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.