Mr William Logan Gwinn 1 was born in Manhattan, New York in the latter half of 1875.
He was the son of Alexander Gwynne (b. 1834), a currier (leather specialist), and Emily Bishop (b. 1850). His father was born in Massachusetts to Scottish immigrant parents whilst his mother was born in New York and they were married around 1870.
William had eight known siblings: Cornelius James (b. 1874), Emily (1878-1882), Alexander (b. 1879), Harvey Ladew (1881-1884), Albion Thurston (1883-1884), Charles S (b. 1885), Olive L (b. 1887) and Elizabeth (b. 1891). Two of the children, Harvey and Albion, were lost within weeks of each other in late 1884.
William Gwynn at at a family gathering
Courtesy of Ted Robinson
William first appears on the 1880 census living with his family in Manhattan, still resident there by the time of the 1900 census with he being described as a clerk. His father apparently later became a farmer and the family appears on the 1905 census living in Olive, Ulster, New York and here William was described specifically as a postal clerk. He had reportedly spent time living and working in the postal service in Brooklyn and it is believed spent a portion of his younger years serving in the New York Militia.
A tall man, purportedly standing at 6'4" and of athletic build, he was married in Manhattan on St Valentine's Day 1907 to Florence Rohde (b. 1879 in New York) who was the daughter of Freeman Rohde and Hannah Scrutten. The couple's first child, William Thurston, was born on 18 April 1909. The small family appeared on the 1910 census living in Manhattan and they later welcomed another child, Marjorie, on 6 October 1911. By early 1912 the family were living in Asbury Park, New Jersey.
Gwynne was in England when he was reportedly informed of his wife's ill health (although not life-threatening, as some contemporary newspapers reported). Originally to have returned to New York aboard the Philadelphia, he gained a transfer to Titanic in order to hasten his journey. His local address in England was given as 4 Commercial Road, Southampton.
On the night of the sinking, Gwynne and his fellow postal clerks, assisted by several other crewmen, struggled to bring some 200 sacks of mail up to a higher deck from the flooding mail rooms. Fourth Officer Boxhall went below soon after the collision to examine the extent of the damage. When he got down to E deck he says he found it awash. He saw Gwynne in his nightclothes, he having rushed from his own quarters, and had bags of mail in each arm whilst waist deep in water. Reports vary as to the last time Boxhall saw Gwynne. One source says Gwynne was witnessed on the boat deck standing near the railing next to purser Herbert McElroy. Another report suggests that Boxhall became separated from the postal clerks on their ascent to the upper decks.
William Gwynne died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. The news of his loss cause his wife to collapse in shock. She later took to the newspapers to rubbish claims that she was seriously ill
His widow Florence was never remarried and later settled with her two children in Brookhaven, Suffolk, New York where she lived with her mother Hannah Rohde for a time. She died in 1952 and is buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Brookhaven. Both her children also lived the rest of their lives in Suffolk: William died on 20 September 1996. Daughter Marjorie was married in the late 1930s to Albert Brown (b. 1910), a bookkeeper, and also settled in Brookhaven where they began a family. She died in 1983.