George Arthur Beedem was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England in 1877 and his birth was registered in Portsea in the first quarter of that year. He was the son of Joseph Beedem (1833-1881) and Elizabeth Pearce (1842-1937). His mother was a native of Rosslare, Co Wexford, Ireland and his father was born in Dublin on 21 September 1833. They had married in Sheppey, Kent in 1867 and went on to have at least five children: Charles Wallace (b. 1870), Randelena Elizabeth (b. 1873), Josephine Margaret (b. 1874), Isabel Elizabeth (b. 1881) and George.1
On the 1881 census the family are living at 2 Chichester Terrace, Portsea, Hampshire. His father Joseph, who is absent, is described as a Boatswain in the Royal Navy. Joseph Beedem died in Alverstoke, Hampshire in 1881 aged 47. The family don't seem to show up on the 1891 census.
George was married in Portsmouth in early 1901 to Lilly Elizabeth Small (b. 1874 in Bristol, Somerset). They show up on the 1901 census living at 87 New Road, Portsmouth and George is described as a grocer's warehouseman. Their only child, Charles Edwin, was born April 21, 1904 in Portsmouth.
The family were living at 81 Shrewsbury Road, Stonebridge, Harlesden, Middlesex on the 1911 census and George is still described as a grocery warehouseman. Sometime shortly after he went to sea and before joining Titanic had spent time house-hunting in Southampton with the idea of moving his family there.
When George signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, he gave his address as 81 Shrewsbury Road, Harlesden. His last ship had been the Olympic. As a bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3 15s. He wrote a series of letters to his wife and mother over the few days before departure. One to his wife, dated April 9, stated:
My dear Lill & Charlie
This is the last night and thank goodness we are off tomorrow. I should never do another week along like I have this one. On Sunday I went all over the place house hunting. You had better let me know for certain at Plymouth what you are going to do in the way of coming down & going home. I don't suppose we shall leave the ship till 5 o/c on the Saturday night. I hope you neck is better, let me know all about it for certain at Plymouth. My cold has been rotten & I shall be glad to get away to have as good square meal. As usual I expect you will say I am wrong in my money. I have not been paid for Good Friday there were only 10 of us working & none have been paid through some fool leaving us off the list. I am sending 10/- that 4/- short so I've managed to exist on about 8/- counting 2/- I had from you so it's a happy life. I have no news to tell you only the last 3 days. I've felt rotten & what with no dusters or anything to work with I wish the bally ship at the bottom of the sea. I hear from Mother today, Uncle John is a little better but cannot get up. Hope Charlie is having a nice holiday, so goodbye with love to both of you.
PS I have been thinking if it were possible to go right in for our own house, just think it over & see if anything can be done
Beedem died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His widow Lilly never remarried and remained in Middlesex for the rest of her life. She passed away in Willesden in 1954 aged 79.
His son Charles Edwin was married in 1955 to Sylvia Alice Adams (1914-1974) but they had no children. He died in Portsmouth in 1984
- Joseph Beeden/Beedem was born in Dublin on 21 September 1833. He entered the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class on H.M.S. Fly on 22 November 1847 and was advanced to Boy 1st Class in February 1850. On board H.M.S. Britannia, January 1852-March 1855, he saw service in the Baltic and was promoted to Ordinary Seaman in January 1852 and Able Seaman in August 1952. He then served on H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, March 1855-April 1857, seeing service in the Crimean War and being promoted to Leading Seaman in December 1856 and ranked as Coxswain of the Cutter in February 1857. In January 1857 whilst serving on H.M.S. Duke of Wellington, he performed the first of his rescues for which he was awarded the R.H.S. Bronze Medal. Beeden next served on H.M.S. Cumberland, becoming Captain of the Mizzen Top in April 1857 and Boatswain’s Mate in November the same year. In July 1857 he performed his second rescue for which he was awarded the R.H.S. Silver Medal. Gaining the rank of Boatswain in December 1860, he received a Silver Clasp to his R.H.S. Medal in Silver for rescue performed in March 1872 while serving on H.M.S. Malabar. Boatswain Joseph Beeden was again serving on H.M.S. Malabar when he was discharged ill to Haslar Hospital and died of disease on 24 June 1881. [Served in the Baltic campaign and in the Crimea 1854-56. You will note that he was a very brave man - two awards of the Royal Humane Soc medal in silver and one in bronze - and that he rose from the ranks to officer class as Bosun. His name occurs variously as Beeden or Beedem in rolls and records.]
References and Sources
Hyslop, Forsyth, Jemima (1994) Titanic Voices: Memories from the Fateful Voyage
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Duckers, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK