Tommy Burns was born in Liverpool, probably in late 1866 or early 1867.
The census of 1891 showed that the Burns family lived at 113 Farnworth Street in the Kensington district of the city where Irish-born Patrick, a baker, was the head of the household. He was 51 and described as a widower.
Tommy was then a single man whose occupation was ‘Prof Champion Diver and Swimmer’. He was probably 24 at the time although his age was recorded as 26.
The census showed that he had a sister – Mary E. Burns – who was 24 and a dressmaker born at Garston. Her middle name may have been Elizabeth as a wreath at Tommy’s funeral was from his sister ‘Lizzie’ and one of the mourners was ‘Miss E. Burns (sister)’.
From evidence at the inquest on 7th July 1897, it is known that Tommy had been married for about nine months to Marie, aged about 24. She had a sister who travelled by train with her from Rhyl to Liverpool on 8th July.
Relatives mentioned in funeral reports included Isaac Royle (uncle), and Mr A. W. Hewitt (nephew).
Marie may have been Tommy’s second wife as newspaper reports of an event in 1893 referred to his wife being in the audience.