Mr William Gordon Thorley was born in Blackburn, Lancashire 1, England in early 1871.
He was the son of William Thorley (b. 1837), a pawn broker, and Emma Lewsley (b. 1839), both natives of Hull, Yorkshire who eventually married on 15 December 1876 after parenting at least four children over the past decade.
William had three known siblings: Sarah Ann (b. 1865), Clara (b. 1867) and John Thomas (b. 1868).
Thorley appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 17 Nelson Street in Sculcoates, Hull and by the time of the 1891 census he and his family are living at 5 Ellen's Terrace in the same city and William is described as a time keeper for an iron founder. He later worked as a clerk for a provisions merchant and shows up on the 1901 census living alone at 16 Clarence Avenue, Sculcoates. His family also remained in Hull around this period and his mother later died in early 1911. His father, who later lived with his elder son Thomas in Hull, died in early 1912.
When Thorley went to sea is not known although by the time of the 1911 census he is shown as a 40-year-old unmarried boarder at 45 Bridge Road, Southampton and is described as a ship's cook. This was the home address of a Mr William Charles Goulding and his family who later moved to 18 John Street, Southampton, appearing there on the 1912 street directory.
Having lost both parents within months of each other, when Thorley signed on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his local address as 18 John Street, Southampton and his previous ship as Oceanic. As an assistant cook he could expect to earn monthly wages of £4, 10s.
William Thorley, who was unmarried, died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.