Encyclopedia Titanica

Roland John C. Hopgood

Mr Roland John Charles Hopgood was born as Roland John Charles Caws at Alma Villa on Alumhurst Road, Westbourne, Holdenhurst, Hampshire, England on 31 December 1882.

He was the son of Alfred Henry Caws (b. 1852 in Ryde, Isle of Wight), a joiner, and Maria Kearley (b. 1858 in Wareham, Dorset) who had married in Hampshire in 1878.

Roland had four known siblings: Ada Mary (b. 24 July 1880, later Mrs Edwin Morris Mabey), Edward Alfred (b. 19 December 1881), Ethel May (b. 1884) and George Bernard (b. 12 June 1888).

Roland first appears on the 1891 census while he and his family were living at 1 South View Terrace, Holdenhurst and his father was described as a cabinet maker. His mother had passed away the previous year and his father remarried in 1892 to Eliza Annie Painter (b. 1872 in Studland, Dorset) and the couple had a further eight children: Lillian (b. 1893), William Henry (b. 1894), Florence Annie  (b. 1896), Lucia Violet (b. 1899), Alice Dorothy (b. 1902), Alfred Thomas (b. 1904), John Morris (b. 1906) and Frederick James (b. 1908).

Roland's familial life after this appears somewhat complex; by the time of the 1901 census Roland and his family—his father still a carpenter and also coachman—were living at 18 Testwood Road, Shirley, Southampton but were by then going by the name of Hopgood.

Hopgood was not a random name assumed by the family, however. Roland's paternal aunt Elizabeth Mary Caws had married a man named George Hopgood and had several children. Following George Hopgood's death in 1889 Elizabeth seemingly took her children to live in Australia. The reasons for Roland's family changing their name is not known and it was certainly not a legal change—all Roland's stepsiblings bore the name Caws and his father and stepmother continued to use Caws in official documents, albeit not colloquially or in census reports.

By the time of the 1911 census Roland's stepmother and siblings were living at 81 Romsey Road, Shirley, Southampton but Roland himself is absent and perhaps at sea. His father is also absent but is listed elsewhere as a boarder (and under the name Caws) at 13 Trafalgar Road, Freemantle, Southampton.

When Roland signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 in Southampton he gave his address as 81 Romsey Road, Southampton. His previous ship had been the Oceanic and as a fireman he could expect monthly wages of £6.

Roland Hopgood, who was unmarried, died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

HOPGOOD, Roland--Dearly loved son of Alfred and Annie (sic) Hopgood, of 81 Romsey Road, Shirley, aged 29. Deeply mourned by his Parents, Brothers and Sisters - Hampshire Independent, 11 May 1912

His stepmother Eliza died in February 1916 whilst his father continued to live in Southampton and died aged 83 in 1935. His sister Ada died in 1967 and his brother George in 1953, both in Southampton.

Comment and discuss

  1. Peter Curran

    Maybe George Hopgood was his father? That would seem like a worthwhile explanation for a name change. Or maybe Daddy got into big trouble and had to take an alias?

  2. Ken Hillier

    I have a large original framed period photo of Roland Hopgood with a handwritten note on the back which reads - 'Uncle Roland Caws S.S. "Titanic" also Roland Hopgood fireman seaman lost on "Titanic" 1912'.

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Mr Roland John C. Hopgood
Age: 29 years 3 months and 15 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at 81 Romsey Road Southampton, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Fireman
Last Ship: Oceanic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Recovered

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