Mr. Joseph Bruce Ismay
December 12, 1862
Crosby (near Liverpool)
October 17, 1937
Mr. Joseph Bruce Ismay, son of Thomas Henry Ismay and Margaret Bruce, was born on December 12, 1862. His father was part owner of Ismay, Imrie and Company and founder of the White Star Line. Ismay apprenticed for five years with the White Star Line, his fifth year in New York. After the fifth year he was appointed the company agent for their New York offices.
Ismay met Julia Florence Schieffelin in New York and they were married in 1888. They had four children together - two sons and two daughters. In 1891 Ismay was made a partner in the White Star Line and he moved his family back to England. In 1899 his father died and he was left as the head of the White Star Line.
In 1901 Ismay was approached by J.P. Morgan to become part of the International Merchantile Marine Company. After much debate Ismay decided to allow the White Star Line to become a part of this company.
In 1907, Ismay and his wife dined at Lord Pirrie's house. Lord Pirrie was a partner at Harland & Wolf, the shipbuilding company that was partners with the White Star Line. That night they discussed the recent successes of their competitor, the Cunard Line. The Cunard Line's newest ships, the Lusitania and the Mauretania, were getting rave reviews from the public. Not only for their speed but for the luxury of the ships as well as the size. Ismay and Pierrie talked at length about the new ships and decided that the White Star Line would be the next to release ships to rival the Cunard Line's. They decided to build three ships, all of them larger than the Mauretania (which was the largest ship at the present time). Not only would these three ships be large but they would also be the most luxurious ships afloat.
On April 10, 1912 the second of these ships was setting sail on her maiden voyage, the Titanic. Ismay accompanied every ship on her maiden voyage and the Titanic was no exception. For this trip his wife and children stayed at home and he was only accompanied by his valet and secretary. After J.P. Morgan cancelled his voyage at the last minute, Ismay moved into one of the two Parlour Suites that Morgan was to occupy - B-52, B-54 and B-56.
The night of the sinking Ismay got into Collapsible C after no more women or children could be found near the departing lifeboat. When boarding the Carpathia the following morning many of the passengers vented their anger at Ismay. He was called a coward amoung many other things.
For the remainder of his life Ismay forbid anyone from mentioning the word 'Titanic' to him and refused to speak about the sinking after the inquiries were over with. He died on October 17, 1937.