Steward Richard Firman Dodd was born in London in 1882, the youngest child of George and Charlotte Dodd (née Firman). Richard’s father was born in Streatham in 1837 and was working as a Coachman when he married Charlotte Firman, born 1841, also a Londoner, in March 1865, at St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, in the City of London. At the time of Richard’s birth his family was resident at 40 Palace Street, Westminster, London and his father was a barhouse Keeper.
In 1891 the family were still living in Palace Street. The census states that George was a Licensed Victualler, running a pub at 39 – 41 Palace Street (now the the Cask & Glass). On the census were wife Charlotte, daughters Amy (25), Florence (18) and Ethel (13), sons Ernest (11) and Richard (9). Florence and Amy were Florists. Their second child George Charles (23) was missing from this census.
By 1901 the family had moved to The Old Anchor on Richmond Road, Twickenham. Charlotte was the head of the household, a barhouse keeper. We don’t know where her husband George was when the census was taken. Ernest (20) is working in the family business as bar attendant and Richard (19 ) is a tailor’s assistant. The girls have moved away from home.
In 1911 Charlotte was still running The old Anchor and Ernest and Richard were her assistants. Charlotte ha been married for 47 years, age 70, she had 11 children born alive, 8 still living. Also at The Old Anchor were Ethel (Richard’s sister) and her husband Harry Holt. The couple had been married for 12 years and had 3 children. It looks like they were just visiting. Their three children were with Grandad George Dodd in Wallasey, Cheshire.
Richard’s mother died in the following year, January 1912, in London.
Just three months later, on 15th April 1912 the family was to suffer another loss. Richard’s elder brother George Charles was a steward on the White Star Line ship RMS Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic days into its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. He was instrumental in directing passengers to the lifeboats but perished in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified.
Richard’s father died 16th Jan 1915, in Birkenhead, aged 77 years. He is buried in the same grave a his son-in-law Harry Holt, in Wallasey Cemetery, Merseyside.
We haven’t been able to determine when Richard joined the crew of the Laurentic but there are no records of him enlisting on the outbreak of war, so it’s likely that he had been employed as a steward on the Laurentic since it was a passenger liner.
Richard’s body was never recovered. He is remembered on Plymouth Naval Memorial and on a family gravestone in Wallasey Cemetery: the grave of Harry Holt, his brother-in-law.
Richard was awarded the Star, Victory Medal and British War Medal.
Friends of Wallasey Cemetery: http://www.wallaseycemetery.co.uk
Census Returns of England and Wales 1891, 1901, 1911. The National Archives of the UK
General Register Office England and Wales http://www.gro.gov.uk
The Liverpool Echo 03 Feb1917