Mr Charles Frederick Blades (Frederick Allen - Lift Steward) was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England in early 1895 and was baptised in St Peter's Church, Bedford on 7 March 1895.
He was the illegitimate son of Amelia Blades (b. 1875), a native of Pimlico. Amelia was the daughter of Sophia Blades, née Foster (1851-1934) but the identity of her father is not clear; he apparently died young and her mother remarried in 1884 to Jersey-born John James Allen (1847-1921). From this marriage she gained several half-siblings, including Ernest Frederick (b. 1888).
Amelia gave birth to Charles Frederick Blades but, born out of wedlock, he appears to have been raised by his grandparents as their own and is listed on various records and contemporary media as "Frederick Allen," son of John and Sophia Allen.
His mother eventually married in Southampton in 1905 to George Gray (b. 1863), a native of Bedfordshire; they had five children by the time of the 1911 census when they were living at 64 New Road, Southampton.1
Spending his very early years in Bedford, Fred and his family later moved to his grandfather's birthplace of Jersey, settling in St Helier and appearing there on the 1901 census at 35 Poonah Road, Fred still being described as a schoolboy. How long the family remained in Jersey is not known but they returned to England and settled in Southampton sometime prior to 1911.
The 1911 census shows the family scattered; Fred's grandmother was by then working as a housekeeper and appeared at 4 Guildford Street, Northam, the home of an Alfred Williams; his grandfather and uncle Ernest were listed as living at 76 Lower Canal Walk, Southampton; his grandfather was by now working as a dock labourer and Ernest as an attendant male nurse. Fred was shown working as a page boy at the Southwestern Hotel on Canute Road, Southampton. One of his colleagues was another future Titanic crewman and fellow Channel Islander Henry Ingrouille. One of their guests at the time was Titanic surgeon William O'Loughlin.
When he signed on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Fred gave his address as 9 Short Street in Chapel, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a first class lift steward he could expect monthly wages of £3, 15s. Also serving aboard was his uncle/brother Ernest, a trimmer.
Surviving steward Leo Hyland later recalled that during the evacuation he witnessed Fred jumping off one of the deck housings onto the boat deck. "We had been ordered to Boat Stations at the time, I saw him go forward but did not see him again... Allen was either a lift or bell boy and I knew him well."
Charles Frederick Blades , aka Frederick Allen, died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His uncle Ernest was saved. He was mentioned in a death notice (unidentified newspaper April 1912):
Allen -- April 15, 1912, at sea, on S.S. Titanic, Frederick Allen, age 17, the dearly beloved son of John and Sophia Allen, of 9, Short-street, Chapel Southampton. Gone from our sight: still ever dear to the memory of his mother and friends.
Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund
Allen, mother. grant £20.
His family remained in Southampton; his grandfather died in 1921 and his grandmother later remarried and became Mrs Edwin Ellery before her death in Southampton on 4 March 1934.
What became of his mother Amelia is not clear.
- The 1911 census indicates that George and Amelia had five children, losing one in infancy. Five children are listed, however, their names being scored out; George Gray was unemployed and the children were listed elsewhere as inmates at various workhouses and infirmaries. Their eldest Clara was born in Jersey circa 1900 whilst Josephine followed a few years later but died in infancy. Mary Josephine was born in Shirley around 1905 and son George Herbert was born in Southampton in 1907. A daughter, Hilda Ursula was born in 1910 and a son Joseph in 1911. Following the disaster another three children arrived: twins Eva and Nellie in 1913 and a son James in 1917.
Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund Booklets and Minute Books
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Southern Evening Echo (1970)