Mr. Maurice Benjamin Medbury

Maurice Medbury, 50, was a dealer in antique jewelry who did business in New York City, New York, United States; London, England; Paris, France; and Berlin, Germany. He had a wife and three children in Alameda, California, from which he had been estranged for ten years. In the meantime, Medbury took another wife in London without divorcing his first wife. Medbury was with Isaac Lehmann in the saloon smoking room when the ship was torpedoed. Lehmann survived, Medbury did not.

Life


Maurice's wife, Lora M. Mebury, was three years older than he was and 53 years of age in 1915. They had a daughter, Margaret (later Margaret M. Sims), 25 years of age in 1915, and two sons, John Phelps and Gordon Spencer, then 20 and 19 years of age respectively in 1915. They lived in Alameda, California. Maurice left his family to pursue his fortune and became estranged from his family. During that time, Maurice made and lost a fortune, having hobnobbed with the elite on both sides of the Atlantic in New York City, London, Paris, and Berlin with his business of dealing antique jewelry. Some months he made as much as $10,000. For eight of the ten years, Maurice sent remittances back to his family in Alameda, but these remittances stopped in the last two years, leaving the family destitute. When Lora heard that Maurice was on the list of passengers lost with the Lusitania, that was the first word that she had heard of her husband in three years. When Maurice booked passage on Lusitania, he gave his residence as New York City. He lived in several of the large hotels in the city. He also maintained a large country house in England with two automobiles. It is supposed that here he lived with his other wife, Mrs. Medbury-Danbury. He seemed to have lived a prosperous existence, with friends in London, New York, and Paris.

Lusitania


Medbury's ticket for Lusitania was 13093 and he stayed in cabin B-101. The day of the disaster, 7 May, Maurice Medbury was smoking with Isaac Lehmann in the smoking room when the torpedo hit. To Lehmann, the impact sounded like "a blast in the subway or a cannon." Lehmann then exclaimed to Medbury, "They've got us at last! Let's go outside!" Lehmann, suddenly frightened, then said to Medbury, "Let's get away from here." The two men rushed towards the deck as debris came crashing down on the the roof of the verandah café. Lehmann never saw Medbury again. Medbury was lost in the Lusitania sinking.

The wives' legal wrangling


Upon news of Medbury's death, both wives came forward to claim Medbury's estate. From newspaper accounts of the time, it seemed that Lora Medbury had not been aware of Mrs. Medbury-Danbury's existence. Lora Medbury hired Milton Shepardson as her lawyer to look for traces of her estranged husband's estate in New York, London, Paris, and Berlin. Shepardson found $50,000 in Medbury's name and was sure that $100,000 more existed in cash and securities. He also asked for the assistance of the U.S. State Department in securing full protection of Lora Medbury's rights abroad from the claims of Mrs. Medbury-Danbury. Medbury's personal estate was found and administered in St. Louis, Missouri. Lora also brought her case before the Mixed Claims Commission, which decreed that Medbury's estate and wares were in excess of their actual value and of "a cheap and inferior quality". As Medbury and his family had been estranged for several years, and because he had stopped sending remittances in the final two years of his life, the court also decreed that evidence that his family depended on his contributions was "extremely unsatisfactory." For her estranged husband's death, the Mixed Claims Commission awarded Lora Medbury $7,500.

Related pages


Maurice Medbury at the Mixed Claims Commission
Contributors: Jim Kalafus, USA Michael Poirier, USA Judith Tavares 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. Mixed Claims Commission. Docket 2055, page 504. "Two Women Claim Estate of Medbury." The New York Times. 28 May 1915. Preston, Diana. Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy. Berkley Books, 2002.

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