Ellen O'Shea is my maternal grandmother and married my grandfather, William Thomas Sculpher in 1929. However Ellen had been married before and the story in the O'Shea family as told to me by Patricia O'Shea was that Ellen's first husband , a Mr. Leach died on the Titanic, still at his post stoking the boilers as the ship went down on the 14th April 1912.

Here are the facts as we know them. 

The crew and passenger lists for the Titanic are listed on many web sites on the Internet and  there is no entry for a 'Leach' in either the crew or passenger lists.  Searches on the Birth, Marriages and Deaths index were initially centred on the years preceding 1912 in the belief that the actual year of his death was correct even though the nature of it was wrong.  A marriage certificate for 1909 proved to be incorrect, but some further research by Patricia O'Shea was successful, finding the right marriage entry. 

William John Walter Leach, Private 4722 in the Royal Fusiliers married Ellen O'Shea on the 24th January 1918.  William was living at 51 Rotherhithe Old Road and Ellen at number 6 Cope Street also in Rotherhithe.  After their marriage they lived at 51 Rotherhithe Old Road. William was, in peacetime a packing case maker and returned to his trade after the First World War. 

William died on the 24th March 1924 and the story told me by my mother was that he died after being kicked in the head by a horse. However, William's death certificate shows that he died of hemorrhagic colitis - a type of gastroenteritis caused by the bacterium Escherichia coli (E coli is often found in healthy cattle - perhaps William ate some under-cooked beef that lead to the infection.).  In about 5% of cases, severe complications occur, including anemia, sudden kidney failure as well as nerve and brain damage - seizures or strokes. Maybe it was a stroke that lead to the story of being kicked in the head.

William Leach
Ellen O'Shea 1918
William Leach 1924
Ellen Leach
William Thomas Sculpher 1929
Sadly, both my maternal grandparents died in the summer of 1941 and my mother, then aged 10 was raised by a family known to William and Ellen, the Ruddell's. Research into the family history of the O'Shea family goes back to 1826, that of the Sculpher family has been researched (by others) back to 1530 - the start of parish records. The earliest known member of the Sculpher family (and its name variations) is Roberth Sculforth, (my great great great great great great great great great great grandfather) born 1530 in Suffolk, England.