Henry Reginald Lee

Henry Reginald Lee

Mr F. Martin (Henry Reginald Lee) (Scullion).

On 6 April 1912, a man signed on to the Titanic as a scullion, naming himself as F. Martin and giving his address as 13 High Street in Fareham, Hampshire 1, stating his last ship had been the Adriatic. This man, who could expect who earn monthly wages of £3, 10s in the capacity of a ship's scullion survived the sinking, escaping in lifeboat 13.

The true identity of F. Martin was for long unclear. However, it seems that "F. Martin," or "Frank Martin" or, again, "Frank Edward Martin" was the pseudonym of another man named Henry Lee. For many years the relatives of Henry Lee were enthralled by the tales of how he escaped the Titanic. Curiosity drew them to check for his name on passenger and crew lists but to no avail and some came to the conclusion that he had concocted a tale to impress others down at his local, something that was not uncommon. However, it seems that Henry Lee was indeed telling the truth.

Henry Reginald Lee was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England on 28 June 1882. He was the son of John Hugh Lee (1844-1916) and Louisa Bright (1849-1924). Both his parents hailed from Southsea, Hampshire and they were married in 1866. His known siblings were: Charles Hugh (b. 1867), William (b. 1874), Arthur Vivian (b. 1876), John Bertram (b. 1879), Ethel Louise (b. 1884), Henry George Burbridge (b. 1889) and Maude (b. 1891). Henry appears on the 1891 census living at 20 Brougham (?) Road in Portsea, Hampshire with his family.

He was married in 1905 to Mary Victoria Gargrave (1883-1952), also a native of Portsmouth. By the time of the 1911 census Henry and his wife were living at 5 Coronado Road in Gosport, Hampshire 2 and they had two children: Mabel Olive Victoria (1906-1911) and Reginald George Vivian (1907-1981). At this time Henry was described as a ship's steward for a private company of ship owners. Another child, Dorothy Ethel Lilian (later Mrs Jack Collins, d. 1996) was born a few weeks later on 22 April 1911 and they lost their eldest child Mabel towards the end of the year.

Apparently surviving the Titanic disaster, Henry returned to a life at sea, serving as a steward, and told many tales of his brush with death in 1912.3 He and his wife would welcome another child in 1918, Rita Mary (later Mrs Horace Pierson). He was later widowed on 21 October 1952.

Henry died in Portsmouth on 23 January 1965 aged 82. He was buried at South East Fareham Cemetery, Hampshire (section Non Conformist, plot 665) in an unmarked grave.


  1. As per the 1911 census, 13 High Street, Fareham was the home of a Mr Charles Mellish and his family.
  2. "F. Martin" signed on to the Adriatic on in May 1911, citing his address as 5 Coronado Road, Gosport.
  3. For many years his family sought to uncover whether or not he had been on Titanic. It was not until recent years that records surfaced showing Henry Lee had indeed been on Titanic, serving as F. Martin on various other ships, giving corresponding addresses, birthdates, previous ships, including matching handwriting, providing clear-cut evidence that he had not been lying.

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)


(1919) Henry Reginald Lee
Listed as Frank Edward Martin
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Matthew Wastie said:

    What books did merchant seamen need to show when they signed onto a ship and what information did they contain also where can I find a list of all the Titanic passengers that the Carpathia picked up

  2. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    If you go to the Passenger list section, just take note of any of the names in italics. Those are all the survivors and all the survivors were picked up by the Carpathia. Perhaps David Haisman can speak to what seamen were required to read and know but I don't know of any formal training courses for seamen in the merchent marine. My understanding is that somebody would sign on as an Ordinary Seaman (Little more then a glorified deck swabber and brightwork polisher) and the rest of the training was On The Job. Don't take that as Gospel as I may be dead wrong about that. Things were... Read full post

  3. Deleted member 173198 said:

    Hi Matthew, A big thank you for confirming the above. Don't get me wrong but am I right to assume that you haven't done any background history on your family as yet? One never knows what secrets are hiding with the Census. A.W. P. S. Mike - not so sure whether I should've posted this message after your recommendations. Whether you wish to transfer this addition to Matthew's newly appointed post under Crew research, remains entirely up to you. A.W.

  4. Matthew Wastie said:

    Yes Andrew you are quite right with regards my lack of family research and that is my next port of call, to look at the census to find out his family members names and addresses. I believe H R Lee had a brother and that a distant relative called Arthur had done some research into H R Lee and that he may have some knowledge of the change of names. It is strange that my mother recalls that on every anniversary of the sinking up to the 1965 when he died that Cunnard sent a car for him for the survivors reunion, if this is the case by what name was he known to them and would Cunnard be able to... Read full post

  5. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>Whether you wish to transfer this addition to Matthew's newly appointed post under Crew research, remains entirely up to you.

  6. Deleted member 173198 said:

    Mike - greatly appreciated and thanks. Matthew - In about two hours time I shall be whizzing off to work to earn my daily crust. I was going ask you another question but as you have introduce another name (Arthur) were there anymore brothers and sisters you know of? Late last night, I did check the 1891 British Census and found nothing for H.R.L under the Isle of Wight. There's an H.R.L born in Berkshire but his birth year isn't listed as 1883. Hope this helps. A.W.

  7. Matthew Wastie said:

    Hi Andrew thanks for that but I have looked at the 1901 census and found an HRL 18yrs born Portsea hants which is next to the Isle of wight and note his mother was called Louisa (father not mentioned) and he had two brothers and a sister, one brother was called George which my mother thought was the name of one of his brothers she mentioned before I looked at he census so it is a possibility that this is the family line I am looking for and that Arthur is related to one of the Brothers how could I find out more

  8. avatar

    Dave Gittins said:

    Michael is correct about the lack of training for seamen as of 1912. The rank of Able Seaman was obtained by three years of satisfactory service and an Ordinary Seamen. Crewmembers of all kinds carried a little book called a Continuous Certificate of Discharge. This listed all their voyages.

  9. Matthew Wastie said:

    Thank you Dave that is very useful information where can I find details of the ships of the white star line and of any sailings around the time of the Titanic with crew lists

  10. avatar

    Dave Gittins said:

    Matthew, crew lists do exist in various archives but I'm no expert. There are many gaps in the records. Our resident expert is Inger Sheil, but she's wandering the world at present. Let's hope she drops in. The dates of sailings are a bit easier. They are common in contemporary newspapers. The ones most readily available on microfilm are The New York Times and The Times. Major libraries often have these.

  11. Matthew Wastie said:

    Let sleeping dogs lie I wish i hadn't started this enquiry as many of my family are adamant and they have their theories but it has got me to me now, I am trying to be as objective as possible. In the photo of Reginald Robinson Lee he is wearing the uniform of a paymaster if so when was it taken and what rank is he if it is a rank? also are there any photos of the crew and of the titanic crew in the the follow up enquiry etc.

  12. avatar

    Dave Gittins said:

    Matthew, there is a photo of Reginald Lee on page 220 of The Titanic Disaster, a compilation of newspaper articles assembled by Dave Bryceson. The same book has many photos of crewmembers. Many others are in Titanic Voices.

  13. Matthew Wastie said:

    Thanks Dave I think I have that book but left it in a property of mine in Spain but my wife is bringing it back on Friday, is this the same photo that was taken in the Daily Sketch at the enquiry. I am also obtaining some photos of HRL but I believe these have been taken later in his life and I am trying to contact the son of HRL's youngest daughter who coincidentally also emigrated to Oz who may have some further info

  14. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    I don't think paymaster is a rank and he certainly wouldn't have been considered to be an officer unless he was in military service and held a commission at an officer's rank. I'm not aware of any point in Lee's career where he served in that capacity though some crew researchers may know otherwise.

  15. Matthew Wastie said:

    If all the surivors were picked up by the Carpathia did they all eventually reach this ship by lifeboat or were any picked up on floating debris direct?. Did the Carpathia launch any of its lifeboats to search for survivors. Is the life boat survivors list comprehensive or is there also a miscellaneous list

  16. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Every one of them made it to the Carpathia on a lifeboat. There were 712 survivors in all,no more, no less, all of whom were documented by the Carpathia. There are no other lists. As far as I know, Carpathia put none of her boats in the water however, the Californian searched for any additional survivors for a brief time before resuming her course to Boston.

  17. Lester Mitcham said:

    Matthew, if you are asking are there Lifeboat Lists the answer is NO. For Titanic's Crew there are several Lists all held by the Public Record Office. - Sign-on , Lost/Saved, plus a List signed by all surviving Crew for their Final Pay. There is also a Master C&D List which gives numbers to all of the Crew who signed-on. - This proves that there is no possibility that a Henry Reginald Lee was on the Titanic. The surviving passengers are listed on what are generally referred to as... Read full post

  18. Matthew Wastie said:

    Hi Lester and thank you I totally agree that there was no one in the name of Henry Reginald Lee on the Titanic and I wish it were that simple so I could draw a line under this faker (did I spell it correctly) but it is the introduction to the story of this swapping books which has added a twist and which I have heard from 2 sources when he supposedly signed on and I also believe that there are a small number of the surviving crew for which no details can be found. With this twist I have no evidence he was ever on the Titanic but I have no evidence he wasn't. Before 1912 little is known about... Read full post

  19. david lee said:

    I may be a little late to enter the discussion on Henry Reginald Lee, but he was my great uncle, his mother - my great grandmother - was Lousia and a brother Arthur was just one of his siblings that included my grandfather Bertram. It was always accepted that Henry was a crew member on the Titanic and I remember in around 1958 when he was guest of honour at the premier of the film A Night to Remember. But my own research into my family history and that of Reginald Robinson Lee has led me to conclude that Henry was living a lie. There is no evidence whatsoever that he was ever onboard the... Read full post

  20. david lee said:

    Regarding the status of Reginald Robinson Lee whilst he was in the Royal Navy, he was most certainly an officer in the rank of assistant paymaster. His last ship HMS Diadem was a 11,000 ton 1st class cruiser. He would have been responsible not just for pay but also for the victuals and ship's stores and he would also be a secretary to the Captain. A Paymaster was known in the RN to be an arduous job and the constant burden of the job may well have been the cause of his decline into a reliance on alcohol. But his drop in status to become a merchant seaman may well have been his saviour, being... Read full post

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Trevor Baxter, UK
Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Nigel Godfrey

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Henry Reginald Lee (ref: #1992, last updated: 16th August 2018, accessed 27th July 2021 13:42:42 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/f-martin.html

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