Encyclopedia Titanica

William Joseph Douton

Mr William Joseph Douton 1 was born in Southsea, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on 18 December 1856.

He was the son of William Douton (b. 1835), a carpenter, and Ann Eliza Goulter (1839-1868). His father hailed from Plymouth, Devon whilst his mother was from Portsmouth and they were married in Portsea on 29 November 1855. He had one brother, John (b. 1858), who was born in Jersey.

William first appears on the 1861 census living with his mother and brother (his father was absent) at 26 Grosvenor Street, Portsea, the home of his widowed maternal grandmother and his aunts and uncles. His mother died before the end of the decade in 1868 aged 29 and William and his brother later moved to Guernsey and were shown on the 1871 census living with a cousin, Henry Coggen and his wife at Salt Farm (?) in St Sampsons.

William was married around 1880 to Emily S. Le Monnier 2 (b. 1862 in St Sampsons) and they appeared together on the 1881 census living at Courtil Au Feves, St Michael in the Vale, Guernsey and he was described as a stone dresser. They later had two children, Emelene (b. 1883) and Wilhelmina "Wilma" (b. 1884) before emigrating to the USA around 1887and settling in Holley, New York where another daughter was born, Florence (1889-1894). The family appeared on the 1892 and 1905 censues living in Murray Township.

William had been one of a party of 11 visiting the Channel Islands. The group included his goddaughter Lillian Bentham, Peter McKane, Peter and Lillian Renouf, Clifford Jefferys and Ernest Jefferys, Albert Denbuoy and Emily Rugg.  He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger together with Peter McKane (joint ticket number 38403 which cost £26). He gave his last address as the home of a Mrs Cornaille  near Vale Church in Guernsey.

Mr Douton died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

William was lost in the sinking but his young charge Lillian Bentham and several other of his party were saved. His body, if recovered, was never identified. His widow went to Manhattan awaiting arrival of the Carpathia and when she met Lillian off the ship her first words were "Where's William?"

A memorial stone dedicated to he and Peter McKane was erected in Hillside Cemetery, Orleans, New York by the Independent Order of Old Fellows, of which he was a member:


APR. 14. 1912
42 I.O.O.F.

His widow Emily was later remarried twice and moved to Niagara, New York. Her second husband, Charles Benjamin Hyde (b. 1850) was a paper manufacturer who died in 1917. Her third marriage was to Italian born Angelo F. Biondi  (b. circa 1863) but she died only months after that marriage in Monroe, New York.

Both William's surviving daughters were later married and raised families: Emelene was married to a Charles Cooper and raised four children before her death in Brockport, New York in 1972. His daughter Wilma was married, becoming Mrs Henry Epke and she had two children before her death in 1980 in Monroe.


  1. Name frequently mis-spelled. The 1881 Channel Island census records spell his name as Downton and the USA census records vary between Donton, Douton and Denton. His birth record spells the name as Douton and his memorial stone as Doughton. Contemporary media also alternates between spellings.
  2. née Emily Susanne Bourgourd?

References and Sources

Jay Henry Mowbray (ed.) (1998) Sinking of the Titanic, Eyewitness Accounts. Dover Publications, Mineaola, N.Y. ISBN 0 486 40298 3
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (19 April 1912) ROCHESTER GIRL IS SAVED
Search archive online


Gavin Bell, UK
Joseph Downton, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany

Comment and discuss

  1. Emily DeFilipps (Emily)

    Emily DeFilipps (Emily)

    Does anyone know why William Douton's name is sometimes spelled "Downton" (as it is on this site). He was a stone cutter from Holley and I have done a lot of research on the Doutons. I have looked at property deeds, and there is even a Douton child buried in our local cemetary and I have never seen the Downton spelling except possibly in a book or two.

  2. Peter Engberg-Klarström

    Dear Emily, in the 1912 passenger lists and newspaper reports from the Channel islands, his name was invariably spelt Downton. In the White Star Line list, revised June 6 1912, this is the way his name was written as well. The 'Douton' variety has come forth recently. Best regards, Peter

  3. Emily DeFilipps (Emily)

    Emily DeFilipps (Emily)

    Dear Peter, Thanks for the info! I'm pretty new at this computer stuff and it's very encouraging to know there are people out there to help with answers. Thanks again- Emily

  4. Lindsay Parry

    For Emily DeFilipps and anyone else researching William Joseph Douton: The spelling "Downton" may have started at the time the Titanic ticket was purchased. DOWNTON was used on the Titanic's Outward Passenger List. And then DOWNTON was used on the death records - taken from the ticket records I assume. But prior to the Titanic records - William Joseph Douton was always a Douton. Albeit that transcriptions and 'hearing' him say his surname, didnt always end up with the written record saying DOUTON. But William Joseph Douton was definitely his birth name, and William J Douton is the name... Read full post

  5. Marcus (3924)

    why was william j douton on the titanic

  6. A DLM

    W. J Douton is my 3 x great uncle through his wife, who married the sister of my great great grandmother. Douton is the correct spelling of the name. He was on the Titanic travelling back to America after visiting family in Guernsey.

  7. ali fowler

    Hi, I have always wondered if this man was part of my family, as far as I knew the original spelling of my family name was ‘Downton’ but over the years the name has had many misspellings, Dounton, Doughton, Dounting, Dowding,Downting, I know family members with the last three spellings yet I have birth certificates of great grandparents with the name spelt Downton. Even searching on census records the spellings change over the years, searching my ancestors has been a nightmare! I wonder if maybe ‘Douton is another. After seeing William spelt ‘Downton’ on the list I’d love to... Read full post

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr William Joseph Douton
Age: 55 years 3 months and 28 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Emily S. Le Monnier
Occupation: Quarryman
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 28403, £26
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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