Joseph Dawson was a trimmer of the Titanic. He died in the sinking. Without knowing about him, James Cameron wrote a character named Jack Dawson for his 1997 film Titanic. Jack has many similarities with the trimmer, though Cameron claimed he had never heard of Joseph when writing his blockbuster.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Joseph was the son of Patrick and Catherine "Kate" Dawson.
He appears on the 1901 census with his parents and sister Maggie, living in Lower Rutland Street, 49, Dublin. That was the poorest region of Dublin, with only 2 rooms.
He moved to Southampton to look for work. He signed-on the Adriatic on July 24th, 1911. At his first time at sea, he discovered there was a strict separation of crew members, like the passenger classes. As a trimmer, he was at the very bottom of the ladder.
In fall 1911, Joseph signed-on the Majestic. During the coal strike of early 1912, the Majestic's coal was taken away to supply the Titanic. Joseph also signed-on the Titanic, his last time at sea was 7 months ago. He signed on as a trimmer with his own signature, indicating he must have had some education.
Joseph was off-duty when the ship hit the iceberg. When he woke up, he took his coat and went to the deck. He left the sinking ship by swimming in the water, where he died of hypothermia. His body stayed afloat long enough to be recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#227) and brought to Halifax. Nobody claimed his body, so he was buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery on May 8th, 1912.