Charles Barnes

Charles Barnes had previously been working as fireman on the Oceanic when he signed-on  to the Titanic at 6 am on 10th April 1912.  He gave his birthplace as Bristol,  his age as 29 and his address as 45 York Road, Southampton.


Charles Barnes died in the sinking and his body was never recovered.

Very little else is known about Charles Barnes and the following information is very much open to question.  It follows-up the assertion that Charles Barnes was an alias of a man named Robert Barnhouse

The only evidence for this so far is a 1913 newspaper article but certain details do tally with available records including Census returns however further research will be needed to establish whether Robert Barnhouse and Charles Barnes were one and the same, or whether the 1913 testimony of George Barnhouse and Edith Curtis was in fact a ruse to obtain compensation.

Robert Barnhouse was born in Barnstable, Devon on 8 December 1870. The son of George Barnhouse and his wife Susan, the fifth of eight children1.  According to a 1913 article he became estranged from his family and moved to Bristol.

In 1891 he was living with his common law wife Daisy at 3 Elton Street Bristol and working as a Colt breaker.  According to the 1891 census they are living as man and wife but are unmarried.  No record of a marriage has been found.

By 1901 he was living in Southampton with William and Edith Curtis.  According to the 1913 article he had been badly burned whilst at the Curtis's bar and ended up settling in with them, and, if her 1913 testimony is to be believed, Edith became his principal carer during the troubled years that lay ahead.  

When the Curtis's moved to Southampton Robert went with them at some point along the way adopting the alias Charles Barnes.

He worked in the Curtis's bakery and later became a seaman.

He apears to have maintained contact with his brother Arthur who and at some point effected a reunion with his parents.

When Charles Barnes signed on he gave his address as 45 York Road, Southampton which was where, in 1911 at least, William and Edith Curtis lived.

After the sinking his father George Barnhouse claimed sizeable compensation from White Star on the pretext that he had become financially dependent upon the regular payments he alleged to have received from his son, however Edith Curtis disputed his claim, her own claim having been rejected by White Star.  The judge agreed a more modest settlement.


The others were: Mary (b.1864), George (b.1865), Martha (b.1867),
Elizabeth (b.1868), Ellen Louise (b.1873), John (b.1874), Sarah(b.1876), Arthur (b.1878), Alice Maude (b.1881)

References and Sources

Torqay Times (25th April 1913) Echo Of The Titanic Disaster : The Strange Story Of The Man With Two Names
1871 Census
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
1911 Census
Craig Stringer (2003) Titanic People CD ROM

Newspaper Articles

Torquay Directory (23 April 1913) Man with two names : Torquay Pensioner and his Sailor Son
Torquay Times (25 April 1913) Echo of the Titanic disaster : Strange story of man with two names


Mike Holgate (2009) The mystery of Charles Barnes and Robert Barnhouse
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Steve Coombes said:

    From a Torquay, Devon newspaper cutting I have of April 1912 it says that this person, formerly of Barnstaple, North Devon aged 41 in 1912 was lost and that his parents were at the time living in Torquay, Devon. I can't find anything on him on ET. Any ideas?

  2. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    A misspelling perhaps, a mistake, or more likely he simply wasn't there. There were a lot of imposters running around loose at the time.

  3. Deleted member 173198 said:

    Steve! Forgive the interruption. It may be wise to switch your attention elsewhere. The answer should be found with the Titanic Relief Fund (Exeter branch.) If these records do survive and your going to need a lot of patience locating them, then most of your answers are solved. Take my advise, stick to the names that are already known on record. Andrew W.

  4. avatar

    Dave Gittins said:

    Barnhouse was certainly not on board. As Michael said, there are many imposters or simple mistakes. Here in South Australia on the other side of the world we have a monument to somebody who was neither passenger nor crew. He apparently went overseas and never returned and his loss was put down to Titanic.

  5. Graham Butt said:

    I think Robert Barnhouse was on Board - Not listed as Robert barnhouse may be When i was 14 (1987) I made a family tree for a school project. I Interviewed my gran who told me her Uncle Bob Branhouse was a stoker who died on the titanic. I have since done some more work on my family tree and my Gran (since deceased) did have an uncle robert Barnhouse from Barnstaple, Devon (Which is where my Gran and I were also born). He was born in (c)1871 which would make him the correct age. Some of this family sometimes used the surname Willis (mothers maiden name) - is there a Robert willis on... Read full post

  6. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Graham, Welcome aboard.

  7. John Curran said:

    Regarding names not on the lists here at ET, I think of F.M. Corran and J.P. Corran enumerated among the first cabin dead by Logan Marshall. I'm surprised they are not mentioned on this site, even to correct the record.

  8. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>I think of F.M. Corran and J.P. Corran enumerated among the first cabin dead by Logan Marshall.

  9. avatar

    Philip Hind said:

    would seem to shed some light on "Robert Barnhouse"

  10. avatar

    Philip Hind said:

    This one is a bit of a puzzler. We don't seem to know much about Charles Barnes, but I had the mansion house fund list that had been attached to his name giving his wife as Amelia and his children Alice, Rose, William and Ann. But Craig Stringer's passenger and crew list has them attached to a stoker he calls Frederick Barnes (on the sign on sheet it looks like J. Barnes). Anyway I did a bit of rooting around and managed to track Robert Barnhouse through the various Census returns. It seemed pretty much to corroborate what was said in the article, certainly by 1901 he seemed to be... Read full post

  11. Deleted member 173198 said:

    Phil -- As the Easter holidays are here I have plenty of time on my hands to check through the various pages I've got amongst my own personal possession's. Barnhouse/Barnes is one of those big mystery's although I stand firmly in Graham Butt's corner and favour his suggestion that his real surname was Barnhouse and not Barnes. Incidentally, to clear up the so-called 'Compensation Claims'. Loads of payments was still handed out way after the First World War. In the end White Star were forced to approach the Relief Fund to see if they were prepared to use the Compassionate Fund as there last... Read full post

  12. avatar

    Philip Hind said:

    Thanks Andrew, I'll be very interested to hear what you come up with. Phil

Reply Watch Thread


Steve Coombes, UK
Mike Holgate, UK

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Charles Barnes (ref: #1392, last updated: 16th September 2017, accessed 27th July 2021 01:12:39 AM)

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