Template:Infobox State Senator

Robert Williams Daniel (September 11, 1884 - December 20, 1940) was a bank executive who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, and later served in the Senate of Virginia.

Early lifeEdit

Daniel was born on September 11, 1884 in Richmond, Virginia, the son of James R. V. Daniel and Hallie Williams.[1]

Daniel was descended from Americans prominent in the law. His great-grandfather Peter V. Daniel, was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and his great-great-grandfather, Edmund Randolph, was the first Attorney General of the United States and later served as Secretary of State. His brother, Channing W. Daniel was a banker in Philadelphia.

Survivor of the RMS TitanicEdit

Daniel boarded the Titanic at Southampton, England as a first class passenger bound for his home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Sinking of the Titanic quotes Charles H. Lightoller as saying that after the sinking Daniel was rescued from the water by "a passing lifeboat". [2] He was interviewed by multiple New York newspapers giving his recollections of the Titanic disaster, including the ship's last moments. Daniel is believed to be the last person to see Titanic's Captain Edward John Smith alive. The April 20, 1912 edition of the New York Times stated:

he [Daniel] jumped, struggling among the ice-floes until rescued. He was articulate and adamant; it was Murdoch, he said, who had shot himself in the temple. "I was not more than ten feet away, I do not believe the stories that Captain Smith ended his life. He stuck to his post to the last. He was a brave man."[3]

The New York Herald quoted Daniel in its April 19, 1912 edition as saying:

Captain Smith was the biggest hero I ever saw. He stood on the bridge and shouted through a megaphone, trying to make himself heard.[3]
I saw Captain Smith on the bridge. My eyes seemingly clung to him. The deck from which I had leapt was immersed. The water had risen slowly, and was now to the floor of the bridge. Then it was to Captain Smith's waist. I saw him no more. He died a hero.[4]

While aboard the rescue ship Carpathia, he met fellow Titanic survivor, Eloise Hughes Smith, daughter of U.S. Representative James A. Hughes, whose husband, Lucian P. Smith, died during the disaster. Daniel and Mrs. Smith were wed in a quiet ceremony in August 1914.

Military serviceEdit

Daniel served in the U.S. Army during World War I and rose to the rank of Major.[5]

Bank executive and subsequent marriagesEdit

Daniels was later Vice President of Liberty National Bank in New York City. Sometime before 1923, Daniels and his first wife divorced. On December 6, 1923, Daniels married Mrs. Margery Durant Campbell, daughter of William C. Durant, an automobile manufacturer in the Halsey Street Methodist Episcopal Church in Newark, New Jersey. This marriage produced one daughter, Margery Randolph Daniel. The Daniels purchased the Lower Brandon Plantation in Prince George County, Virginia in 1926 and restored it. The couple divorced in September 1928.[5]

On October 10, 1929, Daniel married, for the third and final time, Charlotte Bemiss Christian of Richmond, Virginia.[5] At this time, Daniel was chairman of the board of the Richmond Trust Company. Their son, Robert Williams Daniel, Jr. was born in Richmond in 1936.

Senate careerEdit

In 1935, Daniel was elected as a Democrat to the Virginia Senate representing the 6th District which included his home in Prince George County. He was reelected in 1939 and served until his death.

Death and burialEdit

Daniel died on December 20, 1940 in Richmond and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. His son, and namesake, would later serve in the United States Congress.


  1. "Encyclopedia Titanica". Retrieved September 15, 2012. 
  2. Caplan, Bruce; Logan Marshall (1997). The Sinking of the Titanic. Seattle Miracle Press. p. 89. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Wormstedt, Bill. "Secondary accounts of an officer's suicide - Robert Williams Daniel, 1st Class passenger". Wormstedt.Com. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  4. Spignesi, Stephen (2012). The Titanic for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 207. Retrieved November 6, 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "President of Liberty National Bank Weds as Third Wife Distant Relative in Virginia". New York Times. October 11, 1929. 

Preceded by
W. O. Rogers
Virginia Senate, District 6
1936 - 1940
Succeeded by
Garland Gray

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