Mr William McQuillan

Titanic fireman and victim

William McQuillan

William McQuillan was born at 73 Cosgrave Street in Belfast, Ireland (modern-day Northern Ireland) on 6 January 1886. 

He was the son of William Robert McQuillan (b. circa 1855), a fireman, and Annie Fergie (b. circa 1858) who had married in St Stephen's Church, Belfast on 5 October 1882, both residents of 96 Cosgrave Street in that city at the time. 

He had three known siblings: Robert Andrew (b. circa 1884), Annie Edith (b. 26 February 1890) and Margaret (b. 30 June 1892) and he grew up in a Presbyterian household.

His mother later suffered from a paralysing illness and died on 28 March 1900 aged 42; the family address at the time was 23 Upper Canning Street(1), Belfast.

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. His brother was to die tragically the following year on 5 December 1902 when his head was crushed in an accident at the shipyards where he worked (Workman, Clark and Co); he was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital close to Belfast's city centre but died due to his horrific injuries the same day. 

On 15 April 1904 William's father remarried to a woman named Annie McIlroy (b. circa 1879) who was 24 years his junior. Together they had a total of five known children: Eileen (b. 17 March 1905), Ian (b. 9 April 1906), Lucinda (b. 10 February 1909), Prudence (b. 10 April 1910) and Elizabeth (b. 4 December 1912) and they lived at 41 Seaview Street, later 35 Seaview Street, Belfast.

William himself was married on 11 September 1906 to Margaret Dennison (b. 1 February 1881) a former linen spinner who was born in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, the illegitimate daughter of Ellen Dennison; their respective addresses were listed as 15 Meadow Street and 15 Jennymount Street, both in Belfast, and McQuillan was described as a fitter. 

The McQuillans welcomed a child prior to their marriage, daughter Marion (aka Mary Ann or Miriam) who arrived on 18 April 1905, born at 15 Jennymount Street but who would die from convulsions aged five years on 2 July 1910, later being buried in Dundonald Cemetery on the outskirts of east Belfast in a Fergie family plot.  

By the time of the 1911 census William and his wife were living at 79 Seaview Street, Duncairn, Belfast with their daughter Annie (b. 15 May 1909) and William was, at the time, described as a seaman and his wife a linen spinner. The couple would welcome another child named James on 18 April 1911. 
William was on board the Titanic as a fireman for her delivery trip to Southampton and when he signed on again in Southampton for the maiden voyage on 6 April 1912 he gave his address as 79 Seaview Street, Belfast. His previous ship had been the St Dunstan and 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. The description of his body perhaps suggests that he suffered from alopecia. 
 

Image
© 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,
79 Seaview Street, Belfast.

His widow and children would benefit from the Titanic Relief Fund as Class G dependents. William became a posthumous father when widow Margaret gave birth to a daughter named Gertrude Willelmina on 20 November 1912.

Margaret McQuillan outlived her husband by only a few years and died due to complications from another pregnancy in a Belfast sanatorium on 3 April 1919 aged 38; her address at the time was again recorded as 79 Seaview Street; she was buried two days later in Belfast's City Cemetery. What eventually became of the McQuillan children Annie, James and Gertrude remains uncertain.

William is commemorated on the Titanic Memorial located in the grounds of Belfast City Hall.

Notes

  1. This is the same address that engineer Thomas Millar was living at the time of his marriage the same year, 1900, so it may be assumed that the two men were acquainted.
 

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William McQuillan
WILLIAM MCQUILLAN
 

Articles and Stories

 

Comment and discuss

  1. Melissa Love said:

    I was wondering if anyone had any information about William McQuillan, a fireman on Titanic. He is buried at Fairview cemetery in Halifax. Thanks Melissa

  2. Chris Dohany said:

    William McQuillan, 26-years-old, was born in Belfast, the son of William and Ann McQuillan. He was married to Margaret, they resided in Belfast and had one daughter, Annie; their son James was born shortly after William died. McQuillan was part of the crew who delivered Titanic to Southampton from Belfast and signed on again for the maiden crossing.

  3. Melissa Love said:

    Hi Chris, Thank you for your information. It is very helpful I am wondering though if I could stretch the friendship and ask if you know where I can find more about him. I'm only new at this research caper and are very interested in finding out more about William. Thanks Again Melissa

  4. nigel pollock said:

    William was my great-uncle. My gran died without knowing that her brothers' body had been re-covered. Can anyone explain why the bodies were not re-patriated? Also, does anyone know whether the identification photographs still exist?

  5. Chris Dohany said:

    Of all the identified crew bodies, only one was returned to England. I believe this is probably because the decedents' families could not afford to ship them back, and I don't believe White Star was footing the bill for it. Apparently the family of steward Arthur Lawrence, the one crewman shipped home, was well off enough to pay such expenses.

  6. Melissa Love said:

    Nigel, I am sorry to hear that your Gran didn't know whether William was re-covered or not. I am not sure if the identifaction photos still exist, but i am trying to find a photo of William. Do you know where i can get one? I am doing some research on him and i am interested in knowing what he looked like. If you could help it would be great. Thanks Melissa

  7. nigel pollock said:

    Chris, thanks for replying, I think my grandmother who was 23 in 1912 was living in Glasgow. Perhaps she wasn' t informed by her family but I have a suspicion that they were only told he had been lost at sea. My father ,a Master Mariner and William himself, had been in and around Nova Scotia several times in his career; it was only after he retired I discovered, much to his shock, that his uncle had a grave that he could have visited. Do you know what became of the records of the White Star Line? I believe the personal effects and identification photographs were sent to their offices in New... Read full post

  8. Melissa Love said:

    Nigel, It is all kind of silly really but i was at a boat show in Melbourne (Australia) and i brought a Titanic collectors plate, it is no 183 out of only 1523 so as i love anything titanic (my house is one big shrine much to the dismay of my husband) i thought i could do some research on the person asscoiated with no 183 which happens to be William. I am very facinated with it all and thought i could dedicate the plate to William. Once i started doing some research my interest grew and after speaking to Senan Molony the author of the irish aboard Titanic i couldn't help myself the more i... Read full post

  9. Michelle Tanner said:

    Hi all, I am new to the site but fascinated by the information available. I have always been told that a relative of mine one William McQuillan, perished when the Titanic sank. Some years ago I did find out of the existance of such a person and have seen pictures of the grave in Nova Scotia, but have been unable to establish a confirmed family link. My family name is McQuillan and they were from Belfast but where exactly is a mystery as my paternal family line moved to England around the 1860's. Knowing who Williams parents, wife children etc are is going to be an enormous help.

  10. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Michelle - Here is my printout on Mr. McQuillan - it may help: McQuillan, William. Lived at 79 Sea View Street, Belfast. Occupation - Fireman. 26 years old. (Born in Belfast, Ireland). He was one of the very few men who made the delivery trip on the Titanic from Belfast to Southampton and also sailed on the maiden voyage. (See the Belfast to Southampton signing on sheets). (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 199. McQuillan, Margaret, widow. Children: Annie and James. All class G dependants. Body number 183. Estimated age 28 Hardly any hair on head or ... Read full post

  11. William J McQuillan said:

    My name is William J McQuillan and I live in Michigan. My great-grandfather's name was Patrick and he emigrated from Ireland as a teen about 1834 to Michigan as an mill worker sponsored by a former neighbor in Ireland. Coincidentally, my mother came to Mi from Halifax. I am interested in any information about William of Titanic fame.

  12. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello William, Welcome aboard. Here's a link to William's biography, which is right here on this site: It's not much, but it's a start.

  13. William J McQuillan said:

    >[Thanks for any information you can give to me.

  14. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    You're welcome, William. Glad to help.

  15. Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Well, the family of William McQuillan in Belfast only recently found out that his body was indeed recovered and buried in Halifax. This link also contains a PHOTO of him, as well as some information relating to William's presence aboard the Titanic. Cheers, Boz

  16. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Interesting article, there. Thanks for posting the link, Boz!

  17. Michelle Tanner said:

    I agree a very interesting article, but how sad William's family have never known until now, his body was recovered and buried in Halifax.

  18. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    The irony is that the existance and location of this grave has been known to just about everyone in the whole world for the past 93 years, except McQuillan's family.

  19. Senan Molony said:

    I have some additional information on William McQuillan from research into him and his Northern Ireland crewmates that I have never published. He and wife Margaret had only been married for six years at the time of the sinking, but early on in their marriage had suffered the nightmare of sudden infant death. It was a boy, lost at three months, I believe. They tried again, of course, and joy was unconfined when Margaret gave birth to a daughter, Annie. The little mite made it past the critical waymarker of her first birthday, and a short time before William embarked on the Titanic the... Read full post

  20. William J McQuillan said:

    Thanks Boz for the notice of the newspaper article. I have sent it to my brother-in-law, whose hobby is genealogy, in hopes that he might discover a link between Wm of Titantic fate and his wife, and myself.

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Bob Knuckle, Canada
Bill Wormstedt, USA

References and Sources

White Star Line (1912.) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax.
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Search archive Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) William McQuillan (ref: #1584, last updated: 17th May 2018, accessed 27th June 2020 00:18:30 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/william-mcquillan.html