John Thayer (cricketer)

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For other people with the same name, see John Thayer.
John Thayer
Thayer as UPenn baseball player (1879)
Personal information
Full name John Borland Thayer Jr.
Born (1862-04-21)April 21, 1862
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died April 15, 1912(1912-04-15) (aged 49)
at sea, aboard the RMS Titanic
Domestic team information
Years Team
1879–1886 Philadelphia
Career statistics
Competition First-class cricket
Matches 7
Runs scored 138
Batting average 11.50
100s/50s 0/0
Top score 24
Balls bowled 320
Wickets 6
Bowling average 26.83
5 wickets in innings 0
10 wickets in match
Best bowling 3/17
Catches/stumpings 8/–
Source: CricketArchive, September 10, 2008

John Borland Thayer Jr. (April 21, 1862 – April 15, 1912) was an American 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, 1912. He was the only known first-class cricketer to have died aboard the ship.[1]

Early life and cricket career[edit]

Thayer attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he was captain of the lacrosse 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 [2] and continued playing for them until his death. Thayer was a part of the Philadelphian side that visited England in 1884. During that tour he scored only 1 run, with an average of 28, and took 22 wickets for 21 runs each.[2] 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. All were played at the Germantown Cricket Club in Pennsylvania.[1] 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. In minor cricket, his highest scores were 134 not out v Philadelphia in 1896 and 107 not out against Winnipeg in 1882, both for Merion CC.[3]


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 Titanic.

The Titanic[edit]

John B. Thayer as Pennsylvania Railroad vice president

Following his cricket career, Thayer entered the business world. He was a vice-president of the Pennsylvania Railroad.[1] Thayer and his family had been in Europe as guests of the American Consul General in Berlin, Germany. The family boarded the Titanic as first-class passengers. They had been preparing for bed when the collision with the iceberg occurred.[5] As the ship sank, Thayer made sure his wife and maid boarded lifeboats, after being told by the Titanic's designer, Thomas Andrews, that the stricken ship did not have "much over an hour to live".[2][6] His son, Jack, dove 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 he remained on the Titanic as it went down.[7] 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.[5]

Initially, the British media had reported that Thayer had survived the sinking, due to confusion between Thayer and his son.[8] Thayer's body, if recovered, was never identified.[5]

See also[edit]


  • Croudy, B. "Cricket in Philadelphia – The Great Families", The Cricket Statistician, No. 113, Spring 2001. The Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians; West Bridgford, Nottingham.


  1. ^ a b c "Cricinfo – The cricketer who died on the Titanic". Cricinfo. February 28, 2005. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  2. ^ a b c "Wisden – 1913 – Obituaries in 1912". John Wisden & Co. 1913. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  3. ^ Spalding's Official Cricket Guide – The American Cricket/worm/ladybug/ant Annual for 1913, p.139
  4. ^ "Family Tree--John B. Thayer II and Marian Morris". Rebecca Heslop. 1998–2000. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  5. ^ a b c "Mr John Borland Thayer". Encyclopedia Titanica. 1996–2006. Retrieved 2007-04-18. 
  6. ^ Lord, Walter (1955). A Night to Remember. New York City: Henry Holt. p. 56. LCCN 55010643. 
  7. ^ Lord, p. 82.
  8. ^ Croudy, p. 17.

External links[edit]