Mr William Henry Lyons was born at Meat Market Lane in Cork City, Co Cork, Ireland on 4 September 1886.
He was the son of Henry Lyons (b. 1857), a clerk, and Catherine O'Keeffe (b. 1856), a publican, Cork natives who had married in St Peter and Paul's Church in their native city on 8 February 1885 and went on to have three children, all sons, of whom William was the eldest. William's brothers were: Denis James (b. 14 July 1888) and John Frederick (b. circa 1890).
William grew up in a comfortable lower-middle-class Roman Catholic family. His father was described as a publican on the 1901 census and vintner (winemaker) on the 1911 census. His brother Denis was a civil engineer and his brother John a medical student as per the 1911 census which also indicated that the young men were fluent in both the English and Irish languages. William was not present for the 1911 census but it is likely that he received the same privileged education and could speak in Irish tongue.
William appears on the 1901 census of Ireland with his family with his family at 3 Meat Market Lane and he, like his siblings, is described as a servant. Neither he nor his mother Catherine were present on the 1911 census but his father and brothers were listed as living at 7 Meat Market Lane in Cork City.
When Lyons first went to sea is not certain but he first appears on crew records in April 1907 when he was an able seaman aboard Astyamax operating out of Birkenhead, his ship prior to that being the Kaffer Prince.
When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 in Southampton Lyons gave his local address as 27 Orchard Lane, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as an able seaman he could expect to earn monthly wages of £5.
During the sinking, Lyons was one of several crewmen who jumped overboard and swam towards nearby lifeboat 4 which was launched late in the proceedings. Hauled into the boat by other occupants, he later lost consciousness. Brought on board the rescue ship Carpathia, and still alive at that point but unconscious, William was pronounced dead several hours later and buried at sea on 16 April 1912.
His father Henry died little more than a year later on 14 May 1913 from heart disease and was buried at St Joseph's Cemetery, Cork where there is also an inscription to William on the headstone. His mother would also die soon after, she on 10 March 1916 due to a stroke and her address at the time was still 7 Meat Market Lane.