Reginald Arthur Charles Biddlecombe was born in the small hamlet of Canada, East Wellow, Wiltshire1, England on 11 May 1880.
He was the son of Charles Arthur Biddlecombe (1860-1950) and Mary Jane Porter (1854-1920), both natives of Romsey who were married in 1878. Reginald had only one known sibling, Ida Annie (b. 1874).2
Reginald first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family were living at "The Cottage" in Amesbury, Wilsford, Wiltshire where his father was described as a groom. His father was listed as an agricultural carter on the 1891 census and the family were then living at the Carter's Cottage on Dibden Farm, Dibden, Hampshire.
Reginald was married in the latter half of 1899 to Emily Mintram (b. 12 May 1879 in Southampton). Together they had four known children: Reginald Roland Victor (b. 29 January 1900), Christopher Percy (b. 24 February 1902) and twins Eudora Winifred and Charles Wilfred (b. 25 July 1904).
Reginald, his wife Emily and first child Reginald appear on the 1901 census living at an address in Redbridge Hill in Shirley, Southampton and at the time he was described as a ship's fireman.
The marriage between Reginald and Emily later collapsed, for reasons that are not clear and unknown; they eventually separated.
Emily appears on the 1911 census living at an address in Romsey, the home of 50-year-old unmarried farm labourer Frederick Down. Although she stated she was married ten years, she listed herself as the mother of just one child, her son Frederick Charles Biddlecombe (b. 17 October 1910), whose father is not certain. Whatever the circumstances, Emily married in 1916 to Walter Strong (b. circa 1885), a general labourer, and they had a son named Walter that same year. Emily remained in Romsey for the rest of her life and died on 20 December 1953.
Reginald’s appearance on the 1911 census reveals that in 1908 he had fathered a child to a married woman, Ethel Beatrice Payne, née Kippendale (b. 1885 in Southampton). Mrs Payne had been married just shy of three years to Robert George Payne (b. 1873) and they had a son, Robert Harold (b. 1906). They later separated but did not divorce and, coincidentally, Robert Payne died in Southampton on 15 April 1943.
Reginald and Ethel, whilst never legally married, welcomed their son Leonard on 7 February 1908. In 1911 they would have another child together, their daughter Ethel Beatrice.3
By the time of the 1911 census Reginald’s youngest two children from his first marriage, twins Eudora and Charles, were listed at the home of their paternal grandparents Charles and Mary Jane Biddlecombe at Vine Cottages, Redbridge Hill, Shirley, Southampton.
Reginald was listed on the 1911 census whilst living at 2 Warren Avenue, Shirley, Hampshire and he was described as an engine driver. Living with him were his common-law wife Ethel; his two eldest children from his first marriage Reginald and Christopher; Ethel's child from her first marriage, Robert Harold; and Reginald and Ethel's own children Leonard and Ethel. The younger Ethel died towards the close of 1911.
When he signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912, Biddlecombe he gave his address as 42 Kentish Road, Southampton and his previous ship as the Olympic. As a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.
Reginald Biddlecombe died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.
His widow Ethel was remarried in 1915 to marine fireman Frederick John Warn (b. 1881 in London) and they had seven children: Ernest, Rose Mary, May, Patrick, Walter, Peter and Henry. Ethel remained in Southampton where she died in 1956.
Out of the four children from Reginald's first marriage to Emily Mintram: Reginald Roland Victor later worked at sea and was married in 1930 to Ellen C. McRae and they had one son. Reginald died in Southampton in 1969. Christopher Percy was married in 1930 to Florrie Clarke and they also had one son. He moved to Leicester and died there in 1970. Eudora Winifred never married and later moved to Leicester and died there in 1973. Charles Wilfred married Nellie Blake in 1931 and had five children. He died in Southampton in 1948. His stepson Robert Harold Payne was married in 1931 to Elsie Hitchener and raised at least six children; he died in Winchester, Hampshire in 1962. His son to Ethel Kippendale Payne, Leonard Stewart, was married in 1933 to Emily Ruth Cocklin and they had one son. Leonard died in Brunaby, British Columbia, Canada on 3 September 1995.