Titanic Captain Edward John Smith: Facts and Information

Here are ten facts about Edward John Smith, the Captain of RMS Titanic who lost his life when the ship sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg.

  • Edward John Smith was born on 27th January 1850 in Hanley, Staffordshire.

  • He joined the White Star Line in 1880 and worked his way up to commanding the Republic in 1887, the Majestic in 1895, the Baltic, the Adriatic and the Olympic. His reputation as a good, safe captain grew and he became known as the ‘Millionaires’ Captain’ because some of the wealthiest people in England would only travel on ships he was captaining.
  • He was married to Eleanor Smith and they had one daughter, Helen Melville.

Titanic Captain Smith

  • It is believed that Captain Smith considered retirement before accepting command of the Titanic.
  • Captain Smith was in bed when the ship collided with an iceberg. He was woken up by the sound of the collision and was told what had happened by William Murdoch, the First Officer.
  • Smith has been criticised for failing to properly manage the evacuation of passengers. He knew that the ship was going to sink, but he didn’t pass this information on to all of his officers.
  • Very little is known about what Captain Smith did in time between the Titanic colliding with the iceberg and sinking.
  • It is also unclear how Smith lost his life. Most historians believe that he locked himself in the wheelhouse and went down with his ship, but some of the survivors claimed to have encountered him when he passed an infant child into a lifeboat from the water. His body was never recovered.
  • Legend has it that the final words to his crew were ‘Be British’, but this is probably not true.
  • A statue of Captain Smith stands in Beacon Park, Lichfield.

More Facts About Captain Smith

  • He has been portrayed by many different actors over the years. According to Smith’s daughter, Helen Melville (Mel), Laurence Naismith, the actor who played Smith in A Night to Remember, looked very much like her father. Bernard Hill took on the role of Captain smith in the 1997 movie Titanic directed by James Cameron.
  • Captain Smith was 62 when he died in 1912.

What next? Discover some facts about the Titanic.

20 Titanic Facts

Here are twenty facts about the RMS Titanic, the ocean liner which sank on 14th April 1912 after hitting an iceberg. Some of the facts you might already know, but hopefully you’ll learn something new, too.

  • The Titanic was travelling from Southampton (UK) to New York (US) on its maiden (first) voyage when it hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean.

  • About 2220 passengers were on board. Approximately 1500 lost their lives in the disaster.
  • The Titanic was the largest ship afloat before it sank, and it was operated by the White Star Line.
  • Edward Smith was the captain of the ship and he died when the Titanic sank.
  • Although the Titanic was a luxury liner, with libraries, excellent restaurants, beautifully decorated cabins and corridors, a swimming pool and gym, it didn’t carry enough lifeboats for all of the crew and passengers.
  • The Atlantic Daily Bulletin was the Titanic’s own newspaper. It was printed on board!
  • From the moment the iceberg was spotted by the lookouts, the officers had about 35 seconds to respond before the collision occurred. First Officer Murdoch did order the ship to steer hard to port (the left), but their wasn’t enough time to change the course of he ship and avoid the iceberg.
  • The Titanic didn’t carry enough lifeboats for all of the passengers, and not all of the lifeboats were full to capacity before they were launched on 14th April. Lifeboat 7, for example, had space for another 40 people.
  • 2 dogs survived the sinking of the Titanic (they were given space in the lifeboats). Seven other dogs on board lost their lives.
  • The RMS Titanic was a mail ship, responsible for delivering mail on behalf of the Royal Mail. More than 3000 sacks of mail were on board the Titanic when it sank.
The sinking of the Titanic (Credit)
  • The Titanic was massive. It measured 269 metres in length and it was over 50 metres wide.
  • It was powered by steam and its engines used more than 800 tons of coal every single day. It could travel at a speed of 27 miles per hour (24 knots).
  • The wreck of the Titanic was discovered in 1985. The ship has split in two and is resting on the seabed at a depth of over 3700 metres.
  • It took about 3 hours for the ship to sink after hitting the iceberg.
  • Women and children were evacuated first and, as a result, many of the those who perished during the disaster were men.
  • RMS Carpathia rescued 705 survivors. Many of these people had lost all of their possessions because they were emigrating Britain to start a new life in North America.
  • Millvina Dean was the last living survivor. She was only nine months old when she was a passenger and she died in 2009, aged 97.
  • The Titanic had four funnels, but only three of them were used to release steam from the ship’s boilers. The fourth funnel is just for show and is there simply to make the profile of the ship look better.
  • There were four lifts (elevators) on the ship.
  • The only person to survive the disaster outside of a lifeboat was Charles Joughin, the Titanic’s chief baker . He spent two hours in the freezing waters of the Atlantic Ocean before clambering aboard a lifeboat.
Titanic Lifeboat
The last lifebaot launched from the Titanic (Credit)

What next? Find out some facts about Captain Edward John Smith.