Miss Grace Hope French

Grace French Second Cabin Passenger Saved
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Born Grace Hope French 10 June 1890 Renton, Scotland, United Kingdom
Died February 1986 (age 95) Helensburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Age on Lusitania 24
Occupation Dressmaker and milliner
Citizenship British (Scotland)
Residence Passaic, New Jersey, United States
Other name(s) Gracie French
Grace French (1890 - 1986), 24, was a dressmaker and milliner from Scotland.  She originally booked passage on Cameronia before she was transferred to Lusitania.  Grace survived the disaster. Grace was the daughter of Archibald French (1856 - 1938) and Annie Colquhoun (27 June 1855 - 19 October 1930).  Archibald French was a spirit dealer's labourer (1879) and later a yarn bundler (1890).  He was employed at the Turkey Red Works and was a trainer of the Renton football (soccer) team.  He married Annie Colquhoun on 6 March 1878.  Grace was born 10 June 1890 in Renton, Scotland.  Among family and friends, she was known as "Gracie."  She had one brother, Archie, and four adult sisters:  Margaret, Mary McLeod, Flora Campbell, and Annie Colquhoun.  Another sister, Janet Cameron, had died at age one. In 1908, Grace's brother Archie, then 21, moved to New York City.  Grace followed her brother to America in 1911 on the California.  From 1911 tp 1915 Grace often visited her brother, her Uncle Walter in Chester, Pennsylvania, and her second cousin, Sarah McDougall Buchanan, Sarah's parents John and Annie McDougall, and Sarah's daughter Lucy Buchanan (later Winslow), in Norwich, Connecticut. On 1 May 1915, Grace had planned to return to Scotland on the Anchor Liner Cameronia.  The ship, however, was requisitioned by the British Admiralty and all of the ship's passengers were reshuffled to the Lusitania.  The transfers were the last to be taken on board the ship.  Grace in a 1975 interview claimed to be the last passenger to board, almost missing the ship and later wished that she had missed it. Among Grace's acquaintances on the Lusitania were Archie Donald and Richard Preston Prichard.  Prichard had teased Grace that she had a double on board, and on the day of the disaster they went looking for the woman.  Richard and Grace were together when the torpedo struck, but when she looked around right after, she found that her companion had disappeared. After the ship sank, Grace kept alive by clinging onto the corpse of a large man for floatation. Grace was one of among several survivors who wrote to Richard Preston Prichard's mother as to the fate of her son, but Grace nor anyone else was not able to offer concrete answers. In 1926, Grace received compensation from Cunard for the loss of her belongings. Grace settled in Renton, Scotland where she was known throughout the district for her millinery and dressmaking shop which she ran with older sister Annie.  Grace also had three other married sisters who lived in the Renton area. Grace's brother Archie died in New York City in 1942.  He is not believed to have married. Reportedly, Grace and fellow Lusitania survivor, Archie Donald, continued to correspond until the latter's death in Pasadena, California, in 1959.  Since Grace's voyage on the ill-fated liner, she never had and never would return to the United States. In 1960 Grace moved to 3 Steele Walk in Balloch, Scotland.  She and Annie continued to run their dressmaking shop until Annie's death in 1974.  In 1975 she moved to the Clydeview Eventide Home in Helensburgh, Scotland, where she lived for the last ten years of her life.  She died in February 1986, aged 95, "remembered as a 'marvelous personality' who was regarded with great affection by everyone who knew her." Grace's four-letter correspondance with Mrs. Prichard and the rest of the Prichard Letters are available from the Imperial War Museum by e-mailing Tony Richards at <docs@iwm.org.uk>. Contributors: Hildo Thiel Margaret F. Winslow (cousin of Grace French) References: Hoehling, A. A. and Mary Hoehling.  The Last Voyage of the Lusitania.  Madison Books, 1956. Lennox Herald.  2 July 1938. Preston, Diana.  Lusitania:  An Epic Tragedy.  Berkley Books, 2002.

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