Father Basil William Maturin

Father Basil Maturin (1847 - 1915), 68, was a British citizen and Irish national.  He was a Roman Catholic chaplain at Oxford University and well-known author of religious books.  Father Maturin, on his 1915 voyage of the Lusitania, had just finished a Lenten series at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in New York. Father Maturin administered absolutions to several people on the sinking Lusitania. Father Maturin was lost in the disaster.


Dr. Maturin was born in Ireland on 15 February 1847 to William Basil Maturin and Jane Cook Maturin and the grandson of writer Charles Maturin. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin.  In 1876, he was sent to Philadelphia.  There, Maturin had been the rector of an Episcopalian church in the city, St. Clement's.  Maturin became a Roman Catholic in 1897 and was ordained by Cardinal Herbert Vaughn in 1898. Maturin was also author of several religious and psychological books such as Laws of the Spiritual Life (1908), Self-Knowledge and Self-Discipline (1909), Christian Self-Mastery, and The Price of Unity (1912). He was appointed the Catholic chaplain to the University of Oxford in 1913. In 1915,he made a successful preaching tour of the United States, planning to return to England on Cunard's RMS Lusitania. While in New York before the voyage, Maturin had talked to several Irish-Americans about the war.  Perhaps he was relieved in his findings, saying, "I can't imagine where we got the idea in England that they are pro-German."


On the day of the Lusitania disaster, 7 May 1915, Maturin had lunch with Reverend Charles Clarke.  During the Lusitania's sinking, Maturin was seen "pale but calm" and administering absolutions to several.  He was then seen handing a child into a lifeboat with the request, "Find its mother." Father Maturin was not wearing a lifebelt. Maturin's body was #223 and recovered by two elderly fisherman in Ballycotton Bay.  His body was identified based on his papers, silver watch, fountain pen, banker's drafts for £2000, and other personal items he had with him.  His body was then shipped to England.  Although Maturin was predicted that his funeral would be held in a small, half-empty church on a rainy day, in London's Brompton Oratory plans were set for "impressive last rights" (Hoehling/Hoehling, 220). A few recalled a passage from one of Maturin's books, which perhaps prophetically, said such:
It was a great victory of the human mind which annihilated space and time, and circled the globe with telegraph wires.  But greater still is the victory which gives a man strength and courage to receive with equanimity over those wires a message telling him that all he valued in life has been taken from him.
Contributors: William Graham Michael Poirier References: Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002. "Basil W. Maturin."  Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 24 July 2011.  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil_W._Maturin>

About the Author