Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Chief Purser McElroy
Herbert Walter McElroy was born on October 28, 1874 in Liverpool, England to a devout Roman Catholic family. He had two older sisters named Catherine Mary and Josephine. And a younger brother named Richard. His father was a merchant while his mother wanted them to become a minister of God. Herbert was only seven when his father died and he and his family moved to Ireland. Herbert and his brother, Richard went to the Regular of the Lateran where they were learning how to become a priest when the school closed.
Herbert was just 16 then and Herbert, instead of of transferring to a different school, he followed in his father's footsteps and joined the Merchant Navy while his brother continued his studies. Herbert married his long time sweetheart Barbara Mary Ennis in 1910 and had three children. Herbert had been with the White Star Line for 10 years when he was assigned to the R.M.S. Olympic as Assistant Purser. He was later transferred to the TITANIC on April 9, 1912 as Chief Purser. As 1st class passengers boarded, he urged them to store valuables, pocket change, and other things people would want kept from being stolen. He took the passenger's things, gave them a receipt, and put them in either a leather bag or a safe. He was paid 20 dollars as a monthly wage and was known to be very kind. Every night, he would go to either the 2nd or 1st class Dining Saloon where he would dine with those whom sat alone. He was
one of the main people to talk to about the ship besides Thomas Andrews, Captain Smith, or one of the officers. He was easy to find because he was almost always in the Purser's Office adjacent to the Grand Staircase. The Purser's Office consisted of the front desk, a room where the valuables were kept, and the Purser's Quarters. On the night of the sinking, the lifeboats were being loaded and Herbert was seen asking passengers instead of their jewelry, to get their lifebelts on and go up on deck. Later, he closed the Purser's Office and went up on deck. There, he saw the Countess of Rothes and said, "I'm glad you didn't ask me for your jewels as some ladies have". He assisted in the lowering of Boat No. 6 and Collapsible C. As they were lowering, two men jumped into the boat and Herbert shot into the air with his pistol while 1st Officer Murdoch ordered the men out. Later, Herbert was last seen standing on deck with mail clerk William Logan Gwinn as the ship sank under them. Both men died that night. Herbert Walter McElroy's body was recovered. On him was an address that said: Miss McElroy, Layton, Spottisbury, Dorset and a tag that said: "Linen Locker No. 1 C- Deck". He was so decomposed, that he was buried at sea. He was identified as:
NO. 157. — MALE. — ESTIMATED AGE, 32. — HAIR, DARK.
CLOTHING - Ship's uniform; white jacket; ship's keys; 10 pence; 50 cents; fountain pen.
CHIEF PURSER. — NAME — HERBERT W. McELROY.
When the wreck was discovered, they found a safe with the handle still gleaming as if brand new but the back was missing. They also found one out of six leather bags with tons of jewelry worth a fortune today.