Samuel Joseph Scott, The First Titanic Victim
The first Titanic victim died before the ship even set sail
When it comes to the tragedy of the RMS Titanic, many lives were sadly
lost that night. However, in the case of Samuel Joseph Scott,
he got remembrance over a 100 years after his death. Believed to be Titanic’s first victim by many, he died before the Titanic even completed construction.
Scott worked as a catch boy in the construction of the Titanic. Those working on the ship threw him hot rivets and would have to get them. As one of the 15,000 workers enlisted to build Titanic, he earned around 10-15 dollars a week. Belfast was a poorer town. The city’s shipyard brought the city their most income and most of the town members worked to build Titanic, turning it into an important part of Belfastian history.
Before he moved out into a different lodge, Scott lived in Templemore Street, by Newtown. He stayed with his mother Jane and 6 of her children that were with them as well. Scott showed a lot of independence and stability for a 15 year old boy, and had a career he enjoyed. Being a catch boy was hard work, but Scott was good at his job.
Around the time Titanic was being built, he had recently moved out of 104 and into 70 as a lodger, which was on the same side of the street where his mother lived.
A lot of riveters were younger; Harland and Wolff couldn’t afford experienced workers, and ended up hiring mostly inexperienced and low-paid 13 and 14 year olds.
Many believe Scott loved his work and loved the possibility that he was able to aid in the construction of the biggest ship of all time during that era.
During construction, Scott was on a ladder above the open hull of
Titanic. He lost his footing and fell with no one to see him. Scott
tumbled down an impressive 60 feet and damaged his skull.
With no one to see him go, the way that the inspectors uncovered what
happened was through the testimony of a riveter who saw him laying
motionless and bleeding out of his head. They ruled his death as being
due to a fracture of the skull.
He was certainly of the youngest to die building, and the first
victim of the Titanic tragedy. Dozens more men died after Scott, but those who buried them him put into an unmarked grave. A total of 246 injuries were recorded during the building of Titanic. To cover Scott’s death, 16 shillings were given to his family but that could only cover his burial, not his headstone.
With the sheer size of Titanic, the causality rate was considered low
since so many men worked to build the giant ship. During that time, especially with the looser and not as serious laws for labourers at the time,
Scott’s death became mostly overlooked. Scott died in 1910, and the
Titanic sailed, completed a few years after. While on her maiden voyage, Titanic would strike an iceberg and then sink, taking with it 1,500 lives.
Scott was buried in Belfast. For over 100 years his grave had no name. People knew his body was there, but it remained unmarked for so long.
It wasn’t until 2011 that Scott finally got a proper headstone,
marking his short life and giving a name to his final resting place.
Scott’s name was used in a book, where he as the main character is a
spirit aboard the Titanic who is there to witness the sinking. Many
people imagine that Scott was in a way a spirit to witness the sinking
of the Titanic, and watched the ship he had helped build go down in
the icy North Atlantic. It was published in early 2011, the same year
that Scott’s grave was given a name.
Scott’s story is a tragic one, and he has become a part of Irish and Titanic history.