Mr Charles Henry Chapman was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 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. When he left Africa is not clear.
He was married around 1880 to an English-born woman, Ellen Victoria Lawrence (b. circa 1866) 1, reportedly a native 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.
Chapman boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (ticket number 248731 which cost £13, 10s). He had spent the past six months in his native South Africa where he still had many family members, including his mother. Whilst aboard he carried with him the family bible belonging to his maternal grandparents' family in Virginia.
Chapman died in the sinking; 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.
NAME - CHAS. CHAPMAN.
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:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF OUR PARENTS
CHARLES H. CHAPMAN
LOST HIS LIFE ON THE S. S. TITANIC
APRIL 15, 1912
ELLEN V. CHAPMAN
DIED NOVEMBER 27, 1910
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.
- Ellen's exact background and age is not certain. Census records claim she was born in 1866. The 1910 census states that she and Charles had been married for 30 years, meaning she would only have been 14 at the time of her marriage and 16 when her first child was born. One of her son's marriage records state that she was born in Southampton but no record can be located for such a birth.
- His son William's 1921 passport states that Charles had been a resident of the US, albeit an un-naturalised citizen, since 1875.
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Articles and Stories
New York Herald (1912)