Mr Frank John Roberts was born in the closing months of 1875 in Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.
He was the son of Thomas Roberts (b. 1834), a wheelwright and native of Wednesfield, Staffordshire, and his wife Elizabeth (b. 1839), a native of Church Stretton, Shropshire. Frank had seven known siblings: Harriett E (b. 1858), Sarah A. (b. 1860), Thomas (b. 1862), Samuel (b. 1868), Clara (b. 1870), Amy (b. 1872) and Flora (b. 1874).
He first appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 6 Piddock Street, Birmingham. When the 1891 census was taken the family were living at 119 Whitmore Street and Frank was then described as a blacksmith.
He was married in Birmingham on 22 November 1896 to Comfort Maskell (b. 1879) who hailed from Reading, Berkshire and who was the daughter of Josiah and Ellen Maskell. Frank and his wife would have two daughters: Flora Louisa (b. 1897) and Doris Irene (b. 1906). Around 1901, when Frank was boarding a troopship for the Boer War, his wife took a friendship ring she was wearing and gave it to him to wear for good luck.
The couple moved to Hampshire from Salisbury, Wiltshire, possibly around 1909 and appear on the 1911 census living at 7 Dawson Cottages, Reading Road, Farnborough, Frank is absent and likely at sea. His wife is described as a nurse employed by the Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association.
Frank Roberts initially signed on to the Titanic for the delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on to the Titanic for the second time, on 6 April 1912, he gave his address as 7 Dawson's Cottages, Reading Road, (Farnborough, Hampshire). He had been transferred from the Olympic. As third butcher he received monthly wages of £4, 10s.
© Bob Knuckle, Canada
Roberts died in the sinking. His body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#231) and he was buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 8 May 1912.
NO. 231. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 32. - HAIR, DARK; MOUSTACHE, FAIR.
CLOTHING - Blue serge pants; green overcoat; flannel belt; drawers marked "F. Roberts."
TATTOO - On right arm, Victoria Cross and red, white and blue ribbon; on left arm, dagger.
EFFECTS - Ship's keys; belt.
NAME - F. ROBERTS.
When Frank Roberts' effects were returned to his family the friendship ring was found among them. Comfort Roberts wore the ring until her death in 1972.
References and Sources
Crew Particulars of Engagement
White Star Line (1912.) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett"
British Census 1881
Particulars of Engagement (Belfast), Ulster Folk and Transport Museum (TRANS 2A/45 381)
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
Gavin Bell, UK
Frank Caswell, Canada (Grandson of Frank John Roberts)