Walter James Brown was born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, England over the summer of 1871. He was the son of William Whittle Brown (b. 1840), a chemist, and Jane Range (b. 1842). Both his parents hailed from Prescot in Lancashire and were married in 1864. Walter had three known siblings, all brothers: William Edmund (b. 1865), Edward Johnson (b. 1867) and Frederick Charles (b. 1868).
In the months prior to his birth Walter's family were recorded on the 1871 census as living at 8 Moor Street in Ormskirk. His father died only a year after his birth and the 1881 census shows he, his widowed mother and siblings living at the same address, his mother now described as a grocer. Aged 19 by the time of the 1891 census, Walter and his family were still living at Moor Street but he was described as unemployed. His mother died in 1896 and his brother William took over the grocer's business at 8 Moor Street. Walter was listed on the 1901 census living with his brother Frederick at Whitby Trees in Fulwood Lancashire and was described as an unmarried grocer, a profession he apparently left behind shortly after.
According to an article in the Ormskirk Advertiser, before becoming a sea steward Brown not only worked as a grocer for his brother but had also painted ceramics and porcelain for Royal Doulton, alongside being an accomplished musician. The article implies that Brown had been working his passage to America, possibly with the intention of remaining there. By 1912 he had been a ship's steward for 10 years.
Brown initially joined the Titanic in Belfast, having signed-on on 1 April 1912. After the delivery trip he signed-on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912. He gave his address as Hillside Avenue, Bitterne Park, (Southampton), a lodgings address. Brown was one of the many stewards to have transferred from the Olympic. As a first class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Walter Brown, who was unmarried, died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in the Hampshire Independent (April 1912):
BROWN--April 15th, on s.s. Titanic, Walter Brown, aged 36. Gone, but not forgotten.