William John Boston was born in Huyton (near Liverpool), Lancashire, England in 1879 and his birth was registered in Prescot in the September quarter of that year. He was the son of William Boston (b. 1846) and Martha Dale (b. 1843) who had been married in 1877. His father hailed from Birkenhead and his mother from Onston, Cheshire. He had one sibling, Mary (b. 1884).
William first appears on the 1881 census. At that time he and his parents were residing at 1 Poplar Terrace, Tarbock Road, Huyton. His father was described as a cow keeper (diaryman). They had moved to 8 Jubilee (?) Avenue by the time of the 1891 census and his father was now described as a coal merchant. William is not at home at the time of the 1901 census, perhaps already at sea, but his family were now living at 128 Thomas Lane, West Derby, his father now described as a green grocer.
William, a severe asthmatic, was married in Southampton in mid-1908 to Ellen Elizabeth Beattie (b. 1886 in Liverpool).
On the 1911 census William and his wife were lodgers at Kedleston, Lumsden Avenue, Southampton, William being described as a seafarer in the merchant service. They would have a son, William Ashley, on August 1 1911.
William was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again, in Southampton, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 1 Hanley Road, Freemantle, Southampton. His last ship had been the Olympic. As an assistant deck steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s.
Boston died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. His probate at the time of his death left his wife £165. He was remembered on a grave in St Anne's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Scotland Road, Liverpool, but the site has since been redeveloped.
William's widow Ellen is not believed to have remarried and possibly resettled in Liverpool where she is thought to have died in the 1970s. His son William Ashley, like his father, was asthmatic and later attended the Quaker College in Liverpool, his education paid by the Titanic Relief Fund, and earned a degree in Industrial Chemistry. He later worked as an actor and entertainer and during WWII served with the RAF, married and raised a family. It is reported that he had a fascination with Titanic and collected various books and memorabilia. He died in Valencia, New Mexico in 2007.