The Lusitania Resource > People > Saloon (First Class) Passenger List > Mrs. Henry Adams (Annie Elizabeth Macnutt)

Mrs. Henry Adams (Annie Elizabeth Macnutt)

Annie Elizabeth Adams, née Mcnutt, 46, was traveling with her husband Henry Adams.  Annie and Henry had entered a port side lifeboat during the sinking that was not lowered when the ship sank from under them. Annie survived the sinking, Henry did not.

Annie Elizabeth Adams was born Annie Elizabeth Macnutt in Liverpool, Queens County, Nova Scotia, Canada, on 26 November 1868. She was the daughter of Andrew Harlow McNutt (1838-1910) and Annie Smith Fralick (1837-1925). She was also a sister to Andrew Vernon Lovett McNutt (1876-1957).

Her residence is listed as being from Boston, Massachusetts.  On 5th April 1915, she married Welsh widower Henry Adams, in Washington, D.C. and shortly after, the couple set out to travel to Henry Adams’ native town of Tenby, in Pembrokeshire, South Wales.  Henry Adams was a director of The Mazawattee Tea Company Limited, of Tower Hill, London and was in charge of the American branch of the firm, in Boston. Henry Adams also had an address in Regent’s Park, London, England.

For their journey, the couple booked saloon class passage on the Lusitania, with ticket number 1298, which was scheduled to sail from New York on 1 May 1915. They left Boston at the end of April and boarded Lusitania on the morning of 1 May.  They were escorted to their room, B27, which was the responsibility of First Class Bedroom Steward James Holden from Liverpool.  After a delayed departure, the liner finally left port just after mid-day.

Six days out of New York, when she was twelve miles off the coast of southern Ireland and only 250 miles away from her  home port of Liverpool, Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20.  Henry Adams perished in the sinking. Annie Adams survived.

The following is her account from the book The Tragedy of the Lusitania, by Captain Frederick D. Ellis, published not long after the sinking, in 1915:

Mrs. Henry Adams, wife of a London merchant told one of the most graphic tales of the disaster.  She had just finished examining the unidentified dead in the coffins on the Cunard pier and had given up as hopeless, her search for her husband, when approached.  In the succeeding ten minutes she poured forth a tale in which romance, happiness, terror and tragedy were interwoven in a fashion no creator of fiction could conceive.

“My husband and I were married in Washington on April 5,” she said.  “We were coming to London to make it our home.  He did not wish to sail on the Lusitania because of the threats of the German Embassy, but some of my relatives are Cunard officials and I have always been a confirmed Cunarder, so I insisted on the Lusitania.  On the night before we were torpedoed, something prompted my husband to try on the lifebelts.  We got them down from the top of the wardrobe, and after putting them on left them under the berths.

When the shock came we were both in the writing room on the top deck.  I knew the ship was doomed, but my husband was just as sure she could not sink.  However, we went down to the stateroom, got our life-belts and ran back to the top deck, preservers in hand.  The ship was listing so that it was very difficult to walk.  On two occasions while ascending the stairs my husband was struck and knocked down.  On deck he wanted to stand and listen, but I kept in the lead and helped him climb the sloping deck and reach the rail on the higher side.

Here we saw a boat ready to be lowered.  Some one shouted, ‘Women first,’ but I refused to get in, insisting on staying with my husband.  He seemed dazed and almost unconscious.  I put a life preserver on him and then put on my own.  In the meantime the captain had ordered the boats not to be lowered.  A bosun, standing beside me on the deck, said, ‘We’re resting on the bottom.  We cannot sink.’  This statement calmed most of those about us.

My husband sat down on a collapsible boat.  He seemed unable to stand.  There we remained for several minutes, holding on to the rail in order to keep from sliding down the inclined deck.  Suddenly I saw a great wave come over the bow and instantly my husband and all of us were engulfed.  As the ship sank, I found I was being carried down under a life-boat.

It got pitch black.  Then suddenly it became lighter.  The dark blue turned to light blue and then I was in the sunshine – afloat, though I could not swim.  Finally I caught hold of a piece of wood and held on.  After a time, a raft carrying twenty men and one woman floated by.  I begged the men to help me aboard, but they did not want to, and it was only when the woman upbraided them that one of the men dragged me on the raft.

There was something wrong with the raft, as it kept capsizing time and time again.  Each time it was less buoyant and almost every time it overturned one or more of the poor wretches would disappear.  Finally the other woman went down.  I made use of my gymnastic knowledge, and as the raft turned I crawled hand over hand, always managing to stay on it.

Finally, only six of us were left and then the raft sank from under us and we were left alone in the water.  Altogether it was three hours and a half before a torpedo boat came.  I saw it in the distance, but was so exhausted and numb with the cold by then that I lost consciousness and knew no more until I recovered aboard the torpedo boat.

One of the heroes whose name has not been mentioned was aboard that boat.  He was Second Officer Burrowes.  After the doctor had given me up for dead he continued to work on me, and finally succeeded in reviving me.  He did as much for others as well, but he refused to accept even thanks.”

Mrs. Adams must have been mistaken as to the identity of her ‘hero,’ as the second officer on board the liner was named Percy Hefford.  The only crew member with a name resembling Burrows, was Stewards’ Boy William Borrows, who, being aged only 14 years of age at the time, could not have been confused with a Second Officer!  Her account continues:

At the conclusion of her description of her experiences, Mrs. Adams made a startling statement regarding the conduct of the ship’s officers and men.

“Although I am closely identified with the Cunard Line and would wish to do nothing that might minimize the hideous crime of the Germans, I feel it my duty to humanity to say something that may prevent a repetition of this needless loss of life.

Not only were the boats undermanned before being lowered, but the equipment itself was faulty.  The raft I was on leaked and the collapsible boats had rusty, unworkable hinges, a matter that could have been remedied by oiling once in a fortnight.  If the members of the crew got their deserts the stewards would be praised to Heaven and the stokers would be damned to hell.  The former behaved magnificently.  Of all that great number of men charged with our safety only the stewards showed any appreciation of their responsibility.  The behaviour of the stokers was too terrible for words.  I myself saw many instances of their bestiality.

As for the conduct of the officers, I have to say that they were conspicuous by their absence throughout the whole twenty minutes.  There surely must be an investigation that will place the blame for this unnecessary adding to the number murdered”.

Mrs. Adams’ acerbic comments about the officers and some of the crew are not mirrored in the accounts of most of the passengers who left behind their accounts of the sinking.

The torpedo boat that saved her was one of several sent to the scene by Sir Charles Coke.

After being rescued from the sea, she was landed at Queenstown, where she must have related her story to a press representative to be published in Captain Ellis’ book. 

She traveled to Dublin by train, then took a boat bound for Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, where she was photographed, with other survivors. She continued on to her late husband’s home town of Tenby and her sister-in-law’s residence, at Gower House in Tudor Square.

Her husband’s body was eventually recovered from the sea and shipped back to Tenby for burial. Annie Adams was principal mourner when Henry’s body was buried in Tenby (St. Mary’s) Cemetery on Thursday 27 May.

On 17 June 1915, she received property recovered from this body care of a Mr. G.H. Champion, of Winchester House, Old Broad Street, London E.C., who was presumably a lawyer.  She later lived at 3. Arlington Gardens, Ilford, Essex.

Annie Adams died on 29 November 1923 in Sussex, England. She was 54 years of age.

Contributors
Fred T. Adams (great-grandnephew of Henry Adams)
Les Dixon
Peter Kelly, Ireland
Wendy Morash (great-grandniece of Annie Adams), Canada
Michael Poirier, USA
Hildo Thiel, The Netherlands

References
Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

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