Robert Charles Bristow was born in Belfast, Co Antrim, Ireland on 20 May 1873.
He was the son of English parents, Charles Stephen Bristow (1845-1906), a carpenter and cabinet maker, and Harriet Targett (1844-1914), natives of Warminster, Wiltshire and Southampton, Hampshire, respectively who had married in 1867.
Robert had five known siblings: Kate Rose Louise (1867-1921, later Mrs Alfred Hiscock; died as Mrs Jesse J. Savage), Mary Ann (b. 1869), Emily Ellen (b. 1876), Frank Henry (b. 1879) and Edward W. (b. 1881).
A few years prior to his birth Bristow's parents show up on the 1871 census living at Pot Heath (?), Crookham, Hampshire. Why Robert was born in Belfast is not certain but the family had returned to Southampton sometime prior to 1876 and he and his family appear on the 1881 census living at 2 Princes Street, St Mary, Southampton.
Robert would be absent from the 1891 census, perhaps already at sea but his family were by now living at 4 Marine Terrace, Southampton. Robert reappears on the 1901 census whilst visiting 15 Spring Road, St Denys, Southampton, the home of a Mr Henry Goding, but he had no stated profession. Also visiting that address at this time was Lily Anne Sophia Garrett (b. 1873 in Croydon, Surrey), Robert's fiancée.
Robert and Lily were married in Southampton on 3 July 1901. The couple would have a total of five children but only two survived infancy: William Edward (1906-1982) and Arthur James (1910-1975). The family appear on the 1911 census living at 49 Southminster, West Ridge Road, Portswood, Southampton and Robert was then described as a ship's steward.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Robert gave his address as 49 West Ridge Road, (Southampton). His last ship had been the Olympic and as a third class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s.
Bristow died in the sinking and his body was later recovered by the Mackay-Bennett (#290) and was buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia on 6 May 1912.
Robert Bristow's grave in Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, N.S. (© Bob Knuckle, Canada).
NO. 290 - MALE - ESTIMATED AGE, 36 - DARK HAIR, LIGHT MOUSTACHE
CLOTHING - Plain blue serge suit; steward's white coat, marked "Bristow"; cholera belt.
EFFECTS - Letter to "R.C. Bristow, 49 West Ridge Road, Portswood; 9s.; ship's key's, stewards's department".
NAME - R. C. BRISTOW
His widow Lily continued to live at 49 West Ridge Road until her death on 16 December 1939.