Encyclopedia Titanica

Thomas Charles Prowse Reed

Thomas Charles Prowse Reed, better known as Charles, was born in Dawlish, Devon, England on 27 September 1857.

He was the son of Thomas Mitchell Reed (b. 1830), a baker, and Mary Ann Prowse (b. 1833), both Devonshire natives who were married in 1855. His known siblings were: Emma (b. 1856), John Prowse (b. 1859), William George (b. 1864) and Fanny Louisa (b. 1868).

He appears on the 1861 census living with his family at Manor Road in Dawlish before moving to Stoke Damerel, Devon by the time of the 1871 census, then living at 40 Monument Street. He initially followed in his father's footsteps and pursued a career as a baker.

He enlisted with the Royal Navy on 24 November 1872 aged just 15, although he made a lie and stated he was three years older. His first and only ship with the navy was the Narcissus, his term ending on 13 January 1873 after which he was put on shore rest. Described then as standing at 5' 4", he had brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion. It was also stated that he had a scald scar on one of his breasts.

His movements over the next years are currently unknown but he and his brother John ended up in Australia; he was married in Sydney on 15 July 1880 to an American woman named Laura Ellen Norton (b. circa 1860) who hailed from Brooklyn, New York and who was the daughter of English parents. The couple had three children: Reginald Charles (1881-1893), Florence May (1883-1886) and Harold George (b. 1886). They seemingly lived in Brisbane, Queensland and would lose their two elder children during childhood before they returned to live in England.

The family appeared on the 1901 census living at 110 Oxford Avenue, Southampton and Charles was described as a ship's steward. That same year he was working out of Liverpool aboard Orotova, having previously served aboard Danube. When the 1911 census was conducted Charles was absent but his wife and son Harold were listed as living at 140 Derby Road, Southampton.

When he signed-on to the Titanic in Southampton on 4 April 1912, Reed gave his address as 140 Derby Road, Southampton. His previous ship was the Majestic and as a bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.

Reed was lost in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

His widow Laura was never remarried and remained living in Southampton, living at 140 Derby Road for the rest of her life, dying just shy of a decade after the death of her husband on 7 April 1922.

Charles' son Harold emigrated around 1913 and settled in America, firstly in New York where he was married to a woman named Charlotte. The couple later moved to Los Angeles and Harold died in 1962.


Formerly listed as Charles S. Reed.

References and Sources

British Census 1881
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)


Peter Northover Titanic Crew Biography (2011) Charles S. Reed, 2nd Class Bedroom Steward
Search archive online


Gavin Bell, UK
Steve Coombes, UK
Peter Northover, UK

Comment and discuss

  1. Steve Coombes

    Gave birthplace as Devon at sign-on. Anyone know where his birth was registered, parentage etc etc. I don't think he is the one as described on the biography page, (of Ilfracombe, N Devon) but I am willing to be proved wrong. Thanks Steve

  2. Steve Coombes

    Anyone had any thoughts yet as to who this person was? Thanks Steve

  3. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Steve, Not much availabe on Mr. Reed but this may help: Reed, Charles. Lived 140 Derby Road, Northam, Southampton. Occupation - Bedroom Steward. 43 years old. (Born in Devon). (From: Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklet, March 1913) Number 582. Reed, Laura, widow. Class C dependent. (From the Titanic Relief Fund Minute Book number 2, Southampton Area) Date November 27th 1913. Case number A grant of 5/- per week be paid from the Compassionate Fund to purchase surgical appliances for Mr. Reed (Partially dependent father).

  4. Steve Coombes

    Brian Thanks for this info, as you say detail is rather sparse, at least we have the wife name! We'll just have to wait for the release of the 1911 census in 2012 unless I strike lucky before then!

  5. Steve Coombes

    I may have stumbled across a newspaper item that could be useful. From the Torquay Directory (Devon) newspaper of April 1912 it talks of a steward who was lost leaving an aged widowed mother in Torquay and whose father had for some years been a choirmaster & organist at a Torquay church. I first thought the article (which gives no names) related to Edward Parsons' mother but his father had died in Plymouth in 1892 before she moved to Torquay. So, we could be looking for a Charles Reed of Torquay. Brian, could you check the sign-on sheets to establish the correct surname spelling, could it... Read full post

  6. Steve Coombes

    Oops, I just saw that Brian has previously told me that Charles Reed's father was alive in 1912 so the newspaper item obviously related to someone else, as yet unknown. Please continue to check for name spelling though. Thanks

  7. Chris Dohany

    Steve, the unnamed steward referred to in that article sounds like it may be Percy Robert Pook, one of the second-class pantrymen.

  8. Steve Coombes

    Hello Chris Yes, I had wondered this but The Pook family although of Torquay did move away to Plymouth and were there in 1901 census. I suppose the family could well have moved back, something I'd not thought of as yet! Although, Percy was one of 8 children so I wonder why the widow would have relied on him so much? (If you want to see the full news item it is currently on Edward Parsons page under 'Fulfilled Dream' (I've today asked Phil to remove it). Nice to converse again after so long!

  9. Steve Coombes

    I think the word might be 'Bingo!' Whilst perusing the England 1901 census search just now I have found at St Mary's parish Southampton - Charles Reed age 42 ships steward Born 'not shown' Laura Reed age 39 born USA Either his age is +10 years out on census or he was incorrectly stated on sign-on sheet. Now all we have to do is find out where his birthplace was etc, etc!

  10. Steve Coombes

    Brian Can I ask that you have a look at the Charles Reed entry on the sign on sheet to see if his age was mis-interpreted? I will look at the full 1901 census for the Charles Reed in St Marys, Soton soon to see if the ages there have been transcribed incorrectly and if there are any other useful clues. Thanks Steve

  11. Brian J. Ticehurst

    Steve - I confirm that that is the age given on the SOSheets - but many of the ages have proved to be wrong - even Captain Smith put his age down wrongly. Keep hunting - Cheers Brian

  12. Steve Coombes

    Thanks Brian. Now here's a thought, as Laura Reed was of American birth might Charles have been too? Is there a town somewhere in America called Devon?

  13. Steve Coombes

    Looking more closely at the actual 1901 census transcript next to Laura Reed's birthplace of America it says 'BS' which I believe will mean she was a British Subject, so I remain of the idea that Charles will be of Devon, UK. With other minor developments I am at present possibly getting closer to solving some of the Reed mysteries..

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Thomas Charles Prowse Reed
Age: 54 years 6 months and 18 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to Laura Ellen Norton
Last Residence: at 140 Derby RoadSouthampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Bed Room Steward
Last Ship: Majestic (1890)
Embarked: Southampton on Thursday 4th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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