I decided to look at this image with a view to converting into a black and white print the other day, and I had never really studied it in any detail before. I suddenly realised it was a memorial on the grave of somebody who perished on the RMS Titanic, and my curiosity was aroused to see if I could find the story of the poor man and his family. What I found fascinated me.
It must be borne in mind that it is always said that everybody here in Southampton knew somebody on the Titanic, and that there was a loss in every street. Southampton was, after all, a major seaport and home port to the ill-fated vessel.
So what of Ernest William Hamblyn? A Devon man, he perished at the early age of 46 leaving behind a widow and a total of seven children. His home was about 4 miles (7km) from where I sit writing this. It is quite possible that over the years my path crossed that of one of his children, the last of whom died only 3o years ago. Certainly it is highly likely that his grandchildren are still living in the town. For reasons now unclear, but probably because of the law of the time, his widow did not inherit his estate but it went to his brother-in-law by marriage (a man who had no blood tie to him or his wife). The sum he left of £320 (close to £32,000 by todays standards) was a reasonable amount for a working man in those days.
Thanks to the internet and the tremendous records about the ill-fated ship you can now read Ernest’s story at this web site – trust me, it is fascinating and shows you never know what a simple image can lead you to. Y the way, if you know any of his relatives I would be very happy to give them a copy of the print.