John Borland Thayer, Jr.
(April 21, 1862 April 15, 1912) was a first-class cricketer and later a
Pennsylvania Railroad vice
president, who died shortly before his 50th birthday in the sinking
of the RMS
Titanic on April 15,
He is the only known first-class cricketer to have
died aboard the ship.
Early life and cricket career
attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was captain of the baseball team in
1879. A member of a prominent American cricketing
family, he played his first match for the Merion Cricket
Club as a 14-year old.
Thayer was a part of the
visited England in 1884. During that tour he scored 817 runs
with an average of 28, and took 22 wickets for 21 runs
each. In his career, Thayer appeared in seven matches now
recognised as first-class. Three of these were played for the
Philadelphians and four were played for an "American Born" side.
played at the Germantown Cricket Club in Pennsylvania.
In his first-class career, he scored
138 runs at 11.50 and took six wickets at 26.83. His highest
score (24) and best bowling (3 for 17) both came for Philadelphia
against the United States in October 1883.
On November 9, 1893, in Philadelphia, he married Marian Longstreth
Morris (1872–1944), the daughter of Frederick Wistar Morris and
Elizabeth Flower Paul. Both her parents were descendants of
old-moneyed Philadelphia families. They had four children:
Of the four children, only Jack accompanied his parents on the
Following his cricket career, Thayer entered the business world. He
was a vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad
. Thayer and his family
had been in Europe as guests of the American Consul General in Berlin, Germany.
family boarded the Titanic
as first-class passengers. The
family had been preparing for bed when the collision with the
iceberg occurred. As the ship sank, Thayer made sure that his wife
and maid boarded lifeboats, after being told by the
designer, Thomas Andrews
, that the
stricken ship did not have "much over an hour to live". His son,
Jack, dived from the sinking ship and was able to swim to an
overturned collapsible boat, where he also survived. However,
Thayer Sr. made it clear that he had no intention of boarding a
boat and remained on the Titanic
as it went down. When all
of the lifeboats were gone, one eyewitness reportedly saw Thayer
looking "pale and determined by the midship rail aft of lifeboat
7." A short while later, he had gone, so it is likely that he moved
to the stern like many other passengers and crew. Thayer's body, if
recovered, was never identified.
- Lord, p. 82.