Letter written aboard the Titanic by hero pastor goes up for auction

Letter written by hero pastor aboard the Titanic who gave away his life jacket to another passenger is set to be auctioned off for $38,000

  • Pastor John Harper went down with the Titanic, preaching even as he drowned
  • A letter Harper wrote on the ship is now being auctioned off and could fetch up to $64,000
  •  In it, Harper thanks another preacher: ‘I have not forgotten you and especially all your kindness’
  • The letter was mailed from Ireland three days before the Titanic sank in 1912 

A letter written aboard the Titanic by a pastor who went down with the ship is going up for auction this month.

John Harper, a widowed Baptist minister from Scotland, was traveling from London to Chicago on April 14, 1912 when the doomed liner struck an iceberg and sank.

Harper’s sister and daughter were put on lifeboats but he volunteered to stay aboard and gave his life jacket away to another passenger.

The 39-year-old clergyman preached the Gospel as the Titanic sank and continued to testify in the freezing water until he drowned, according to contemporary accounts.

The handwritten letter thanks another preacher for his help before Harper’s departure and  goes up for bid on November 14 – it has a pre-sale estimate of between $38,850 and $64,750.

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‘The warriors are with me here and are doing well so far on the journey,’ pastor John Harper in a note while aboard the Titanic. The handwritten letter, written on the ship’s official stationery, is expected to fetch between $38,850 and $64,750 at auction this month

John Harper was pastor of Walworth Road Baptist Church, in London, and was traveling with his family to preach at Moody Church in Chicago.

Written on Titanic stationery, his letter was dated April 11, 1912, three days before the ship sank, and was mailed from Queenstown, Ireland. 

It is addressed to Brother Young, pastor of Paisley Road Baptist Church in Glasgow, and thanks him for his help prior to Harper’s departure.

‘My Dear Brother Young. I am penning you this line just before we get to Queenstown to assure you that I have not forgotten you and especially all your kindness while we were north,’ it reads.

John Harper, a Baptist minister from Scotland, gave up his seat in a lifeboat to keep preaching aboard the Titanic as it sank. He allegedly continued to try and save souls even while drowning in the icy waters of the Atlantic 

‘I intended sending on Mrs Pratt’s train fares just before I left but in the rush which was exceptional having had 11 or 12 services for the week-end I was unable to get it done. I will send it on from Chicago.’

‘We had a great season of blessing during the last few days in Walworth. I don’t know how I am to thank dear Aunty Mary and yourself for all your kindness. The Lord will repay you for it all. Trust things are going well at Paisley Road.

‘The warriors are with me here and are doing well so far on the journey. Very kindest love, your loving auld Pastor John Harper.’

At a gathering of survivors four years after the disaster, a man claimed he was rescued by a lifeboat after being saved by Harper in the middle of the icy Atlantic.

‘I am the last convert of John Harper,’ the unnamed witness declared.

Harper’s handwritten note is being sold by a private collector through Henry Aldridge & Son Ltd auction house, along with other Titanic memorabilia.

A letter recovered from the body of a Titanic victim sold at auction for $166,000 in 2017.

The Titanic sank April 15, 1912, during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. More than 1,500 people lost their lives. 

Last week, Titanic enthusiasts got the chance to own a piece of the fateful ship itself: A limited edition Romain Jerome men’s watch made from metal from the Titanic was put up for auction on October 26.

Made in 2012, a century after the Titanic sank, the watch was composed of steel retrieved from the ship’s hull in 1991, fused with metal from Harland & Wolff shipyards, where the ship was built.

Laura Bishop of Fellows Auctioneers called it ‘one of the most interesting timepieces we’ve ever had go under the hammer.’

‘The Titanic disaster was a poignant moment in history and the events are known around the world. The release of these watches on the 100th anniversary was the perfect homage to the tragedy on 15th April 1912.’

Fellows Auctioneers hasn’t announced what the watch sold for, but it listed a pre-sale estimate of between $4,600 and $7,200.

The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, taking the lives of more than 1,500 people. 

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