Mr F. Martin (Henry Reginald Lee) (Scullion).
On 6 April 1912, a man signed on to the Titanic as a scullion, naming himself as F. Martin and giving his address as 13 High Street in Fareham, Hampshire 1, stating his last ship had been the Adriatic. This man, who could expect who earn monthly wages of £3, 10s in the capacity of a ship's scullion survived the sinking, escaping in lifeboat 13.
The true identity of F. Martin was for long unclear. However, it seems that "F. Martin," or "Frank Martin" or, again, "Frank Edward Martin" was the pseudonym of another man named Henry Lee. For many years the relatives of Henry Lee were enthralled by the tales of how he escaped the Titanic. Curiosity drew them to check for his name on passenger and crew lists but to no avail and some came to the conclusion that he had concocted a tale to impress others down at his local, something that was not uncommon. However, it seems that Henry Lee was indeed telling the truth.
Henry Reginald Lee was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on 28 June 1882. He was the son of John Hugh Lee (1844-1916) and Louisa Bright (1849-1924). Both his parents hailed from Southsea, Hampshire and they were married in 1866. His known siblings were: Charles Hugh (b. 1867), William (b. 1874), Arthur Vivian (b. 1876), John Bertram (b. 1879), Ethel Louise (b. 1884), Henry George Burbridge (b. 1889) and Maude (b. 1891). Henry appears on the 1891 census living at 20 Brougham (?) Road in Portsea, Hampshire with his family.
He was married in 1905 to Mary Victoria Gargrave (1883-1952), also a native of Portsmouth. By the time of the 1911 census Henry and his wife were living at 5 Coronado Road in Gosport, Hampshire 2 and they had two children: Mabel Olive Victoria (1906-1911) and Reginald George Vivian (1907-1981). At this time Henry was described as a ship's steward for a private company of ship owners. Another child, Dorothy Ethel Lilian (later Mrs Jack Collins, d. 1996) was born a few weeks later on 22 April 1911 and they lost their eldest child Mabel towards the end of the year.
Apparently surviving the Titanic disaster, Henry returned to a life at sea, serving as a steward, and told many tales of his brush with death in 1912.3 He and his wife would welcome another child in 1918, Rita Mary (later Mrs Horace Pierson). He was later widowed on 21 October 1952.
Henry died in Portsmouth on 23 January 1965 aged 82.
- As per the 1911 census, 13 High Street, Fareham was the home of a Mr Charles Mellish and his family.
- "F. Martin" signed on to the Adriatic on in May 1911, citing his address as 5 Coronado Road, Gosport.
- For many years his family sought to uncover whether or not he had been on Titanic. It was not until recent years that records surfaced showing Henry Lee had indeed been on Titanic, serving as F. Martin on various other ships, giving corresponding addresses, birthdates, previous ships, including matching handwriting, providing clear-cut evidence that he had not been lying.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Gavin Bell, UK