Last Updated : 9 Jul 2010


Pre-1900 People

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Joseph Bruce Ismay 1862 - 1937Joseph Bruce Ismay was born at Crosby on the 12th of December 1862, the son of Thomas Henry Ismay and Margaret Bruce. He has become infamous for being a passenger on the ill-fated maiden voyage in April 1912 of RMS Titanic, the American owned liner registered in Liverpool.

Bruce Ismay was educated at Harrow and became an apprentice in his father's company White Star Line. After training, his first job was as Company Agent in New York. Thomas Ismay had purchased "The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company" or "Whitestar" in 1868 to use in on the transatlantic route and established the company's headquarters at Albion House, Liverpool.

When Thomas Ismay died in 1891, Bruce Ismay became head of the business. Ismay was of the view that speed was not essential for the lines Atlantic crossings, his business relying on immigration for it's main source of income, while at the same time using luxury to also attract wealthy passengers in their first and second class accommodation.

In 1902, the company was taken over by the American-owned "International Mercantile Marine Company" headed by J Pierpoint Morgan. However, Bruce Ismay accepted the post of President of the IMM in 1904 and remained in it until 1913.

After the Titanic distaster, Ismay kept out of the public eye for most of the remainder of his life. He retired from active affairs and settled with his wife in "Costelloe Lodge" in Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. His health declined in the 1930s, following a diagnosis of diabetes, which took a turn for the worse in early 1936, when the illness resulted in amputation of part of his right leg. He returned to Merseyside a few months later, settling in a small house on the Wirral. Bruce Ismay died in London, on 17 October 1937, of a cerebral thrombosis, at the age of 74.