Thomas Byles Biography

Priest (1870–1912)
Thomas Byles, a Catholic priest, was a victim of the RMS Titanic disaster.


Thomas Byles was born on February 26, 1870, in Yorkshire, England. Receiving a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Gregorian University, he was ordained in 1902. Father Byles took passage on the RMS Titanic to officiate his younger brother's wedding in America. After the ship struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, Byles acted heroically, helping passengers into lifeboats, listening to confessions and praying with victims. He refused his own seat on a lifeboat and died in the sinking, which occurred several hours later, on April 15, 1912.


Catholic priest, Titanic victim. Born Thomas Roussel Davids Byles on February 26, 1870 in Yorkshire, England. The eldest of seven children born to a successful minister and businessman, Byles attended Balliol College, Oxford, where he was vice president of the debate society. He taught at St. Edmund's College, a boys?? school and Roman Catholic seminary, and published A School Commentary on 2nd Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians in 1897.

Byles left St. Edmund's in 1899 to study for the priesthood in Rome. He received a Bachelor of Divinity from Gregorian University in 1901 and was ordained on June 15, 1902. From 1905 to 1912, he was the Roman Catholic Rector of Ongar, Essex.

In April 1912, Father Byles boarded the Titanic to officiate his younger brother William??s wedding in America. He led the Catholic mass for second and third class passengers on the morning of April 14, the day of the collision. By all accounts, Father Byles was a hero until the end, helping women and children into lifeboats, hearing confessions and praying with passengers, and refusing a seat on the lifeboat that was offered to him.

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