EastSide Lives helps to uncover Titanic mystery

Just when you thought you had heard all there was to know about the Titanic story in Belfast, along comes a new twist on a local story that could fundamentally challenge our local history and poses the question: ‘Who lies in the grave of Samuel Joseph Scott (Titanic’s first victim) in Belfast City Cemetery?’ The probable answer is that it is not the remains of Samuel Joseph Scott! Discover more about this fascinating story on Monday 14th December at 7pm when Belfast Titanic Society hosts a virtual talk with researcher Jeanette Lunn, who made the discovery as part of the EastSide Partnership EastSide Lives heritage project.

In April 2019, Jeanette volunteered for the EastSide Lives heritage project to research local east Belfast inhabitants from the past. Jeanette along with eleven fellow enthusiastic local people, and steered by project leader Lisa Rea Currie from EastSide Partnership, embarked on a project to find out more about the people who lived in the shadow of the shipyard in east Belfast. Starting with research on Jane Scott, Samuel Joseph Scott’s mother, (who lived on the now demolished Donegore Street off the Newtownards Road in east Belfast) a new Titanic mystery began to unfold.

Samuel Joseph Scott was Titanic’s first victim, aged just 15 years old when, on 20th April 1910, he tragically slipped from a ladder and fell from the staging high up above Titanic’s slipway at the Harland & Wolff shipyard.

No one saw Samuel Joseph Scott fall that fateful day but a H&W riveter, at an inquest 2 days after the accident, told the Coroner that he saw Scott’s body lying motionless on the ground and he was bleeding. Until 2011 Scott’s grave, in Belfast City Cemetery remained unmarked. In August 2011, just 8 months before the 100th anniversary of the loss of RMS Titanic, Féile an Phobail generously paid for the erection of a beautiful headstone, 101 years later, to mark the last resting place of Samuel Scott. Part of the inscription on the headstone contains the now famous words, “Nearer my God to thee” supposedly played by Titanic’s band in the final moments of her sinking.

Jeanette’s research efforts included speaking to the Scott family descendants. Her findings have all the elements of a good whodunit; swapped identities, a seventh son, a lucky charm and a ‘Titanic curse’. Jeanette’s talk has all the clues but it’s the attendees at the Belfast Titanic Society’s virtual talk who will have to form their own conclusion in answering the question, ‘Who lies in the ‘Titanic’ grave in Belfast’s City Cemetery?’

Researcher for EastSide Lives Heritage Project, Jeanette Lunn said:

‘When I began the research for the EastSide Lives heritage project I had no idea of the revelations I would uncover along the way. It was a wonderful insight into the life of an ordinary family in Victorian Belfast with a very extraordinary outcome.’

Belfast Titanic Society’s Maureen McKinney commented:

"The Belfast Titanic Society is delighted to be involved with EastSide Partnership in bringing to the public's attention an amazing twist in the story regarding the first known Titanic victim. Jeanette Lunn, through meticulous research, has discovered that the body of Harland & Wolff catch-boy, 15 year old Samuel Joseph Scott, supposedly lying in Belfast's City Cemetery since 1910, is not actually him but that of his half-brother - a case of a mysterious switch identified!"

The live virtual talk by Jeanette Lunn will be introduced by Maureen McKinney, of the Belfast Titanic Society on Monday 14th December 2020 at 7pm via Zoom. Belfast Titanic Society invites you to join the meeting (for a small fee) to discover more about this fascinating story. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.