Mr Richard Halford (Steward) was born as Walter Stamford Halford in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire,1 England on 3 October 1884.2
He was the son of Charles Stamford Halford (b. 1847) and Margaret Standbridge (b. 1853), both Warwickshire natives. His father was born in Water Orton, Warwickshire, the son of a farmer, and in his younger years worked as a surveyor.
His mother was born in Edgbaston and was first married in 1870 to John George Stevenson (b. 1849), a corn merchant and with him had two children: Frank Aspinall (1871-1895) and Alice Margaret (b. 1873, later Mrs Ernest Chadwick). The family lived in Horninglow, Staffordshire but the marriage proved brief and Stevenson died on 4 May 1872 aged 23. Margaret remarried in London three years later to John Lawrence (b. 1856), a solicitor's clerk from Romford, Essex. From this marriage she had three known children: Ethel Mary (b. 1876), Constance Margaret (b. 1877) and Charles Randall (b. 1880). What became of John Lawrence is not clear and it is also uncertain as to when Halford's parents were married.
Whilst it is not clear when Halford's parents married, he is known to have had two direct siblings: Hilda Lilian (1887-1956, later Mrs Charles Richard Lay) and Ida Marie (1889-1974, later Mrs Reginald Bishop).
Coming from a relatively financially comfortable family, Halford first appears on the 1891 census as a 6-year-old living with his family at The Manor House in Whitnash, Warwickshire and his father is described as living on his own means. By the time of the 1901 census the family have relocated and are living on Christ Church Road in Bournemouth, Hampshire. Halford, then aged 16, had no stated profession. Absent from the family home is his father, who later died in the Warwick County Lunatic Asylum in Hatton, Warwickshire on 30 August 1910, leaving an estate worth £2690, 11s, 6d.
Initially working as a clerk, Halford joined the Royal Navy in Portsmouth on 29 January 1906 and was by then going by the name of Richard; his first voyage was aboard Victory until 12 March that year. His second and, as it transpired his final voyage lasted from 13 March to 5 April 1906 aboard Barfleur after which he was invalided from service. He was described as standing at 5' 7¼" and he had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion. It may be surmised that Halford then joined the Merchant Service.
There is no sign of the family on the 1911 census, albeit for Halford's sister Hilda who is living with her half-sister Alice Margaret Chadwick and her husband Ernest at Westbury on Wellesbourne Road in Barford, Warwick. What became of Richard's mother is unknown.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Halford gave his address as 2 Latimer Street, (Southampton). His previous ship had been the Majestic and as a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Details of Halford's time on Titanic are lacking; he survived the sinking, some historians placing him in an aft starboard lifeboat, possibly boat 15.
Returning to England aboard the Lapland, Halford and other survivors were detained in Plymouth. Whilst here Halford gave a very brief interview to the Western Morning News (29 April 1912) where he praised the treatment that he and his fellow survivors received in New York.
It is believed that Halford married not long after the disaster to Emily Louisa Beal (b. 1891), a native of Christchurch, Hampshire but they are not known to have had any children and it is also thought that the marriage may have been brief.3 He continued working at sea and in August 1919 he was serving aboard Belgic and early the following year he was working aboard Baltic. He also served aboard Adriatic, Mauretania and Majestic.
It is believed he remained living in Hampshire for the rest of his life and he died in Portsmouth in 1953.
Articles and Stories
Western Morning News (1912)
- He gave his birthplace as Hampshire when signing on Titanic. When he joined the Navy he specified his birthplace as Southampton. His birth was registered in King's Norton, Warwickshire in the last quarter of 1884 and early census records also confirm his birthplace as Warwickshire.
- When he signed on Titanic in 1912 he stated that he was 22. When he enlisted in the Royal Navy he gave his birthdate 3 October 1887. He later corrected this to 3 October 1884 for his circa 1919 crew card.
- Whilst not clear, it appears the couple divorced within a short while, Emily later remarrying before the close of the decade. Walter himself is not known to have remarried.
References and SourcesAgreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Photo: National Archive (Courtesy of Gavin Bell)