Robert Douglas Spedden

Photo: © Leighton H. Coleman III

Master Robert Douglas Spedden was born in New York City on 19 November 1905, the only child of Frederic Oakley Spedden and Daisy Spedden. The family lived in Tuxedo Park, NY.

In late 1911, Douglas accompanied his parents when they sailed for Algiers on the Caronia. He was attended by his private nurse, Elizabeth Burns, whom he called "Muddie Boons," because he had trouble pronouncing her name. From Algiers the family moved on, first to Monte Carlo and later to Paris. In April 1912, at the end of their European holiday, the family and their servants boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg for the return home, Douglas, and presumably Muddie Boons, occupied cabin E-40.

Following the collision with the iceberg, Douglas was woken by Muddie who told him that they were taking a "trip to see the stars." The Spedden party made their way to the starboard side of the boat deck, where they boarded lifeboat 3. After all the available women and children had been loaded the men were then allowed to join their families. Douglas slept through the night. When he woke at dawn he saw the icebergs all around and exclaimed: "Oh, Muddie, look at the beautiful North Pole with no Santa Claus on it." All survivors in Lifeboat 3 were rescued by the Carpathia.

In 1913, Daisy wrote and illustrated a storybook that she gave to Douglas for Christmas. "My Story" was told through the eyes of a toy bear and describes the European travels, the sinking of the Titanic, and the subsequent rescue.

On 6 August, 1915, nine-year-old Douglas was struck by a car on Grindstone Neck, Winter Harbor, near the family's summer camp in Maine. It was one of the first recorded automobile accidents in the state. He died two died later from the concussion he sustained.

He was buried in New York City. The inscription on his little headstone reads:

Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA

References and Sources

State of Maine Record of a Death
Colonel Archibald Gracie (1913) The Truth about the Titanic. New York, Mitchell Kennerley
Daisy Spedden Polar, the Titanic Bear. Edited by Leighton H. Coleman III

Research Articles

Titanica! (2017) Titanic Survivors' Untimely Deaths
The tragic stories of Titanic survivors who died prematurely...

Newspaper Articles

New York Times (1915) Death notices for Robert Douglas Spedden
New York Times (11 February 1950) MRS. FREDERIC SPEDDEN

Documents and Certificates

(1915) Robert Douglas Spedden (Death Certificate)


(1912) Sister of Plainfield Man Saved Little Boy
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Comment and discuss

What ever happened to Polar the Titanic Bear (40 posts)
Douglas Spedden and Polar (13 posts)
Daisy Spedden's Complete account of the disaster (5 posts)
Daisy Spedden : Books / Diaries (4 posts)
Daisy Spedden (2 posts)
The Spedden's Home in Tuxedo Park (2 posts)
Robert Douglas Spedden (1 post)


Dave Aldworth, USA
Leighton H. Coleman III, USA
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Robert Douglas Spedden (ref: #278, last updated: 19th September 2017, accessed 25th July 2021 17:40:04 PM)

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