Hugh Roberts was born in Holyhead, Wales, possibly around mid to late 1871 but other details about his early life remain uncertain.1
Exactly when he went to sea is not known but he first appears on crew records in mid-1894 when he was a waiter aboard Lucania and by April 1896 he was second cabin pantry steward aboard the same ship. He was married at some point to a lady named Elizabeth but they appear to have had no children. The couple are not identifiable on any census records but by 1904 when Roberts was serving aboard Haverford as a pantry steward, his address was 477 Hawthorne Road, Bootle; his ship prior to that had been Mayflower.
While currently unconfirmed, Roberts may have been the Hugh Roberts, a bedroom steward, who was aboard the RMS Republic when that vessel collided with the SS Florida and sank. Roberts was responsible for the cabins located at the point of impact.
One steward, Hugh Roberts, had charge of the four cabins on the Republic which were literally destroyed when the Florida's bow crashed through the superstructure. As soon as some semblance of order was obtained he had gone from room to room, looking. to the safety of the passengers in his immediate charge. He helped Mr. Lynch out of Cabin 34 and Mrs. Mooney to gain the deck from Cabin 32. He found, too, that Mrs. Lynch's body had been terribly mangled and carried some distance aft by the collision. Mr. Mooney had apparently been sleeping on one of the settees, his wife being in a lower berth. His. body carried some distance, and the head was terribly crushed. - New York Times, 27 January 1909
Roberts was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912 for the maiden voyage he gave his address as 39 Mildmay Road, Bootle. His previous ship had been the Baltic and as a bedroom steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Hugh Roberts died in the sinking. His body was recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#93) and buried at sea on 23 April 1912:2
NO. 93. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 30. - HAIR AND MOUSTACHE, LIGHT.
CLOTHING - Black coat; steward's coat; two waistcoats; black boots; brown and blue striped pajamas; false teeth top jaw.
NO MARKS ON BODY OR CLOTHING.
EFFECTS - Ship's keys; letter in pocket to "H.H. Roberts".
NAME - H. H. ROBERTS. 39 Mary Rd., Liverpool.
The following memorial appeared in the Liverpool Echo on 15 April 1914.
Roberts--In affectionate remembrance of Hugh, the beloved husband of Elizabeth M. Roberts, who was on the RMS Titanic, April 15, 1912. Buried at Halifax. Softly at night the stars are gleaming upon a silent grave where there sleepeth without dreaming one I loved but could not save. Wife Lizzie.
And in the same publication on 15 April 1915.
Roberts--In affectionate remembrance of Hugh, the beloved husband of Elizabeth M. Roberts, who lost his life April 15 1912, on the RMS Titanic. Buried at Fairview Cemetery, Halifax. (Far and oft my thoughts do wander to the grave so far away.)--Wife, Lizzie.
What became of Lizzie Roberts is not known. In 2012, to commemorate the centenary of the sinking, a memorial plaque was unveiled in Marine Square, Holyhead, commemorating two of that town's sons on Titanic, Edward Brown and Hugh Roberts.