William Ernest Carter - Titanic First Class Passenger

Mr William Ernest Carter was 36 year old first class passenger travelling home to the United States with his wife Lucile Carter, his son William Thornton Carter, his daughter Lucile Polk Carter, his manservant Alexandre Cairns, his wifeís maid Auguste Serreplan and, traveling in second class, their chauffer Charles Aldworth. Boarding the ship with them in Southampton on 10th April 1912, placed into the cargo hold, was a Renault car.

William Carter, the son of William and Cornelia Carter, was born in Pennsylvania, United States on 19th June 1875. In 1896 he married Lucile Polk (born on 8th October 1875).They had two children, Lucile Polk Carter (born on 20th October 1898) and William Thornton Carter (born on 14th September 1900.

In 1911 they travelled from the United States, where they lived in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to the United Kingdom, staying in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, where William Carter hunted and played polo. They had booked passage home aboard Titanicís sister ship RMS Olympic, setting sail in late March, but they changed their plans and instead sailed a little later aboard the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic. Aboard Titanic the Carterís occupied cabins B96 and B98.

Prior to returning home William Carter had bought a 1912 Renault Type CB Coupe de Ville car. The car was loaded into Titanicís cargo hold Ė the only car to be loaded aboard the ship. It has long been desired for dives to the wreck to discover whatever may remain of the car today, but, unfortunately, there has been no successful attempt to find it. A replica of the Renault car owned by William Carter was created for, and prominently featured in, the 1997 Titanic film. After the disaster a $5,000 insurance claim was made for the car lost when the ship sunk.

On the night Titanic struck the iceberg, April 14th 1912, William Carter and his wife attended a dinner party, organised by fellow first class passenger George Widener, held in Titanicís ņ la Carte Restaurant, with in attendance and in honour of the captain of Titanic, Edward Smith.

At 11.40pm, when Titanic fatally struck the iceberg, William Carter was in the first class smoking room. William Carter returned to his cabin to see to his family. His wife and children were lowered away from Titanic at around 1:50am in the port side Lifeboat 4. With a women and children only policy, William Carter was unable to join his family in the lifeboat.

Although he is considerably less mentioned, often if at all, and it would be incorrect to say there was any wrong doing, but William Carterís own escape from the sinking Titanic is notable as being part of one of what, rightly or wrongly, some consider to be one of the most controversial escapes from the ship Ė J Bruce Ismay, the managing Director of the White Star Line, stepping aboard Lifeboat C just before it was lowered. J Bruce Ismay was not alone as he stepped aboard the lifeboat at around 2am Ė he was joined by William Carter.

Lifeboat C safely arrived at Carpathia, before Lifeboat 4, containing his wife and children, waited for it to arrive. When it did, not seeing him, he called out for his son, who had safely arrived and was amongst the others but had his face hidden by a large hat.

In 1914 William Carter and his wife Lucile divorced.

William Carter died on 20th March 1940 at Palm Beach, Florida, United States.

He was laid to rest at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.

Related pages - Titanic's First Class Passengers, All Titanic Pages

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