People on board
Nicholas Brett was born in Howth, Co Dublin on the 6th of July 1888 to Nicholas Brett and Margaret Flood. When Nicholas and Margaret had married in 1880, Nicholas Snr. he gave his address as Merrion Square and his occupation as Tipstaff. On subsequent baptismal certificates this was expanded to ‘Tipstaff Court of Appeal’. Nicholas Jnr. was the third of seven, possibly more children, and the family lived in a house opposite the Catholic Church in Howth at a rent of £20 a year. This house was advertised for sale in 1893 and sometime after this the family’s circumstances appear to have changed. In 1898 another child was born, this time in the Dublin Workhouse, and the father’s address was Merrion Gates, and his occupation was Waiter.
The previous year there was a newspaper report of a ten year old, named as Nicholas Brett, being found by the police “presenting a begging letter to several shopkeepers in O’Connell Street, asking for money on the false representation that his father was dead … the Constable arrested the little fellow and found that his father (who is a respectable man) was alive”. This may have been Nicholas Brett of this story.
In the 1901 census the family was living in Lower Gloucester Street in Dublin city and Nicholas Snr. was a Domestic Servant. Both Nicholas Jnr. aged sixteen, and his eighteen year old brother, were Messengers. In May 1906 Nicholas enlisted with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, giving his address as York Street and previously Ship Street, and his occupation as Waiter in the Ormond Club in Stephen’s Green. In December 1906 he left to join the Royal Irish Rifles.
Apart from two sisters recorded working in London the Brett family seem to have disappeared from the records and cannot be found in the 1911 censuses. From 1913 the National Archives Crew Lists show Nicholas Jnr. working as a Steward on board the SS Lady H Kinahan in the Irish Sea and from 1916 with the City of Dublin Steam Packet Company on board the SS Kerry. He does not appear on the 1918 Crew List for the mailboats, so may not have been a regular member of the crew on the 10th of October 1918, though he was on board as a 3rd Steward.
Nicholas Brett survived the sinking and stayed working on ships until he was discharged in October 1921. He settled in Liverpool and married Ellen Elizabeth Aird there in 1922. He died there in 1935 aged forty-nine.