William McQuillan was born in Belfast, Co Antrim 1, Ireland (modern day Northern Ireland) in 1886. He was the son of William McQuillan (b. circa 1855 in Co Antrim), an engineer. His mother died sometime after 1892 but her identity is unclear. He had three known siblings: Robert Andrew (1884-1902), Annie Edith (b. 1890) and Harriet (b. 1892) and he grew up in a Presbyterian household.
William appears on the 1901 census of Ireland living at 50 Meadow Street in the Dock Ward of Belfast City. At the time he was aged 15 and had already left school, working as a fitter's apprentice and his brother as a shipwright.
William's father was remarried in 1904 to a woman named Annie who was 24 years his junior. Together they had a total of four known children: Aileen (b. 1905), Ian (b. 1907), Lucinda (b. 1909) and Prudence (b. 1910). They later lived at 41 Seaview Street, Belfast.
William himself was married in late 1906 to Margaret McCormick (b. 1886 in Belfast). By the time of the 1911 census the married couple were living at 79 Seaview Street, Duncairn, Belfast with their daughter Annie (b. 1909). The census indicates that they had lost a child in infancy. William was, at this time, described as a seaman and his wife a linen spinner. The couple would welcome a further child named James around the beginning of 1912.
William was on board the Titanic as a fireman for her delivery trip to Southampton. When he signed on again in Southampton on 6 April 1912 he gave his address as 79 Seaview Street (Belfast). His previous ship had been the St Dunstan. As a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.
William McQuillan was lost in the sinking. His body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett, and was buried at Fairview Cemetary, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 6 May 1912.
© Bob Knuckle, Canada.
NO. 183 - MALE - HARDLY ANY HAIR ON HEAD OR FACE
CLOTHING - Blue coat and vest; dungaree pants; striped shirt.
EFFECTS - Shaving brush; soap; papers.
NATIONAL FIREMAN UNION BOOK No. 932.
NAME - W. McQuillan,
His wife and children would benefit from the Titanic Relief Fund as Class G dependents.
William is commemorated on the Titanic Memorial located in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.