Mr Roland Hopgood was born as Roland John C. Caws in 1883 in Bournemouth, Hampshire, England and his birth was registered in the second quarter of that year. He was the son of Alfred Henry Caws (b. 1852 on the Isle of Wight) and Maria Kearley (b. 1858 in Wareham, Dorset) who had married in 1878.
Roland had four known siblings: Ada Mary (b. 1880), Edward Alfred (b. 1882), Ethel May (b. 1884) and George Bernard (b. 1888).
Roland first appears on the 1891 census while he and his family were living at 1 South View Terrace, Holdenhurst, Bournemouth and his father was described as a cabinet maker. His mother had passed away the previous year and his father remarried in 1892 to Eliza Annie Painter (b. 1872 in Studland, Dorset) and the couple had a further eight children: Lillian (b. 1893), William Henry (b. 1894), Florence Annie (b. 1896), Lucia Violet (b. 1899), Alice Dorothy (b. 1902), Alfred Thomas (b. 1904), John Morris (b. 1906) and Frederick James (b. 1908).
Roland's familial life after this appears somewhat complex. By the time of the 1901 census Roland and his family--his father still a carpenter and also coachman--were living at 18 Testwood Road, Shirley, Southampton but were by now going by the name of Hopgood.
Hopgood was not a random name assumed by the family, however. Roland's paternal aunt Elizabeth Mary Caws had married a man named George Hopgood and had several children. Following George Hopgood's death in 1889 Elizabeth seemingly took her children to live in Australia. The reasons for Roland's family changing their name is not known and it was certainly not a legal change--all Roland's stepsiblings bore the name Caws and his father and stepmother continued to use Caws in official documents, albeit not colloquially or in census reports.
By the time of the 1911 census Roland's stepmother and siblings were living at 81 Romsey Road, Shirley, Southampton but Roland himself is absent and perhaps at sea. His father is also absent but is listed elsewhere as a boarder (and under the name Caws) at 13 Trafalgar Road, Freemantle, Southampton.
When Roland signed on to the Titanic¸ on 6 April 1912 in Southampton, he gave his address as 81 Romsey Road, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Oceanic. As a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Roland Hopgood, who was unmarried, died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
His stepmother Eliza died in 1916. His father continued to live in Southampton and died aged 83 in 1935.
Gavin Bell, UK