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.