The Lusitania Resource > People > Second Cabin (Second Class) Passenger List > Miss Elizabeth Eleanor “Nellie” Hampshire

Miss Elizabeth Eleanor “Nellie” Hampshire

Elizabeth Hampshire Second Cabin Passenger Saved
Nellie Hampshire image:  Michael Poirier/Mariners Museum.
Born Elizabeth Eleanor Hampshire 28 November 1878 Stalybridge, England, United Kingdom
Died 19 May 1977 (age 98) Central Falls, Rhode Island, United States
Age on Lusitania 36
Traveling with Florence Whitehead (foster sister)
Lifeboat 13
Rescued by Stormcock
Citizenship British
Residence Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States
Other name(s) - Nellie Hampshire - Nellie Graham (after marriage)
Spouse(s) Peter Graham (1925 - ?) Please provide dates
Elizabeth “Nellie” Hampshire (1878 - 1977), 36, was traveling aboard Lusitania with her foster sister Florence Whitehead.  They were from England and had settled in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, United States.  Florence was returning to Britain and Elizabeth was accompanying her.  They roomed with Henrietta Pirrie in cabin E-135.  Elizabeth and Florence were at lunch when the torpedo hit on the afternoon of 7 May 1915.  They narrowly avoided boarding lifeboat 11 before it upset and boarded lifeboat 13, where Elizabeth took care of Helen Smith.  Elizabeth and Florence survived the Lusitania sinking and were rescued by Stormcock. This biography has been adapted from an article by Michael Poirier previously published in Titanic International’s Voyage and is now available in the articles section of this site.
Contents

  1. Youth
  2. To America
  3. Lusitania
  4. Rescue and recovery
  5. Return to America
  6. Lusitania revisited
  7. Family and later years
  8. Related pages

Youth


Elizabeth Eleanor 'Nellie' Hampshire was born in Stalybridge, England on 28 November 1878, the youngest child of Joseph William Hampshire and Mary Hampshire (née Lomas).  Her older siblings were William, Mary Alice, Thomas Henry, and Ernest Edwin.  They were born in Glossop, Derbyshire. Mary Hampshire died a few years after Elizabeth was born.  The older children stayed with grandparents while Elizabeth had to board with another family.  About this time, Florence Whitehead, also from Glossop, became Elizabeth's foster sister.  How, present family members are not sure. The Hampshires were familiar with the cotton mills, and when Elizabeth was old enough to have a job, she earned her living as a winder there.

To America


Her siblings began emigrating to the United States around 1900, and in 1914 Elizabeth and Florence decided that they would make an extended visit to their brothers Ernest and William.  The two ladies went to the local Cunard agent and booked passage on the Laconia which sailed on 1 September 1914. When Laconia reached Boston, Elizabeth and Florence were taken to the home of their brother William in Milton, Massachusetts.  Elizabeth was excited to explore the opportunities the United States had to offer, but Florence was not in love with the country.  Elizabeth and Florence moved to Pawtucket, Rhode Island where Elizabeth stayed with Ernest on Colombia Avenue.  Florence lived in her own place on Whitford Avenue.  Florence was not happy living in the United States and after eight months wanted to return home, ostensibly to be near her sister Edith Beard of Glossop.  Elizabeth was very happy where she was, but felt she should accompany Florence back to England.  Aware of the threat from German submarines during wartime, the two booked second class passage on the Lusitania which was due to sail on May 1, 1915.

Lusitania


Elizabeth and Florence were assigned cabin E-135 with Henrietta Pirrie who was going to Scotland by way of England to be married. Elizabeth remembered that the woman had been a maid to the Duke and Duchess of Connaught and that during the voyage that Henrietta showed her intended's picture. The two women became acquainted with their fellow passengers, such as Hannah Ackroyd and her little boy Freddie. Elizabeth and Florence had a pleasant voyage up to the day of the disaster.  At 2:00 p.m. on 7 May, they were at lunch in the dining room.  Florence had already finished, but Elizabeth was still enjoying her meal. "Hurry up - let's start packing," Florence told her sister. As soon as those words left her mouth the torpedo hit. Elizabeth remembered a "terrific explosion" that seemed to "shatter the vessel". Elizabeth’s first thoughts were, "My God, they've got us."  Their dining room steward took control of the situation, telling the ladies, "Follow me." Elizabeth noticed that the steward’s face was "as white as death." Elizabeth and Florence were mindful to take their purses when they left the table so that they would have money with them after the ship sank. Following the steward up the stairs, Elizabeth and Florence found that the severe list of the ship was making climbing difficult.  Once on deck, the two made their way to the first class area.  The debris from the explosion littered the deck and turned out to be dangerous.  As Elizabeth tried to walk, she fell and began to slide down the sloping deck, towards the ship’s rail.  Florence grabbed onto the closest part of Elizabeth that she could reach and pulled at Elizabeth’s hair. Elizabeth steadied herself and saw that the water was not far from where she stood. They approached lifeboat 11, but Florence thought it looked crowded and said to Elizabeth, "Let's not go in that one. Let's get in the second one." She made the right decision. As lifeboat 11 began to lower, its stern suddenly dropped, spilling inside into the sea. Fellow second class passenger Ernest Cowper, who was trying to take little Helen Smith whom he found alone on deck to safety, handed Helen into lifeboat 13 where Elizabeth took the girl on her knee. Cowper explained to Elizabeth, "She asked me to save her.  Says she can't find her mother and father or baby sister Bessie, but her grandparents'll be waiting in Liverpool." Cowper also climbed into the boat and watched as John Davies and William Harkness helped lower the boat. Elizabeth also remembered that the twins Ethel and Sutcliffe Riley were thrown in the boat, but their parents couldn't get in as the boat was already lowering. The lifeboat rowed slowly away from the mother ship as soon as the falls were detached.  A crew member shouted at the people at oars, "Row!  Row!  Hurry up, before the ship goes under and the suction gets us." Elizabeth could not bear to see the ship sink with all the unfortunate people left behind still aboard and tried to comfort Helen.  Florence meanwhile was unable to take her eyes away from the scene unfolding before her.  The craft stopped despite the danger to pick up a few people in the water who had been in boat #17 which had been swamped during lowering.  Ernest Cowper watched as the aerial from the mast dangled down into the water and saw that the funnels seem to still hang over the small boat.  Elizabeth finally turned her head to see the last of the ship.  She watched as people jumped from the stern which was high in the air, but it was too terrible and she looked away again.  The Lusitania plunged downward and was no more. The two women spent several hours in the boat and during a quiet moment, Helen said to Elizabeth, "If I can't find my Mamma and Daddy, I'll go with you ladies."  Florence and Ernest took turns Helen on their laps in order to give Elizabeth time to stretch her legs.

Rescue and recovery


Finally after several hours floating about, boat #13 was finally rescued by the Stormcock.  The party landed at Queenstown and the two were lead to what she recalled was the post office. She was allowed to send wires to various family members to let them know they were safe. She watched a nurse take Helen Smith away and never saw her again. The next day, while walking the streets she saw a uniformed Lusitania officer who she claimed was Captain Turner with boxes of candy for the surviving children.  Later that Saturday, they decided they were well enough to continue their journey and arrived Sunday morning in Glossop.  The local paper arrived that night to interview them and they gave a thrilling account of the events.  They told how the crew in the boat had said if they had been shipwrecked on a previous day, they may not have made it due to the heavy seas running. Elizabeth was well at first, but her nerves were frayed and she remained under a physician's care for the first few years during the war.

Return to America


She was ready to go back to America in 1920, and still having faith in Cunard, booked passage on the Carmania. She arrived back on April 7, 1920.  Elizabeth settled in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and found work as a winder.  She also fell in love and at age forty-six, she married Peter Graham at the Evangelical Church in Central Falls, Rhode Island.  She did not have any children of her own, but Elizabeth was thought of dearly by her nieces and nephews and to them she was 'Aunt Nellie'. Elizabeth decided to get her American Citizenship at the beginning of World War II and became a United States citizen on 1 August 1940 at 2:10 p.m.

Lusitania revisited


In 1955, Elizabeth received word that Adolph and Mary Hoehling were writing a book on the sinking and decided that enough years had passed and she could finally talk about the disaster.  She noted that other people seemed to find it interesting. Her letters to the Hoehlings' are currently held at the Mariners' Museum in Newport News, Virginia. She would grant interviews when anniversary of the sinking rolled around and during these interviews she always wondered what happened to little Helen Smith.  She did not know that her aunt had also survived the disaster and that they eventually settled down in Swansea, Wales.

Family and later years


Elizabeth was very fond of family and her niece and nephew Frank and Lois Deluski would pick her up and take her to where Thanksgiving was being held.  It was all she could talk of for weeks and she was very grateful to spend time with her family.  They also remember her as being being petite and frail but determined.  One of her goals was to live to be 100 years old.  Her sister Mary Alice had received a congratulatory letter from President Lyndon Baines Johnson when she reached 100 and 'Aunt Nellie' also wanted to have that distinction as well. Her health began to fail in the 1970's, and she was placed in the Mansion House of Central Falls for care.  She still took time to speak with reporters when the anniversary approached, though at this time she was very hard of hearing.  She left behind specific instructions before she died on who was to be at the funeral, which cars they would be in and finally that no tuna fish would be served as she didn't care for it.  On 19 May 1977, Elizabeth Eleanor Hampshire Graham also known as 'Aunt Nellie' quietly passed away at age 98.

Related pages


Aunt Nellie: Lusitania Survivor
Contributors: Frank Deluski (nephew of Elizabeth Hampshire) Lois Deluski (niece of Elizabeth Hampshire) Jim Kalafus Paul Latimer Michael Poirier Jean Richards Timmermeister

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