Robert Charles Bristow was born in Belfast, Co Antrim, Ireland 1 in late 1872 and his birth would be registered in Winchester in the first months of 1873. He was the son of English parents, Charles Stephen Bristow (1845-), a carpenter, and Harriet Targett (1846-), natives of Warminster, Wiltshire and Southampton, Hampshire, respectively who had married in 1867.
Robert had five known siblings: Kate L. (b. 1867), Mary Ann (b. 1869), Emily E. (b. 1877), Frank Henry (b. 1879) and Edward W. (b. 1881).
In the year prior to his birth his parents show up on the 1871 census living at Pot Heath (?), Crookham, Hampshire. When Robert first appears on the 1881 census he and his family are living at 2 Princes Street, St Mary, Southampton. Robert would be absent from the 1891 census, perhaps already at sea but his family were by now living at 4 Marine Terrace, Southampton. Robert reappears on the 1901 census whilst visiting 15 Spring Road, St Denys, Southampton, the home of a Mr Henry Goding. Also visiting at this time was Lily Anne Sophia Garrett (b. 1873 in Croydon, Surrey), Robert's fiancée.
Robert and Lily were married in Southampton on 3 July 1901. The couple would have a total of five children but only two survived infancy: William Edward (1906-1982) and Arthur James (1910-1975). The family appear on the 1911 census living at 49 Southminster, Westridge Road, Portswood, Southampton and Robert was described as a ship's steward.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Robert gave his address as 49 West Ridge Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic. As a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Bristow died in the sinking. His body was later recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#290) and was buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 6 May 1912.
Robert Bristow's grave in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, N.S. (© Bob Knuckle, Canada).
NO. 290 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE, 36 - DARK HAIR, LIGHT MOUSTACHE
CLOTHING - Plain blue serge suit; steward's white coat, marked "Bristow"; cholera belt.
EFFECTS - Letter to "R.C. Bristow, 49 West Ridge Road, Portswood; 9s.; ship's key's, stewards's department".
NAME - R. C. BRISTOW
His widow Lily continued to live at 49 West Ridge Road until her death. She died on 16 December 1939.
The 1881 census gives his birthplace as Southampton. Robert himself gives his birthplace as Belfast on the 1901 and 1911 census records.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
White Star Line (1912.) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax, N.S.
Gavin Bell, UK
Photo courtesy of the Bristow family