Was Survivor of the Titanic

New York Times

   Hide Ads

Virginia State Senator, Once Head of Liberty National, Stricken in Richmond


Brandon-on James Was Visited by Many Presidents

Was Survivor of the Titanic

RICHMOND, Va., Dec. 20 (AP)---Robert Williams Daniel, State Senator, financier, sportsman and owner of historic Brandon-on-the-James, Virginia showplace, died in a Richmond hospital tonight of a circulatory ailment after an illness of eight weeks. His age was 56.

His great-grandfather, Peter V. Daniel, was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and his great-great-grandfather, Edmund Randolph, was the first Attorney General of the United States and Secretary of State.

Married Durant's Daughter

Mr. Daniel was married in 1923 to Mrs. Marjorie Durant Campbell, a daughter of W. C. Durant, automobile manufacturer and founder of the Liberty National Bank in this city. Mr. Daniel was vice president of the bank at the time and later became president and chairman of the board.

A few years after their marriage, Mr. Daniel brought Brandon, one of the most beautiful and best known of the old Virginia estates on the James River. The estate, formerly owned by the Harrison family of Virginia had a stairway designed by Thomas Jefferson and was visited by many Presidents.

In 1928 Mr. and Mrs. Daniel were divorced and Mr. Daniel ascribed the divorce to a charm which had unintentionally been broken at the old estate. According to legend a bride of long ago who was married beneath the chandelier in the stately main room of the mansion died on her wedding night. Her wedding ring was imbedding [sic] in the ceiling and the legend was created that whoever disturbed it would meet with bad luck in love.

The Wedding-Ring Legend

After taking over the estate in 1926, Mr. Daniel ordered renovations made. While workmen were in the living room a piece of plaster fell to the floor containing the wedding ring. The workmen took it to Mr. Daniel, who had it cleaned and polished and the placed it back beneath the chandelier. He said he was aware of the legend and feared of the results of disturbing the ring. Two years later he was divorced.

Mr. Daniel previously had been married in 1914 to Mrs. Mary Hughes Smith, widow of Lucien P. Smith, representative in Congress from West Virginia. Mr. Daniel was returning from London on the Titanic with the Smiths. Mr. Smith was lost in the disaster and Mr. Daniel was rescued in the same lifeboat with Mrs. Smith. Their subsequent marriage ended in divorce nine years later.

Mr. Daniel was married for a third time in 1929 to Mrs. Charlotte Bemiss Christian, widow of Frank Palmer Christian of Richmond and niece of a former Controller of the Currency. In his later years, when Mr. Daniel was a Virginia State Senator, he resided at Brandon where he maintained a stable of horses. He was a close friend of Rear Admiral Byrd.

Share on FaceBook Twitter

Related Biographies:

Robert Williams Daniel
Mary Eloise Smith
Lucian Philip Smith


Mark Baber


Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) ROBERT W. DANIEL, EX-BANKER HERE, 56 (New York Times, Saturday 21st December 1940, ref: #2542, published 17 March 2004, generated 4th August 2021 06:40:10 AM); URL :