William Robert Holland Pusey, better known as Robert, was born in Hythe 1, Hampshire, England on 1 March 1890. He was the son of William Pusey (b . 1866), a mariner, and Florence Ellen Holland (b. 1863). His father was from Hampshire and his mother from Staffordshire and they had married in Southampton in 1889. He had one known sibling, Vernon Charles Holland (1893-1956).
Robert first appears on the 1891 census when he and his family were living at Rose Cottages, Titchfield, Hampshire. His mother died in 1895 aged 32 and his father was remarried in early 1900 to Emily Lucy Gregory (b. 1875 in Beaulieu, Hampshire). The couple had at least one more child, a daughter named Irene Mary (b. 1900).
The family would move to the village of Fawley, Hampshire by the time of the next census in 1901 and would be listed as living at Chapel Street, his father now described as a fisherman. His father died around 1910 and his stepmother apparently remarried.
Robert was married in Southampton in 1908 to Edith Kate Prince (b. 1887 in Shrivenham, Berkshire) and the couple had four children: Eric Prince (1909-1946), Florence Edith (b. 1910), Olive Ellen (b. 1912) and Marjorie (b. 1915).
On the 1911 census Robert is absent from his home at "The Marsh," Hythe, Hampshire where his wife and first two children are listed. He is listed elsewhere as a fireman aboard the Osceola, then docked off Southwick, Sussex.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, Robert gave his boarding address as 18 Briton Street, (Southampton). His last ship had been the St. Paul. As a fireman he received monthly wages of £6.
Pusey was, controversially, one of only a dozen occupants rescued in Emergency Lifeboat 1.
He testified at the British Inquiry and recalled how Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon oferred to reimburse the crew for their lost kit. An action that some interpreted as a bribe not to return to the scene of the sinking.:
Lady Gordon said to Miss Franks, "There is your beautiful nightdress gone," and I said, "Never mind about your nightdress madam, as long as you have got your life"; and then I heard someone forward at the fore end of me say - I said we had lost our kits and that our pay was stopped from the time she was a wreck - "We will give you a little to start a new kit." That was all I heard.
He returned to England and continued to live at "The Marsh" in Hythe, serving in the Mercantile Marine Reserve following the outbreak of WWI.
Robert was serving as a fireman on the trawler H.M.S. Dirk, a patrol boat, when that ship was torpedoed by UC75 off Flamborough Head, Yorkshire on 28 May 1918. Robert's body was never recovered but he is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
His widow Edith was remarried in 1928 to Victor Edward Pusey (1896-1945), Robert's cousin. She remained in the Hythe area and died in 1968.
The 1891 and 1901 census records give his birthplace as Warsash, Hampshire.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
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(2015) William Robert Holland Pusey Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1631, accessed 26th April 2015 11:12:02 PM)
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