William Mintram – top bloke

His wife probably wouldn’t agree but William Mintram was a top bloke.

OK so he killed his wife, but it may have been an accident, he was one of two convicted killers who sailed as employees on the RMS Titanics first and last voyage, in Mintrams case as a stoker, the very lowliest of employees, the one who shoveled coal into the boilers all day long.

William Mintram was born and lived in Southampton until in 1886 he married his 17 year old pregnant girlfriend Elizabeth, he was just a year older. By 1902 they had five children and he had gainful employment as a fireman (ie a stoker) with a shipping company, home on leave one day he stabbed her in the back whereupon she died – and he claimed it was an accident.

A newspaper report at the time claimed that a police officer had called at the house half an hour earlier to break up a quarrel between the two as a large crowd had gathered outside the house, that must have been one hell of a quarrel to attract an audience from outside.

Mintram claimed that the quarrel was over the fact that his wife had pawned his son’s boots to buy drink for herself, she sounds delightful, really, and that he had had a bit to drink too when he came home, when she slapped him across the face he stabbed her in the back with a knife, accidentally, as you do, its easy done isn’t it, one minute you’re peeling potato’s the next you’re pulling the knife out of your wifes back, “tsk, I slipped your honour”.

And the judge believed him, stabbing someone to death in the back was an easy mistake to make, there but for the grace of god and all that, why only that morning the judge had probably found himself in almost the same situation, Mintram was sentenced to twelve years penal servitude for manslaughter but served only three, ironically the judge at his trial was also a judge at the board of enquiry into the sinking of the Titanic.

By 1912 Mintram was living next door to his eldest daughter who had by then married Walter Hurst, another stoker with the White Star Line and when the Titanic left Southampton both men were signed up for coal shoveling duties along with Walters father, who it is said entered the two mens cabin on the fatal evening and threw a lump of ice at the two stokers to wake them up.

None of the three were able to find either a lifejacket or a lifeboat but when William eventually found just the one lifejacket he gave it to his son-in-law Walter – top bloke William – and they both entered the water five minutes before the ship finally disappeared, finding the collapsible lifeboat B upturned in the water they clung hold.

Only Walter in his lifejacket was finally picked up alive, the body of William Mintram was never found.

Walter lived in Southampton for the rest of his days, finally dying in 1964.

Wiliam Mintram, top bloke, one of two murderers who worked on the RMS Titanic.

36 thoughts on “William Mintram – top bloke

  1. William Mintram was my great-great-great grandfather.. where did you come about all this information… (we know the story) did this come from public records?

  2. This William Mintram b.1866 was also my great great great grandfather. This William Mintram as far as I know was married to Eliza May Rose Veal b.1869, His father was William Mintram b. 1835 His Mother was Adelaide Elizabeth Light b.1849. His Grandparents George Mintram b.1809 and Ann Gradidge b.1805, great grandparents Robert Mintram b.1777 and Rebecca Lowman b.1770, and great great grandparents John Mintram b.1743 and Ann Pearce b.1738.

    This is a wee bit of my great…. grandfathers history!

  3. I am also a descendant of William and still live in Portsmouth (right next to Southampton). I was told the story of William and Walter on the Titanic when I was young and was later told about him criminal record as an adult (google taught me of the details). I believe the grave of Eliza (the deceased wife) is still in the main cemetery of Southampton to this day.

    I wasn’t aware of the details about her selling her son’s shoes for drink being the cause of the argument and would like it if you could provide citation for this. Can you at least tell me where you found out these details because I would love to know more myself and these details are not on the encyclopedia Titanica website.

  4. Hi Kathryn

    When I lifted the story from the Encyclopedia Titanica website two years ago there was a separate article on the site which went into some detail on the life of Wm Mintram and another member of the crew who had also been convicted of murder prior to getting a job on the ship, I linked to it above as it had a header on the front page of the site but unfortunately the whole article doesn’t seem to be there now.

  5. Both my father born 1902 and grandfather born ? were named William and lived in Fawley Hants near Southampton and I would like to learn more about my ancesters.Can you point me in the right direction?
    I beleive that my great great grandfather was a participant in the “Swing Riots” of November 1830 when rioting took place all over the south of England as a result of cuts in their wages,Nothing new in this life then!

  6. Hi I am too am a great great grandchild of William Mintram. My great grandad was Walter Hurst (my maiden name is Hurst) who received the life jacket from William Mintram. It makes really fascinating reading and I have quite a lot of information, but not collated in a very orderly fashion at the moment Im afraid.

  7. Hi My Great great great grandfather was William Mintram, my great great grandad was Walter Hurst, my mother (Patricia Sait, maiden name Hurst, great grandaughter of Walter Hurst) moved from Southampton in 1983 to Perth Western Australia. We are all heading back to Southampton for the 100 year anniversary in april 2012 and would like to meet any other distant family members who maybe in the area during april.

  8. Hi my great grandfather was William Mintram my grandfather was Walter Hurst and my grand mother was Rosina May .I agree with everything that my younger daughter Rachel has said except that she has too many greats , William was actually her great great grandfather, and we certainly are looking forward to our trip to Southampton in April.

  9. Hi there, I’m Pat Sait’s other daughter. The article is really cool but I just wanted to let you know that the Charles John Hurst on the Titanic wasn’t Walter Hurst’s Father. Charles John was married to Louisa and had 5 children Edwin, Lewis, Leonard, Herbert and Gladys and he lived in a different part of Southampton. Walter’s Father was Charles Henry Hurst, he was about 19 years older. Does anyone know if they were related ???

  10. Hi, Im sort of related to poor old Eliza, she was my great great grandfather step daughter. Also half sister to my great great uncles. Also one of Eliza’s sister’s married the son’s of my great great grandfather from his first marriage. Does that make sense? So we have several cross over’s. Have really enjoyed finding all this info online, I knew Eliza was murdered by her husband but by chance of just randomly goggling her name a few days ago I found out all this about William going down on the Titanic. Busy doing more research!!!

  11. Hello again, ok i’ve just looked at my family tree again and William Mintram was step son in law to my great great Grandad George Harnett (born 1822). His second marriage was to Fanny Coward, Eliza’s mother. But also Eliza’s sister Emma Veal married her step brother Isaac Harnett (born 1852). So Isaac was from George Harnett’s first marriage and Emma from Fanny’s first marriage. Hope this is making sense, then Fanny and George went on to have 2 sons together called John (born1875) and Frederick (born 1873). John is my Great grandfather. That makes Eliza and William his uncle and aunt. But also as Isaac, his brother from his dad’s first marriage, married Emma, Eliza’s sister from their mum’s first marriage, this makes John and Emma brother and sister in law. Oh how confusing!!! I hope I’ve got this right!!! Anyway the long and short of it is that William Mintram is in my family tree and I think he’s my great great Uncle. There done, a bit confused but happy I’ve got it right!!! Hope this makes sense if not please ask.
    Lesley x

  12. I would love to meet up with any family members coming over for the anniversary. I am Walt Hursts great grandson, my cousins and dad would also love a reunion. If interested I’m on quehurst@AOL.com. ps I was the last family member living in the heart of southampton was only half a mile from our roots in northam area as far as I know now moved accross town to millbrook. Hope to hear from you all take care Q

  13. Hi I’m Q’s cousin (HIs Dad is my Mum’s brother).

    I’ve done some quite extensive research into the Hurst/Mintram branches of our family tree including acquiring newspaper reports from the time of Eliza’s stabbing and following on into William’s trial and am interested in what I have read here.

    I have collated some comments/questions on the article and the comments which have followed on from it and wonder if anyone can enlighten me on them/provide further information:

    In the original article jerrychicken mentions that Eliza(beth) was already pregnant. I hadn’t spotted this when looking at copies of birth/marriage certificates, I’ll have to check that when I get home 🙂

    I have heardd a different story about why William attacked Eliza, that it was because the house was a mess (which I’m sure from memory is what was reported in the newspaper at the time but I will check).

    Walter Hurst was actually a greaser on the Titanic, not a stoker. The story I am familiar with is that William came up to the cabin which he shared with Walter with ice and his life jacket to give to his son in law before going back down to the engine room to continue his shift. I’m not sure if this is something that my grandad (Walter Hurst jnr) told me or if it what Walter snr relayed to Walter Lord for his book “A Night To Remember”. Again I will check this evening.

    Kathryn Mintram: Eliza’s grave is indeed in the old cemetery off of Hill Lane in Southampton. It is unmarked but I managed to find it with the help of a plot map. It’s very sad and eerie when you get there.

    Ronald William Mintram – There are indeed Mintram’s in the Fawley area in the 18 and 19 hundreds who keep turning up on my searches but I am yet to firm up a link between them and my family. A lot of them were farm hands on Exbury estate.

    Lesley Auger: I know from the newspaper articles I have that Eliza’s sister was married to a Harnett and from memory am sure that they lived close (possibly in the same street as William & Eliza). I’ll double check the info I have and see if I can find the family tree links you mention.

    As Q has said, it would be brilliant to meet up with any distant relations who are heading to Southampton (or UK in general) for the centenary.

  14. It is indeed 🙂

    At the bottom of the page is a link to further recollections from Walter and also some stills from a TV program that he and other survivors featured on in the 1950s about the sinking of the titanic.

    The letters also open up the question of what his role on the Titanic actually was as the heading has him as a fireman (stoker) yet he calls himself a greaser in the letter. Very strange! I guess on ly his discharge book would have the true answer.

  15. Thanks for the link to my webpage, http://www.paullee.com ! One of Wally Hurst’s relatives found me via the link and send me a very welcome email.

    I think the Southampton Council has recordings
    of interviews with Walter Hurst’s relatives as part of the “Oral Heritage” collection. I think portions of some of these interviews are in the “Titanic Voices” book (I don’t have my copy to hand right now, but its well worth buying).

  16. Hi. I am a Mintram living in Birmingham. My fathers family originated from the Southampton area and i am aware of William dying on the Titanic. any info on planned reunion would be appreciated.

  17. Hi, My husbands family are also related but as a Mintrim, we live in Southampton and have found the story interesting. All Mintrim, Mintram and Mintrum were related back to John Mintram (1743) and Ann Pearce (1738). Any planned reunion would be interesting.

  18. Hi,
    My maiden name was Mintram and originally come from Southampton, my dad was Eric his father Alfred. I knew a relative had been lost on the Titanic but only that – so the story is all new to me. Regards Rhona’s comment above – I understood there were three brothers all with the surname Mintrum – they fell out and one brother became Mintrim and the other Mintram.
    Having done my Mum’s side of the family I ma about to embark on Dad’s side so am reading with great interest. Whilst Iive in Cheshire and probably too late for any April reunion would be very interested in any future ones.
    Also if there are any good links for the family tree that too would be great.
    If there is a reunion organised then everyone have a good time.

  19. Hi to anyone descended from William Mintram who was also my Great Grandfather. It’s mindboggling to see comments from so many relatives I never knew I had but yesterday, 11th April 2012, my wife, son and I met up with Quentin Hurst and his parents in Southampton after making contact through this page and shared lots of information and had a very pleasant time.
    Massive thanks to ‘Jerry Chicken’.

  20. It started as a bit of a jokey couple of posts after reading a random page on the internet that just caught my attention for no reason whatsoever, I’ve got a bit of an interest in “ordinary” peoples lives and history, not the big picture but the small details, and thats what attracted me to the Mintram story – now look at it – reunions, and still the most hits on this blog week after week !

  21. Hi there im Alicia and am 17 years old, Walter Hurst is my great great grandfather and William Mintram my great,great,great also! My grandmothers maiden name is Irene Hurst and our family live not far from Southampton so if anyone is still wanting to reunite and share info we would love to see you!

  22. Hi everyone!
    Just came across this page by accident!
    I’ve been researching the Mintram/um/ims etc for over 15 years (registered with Guild of One Name Studies) My husband (Mintrum) is descended form the John & Ann mentioned above by Rhona. (met her & her husband earlier this year!) Have been in contact with branches in Australia (Mintrom), USA (Mintram) & the Canadian branch descended from ‘Titanic William’ (Visited them a few years ago!) Would be very pleased to hear from any members of the family.
    I have gained quite a few extra names from the above to add to the tree!
    Regards to all

  23. I found this page so long ago and have just returned after all this time, to find the page has been run amok by Mintrams! It is so great to see you all, and so nice to know that we continue to show jerrychicken just how great his article was.

    Stacy Jury: I remember talking to you on Genes Reunited so long ago, when you were looking for Eliza’s grave. I’m so glad you found it and would like to know all that you have learned about William, Eliza and their children.

    William’s son George was my great grandfather. I have recently found out that he and his brothers were sent to Canada so they could be looked after by Dr Banardos while their father was in prison for killing their mother. All three joined the Canadian Army, and I know that George returned shortly after.

    I have been piecing William’s life together and have found some inconstancies in the papers that have reported on his life. I found an article that says he only served 3 of the 12 years he was sentenced to for killing his wife. He was initially sent to Winchester prison for this crime, but the 1911 census records him as being in Portland prison in Dorset. Was this for the crime of killing his wife? Or was this another crime?

    What makes me question what crime this was for? I have recently found an article that reports on a 17 year old William Mintram, who had been convicted of stabbing the brother of the landlord who ran the Victory Inn, in Southampton. His mother had been refused service when she asked for a “glass of fours”. She left and came back with William, who said they were violent towards his mother and he “had come to take her part”.

    I only discovered this article last night so I am still researching this, but the census prior to this article does not list Williams father as being present. It seems that a 17 year old William may have been responsible for a mother who liked her drink, and his younger brother and sister.

  24. I can hardly believe it’s more than five years since I last checked to see if any new 4th, 5th or whatever cousins had surfaced!
    I’m sure lots must have looked but have been put off because of the time lapse from the last entry, well if you look again do make yourselves known.
    I live in hope of finding the ‘multi billionaire’ Mintram, Mintrim, Mintrum or even Mintrom who wants to share their wealth with the rest of us.
    But seriously, since my 2012 entry I have found out a fair bit more about my paternal Grandfather, William’s son Charles, including tracing some copy documents from Canada.
    The saddest part for me, obviously apart from the Titanic disaster is that a few days before he passed away Grandad entrusted me with what he said was a terrible family secret that he had carried all of his life. He said that the story about his Father, William, going down on Titanic was actually made up to protect the family as he had actually been hanged for the murder of Eliza. Grandad said that he actually witnessed the stabbing and that he and his brother’s went to Barnardos as orphans shortly after and were later sent to Canada. Grandad didn’t want my Dad or his siblings to ever know about the hanging.
    I was stunned and also very moved that Grandad had chosen me to tell.
    If you’re of my generation you will remember how difficult it was to get information before the advent of the www and it took me a few years to find enough official information to disprove Grandad’s version.
    I think what probably happened was that the children were told that their father, William, would be hanged and because of their ages were never told the true outcome of the court case.
    I have found out recently that Barnardos sent Grandad’s brothers to Canada before they sent him because of the age differences, I had naively assumed they were at least together at what must have been a terrifying point in their young lives. This has really saddened me more than I thought anything from so long ago possibly could. It may seem silly but this has stopped me donating to Barnardos any more.
    By the time they got back to England after WW1 the Titanic ‘story’ had been accepted but Grandad always believed otherwise.
    I wish I had been in a position to tell Grandad the Titanic ‘story’ was actually true.

  25. I’d just like to say thank you to all the Mintrams, Mintrums etc etc etc who have made this small story that I picked at random from an internet page into the most amazing piece of social history, the story from Steve Mintram (above) is heartbreaking and yet an amazing reference to the times and takes the story to another dimension – thank you again.

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