Encyclopedia Titanica

Charles Henry Chapman

Charles Henry Chapman

Mr Charles Henry Chapman was born in Cape Town, South Africa on 19 June 1860.

He was the son of James Chapman (1831-1872) and Catherine Cecilia Mary Roome (1835-1916) and was of mixed Irish, English, American and Boer heritage. He had three known siblings: William James Bushnell (1858-1832), Ada Cecelia (b. 1861) and Kate Romaina (b. 1864).

His father was a photographer, hunter, trader and intrepid explorer and was born in Cape Town. At a young age he was appointed as chief clerk in the Native Affairs Department. In the 1850s, on an exploration of the Zambesi River, he almost beat fellow-explorer David Livingstone to the discovery of Victoria Falls. He died in Du Toit's Pan, Kimberley in 1872.

A young Charles grew up in South Africa and Namibia but when he left Africa is not clear.

He was married around 1880 to an English-born woman, Ellen Virtue Lawrence (b. 1857)1, a native of Southampton who was the daughter of Thomas Howard Lawrence, a boilermaker, and the former Virtue Petty, also both natives of Southampton.

They later settled in the USA around 1882 2 and went on to have four children, three sons and one daughter: Charles Lawrence Roome (b. 1882), William Charleston (b. 1886), Ralph Howard (b. 1889) and Adele C. (b. 1891). Their eldest was born in Manhattan, New York whilst the other children were born in Charleston, South Carolina, albeit for Ralph who was born in Atlanta, Georgia.

The 1905 census shows Charles and his family residing at 106th Avenue, Manhattan, later appearing on the 1910 census as residents of St Michael's Place (?). On both occasions Mr Chapman is described as a book publisher. His son Ralph was an accountant, son William an auto-parts salesman and his daughter Adele a stage actress. His wife Ellen was to pass away later that year on 27 November 1910.

Having spent the past six months in his native South Africa where he still had many family members, including his mother, Chapman boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 248731 which cost £13, 10s). Whilst aboard he carried with him the family bible belonging to his maternal grandparents' family in Virginia.

Charles Chapman died in the sinking and his body was later recovered by the Mackay-Bennett.

NO. 130. - MALE.

CLOTHING - Dark suit; abdominal belt.

EFFECTS - Silver cigarette case; garnet tie pin; garnet ring; papers; gold mounted cuff links; $200; two gold studs; fountain pen; knife; pipe; £2 10s. gold in purse.



The body was forwarded to J. J. Griffin of 2282 7th Avenue, New York on 2 May 1912 was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, close by the grave of fellow victim Arthur Nicholson. His elaborate headstone reads:




APRIL 15, 1912




His eldest son Charles later worked as a purchasing agent, was married to a German lady named Selma (b. 1883) and had a son named Harry (b. 1898). By 1920 he was a resident of New Rochelle, Westchester, New York but what became of he and his family thereafter is unknown.

His son William was married to a lady named Anna (b. 1888), a native of Louisiana, but the couple had no children. He later worked as a bonds salesman and by the time of the 1930 census William and his wife were living in Gardiner, Ulster, New York. What became of them both is not certain although it possible they spent their last days living in Virginia, perhaps dying in the late 1950s.

His son Ralph was married on 29 April 1914 to Ella Ursula Murray (1893-1969) and had two children, Eleanor and Ralph. He continued to work as an accountant, latterly for a dairy company, and lived at different times in the Bronx and in Chicago. He died in San Mateo, California on 27 May 1945.

What became of Chapman's actress daughter Adele is not known.


  1. US census records shave a near decade off of her true age, insinuating she had been born around 1866. Present-day family confirm she had been born earlier and records confirm that her birth had been registered during the third quarter of 1857 and that she had been baptised in St Mary's, Southampton on 16 August 1857.
  2. His son William's 1921 passport states that Charles had been a resident of the US, albeit an un-naturalised citizen, since 1875.

Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Charles Henry Chapman
Age: 51 years 9 months and 26 days (Male)
Nationality: South African
Marital Status: Widowed
Last Residence: in Bronx, New York, United States
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 248731, £13 10s
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body recovered by: Mackay-Bennett (No. 130)
Buried: Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York, United States

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References and Sources

White Star Line (1912.) Record of Bodies and Effects (Passengers and Crew S.S. "Titanic") Recovered by Cable Steamer "MacKay Bennett" Including Bodies Buried at Sea and Bodies Delivered at Morgue in Halifax, N.S. Public Archives of Nova Scotia, Halifax, N.S., Manuscript Group 100, Vol. 229, No. 3d, Accession 1976-191, 76 pp., unpaged.(#130)
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])

Newspaper Articles

New York Herald (20 April 1912) He Advertises for Missing Relative


Chapman Grave
Charles Henry Chapman
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