Wessel Adrianus Van der Brugge was born 17 October 1873 at Delfshaven, South Holland, the Netherlands, to Adrianus van der Brugge (a labourer b. 21 December 1843) and Catharina Volbers (b. 17 June 1840) , who had married 24 October 1867 in Delfshaven, South Holland, Netherlands. He had several brothers and sisters, although some died in infancy.1 The family belonged to the Nederlands Hervormde Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church).
In early 1880, he lived at 230 Schiestraat (?) in Rotterdam with his parents and siblings Martinus and Johanna, but they moved to Delft 17 February 1880. They did not stay in Delft for long, however. 13 April 1881 they came back to Rotterdam, but after six months they saw fit to move to Amsterdam and subsequently left Rotterdam 17 October 1881. At some point they lived at Buiksloterweg 39 and/or 43 in Amsterdam. His father passed away 17 October 1881, aged 37.
He was registered with the Dutch military forces in 1892 but it is not exactly known whether he actually started a military career. Between 30 July 1897 and 14 December 1899 he was ''gedetacheerd,'' which means that he was not a member of the army during that period and it seems he left the army in 1900.
Mr. Van der Brugge left the Netherlands 18 March 1898, together with his brother Martinus, and settled in Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa. After a few months there he returned to the Netherlands and 1 February 1899 settled in Woensel, in/near Eindhoven, Noord Brabant. He was described as a (tram?) machinist. He stayed in Woensel for about four months and 16 May 1899 moved to Amsterdam, where he then lived with his family. His address in Amsterdam was Oosterparkstraat 9 on 5 February 1901 and in 1903 he lived at Linschotenstraat (?) 30.
On 28 March 1907 the family moved to Schiedam and they seem to have lived in Leiden at some point as well.
It is not immediately known when he came to England and/or started working for the White Star Company, but he was registered as a seafarer in 1906/1907, living in different parts of Zuid- and Noord-Holland. He does not seem to have been married. He was described as being 180 centimetres tall (5'11''), with black hair and brown eyes.
When he signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April, he gave his local address as the Sailor's Home, Southampton and his previous ship as the Tamar. As a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Wessel Van der Brugge died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
Wessel's siblings had apparently become concerned over a period of time regarding his whereabouts. In October 1911 his sister Cordelia Kalff wrote a letter to the foreign ministry of Holland, asking where her brother might be and she was told that he was on his way to South-America. In May 1912, Cornelia received news from the consul-general of Holland in London, that her brother was on an English ship bound for Santos, Brazil.
On 16 August "The Royal Mail Steam Packet Co." told the consul that Wessel appeared in Southampton on 23 March 1912. Ultimately, on 31 August 1912, Cornelia was told by the police that her brother died in the sinking of the Titanic. In disbelief she wrote a letter to the consul in London on 1 September to ascertain the truth. The consul replied and confirmed the news to her by a notice of the Board of Trade from 23 July 1912, which asked to whom the estate of Van der Brugge (worth £1, 4s) should go to. In October 1912 his siblings received the money. On Van der Brugges "Account of Wages and Effects of a Deceased Seaman" from 7 May 1912 only his outstanding wages of £1, 4s are listed. Unlike his English colleagues, who received a half month's salary as bonus.