ONE OF OVER 2,208 PASSENGER & CREW STORIES - GEORGE ANDREW BRERETON, BORN NOVEMBER 12, 1874
In the days of the great ocean-going vessels on the Atlantic, gamblers and swindlers found many opportunities to bilk wealthy passengers out of huge sums of money. Three such men traveled on the maiden voyage of Titanic, including George Brereton of California, who traveled under the alias “George Brayton”.
Gambler Brereton was a native of Minnesota, but often spoke with a British accent and claimed to be from a titled family, and members of his second wife’s family would recall they never heard him speak without the British accent. Notorious for his swindling, both on the high seas and terra firma, he had become very familiar with the inside of a jail cell.
Brereton traveled as a first-class passenger, mingling with the wealthy men that spent time in the first-class smoking room. He was there when the ship struck the iceberg, and realizing the peril, entered one of the lifeboats early on. Following his rescue, wealthy survivor Henry Stengel befriended him, and though welcomed into Stengel’s New Jersey home, Brereton still tried to swindle the man who was helping him.
Some years later, Brereton again sailed the North Atlantic and met Miss Hazel Rell. The two began an affair. Brereton was married, but his wife allegedly shot and killed herself in 1922. At the time, a newspaper stated the gunshot was heard by her best friend in the next room. The best friend was identified as Miss Hazel Rell. One month after the “suicide”, George and Hazel were married.
The second Brereton marriage was also unhappy. The couple adopted a son, the alleged out-of-wedlock child of a well-known Hollywood actress. George was arrested numerous times over the years. After he and Hazel divorced, he lived with a sister in Los Angeles where he actually did commit suicide in 1942 at the age of 67.