Chief Purser Hugh McElroy
- Timeline


Father Richard McElroy born


Mother Jessie Fox born


3 April

Hugh's grandfather, also named Hugh, dies aged 36


Sister Charlotte Mary born


Sister Josephine born


28 October

Hugh McElroy was born in Liverpool

1 November

Hugh was baptised as a Roman Catholic


18 May

Barbara Mary Ennis born


Brother Richard born


Preparatory School at St Mary’s Lodge, St Leonards-on-Sea in Buckinghamshire


Attended St Thomas College, part of Cotton Hall Ecclesiastical College, a Catholic boarding school


9 July

Father Richard dies aged 44


St Francis Private College in Wimborne Minster, Dorsetshire for two years


Aged 16, he decides to continue his priesthood studies by joining a Roman Catholic Religious Order, "Canons Regular of the Lateran." based at St Mary's Priory, Bodmin, Cornwall


Hugh went to sea for the first time as an assistant purser aboard the Allan Line vessel Numidian


John Ellis, the Passenger Manager of the Allan Line in Liverpool, introduces McElroy to Bruce Ismay


20 July

Hugh joins the White Star Line as purser aboard the Cymric


28 July

Signs on officially as purser of the Cymric


4 October

Hugh's older sister Josephine died suddenly of tubercle bacillus (tuberculosis), aged only aged 26


14 August

Fire aboard the Cymric

7 September

Cymric - Purser

12 October

Cymric - Purser


HMT Britannic - Purser

1900 - 1902

HMT Majestic - Purser


11 February

Cedric - maiden voyage - Purser

11 March

Cedric - Purser

11 April

Cedric - Purser

31 July

Cedric - Purser

1 Dec

Awarded the “Transport Medal” presented by the Director of Transport, awarded to Pursers 'whose position and services specially deserved'.



Republic - on the new Mediterranean service but has to depart ship due to sickness


29 June

Baltic - maiden voyage under Captain Smith

23 November

Baltic - McElroy's arranges a generous charitable act on behalf of a steerage passenger who had lost her life's savings, raising 1,500 kroners, equivalent to $325 in half an hour to replace her lost money.


7 February

Majestic - Purser

15 February

Thursday - Majestic McElroy was in charge of a pearl necklace, Cuba's wedding present to Miss Alice Roosevelt worth $25,000, when the Majestic arrived in New York.

30 May

Majestic - Purser

24th September

Monday - Majestic. McElroy deals with a suicide, insuring none of the passengers find out

22 October

Majestic - McElroy was involved in arranging a wedding ceremony for a "youthful runaway couple…Walfred Larson and Elizabeth Wickshan who had fled from their parents' home in Broton, Sweden" missed an opportunity to get married before joining the Majestic in Liverpool. Once again McElroy flew into action, arranging a ceremony, witnesses, a cake and a collection.


9 January

Majestic - Purser


Cedric - Purser - on the Liverpool - New York service


Cedric - sends Christmas card to Springwood, future wife's family


29 April

SS Laurentic - McElroy is purser aboard the maiden voyage on the Liverpool-Quebec-Montreal service


RMS Adriatic - Purser

14 - 23 June

Accused of racism by black second class passenger Mrs Fanny Givens, after he supports her segregated seating in the dining room, a decision overuled by Captain Smith

July 9

3pm Saturday Hugh marries Barbara Mary Ennis at Saint Peters Roman Catholic Church in Ballymitty, County Wexford, Ireland


Adriatic - Married couple receive marriage gift and letter


RMS Adriatic - Purser


Hugh and Barbara move to Southampton

14 June

RMS Olympic - maiden voyage - Chief Purser

20 September

Olympic's collision with HMS Hawke cancels voyage


McElroy rejoins the repaired Olympic.


6 April

McElroy sends message to Phillip Corr saying " the “Titanic” is in many ways an improved Olympic and will I trust be a success" *

9 April

While still in Southampton, Hugh and Barbara send flowers in the Danish national colors of red and white to Miss Adeline Genée, a famous dancer.

Hugh McElroy signs on aboard Titanic as Chief Purser with a monthly wage of £20.

10 April

Sailing day - Assists photographer Father Browne to obtain access to many areas of Titanic

11 April

McElroy is photographed with Capatin Smith on the staboad boat deck in the last known photograph of him.

Asks First Class Steward William Faulkner to change passenger Mr Howard B Case's cabin from E66 to C11 with a signed note.

12 April

Wireless telegram is sent from Empress of Britain to McElroy “Purser McElroy, R.M.S. Titanic, Congratulations and good luck, Fishwick”. McElroy responds “Fishwick, Purser, Empress of Britain, Thanks, kindest regards, all going well, McElroy”

Assists Second Class passenger Imanita Shelley with a change in cabin

14 April

Dinner in the First Class restaurant at Chief Purser McElroy's table is attended by Frederic Kimber Seward, William Thomas Stead, Eleanor Geneviève Cassebeer, John Montgomery Smart, Mary Eliza Compton, Sara Rebecca Compton, Alexander Taylor Jr Compton

15 April

12:10am Annie Robinson, a First Class Stewardess, sees McElroy and the Captain walking in the direction of the mail room

James Johnstone, a night watchman in the first saloon, sees McElroy on C deck.

Henry Samuel Etches, a first class bedroom steward, saw McElroy at the Purser's office with a large group of ladies tellng them "to go back in their rooms... put the life belts on"

Assistant Second Steward Joseph Thomas Wheat in Second Class is told by McElroy "to get the men up and get all lifebelts and all passengers."

12:15am Assistant Second Steward Joseph Thomas Wheat hears instruction given by Mr. McElroy to get lifebelts on the passengers and get them on deck… to get all the men to the boats - to their stations."

First class passenger Mrs Eleanor Geneviève Cassebeer hears the pursers order passengers to "put on warm clothing and be prepared to embark in the lifeboats."

Dr. Washington Dodge relates an account he heard "of the purser's office surrounded by a crowd demanding their valuables"

Frederick D Ray saw "the two pursers in the purser's office and the clerks busy at the safe taking things out and putting them in bags."

Stewardess Violet Jessop saw "an open gladstone bag, filled with gleaming gold sovereigns" from the purser's office that is knocked over the boat deck.

Bedroom steward Henry Etches goes to the purser's office and is told to go up on the boat deck and "tell all the other bedroom stewards to assemble their passengers on the boat deck and stand by.'

Samuel Rule bathroom steward sees Mr McElroy the Chief Purser and Mr. Dodd, the Second Steward in deep conversation on A deck

1:30am Saloon Steward William Ward sees Chief Purser McElroy in charge of loading the boat

James Widgery also reports McElroy at loading passengers at lifeboat no.9

2:00am John "Jack" Borland Thayer jr reports seeing Purser McElroy firing his weapon "twice into the air" to stop a rush on collapsible C

Purser McElroy was also last seen standing on the Boat-Deck near the gymnasium, beside mail clerk Mr William Logan Gwinn, giving him words of encouragement,

Second Officer Lightoller is one of the last to see McElroy, "coming from the direction of the bridge...McElroy, if I remember, was walking around with his hands in his pockets...just shook hands and said, "Good-bye, old man." said good-bye to each other, and that is all there was to it." Privately Lightoller is reported that McElroy said "it looks as if we will have sand for supper tonight."

22 April

McElroy's body discovered by the crew of the Mackay-Bennett and initially unindentified (note this may have been the 23rd April - presently unconfirmed).

8.15pm McElroy's body committed to the North Atlantic (note: this may have occured at midday on the 24th if recovered on the 23rd - presently unconfirmed)

31 July

McElroy's estate, worth £4330, 13s, 3d, administered to his widow, Barbara.


15 April

A "Mr and Mrs. Harry D Cruickshank" place a memorial notice in the New York Herald - showing that he was still being remembered as a "devoted friend and companion."

3 June

Barbara remarries to John Clancy in Kingstown (modern-day Dún Laoghaire), Co Dublin

3 December

Titanic Relief Fund reports Barbara's remarriage and states she is "therefore off the Fund." However initiates a grant to support Hugh's mother who is 66 years of age.



Sister Charlotte moves to London and marries a Protestant man. But her husband dies three years later in 1918 from a heart attack.


1 July

Barbara's father Mr. John J. Ennis J.P died, formerly a Chief Purser and Passenger Manager of the Allan Line


Mother Jessie McElroy dies


Brother Richard dies


18 December

Barbara dies at Springmount, Ballymitty, Co Wexford


6 March

Frank McElroy (Hugh's grand-nephew) and family are, by a tragic coincidence, involved in another major shipping disaster, when they survive the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise – in which the 13,600 ton car ferry capsized and sank in just 90 seconds


28 October

A purser's safe recovered from the wreck site is opened in a live TV special entitled 'Return to the Titanic' hosted by Telly Savalas


Frank McElroy releases a biography entitled "Death of a Purser - Hugh Richard Water McElroy, Chief Purser of the RMS Titanic"