107 #28: There were professional ‘card-sharps’ travelling on Titanic as first class passengers

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card-sharps titanic

TRUE. Although the famous ‘Jay Yates’, who was allegedly travelling under the name of J.H. Rogers and was hailed as a ‘hero’ who helped women and children into the lifeboats, was never actually on board. As featured in the film version of Walter Lord’s A Night To Remember, he was believed to have given the following message to a woman getting into a boat:

‘If saved, inform my sister, Mrs. J. F. Adams of Findlay, Ohio. Lost
[Signed] J. H. Rogers.’

In fact, Yates was a con man and gambler who was wanted by the police. He used the Titanic story to fake his own death in order to escape detection, but he was later arrested while using another alias.

However, there were at least three professional gamblers who were on board and travelling under assumed names, including Charles H. Romaine, who on Titanic’s maiden voyage travelled under the name C. Rolmane. He was rescued, probably in lifeboat number 15, along with notorious gambler George (Boy) Brereton, travelling as George Brayton, who was likewise attempting to draw unsuspecting passengers into dishonest card games. Harry Haven (Kid) Homer, another gambler, also survived the disaster; he was travelling aboard Titanic under the name H. Haven.

A man named Alvin Thompson was sometimes said to have been on board because of his nickname of ‘Titanic Thompson’, but he had no connection to the ship and it seems this name was given to him subsequently for his role in several gambling disasters.

The White Star Line were fully aware that professional gamblers frequented trans-Atlantic ocean liners and included the following mild warning with Titanic’s maiden voyage passenger list:

SPECIAL NOTICE

The attention of the Managers has been called to the fact that certain persons, believed to be Professional Gamblers, are in the habit of travelling to and fro in Atlantic Steamships.

In bringing this to the knowledge of Travelers the Managers, while not wishing in the slightest degree to interfere with the freedom of action of Patrons of the White Star Line, desire to invite their assistance in discouraging Games of Chance, as being likely to afford these individuals special opportunities for taking unfair advantage of others.

If you’d like to read the full book of101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

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