Edward Smith (sea captain)

Edward Smith
Edward J. Smith.jpg
Born
Edward John Smith

(1850-01-27)27 January 1850
Died15 April 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 62)
North Atlantic Ocean, 400 miles (640 km) east of Newfoundland
OccupationSea captain
EmployerWhite Star Line
Known forCaptain of RMS Titanic
Spouse(s)
Sarah E. Pennington (m. 1887)
ChildrenHelen Melville Smith
Parent(s)
  • Edward Smith
  • Catherine Hancock
Notes

Ranks:

CommanderRNR (Retired)

Captain – White Star Line

Honorific rank of commodore, as the White Star Line's most senior captain

Edward John Smith (27 January 1850 – 15 April 1912) was a British naval officer. He served as master of numerous White Star Line vessels. He was the captain of the RMS Titanic, and perished when the ship sank on its maiden voyage.

Raised in a working environment, he left school early to join the Merchant Navy and the Royal Naval Reserve. After earning his master's ticket, he entered the service of the White Star Line, a prestigious British company. He quickly rose through the ranks and graduated in 1887. His first command was the SS Celtic. He served as commanding officer of numerous White Star Line vessels,[1] including the Majestic (which he commanded for nine years) and attracted a strong and loyal following amongst passengers.

In 1904, Smith became the commodore of the White Star Line, and was responsible for controlling its flagships. He successfully commanded the Baltic, Adriatic and the Olympic. In 1912, he was the captain of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912; over 1,500 perished in the sinking, including Smith, who went down with the ship. For his stoicism and fortitude in the face of adversity, Smith became an icon of British "stiff upper lip" spirit and discipline.[2]

Early life

Edward John Smith was born on 27 January 1850 on Well Street, Hanley, Staffordshire, England to Edward Smith, a potter, and Catherine Hancock, born Marsh, who married on 2 August 1841 in Shelton, Staffordshire.[3] His parents later owned a shop.

Smith attended the Etruria British School until the age of 13, when he left and operated a steam hammer at the Etruria Forge. In 1867, aged 17 he went to Liverpool in the footsteps of his half-brother Joseph Hancock, a captain on a sailing ship.[4] He began his apprenticeship on Senator Weber, owned by A Gibson & Co. of Liverpool.

On 13 January 1887, Smith married Sarah Eleanor Pennington at St Oswald's Church, Winwick, Lancashire. Their daughter, Helen Melville Smith, was born in Waterloo, Liverpool on 2 April 1898. The family lived in a red brick, twin-gabled house, named "Woodhead", on Winn Road, Highfield, Southampton, Hampshire.

Other Languages