A POIGNANT letter written by a Renfrewshire man who gave up his place on a Titanic lifeboat, despite knowing the decision would leave his daughter an orphan, has sold for £42,000.

Pastor John Harper, from Houston, was known as ‘Titanic’s last hero’ as he also handed his lifejacket to another passenger who survived the 1912 disaster.

After the liner struck an iceberg and started sinking, Pastor Harper wrapped his six-year-old daughter Annie in a blanket and put her in a lifeboat with his sister Jessie.

But he refused to take a spot for himself and remained on the stricken ship to help others.

While the band famously played, witnesses saw the clergyman preaching the gospel to doomed passengers on the deck.

The 39-year-old then jumped into the water, where he carried on saying prayers to the dying before freezing to death himself.

His wife, also called Annie, had died six years earlier from complications with childbirth.

Pastor Harper wrote on White Star Line headed notepaper to a fellow clergyman, Brother Young, as the Titanic approached its last port of call at Queenstown, Ireland, on April 11.

He was in good spirits, as he tells him he had enjoyed a “great season of blessing” at Walworth Road Baptist Church, in London.

Three days later, the Titanic sank, with more than 1,500 crew and passengers lost.

Pastor Harper had been due to preach at a church in Chicago, where he had been a visitor the previous year, after crossing the Atlantic.

The handwritten letter was sold by a private collector through auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, of Wiltshire.

Auctioneer Andrew Aldridge said: “This superlative letter was written on Titanic stationery by one of the true heroes of the Titanic, Pastor John Harper.

“Contemporary accounts state that Harper preached the gospel to the end, first aboard the sinking ship and then to those in the freezing water, before succumbing to the inevitable. He epitomised the bravery that was shown by so many people on the Titanic. For him to take off his lifejacket to save someone else is just incredible.

“We are delighted with the sale result, which shows the enduring fascination of the Titanic with collectors.”