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:
IN MEMORY OF
& PETER MCKAIN
LOST AT SEA WITH
APR. 14. 1912
BY HOLLEY LODGE
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.
Articles and Stories
New York Times (1912)
Joseph Downton, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany
- 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.
- née Emily Susanne Bourgourd?
References and SourcesJay 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).
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)