Richard Edward Burke was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 1 July 1882 and baptised eight days later in St Joseph's Church, Liverpool.
He was the son of Patrick Burke and Mary Kelly but other details about his early life remain vague. It is believed his siblings were: Mary (b. 1886), Patrick (b. 1890) and Bridget (b. 1892).
Richard first appears on crew records in February 1899 whilst working as a bugler steward aboard Dominion; prior to that he had served aboard Servia and his given home address over several voyages was 23 Westmoreland Place, Liverpool. Later that year, whilst still serving aboard Dominion, he gave his home address as 63 Sackville Street.
Richard was married in St Mary's Church, Liscard, Cheshire on 30 April 1907 to Liverpool native Alice Isabella Lodge (b. 3 May 1884). The couple moved to Southampton shortly after and had their first child there, a daughter Anne Marjorie who arrived on 19 February 1909. The 1911 census shows Richard, his wife and first child living at Berwick, 24 Hanley Road, Shirley, Southampton and he is described as a ship's steward. Another child, Richard Edward was born within the following weeks in April but died at the Primrose Hotel in Liscard, Cheshire (an establishment owned by Richard's father-in-law William Lodge) after only four months of life on 25 August 1911.
Richard was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip from Belfast to Southampton. When he signed-on again in Southampton on 4 April 1912 he gave his address as 26 Southampton Road, Chandlersford. His previous ship had been the Olympic and as a first class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Richard Burke died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. His estate, worth £301, was administered to his widow on 10 June 1912.
His widow Alice, who had been, pregnant at the time of the sinking, relocated northwards and gave birth to another son whom she named after his father and older brother, Richard Edmund (b. 26 July 1912). On 15 April 1914 Alice placed a memoriam to her husband and son in the Liverpool Echo:
BURKE--In loving memory of Richard Edward, the dearly-beloved husband of Alice I. Burke, who lost his life through the foundering of the steamship Titanic, April 15, 1912; also of Richard Edward, the dearly-beloved and eldest son of the above, who died at the Primrose Hotel, Liscard, August 25, 1911.
We think of you in silence; we did not see you die; We only know you passed away and never said good-bye.
His loving wife and children.
Alice was remarried in 1916 in Settle, Yorkshire to Harry Skeats (1890-1970) and they had a son, William Lodge in 1916 (d. 1951). The family later moved to Lancaster, Lancashire and Alice died there in 1951.
Richard's daughter Anne was married twice, latterly becoming Mrs Leadbetter, and she died in Lancaster in 1985.
Richard's posthumously-born son Richard died in Bromley, Kent on 27 March 1991.