Mr Reginald Hale was born in Rodney Stoke, Somerset, England on 30 June 1881. He and his twin sister Florence were baptised on 4 August in the local parish church.
He was the son of Silvester Hale (b. 1849), a publican who ran the Rodney Stoke Inn, and Hester Simmons (b. 1850), natives of Priddy, Somerset who had married in Bristol on 5 December 1870.
One of fourteen children, Reginald's siblings were: Cordelia (1870-1939, later Mrs William Wilfred Walker), John James (1872-1874), William Silvester (1874-1940), Milicent Louisa (1876-1950, later Mrs Edward James Ashman), Percy (1877-1882), Tom (1878-1882), George Wentworth (1880-1960), twin sister Florence (1881-1964, later Mrs Harry Clifford Lukins), Roland (1883-1957), Samson Trevor (1886-1931), Howard (1887-1974), Matthew Cecil (1888-1958) and Caroline (1892-1965, later Mrs Herbert Thayer).
Hale first appears on the 1891 census when he and his family were shown residing at the Rodney Stoke Inn; still present there by the time of the 1901 census he was described as a farmer's son. He never married and later emigrated and settled in the USA, although exactly when is not clear1.
Settling in Auburn, New York Reginald gained employment as a janitor/gardener at the Home for the Friendless, located at 46 Grant Avenue (where he appears on the 1910 census) and had been originally set up in the early 1870s to serve widows and children of the Civil War. He was described "as a willing worker and a young man of good habits. He was always obliging, and people at the home became greatly attached to him."
Hale's father died on 4 November 1911 so he left Auburn to be with his mother for Christmas, sailing for England on the Olympic and arriving in Southampton 9 December 1911.
Last fall he received information that his father had died in his old home in England. This came as a sorrowful bit of news to the young man who worried much about his mother and he decided to go back to England and spend the winter with her, stating that it was a time when she needed someone to comfort her. Accordingly he sailed December 3. Hale's intentions were to return to Auburn the latter part of March, but on account of the coal strike and the resulting delay in steamship travel, he was unable to secure passage and wrote the officials at the Home that he would not bail until April 10, this being his first opportunity to secure passage for America. The delay caused by the strike cost him his life. - Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal, 23 April 1912
On 1 April he wrote to the White Star agent, Mr Sidney Wills in Auburn:
''After keeping you waiting so long, I have made up my mind at last to drop a line telling you that I expect to return to the USA, on the 'Titanic' that sails from Southampton on 10th of April.''
He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second-class passenger (ticket number 250653 which £13). An unidentified Auburn newspaper (April 1912) stated that he was to bring some acquaintances back to New York with him but it appears he travelled alone:
He promised to bring back several friends and Skaneateles advices state that his chum, Frank Wall, was to have come over with him. Hale leaves his mother, six sisters, one of whom is Mrs Harry Lukins of Rochester, the rest living in England, and five brothers also survive him. - Unidentified Auburn newspaper, April 1912
Reginald Hale died in the sinking; his body was subsequently recovered from the sea on 22 April by the cable-laying vessel MacKay Bennett (#75). A description was made and personal effects removed for forwarding on to his relatives.
NO. 75. - MALE. - ESTIMATED AGE, 28. HAIR, FAIR, LIGHT MOUSTACHE.
CLOTHING - Dark overcoat; dark suit; black socks; black boots; striped shirt.
EFFECTS - Gloves; keys; purse; $10 bill; 16s. 4d.
SECOND CLASS TICKET
NAME - REG. HALE
His mother had wanted his remains to be buried in Rodney Stoke and Reginald's Lodge, General Gordon, No. 211, Sons of St. George, was prepared to pay the costs involved but when the Auburn White Star agent, Mr Wills, travelled to Halifax to receive the body and to make arrangements for it to be returned to England he was told on arrival that the body had been buried at sea on 24 April. This was confirmed in a telegram sent to Hale's mother:
Regret to advise that it was necessary to bury the body of Reginald Hale at sea.
His death shocked his many friends and colleagues in Auburn:
It has been fully ascertained that Reginald Hale of this city is among the dead on the ill-fated Titanic which rests at the bottom of the Atlantic. His name appears among the missing passengers and his friends in Auburn have abandoned all hope that he may have escaped the fate of the hundreds who were carried down two miles below the surface of the ocean. Hale was listed among the second cabin passengers and he was probably drowned with hundreds of others when the ship went down. The death of young Hale, like many others aboard has a pathetic story connected with it...
... During his residence in this city the young man made many friends who will mourn his untimely end. He was a member of the local lodge, Sons of St. George and a member of St, John's Episcopal church. The last message from the young man was received at the Home, April 4. stating that he would sail on the Titanic, April 10. - Auburn Semi-Weekly Journal, 23 April 1912
A memorial exists in the Rodney Vale Cemetery in Rodney Stoke, Somerset. The inscription reads:
In loving memory
of Rodney Stoke
November 4, 1911
who went down in the Titanic,
April 15 1912,
aged 30 years,
son of the above.
From the Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund his mother received 2s 0d weekly subsidies. Reginald's estate worth £100 was administered to his mother on 24 July 1912.
Reginald's mother Hester remained in Rodney Stoke where she died on 20 May 1924. His last surviving sibling was his brother Howard who died in Rodney Stoke on 6 October 1974 aged 87.
Reginald's twin sister was married and had a large family. Two years after the sinking on 20 October 1914 she gave birth to a son and named him Reginald Sylvester. She died in Draycott, Somerset on 15 June 1964. Her son Reginald died in Bristol in 1992.