Reginald Charles Biddlecombe was born on 11 May 1880 at the small hamlet of Canada, East Wellow, Wiltshire.1 He was the son of Charles Arthur Biddlecombe (1860-1950) and Mary Jane Porter (1854-1920), both natives of Romsey who were married in 1878. Reginald had only one known sibling, Ida Annie.2
Reginald first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family were living at "The Cottage" in Amesbury, Wilsford, Wiltshire where his father was described as a groom. His father was described as an agricultural carter on the 1891 census and the family are now living at the Carter's Cottage on Dibden Farm, Dibden, Hampshire.
Reginald was married in the latter half of 1899 to Emily Mintram (b. 1879 in Southampton). Together they would have at least four known children: Reginald Roland Victor (b. 29 January 1900), Christopher Percy (b. 24 February 1902) and twins Eudora Winifred and Charles Wilfred (b. 25 July 1904).
Reginald, his wife Emily and first child Reginald Roland appear on the 1901 census living at an address in Redbridge Hill in Shirley, Southampton. He was at this time described as a ship's fireman.
What became of Reginald's marriage is unclear and it is not certain when his wife Emily died. There is no record for her death between the years of 1904 and 1912, so it is possible that Reginald and Emily were separated.
In 1908 Reginald fathered a child to a married woman, Ethel Beatrice Payne, née Kippendale (b. 1885 in Southampton). The child, Leonard Stewart, was born 30 November 1908. This event may have caused a separation between Ethel and her first husband Robert George Payne 3 if they were not already separated. Ethel and Robert had been married in 1905 and had one son, Robert Harold (b. 1906). In 1911 Reginald and Ethel would have another child, Ethel Beatrice 4.
By the time of the 1911 census Reginald youngest two children, twins Eudora and Charles, were listed at the home of their paternal grandparents Charles and Mary Jane Biddlecombe at Vine Cottages, Redbridge Hill, Shirley, Southampton.
Reginald himself was listed on the 1911 census whilst living at 2 Warren Avenue, Shirley, Hampshire and he was described as an engine driver. He was listed with his common-law wife Ethel 5; his two eldest children from his first marriage Reginald and Christopher; Ethel's child from her first marriage Robert Harold; and Reginald and Ethel's own children Leonard and Ethel. Ethel died towards the end of 1911.
When Reginald signed on to the Titanic, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 42 Kentish Road, Southampton, and his previous ship as the Olympic. As a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Reginald Biddlecombe died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His widow Ethel was remarried in 1915 to Frederick John Warn (b. 1881 in London) and she had three children: Rose Mary, Patrick and Peter. She died in 1956 in Southampton.
Out of the four children from Reginald's first marriage to Emily Mintram: Reginald Roland Victor was married in 1930 to Ellen C. McRae and they had one son. Reginald died in Southampton in 1969. Christopher Percy was married in 1930 to Florrie Clarke and they also had one son. He moved to Leicester and died there in 1970. Eudora Winifred never married. She later moved to Leicester and died there in 1973. Charles Wilfred married Nellie Blake in 1931 and had five children. He died in 1948 in Southampton. His stepson Robert Harold Payne was married in 1931 to Elsie Hitchener and are thought to have had two daughters. Robert Harold died in Winchester, Hampshire in 1962. His son to Ethel Kippendale Payne, Leonard Stewart, was married in 1933 to Emily Ruth Cocklin and they had one son. Leonard died in Southampton in 1998.
- His birth was registered in Romsey in the June quarter of 1880. On the 1881 census his place of birth is given as Canada, Wiltshire. On the 1891 census his birthplace was given as Romsey, Hampshire. On the 1901 census he gave his birthplace as Winterslow, Wiltshire. On the 1911 census he gave his birthplace as Leicester. He would give the latter birthplace when signing on to the Titanic. His sister Ida later settled in Leicester and two of his children would die there.
- Born as Ida Annie Porter in Romsey in June quarter of 1874, before her parents were married. She was married in 1896 to Elijah Johnson Crane and moved to Leicester but was childless by the time of the 1911 census, having lost two children in infancy.
- According to present-day family, Robert was a native of Hertfordshire and born in 1879. He was listed on the 1911 census living in Southwark, London and working as a carman. He gave his marital status as single. He later remarried and died in 1941 in Surrey.
- Ethel's birth was registered in the March quarter of 1911 as Ethel Beatrice Payne. Her death was registered in the December quarter of that year as Ethel Beatrice Biddlecombe.
- There is no registration for a marriage between them. On the 1911 census they declared that they had been married for ten years.
Gavin Bell, UK
Andrew Williams, UK
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