John Edward Hart (1880 - January 15th, 1954) was a Third Class steward on the Titanic. He is known for bringing two large groups of Third Class women and children to the lifeboats, while many others died. He himself survived the sinking in lifeboat 15.
John Hart was born in London in 1880, the son of John Hart (Innkeeper) and his wife Louisa.
As a young man he went to South Africa where he fought in the Boer War (1899-1902) serving as a trooper in the South African Light Force. Sometime after his return to England he signed-on as a crewman aboard the steamship New York.
When he signed-on to the Titanic April 4th, 1912; he gave his address as 1 Foundry Lane (Southampton). This house, in the district of Shirley, bore the name 'Aberdeen'. As a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
On the evening of April 14th, Hart was sleeping in his bunk, which was below the glory hole on E Deck, and next to the Third Class Dining Room, when he was awakened by a fellow crewman: there had been an accident. Hart shared his quarters with 37 other third class stewards, none of them thought it was serious, and Hart went to sleep.
Eventually, Chief Third Class Steward Kiernan came along and gave instructions to Hart: "Go along to your rooms and get your people about." Hart was responsible for about 58 third class passengers in Section K and M, located on E Deck. Kieran ordered him to "Get your people roused up and get lifebelts placed upon them; see that they have lifebelts on them." Hart went around and woke up the passengers under his charge, and helped them put on their lifebelts. After gathering them into a group in the hallway, Hart awaited orders.
At 12:50, 45 minutes after the collision, Hart received instructions to pass the women and children up to the Boat Deck. At first, he took a group of 20-30 women and children up to the boat deck. Although there were normally locked barriers and gates blocking the way, which were required by international immigration laws to 'prevent the spread of infectious diseases,' Hart testified in the British Inquiry that all the gates had been opened the time he took his passengers up to the Boat Deck.
In order to get to the Boat deck, Hart lead the third class passengers through an alleyway, up stairs to C Deck, up onto the open aft well deck, and then up to the boat deck. Hart brought his group to the deck near Lifeboat 8 and left them there to go back down. In the end, nobody of Hart's group entered Lifeboat 8, and it was lowered away with only First Class passengers, one steward and two seamen.
Hart then returned below for the remaining passengers from his group. As he was heading back below, he saw fellow third class stewards William Denton Cox, and Albert Victor Pearcey leading another large group of third class passengers to the boat deck.
Upon returning below, Hart told the remainder of the third class passengers in his care to follow him, and then lead them up to the boat deck and into lifeboat 15. Although Hart had seen the 58 passengers in his charge to safety, he was prepared to head back below for more passengers, when a group of men began rushing Lifeboat 15. Hart helped hold the men back, and then First Officer Murdoch ordered him into the boat to help row.
On arriving in New York on board the Carpathia he stayed with friends in the city until his return passage to England on board the Celtic. He subsequently appeared as the 27th witness at the British Enquiry on May 16th, 1912 and answered a total of 492 questions.
Following the hearing sometime in the late May 1912 he signed-on to another White Star vessel Oceanic. According to his discharge book he signed off this ship in the July of 1912.
After leaving the merchant marine service Edward moved to live in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia where he worked as a chief storekeeper for the newly formed Rhodesian Railway. By now he was married with two children. It is known that both sons were lost in a drowning accident on a lake in that country and at sometime following this his wife died.
In about 1930 he returned to England and came to the South West where he met Florence May Cann of Newton Poppleford, Devon. Her father, John Cann worked on the railway there and this may explain how he came to meet Florence, he himself having had connections with the railway. They were subsequently married in 1932 (either in Newton Poppleford or Exeter) and moved to live in the South Devon coastal town of Paignton. They initially rented a flat in Old Torquay Road. It was here that their son, John Christopher Murdoch Hart was born in 1934. Shortly afterward they moved close-by to a house at 42 Old Torquay Road which remained in family possession until the early 1970's.
John Edward Hart passed away at the house on 15 January 1954 and was cremated four days later at the Efford Crematorium, Plymouth, Devon. A memorial plaque exists there with the inscription "In Loving Memory of John Edward Hart, died 15 January 1954, aged 69". His ashes were scattered in the garden of rest there.
His wife Florence remained at the house until moving to a Paignton nursing home (Ardeen Court) in early 1970 where she passed away in the October of 1972 aged 72. She was cremated at the Torquay Crematorium on 20 October.
Even though he played a key role in the rescue of many Third Class passengers, Hart isn't portrayed in most popular culture.
S.O.S. TitanicEditHe was portrayed by Aubrey Morris. He is inaccurately portrayed as going down with the Titanic (as evident as being listed as a victim at the end credits). The film doesn't take much of his historically accurate heroic deeds, but he does tell Violet Constance Jessop to get the steerage on deck when she is trying to keep the passengers from panicking.
- Main article: Scotland Road Steward
The 1997 Film Titanic featured a steward who was seen guiding passengers through the ship when Jack broke through a door. He wanted to charge Jack for the damage, but he received a double "Shut up!" from Jack & Rose. He was only credited as "Scotland Road Steward". It may have been Hart, but it isn't known for sure.
Hart is given a more prominent portrayal in the 2012 Miniseries Titanic.
When the ship is sinking, steward Turnbull holds down steerage passengers in a big room. He is asked if they can go up, but Turnbull orders him to wait. Hart, who prefers to let them out, whispers something in his ear. Turnbull shouts again to the passengers that there's no danger.
Hart is first seen at boarding day. Somehow, a cabin door is locked. He asks another steward why, but he doesn't know.
Suddenly, a large noise distracts him. He abandons the locked cabin.
When he returns to the cabin with pasengers, he finds the Maloney family in the cabin which was supposed to be empty. Jim Maloney says they had been directed to this cabin, and when Hart asks for their tickets, Jim stalls so long that the cabin mates leave.
That evening, he serves as a waiter in the Third Class Dining Room. He clears Jim & Peter's table of the empty glasses.
That Sunday evening, the ship is sinking. Hart holds down the Third Class passengers together with Steward Turnbull and two other stewards, saying there's no danger. Finally, Hart takes a group of women and children through the gate and up to the lifeboats.
Hart brings his group to lifeboat 15, and most of the Maloney family run to the boat as well, where Mary Maloney suddenly gets trampled. Lord Manton helps to get her up. Muriel Batley is also trampled, but John refuses help from Lord Manton. The Maloney family board lifeboat 15, and Murdoch orders steward Hart to take charge.
Episode 3EditOn the Sunday of the maiden voyage, Hart oversees the Third Class church meeting. When he goes up, he sees a woman struggle at an entrance to steerage. She says she's looking for a locksmith in steerage to help her opening a jewelry box. Hart sneaks her in after making her promise she'll take the blame if anything goes wrong.
In steerage, Hart asks a group of passengers for a locksmith. Peter Lubov decides to look at it.
Later, the ship is sinking. David Evans asks Hart if they can go up to the lifeboats, but steward Turnbull keeps him and many other passengers behind a locked gate. Hart is concerned about how long they can keep them down and wants to let them go up. Turnbull simply replies with shouting that there's no danger. Evans suggests they take the children up, but Turnbull rejects that as well: what if a pack of screaming mothers chase after them?
Finally, Hart sees they're losing control and decides to take action. He orders to send the women and children forward and opens the gate. He leaves steerage, followed by women and children. Behind him, Turnbull cuts off the line.
Hart brings his group of women and children to lifeboat 15, followed by most of the Maloney family. He helps the children get in when First Officer Murdoch orders him to get in and take charge. Theresa Maloney suddenly panics and jumps back on the sinking Titanic.
Hart brings a group of women and children to lifeboat 15, followed by most of the Maloney family. He helps the children get in when First Officer Murdoch orders him to get in and take charge. He then alerts Hart that the boat must be lowered now, any more and it would split. Theresa Maloney immediately assumes the boat is going to break and jumps back on the sinking Titanic. Her father and Peter Lubov go to look for her, and the boat is lowered without Theresa. Hart takes an oar to row the boat away from the ship.