Reginald Lomond Barker was born in London, England1 around early 1870 but his birth appears never to have been registered.
He was baptised in St Mary the Virgin Church, Hounslow on 12 May 1870 and his parents' names were given as Henry Gurteen Barker (b. 1832), a leather merchant, and Mary Emily; a record of marriage between the two has not been located. He had an elder brother, Henry "Harry" Gurteen (b. 1869).
At the time of Reginald's baptism his father Henry was described as a gentleman; his father was born in Haverhill, Sussex on 16 July 1832, the son of John Barker and Clarissa Gurteen, and by the time the 1871 census was conducted he was living as a lodger at 165 New Bond Street, St George's, London and described himself as an unmarried leather merchant. He was married in 1881 to Ellen Attmore Schlaet (b. 1855 in Norfolk) but is not thought to have had any further children. He wound up his days living in Portsmouth, Hampshire and died on 2 December 1902.
Reginald's mother was born in Rheims, France around 1847, the daughter of British parents John and Margaret Brook.
The relationship between Reginald's parents apparently eventually disintegrated, perhaps not long after his birth. He and his brother appear on the 1881 census as boarders at their school in Richmond, Surrey, Holbrook House; their place of birth was listed as Liverpool.
By the time of the 1891 census both brothers were back with their mother, now living on Richmond Road in Mortlake, Surrey but with no stated professions other than they were living on their own means; on this occasion, the brothers' birthplace was cited as Folkestone, Kent. Their mother had also begun raising a young orphan, Edward Mallinson (b. 1880), described as her nephew.
Reginald was absent from the 1901 census, perhaps already having commenced his ocean-going career by that point, but his mother and brother were by then living at Wildhurst on Coleshill Road, Teddington, Surrey; his brother was by then described as a rice broker and his birthplace was given as Hetton, Middlesex.
Reginald was married in London on 18 June 1908 to Laura Andrew, a sixty-year-old widow.2 (b. 1852 in Hammersmith)3. He gave his address as a purser on the S.S. Republic. A few months later, on 23 January 1909, while plying the winter route from New York to Gibraltar, that vessel collided with the SS Florida and sank some 36 hours later. Barker was praised for his role in helping passengers to the lifeboats.
In April 1909 Mrs Barker advertised seeking a home near Southampton.
WANTED, between Winchester and Southampton,— An old-fashioned Unfurnished HOUSE, standing in its own grounds of not less than an acre and not more than three acres. Three reception rooms, six bedrooms, dressing room, and bathroom. Rent about £60.—Particulars and photograph: to be sent to Mrs. Lomond Barker, 30, Wickham-road, St. John’s, 8.E., London. - Hampshire Chronicle, 24 April 1909
Evidently, the appeal was successful as they moved into the substantial property of Maybush House, Old Shirley, which until its demolition in 1960 was a prominent building in the neighbourhood.
Reginald is absent from the 1911 census but his wife appears living at Maybush House, Romsey Road, Shirley, Southampton
Barker initially signed-on to the Titanic in Belfast for her delivery trip to Southampton and signed on again as a purser on 6 April 1912. Although listed no differently from his colleague Hugh McElroy he was paid at a lower rate (£15 per month). His last ship had been the Majestic.
Before leaving he asked an old friend George Bull, a clerk for White Star Line, to take care of his pet parrot, Polly.
On Sunday, 14 April, Reginald Barker conducted a short service for the passengers in the Second Class Dining Saloon.
After the collision, as the water reached C-Deck, Barker stood with McElroy, Dr O'Loughlin and Dr John Edward Simpson. For a brief time they were joined by Second Officer Herbert Lightoller. The men shook hands and exchanged goodbyes.
Barker died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. The following death notice appeared in the Hampshire Independent:
BARKER--April 15, whilst doing his duty on the ss Titanic, Reginald Lomond Barker, of Maybush House, Old Shirley
His effects, worth £401, 10s, 8d, were administered to his widow Laura on 26 June 1912.4 She sought compensation from the White Satar Line on behalf of Barker's mother but was refused, the line drawing scathing criticism from the press for its heartless attitude.
Laura remained in Hampshire, returning to Uplands Hawkley, Petersfield where she died on 26 February 1942 aged 90.
According to lore Barker's parrot Polly remained with George Bull and his family and outlived him by over 15 years. His mother remained in Teddington, Surrey where she died on 28 August 1926 and her estate was left to the 'nephew' Edward Mallinson, then a bank manager; Mallinson died in Teddington on 20 December 1948. Barker's brother Harry later worked for P&O, married and retired to Uitenhage, South Africa where he died on 24 February 1941.