Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Titanic and Some of The Scots Who Died in The Disaster

The Titanic, a magnificent ship and the largest ever made up to its time, was built in Northern Ireland. Perhaps, they should have used John Brown and Company of Clydebank which built such world-famous ships as the Lusitania and the Queen Mary. Not sure if this is correct, but I have read that some of the rivets which failed in the collision may have been below standard.

The Titanic had a telephone system, lending library, swimming pool, squash courts and a gymnasium. First class passengers had the use of three elevators with one in second class. The most expensive one-way fare was $99,237.00 (using 2011 values).

The Captain was Edward John Smith who went down with his ship. His body was never recovered. The First Officer was William McMaster Murdock who was born in Dalbeattie, Dumfries, Scotland, and was the officer in charge on the bridge. If his body was recovered, it was never identified. In the recent movie he committed suicide which is not true because numerous people saw him in the water assisting others. The film producers were asked to change the suicide scene but they refused. Studio executives later flew to Murdock’s hometown to issue an apology to his surviving relatives and establish a memorial fund.

The orchestra was composed of eight people. The violinist was John Law Hume also from Dumfries, Scotland. It is true that the band played as the ship was sinking and one of the songs was Sarah Adams’ “Nearer, My God, To Thee.” John Hume was twenty-one and lived with his parents on George St. It was believed that when he finished this trip, he was to return home and marry. The body of John Hume was recovered and he is buried in grave #193 in Fairview Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Another young man from Dumfries was Thomas Mullin. Thomas was 20 years old and single. His body was recovered (#323) and buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia on May 10, 1912. Later, the people of Dumfries would erect a monument to honor both men. The monument is 16.5 ft. in height and “covers a space of 9.5 square feet." On the front is an engraving of the Titanic and a bronze scroll of music containing the music for “Nearer My God to Thee”. I assume the monument is still in Dock Park. Perhaps, someone could check and let us know how the monument looks after nearly 100 years.

I received an email from Michael C. Copperthite who lives in Falls Church, VA. stating that a Scottish relative of his named Bert Copperthite also died on the Titanic. He was a fireman but I don’t know if his body was ever recovered. Michael if you have more information, please let us know.

The next meeting of the Scottish American History Club will be November 5th and we will share the program with the Scottish Home. Caroline Goldthorpe will present a program on “Life Aboard the Titanic.” Ms. Goldthorpe, formerly a curator with the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is now Director of Museum Studies at Northwestern University.

This paid lecture is a gift from Mr. and Mrs. Jamie McKechnie.  If you have questions please call the number below.

Wayne Rethford
President Emeritus
Illinois St. Andrews Society


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