Mr William Thomas Kerley

William Thomas Kerley was born in Sutton Waldron, Dorset, England in early 1884 and he was baptised on 14 April that same year.

He was the son of Charles Kerley (b. 1847) and Emma Caroline Pope (b. 1851), natives of Edmondsham, Dorset who had married on 5 June 1867 and who went on to have a total of nine children, with seven living past infancy. Their known children, besides William, were: Robert Charles (b. 1867), Frederic George (b. 1870), Ellen Jane (b. 1875), Ada Caroline (b. 1879), Charlotte Maud (b. 1881) and Rose Amelia (b. 1883).

William was born into an agricultural background and his father was an agricultural labourer. He first appears on the 1891 census living in St Michael, Gussage, Cranborne, Dorset. The following 1901 census sees William and his family living on Pentridge Farm, Pentridge, Cranborne. Aged 16, William had already left school and was working as a domestic footman. By the time of the 1911 census William had left home and was living as a footman at "The Hall," Farnborough, Banbury, Oxfordshire, the home of a wealthy man named Joshua Fielder. William's own parents were living in contrasting conditions in Woodmanton, Bower Chalke, Wiltshire, his father still farming.

When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, William gave his address as Woodminton Cottages, Salisbury. The Titanic was his first ship. As a second class steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s.

Kerley, who was unmarried, died in the sinking. His body was one of the last recovered on 6 June 1912 by tanker SS Ottawa. His body was buried at sea.

...More tragic was the death of Tom Kerley a chef [sic] on the ill-fated Titanic. His parents who worked on Elliott's farm were very proud of their smart and popular son and especially of his progress to the largest and most magnificent ship of its day. Kate Gulliver who lived on the Chase (Cranbourne Chase an area in Dorset England) remembers the terrible gloom that sinking cast over the whole Country. At a memorial service for Tom in the Baptist Chapel his father asked for the boy's favourite hymn, 'Peace Perfect Peace' and wept throughout the singing of it. Tom Kerley's death was noted in 24 April 1912 edition of the Parish Paper but a strange sequel was noted later: A sad sequel to the tragic drowning of young Tom Kerley in the ill fated Titanic has come by the news of the unexpected recovery of his lifeless body floating in mid-ocean. It was noticed by a passing vessel homeward bound. With reverent care it was up lifted and after the Burial Service had been said once more committed to the deep to the grand and solemn music of the ever restless waves...
[Unidentified Dorset History Book]


Articles and Stories

Southampton Times and Hampshire Express (1913) 
Bowerchalke Parish Papers (1912) 

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References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2020) William Thomas Kerley Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1949, updated 13th January 2020 02:05:01 AM)