William Swan was born in Ballymena, Co Antrim, Ireland around 1864.
He was the son of William Swan and Rosanna Caldwell. His father was a spirit dealer and ran the White Swan public house in Ballymena's Bridge Street for many years. William and his brothers, Robert, Andrew and John Caldwell, were staunch Orange Men. However, they left Irish shores in the 1880s with William settling in Liverpool.
He was married in West Derby in 1888 to Mary Elizabeth Caldwell (b. 18 November 1866), a native of Bevington, Lancashire, and their only child, William Douglas, was born in 1890. The family appear on the 1891 census living at 20 Eton Street, Walton, Liverpool and William was described as a sea steward. Also living with them was his brother Andrew, a corn van driver.
William is absent from the 1911 census; his wife is recorded as residing with her brother-in-law John Caldwell Swan, a marine engineer, at 9 Riddick Road, Litherland, Lancashire.
William initially signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast on 1 April 1912, and again on 4 April. He gave his local address as 174 Shirley Road, (Southampton) but his permanent address was 62 Hale Road, Walton, Liverpool (the home address of his mother-in-law Sarah Benson Caldwell on the 1911 census). His last ship had been the Olympic and as a first class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Swan died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His widow Mary is not believed to have remarried, it is believed she died in Liverpool in the late 1930s.
His son William Douglas was later married, raised a large family and worked as a radio engineer. He died in 1967 in Wallasey, Cheshire.