Date of birth: 27 January 1850 Place of birth: Hanley, Staffordshire, England Marital status: Married Spouse: Sarah Eleanor Pennington Children: Helen Melville Smith (1898–1973) Address: Woodhead, Winn Road, Portswood Southampton Hampshire England Crew position: Titanic's Captain Date of death: 15 April, 1912 Cause of death: Unconfirmed; body never recovered
Notes: In his Extra Master's application (1888) where the applicant is to fill in his height and other descriptive information this has frustratingly been crossed out, either by Smith or the examiner. The reason for this is unknown. The height of 5'8" is deduced upon photograph evidence and is based on several photographs in which in relationship to other officers he is slightly shorter. It is also interesting to note he failed in "Navigation".
The legendary "Millionaire's Captain" was actually born to working class parents (a pottery presser and grocer) in a landlocked area of England. Thanks to inspiration from his older half brother Joseph, who was a captain, Smith was able to change jobs from a labourer at age 15 to an ordinary sailor, quickly gaining promotion to third mate on his first voyage after 14 men desert ship.
This prompted Smith to gain qualifications and within ten years he obtained his second, first and masters certificates and gained first command of a sailing ship at the age of 25. However he saw the advantages of steam and changed to the White Star Line in 1880 and it took another 8 years before he returned to captain. Thereafter he was captain of increasingly larger ships - the Majestic, Baltic, Adriatic, Olympic and Titanic.
His history was not completely clean with a number of serious mishaps. It was quite probable he was going to retire after Titanic. However he did not drink on the night of the disaster, neither was he asleep at the time of collision.
He was decisive and active during the evacuation and went down with his ship. His body was never recovered.