Mr Walter John Phillips was born in Dalston, Middlesex, England in the second half of 1875.
He was the son of Edward Phillips (b. circa 1850), a clerk, and Mary Jane Searle (b. 1847) who had married in Westminster, London on 17 January 1871. He had an elder sister, Agnes Martha (b. 1873).
Little is known of his father but his mother was born in Devon in 1847, the daughter of William Henry Searle and his wife Jane (b. 1815); the family had moved to London sometime prior to 1861. Following the loss of her father her mother Jane remarried to Alfred William Partridge, an auctioneer.
What became of Walter's parents is not known and he and his sister were apparently raised from an early age by their grandmother Jane Partridge, a widow since the mid-1860s.
Walter, his grandmother and sister appear on the 1881 census as 52 Fernhead Road, Paddington, London. By the time of the 1891 census their address was 71 Wallerton Road, Paddington and young Walter had already left school and was working as a railway messenger. Their address by the 1901 census was Chesterton Road, Kensington and Walter was described as an unmarried cabinet maker. His grandmother eventually died in 1908 aged 93.
Walter relocated to Southampton where, in 1906, he was married to Louisa Underwood (b. 1877), a long-term Southampton resident originally from Dartford, Kent.
Walter and Louisa, who had no children, appeared on the 1911 census as residents of 48 Cromwell Road, Southampton and he was described as a cabinet repairer and involved in "carpet planning." If he had worked at sea by this point is not stated and probably only began a seafaring career shortly after to supplement his earnings.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, Phillips gave his address was 8 Jessie Terrace, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a storekeeper for the à la carte restaurant, he was employed and therefore paid by Mr Gatti.
Walter Phillips died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
PHILLIPS--In loving memory of Walter John Phillips, aged 35 years, the beloved husband of Louisa Phillips of Southampton.
(Southern Daily Echo, 15 April 1915)
What became of Walter's widow Louisa remains uncertain.