Robert Rennison Willmott. He was the Captain of the Morro Castle. He had been born 15 February 1878 in Congresbury, Somerset, England, to Robert Kingston, a grocer and master draper born about 1852 at Congresbury and Annie Agnes Willmott, born about 1847 at Kendal, Westmorland, England. He became a naturalized citizen of the USA on 18 February 1904. He died shortly before the fire which destroyed the ship. Indigestion has been suggested as cause of death.
Brooklyn Daily Eagle 9 September 1934
”Morro Castle Commander Praised for His 31 Years Devotion to Ward Line
Funeral services for Captain Robert R. Willmott, of the ill-fated Morro Castle were conducted last night by Dr. D. Ernest McCurry, pastor of the Wells-Memorial Presbyterian Church, at the Fairchild Funeral Chapel, Jamaica.
Masonic rites were conducted by John Vogt, Jr., and the Rev. Paul M. Spencer of the Church of the Stranger, W. 57th St., Manhattan. Many officials of the Ward Line attended the services. Among them were M. O. Vano, assistant to the vice president; Raphael W. Hill, fourth officer of the Morro Castle, who was on vacation at the time of the tragedy; N. Kvandi, terminal superintendent; Capt. Harris A. Church of the S. S. Cauto, and Robert Griner, a retired official.
Praises Captain’s Record
‘Captain Willmott, ” said Mr. Vano, ”was one of our best men. He devoted 31 years of faithful service to the Ward Line, four of which, were spent as commanding officer of the Morro Castle. He also worked on the construction of the steamer. ”
The captain died Sept. 8, about five hours before the fire was discovered on the liner. His death was accredited at the time to heart trouble by the ship’s doctor, Dr. DeWitt C. Van Zile, who was among those who died in the disaster.
Captain Willmott is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mathilda Willmott, of 200-07 104th Ave., Hollis, and a niece, Miss Anna Willmott. The interment was to be in Greenwood cemetery today. A guard of honor will be provided from the U. S. S. Seattle.” (The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 18 September 1934, p. 13).
Belvidere Daily Republican 10 September 1934
” No Poison Found in Captain’s Body
New York, Sept. 20 (A. P.) – Alexander O. Gettler, Bellevue Hospital toxicologist, announced today that the charred remains of Captain Robert Willmott, master of the burned steamship, Morro Castle, who died several hours before his ship was destroyed, contained no trace of poison.
The analysis was ordered because of persistent rumors that Captain Willmott had med with foul play.
The analysis of the remains showed traces of lead, copper and brass, which, the toxicologits (sic) said, were due to the presence of melted metals in the ruins of the cabin where the master’s body was found after the fire had burned itself out.
There was no trace of any foreign toxic substances, Dr. Gettler said.”
(The Philadelphia Inquirer, 21 September 1934, p. 4)