Collins, Mr. John (aka Samuel)
Crew: Engineering - Fireman
18 Jan 1874
Ramsgate, Kent, England
27 Sept 1950
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Born on the Kent coast in 1874, John Collins enlisted in the Royal Marines in December 1890. Despite being underage he was retained and transferred from Walmer (Deal) to Chatham in January 1891 but he was discharged as "invalided" on 8 March 1892.
Collins married 17 year old Harriet Farley on 16 March 1892 in Ramsgate. When he signed on to Titanic he gave the address of the Sailors' Home in Southampton. He had previously served on the ship Highland Laddie. His monthly wage on Titanic as a fireman was £6.
He escaped the Titanic on lifeboat 1 and was called to testify at the British Inquiry. In his evidence he was taken directly to the lowering of the lifeboat in his testimony and it is unclear what his experience was prior to that moment. Boat 1 had been dubbed "the money boat" after acucsations of bribery to not return to collect survivors.
Collins testified that Chief Officer Murdoch instructed him to get into the lifeboat. (There are many exampes of crew referring to First Officer Murdoch as Chief Officer due to the fact there was a late change of officer ranks and Murdoch possibly still had chief officer stripes on his coat as the change was so late.) He testfied that Murdoch instructed two female and two male passengers into the boat and then that Murdoch instructed to the boat to "lay handy for further orders."
He insisted that no one proposed returning to collect survivors in the water and that the cries of those in the water lasted for around ten minutes. He refuted any claim of bribery and that any discussions to return to collect survivors were halted after concerns were expressed regarding the suction of the sinking liner.
After the disaster Collins married again. This time to Florence Milly Grant in June 1916. The wedding took place in London and Collins gave his name as John Lawrence Collins. There is no evidence that Collins ever divorced Harriet, it seems Collins wished to emigrate to Canada and Harriet did not want to leave Ramsgate.
The new couple did move to Canada but Collins returned to Europe to serve in France with the Canadian Armed Forces. He was wounded and discharged, returning to Canad in 1916. Florence bore Collins two daughters, Mary Ypres Collins and Doris Mons Collins.
On April 15 1939 Collins attended a Titanic reunion dinner at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto along with Elizabeth Mellinger, Madeline Mann (née Mellinger) and Emma Bliss.
Collins died of cancer in 1950 and was buried in the veterans section of Pine Hills Cemetery.
Primary source : Encyclopaedia Titanica