread: and check out... Read full post

  16. Bob Godfrey said:

    Not all VAD members were nursing assistants, by the way. Edith Pears drove an ambulance, and later joined the Women’s Royal Naval Service (formed in 1916).

  17. Martin Williams said:

    Well then, that answers a question I was about to ask about Violet Jessop: how could a woman of her background, a White Star Line stewardess, afford to work for several years without getting paid? Thanks! My perception had always been that most VADs were rather well-bred. Did anybody see 'The Roses of No Man's Land' on Channel 4, back in 1997? It featured the recollections of about a dozen women (by that time, VERY old ladies indeed) of their time spent nursing during the Great War. An incredibly moving, compassionate and inspiring story. Perhaps another documentary is due, detailing the... Read full post

  18. Bob Godfrey said:

    The 1911 census will be a goldmine, but you'll have to wait four years for that one - the 100-year privacy rule applies.

  19. Brian Ahern said:

    My guess would be it was done among well-to-do middle class people like the Pears, but I guess I'm basing that opinion on movies (Howard's End, Enchanted April). I would bet that at least Tom and Edith's parents did. I don't know enough about what would have been the typical staff of servants, but I'd bet they had whatever was suitable, with labor being so cheap. So Isleworth was hopelessly unfashionable? Edith's education and Tom's car- and motorcycle-racing indicate that their lifestyle might not have been so very.....can't think of the right word - homely? I like the scraps of... Read full post

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  20. Martin Williams said:

    Well, my impression (derived from goodness knows where) has always been that Isleworth is terminally unsmart. I've never actually been, and don't know anybody who lives there, so perhaps it isn't fair for me to judge. Maybe I should go and investigate one day. Wycombe Abbey was not considered 'fashionable'. Which is not to say that it wasn't a good school - it was, very, and remains so to this day. And that was precisely the problem. It was the progressive middle-classes who placed the highest importance on a full and wide-ranging female education. Girls from the best families were... Read full post

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Credits

Peter Crowe, UK (Son of Edith Pears)
Arthur Merchant, USA
Brian J. Ticehurst, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
The Bridgwater Mercury, 20, April, 1912
The Atlantic Daily Bulletin 1/1996
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2013) Thomas Pears (ref: #229, last updated: 7th June 2013, accessed 4th July 2020 01:52:22 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/thomas-pears.html