Lawrence Edward Grace “Titus” Oates was the son of Caroline Buckton, grandson of Joshua Buckton of Leeds. His father was William Edward Oates, of Meanwood, Leeds. Lawrence was born in Putney, Surrey on 17/3/1880 and grew up in the family home, Gestingthorpe Hall, Castle Hedingham, Essex. His father was Lord of the Manor of Gestingthorpe. A title which Lawrence inherited on his fathers death.
Lawrence was privately educated before attending Eton College He joined the 3rd Yorkshire Militia Regiment in 1898. In 1900 he joined the Inniskilling Dragoons and fought in the Boer War, earning his nickname “Titus”. He was severely wounded. Returning home to convalesce, he then rejoined his regiment at the front. HIs injuries had left him with a permanent limp. He became a lieutenant in 1902, and after serving in Egypt he was made a Captain. He also served in India.
Lawrence volunteered to join the British Antarctic Expedition 1910 – 1913. He was initially in charge of the ponies, but after they were destroyed, when no longer needed, he became part of the five man group chosen to walk to the Pole. The group reached the Pole on 17/1/1912 only to find that they had been beaten there by Roald Amundsen. Lawrence suffered severe frostbite during exceptionally bad weather during their return to camp. The men were laid up in a blizzard on 17/3/1912 and Lawrence knew that his frostbite meant that he was reducing the other mens chances of survival. He ended his life by leaving the tent saying, “I am just going out. I may be some time”. He died on his 32nd birthday and his body was never found.
His fellow officers erected a memorial to him in the parish church of St Mary the Virgin in Gestingthorpe, opposite his home, Gestingthorpe Hall.
Gilbert White House, Selborne houses the Oates collection.
The Lawrence Oates school in Meanwood Leeds bares his name. There is also a memorial stone in Meanwood Church.
The house where he was born, 307 Upper Richmond Road in Putney, bares a blue plaque.
Caroline, his mother, is reported to have visited the memorial to her son every week until her death. She also refused to go to Buckingham Palace to receive his medals, and amassed a large collection of family letters and diaries.