Encyclopedia Titanica

William Charles House

Titanic Saloon Steward

Mr William Charles House,1 known colloquially as Jack, was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England in the closing months of 1866 2. He was later baptised on 23 December 1866.

He was the son of William House (b. 1834), a messenger originally from Somerset, and Fanny Fryer, a native of Southampton (b. 1843) who were married on 27 July 1863, going on to have seven children.

William's siblings were: Eliza Fanny (b. 1864), Henry Thomas (b. 1870), Thomas Henry "Harry" (b. 1873), Thomas (b. 1875), Frederick (b. 1878) and Daisy Maria (b. 1881). 

William and his family appear on the 1871 census living at 14 Houndswell Gardens, St Mary, Southampton; by the time of the 1891 census the family home was at 12 St John Street, St Mary, Southampton and a 23-year-old William was described as a steward at sea and his father as a shipping clerk. 
William was married in Southampton in late 1893 to Bessie Martha Rabbetts (b. 5 April 1873). A native of Sherborne, Dorset, Bessie was the daughter of publican and brick maker Charles Rabbetts and the former Martha Tuffin. 

The newlywed couple settled in Southampton and would welcome seven children: Bessie Martha (b. 15 December 1894), Reginald William (b. 19 June 1897), Harold Charles (b. 1899), Leonard Victor (b. 1902), Hilda May (b. 2 July 1905), Stella Mabel (b. 15 September 1907) and Leslie Sydney (b. 1 February 1911). Their second-born son Harold died in very early infancy. 

House was absent from the 1901 census but his wife and two children were listed as residing at Millbrook Road, Freemantle, Southampton. The family were resident at 44 Derby Road, St Mary, Southampton according to the 1911 census but William is once again absent although it is indicated that he was a ship's steward.

House initially signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast for her delivery trip to Southampton. When he signed-on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912 for the maiden voyage House gave his address as 44 Derby Road, Southampton and his age as 38 (he was actually 45). His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a first-class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s. 

William House died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death noticed appeared in the Hampshire Independent on 18 May 1912:

HOUSE--William (Jack); Dearly beloved husband of Bessie House, residing at 44 Derby Rd. Sadly mourned by Wife & Family.

His wife and children continued to place memorials to him in local newspapers for over a decade. 

His widow Bessie never remarried and remained at 44 Derby Road, Southampton for the rest of her life. She died on 12 October 1950 aged 77.

Their daughter Bessie was married in 1914 to commercial salesman Frank Collins (b. 1891) and they had three children: Jack, Joyce and Bessie. Bessie died in Basingstoke on 17 August 1963.

Son Reginald was married in 1926 to Lily Florence Alexandra Rumble (b. 1902) and had three children: Arthur, Gwendoline and Lawrence. The family later operated a hotel in Plymouth. Reginald died in Southampton on 4 July 1969.

Son Leonard never married and died aged 28 in 1930.

Daughter Hilda never married and remained with her mother. She died in Southampton in 1991. 

Daughter Stella was married in 1938 to aircraft fitter Leslie Eric Mitchell (b. 1902) and they had a daughter named Stella. Stella died in Netley Abbey, Southampton on 24 January 1982.

Son Leslie worked as a riveter and was married in 1944 to Edith Fraser. They raised a family before Leslie's death in Southampton in 1980.


  1. He is often confused with William John House who  was born in Freemantle, Hampshire, England on 3 January 1874 and baptised on 1 March that same year. He was the son of William House (1840-1901), a general labourer, and Sarah Ann Flux (1849-1899), Hampshire natives who had married in 1871. He died around 1880. 
  2. His birth was registered in Southampton in the last quarter of 1866. 


Gavin Bell, UK
Paul Howes

Comment and discuss

  1. Paul Howes

    Paul Howes

    I believe this is a case of mistaken identity. The William House who married Bessie Rabbetts and went down on the Titanic was, I believe, William C House. If you go to my website dedicated to people named House, Howes and other soundalike names and click on this link ... you will see a thumbnail image of his marriage certificate. I'm afraid the full image is not displaying correctly at present and I'll fix it, BUT if you hover your cursor over the image you will clearly see that he was age 26 when he married, not 19. The William John House to whom you refer was indeed born in 1874, but I... Read full post

  2. mike (2190)

    My mother, Bessie Collins, granddaughter of Bessie Martha House confirms most of the article.

  3. Justin House

    My Father was Charles House, born 3rd of February 1923 in Ryde - Isle of White. Could he be related do you think?

  4. Paul Howes

    Paul Howes

    Hello Justin. I hadn't seen this before. Please would you get in touch via my website, howesfamilies.com? There's a contact button toward bottom right on the home page.

Reply Watch Thread

Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr William Charles House
Age: 45 years (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Bessie Martha Rabbetts
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Belfast on Monday 1st April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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