A few months ago I decided to try & get as much information as possible on the Abraham branch of my tree. I was aware of many Abraham's still living in Portsmouth, Portsea, Gosport & Alverstoke & was determined to "fill in the gaps" as much as possible. I have updated the Genealogy Report on the Abraham's which is now very long.
Whilst doing this I came across William Thomas Abram who died on the Titanic. It took a while but I eventually found that he was actually Thomas William Abraham son of Henry Abraham & Emmeline Elizabeth Andrews. This was proved by a number of sources. I then discovered he had a very "colourful" life. He changed his name on the Titanic (as yet unknown) as he doesn't appear in a magazine I have from 1912 called "The Deathless Titanic" in the lists of passengers & crew. Here is his history:
William Thomas Abrams was born in Gosport, Hampshire c. April 1878. This is only an estimate as when he joined the British Army 24th October 1893 his age was given as 17 years 6 months indicating he had been born March/April 1876. His birth was registered in Alverstoke Apr-Jun 1878 which is correct. He probably lied about his age upon entering the Army which was very common!
His parents married 17th September 1854 & William was one of 7 children:
Elizabeth Sarah (born c.1857 Botley), Mary Ann (born 6 Feb 1859 Botley), William John (born 29 Jun 1862 Botley), Alice (born c.1867 Winchester & died bef.1881), James (born c.1869 Alverstoke) & Eleanor Lee (born c.1875 Alverstoke),
On the 1881 Census William & his family were listed as living at 2 Russell Street, Alverstoke & his father was a Sawyer. They were still at this address in 1891. After leaving school & initially working as a Labourer, he joined the 3rd Hampshire Regiment of the Army in October 1893, yet again lying & adding a few years to his age! He was described as 5'5.5" & weighing 111 lbs, with brown hair, hazel eyes & a fresh complexion, his only distinguishing mark being a small scar on the back of his head. In Jan 1895 he transferred to the Royal Navy & joined HMS Victory (Nelson's famous Flagship).
1881 Census - 2 Russell Street, Alverstoke, Hants.
William was married 18 March 1899 in Portsmouth Registry Office to Nellie Scott. She also hailed from Gosport & was the daughter of Labourer Samuel Scott & the former Emma Layne. William & Nellie had just one child together, their son Eli who was born early 1901 but who only survived for a few days. The couple were listed as living at 97 Whitworth Road, Alverstoke on the 1901 Census & he was described as a Merchant Stoker. Around 1901 the couple became estranged with Nellie reportedly walking out of the relationship, but they never divorced. Nellie began a relationship with Dock Worker Thomas Chalmers & they made their home in Landport, having no children of their own & eventually became legally wed in 1921.
William then married for a 2nd time (Bigamously!!!) on 26 October 1907 to Mabel Constance Hosmer, the daughter of Mariner John Hosmer & Annie Compton. Mabel's mother & other family reportedly knew of William's Bigamous marriage!
William & Mabel went on to have a son, William John Edward on 29 March 1908. The relationship between William & Mabel also began to fall apart around 1909 & they parted company. In February 1910 William found himself hauled before the courts on account of maintenance arrears.
William Abrams, fireman, of Manchester Street was charged on a warrant with the non-payment of maintenance arrears and costs, amounting to £1, 8s, 6d, due to his wife Mabel Abrams. Prisoner admitted liability and said he would pay when he found work. He agreed that 5s should be given to his wife out of 7s 6d in his possession. The magistrates made an order for committal of prisoner to Winchester for 14 days, but adjourned the order for a month to give Prisoner an opportunity of paying the balance of £1, 3s 6d
Hampshire Independent 5 February 1910
This comparatively trivial court case exposed the fact that William was in a Bigamous marriage & a few months later in July 1910 he was again before the courts, again for non-payment of arrears, by then standing at £8 16s, but also because of his Bigamy!
Charge of Bigamy at Southampton
At the Southampton Poice Court, on Thursday, before Mr G Dominy (presiding), Sir James Lemon, Messrs R.G. Oakley, R Chipperfield, C.G. Thompson and W. Wright.
William Abrams, described as a Fireman of no fixed abode was charged on remand that he "feloniously did marry and take to wife one Mabel Constance Hosmer, his former wife being then alive".
Mr C.J.M. Whittaker, who appeared for the prosecution, stated that a week ago he calle evidence to prove that the first wife was alive. the only person who could identify her was the brother, who was in the Navy, and at present engaged in the manoevres, but would be back in a day or two. He, therefore asked for a further remainbnd for a week, which the magistrates granted, prisoner offering no objection.
Hampshire Independent, 20 July 1910
Unluckily for William, Nellie's brother came forward to give evidence; Albert Henry Scott, a carpenters mate service aboard HMS Spartiate, confirmed that his sister Nellie was married to William & that he had seen his sister a fortnight previously.
Signed up to join the Adriatic on a voyage as a Fireman on 13 July 1910, William was intercepted at the dockside by police but acknowledged he was expecting to be arrested! Later at Bargate Police Statgion he said "that's all right, does it state when she left me? Is she to be here today?". After seeing Nellie, William told his arresting officers: "She is altered. She used to be a nice little girl. She has got so thin. I shall be in a fine fix. I had 2 wives, but by the time I finish I shall have none. I shall be glad when it is over"
William was committed to trial with bail set at £50 and on his admission of Bigamy was sentenced to 8 months' hard labour. Nellie, who later married, remained in Portsmouth for the rest of her life where she died in 1952. William was listed on the 1911 Census as an Inmate at HM Prison, Romsey Road (now HMP Winchester). His wife Mabel, perhaps smarting from her husband's stretch in gail, listed herself on the Census under her maiden name & gave her marital status as single. She was, at the time, working as a domestic housemaid at the Grand Hotel, Fir Vale Road, Bournemouth. William's father, Henry, was listed as an Inmate at the House of Industry, Park Road, Alverstoke which was a Poorhouse. He later passed away in 1915.
Following his stretch in prison it appears that William & Mabel reconciled. When he signed on to the Titanic on 6th April 1912, he gave his address as 3 Charles Street, Southamplton. His previous ship had beenn the "Oceanic" & as a Fireman he would receive monthly wages of £6.
On the 15th April 1912, tragedy struck the Titanic when she hit an iceburg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, USA. Of the estimatged 2,224 passengers & crew aboard, more than 1,500 died making the sinking one of the deadliest of a single ship & the deadliest peacetime sinking of a Superliner or Cruise Ship to date.
William Abrams died in the sinking & his body, if recovered, was never identified. the following appeared in the paper:
ABRAMS - April 15th, at sea aboard Titanic, in fond & loving memory of my dear Daddy, William Abrams, of 11 Charles Street, Southampton, aged 33. Gone from our sight, but to memory every dear.
Hampshire Independent, 4 May 1912
William's family were assisted by the Titanic Relief Fund, his widow Mabel, who had been pregnant at the time of the disaster, gave birth late 1912 to a daugher whom she named Nancy Florence & who, unfortunately did not live to see her 3rd birthday & passed away on 28 September 1915. Mabel remarried in 1916 to another Mariner, Arthur Herbert Ford a Widower with 2 children. She was again widowed on 24 April 1917 when Ford was killed at sea with the loss of the trawler HMS Margate which was torpedoed off the coast of Yorkshire. She married again in 1919 to Frederick Chalk & they had a daughter Annie Mabel.
William's only surviving child, his son William, also went to sea, joining the Royal Navy in 1926 as a humble deck boy, rising to become an Able Seaman then rising to Petty Officer. In 1930 he married Cecilia Doreen Murphy & they had 2 children William & Doreen.
William's son William was a Petty Officer aboard HMS Submarine Thames, which he had first joined in May 1940 & which in July & August 1940 had been patrolling waters off the coast of Norway. the Thames was reported overdue on 3 August 1940 & had most likely struck a mine in the preceding days. William was among the lost.