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Titanic Twist: The Jamaican Connection

Published:Sunday | September 27, 2015 | 9:00 AMBarbara Ellington
Gabriella, Vania, and William Hume who recently received confirmation that their great grandfather was one of the heroic Titanic bandsmen who played on until the ship went down.

Three Kingston teenagers recently received confirmation that their great grandfather was one of the heroic Titanic bandsmen who played on until the ship went down.

Christopher Ward, whose grandfather Jock Hume was a violinist in the Titanic's orchestra, gave the news to Gabriella, Vania, and William Hume, following two years of research in Jamaica into his family's ancestry.

Ward's bestselling book about the aftermath of the Titanic, And The Band Played On, told the story of the life and death of his grandfather, who was only 21 when the Titanic foundered.

The young violinist, from Dumfries in Scotland, was to have married his pregnant fiancÈe Mary Costin on his return from the maiden voyage in April 1912. Their child, Ward's mother, was born six months later.

 

Fathered another child

 

But Ward recently discovered that Jock had fathered a child one year earlier with a waitress called Ethel McDonald, while playing in the orchestra of the Constant Spring Hotel in Kingston.

After the disaster, the Titanic authorities acknowledged that Jock was the father of Ethel's child, Keith, who subsequently took his father's name, Hume.

According to Ward, "Jock's two children grew up on opposite sides of the Atlantic, unaware of each other's existence. My mother had no idea she had a half-brother in Jamaica. Keith did not know he had a half-sister in Scotland. The great sadness is that Jock never lived to see either child.

"Jock left two unmarried mothers and two fatherless children in the Titanic's wake. But when the chips were down, he showed extraordinary courage, playing on until the ship went down.

"I'm thrilled to have been able to bring the family together for the first time in 103 years. My children Sadie, Martha and William can't wait to meet their Kingston cousins. This could be the most expensive family holiday of all time."

According to Kingston business executive Tania Hume, mother of Gabriella, Vania and William: "My late husband Neville had always been told by his father that there was a family connection with the Titanic and Christopher has been able to provide conclusive proof. It is wonderful that, thanks to Christopher's detective work, our two families have at last been united."