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Did bearers of your surname travel on the Titanic? When researching your family history, or the background of your surname, it is always fascinating to discover connections to famous events. The Titanic and its passenger list are a source on continuing intrigue and here’s why.


The sinking of the Titanic is forever etched in the annuls of history. It is of course one of the most famous maritime disasters of all time. Here we discover a little more about The Titanic and its passenger list. There was such a tragic and huge loss of life, and the disaster is as intriguing now as ever. The passenger list of the Titanic recorded 1517 passengers in total, and each one of those passengers had their own unique story to tell. Was your surname one of those that featured on board this doomed vessel?


Who Built It?


The Titanic was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The construction began in 1909, and it took around three years to complete. The ship was one of the largest and most luxurious of its time, designed to transport passengers across the Atlantic Ocean. The Titanic was built for the White Star Line, a British shipping company that operated ocean liners between Europe and America. The White Star Line not only commissioned the construction of the Titanic but also its sister ships, the Olympic and Britannic. This was part of their efforts to compete with other major shipping companies like Cunard Line and Hamburg America Line. The Titanic had been hailed as ‘unsinkable’ and yet only 705 people survived. In total there were 472 lifeboat seats not used, further adding to the human tragedy.


Can I find out about my own surname on the Titanic?


When reading our coats of arms and surname history prints, we regularly find information about people with a particular surname who were on board the Titanic. For example, we learn of a Mr Humphrey Lloyd, age 32, an English Saloon Steward. He died in the sinking and was recovered by CS Mackay-Bennett. If your own surname is recorded in the passenger list of the Titanic, then we make mention of it on our surname history print. Plus, the lifeboat number is often mentioned.


You may be able to find bearers of your name that were rescued in a particular lifeboat. We often learn the occupation of the passenger, and also the class they were travelling in. Who knows? It could be the start of a journey of family discovery! It is always sad to think about how discrepancies between the classes had such a bearing on whether passengers survived or perished.




The Titanic lifeboats

The Titanic lifeboats



Passenger demographics



The Titanic’s passengers were from many different countries and social classes. These ranged from wealthy businessmen and first-class travelers to poor immigrants seeking a better life in America. The majority of the passengers were from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and the United States.

Surname distribution


Analysis of the Titanic’s passenger list reveals some interesting patterns in surname distribution. For example, many of the passengers with English surnames were from the upper classes. While those with Irish surnames were more likely to be in third class. There were also many passengers with Scandinavian surnames, as well as some with Jewish and Italian surnames. Did a bearer of your surname or one of your ancestors travel on the Titanic? Tell us all about him or her – we’d love to know your story!

Famous surnames


The Titanic had several passengers with famous surnames, including John Jacob Astor IV, a wealthy businessman and real estate developer. Also Benjamin Guggenheim, a member of the prominent Guggenheim family. And Isidor and Ida Straus, the owners of Macy’s department store. These passengers were all in first class and tragically lost their lives in the sinking.



An example: The Kelly Surname


A particular surname of note is that of ‘Kelly’. On the passenger list, we find a Mr William Kelly, aged 23, who was an Irish Assistant Electrician from Dublin. He did not survive the disaster. We also find two James Kellys, aged just 19 and 44 respectively. They were both third class passengers who lost their lives in the sinking. Also another James Kelly, aged 44, and English ‘Greaser’ from Southampton, who worked on board, but sadly lost his life.


When you discover the interesting details and the background behind the surname, it brings the enormity of the tragedy into sharp focus. Each of these passengers had a story to tell, and hopes for the future as they steamed their way to America.



Survivors and victims


Many of the Titanic’s survivors and victims have become well-known through books, films, and other media. Some of the most famous survivors include Molly Brown (also known as the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’), a wealthy philanthropist who helped rescue other passengers. There was also Charles Lightoller, the ship’s second officer who helped load the lifeboats and later wrote a memoir about his experiences. Among the victims were a number of well-known figures, such as the American journalist and socialite Dorothy Gibson and the British writer and social reformer William Thomas Stead.




The Titanic in Southampton

The Titanic in Southampton




Five quick facts about the Titanic


  1. It sank on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City.
  2. The Titanic was considered one of the largest and most luxurious ships of its time, with amenities such as a swimming pool, gymnasium, and Turkish bath.
  3. There were a total of 2,224 passengers and crew on board, but only 710 survived the disaster.
  4. The sinking of the Titanic led to significant improvements in maritime safety regulations and the establishment of the International Ice Patrol to monitor icebergs in the North Atlantic.
  5. The story of the Titanic has been immortalised in popular culture through numerous books, movies, and songs. These include James Cameron’s 1997 film “Titanic,” which won 11 Academy Awards.



The sinking of the Titanic had a profound impact on the world, and the story has continued to captivate people’s imaginations for over a century. Many books, movies, and TV shows have been made about the disaster, and there are countless websites and forums devoted to discussing its various aspects. The Titanic’s passengers and their surnames have become part of this legacy, and continue to be remembered and studied by historians, genealogists, and Titanic enthusiasts around the world. Despite its tragic end, the Titanic remains an iconic and fascinating part of maritime history.

Useful links


Click here for a useful site with a list of names and images where available. Biographies of the passengers are also available on this comprehensive site. Titanic Universe, is also a site with helpful information, and if you are in Belfast, home of the Titanic, why not visit the Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic attraction.

Have you or members of your family uncovered links to the Titanic tragedy? Please share your stories with us.  Find out the history of your own surname with our coat and history print.

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