Encyclopedia Titanica

Frederic Kimber Seward

Frederic Kimber Seward
Frederic Kimber Seward

Mr Frederic Kimber Seward was born in Wilmington, Delaware on 23 March 1878.

He was the son of Samuel Swayze Seward (1838-1916), a clergyman, and Christina F. Kimber (1837-1906), natives of Mendham, New Jersey and Delaware respectively who had married on 19 October 1864. He had four known siblings: John Perry (b. 1868), Lydia (b. 1870), Mary (b. 1872) and Samuel Swayze (b. 1876). Following the death of his mother in 1906 his father was remarried to Rosalie Chesterman (b. 1856) of New York.

He first appears on the 1880 census as an infant living with his family in New York City where he would remain into adulthood. He was a graduate of Columbia University in 1899 and was a prominent member of the Glee Club during his college days. He later worked for the law firm  of Curtis, Mallet, Prevot & Colt of 30 Broad Street.

He was married on 30 August 1902 to Sara Flemington Day (b. 26 October 1878), who also hailed from Delaware, and the couple had three children: Kimber (b. 1903), Katherine (b. 1908) and Samuel Swayze (1910-1989). The family appeared on the 1910 census living in Manhattan and by 1912 were residents of 542 West 112th Street.

Mr Seward had been on a two-month-long business trip in Europe and boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first-class passenger (ticket number 113794 which cost £26, 11s). He is thought to have been travelling with John Montgomery Smart.

Frederick Kimber SewardOn the night of the sinking Seward played cards with William Sloper and his church friend Dorothy Gibson in the first class lounge when the impact occurred. Miss Gibson insisted that her two male friends join her in the first lifeboat to be launched, boat 7.

Whilst returning to New York on the Carpathia, Seward organised a group of other survivors (Karl Behr, Margaret Brown, Mauritz Björnström-Steffansson, Frederic Spedden, Isaac Frauenthal and George Harder) to honour the bravery of Captain Rostron and his crew. They would present the Captain with an inscribed silver cup and medals to each of the 320 crew members.

Following the disaster Frederic went to great lengths to trace the whereabouts of the children of John Montgomery Smart who was lost in the disaster. Seward's law firm had represented the American Cold Storage and Shipping Company, of which Smart was President. Seward only knew that the children were in Europe but knew little to no other details and employed many European papers as intermediaries, finally receiving word that a boy and girl had been discovered in a school in Belgium.

Fred and his family later moved to Queens, New York and he would later cross the Atlantic several times over. He was widowed in 1932 when his wife Sara passed away. He himself died in Queens on 7 December 1943.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Frederic Kimber Seward
Age: 34 years and 23 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to Sara Flemington Day
Occupation: Lawyer
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 113794, £26 11s
Rescued (boat 7)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 7th December 1943 aged 65 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Fresh Pond Crematory, Queens, New York, United States

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References and Sources

New York Herald, April 18, 1912

Newspaper Articles

William T. Sloper Ship to Shore William Sloper's Account of the Titanic Disaster
New York Times (16 April 1912) Frederick K. Seward
Newark Evening News (17 April 1912) F. K. Seward Saved
Denver Times (19 April 1912) Mrs. Stoiber-Rood Denies Report Husband Is Alive
New York Times (30 August 1912) THE SMART HEIRS FOUND?
New York Times (4 February 1914) DISPUTE J. M. SMART'S WILL
New York Times (8 December 1943) F. K. SEWARD DEAD; LAWYER 40 YEARS


San Francisco Chronicle (1912) Frederic Kimber Seward in 1912
(1919) Frederic Kimber Seward in 1919
(1925) Frederic Kimber Seward in 1925

Documents and Certificates

(1943) Frederic Kimber Seward (Death Certificate)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Shelley Dziedzic

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    While hunting up Newport photos for the convention-here's a timely one of Fred with his grand daughter Katherine taken in the early 20's in Newport Harbor-almost a repeat of a similar scene from 1912 with the Gibson girls in that lifeboat! Katherine still has his tuxedo from Titanic- not for sale or photographing at any price! She lives in Massachusetts and I hope she may be able to attend the convention. The Sewards liked to summer in Cape Cod and Newport. Made a nice change from Manhattan in the summer. Katherine wrote " He was a handsome, robust redfaced guy with twinkly eyes and what he... Read full post

  2. Shelley Dziedzic

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Fred looks a bit like a young Marshall Drew I always thought. I wonder what his minister father thought of card-playing? While at the Tennis Hall of Fame I thought of him with Dot and her mom and Will Sloper- there was a tableau at the Casino of 1912-vintage cardplayers. I wonder who was winning that night at the table in 1912?! Recently I read Fred was related to William Seward, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State- his great -uncle. A nice touch on President's Day!

  3. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil said:

    How bizarre...I was just going to ask the very question you answered in your post, Shelley, when I saw the title of your thread - was Frederick Seward related to Frederick Seward, the son of William Seward. Frederick was, if I remember correctly, very badly injured during the assassination attempt on his father which occured at the same time as the successful assassination of Lincoln (the night of 14 April 1865...another coincidence). He lay in a coma for some time. Frederick Seward acted as his father's secretary. I've always had rather a soft spot for William Seward out of all Lincoln's... Read full post

  4. Shelley Dziedzic

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    It gets a bit dicey, so I will just quote from Katherine's letter on geneology " My Grandfather's father was the 3rd child of William H. Seward's brother George (born 4/16/1838-died 2/22/1916) Titanic's Frederic (spelled without the final k) was then the son of Samuel Seward whose father George was William H.'s brother. Titanic Fred was then the great-nephew of William H. who was indeed nearly killed by an assassination attempt on the same night Lincoln was shot- wow- you could not WRITE this stuff! Actually Inger- I think the veil is thin and our psychic powers are on overdrive tonight! ... Read full post

  5. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil said:

    Right...got that! (I think...) Well, it answers a question that's been rattling around the head for some time. You're absolutely right - no one could invent this sort of material. Many thanks!

  6. Shelley Dziedzic

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Mr. Seward and Grandaughter Katherine- sorry, I mixed up the captions- the pretty girl in the boat photo above is also Katherine (Seward Gardner) his daughter, - both were named Katherine. He looks like a doting Grandpa!

  7. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    All: Can anybody help me identify Fred Seward among the male passengers in the well-known group photo with Capt. Rostron and "Molly" Brown? I don't have a copy to post here but the one I'm going by was published on page 45 of the book "Molly Brown: Denver's Unsinkable Lady" by Christine Whitacre. I am pretty certain he's the guy on the very far left wearing a monocle. Thanks Randy

  8. Ben Holme

    Ben Holme said:

    You're spot on, Randy. Seward is indeed the gentleman on the far left, wearing a monocle and a bowler hat. He was clean-shaven in 1912, but not so in later years, as reflected in his passport photograph. Next to Seward (from left to right) are: Karl Behr Bjornstorm-Steffanson Isaac Gerald Frauenthal Capt. Rostron Molly Brown Frederick Spedden George Harder Hope this helps! Ben

  9. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Ben: Thanks a lot! I appreciate your help in identifying Seward and the other guys. By the way, I'll be in touch soon about the Dorothy Gibson project. I'll want your clever eye to give it a once over before the book goes to print. Randy

  10. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Shelley: Does the family recall anything about Dorothy Gibson? Or would that be too "dicey" to share? As you may know, apart from their experiences on Titanic, which bonded them, Dorothy and Pauline were members of the same church to which Fred belonged. Randy

  11. Shelley Dziedzic

    Shelley Dziedzic said:

    Looking back through all the notes we have on Fred, other than his Herald interview where he acknowledges playing cards with "friends" and owing his life to being with these ladies at the right spot at the right time, there's no further written specific mention of Dot and Pauline later on. He, like other First Class men saved, received many critical letters, and probably did not want to make too much of card-playing on a Sunday night. He knew the Gibsons, of course, from the congregation (Presbyterian I think), but sad to say, no correspondence or family recollections exist of any continued... Read full post

  12. Daniel Klistorner

    Daniel Klistorner said:

    Shelley, Having booked within a couple of days of Titanic's sailing, he is not on the Cave List. I was wondering whether there are any family recollections or other information which would help identify which cabin Seward was in -- or at least which deck his cabin was on? Regards, Daniel.

  13. Sara Guay Seward

    Sara Guay Seward said:

    While hunting up Newport photos for the convention-here's a timely one of Fred with his grand daughter Katherine taken in the early 20's in Newport Harbor-almost a repeat of a similar scene from 1912 with the Gibson girls in that lifeboat! Katherine still has his tuxedo from Titanic- not for sale or photographing at any price! She lives in Massachusetts and I hope she may be able to attend the convention. The Sewards liked to summer in Cape Cod and Newport. Made a nice change from Manhattan in the summer. Katherine wrote " He was a... Read full post

  14. Susan Gardner Bryant

    Susan Gardner Bryant said:

    Frederic Kimber Seward's descendants heard that the Titanic crew asked "Grampok" if he could pilot a boat. As there is much sailing and rowing in the families of his children Kim, Kaye and Bill, and it is certainly in all of our blood to be up on deck to appreciate the ocean, we quite like the story that his sailing in Monument Beach days got him into Lifeboat #7, when they still thought they'd be rowing back for breakfast. Surely the tuxedo we have was not actually from the night of the sinking, because, if we can claim him as our ancestor at all, that outfit would have been ruined from... Read full post

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