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Thomas Millar Junior and William Millar were left in the charge of an aunt as their widowed father went in search of a better life for them across the Atlantic. Photo by: TheStar.com

Belfast engineer’s historic letter from the Titanic emerges at a New York auction

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Thomas Millar Junior and William Millar were left in the charge of an aunt as their widowed father went in search of a better life for them across the Atlantic. Photo by: TheStar.com

Just days away from the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic, a letter originally written on RMS Titanic’s letterhead which was believed to be lost forever has resurfaced at a New York auction.

The Star
reports on the finding of the long-lost letter, which was once a precious heirloom of a Belfast family.

Mark Simpson, a BBC Ireland correspondent who has covered Titanic-related stories for the past two decades, only recently discovered that he was related to the engineer who penned the now lucrative letter.

Simpson said, “A few weeks ago, I received a call from another journalist who told me that I was related to Dr. Simpson on the Titanic. I told him it was rubbish. If I was related to the doctor, my father would have told me.”

Sure enough, Simpson ran the story by his father who remembered that his great-grandfather’s 37 year old cousin perished on the Titanic.

Mark Simpson’s relation, Dr. John Edward Simpson, was an assistant surgeon who perished during the sinking of the Titanic.

“According to eyewitnesses who survived the 1912 disaster, Dr. Simpson stood with fellow officers on the deck of the stricken vessel as it went down, resigning himself to his fate, making no attempt to board the lifeboats and instead calmly helping others to safety,” Mark Simpson explains.

It was Dr. John Edward Simpson who mailed the letter bearing the official RMS Titanic letterhead to his grandmother while docked in Cobh, Co Cork, the Titanic’s last port of call. The letter was then passed down for generations to come, only to have disappeared and now recently resurfaced at the auction in New York.

A mystery benefactor purchased the rare letter, which did not meet its asking price of $34,000, presumably to return it to Belfast to be housed with other remaining Titanic artifacts.

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