The Lusitania Resource > People > Saloon (First Class) Passenger List > Mr. Charles Emelius Lauriat, Jr.

Mr. Charles Emelius Lauriat, Jr.

Charles Lauriat Saloon Passenger Saved
Charles Lauriat The Boston Globe, Globe Pequot Press. Guilford, CT.  Courtesy Carole Lindsay.
Born Charles Emelius Lauriat, Jr. 1874 Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died 28 December 1937 (age 63) Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Age on Lusitania 40
Ticket number 1297
Cabin number B 5
Traveling with Lothrop Withington (friend)
Lifeboat 7
Rescued by - Wanderer (Peel 12) - Flying Fish
Interred Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Occupation Bookseller
Citizenship United States
Residence Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Spouse(s) Marian Bullard (? - 1937, his death) (Please provide dates)
Charles Lauriat, Jr., 40, was of the Charles E. Lauriat Company, booksellers, of Boston, Massachusetts. He was an experienced traveler, but the last voyage of the Lusitania was his first on the Cunarder.  He was on a business trip, traveling with fellow Bostonian Lothrop Withington. Lauriat's cabin was B-5 and his ticket was 1297.  When the Lusitania was sinking, Lauriat attempted to assist Elbert and Alice Hubbard. Lauriat entered lifeboat 7 but jumped out when the lifeboat could not be freed from the mother ship. Lauriat was saved by the Wanderer (Peel 12) and Flying Fish. He led a survivors' mutiny against the crew of the Flying Fish when the captain of the rescue vessel would not allow the survivors to disembark without clearance from the authorities.
  1. Life
  2. An ordinary business trip
  3. Disaster
  4. Rescue and mutiny
  5. Queenstown
  6. London
  7. Later life


Charles Lauriat, Jr., was born in 1874 to Charles Emelius Lauriat, Sr.(1842 - 1920), and his wife, Harriet Fidelia Page (1847 - 1935). The company Charles E. Lauriat Company, booksellers, of Boston, Massachusetts, belonged to Charles, Sr.  Charles, Jr. married Marian Bullard and had a son, Nathaniel Page Lauriat. Lauriat was also an amateur sailor.

An ordinary business trip

Lauriat took Lusitania on an ordinary business trip, but he wanted to make his trip as brief as possible.  He knew that six of the ship's boilers had been shut down, but Lusitania was still the fastest ship afloat. When buying his ticket, Lauriat had been assured that the ship would be escorted through the war zone.  Even so, he and his neighbor Lothrop Withington agreed that as a belligerent ship, the Lusitania was likely to be attacked. Lauriat was consistently worried that the ship was traveling too slow.  On the first day, he noted that the ship logged 501 miles, and the second day was disappointingly lower.  He complained to Withington, "At this rate, we're not going to make Liverpool on time." He and Withington visited the smoking room for the third night out's ship's pool, but did not buy a number.  The pool was largely popular and proceeds averaged £105 a day. While on his way to dinner on the night of 6 May, he noticed that his bedroom steward had drawn his shades and left a note for the night watchman listing which portholes were open.  After the ship's concert, Lauriat finally bought a number in the ship's pool, 499, the highest available, for $15.  He was confident that the Lusitania would increase her speed for passing through the war zone. Previously that evening, Lauriat was also at a party thrown by George Kessler.  Other guests included Goldiana Morell, Fred GauntlettTheodate PopeEdwin FriendIsaac LehmannFred and Mabel Pearson, and Staff Captain Anderson.  Kessler had pressed Anderson why Captain Turner had not given the passengers a lifeboat drill. "That is the Captain's decision." was all Anderson could say.


The foghorn awoke Charles Lauriat on 7 May.  He had no intention of getting up in such weather.  Lauriat got up after the fog cleared, shaved, dressed, and checked the day's run in the smoking room.  Disappointingly, the Lusitania had only gone 462 miles.  He decided to take a walk on deck before lunch and noted that the ship was still only "lounging along" with the Irish coast in view. As he ate his lunch, Lauriat felt a breeze in the dining saloon.  Several of the portholes were open and Charles asked a steward to turn off a nearby fan that was only making the draft worse.  He went back to his stateroom at about 1:30 to put on a sweater before taking "a real walk." On deck he met up with Elbert and Alice Hubbard by the port side saloon class entrance.  Earlier in the voyage, Elbert Hubbard had lent Charles a copy of The Philistine, which ran an attack on the German Kaiser, his essay "Who Lifted the Lid Off Hell?"  Hubbard asked, "Do you really think I'll be a welcome visitor in Germany?" Hubbard had barely finished speaking when they felt a muffled impact, and "the good ship trembled for a moment under the force of the blow."  They turned to see where the sound was coming from and saw a "smoke and cinders flying up in the air on the starboard side."  A second explosion soon followed, but to him it seemed to come from an exploding boiler, not a second torpedo. Lauriat suggested to the Hubbards that they go back to their portside B Deck cabin (B-70) and retrieve their lifebelts.  Alice Hubbard could not swim.  To Lauriat's surprise, the Hubbards did nothing.  Elbert "stayed by the rail affectionately holding his arm around his wife's waist." "Stay here if you wish," Lauriat told them, "I'll fetch some life-jackets for you." Hurrying to his own "most forward" B Deck cabin on the starboard side, Charles Lauriat grabbed his leather business case, tied on his lifebelt and grabbed two more to give them to the Hubbards.  Upon reaching the Boat Deck saloon entrance, Lauriat found that the Hubbards were gone.  He waited for the Hubbards to return, but he was getting impatient.  An Italian family from third class consisting of a grandmother, mother, and three children turned to Lauriat for help.  He put lifebelts on the grandmother and mother, and found another for the oldest child.  The family then proceeded to sit down on a collapsible boat, quietly awaiting further instructions.  To Lauriat, the scene was "one of the most pathetic things" he saw that day. Looking around, Lauriat's attention turned to helping whoever else might be in need.  He saw that several people had their lifebelts on incorrectly and sought to assist them; however, some thinking that he was trying to take their belts ran away in terror. Returning to his stateroom, he struck a match for light as the electricity had gone out.  He took his passport and personal papers before making his way out.  In a mere ten minutes since the torpedo struck, Lauriat noticed how quickly the ship was heeling over.  He noticed that several of the portholes on the starboard side were still open, causing the ship to flood more rapidly than she would otherwise.  He was amazed that the portholes had not been sealed the moment that they sailed into the war zone. The lifeboats were not proving to be a reliable means of escape.  He noted that the ensuing carnage "only added horror to the whole situation".  He had no wish to jump into a lifeboat, but seeing the commotion around lifeboat #7, Lauriat felt compelled to help.  The lifeboat was still attached to the ship and Lauriat jumped onto the small craft in an attempt to loosen the after falls.  He looked forward to see a steward trying to cut the forward falls with a pocket knife.  Lauriat tried to go to the stewards aid, but the frenzied mass of humanity "was impossible to climb through".  With a funnel looming threateningly over them, Lauriat pleaded to others in the boat to jump as the lifeboat did not seem to be able to be freed in time.  Only a few listened. Giving up, he jumped over himself.  He looked back at the lifeboat as he guided those who had listened away from the sinking liner to see the small craft and its screaming occupants be dragged under by the mother ship. In the water, Charles Lauriat felt a Marconi aerial slip by his head, onto his shoulders, and push him into the water upside-down.  Only by kicking hard did he free himself.  On the surface, he heard the "long lingering moan" of those struggling in the water.  He managed to climb into a collapsible boat with Leslie Morton. He heard Fred Gauntlett call out his name and helped him onto the boat. The men tried to raise the boat's sides; however, desperate people in the water were clinging onto the sides of the boat, and they were convinced the men meant to push them away. They managed to raise the sides, but for oars they had to jump overboard to look for as the collapsible had none.  Samuel Knox and James Brooks also climbed into the boat.  They continued to pick up more people in the water until the boat had "sunk flush with the water."  Next the boatload of survivors rowed for the lighthouse on the Old Head of Kinsale, continuing to pull people in.  As they rowed, Lauriat thought, "At least we have a good crew."

Rescue and mutiny

The Peel 12 came to pick up the thirty-three on the raft.  Being on a solid deck again "felt as good as the front hall of our own homes."  Lauriat gave away his sweater to a scantly-clad young man and his jacket to a woman who was wearing only a nightgown.  As the Peel 12 was overloaded with about 60 survivors, many of them, including Lauriat, were transferred to the Flying Fish. Arriving in Queenstown, the Flying Fish was ordered not to disembark its survivors until the captain had reported to the proper authorities.  Arguing in "language that was decidedly to the point", Lauriat told the captain that many of those on board were in urgent need of food, shelter, and medical help.  The captain remained obstinate and left to find a harbor inspector leaving strict instructions not to lower the gangplank. As soon as the captain was gone, Lauriat and several others put the gangplank over the side.  A man on the dockside tried to stop them, but Lauriat told the man that he had three seconds to get out of the way.  Lauriat and others still able then helped the weaker ones ashore and called for medical help.


Lauriat roomed at the Imperial Hotel with three other men.  The hotel proprietress fed him whiskey and dried out his clothes before he retired for a "dead, dreamless sleep."  The Boston bookseller awoke at 6 the next morning to cash a check for £40 to help others who had come out the disaster much worse than he.  The teller at the bank refused, but upon Lauriat's insistence that he needed the money for "about 12 half-starved, half-naked American that needed to be fed and clothed" the man finally gave in.  After helping as many as he could, he went to see if anyone he knew were among the dead.  He was glad not to have recognized anyone there, but unknown to him his neighbor and traveling companion Lothrop Withington had died in the disaster. Passing the Cunard Wharf, Lauriat saw the Lusitania's lifeboats lying there, numbers 1, 11, 13, 15, 19, and 21.


On 8 May, Lauriat took a steam packet across the Irish Sea, being one of the first survivors to leave Queenstown.  In the boat's saloon he saw several Lusitania survivors sitting in the room in the middle of the night with their lifebelts on.  Many of them were still wearing their belts from the Lusitania. The next day, Lauriat was on the first train of survivors to London, reaching Euston Station at 6:30 that morning.  At the station, Lauriat was immediately mobbed by reporters but refused to give interviews.  Relatives of those onboard the Lusitania also immediately swamped them with inquiries.  The best that he found that he could do was to tell them that there were many other survivors about to disembark from the train. Overwhelmed, Lauriat was none-too-glad to find Ambassador Page's secretary meeting him and asking if there were anything that could be done to help.  Lauriat was taken to the embassy where he met Page and was offered accommodation.  Lauriat politely refused and stayed at the home of a business contact in a London suburb, where he was finally able to take a much needed rest.

Later life

Upon Lauriat's return to Boston, he became president of the largest book importing firms in New England.  He was also paid $1,000 for lost luggage.  That year Charles Lauriat published his own account of the sinking, The Lusitania's Last Voyage.  He died on 28 December 1937 and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge and Watertown, Massachussetts, not far from fellow saloon passenger Bostonian, Leslie Lindsey Mason. Lauriat Books remained in business with over 20 locations in Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New York until it filed for bankruptcy in June 1999.  The company folded after 127 years due to competition from large bookstore chains and internet booksellers. Contributors: Peter Engberg-Klarström Michael Poirier References: Hickey, Des and Gus Smith.  Seven Days to Disaster.  G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1981. Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Lauriat, Charles E.  The Lusitania's Last Voyage.  Houghton Mifflin and Co., 1915. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

About the Author