Encyclopedia Titanica

Thomas Walter King

Mr Thomas Walter King (Master at Arms) was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England on 9 May 1869.

He was the son of Daniel John King (1844-1898) and Harriet Margaret Topps (1844-1921). His parents, both natives of Yarmouth, had married there in 1867 and went on to have at least five children: Daniel Thomas (b. 1867), William (b. 1873), Frederick Albert (b. 1874), Gertrude Alice (b. 1877), May (b. 1883) and Thomas.

On the 1871 census Thomas, his brother Daniel and mother are listed as visitors at 8 Market Road, Great Yarmouth, the home of his grandparents Thomas and Emma Maria Topps. His father Daniel, a boat builder, is listed at a different address in Nelson, Norwich. On the 1881 census Thomas is again listed as a visitor at his grandparents' home, now at 60 Market Road. He later worked as a painter.

Thomas joined the Royal Navy on 11 November 1887, then being described as standing at 5' 7" and with dark hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. His first ship was the Pembroke, on which he served as a stoker. He would also serve aboard Flamingo, Cleopatra, Leander, Spartan, Wildfire I, Satellite, Royal Oak, Victorious, Hawke and Dido, among others. By 1908 he had attained the position of master-at-arms. His last ship was that which he had first served upon, Pembroke,  before he was pensioned from the service, throughout which he had served with excellent conduct.

Thomas was married in Medway, Kent in 1889 to Rose White (b. 1863 in New Brompton, Kent). On the 1891 census Thomas' family are listed living at 23 Military Road, Chatham, Kent. His father is now listed as a fisherman on top of his shipwright duties and his mother, several siblings and his wife Rose are now running a fish shop.

Thomas and Rose went on to have five children: Walter Thomas (b. June 4, 1893), Thomas George (b. 1894), Rose Caroline (b. June 23, 1898), Helen Margaret (b. 1900) and Dorothy (b. 1909).

On the 1901 census Thomas is absent, but his wife and four of his children are listed as living at 6 Middle Street, Gillingham, Kent. His wife is still described as a fishmonger.

On the 1911 census Thomas is at home (30 Wolsey Avenue, East Ham, Essex) and he is now described as a Naval Pensioner Bank Corter. His wife died not long after this census was taken.

Thomas signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 as one of two masters-at-arms. He gave his address as 23 Middle Market Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk (the address of his mother). His previous ship had been the Olympic and as master-at-arms his monthly wages were £5, 10s.

Thomas was lost in the disaster. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

His son Walter Thomas was later married and died in Redbridge, London in 1976. His son Thomas is believed to have died in London in the early 1970s. His daughter Rose was married in 1927 to Edward Le Sage and had two children before she died in Bromley, Kent in 1977. What became of his other two daughters is not clear.


Gavin Bell, UK
Bill Womstedt, USA

Comment and discuss

  1. Addison Hart

    Addison Hart

    Has anyone any real information on Master-At-Arms Thomas W. King, killed in the sinking? Chris Dohany and I have added him to our list of officers who could very well have commited suicide the night the ship went down. He not only worked on the starboard side of the ship, but according to a relative I met two years ago he was below decks with a pistol in the third class section for an hour before coming up to assist with the lifeboats. Of course being Master-At-Arms, he had access to the pistols. Thanks, Addison

  2. Chris Dohany

    King was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, the son of Daniel and Harriet King. He was a widower, his wife having died the previous year, leaving him with two young daughters. He also had two sons, one reportedly in the Royal Navy at the time of the sinking and another residing in London. Since the death of his wife, his daughters had resided at his mother's house in Great Yarmouth. When not at sea Thomas lived there as well. His background is similar to another suicide candidate, Henry Wilde, being that he was also a widower with children at home. In addition, King had his mother whom... Read full post

  3. Tad G. Fitch

    Dear Addison, Hello, how are you? I do not believe that I have had the pleasure of "meeting" you before. I am very glad to make your acquaintance. You wrote: "He (King) not only worked on the starboard side of the ship..." It is interesting that Chris and you have brought up King as a suicide candidate. I must say that while I too agree that it is at least somewhat possible that King was the officer who reportedly shot himself, I am very skepticle for several reasons. First of all, no eyewitness ever reported seeing King with a gun on the boat deck, and there is nothing other than... Read full post

  4. Peter Engberg-Klarström

    Dear everybody; does everybody think that anyone committed suicide at all? I know that this probably is the case, but I must say I never really believed that (always the sceptic....)I know that Rheims and E Daly wrote something to that effect, but did they in fact see a body???? Best regards, Peter

  5. Maureen Zottoli

    Dear Peter, My own personal opinion is that no one commited suicide. One of the officers shot down between the ship and lifeboats twice as warning to keep order. I believe that this happened. I also believe that no one was shot, wounded, or killed during this episode. I believe that with that in the minds of passengers and the clear night, that sound would have been amplified. Therefore when the wires holding the stack snapped, I believe that it made a gun shot type of sound to those who had heard or witnessed the first gun being discharged, may have assumed that this sound also came... Read full post

  6. Tad G. Fitch

    Dear everyone, Hello, how are you? Good I hope. Peter wrote: "Dear everybody; does everybody think that anyone committed suicide at all?" It is not a matter of simply believing it or not. In fact, I wish that it didn't happen. But the fact remains that several witnesses independently recalled seeing an officer shoot at passengers, then kill himself during the last seconds on board the ship. The weight of evidence has convinced me of the reality of the situation. Peter wrote: "I know that Rheims and E Daly wrote something to that effect, but did they in fact see a body????" ... Read full post

  7. Tad G. Fitch

    Dear everyone, My above post incorrectly attributes the funnel stay quote to Addison. My apologies Addison, it was actually Maureen who wrote this. I certainly don't mean to be putting words in your mouth, haha. :-) That's what I get for trying to digest posts from four people at once! I hope that you'll all have a great day. Best regards, Tad Fitch

  8. Michael H. Standart

    My own opinion on the suicide allagation is a big fat "maybe." The problem is that with the waters so muddied after nearly 89 years, it's utterly impossible to know the who, much less whether or not the witnesses were all reliable in this regard. Addison, in regards to the MAA having access to the pistols, I wouldn't take that assumption as fact quite yet. Most all ships carry firearms for security, and the officers who have access to same are extremely limited in number...say the captain and the cheif officer. Erik Wood can explain more on current policies, but I doubt they're that... Read full post

  9. Lester Mitcham

    Hi Addison, Can you please tell us who your relative was and where they obtained their info on King from. I have not been able to find a single reference to King and where he might have been or what he might have done that night.

  10. Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

    Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme

    Hi Everyone, Does anyone know which of the two masters-at-arms (King and Bailey) is the film (1997) trying to portray? Ben

  11. Michael H. Standart

    Hi Ben, I would probably have to check out the credits somewhere, but I don't think the MAA was specifically mentioned in the film. Not by name anyway. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  12. Brian Jones

    I've just found Encyclopedia Titanica - very interested in this thread as I am great-grandson (my mother's mother was his daughter Rose). I have very scratchy info from the family but do have a photograph and copy of his birth certificate. I'll chase up my mother for as much info as possible and update the encylopedia. If family characteristics are anything to go by then the suicide would not be too much in keeping. My grandmother was a doughty old soul who was a fighter to the end and my mother has a similar nature

  13. Brian Jones

    Just checking what little info the family have here. One possibly interesting point (but could be commonplace for the survivors?) is that according to Brian Ticehurst the Kew National Records Office register of his death has 'drowned' crossed out and 'exposure' written in its place. Does this imply discovery and identification of the body? Anyone got any knowledge of place of burial or was it 'at sea'? If anyone is interested I'll post a little background info re his children when I speak with my mother this weekend

  14. Jason Bidwell

    Jason Bidwell

    To the best of my knowledge King's body was never identified. I don't have any inside information about the Kew NR Office, but doctors who investigated the recovered bodies in 1912 determined that most had died from exposure, not drowning. My hunch is that whoever amended the register acted on that information: the statistical likelyhood that King did die from exposure, not drowning. By all means post any information about his children if you can find any. I'm sure many of us would be curious to know.

  15. Richard A. Krebes

    Using the search engine to scan the inquries testimonies for "master-at-arms", I found not one itoa of data on Mr. King. Are there ANY accounts at all from eye witnesses about what he did that night? It seems wildly unlikely he was standing off to one side not doing a thing, especially with an evacuation in progress and being one of the deck department personnel. He's even more of a mystery than Chief Officer Wilde, by gar. Richard

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Thomas Walter King
Age: 42 years 11 months and 6 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Widowed
Last Residence: at 23 Middle Market Road Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, England
Occupation: Master-at-arms
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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