Mr William Patrick Kelly was born on Houston Street in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland on 18 June 1888.1
He was the son of Irish Roman Catholic parents William Kelly (b. 1862), a merchant tailor, and Annie Curran (b. 1862), natives of Co Tyrone who had married on 27 July 1884 in Kinning Park, Glasgow.
He had four siblings: Peter (b. 1886), Rosina (b. 1890), Annie Marie Elizabeth (b. 1896) and Adrian Joseph (b. 16 August 1899).
William first appears on the 1891 Scottish census; at the time his father was absent but he, his mother and siblings were living at 230 Paisley Road, Kinning Park, Govan, Glasgow along with his maternal grandparents Peter and Annie Curran. He and his family moved to their native Ireland sometime before 1897 and settled in Dublin where his father ran a tailor and outfitter shop. Their address at the time of his brother Adrian's birth in 1899 was 12 St George's Avenue, Dublin. There is no sign of the family on the 1901 census.
William was educated at Dublin's Christian Brothers' School in Skerry's Commercial College in the same city. He served a three-year apprenticeship with T. E. Brunker Electrical Engineers in Dublin and stayed with them until 1911. On the 1911 census of Ireland William and his family are living at 1 Claude Road, Drumcondra, Glasnevin in Dublin and William, like his brother Peter, was described as an electrical engineer.
In January 1912 Kelly joined Harland & Wolff and was engaged upon electrical work aboard Titanic. In a letter to a friend, dated 10 March 1912, he described the anti-Catholic prejudice and vitriol that he and his like endured in the shipyard, and in Belfast in general at the time.
18 Century St
I am sorry for not answering your letter sooner but I have had a lot of knocking about this last week.
I was transferred to the Olympic last Monday to relieve the man in charge on her. She was to sail for Southampton that day, but all the newspapers stated that she was weather-bound. The truth of the matter was that as we were going down the lough through the ignorance of those in charge a mooring chain got woundround the propellers and she had to be reduced to have it taken off.
I was then sent on the White Star tender Magnetic [sic] which was going on trials and spent a rotten two days running about the Irish Sea. I have managed to get a fine cold and sick of everything. Every rotten job is kept for the "Dublin Fellow". There is a terrible lot of favouritism in the yard, I expect I will have to suffer on for a while longer and perhaps I will get into the "know" myself.
The Churchill "riots" were entirely bloodless infact I do not think there is enough spunk in the whole of Belfast to cause a decent fight as I have never seen one since I came up here.
One person they are terrible afraid of is the Pope. On the saloon bulkheads before the pannelling [sic] was put up the language they used against him in writing was enough to sink the ship. They must think I am a relation of his because I got a good share of it too.
I will now conclude by giving you advice never come to Belfast.
Kelly was later appointed as an assistant electrical engineer aboard the ship and it would be his first working sea voyage. When he signed on to the Titanic in Southampton for the maiden voyage Kelly gave his address as 1 Claude Road, Dublin and as an assistant electrician, he could expect monthly wages of £8.
William Kelly died in the disaster and his body, if recovered, was never identified.