William Alexander McRae was born in Shirley, Hampshire, England in late 1880 and his birth was registered in the first quarter of 1881.
He was the son of George Gordon McRae (b. 1850), a marine fireman and of Scottish descent, and Harriett Eliza Scott (b. 1852), both Southampton natives who had married in 1874. He had six known siblings: Georgina Harriett (1875-1877), George Gordon (b. 1877) Christopher Thomas (b. 1879), Rosina Harriet (b. 1883), Emmeline (1885-1885) and Ada Eliza (b. 1887).
He first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family were living at 17 Chapel Street, Millbrook, Southampton. His father seemingly died shortly after this and his mother was remarried in early 1891 to a William Read. William McRae, listed as William Read, appears with his family on the 1891 census living with his mother and siblings at 38 Pound Street, Millbrook, Southampton. William is not present on the 1901 census and perhaps at sea at this stage.
William was married in Southampton in early 1903 to Daisy Kate Long (b. 1881 in Southampton). The couple had three children, one of whom died in infancy. His surviving children were: Daisy Winifred (b. 1904) and Dorothy May (b. 1907).
By the time of the 1911 census William is again absent but his wife and children are living at 50 Threefield Lane, St Mary, Southampton.
When William signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912 in Southampton, he gave his local address as 42 Threefield Lane, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Orotava and as a fireman he would expect to earn monthly wages of £6.
William McRae died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notices appeared in an unidentified newspaper:
McRae -- April 15th, 1912, at sea, in the disaster of the Titanic, William Alexander McRae, aged 32, dearly beloved husband of Daisy Kate McRae, of 42 Threefield Lane, Southampton. Sadly missed by his sorrowing wife and children. "In the midst of life we are in death."
McRAE -- April 15th, 1912, by the wreck of the s.s. Titanic, William Alexander McRae, aged 32, the dearly loved son of Eliza McRae (late Read), of 62 Winchester Road, Shirley, Southampton.
His widow Daisy was remarried a year later to Alfred Levi Over (b. 1881) and they had four children: Kathleen (b. 1914), Edith (b. 1915), Alfred (b. 1917) and Louis (b. 1922). Daisy was again widowed in 1946 and she herself passed away in Southampton in 1951.
His daughter Daisy Winifred later became Mrs John Steward and emigrated to Canada in the 1930s, apparently dying there. His daughter Dorothy never married and died in New Forest, Hampshire in 1930.
General Register Office: Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths
RMS Titanic: Agreement and Account of Crew (National Archives, London, BT100/259)
RMS Titanic: Casualty List (National Archives, London, BT100/259)
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List