Richard William Smith

Mr Richard William Smith was born on 11 June 1854 in Camberwell, London, England and he was baptised on 9 July that same year in St George the Martyr Church, Southwark.

He was the son of Richard Smith (b. 1831), (listed variously as hairdresser and beer seller), and Marianne Croxford (1829-1914); his father was a native of Middlesex and his mother was from Henley, Oxfordshire and they had married on 14 November 1853. He had two full siblings: Frederick Alfred (b. 1856) and Henry (b. 1858)

On the 1861 census, Richard is noted living at the Rose and Crown a public house at 2 Williams Place, Walworth Road, Newington, Surrey.

Richard's father probably died sometime between 1861 and 1871, by which time Richard, his widowed mother, and siblings and half-siblings are to be found living at 5 Emanuel Terrace in Camberwell on the 1871 census; Richard is now listed as a clerk in the tea trade.

His mother Marianne would go on to have two more sons Edward Christopher (1865-1940) and Ernest Sydney (1870-1948), and married Christopher Megson—who it is assumed was their father since they took his surname—on 16 May 1875 in Esher, Surrey.

On the 1881 census, Richard is listed as a visitor (occupation: Clerk) at 29 Broadway, West Ham, Essex. In 1891 he is listed as a boarder (occupation: "Tea Chandler") at 20 Orchard Road, Kingston.  While his mother is living at 69 Somerleyton Road in Lambeth with her 86 year old second husband and two younger sons.   When Christopher Megson (Richard's step-father) died in 1897, it was Richard that was named in the probate record.

Richard appears at 69 Somerleyton Road in Lambeth on the 1901 census where he is still unmarried and still described as a Tea merchant.

By the time of the 1911 census Richard shows up with his now widowed mother at 53 Stanthorpe Road, Streatham, Surrey—an address he would live at for the rest of his life—and Richard is still working in the tea trade and remains unmarried.

He boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a first-class passenger (ticket number 113056 which cost £26), occupying cabin A-19; it is assumed he was travelling on business. He had made the same trip three years earlier, recorded arriving at New York aboard the Kronprinzessin Cecilie on 10 March 1909. On this occasion, he was described as 5ft, 7in in height, with grey hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion.1

Travelling with him as far as Queenstown was a family friend, Mrs Emily Nichols. Mrs Nichols' late husband, like Smith, had worked in the tea trade; although Frederick Nichols died in 1891, it is possible that Smith knew her through this connection.

It is speculated that the well-known Fr Browne photograph of a couple on the Titanic's promenade deck depicts Mrs Nichols and Mr Smith.

Browne Couple

Possible photograph of Emily Nichols and Richard William Smith on the Titanic.

Smith died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.

His estate, worth £1708, 6s, 5d, was administered to a widow named Susan Hepburn, the identity of whom is not clear.

Mr Richard William Smith, of Stanthorpe-road, Streatham, S.W., manager of the American business of Messrs. Reinachs, nephew, and Co., who died in the wreck of the Titanic on April 15th last, aged 56 years, left estate of the gross value of £1708, of which the net personalty has been sworn at £981. - Dartmouth & South Hams chronicle, 26 July 1912

Notes

  1. The immigration document also notes that he is neither a polygamist nor an anarchist! 

Newspaper Articles

Sheffield Daily Telegraph (20 April 1912) Retford Lady on the Titanic
Left liner at Queenstown.
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Comment and discuss

  1. Leigh Anthony Ross said:

    I was wondering if anyone knew the age of Richard William Smith when he sailed on the Titanic? Thank-you

  2. Craig Stringer said:

    Hi Leigh, Richard was 57 years old, and had been born in Newington, Surrey. Regards Craig

  3. Leigh Anthony Ross said:

    Thank-you Craig, where did you get that information from? If you don't mind me asking.

  4. Karrie Wright said:

    yeah, I looked but it wasn't on his page. Karrie

    attachment
  5. Craig Stringer said:

    Like many other people I have collected information for many years, in fact it can be quite surprising where you can find something new. Michael Standart has said something similar on Herman Klaber's thread. Regards Craig

  6. Phillip Adams said:

    I was lead to this board by a google search on the above name in the course of some family history research. My mother's maternal grandfather was named Richard William Smith. He disappeared from the family before WWI, abandoning his wife, Maria (nee Wilmot) and 3 children. They lived at 38 Noyne Road, Streatham. They had been married on Feb 3, 1894, at St. Leonard's Church in Streatham. At that time they lived at Sternhold Avenue, Streatham. My Mum recalls that even into the 1930's, her Gran would scan the death notices for news of him. He was originally a cabinet-maker, then a pianoforte... Read full post

  7. Brian Ahern said:

    Hi Phillip, In the Eaton & Haas book, there is a photo of a telegram from this Richard Smith's brother on the subject of Richard's body being found. There was also a copy of a physical description of him sent to Halifax from his alma mater, Bowdoin College in Maine, USA, from which he had graduated not long before. So it looks like his family was accounted for, and that he was indeed a young American travelling with his father who never got a chance to start a family. I'm afraid your search must continue. Good luck!

  8. Lester Mitcham said:

    Hello Brian, Which E&H book? - You say Richard Smith was "a young American travelling with his father". It seems that either you or E&H are confusing Richard Smith with Richard White.

  9. Lester Mitcham said:

    Hello Phillip, According to Craig Stringer , Richard Smith was 57. He was born in Newington Surrey the son of Marianne Smith, who remarried. Her new married name was Megson. Richard was a tea merchant working for Reinach-Nephews & Co. He had been married, but in 1912 was a widower living with his widowed mother at 53 Stanhope Rd, Streatham, Surrey. His mother died in March 1914. Richard's estate went to a widow: Susan Hepburn. You can find a photograph now identified as being that of Richard Smith and Mrs Nichols in a number of books. Hope... Read full post

  10. Brian Ahern said:

    Whoops! That is what I did. It was Richard White I was thinking of. Apologies!

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Gavin Bell, UK

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2021) Richard William Smith (ref: #271, last updated: 3rd May 2021, accessed 20th June 2021 17:42:37 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/richard-william-smith.html

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