Titanic Crew Story: Thomas Millar

From the Millar family

Thomas Millar was a 33 year old assistant deck engineer on Titanic. He was travelling to New York where he planned to base himself while continuing to work for the White Star Line. Thomas Millar is unique in that he worked at Harland and Wolff as an engine fitter and helped build the engines of Olympic and Titanic.  In early 1912, he left the shipyard and signed on with White Star.  His signing on record on 2nd April shows that he had made one previous voyage on a Red Star liner called Gothland.


A Change of Life to America- Leaving Belfast for the Last Time

Thomas Millar’s decision to uproot from Belfast to New York was spurred on by the death of his wife, Jeannie in January of 1912.  That left him with two small children to bring up and he decided that the best future for them was to bring them out to America once he had got settled.  When he left Belfast on Titanic on 2nd April, the boys were left in the care of an aunt in a country village outside Belfast.  They expected to see their father again in a few months’ time when they would be brought to either Queenstown or Southampton to board a White Star ship.  The children, Thomas Junior aged 11 and William Ruddick, aged 5 were given two new pennies each by their father before he boarded Titanic.  He told them not to spend them until he came back.

Thomas Millar did not survive Titanic’s sinking. His body was never recovered and the boys were left orphaned.  They remained with their Aunt Mary until they were old enough to make their own way in life.  An allowance of 5 shillings a week was paid to the family from the National Disasters Relief Fund.  Thomas Millar’s name is on the Titanic Memorial at Belfast City Hall and there is an inscription dedicated to him at his wife’s grave in Carrickfergus.  William Ruddick Millar never spent the two pennies given to him by his father before he sailed on Titanic and they remain with the Millar family to this day.

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User Comments 16

You will find that Thomas had a sister named Susan. Susan married my great grandfather Thomas Downey in 1900. Downey's have long line of dock workers working many ships to include the Titanic. Would love to connect with some distant family.
Paul Downey 24 September 2012
I am one of the relatives of Thomas Millar and was very interested to find out this sad story. My Granny Phylis Millar told me this story and I found this website! This is very cool to read about and will be showing my granny at a later date! We have a shield given to our family for the services made by Thomas!
Lydia 08 February 2012
This was very interesting to find as Thomas Millar was one of my great great uncles! Before the coins were given to the museum i was able to see them! It is very interesting but tragic story".
Lyds 08 February 2012
It's great to hear that the two pennies given to them are heirlooms and not treasures in a museum, gallery or exhibit. Perhaps the only true evidence of Thomas Miller would be his fingerprints on the coins, or a note he left behind. When did the National Disasters Relief Fund terminate support for the families?
Ted B. 04 August 2011
What a very sad story and how amazing that the little boys kept the pennies to this day. I would
have probably spent them on sweets.
JAMES HARRIS 04 August 2011
I think it's sweet how these two boys cherished their father so much that they honored him by not spending those pennies and have them in the family in the present day. They can be seen as a beautiful memento of a love between a father and his sons, and the bond that they shared being so strong that the pennies became priceless symbols of that love. However, it's interesting how quickly we all forget how ill-equipped the search parties were back then. There was no special equipment to locate bodies except by eyesight and those that did search, started so much later than they should have. And Cathy is right about currents carrying bodies off and those that were not life-jacketed sinking because the bodies became too heavy. And one other possibility is that his body may have been recovered but unidentifiable because of the conditions some of the bodies were in making it impossible for them to be identified.
Diana Lane 03 August 2011
Tragic story, but the coins sound very interesting!
Susan Campbell 03 August 2011
Lots of bodies were not found, and a lot of those that were found were not identified. Unlike today,it took days, and in some cases weeks, for rescue ships to enter the area looking for bodies, many of which had floated out of the area on currents, or had sunk by that time.
Cathy 03 August 2011
In reply to "Why wasn't his body ever found"... give it some thought. What kind of rescue mission equipment would have been available in 1912? Think of how long it would have taken for the rescue and retrieval to take place. How experienced would the rescuers have been with this kind of rescue operation? Consider as well, the temperature/conditions. Not everybody was wearing life jackets. It's possible that some of the bodies that made it off the ship, in an attempt to save themselves, eventually sank. Some may have frozen in places where they weren't found. Many others simply never made it off the ship and went down with it. There were many possibilities. For those of you who wrote, and are writing reports, I hope you got into the various areas like these to research.
Janna Cummings 03 August 2011
How come his body wasn't ever found? I need some answers for my report on the Titanic. What was it built out of? How many passengers were aboard the Titanic?
Paige 02 May 2011
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