Mr William "Willie" Skeates1 was born in Penton Grafton, Hampshire, England over the spring months of 18892.
He was the son of Fanny Skeates, née Alexander (b. 1854), a native of Fyfield, Hampshire. Fanny had been married in 1875 to Nathaniel Skeates (b. 1848 in Appleshaw, Hampshire) who worked as a labourer. The couple had five children: Edith Fanny (b. 1874), Elizabeth Annie (b. 1875), George (b. 1877), Edmund (b. 1879) and Robert (b. 1885). Nathaniel Skeates died in 1886 leaving the identity of William's father uncertain.
He appears on the 1891 census living at an unspecified address in Penton Grafton and his widowed mother was working as a laundress to support her children. She was remarried later that year to George Hayes and had a son named Albert in 1892. That marriage was again cut short and Fanny Skeates was again a widow by the time she and her sons appeared on the 1901 census, then living at 24 South Street, Andover. What became of Fanny Skeates is not certain and it is possible that she again remarried.
William was married in Southampton in the second half of 1907 to widow Edith Mary Bull, née Faithful (b. 1874). Edith hailed from King's Somborne, Hampshire and was the daughter of agricultural labourer Edwin Faithful and Ellen, née Freemantle. She was first married in London in 1896 to Frederick William Bull (b. circa 1876), a dock warehouseman originally from Paddington. They had three sons: Harry (b. circa 1896), Frederick Hubert (b. 1900) and William John (b. 1903). What became of Frederick Bull is currently unknown and when his wife Edith remarried, their children were apparently sent to live with relatives in Andover.
William and Edith had two children of their own: William Reginald Montague (b. 23 January 1907) and Ellen Maud (b. 23 July 1909).
By the time of the 1911 census William, his wife and children were shown lodging at 29 King Street, St Mary, Southampton and he was described as a labourer.
When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Skeates gave his address as 29 King Street, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Majestic and as a trimmer he could expect to earn monthly wages of £5, 10s.
William Skeates died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
The following death notice appeared in the Hampshire Chronicle (26 April 1912):
SKEATES--On April 14th, drowned on the Titanic, William Skeates (formerly of Andover), aged 23.
His widow Edith never remarried and she continued to live in Southampton. She died on 24 November 1938 and is buried in St Mary Extra Cemetery, Portsmouth Road, Southampton; William is remembered on her headstone:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
EDITH MARY SKEATES
FELL ASLEEP 24TH NOVEMBER 1938
AGED 64 YEARS
AND OF HER BELOVED HUSBAND
WHO LOST HIS LIFE THROUGH THE
FOUNDERING OF THE S.S. TITANIC
15TH APRIL 1912, AGED 37 YEARS [sic]
HOW WE MISS OUR BELOVED PARENTS
ACHING HEARTS CAN NEVER TELL,
WE HAVE LOST THEM, HEAVEN FOUND THEM
JESUS HATH DONE ALL THINGS WELL
Son William worked at sea aboard the Queen Mary for many years. He was married in 1944 to Peggy Bailey and five years later they had twins, Janet and Peter. He remained in Hampshire and he died in Totton on 1 October 1987.
Daughter Ellen was married in 1931 to Ernest William Fulford and had two sons and a daughter. She died in Southampton on 11 November 1976.
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