Dickinson Bishop

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Dickinson H. Bishop

Dickinson H. Bishop
Born (1887-03-24)24 March 1887
Dowagiac, Michigan, U.S.
Died 16 February 1961(1961-02-16) (aged 73)
Ottawa, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Businessman
Known for Titanic survivor

Dickinson H. Bishop (March 24, 1887 – February 16, 1961) was an American who traveled on board the ill-fated RMS Titanic.


Early life and Titanic

Bishop was born in Dowagiac, Michigan, son of George and Virginia Bishop.[1] His first wife, Mary Lee, died in 1910 thirteen days after giving birth to a daughter, who died minutes after being born.[2] Bishop married his second wife, Helen Walton, in November 1911.[3][4] Their honeymoon was to Europe and North Africa; they arranged to return on the Titanic.[1]

The night the Titanic struck the iceberg, they went on deck, and were subsequently both told to board lifeboat #7, which was ultimately picked up by the RMS Carpathia.[5]

Once in New York City, the couple was ordered to report to the Senate Board of Inquiry in Washington D.C. Helen Bishop testified first, stating that she was conversing with Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor prior to the ship's sinking, when Captain Smith came to speak to Mr. Astor. Astor told the group he was talking with to put on life belts and go on deck. Once on deck, an officer took Mrs. Bishop by the arm and told her to quietly get into the lifeboat; after that, her husband was pushed into the boat with her. Helen Bishop said there were 12 women, 13 men and three crew members in the lifeboat; she continued by saying many of the men in the boat were not married.[6][7]

Dickinson Bishop's testimony mainly dealt with the inability to lock the ship's watertight compartments. He recalled the sailors trying to turn the locks and not being able to close them properly on either side of the ship.[6] Bishop also said that he heard no orders to keep the men out of the lifeboats in favor of women and children.[8]

However, in an earlier newspaper interview, Helen Bishop stated that when they went on deck, someone said the newly married couples should be put into the lifeboat first and that there were three newlywed couples in their boat, which was the first to be lowered from the Titanic.[9]

Bishop was later rumored to have dressed as a woman to get his spot in the lifeboat. This rumor, in part, led to the divorce of the couple.[3][10][5] In December 1912, Helen gave birth to a boy, who died two days afterward.[1]

Later life

In November 1914, the couple suffered a serious car accident in which Helen was badly injured, and where Dickinson suffered only minor injuries. Helen Bishop's head injuries were so severe, they were reported as being fatal by the New York Times.[1][11] In an attempt to save Helen's life, her doctors tried what was then a new technique-a metal plate was affixed to her skull to cover the badly injured area.[3]

In January 1916, Dickinson and Helen divorced. Charging her husband with cruelty and drunkenness, Helen Bishop was granted a divorce and $100,000 in alimony.[3][12] She died two months later, on March 16, 1916, after falling at a friend's home on a visit to Danville, Illinois.[3][13][14] Dickinson married his third wife, Sydney Boyce, two days before the death of his second wife, Helen. The announcements of Dickinson's remarriage and Helen's death were both front page stories of the Dowagiac Daily News on the same day.[1][13][3]

He served in the Army during the First World War.[13] Bishop remained married to Sydney Boyce until her death in November 1950.[3] After the end of the war, he moved away from Dowagiac and settled in Ottawa, Illinois where he died from a stroke on February 16, 1961.[1][13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Dickinson Bishop - Titanic First Class Passenger, Titanic Pages.
  2. Arseneau, Steven; Thompson, Ann (2005). Dowagiac. Charleston, SC: Arcadia. p. 71. ISBN 0738534226. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Wilson, Andrew, ed. (2012). Shadow of the Titanic: The Extraordinary Stories of Those Who Survived. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9781451671582. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  4. Sturgis native survived Titanic's sinking, Sturgis Journal.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Titanic tale: Southwest Michigan newlyweds survived ship's sinking but did not live happily ever after, All Michigan.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Bishops Go Before Senate Board of Inquiry To Give Story Of Titanic Disaster". Dowagiac Daily News. April 26, 1912. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  7. "Testimony of Helen Bishop before the United States Senate Inquiry". United States Senate. April 30, 1912. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  8. "Testimony of Dickinson H. Bishop before the United States Senate Inquiry". United States Senate. April 30, 1912. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  9. "Mr. and Mrs. Bishop Give First Authentic Interview Concerning Titantic [sic] Disaster". Dowagiac Daily News. April 20, 1912. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  10. Butler, Daniel Allen, ed. (2012). Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic. Da Capo Press. ISBN 9780306821035. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  11. "Titanic Survivor Dying". New York Times. November 14, 1914. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  12. "Michigan Wife Gets $100,000 Alimony". Chicago Examiner. January 18, 1916. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Mr Dickinson H. Bishop, Encyclopedia Titanica.
  14. "Titanic Survivor Dies In Danville". Unidentified newspaper. 1916. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
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