Mr Richard Halford was born Walter Stamford Halford in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Warwickshire England on 3 October 1884.1
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. he was later listed as a partner in a firm of auctioneers.
His mother was born in Edgbaston and was first married 27 April 1870 to John George Stevenson (1849-1872), a corn merchant and with him had two children: Frank Aspinall (1871-1895) and Alice Margaret (1872, 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 Bloomsbury, London three years later to John Lawrence (1856-c.1903), a solicitor's clerk from Romford, Essex. From this marriage, she had three known children: Ethel Mary (1876-1915, later Mrs Alfred Carruthers), Constance Margaret (1878-1955, later Mrs Martin Edmund Ivens) and Charles Randall (b. 1880). By the time of the 1881 census the family were living in Leicester. The couple must have separated sometime betweeen 1881 and 1884.
It is not certain as to if or when Halford's parents Charles and Margaret were ever married, but Walter (Richard) 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).
Halford 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 had relocated and were living on Christ Church Road in Bournemouth, Hampshire. Halford, by then aged 16, had no stated profession. Absent from the family home was his father, who 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; he is first noted as aboard HMS Victory until 12 March that year. His second and, as it transpired his final voyage lasted from 13 March to 5 April 1906 aboard the 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 was 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 currently 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. Halford was not called to give evidence at the British Titanic inquiry but he did receive 13s in expenses (listed as W.S. Halford)
Very soon after the disaster, on 4 May 1912, at St. Mark’s Church, Highcliffe he married Emily Louisa Beal of Christchurch, Hampshire. Emily was born on 4 July 1891 the daughter of Alfred Beal (Farm labourer) and Emily Louisa Beal (née Godden). Richard was listed as Walter Stamford Halford aged 26 years and his occupation as Ship’s Steward living in the Parish of St. Lawrence Southampton. Emily was aged 20 years, a sinister, living at Highcliffe. A Titanic colleague — fellow surviving third class steward Frank Port — was one of the witnesses at the wedding.
Richard and Emily are not thought to have had any children, and they possibly separated. Emily's later whereabouts remain a mystery.2
Richard continued working at sea and in August 1919 he was serving aboard Belgic as a scullion, and early the following year he was working aboard Baltic. He also served aboard Adriatic, Mauretania and Majestic.
In the 1939 Register, he was listed as a hotel worker, living at a lodging house at 48 Oyster St., Portsmouth. He was listed as single.
Richard Halford remained living in Portsmouth, Hampshire for the rest of his life, lastly at 27 Sultan Road. In later years he was afflicted with senility but died on 13 July 1953 due to complications from throat cancer.
Richard Halford is buried in Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth (section: Timpson, Row 11, grave 39) in an unmarked grave.