Encyclopedia Titanica

Richard Leonard Beckwith

Richard Beckwith

Mr Richard Leonard Beckwith was born in Hartford, Connecticut on 9 November 1874. 1

He was the son of Charles Beckwith (1829-1884), a stock broker, and Hannah Boyds Miller (1842-1891). Whilst his father was a native of Connecticut, his mother hailed from Franklin, Massachusetts and they had married in June 1864. He had two known siblings: Charles Miller (b. 1866) and Charlotte (b. 1870). His 1901 passport application describes him as standing at 5' 10", with light brown hair, grey eyes and a round face.

He appears on the 1880 census living with his family on High Street in Hartford, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale in 1898 and latterly worked as a realtor and was employed by the real estate firm of Ruland & Benjamin.

He was married in New York on 25 September 1903 to Sarah "Sallie" Newsom, née Monypeny, a widow almost a decade his senior with two children, William (b. 1887) and Helen (b. 1892). The couple settled in Manhattan and were frequent travellers.

In early 1912 Mr Beckwith, his wife and step-daughter Helen had been touring Europe. Helen had become romantically involved with a young tennis player, Karl Behr, and part of the reason for this trip was to deflect Helen's interests and discourage the match. For their return to the USA the party boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers (the Beckwiths travelling on ticket number 11751 which cost £52, 11s, 1d) and they occupied cabin D35. At Cherbourg they were surprised to be joined by Karl Behr, who had travelled to Europe to pursue his courtship with Helen.

On the night of the sinking the Beckwith party assembled on the starboard boat deck following orders to abandon ship. Here they waited with Mr and Mrs Edwin Nelson Kimball and were soon joined by Karl Behr. When Mrs Kimball asked Bruce Ismay who was then assisting the boarding of lifeboat 5 if they could all go, Ismay replied "Of course madam, every one of you." The Beckwiths, Kimballs and Behr therefore entered lifeboat 5 and were saved.

Richard and Sallie Beckwith became the subjects of a famous photograph taken aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, showing them in conversation with two other first class passengers, Mr and Mrs George Harder.

Following the disaster Richard continued to live in Manhattan and also spent time living, it seems, in New Hampshire but he and his wife continued to travel frequently, visiting France, England, Monaco and Italy.

Richard died at his home, 224 East Sixty-First Street, Manhattan on 11 April 1933 aged 58, following a stretch of ill health. He was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut.


He would later give his year of birth as 1870 in many records.

References and Sources

National Archives : Passport Applications (1921)

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (2 March 1913) TITANIC SURVIVORS MARRY
Unidentified Newspaper (12 April 1933) RICHARD L. BECKWITH
New York Times (12 April 1933) RICHARD L. BECKWITH (1)

Documents and Certificates

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Comment and discuss

  1. Jeffrey M. Kern

    My great grandmother, who is 92 years old, recounted something to me that regarded a couple with the last name Beckwith. These particular Beckwiths owned property in Ventura County, California and wanted to adopt my grandmother's older brother, although her mother did not give him up for adoption to them. They remained good friends. I had a question (and as there is not much mentioned of the Beckwiths and their lives prior/after the disaster): did Mr and Mrs Beckwith own property in California? Or did Richard have any siblings? I thank anyone with an answer.

  2. Kritina Johnston

    Whilst (does anyone use this word anymore?) reading Pellegrino's "Ghosts of the Titanic", I came across this little bit of text: "...a leather satchel bearing the initials 'R.L.B.'... Mr. Tulloch had brought the satchel to the surface, and he wanted to return it to members of the Beckwith family, but the Beckwiths had refused it... Among the satchel's contents were a pocket watch, an initialed silver jewelry box, a gold-plated stick pin shaped into the Chinese symbol for good health, a pendant inscribed with 'May this be your lucky star,' and a bracelet with the name 'Amy' spelled... Read full post

  3. Randy Bryan Bigham

    If it was a theft, it looks like the crook did not make it off with his goodies.

  4. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Another thought on the theft angle - were the Beckwiths berthed near the Cardezas? Or in fact are any of the other items in the bag similar to ones listed in insurance claims?

  5. Kritina Johnston

    Well, doing a quick check on the site here, the Beckwiths were in D-35, and the Cardeza trio were in B51/53/55, those suites with the private promenade (what you can get for your money, or your husband's...) Pellegrino (also the name of a rather popular mineral water) suggests that the thief made his way via the Grand Staircase, thus implying that the person did a sort of smash and grab if you will. Interestingly, he also says that in the Beckwith satchel was a silver box marked with the initials "D.G." and states this could only have belonged to the Duff Gordons. What is one to make of... Read full post

  6. Beverly J. Crowder

    If you get a copy of the Eaton and Haas ,"Titanic: Triumph & Tragedy", it lists claims by survivors and by the families of lost loved ones. Beverly

  7. Ben Holme

    Wasn't a fountain pen with initials R.L.B recovered from the wreck site? I thought I saw it in a book.

  8. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Kritina, Very interesting theory Mr. P has. As to his notion that the little silver jewel box w/ the "D.G." initials could only have belonged to the Duff Gordons, I "ha' me doubts" on that. It could have stood for "Dorothy Gibson" for instance. If it was Lucile's I have to say that our mystery thief didn't get very much BUT the box because by her account she emptied what jewelry she had in her cabin into a bag which she took with her. Unluckily for both her and the alleged robber her most expensive jewels, including the $50,000 pearl necklace she hadn't insured, were all in the... Read full post

  9. Charles Provost

    I have always thought that the bag was that of second purser Reginald L. Barker (R.L.B), thus would explain why there is such a diversity of jewels and valuables in the leather bag. Mr. Barker, realizing the ship was sinking, might have thought that it would be better to take the jewels out of the ship, put them in a bag and take them to a lifeboat. But somewhat an officer must have prevented him from taking a bag aboard a lifeboat, and was forced to leave it somewhere, or throw it in the water...

  10. Pat Cook

    I have to go with Charles here, if I may jump in here. I have always wondered why Reginald Lamond Barker hasn't been consideed the owner of the satchel. Here's a bit from Beesley, Chapter III: "Coming upstairs again, I passed the purser's window on F deck and noticed a light inside: when halfway up to E deck, I heard the heavy metallic clang of the safe door, followed by a hasty step retreating along the corridor towards the first-class quarters. I have little doubt it was the purser, who had taken all the valuables from his safe and was transferring them to the charge of the... Read full post

  11. Charles Provost

    Very interesting, I must say. It certainly supports the theory I am myself supporting.

  12. Pat Cook

    Glad to be of some help. What I can't figure out is why the satchel was immediately 'assigned' to Beckwith when Barker would be a much more logical candidate? Or am I missing something here? Best regards, Cook

  13. Randy Bryan Bigham

    Cook & Charles, I was only saying it was interesting theory. Believe me guys, I wouldn't stake much money on any of Pellegrino's claims! I believe he is a very inventive writer, to say the least, and I am. I just wanted to give credit where credit's due - the robber angle IS a pretty good story. Cook you are right about Beesley. His account may be less exciting but more believable by far. As to why Beckwith was assigned ownership you must know the answer to that but are too gentlemanly to say. There is none except the obvious - shoddy research by a bunch of scavengers out for... Read full post

  14. Kritina Johnston

    It's really simple, Beckwith was a first class passenger, Barker was one of the crew. Too many researchers get hung up on the passengers to the exclusion of the crew sometimes (like the passengers would've put up with moving coal about for a millisecond...)

  15. Bill Wormstedt

    The first 'assignment' of the satchel (at least, the first I'm aware of) to Beckwith was on the TV show "Live from the Titanic" with Telly Savalas. I had a number of my Titanic books with me while watching the show. I remember them mentioning the RLB monogram, and how they were going to 'run it thru their computers' to find out whose it was. Given the kinds of things in the bag, I guessed first class and came up with Beckwith from the ANTR list faster than their computer did! I have to admit, the Barker id makes more sense than Beckwith.

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Richard Leonard Beckwith
Age: 37 years 5 months and 6 days (Male)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to Sarah Newsom, née Monypeny
Occupation: Realtor
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 11751, £52 11s 1d
Cabin No. D35
Rescued (boat 5)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 11th April 1933 aged 58 years
Cause of Death:
Buried: Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, Connecticut, United States

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