Henry Reginald Lee (F. Martin)

david lee

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Nov 11, 2007
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I should have stated that the premiere that Henry Reginald Lee was feted at was the Portsmouth premiere.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Very interesting, David - and not an isolated case. There was a Pitman in Germany who posed as a Titanic officer, at least one Lightoller who traded on the name, a Lowe, and a woman who explained the disappearance of her husband, a William Murdoch, to their children by telling them that he had gone down with the ship.
 

Nigel Godfrey

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Nov 28, 2006
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I think perhaps the link between Henry Lee and Reginald Lee is one that is overstated here, as it certainly was not the story that has been quoted in my family (Henry Lee was my Great Grandfather) - Henry never claimed to be a Lookout, he said he was part of the serving staff and only travelling one way.

Questions still remain however. Since he could not have known that the disaster was about to happen what WAS he doing during the time he was supposed to be on board ? He clearly could not have been at home, as by now someone would have burst that particular bubble, surely ? Certainly my Grandmother would not have lied on his behalf.

I am wondering if the 1911 census will provide any information ? But sadly that is not available for another 5 years.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>> Certainly my Grandmother would not have lied on his behalf.<<

Maybe not, but family legends have a funny way of being accepted without question. Even then, I wouldn't make the assumption that a reletive wouldn't be "creative" with the truth and knowingly so. We may not see the reason but that doesn't mean there wasn't one. And a good one at that.
 

Nigel Godfrey

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Nov 28, 2006
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Yes, one family member perhaps. But there were many who never questioned the "story". If indeed it was a fabrication, it was a pretty longlasting one. He managed to convince many outside of his family as well. Of course that doesn't make it true. And that is not my suggestion at all.

However I am not convinced that one (quite big) lie really deserves another set.

What piece of evidence do you have that Henry Lee ever suggested he was Reginald Robinson Lee ?

The newspaper cutting I have of the 1958 premiere says he was a cook not a lookout.

Or, as you put it, are you simply being "creative" with the truth as well ?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What piece of evidence do you have that Henry Lee ever suggested he was Reginald Robinson Lee ?<<

I never personally made any claim to that effect. David Lee above appears to be the one who knows that there may have been a claim to that effect.
 

Nigel Godfrey

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Nov 28, 2006
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Ah, so this is an example of "legends have a funny way of being accepted without question" ?

I suspect the Henry Lee = Reginald Lee myth stems from this site, rather than family belief or even the evidence (what little of it there is).

As above, the newspaper article from 1958 states he was a cook. This supports the family story that he was a waiter/cook working a 1 way passage to find work, with his then pregnant wife planning to join him later.

This was the accepted version until the coming of the internet and ET. I think I came across it in 1996/1997 ?

On the RR Lee page then was a picture of what looked like my Great Grandfather (I have no idea who posted it, or where it is now ? It was a rather grainy shot, with him wearing a flat cap standing on a quayside). Does anyone know ? Or can they find out ? This picture, and the similarity of the names was interesting.

However this presented some problems. Firstly, RR Lee died a long time before Henry Lee. Secondly, him being a Lookout didn't tie in with the family belief that he was just working his passage one way. It also didn't tie in with a story about the Countess of Rothes, as RR Lee was not in the same lifeboat as her.

Perhaps the "not being a lookout" was explainable by post traumatic stress. But the others were far too difficult facts to overlook. Doesn't mean it wasn't an attractive idea to believe in, as it gave answers even if it raised questions.

So it is not that appropriate of David Lee to suggest that "prior to 2004 the family thought he was Lookout Lee" - as there were doubts well before that. It simply isn't true that Gordon Lee's information in 2004 led us to change our minds, it simply confirmed what we already suspected.

We knew he couldn't be RR Lee. And he couldn't be H.Lee as he died.

The obvious and simple answer is that he wasn't on the Titanic at all. But this of course is just based on Occam's Razor, rather than the whole "He wasn't RR Lee, so wasn't on the Titanic". I hope it is obvious that HE didn't pretend to be RR Lee, it is subsequent generations that have scratched round for answers and clung to implausible answers.

However this does leave many unanswered questions for myself, Matthew and David. What was he doing at the time ? How did he arrange for the yearly car to arrive to take him to the "reunion" every year ?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Ah, so this is an example of "legends have a funny way of being accepted without question" ?<<

I didn't say that in my last post. I did say that in the context of your question in your first post.

>>I suspect the Henry Lee = Reginald Lee myth stems from this site, rather than family belief or even the evidence (what little of it there is).<<

Again, that's a question you would have to take up with David Lee as he's the one who mooted the issue. Apparently it started with a Henry Lee who had already passed away before the internet was even invented.

For the record, I checked the list of biographies on the information side of this website. The only Lee's I found in any context was the lookout at https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/1348/

A trimmer at https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/1556/ (He died in the sinking) and Harold H. Lee ( https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/2627/ ) who was a waiter on the Carpathia.

Make of that what you will.
 

Ernie Luck

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Nov 24, 2004
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Nigel

>>>> I am wondering if the 1911 census will provide any information ? But sadly that is not available for another 5 years.<<<<

My wife, who knows about genealogy and keeps abreast of what is going on, tells me you can get a page of the 1911 census now, although the fee is £45. You have to know the address of where the person was, of course. It might be best to be patient until February 1909 when it will become generally available.
 

david lee

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Nov 11, 2007
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Good evening Nigel.
Firstly I must correct your statement that HRL being a lookout was not quoted in your family. Firstly, I have a copy of a letter sent by Robin Gardiner dated 13.02 1998 stating that a granddaughter of HRL - Patricia Thomas - had written to him correcting his book that the real name of Reginald Robinson Lee was in fact Henry Reginald Lee. She also wrote to a cousin in Australia in Nov. 2003 and to another cousin in Portsmouth -Myra Lee- and the content of both letters confirm that she believed that HRL was a lookout. So Nigel, that particular part of the legend was well entrenched in your part of the family.
Other facts that do not add up: He told his grandson Robert Pierson that he jumped from the stern of the ship as it was sinking. However, when he was interviewed at the premier of a Night To Remember, he stated that he climbed into a lifeboat "after saving several bell boys and child passengers" The Titanic only carried three bell boys (see this web site) and they all drowned. The ridiculous story that he told his grandson Roy Lee, that the fingers of the swimmers clinging onto the side of the lifeboat had to be chopped off to save the lifeboat, hardly adds to his credibility. Do lifeboats carry axes? Certainly not in my 23 years in the RN. Lastly,if he was supposedly working a one way ticket; why then did he not just stay out there?
In short Nigel, nothing about HRL adds up, but I am still leaving the door ajar in the event that something tangible might come along.
 
Jul 22, 2001
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Earlier this year I was able to purchase a couple of pages of the 1911 census. It was indeed £45 which is a huge amount for a couple of bits of paper, but sometimes you just have to know!!! I didn't know the address but I did have a rough idea of where the people were.

<<<<uhhhhhhhhh...1909>>>>

Easily done, I spend so much time researching the past I am always putting 18XX instead of 20XX usually on really important stuff too.
 

Ernie Luck

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Nov 24, 2004
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>>>Uhhhhhhhhh...1909 Ernie? A typo maybe?<<<

No, Michael, I am assured it's going to be available early and I'm not going to argue with her indoors.
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In the Times today it suggests the Government are considering doing away with the census in the future because of our mobile population - they missed out a million people last time. What will us genealogists do then?
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Thanks for that Emma, glad to know someone has used what I've just recommended

I've had a google on the National Archives site and it says that they are going to phase the 1911 census in from 1909 but restrict some information. When I said it would be generally available I concede I was a bit misleading.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What will us genealogists do then?<<

They'll just have to make do I suppose. Records are still kept in various repositories of births, deaths, naturalizations, immigrations, and other vital statistics. The work may well be more difficult, but not impossible.
 

Ernie Luck

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Nov 24, 2004
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Thanks for the link, Lester and for pointing out my error. To do it twice; how daft can you get? Please don't answer that.
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Apologies to Michael and Emma.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>To do it twice; how daft can you get?<<

Well, if you really, really, really want to see new highs in lunacy and insanity, just watch you're elected officials in action. If you can't top that, you're in good shape...even if you do have discussions of Buddahist theology with parking meters.
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Nigel Godfrey

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Nov 28, 2006
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Hello David,

>>Firstly I must correct your statement that HRL being a lookout was not quoted in your family.<<

That wasn't my assertion, I said that prior to about 1996 (i.e. the start of ET) the general view was that he was a steward. Or a cook. The lookout idea was later one (although there is a story that he wasn't a lookout, but just happened to be up there at the time).

It wasn't until I discovered ET, and the picture, that we wondered if Henry Lee was Reginald Lee. Working in IT at the time I had access to the Internet fairly early on.

The picture posted on here looked exactly like Henry Lee's son, Reginald. So I am thinking that whomever posted it was more certain of the lookout story ? Unless it really was of THE Reginald Lee and he looks quite a lot like Reginald Lee II !

>>when he was interviewed at the premier of a Night To Remember, he stated that he climbed into a lifeboat "after saving several bell boys and child passengers" <<

Yes, and pulling the Countess of Rothes from the water.

>>Firstly, I have a copy of a letter sent by Robin Gardiner dated 13.02 1998 stating that a granddaughter of HRL - Patricia Thomas - had written to him correcting his book that the real name of Reginald Robinson Lee was in fact Henry Reginald Lee. <<

I haven't seen Patricia Thomas since my Grandfather's funeral. But I wonder if she got the information about the picture (since it was 2 years after I had printed it off) ? Or maybe it was from her ?

>>and to another cousin in Portsmouth -Myra Lee- <<

Mmm, yes, not a big fan of yours that Myra.

>>The ridiculous story that he told his grandson Roy Lee, that the fingers of the swimmers clinging onto the side of the lifeboat had to be chopped off to save the lifeboat, hardly adds to his credibility.<<

Were they cut off with an axe ? I though they froze off. Apparently they looked like Chipolata sausages and Roy was never able to eat them again.

>>if he was supposedly working a one way ticket; why then did he not just stay out there? <<

Ah, now this one I know the "answer" to. It isn't like I haven't asked all of these questions myself. Several times. Apparently his wife had a miscarriage shortly after the sinking, so he returned to be with her.

>>In short Nigel, nothing about HRL adds up, but I am still leaving the door ajar in the event that something tangible might come along.<<

Very true. But nothing is provable, and that is the frustration. It is so utterly fantastic and fanciful, and one would think in nearly 100 years, there would be one piece of evidence that would link him to somewhere else.

I have been through the crews of all the other vessels. Have been through the Ellis Island records. And now thanks to Ernie (thankyou) I think I will have a go at the 1911 census.

Of course if any of us were famous, this we be a great story for the "Who do you think you are" series that has been on BBC2.
 

david lee

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Nov 11, 2007
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Hello Nigel again.
The letter that I mentioned before, sent by Pat Thomas to Robin Gardiner attempting to correct his book, was dated 25.11.1995.

>> I said that prior to about 1996 the general view was that he was a steward or a cook. The lookout idea was a later one.<<

It was always accepted in my part of the Lee family that HRL was a lookout. My 91yr old living father was told this by his father, a brother of HRL, and my last living aunt, my father's sister, was also led to believe this and remembers visiting him in his home in Cams Hill with my grandmother. So this story could only have come from the man himself. I can tell you this Nigel, they are still not convinced that he wasn't a lookout, despite what I have told them. The story is that ingrained!
As to HRL just being in the crows nest, I am quite sure that "goofers" would not have been allowed up there and anyway why would a cook, having slaved all day in the kitchens, want to stand up there on a freezing cold night with an apparent wind speed of 20+ knots blowing over him, when he could be tucked up warm in his pit.

>> Yes, and pulling the Countess of Rothes from the water <<

What on earth was the Countess doing in the water? She had been lowered into the water, sat in lifeboat no.8 and then took charge of the tiller as the boat was rowed away. My info. is that she didn't even get her feet wet and I repeat, according to the info. on this web site, no bell boys were saved; they all perished.

>> were they cut off with an axe?<< (fingers)

Roy Lee stated "That the fingers of the clinging swimmers had to be chopped off to save the lifeboats" This would imply that an axe or similar tool was used.
This story, unreported anywhere else, is really too bizarre to be credulous and has to be the result of a very vivid imagination on the part of our Henry.

>> Apparently his wife had a miscarriage shortly after the sinking, so he returned to be with her<<

A granddaughter of HRL - Juliet Aldsworth - stated in a letter that Myra sent to me, that a baby was born and christened Mary but did not survive. However there was no birth or death registered for a Mary Lee in the area around that time. So your miscarriage theory fits better, even though Juliet's version is more definitive. But you can see just how confused the history around HRL is.

Finally, the photo that you alluded to of a man in a flat cap, must be the 12th May 1912,Daily Sketch, photo of RRL that I copied from this site some time ago.
As far as accessing the 1911 census, the ancestry uk site states that an address is required, as well as a fee, as there is no name index yet. Otherwise I would have gone down that path.
Despite all this, I am still leaving the door ajar!