25 February 2010

Kilner N. Black: Liverpudlian Nephew?

In February 1919, the H.M.T. (His Majesty's Transport) Olympic arrived at New York, from Liverpool, carrying U.S. soldiers home from World War I. Among its crew was a steward named Kilner N. Black, 44 years old. His "race" is given as Irish, while his nationality is given as English. He shipped at Liverpool, on 12 Feb 1919, and was to remain aboard as crew on the return trip. As long as we're being thorough, he was literate, 5'6", 140 lbs., with no distinguishing marks.

(Click "Read More" for the exciting conclusion, and brilliant tidbits of maritime trivia...)

Kilner was, and is, a pretty rare first name. Given the coincidences here, I think there is a strong possibility that Kilner N. Black, Englishman of Irish descent, hailing from Liverpool, born about 1875, could be a son of "our" Kilner's sister, Eliza Newman. What we know about her is that she was born in Ireland in 1835, married a George Black, and died and was buried in Liverpool, England in 1893. If so, she would have been about 39-40 years old when this steward was born.

[Update: There is a Q1 1955 North Liverpool death record for Kilner N. Newman, age 83. This gives an alternative birth year of about 1872, meaning if Eliza was his mother, she was about 37 years old at the time.]

Trivia time:
  • On 12 May 1918, H.M.T. Olympic became the only merchant vessel in W.W. I to ram and sink a U-boat. 
  • In 1934, she also rammed and sank the famous Nantucket Lightship in the fog off New England. 
  • Oh, her sistership? Ever hear of the Titanic?

Source: New York Passenger Lists, 1920-1957, Ancestry.com
and of course, Wikipedia


  1. It looks like there were three Kilner Newman Blacks in the Liverpool area in the beginning of the 20th century. The one described above, born about 1875, his son, born 1898, and another, Kilner N. A. Black, who was the son of Robert Alfred Newman. I'm guessing that the latter was Kilner 1875's brother.

    These last Kilner's lived into the late 1980s. One of them lived in Singapore in the 1920s. If anyone knows anything about them, please post!

    1. As a child in he 50s I lived in Wylva Road Liverpool,my next door neighbour was a Mr Black, he had a son in America ,Newark New Jersey ,his name was Kilner N Black, he would send me newspaper comic suppliments until my mother put a stop to it on the grounds I was to old for them " I would be 12 or 13

    2. Hah! Thanks for the story. I'll have to start hunting for your Kilner N Black of Newark -- clearly they are related. Very interesting! It was a surprise to see your comment three years after I posted this. I feel like the mysteries of the widespread Kilners will come to light over the span of decades -- different kind of Internet time than the instant gratification we're used to.

    3. Hi, Further to my earlier letter re Mr Black of Wylva Road, As I said I was 12 or 13 at the time and Mr Black was well retired, he was friendly with my parents and at least twice a week he would come into our house and talk about his many years in the navy , I can vaguely remember him mentioning a
      ship named the Majestic, His wife had worked for the cooperative society and his daughter was a Headmistress in Liverpool. I came unto this site by chance after searching for information on an unrelated subject . Best wishes