Mrs Mary Roberts was born as Mary Kezia Humphreys 1 in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 19 October 1870.
She was the daughter of Welsh parents Hugh Humphreys (b. 1838), a joiner, and Elizabeth Williams (b. 1846), both Anglesey-natives who had married in Liverpool in 1868. She had six known siblings: Catherine Jane (b. 1869), Robert Richard (b. 1872), Hugh John (b. 1874), Will Edward (b. 1879), Angharad (b. 1881) and Gladys (b. 1883).
Mary first appears on the 1871 census and at that time she and her family were living at 31 Hunt Street, Everton, Liverpool. For unknown reasons, Mary is not listed with her family on the 1881 and 1891 census returns; at those times her parents and siblings were listed as living at 55 Bulwer Street, West Derby and 1 Hemer Place, Bootle, respectively. The whereabouts of Mary at this time is not certain.
Mary was married in Shardlow, Derbyshire in late 1896 to Scotsman, David Roberts (b. 1875 in Dundee) who worked as an electrical engineer. They lived at different times in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, settling in the latter, and they went on to have five children: Frank (b. 1899), Kathleen (b. 1899) Kezia Norah (1901-1984), Daisy Bell (1906-2003) and Jean (b. 1907).
The 1901 census shows Mary and her family living at 3 Huston (?) Street in Derby, Derbyshire and the following 1911 census has the family at 9 Chestnut Grove, West Bridgford in Nottingham. No profession was stated for Mary on either record but she reportedly worked for the White Star Line for a number of years prior to the Titanic. Her husband reportedly ran the West Bridgford Motor Company.
When she signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, Mary gave her address as 9 Chestnut Grove, Nottingham. Her last ship had been the Adriatic. As a stewardess she received monthly wages of £3, 10s.
Mary was rescued from the sinking, possibly in lifeboat 16
After surviving the Titanic Mary Roberts continued her life at sea on the Majestic for the rest of 1912.
During the First World War Mary served aboard the hospital ship HMHS Rohilla. In late October 1914 that ship departed from the Orkney Islands; on 30 October Rohilla was sailing in the North Sea off the coast of Whitby in North Yorkshire when in gale conditions she struck rocks only a couple of hundred yards from Whitby's cliffs. Despite the poor conditions (Whitby's lifeboat had severe difficulties getting deployed) a rescue operation lasting nearly fifty hours was mounted and Mary was one of around 140 survivors.
Mary Roberts continued to work at sea up until the late 1920s, latterly serving on the SS Rajputan in 1929. She and her family later settled in Epsom, Surrey where she died on 2 January 1932. She is buried with her husband (who died the following year2) in the church of St Mary the Virgin Church, London Road, Ewell, Epsom, Surrey.
Grave of Mary Kezia Roberts at Ewell, Surrey
Courtesy of Mary Griffiths