Encyclopedia Titanica

William John Turpin

Mr William John Turpin was born in Plymouth, Devon, England on 1 August 1882.

He was the son of Jacob John Striker Turpin (1855-1925), a police constable, and Mary Anne Halse "Annie" (1855-1942). His parents, both natives of Devonshire, were married in 1879 and William was one of their four children, his siblings being: Louisa Kate (1880-1948, later Mrs William Turpin), Leonard George Richard (1890-1948) and Rodney Ben (1892-1930).

William appears on the 1891 census living with his family at 19 Sussex Road in Stoke Damerel, Devon where he and his family had moved to from Plymouth a few years after his birth. The family later returned to Plymouth, appearing there on the 1901 census at 24 Beechwood Avenue and William was described as a carpenter and his father now a builder. Turpin was a freemason and, according to a newspaper report, a member of the Masonic brethren of the Lodge of St. George, No. 2025, Plymouth.

He was married to Dorothy Ann Wonnacott on 23 March 1908 at Eldad Presbyterian Church in Plymouth. The couple lived at 59 Chaddlewood Avenue, Lipson, Plymouth for a period when later that year William secured work in the USA. They later lived in Garfield in Salt Lake City, Utah and show up there on the 1910 census. They remained childless.

In August 1911 William and his wife returned to England to visit their respective families. His parents were by then living at 36 Beaumont Road, Plymouth.  Originally intending to return on the SS New York the coal strike meant that vessel was laid up and so they were transferred to the Titanic. They boarded the Titanic at Southampton and travelled in second class (ticket number 11668 which cost £21).

On the night of the sinking second officer Lightoller encountered a West-Country couple late on during the evacuation. Advising the lady that lifeboats were still being filled and that she should try and board one, she replied "Not on your life." It is possible that this couple were the Turpins.

The couple died in the sinking and their bodies were never recovered.

His father died in 1925 and his mother in 1942 aged 86. His last surviving sibling was his brother Leonard who died in London on 22 June 1948.  His sister Louisa died on 3 November 1948. His youngest sibling Rodney died aged 38 on 30 June 1930 in Plymouth.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr William John Turpin
Age: 29 years 8 months and 14 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Dorothy Ann Wonnacott
Last Residence: in Plymouth, Devon, England
Occupation: Carpenter / Joiner
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 11668, £21
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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References and Sources

Exeter Flying Post, April 20, 1912
Ancestry.co.uk : William John Turpin
Marriage Certificate

Newspaper Articles

Western Morning News (17 April 1912) Bound for Salt Lake City
Western Morning News (17 April 1912) Titanic Disaster, Westcountry Passengers and Crew (7)
Illustrated Western Weekly News (20 April 1912) Mr and Mrs Turpin
Western Morning News (23 April 1912) Mr and Mrs Turpin among the missing
Western Morning News (24 April 1912) Turpin a member of Masonic brethren

Documents and Certificates

Census (2)
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Mike

    Mike said:

    Mr. and Mrs. Turpin are listed with the destination of Salt Lake City, Utah. Is it known whether they were Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)? If so, could they perhaps have been traveling in company with Mrs. Corbett, the daughter of a Mormon bishop?

  2. David H.

    David H. said:

    As of April 1999 the church records available through the family search program and the "IGI" for baptisms of living individuals did not list either Turpin while they do list Mrs. Corbett. This does not eliminate the possibility of their membership as not all the Europan records from that time have been made available for computer searching. Records are available on both microfilm and microfiche if you are interested. They would most likely be under "British Mission" for the area where they were from.

  3. daran emond

    daran emond said:

    Mr & Mrs Turpin are distant relatives of mine and as far as my family remember they were christian and not mormon. Unfortunately over the years the tragedy was hidden from the children in my family and is now only begining to be researched if any one could help with information we would be very grateful.

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