A Titanic Survivor and Six Degrees of Separation

The occupants of the boat left to right: A W Petherick, Alfred Hedley Hines,, Hedley Francis Hines, Robert Victor Hines, Les Hussey, and Orlando Jewell with his arm on the tiller. Hedley Francis Hines is the son of Captain Hedley Samuel Hines and Orlando Jewell is the son of John Jewell and brother of Archie Jewell. The two Hines boys are grandsons of Captain Hedley Samuel Hines.

Six degrees of separation is the theory that anyone on the planet can be connected to any other person on the planet through a chain of acquaintances that has no more than five intermediaries – this story involves people who were much closer than the theory’s five intermediaries. It involves my husband’s great-grandfather and the son of his ship’s mate on the Ant – a ship involved in an accident at sea that almost killed both great-grandfather Hines AND his mate, John Jewell.

On April 10th 1912 the Titanic sailed from Southampton with 2,200 passengers and crew. On April 14, 1912, the Titanic collided with an iceberg and sank. 1500 people died and 700 survived. Titanic collided with the iceberg at about 11.40 pm on 14th April. She sank below the water at 2.20 am the next morning. A ship which had taken three years to fully construct was sunk in less than three hours.1

The 100th anniversary of this maritime disaster is a proper time to share a family story that includes a “six degrees of separation” relationship to a Titanic survivor.

My husband’s maternal grandmother, Bessie Hines, immigrated to America from Bude, Cornwall in 1913. Bessie Hines was the daughter of Hedley Samuel Hines, a ship captain in Bude, Cornwall. Hedley Hines captained freighters that hauled coal from South Wales as well as other merchandise. This is the story of one of his voyages. The incident described happened during the Great Blizzard of 1891.

The Great Blizzard of March 1891 affected many parts of Great Britain, particularly the South West. The strong gales and heavy snowfall hit Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Herefordshire and Kent. London was also hit by the strong winds and snowfalls. The devastation left behind included uprooted trees and many fences and roofs were blown away. Ships on the seas were stranded on rocks and ran aground due to lack of visibility. The storms were so ferocious that much of Cornwall and Devon was cut off from the rest of Britain for four days between 9th and 13th March, 1891. In this time, over 200 people were killed as well as 6,000 animals.2

“Mr. Jewell sailed out of Bude in various vessels belonging to that Port. He had extraordinary recollections of his experiences and dangers which he encountered when at sea during the great blizzard of 1891. At this time he was mate of the 95-ton Ketch Ant, owned by the late Mr. H. Stapleton, of Bude, and was on a voyage from Saundersfoot (S. Wales), to Ipswich, loaded with a cargo of coal. The vessel was blown miles out of her course, and was eventually sighted on March 14, after drifting for ten days, by Capt. Burton of the Astrea in the Bay of Biscay.

A record of the event contained in The Blizzard of the West, March 1891, printed at Devonport, says: ‘Capt. Burton sighted the Ant some miles off with the sails down and flying a signal of distress. Capt. Burton sent alongside a boat’s crew, who found the Captain, H. Hines, and a sailor named Jewell, wrapped in the mainsail in a shocking state and barely able to speak. Their hands and legs were so swollen from frostbite and exposure, that they could not handle anything or lift themselves up to stand. After administering brandy and medicine they recovered sufficiently to inform their rescuers that the Ant was 10 days out from Saundersfoot and that four days before a lad named Stapleton (nephew of the owner), had died from exposure and his body had been thrown overboard. The Ketch Ant was taken into Plymouth in a disabled condition.”3

Capt. H. Hines was my husband’s great-grandfather, Hedley Hines. The “sailor named Jewell” was John Jewell, also of Bude, Cornwall. John Jewell’s youngest son was a man named Archie Jewell. Archie Jewell survived the Titanic disaster.

Archie signed on to Titanic as one of the 6 lookout men. On the night of 14 April 1912 he had worked the 8pm to 10pm shift and was in his berth when the ship struck the iceberg at 11.40pm (had the ship not struck the iceberg his next watch period would have been 2am to 4am). He was one of the first to leave the ship in lifeboat 7 at 12.45pm. It left from the starboard side with 28 people on board, the capacity was 65 (Writer’s Note – stop and consider this fact for a moment – the lifeboat had 26 people on board, yet had the capacity to have saved 65 lives).4

Archie’s lifeboat made it to the Carpathia safely. Both Archie and his father survived deadly maritime disasters. Sadly, Archie died 17th April, 1917, in WWI when the his ship was hit by a torpedo from a German submarine in the English Channel.5

There is our family’s “Six Degrees of Separation Story.” John’s great-grandfather survived a marine disaster with the father of a man who would later become a survivor of the Titanic disaster.

NOTE: In researching this story, I learned of a seaman who did indeed have incredible luck. His name was John Priest. John Priest was a hand on the Titanic and survived. He later survived the sinking of the Britannica  (Archie Jewell’s family believes that Archie was a survivor of that as well) and was also a survivor of the same torpedoed ship in WWI on which Archie Jewell died.


1. “Titanic FAQs.” Titanic Info. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.the-titanic.com/Titanic-FAQs.aspx&gt;.

2.  “Plymouth Local History.” : The Great Blizzard of March 1891. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://plymouthlocalhistory.blogspot.com/2010/01/great-blizzard-of-march-1891.html&gt;.

3. “AT SEA IN A BLIZZARD: Bude Seaman Found Wrapped In The Mainsail.” Encyclopedia Titanica. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. .From an article published in the Cornwall & Devon Post, Friday 24 January 1936.

4. “RMS Titanic Facts and History: Titanic Passenger and Crew Biography…” Encyclopedia Titanica. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. <http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/&gt;.

5. Ibid, Titanic Passenger and Crew Biography.


17 thoughts on “A Titanic Survivor and Six Degrees of Separation

  1. Hi Very interested in the above story, my father is a Hines and from Bude, his father was Arthur Victor Hines. I have seen some pictures in the Bude museum of Hedley Hines. Our main historian in the family is Len Towser, Len lives in Bude and has carried out a lot of research on the Hines family. Thanks again Tamsyn Lawlor (nee Hines)

    • Your grandfather was brother to my husband’s grandmother, Bessie Hines. So happy to “meet” another cousin. I will email you privately and hopefully we can exchange information. I don’t have a lot of research on the Hines line. After many years spent researching my own family lines, I have started working on my husband’s lines and have spent more time on his maternal grandfather than his maternal grandmother. I do have some information that might be of interest to you and I am VERY interested in contact information for Len Towswer. Thank you so much for getting in touch.

      • Thanks for the reply and good to meet you! I will try and get Len’s details to you. Love to hear of any other stories etc. Best Wishes Tammy

  2. My name is Rachel Solly and my Grandfather was Hedley Francis Hines, as seen in the above photo. I am currently researching the Hines side of my family. I would greatly appreciate any information on the Hines family, and in particular on Bessie who emigrated to America in 1913, as I have no information on her at all. I can be contacted on e-mail at johnsolly6@gmail.com

    I thought your article was very enjoyable and informative. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  3. Pingback: Networks and Degrees of Separation | On a Quasi-Related Note

    • Hi, cousin by marriage. Nice to meet you! I married John Reid, grandson of Bessie, son of Ellen Alberding Reid. Ellen’s parent’s were Bessie Hines and Conrad Alberding. Tell me about yourself. Bessie and Conrad only had two daughters. The other was Annetta, who only had one daughter, Leslie. Maybe my Bessie isn’t your Bessie.

      • Hi Pam,

        My name is Debbie Bryan ( Nee Hines). I am the daughter of the little boy in the picture, Robert Victor Hines. Hedley Francis was my Grandfather and therefore Hedley Samuel was my Great Grandfather. I have this photograph at home. Alfred Hines was my Uncle.

      • Hi,

        It is always nice to have a family member find this post. I don’t keep up the blog any longer but maybe I should start again because it is a great way to find people. Hedley Francis was a brother to my husband’s grandmother, Bessie Mary Hines. I will check my database and send you an email. I am sure you can tell me much more than I can tell you. Thank you for the message. You will be hearing from me soon.

  4. My name is Debbie Bryan (nee Hines)…very interested in this article. I am the daughter of the little boy in the photograph…Robert Victor Hines. Hedley Francis Hines was my Grandfather. I have this photograph at home and also pictures of the Ketch called the Ant which I believe my Grandfather captained. Hedley Samuel Hines was my Great Grandfather. Alfred Hines in the photograph was my Uncle. Would like to hear from any other family.

      • Hi Pam,

        Only just seen this tonight..have had a very busy few months!!. I have been out with my cousin Mervyn Hines(Bob) tonight and showed him your blog. He is the son of Don Hines…Alf and my Dad Roberts brother. would be great if there were any descendants you could put me in touch with as Mervyn has also been doing some research and it may fill a few gaps.

    • Hi
      Hedley Samuel is my great grandfather too! My nan, Gloria is the daughter of Joyce Hines, Roberts sister. Would love to here about him and all you know of our family! 🙂


      • Hi Jenna,

        I think there must be another Robert somewhere. My Dad,,Robert Victor Hines (the little boy in the picture) was the son of Hedley Francis Hines. My dad had two sisters and two brothers. Alf Hines, Don Hines, Bessie Hines (yes another Bessie), and Patricia Hines. I think that Rachel Solly who responded in 2012 is my cousin and has a brother called Jonathan. Don had two children, Ian and Mervyn Hines (Bob), I have just had dinner with Bob this evening and he is interested to find out who Joyce is as he remembers the name coming up when researching our family tree. Alf had 4 children, Brian, Grenville and twin girls, Valerie and I am afraid I can’t remember the other name. Pat had two children, Rachel and Jonathan. Bessie had 5 children..I only know of a Ken and a Roderick and my cousin Bob I think knows the other 3 names. I have a brother and a sister Anne and John.
        Sadly our Mum Sylvia Hines (nee Silburn) passed away last year at the age of 82. Don, Alf, Bessie, and Pat, my Dads siblings have now all also passed away. (My dad Robert would have been 91 this year had he lived). I hope this helps you to find out where Joyce sits in the family tree.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s