John Wesley Woodward

 

Mr John Wesley Woodward
Mr John Wesley Woodward, 32, was born in West Bromwich, Staffordshire on 11 September 1879. He was the youngest son of Joseph and Martha E. Woodward.

At the time of the 1881 census, the family were living at 24 Hawkes Lane, Hill Top, West Bromwich. As well as John there were six other boys: Joseph (1), Thomas (2), Frederick, Herbert, Samuel, and Roland, and two sisters: Mary B. and Martha E. Woodward. John's father was manager of the Holloware Iron Foundry, Hill Top, West Bromwich. As a boy, John attended Wesley Sunday School. The family later moved to Oxford where their address, in 1912, was No. 2, The Firs, Windmill Road, Headington.

John Wesley Woodward became well known as a 'cello player appearing in solo and a member of several string quartets. He left Oxford to join the Duke of Devonshire's band at Eastbourne but that enterprise fell through around 1909 so he joined the White Star Line, his first voyage being to Jamaica. He made a number of journeys across the Atlantic, and three across the Mediterranean. He was on board the Olympic when she collided with H.M.S. Hawke, and narrowly escaped injury as he was in the cabin with three colleagues just where the Hawke struck.Woodward had taken his best 'cello with him for the first time for the Titanic's maiden voyage and on his return was due to perform at the May dinner of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Woodward and all the other musicians died in the sinking. The 'cellist is remembered on a small unadorned brass plaque in All Saints Church, Lime Walk, Headington which bears the inscription:

TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF
JOHN WESLEY WOODWARD
BANDSMAN ON THE S.S. TITANIC
WHO WITH HIS COMRADES
NOBLY PERFORMED HIS DUTY TO THE LAST
WHEN THE SHIP SANK
AFTER COLLISION WITH AN ICEBERG
ON APRIL 15 1912.
BORN SEPT: 11, 1879.
"NEARER MY GOD TO THEE."


Notes

  1. In the 1881 census Joseph was aged 15 and working as a Clerk at the local gas works.
  2. John's brother, Thomas W. Woodward, became a well-known tenor singer with Magdalen College choir and lived, in 1912, in Oakthorpe Road, Oxford.

Sources
British Census 1881
Oxford Times, April 1912
Jacksons Oxford Illustrated Journal, April 1912