Mr. Frederick Orr Orr-Lewis

Frederick Orr-Lewis (1860 – 1921), 49, was a Canadian businessman and president of Canadian Vickers, Ltd., the Canadian division of the British shipbuilding and armaments corporation, Vickers. He was a native of Montréal, Québec, Canada, but owned an estate in Enfield, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom named Whitewebbs. He had been in Canada on business with his valet, George Slingsby, and was returning to Whitewebbs aboard Lusitania‘s last voyage.

Orr-Lewis had been in the lounge with Lady Allan, her daughters Anna and Gwen, William Robert Holt, Dorothy Braithwaite, and Frances Stephens when the torpedo struck Lusitania. Slingsby, who had been at lunch at the time, joined them as the ship sank, and they were washed off the ship together. Orr-Lewis and Slingsby survived. Frederick Orr-Lewis later became Sir Frederick Orr-Lewis, 1st Baronet.

Life


Frederick was born in Montréal as Frederick Orr Lewis on 11 February 1860, the son of William Thomas Lewis, a Welsh immigrant. He joined his father’s business, Lewis Brothers, and eventually became president. He played a key part in establishing Canadian Vickers Ltd., the Canadian division of the British shipbuilding and armaments giant, Vickers, and eventually became president of the company.

Frederick adopted Orr as part of his surname as “Orr Lewis” and sometimes “Orr-Lewis”. Orr remained his middle name, however. On 18 June 1896, Frederick married Maude Helen Mary Booth, the daughter of William Booth of London, Ontario, Canada. They had a son, John Duncan Orr-Lewis, commonly known as Duncan, born 21 February 1898, and a daughter, Mary Graham Orr-Lewis.

Frederick owned an estate in Enfield, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom named Whitewebbs. For business, he traveled back to Canada aboard Lusitania with his valet, George Slingsby. At the conclusion of the trip, they were returning to Whitewebbs aboard Lusitania‘s last voyage. Orr-Lewis would be accompanied by his friends from Montréal.

Lusitania


Aboard the Lusitania‘s last voyage, Frederick Orr-Lewis and Slingsby traveled on the same ticket, D1348. Orr-Lewis stayed in cabin B-74. Slingsby stayed in a separate cabin, B-62.

For his meals, Orr-Lewis shared a table in the dining room with Frances Stephens, Lady Allan, her daughters Gwen and Anna, Dorothy Braithwaite, and William Robert Grattan Holt.

On the day of the disaster, 7 May 1915, the group had finished lunch and was in the lounge drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes when the torpedo struck the ship. According to Orr-Lewis, they “rushed out on deck at once”. Slingsby, who had been at lunch at the time and Orr-Lewis made sure they stayed together and had lifebelts on. They did not know what to do as the port side lifeboats were not lowered successfully, so they waited on the port side of the boat deck, until the ship suddenly plunged and sank from beneath them.

When the water enveloped them, Orr-Lewis was holding Gwen’s hand, Lady Allan was holding Anna’s, Lady Allan’s maids Annie Walker and Emily Davis were with them, and Frances Stephens was holding onto her grandson John. Dorothy Braithwaite was somehow separated from them.

Orr-Lewis identified the body of Frances Stephens in Queenstown. Slingsby found Orr-Lewis in Queenstown. The two travelled back to Whitewebbs.

Baronetcy


Many Royal Navy ships were built in Vickers’ Canadian yards during the World War I. As Orr-Lewis was president of the company, he was created a Baronet on 20 February 1920. Orr-Lewis died on 18 November 1921 while visiting Cannes, France, at the age of 55. His wife, Maude, remarried James Sinclair Grant-Milne on 15 June 1929. She died on 22 November 1951. Their daughter Mary married Sir Coleridge Arthur Fitzroy Kennard, 1st Bt., on 21 July 1924. She died on 6 July 1931.

Frederick was succeeded in the baronetcy by his only son, Duncan. The Orr-Lewis Baronetcy became extinct upon Duncan’s death on 13 November 1980. Whitewebbs today is a museum, restuarant, and golf club.

Links of interest


Whitewebbs Golf Club


Contributors:
Randy Bryan Bigham
Senan Molony, Ireland
Michael Poirier, USA
Judith Tavares

References:
Molony, Senan. “Double Jeopardy – Lusitania‘s Unique Victim.” Gare Maritime. Web. 18 June 2011. < http://www.garemaritime.com/features/lusitania_victim/ >

“Person Page – 6256.” thePeerage.com. Web. 8 July 2011.

“Baronetage.” Leigh Rayment’s Peerage Page. Web. 8 July 2011. <http://www.leighrayment.com/baronetage/baronetsO.htm>

“Sir Frederick Orr-Lewis.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 8 July 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Frederick_Orr-Lewis,_1st_Baronet>

About the Author