RMS Hesperian

The RMS Hesperian was a passenger ship of the Allan Line, which served the Liverpool – Québec – Montréal route from 1908 to 1915.  On the night of 4 September 1915, the submarine SM U-20, under the command of Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger, who sank the Lusitania, torpedoed Hesperian.  The Hesperian sank over a day after being torpedoed, on 6 September 1915, while being towed to Ireland.  Thirty-two people were killed when a lifeboat upset while lowering.  Hesperian was also carrying the body of Lusitania victim Frances Stephens on her last voyage, with Mrs. Stephens being sunk twice by the same submarine and commander.

Schwieger was reprimanded for this action, as the previous week Count Bernstorff, the Imperial German Ambassador to the United States, had assured Washington that “passenger liners will not be sunk without warning” after the Lusitania disaster.


  1. The ship
  2. Last voyage
  3. Attack
  4. Political fallout
  5. Hesperian specifications
  6. Related pages
  7. Links of interest

The ship

Hesperian of the Allan Line was a cargo and passenger steamship built by the Scottish shipyard Alexander Stephen and Sons, Ltd., of Linthouse, Glasgow, Scotland.  She was launched on 20 December 1907 and embarked on her maiden voyage on 25 April 1908 on the Liverpool – Québec – Montréal route.  The ship was named after the Garden of the Hesperides of Greek Mythology, a mythical land to the west, near the Atlas mountains, famed for the three “nymphs of the evening” who lived there and its tree which grew golden apples.

Hesperian was a single-funnel, double screw ship 485.5 feet (147.8 meters) in length and 60.3 feet (18.3 meters) wide.  Her size was 10,920 gross registered tons.  She could accommodate 210 passengers in first class, 250 in second calss, and 1,000 in third class.  Starting in January 1910, Hesperian was contracted out to the Canadian Pacific Line for a voyage from Liverpool to St. John, New Brunswick, Canada.

Last voyage

Hesperian left Liverpool on Friday, 3 September 1915 at 7:00 p.m. for Québec and then Montréal. Her commander was Captain William Main. On board were 814 passengers and 300 crew members. In addition to civilian passengers, she would be carrying wounded Canadian soldiers home and cargo.

No United States citizens were passengers, although one steward was an American national. Most of those aboard were either British or Canadian. The passengers knew of the risk of a German U-boat attacks or the possibility of running into run a German mine, as in the course of the submarine war already many British merchant ships, including Lusitania, had already been sunk.

The passengers list included the following people:

Ellen Carbery from St. John, New Brunswick, one of the first private Canadian women decorators and the founder of Ellen Carbery’s Ladies Emporium. She would be lost in the subsequent sinking.

Marjorie Campbell Robarts, sister of John Robarts, a high Canadian dignitary of Bahai Faith, who survived.

Major Percy Guthrie, a Canadian battalion commander and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick, who survived.

Also on board was the casket of Frances Stephens, the widow of a Canadian politician George Stephens.  Four months prior, Frances Stephens was lost in the sinking of the Lusitania. Her body was shipped aboard Hesperian to Montréal in order to be buried beside her husband. She was therefore sunk twice by the same U-boat and commander, with her final resting place at the bottom of the Atlantic rather than by her husband.


The German submarine SM U-20 of the Imperial German Navy under the command of the 30-year-old Kapitanleutnant Walther Schwieger was about 85 miles off of Fastnet Rock, Ireland, on the evening of 4 September 1915.

Schwieger sighted Hesperian steaming at full speed just hours after the ocean liner had left Liverpool. Through his periscope, he saw Hesperian zigzagging towards him. Even though he did not know the identity or the purpose of the ship, he made the decision to attack. As he did with Lusitania, Schwieger fired a single torpedo at his target.

The torpedo struck Hesperian‘s starboard bow at 8:30 p.m. and exploded in the forward engine room. The impact sent a wall of water and debris shooting into the air and striking the bridge and the boat deck with great violence, causing significant damage. The ship shuddered and listed to starboard. Furniture slipped and dishes fell and broke. Steam escaping from the engine room enveloped the upper decks.

Captain Main had the ship stop immediately, rang the alarm bells, and ordered the SOS signal to be sent. He also ordered his officers to lower the lifeboats. Despite it being nightfall, the evacuation was orderly and fair, and most boats were manned and lowered safely.  A port side lifeboat upset while lowering, killing 32 people. Eyewitnesses reported afterwards that there had been no great panic among the passengers.

The survivors were rescued during the night by several wary British ships in the vicinity and taken to Ireland.  One man who had been blinded on the Western Front had his sight restored by the shock of the explosion.  A boy had been left behind, sleeping in his bunk, throughout the sinking.

The ship’s watertight bulkheads kept the ship afloat, although she was now riding lower in the water. The vessel was evacuated in less than an hour. Only Captain Main and several officers had remained on board as a skeleton crew.  The body of Mrs. Stephens was still aboard as well. Captain Main hoped to beach the Hesperian or have her towed to Queenstown.  The ship never made it.  On 6 September 1915, Hesperian succumbed to the waves, sinking some 37 miles from land and not far from the Lusitania wreck.

Political fallout

The week prior to the sinking, Count Bernstorff, the Imperial German Ambassador to the United States, had assured Washington that “passenger liners will not be sunk without warning” following the Lusitania sinking.  When word reached Germany of Walther Schwieger’s actions, Schwieger was ordered to Berlin in order to justify his actions and apologize officially.

He was accused of having sunk another unarmed passenger liner without warning, despite the explicit directions given to submarine commanders not to do so.  Kaiser Wilhelm did not want to risk further provocation of the United States.  Schwieger complained about his unfair treatment, but in 1917, Schwieger would be forgiven by Berlin. He received Germany’s highest decoration, Pour le Mérite, also known informally as the “Blue Max.”

Schwieger would be killed in action in World War I when his command, the SM U-88, was lost with all hands, presumed to have struck a mine north of Terschelling while outbound from Germany for the French coast.

Hesperian specifications

Flag United Kingdom
Shipping company Allan Line
Port of registry Glasgow
Gross tonnage 10,920
Length overall 485.5 feet / 147.8 meters
Beam 60.3 feet / 18.3 meters
Number of funnels 1
Number of masts 2
Machinery Steam turbine engines geared to double screws
Service speed 15 knots maximum
Builder Alexander Stephen and Sons, Linthouse, Glasgow, Scotland
Yard number 425
Registration number 124,266
Launch date 20 December 1907
Maiden voyage 25 April 1908
Sunk 6 September 1915
Passenger accommodation 210 first class
250 second class
1,000 third class

Related pages

Frances Stephens, saloon passenger

Links of interest

RMS Hesperian at the German Wikipedia

Detailed description of the last voyage of the Hesperian

Photos of the ship and a salvaged chronometer

Gare Maritime:  Double Jeopardy – Lusitania‘s Unique Victim

“The Great War: The Sinking of the Allan Liner R.M.S. Hesperian.” MedievalHistory.net. Web. 19 June 2011. < http://www.medievalhistory.net/hesper~n.htm >

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

“RMS Hesperian.”  Wikipedia: Die freie Enzyklopädie. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004. Web. 28 April 2011. < http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Hesperian >

86 Responses

  1. don munro
    don munro 8 August 2011 at 13:34 · Reply

    hello thanks for the info re .hesperian.my dad sailed on the hesperian from glasgow to quebec in the spring of 1911,would he have had to get a nother ship to take him to liverpool,as i see it sailed from liverpool to canada ,or did it sail from glasgow in the bebining ? also did it handle any clydesdaale horses on the voyage or only people ? thank you so much don munro wpg.mb.can.

    1. Stephen Gibb
      Stephen Gibb 6 January 2013 at 09:59 · Reply

      The Hesperian did, at least once (though I suspect it was a common route variation), travel from Glasgow to Canada via Liverpool. The sailing I am referring to is Glasgow 1st April 1911, Liverpool 2nd April 1911 and Halifax, Nova Scotia 10th April 1911. The ship only sailed to Halifax in the winter months and Quebec in the summer (I’d assume ths was to avoid ice floats)

  2. Richard Quintal
    Richard Quintal 2 September 2011 at 20:34 · Reply

    Thank you for the info on this ship. My grandfather was one of the wounded Canadians on board, after being wounded at II Ypres. I was looking for info on him and the article helps a lot. I am trying to verify a family “legend” about why he was named as “Chevallier de la Legion d’Honneur” related to his saving civilians from the ship.

  3. D Milne
    D Milne 17 September 2011 at 20:47 · Reply

    I an greatful for the information in this article as i have found it hard to find much out ,my Great grandmothers sister was on board with her two children ,she gave her infant daughter (Maria)to some one hold while she went down for the life jackets ,but when she came back the lady/gent and Maria were gone! My great grand aunt survived ,after reading this i wonder if Maria was taken onto the the life boat the capsised ,there were a lot of survivors but I still cant seem to find out exactly what happened .

  4. Ian Maddox
    Ian Maddox 25 September 2011 at 11:31 · Reply

    Does any body have a crew list for this ships last voyage. I grandfather was reputed to be on it. He was John Maddox a steward

    1. Kenneth E.Jenkins
      Kenneth E.Jenkins 15 November 2011 at 15:09 · Reply

      Mr. Maddox

      Were you ever able to obtain a passenger list. My aunt was a passenger on the Hesperian with my grandmother and father. My aunt was listed as missing among the 32 passengers and crew.

      Ken Jenkins

      1. Ian Maddox
        Ian Maddox 11 February 2012 at 10:59 · Reply

        Hi , No I was never able to get a ships crew list.

  5. kim bendle
    kim bendle 11 January 2012 at 16:58 · Reply

    My great great and maybe even another great grandmother was in the war and was on this ship “Hesperian” the Captain was “Captain Main” I have a photograph from May 1915

  6. kim bendle
    kim bendle 11 January 2012 at 17:05 · Reply

    I have other picture with some names on too! some of the names in the album are as follows.

    My G G Grams ” Alma Naomi Dancey”
    Captain main
    Mrs. Jaqqard (not sure of the spelling)
    Captain Drawsake
    Tina Mowbray
    Mollie Flint
    Roy ???
    Miss Stinson
    Moore Barrocks (the group)
    Floys Shannon and Gordon

  7. Montarsha Jones
    Montarsha Jones 6 February 2012 at 06:54 · Reply

    My 4X Great Aunt was a Stewardess on the Hesperian. She was one of the casualties but I’m still unable to track down where she was buried. Does anyone know anything of where these poor souls ended up?

  8. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 30 March 2012 at 18:43 · Reply


    I have a passenger and crew list for the Hesperian’s final voyage if I can be of any help. Steward J.W. Maddox is listed, along with little Maria Jenkins

    1. David Meredith
      David Meredith 12 April 2012 at 07:36 · Reply

      I am looking for evidence that a relative was among the casualties on the ‘Hesperian’- Emily Morrey born 1884/5 Prees, Shropshire who was on her way to the States to get married. We were led to believe that she died on board the ‘Titanic’but having found no mention of her in the passenger lists it seems she died on 4 Sept 1915 at sea which makes it highly probable that she was on the ‘Hesperian.’ Can you help, please/

    2. Ian Maddox
      Ian Maddox 29 April 2012 at 18:14 · Reply

      Hi My grandfather was J N Maddox and as far as we know he was born in liverpool.I have a photo of him in montreal. The photographer was E C Ford of 196 st lawrence blvd

      1. Craig Stringer
        Craig Stringer 30 April 2012 at 18:10 · Reply

        It is possible that your grandfather was listed as J.W. Maddox. The list of crew I have is a transciption printed in the Cork Examiner. Having used crew agreement lists for a while now I know it is quite easy to mis-read certain letters, eg w for n, c and e. I wish I could be more definite

        1. Richard Taylor
          Richard Taylor 4 April 2014 at 15:47 · Reply

          Hello Craig, I’m researching the story of Edward Alcock, an Allan Line steward, who may have been serving in Hesperian at the time she was sunk. I’d be most grateful if you could me know if his name is included in the list of survivors. He was also sunk in WW2 but survived that war too.

          1. Craig
            Craig 3 May 2014 at 19:46 ·

            Hello Richard,

            I’ve checked the list of survivors, but there is no E. Alcock, or any name that is similar. I’m sorry I can’t give you a definitive answer

    3. barry coates
      barry coates 4 August 2013 at 17:28 · Reply

      Hi craig, im doing some reserch into my grate grandfather but there are alot of mixed storys we know he was on a ship that got hit by a u boat in ww1 but no-one has a name for me! could you please tell me is there is a “William hackett” listed as crew. thanks

  9. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 13 April 2012 at 14:37 · Reply

    Emily Morrey, age 31, is listed on the passenger list as a second class passenger, travelling on ticket 25013. She is listed as a teacher. A note on the original passenger list records that she was listed as missing after the Hesperian sank.
    Hope that helps

  10. David Meredith
    David Meredith 14 April 2012 at 09:54 · Reply

    This really settles the mystery, thank you very much.

  11. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 14 April 2012 at 12:59 · Reply

    No problem. You’re welcome

  12. Doreen
    Doreen 18 April 2012 at 01:12 · Reply

    My Grandmother was on the ill fated trip of the Hesperian that was torpedoed on Sept 4 1915. Her and her family survived but lost everything. Does anyone have a passenger list on this last sailing?


  13. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 18 April 2012 at 05:58 · Reply

    What names are you looking for? I have a full passenger and crew list, and am happy to look up your family.

    1. Roy E.deGorog
      Roy E.deGorog 23 April 2012 at 14:40 · Reply

      Looking for Leopoldene DeGorog gandmother my father Rudoph,Stephani,Catherne and Elizabith.all Aints.

      1. Craig Stringer
        Craig Stringer 24 April 2012 at 13:15 · Reply


        The de Gorog family are listed as travelling on first class ticket 12089.
        Mrs L. de Gorog
        Miss Leopoldias
        Master Richard
        Miss Stephanie
        Master Rudolf
        Miss Katherine
        and also Mrs de Gorog’s mother, Mrs Adolphias Pejatsheki
        The spelling is not mine.
        A number of stories appeared in the press after the sinking, including one that one of the boys was forgotten in the rush to leave the ship. Found by a crewman, he was taken to the bridge. Captain Main then saw the boy to a lifeboat. Another story that appeared recounted how Mrs de Gorog pulled her mother into a lifeboat from the sea.

      2. Roy E.deGorog
        Roy E.deGorog 29 April 2012 at 19:20 · Reply

        Thank you so very much, none of new My Grand mother’s mother was on the ship also.I have that spelling at Adolfine Peituchek I’m sure about that spelling also. thanks Roy E.de Gorog.

        1. Craig Stringer
          Craig Stringer 30 April 2012 at 18:12 · Reply

          Thanks for sharing your great grandmother’s name. I’ve never seen it spelled the same twice – not on the Board of Trade lists or any list of survivors. Glad I could help

  14. Doreen
    Doreen 18 April 2012 at 17:08 · Reply


    My great grandmother Mrs. Jane Gibson and children who were Lydia, Thomas, Robert and Ella were on the Hesperian. They were coming to Canada to meet her husband who was John Robert (Jack) Gibson. She may have gone by Mrs. Jack Gibson. My grandmother Lydia had long hair and when she was in the water someone pulled her into the life boat by her hair. One of her brother’s was sucked into the a port hole from the suction but managed to get out again. They all survived. That’s all I really heard about the sinking.
    Thank you for any information, Doreen

  15. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 19 April 2012 at 06:12 · Reply

    Hello Doreen,
    Your family are listed. they travelled third class on ticket 44993 as Mrs J.H. Gibson, age 35, Lydia, age 15, Thomas, age 11, Robert, age 7, and Ella, age 4.
    The family were then booked on the Corsican (same ticket number), sailing to St. John’s, Newfoundland, in November. When they arrived Mrs Gibson was listed as Jane.
    Thanks for sharing what you know of the family on the Hesperian. It is incredible to think what these people went through, especially as they were many women on the ship travelling with children. It seems incredible that more people weren’t lost.
    Best wishes

  16. Doreen
    Doreen 19 April 2012 at 06:19 · Reply


    Thank you so very much. Where did you get the list? Are in England? I live in British Columbia, Canada

    Thanks again, Doreen

  17. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 19 April 2012 at 10:35 · Reply

    Hi Doreen,

    You are welcome. I’m in Wales. The departure lists from the UK lists are available on the findmypast website. The arrival of the Corsican in Canada can be found on the Canadian Government website – although you have to look page by page until you find the name. Ancestry offers the same passenger lists, but you can search by name, which makes things quicker.
    Glad I could help

    1. Donna
      Donna 19 April 2012 at 11:23 · Reply

      Do you have any other information on the Hesperian as I relative of the infant Maria just trying to find out what actually happened to her Mother and brother survived .I can only presume she ended up in the tipped lifeboat ,do you have any further info ? thanks Donna

  18. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 19 April 2012 at 19:09 · Reply

    Hi Donna,
    Kate jenkins was travelling on second class ticket 37176, with her children, Arthur E, age 11, and Miss M.C, age 11 months. Kate’s age was given as 35. I assume this is who you refer to as Miss Maria Jenkins was lost.
    In the Irish Times of September 7th 1915 there was an interview with Mrs Jenkins. In it she explained that she and her children were on deck when the Hesperian was torpedoed. Anxious not to take the children below decks she left Maria in the care of Arthur, while she went to find lifebelts. When she returned on deck she found Arthur alone. A steward had come along and taken Maria. He had passed it to a woman in a lifeboat. The lifeboat capsized as it was lowered, and Maria was lost. This is the only account I have seen by Mrs Jenkins.
    Kate and Arthur returned to Birmingham afterwards and stayed there until July 1916 when they crossed to Canada on the Scandinavian. By then Kate’s husband had joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
    Hope that helps

  19. joe wynne
    joe wynne 11 May 2012 at 22:51 · Reply

    Hi Craig
    How can I get copies of crew list from Hesperian?
    My great uncle george wynne we believe was on the ship and others from Liverpool

  20. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 12 May 2012 at 15:21 · Reply


    My copies of the crew list came from the Cork Examiner from September 6th 1915, supplied by Cork Library. Full crew agreements for many ships are held at the National Archives in Kew. The last time I searched for any, I have to be honest and say I used a researcher. The staff at the NA were less than helpful. I have looked at my crew list but there is no George Wynne, although many of the crew were from Liverpool. Could your great uncle have been on another ship that was lost? There was a George Wynne saved from the Lusitania when it was torpedoed in May 1915. That George Wynne was age 16, and was employed as an assistant cook. His father, Joseph, a sculleryman, was lost in the sinking.
    Hope that helps

  21. joe wynne
    joe wynne 12 May 2012 at 17:03 · Reply

    Hi Craig
    Thanks for the quick reply, he is the same person from the lusitania which I already knew. I have recently discovered an old tape recording from 1976 in which George talks about what happened on the lusitania and then goes on to say he was torpedoed in the same year on the hesperian as well,that is why I was trying to confirm it. do you know if your list is a complete one?
    Thanks for your help
    Joe Wynne

  22. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 12 May 2012 at 17:54 · Reply

    Hi Joe,

    As far as I know the list is complete – it lists each crew member and their position on board. It is possible, as it is from a newspaper, that a few names have been missed. That said, had George survived both wrecks I am surprised that the press didn’t cover it. When a fireman from the Titanic survived the loss of the Empress of Ireland he was interviewed widely, and I have also seen a passenger from the Falaba who survived a second wreck, and was interviewed. Have you tried contacting Mike Poirier? He knows more than I do about the Lusitania. He may have a record in his files.

    Best wishes

  23. joe wynne
    joe wynne 12 May 2012 at 23:54 · Reply

    Again, thanks for your swift response Craig, I agree with everything you say about press etc, but I am new to this research stuff and listening to him talking on tape he sounds so convincing about this story, I dont know where the tape originated (it was my aunty who gave it to me, she is in her eightys now) and who he was speaking to but it sounds like a local radio interview. As I am from Liverpool I attended the rememberence service at the Lusitania propellor on the 7th May 2012 (last week)and the maritime museum said thay are trying to put something together for the 100th anniversary in 2015 ( passenger and crew details and stories from Liverpool people)Thats what started me down this road. I dont know who Mike Poirer is or how I would contact him, If you can help let me know.
    I have turned the tape into an Mp3 which I want to send to the museum but before I do I would like to confirm what George said is correct.Even so, the story he tells of the Lusitania’s sinking is quite powerfull.
    Thanks Craig

  24. Mike
    Mike 13 May 2012 at 10:33 · Reply

    Hi Joe
    The quickest way to confirm is to go to the town he lived in 1915 and check the September papers.


  25. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 13 May 2012 at 13:17 · Reply

    Hi Joe,

    I suppose we all started somewhere – only that somewhere is a long time ago now, and it is easy to forget how hard it can be when you start researching. Sorry, if we don’t always seem to understand. Mike’s advice about checking the local press is good. As you live in Liverpool you could visit the library and check out the Liverpool papers for September 1915. You may not find a direct account by George, but you may find a crew list which gives his name. I have to say I haven’t tried the Liverpool papers, so I don’t know what to expect. I will say that it can take a couple of weeks for stories to filter through, so be prepared for a search. Since George left an recording of his experiences it might be worth getting in touch with the Imperial War Museum. Not only would they be interested in his story, but they may have some knowledge of who may have recorded the interview. I have found the staff at the musuem very helpful in the past.
    Good luck

  26. joe wynne
    joe wynne 13 May 2012 at 16:43 · Reply

    Hiya Craig and Mike, thanks to both of you for your help and advice. I intend to investigate further as soon as I can. We do have a large central library here in Liverpool so thats where I will begin.If I unearth any information I will let you know.
    Thanks again
    Joe Wynne

  27. Mike
    Mike 14 May 2012 at 02:18 · Reply

    Excellent. There might also be a good account in the May papers of his Lusy experience as well, or of a shipmate that knew him

  28. Donald
    Donald 4 June 2012 at 22:32 · Reply

    I think my Grandfather might have been on the crew list. His name is Frederick Davie, and he was a ships printer and steward.It might solve a family mystery if he is on the list.

  29. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 7 June 2012 at 06:18 · Reply


    I am sorry, but I am unable to solve your family mystery. There were three stewards on the Hesperian who were listed in survivor lists under the surname Davies, C.P. Davies, W.T. Davies and T. Davies. It is possible that the last name is your grandfather, the name having been recorded incorrectly. But the name could also be correct. None of the men is listed as a printer. Without further information it would be wrong to assume any of these men were your grandfather.

  30. Donald
    Donald 8 June 2012 at 12:17 · Reply

    Thanks very much for your reply.
    Sorry to be pernickety, but my Grandfathers name is Davie not Davies. A common error the family is Scots not Welsh.
    I would be very obliged if you could take another look at your crew list for Frederick Davie.
    Thanks for your time and effort.

  31. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 8 June 2012 at 13:00 · Reply

    Hi, You’re not being pernickety – it was me – I put my last answer quite badly. I did check for Davie. There are non listed. The closest name is Davies. But, I think it is worth saying that the list of crew – as printed in the Cork Examiner – is one that was produced from survivor lists. It is possible that during the process of transcribing the names that errors were made. Davie may have been mislisted. But, it could also be that Davie wasn’t on the Hesperian at all. One way to resolve your mystery is to track down the crew agreement for the ship, which may be at the National Archives at Kew. I’m sorry that I don’t have a copy of the original agreement.

  32. Donald
    Donald 8 June 2012 at 13:11 · Reply

    Thanks for your speedy reply.
    The reason for the family history mystery is that my Grandfather was torpedoed in 1915, he was left only in the clothes he stood up in. This so angered him that he volunteered for the army to fight in the Great War. I know he testified for service at the end of December 1915. From that I am trying to work out which passenger ship he was on. From other web sites I have found that there were only 3 ships which were sunk by torpedo in 1915, the Hesperian being one, the other two being Lusitania and SS Arabic.
    You now seem to confirm that he wasn’t on Hesperian. Your advice on looking at the files held at Kew seem to be another way. Thanks for your advice.

    1. Teresa Breathnach
      Teresa Breathnach 21 November 2012 at 20:20 · Reply

      I’ve been doing some research on ship’s printers and have come across a Frederick Davies(rather than Davie) – one of two printers working on the Lusitania when it was torpedoed. He was born c1878 to Mary Ann and Ivor Davies, Newport, Wales. Sadly, it seems this man died when the ship sank. The other printer on board was a George Mitchell. Ship’s printers are usually listed under the ‘victualling’crew. If I come across your grandfather in the course of my research I’ll post a message.


  33. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 8 June 2012 at 18:13 · Reply

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there were several ships sunk by torpedo in 1915. The Aquila was torpedoed off the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales on March 27th, and the following day in the same area the Falaba, bound for West Africa, was sent to the bottom. Your grandfather wasn’t on the Falaba – I have the crew agreement for that ship. The Arabic was lost in August, then the Hesperian, followed by the Hospital Ship Marquette in October. In December there were two more losses – the Ville de Ciotat and the Persia. Again, I have the crew agreement for the Persia, and there is no Davie. There were other vessels lost, but I get the impression you are searching for a passenger ship, and these are the main ones I have in my files. Good luck with your search

  34. Neil Scott
    Neil Scott 19 July 2012 at 05:08 · Reply

    I know as a fact that my grandfather was on the Hesperian the night it was torpedoed. I have his notes from that period. He was an officer in the Canadian army. His name was Mayor Maurice Scott but, I’m trying to locate a passenger list from that last voyage and don’t know where to look…

    Any advice would be appreciated.


    Neil Scott

  35. Neil Scott
    Neil Scott 19 July 2012 at 12:25 · Reply

    Darn auto correct… Its Major Maurice Scott but, at the time he was Lt. Maurice Scott. I read through all the posts and tried following all the links and got really lost.

    Thank you.

  36. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 25 July 2012 at 08:17 · Reply

    Hi Neil,
    I can tell you that there was a Lieutenant Scott on the Hesperian. He was booked under first class ticket 10607, and was listed with a Captain Morley and a Captain Stern. The list is available from the website findmypast, which has many UK outward passenger lists. As a survivor, Scott was transferred to the sailing of the Corsican, and his is listed on the same ticket, with the same fellow officers. The Hesperian list appears to give an initial of H. The passenger list recorded by the Canadian authorities, and which is available through the Canadian Archives website, is very difficult to read, but Lieutenant Scott is at the bottom of a page with Morley and Stern. The web link for that site is http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/passenger/001045-100.01-e.php. The same lists are also available through Ancestry.com.
    To complicate matters, the Toronto World on September 8th printed a list of survivors which listed Lieutenant Scott as H. Maxwell, a young officer from Ontario. Scott’s name is missed off survivor lists printed in Ireland at the time.
    Given that you say you have proof that Maurice Scott was on the Hesperian I would suggest the name in the Toronto World is an error. However, I would ask you if your grandfather was born with more than Maurice as a forename? I have found two officers in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Harold Maxwell Scott and Henry Maurice Scott. Given the men have the same initials I can see where the Canadian newspaper may have made a mistake.
    I hope this helps you

  37. Neil Scott
    Neil Scott 25 July 2012 at 14:28 · Reply

    You are absolutely correct, his full name was Henri Maurice Scott. The information you have provided is invaluable.
    I have a 26 page hand written document of his memories ending in 1939. I am trying to piece together all the names in his document.
    The true purpose of his being in England at the time was to have a private audience with the King of England and their top generals. He was summoned to England by General Sam Huges of Canada and under the greatest of secrecy was given the task to infiltrate the ranks of Adrian Arcand in Canada.
    The Commonwealth needed to know where loyalties lay amongst the top officers in Canada. With the communist movement in the west to the antisemetic uprising throughout all of North America and Europe.
    He was even part of the first canadian involvement in the Olympics in 1908 in the artistic gymnastics team. This position gave him access to the elite of Europe and he even had several private audiences with the Pope.
    Major Scott worked his way up to being in the highest of confidences of Adrian Arcand and became his right hand man. Once again as a covert operative and reporting to General Hughes.
    His 26 page document was written in haste prior to his arrest and incarceration in 39. Although he kept his true intent secret, he needed to share the truth with his family.
    With the addition of the other two officers that shared a cabin with him on the Hesperian, their presence was surely not coincidental. So another tangent has presented itself in this tangled web of secrecy.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to research this information.

    My best regards,

    Neil Scott

  38. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 26 July 2012 at 18:26 · Reply

    Hi Neil,

    I’m really glad the information was usueful to you. Your grandfather had a fascinating and full life, and I wish you luck in identifying the people as you piece the story together.

    With very best wishes

  39. Peggy Marcus
    Peggy Marcus 5 September 2012 at 23:34 · Reply

    My mother was a passenger on that ship and lost the tip of a finger when the ship was torpedoed. Her mother was bring three small daughters to Canada. What a great article.

    Peggy Marcus

  40. Neil Scott
    Neil Scott 6 September 2012 at 02:58 · Reply

    Isn’t it amazing how such an insignificant steam ship inadvertently plotted it’s course through history. This is with reference to the Lusitania being sunk a week earlier by the same u-boat.
    The Hesperian had better luck with only a handful of casualties.

    Imagine if you may, if the u-boat captain had a bearing on the engine room and the ship sunk immediately. None of us would be here to talk about it…

    My fascination lays in the military and political aspects of the voyage. My grandfather summoned to England by the king to infiltrate the ranks back home. Ultimately to expose insurgents with anti semetic or communist roots.

    It was a messy period in our history, so much was happening behind the scenes. With my research to date, I question the validity of what has been written in the history books. As an example, documents are still classified with regard to my grandfather.
    I have even had the opportunity to speak with a gentleman in his 90’s that was heavily involved in canadian politics and knew of my grandfather. I meet him through sheer coincidence and his insight has been invaluable.
    Just for a fun thought, wouldn’t it be fascinating to gather the descendants of the Hesperian in some sort of event or reunion…

  41. Doreen
    Doreen 6 September 2012 at 03:44 · Reply

    Hi, My grandmother was on the Hesperian with her family. I live in British Columbia, Canada.

  42. Neil Scott
    Neil Scott 6 September 2012 at 04:24 · Reply

    Isn’t that amazing! It is a small planet after all. To think that our ancestors rubbed shoulders…

    I’m in Montreal, Canada.
    Do you know which cabin she was in?

    1. Nick Wood
      Nick Wood 23 March 2014 at 12:55 · Reply

      Hi Neil,
      I also have a family link to Hope Castle Scott, and we be very interested in contacting you directly.
      Kind regards


      1. Neil
        Neil 3 May 2014 at 19:52 · Reply

        Hello Nick, I have no record of a Hope Castle Scott in our family. My prime interest is to try to unravel a covert mission where my grandfather was instrumental in exposing elements that were not loyal to the commonwealth.
        He was on a return trip from meeting with the King of England and others aboard the Hesperian when it was torpedoed.
        I can’t help but wonder if the Hesperian was targeted intentionally.

        My email: iSail1@me.com.

  43. Brendan Keating
    Brendan Keating 12 September 2012 at 14:55 · Reply

    My Grandfather James Keating worked as a waiter on the Hesperian. I have a photo of him taken the day after the ship was torpedoed. I also have his Certificate of Discharge for this voyage. It states that the Description of Voyage was “Sunk” and that his Place of Discharge was At Sea!
    Re: Montarsha Jones. The stewardess killed in the sinking was Eliza Kennedy, aged 56. Married to Andrew Kennedy, she was originally from Tranmere, Merseyside, UK, but had taken Canadian citizenship. Not sure where she is buried but her name is commemorated on a memorial plaque in Veteran’s Park in Langford, British Columbia and at the Merchant Marine Memorial, Tower Hill, London UK.

  44. Donald
    Donald 6 December 2012 at 12:40 · Reply

    Thanks for your reply. I believe my Grandfather was a ships printer on board the SS Arabic which was torpedoed in August 1915, but I can’t confirm that. He was not on board the Hesperian, which has been confirmed on this forum by Craig Stringer.

  45. Janet Castonguay
    Janet Castonguay 26 February 2013 at 04:58 · Reply

    I was wondering if you had any information on what became of Captain William Main after the final voyage of the Hesperian? I’m trying to prove or disprove some old family “legends”. Thank you.
    Janet Castonguay

  46. Jonathan Curtis
    Jonathan Curtis 23 March 2013 at 16:39 · Reply

    Craig, You have been a hero to so many. I as well have been trying to find the passenger list. My great-great grandfather Jesse returned to England from Tillsonburg, Ontario to retrieve his entire family. Alice, George, Alfred, Alice, and William. I have been told that his wife Alice, and three youngest children were scuttled onto a life boat first, while Jesse and George stayed behind helping others off the ship. They were some of the last two to see the captain alive. They shook hands and disembarked the ship. The other family members didn’t know if they survived until they met again on land. Can you give me their tickets numbers, class, and lifeboats and anything else you may find. Also, wondering if a Alice Maud Mary Burn (or Burns) was on the ship? Where did the lifeboats go? Ireland? NY? both?

    Jonathan Curtis

  47. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 28 March 2013 at 15:01 · Reply

    Hi Jonathan,

    I’m hardly a hero, believe me, but I’m happy to help where I can. Jesse, his wife, and children were travelling in third class on ticket 930. having been rescued they subsequently boarded the Corsican on the same ticket number, leaving Liverpool on September 10th. All the family were taken to Queenstown after being rescued – actually all the survivors were taken to Queenstown. The port had had a busy year, caring for survivors from a number of torpedoed ships, including the Lusitania and Arabic. The Irish newspaper, The Cork Examiner, printed a number of photographs of survivors on September 6th. From Queenstown the majority of survivors took the train to Dublin, and then a cross-channel vessel to Holyhead. From there they boarded another train to Liverpool to meet the Corsican.
    It is interesting to note that George enlisted in January 1916, and I have speculated that the sinking of the Hesperian may have had some influence when he made that decision.
    Hope this helps

    1. Craig Stringer
      Craig Stringer 28 March 2013 at 15:04 · Reply

      Apologies, Jonathan,

      I just realised I hadn’t mentioned Alice Burn. I cannot find an Alice Burn or Burns on the passenger list, in any class.


  48. tara
    tara 12 August 2013 at 20:26 · Reply

    My Great Grandmother travelled on this ship in 1911. She was part of the “Buchanan Party” does anyone know any information on what exactly the Buchanan Party was?

  49. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 19 August 2013 at 10:05 · Reply

    Hi Tara,

    Being part of the Buchanan party could mean one of several things. Essentially, organised groups sailed on ships from time to time. They could have been groups organised by a charity or government body, who were sending the group to a new country where there were work opportunities. Alternatively, some individuals were paid commission by companies to persuade people from their former homes to emigrate. This person then booked those they had persuaded onto a ship as a block. An example I could give is of a Belgian immigrant who returned to his home village in Belgium to persuade others to come to America. The emigrant worked as a sugar beet harvester, and those who were persuaded to join him would then be employed at the same farm, while the emigrant would have received a payment for recruiting new workers. I suspect, given that your great grandmother was bound for Canada that the Buchanan party was a group organised by a charity, and was sailing to Canada where they had been promised work. However, not all the work turned out as expected. Some immigrants were treated very poorly by their new employers, or were contracted to them for a fixed period of time. Many were young children, who believed they were going to Canada where life would be better.

  50. Craig Stringer
    Craig Stringer 19 August 2013 at 10:13 · Reply

    Hi Barry,

    I cannot find anyone with the name Hackett in the Hesperian crew list. I’ve had a look at a few other lists (Falaba, Arabic, Appam, Connemara, Maloja, California and Galway Castle), but he is not listed on those vessels either.

  51. Mark
    Mark 29 December 2013 at 19:18 · Reply

    Any info on the Matron.. or Chief Stewardess Mary Green, who was lost? She had previously served as Stewardess with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
    Also a Mr Charles Kennuagh, also from the Isle of Man.

  52. Craig
    Craig 1 February 2014 at 15:47 · Reply

    Hi Mark,
    I’m afraid I don’t have anything to add about Mary Green, beyond what you probably already know. That Mary was 35 years old (at least that is the age she gave when signing on the ship’s articles), and had been born in Douglas on the Isle of Man. She lived at 26, Shallott Street, Liverpool, and boarded the Hesperian as Matron.

    George Charles Kennaugh had been born in Liverpool, the son of Manx parents, Thomas and Jane, nee Fell. He had been born at 36, Hampton Street, Toxteth Park, in 1883. George had returned from Canada in December 1914 for a visit. He survived the sinking, and eventaully returned to Canada in 1916. In 1918 he settled back on the Isle of Man.

  53. Richard Taylor
    Richard Taylor 3 May 2014 at 20:53 · Reply

    Hi Craig, Thanks for checking. I’m very grateful.

  54. Barrie Clifford
    Barrie Clifford 24 June 2014 at 15:22 · Reply

    Hello Craig,

    Hello Craig, My grandmother Florence Clifford was on the hesperian, Probably with her children Rose, John and Frederick. Very grateful if you would check the passenger lists to confirm if that is correct. Many thanks.

  55. Alexis
    Alexis 6 July 2014 at 18:21 · Reply

    Hello Craig. I was wondering if there is any record of an Arthur Barber on your passenger list?

  56. David Trafford
    David Trafford 6 July 2014 at 23:32 · Reply

    My grandmother, Edith Abram and one or two of my aunts were on the ship when it was torpedoed. Can you give me the details of them from the passenger list? I have 2decorative plates of the RMS Corsican that were supposedly given to her after they were rescued. Don’t know the reason why. Thanks

    1. Craig
      Craig 14 September 2014 at 12:27 · Reply

      Hi David,

      I have Edith Abram on the third class passenger list, traveling with her daughter. On the passenger list their names are entered in different handwriting at the end of the list, suggesting that their ticket was booked quite late before sailing.
      Edith, listed as Mrs Abram, and Frances were traveling on ticket 59719. I would suggest that their ticket was arranged after Edith had learned which ship her husband was going to be traveling on. Thomas Abram is listed on the Hesperian manifest as a returning Canadian soldier, on third class ticket 59712. A military report records that Thomas was suffering from frostbite and rheumatism.
      The press at the time recorded that the family were returning to Toronto, and gave two addresses – 30, Fraser Avenue, and Fairbank Road.
      The family gave a quite detailed account of their experiences when the ship sank, and after being rescued Thomas and Edith were admitted to hospital in Queenstown. They could not have been seriously injured, as the family sailed from Liverpool on the Corsican on September 10th.
      It may interest you to know that Thomas made a claim for lost property and for inhuries the family sustained during the sinking.

  57. Donna
    Donna 17 August 2014 at 13:31 · Reply

    Thanks for the information Craig for some reason I only came across it today (I think I look on that many sites I forgot which ones to go back to ) that really has solved what happened I knew the kind of version of events but you seem to have all the facts. Thanks again

  58. Craig
    Craig 4 September 2014 at 18:18 · Reply

    Hi Barrie,

    There was a Mrs Florence Clifford on board the Hesperian when it sank. She was a first class passenger, travelling on ticket 8386. However, she was traveling alone. The passenger lists suggests that she was returning to Canada. After her rescue Mrs Clifford boarded the Corsican on September 10th, and arrived in Canada ten days later.

    Mrs Clifford is of interest to me because the part of the record on which she is listed has faded with time, and appears to give her age as 50. Another list gives her name as Mrs N. Clifford, which I have speculated may have been the first initial of her husband’s name. I would be very interested to learn more about her.

  59. Craig
    Craig 4 September 2014 at 18:28 · Reply

    Hi Barrie,

    I did a quick check for your grandmother’s children. Rose, age 7, Frederick, age 3, and John, age 1, traveled on the Missanabie in August 1915, apparently under the care of another passenger

  60. Ciaran
    Ciaran 11 September 2014 at 09:25 · Reply

    Hi Craig,

    I was wondering if you could check for any record of a Dowd, O’Dowd, or similar on that final voyage of the Hesperian? My father always understood that an old relative (whether direct or perhaps a granduncle) was on the ship when it was sunk, and that he survived.

    Or perhaps he was a Hanley, from my grandmother’s side of the family. Sorry for the very vague information. I just stumbled across this page and decided to quickly send you this message. I could get more detail later off my father which may help, but from what I remember he was quite vague on the specific facts also.


    1. Craig
      Craig 1 October 2014 at 18:09 · Reply

      Hi Ciaran,

      There is just one name that is similar to Dowd, which is Down, and no Hanley. Mrs Down was a second class passenger travelling from 48, Seymour Place, London on ticket 48331. I understand that Mrs Down, who was a widow in her 50s, was travelling to Toronto to visit her son who had lived there for just over two years.

      However, I get the impression from your post that you are looking for a man.


  61. David Trafford
    David Trafford 15 September 2014 at 00:10 · Reply

    Thanks for the detailed accounting of my grandparents and aunt. That clears up some confusion. All these years my mother has believed they were rescued by the Corsican and given two souvenir plates to mark the occasion. That may still be true, but it is more likely they got them some other way even though they had very little money.
    I still have copies of the original letters my grandfather wrote seeking compensation, which he did not receive. He was too kind to them.
    By the way, my grandmother died at 101 and my mother is still kicking at 95.
    I am going to ask my mother for more details but it is still just family memories. I can remember my grandmother telling the tale of her and my aunt Fran alone in the cold water and how they were rescued.
    Many thanks again.

  62. Craig
    Craig 15 September 2014 at 15:48 · Reply

    Glad to help Dave,

    I thought you might like to see my notes on your family. I keep potted biographies on all the passengers and crew. Some are very brief, but I have a little more on your family. You might be interested to see that the compensation records state that your family did receive a payout.

    Corporal Thomas Abram was travelling on board the Hesperian with his wife, Edith, and daughter, Frances, age 2. The family were returning to their home at Fairbank Road, Toronto, although other sources suggested an address of 30, Fraser Avenue.
    Thomas had been born in Harrogate, Yorkshire, on December 2nd 1884, and was aged 30 in 1915. Thomas was the son of John William Abram, and his wife, Frances, nee Johnston. Thomas was brother to Walter, who had been born in Harrogate in 1882, Ernest, born in Scotter in 1887, Ann Elizabeth, born in Scotter in 1891, Frances Hilda, born in Harrogate in 1895, Lucy Amelia, born in Pannal in 1889,and Percy, born in Scotton in 1904.
    When the census was taken in 1901 the Abram family were living with William’s parents, John and Elizabeth Abram, at Bachelor Gardens, Harrogate. With John and Elizabeth, were Walter, age 17, a labourer, Thomas, a builder’s carter, age 15, Ernest, age 12, Ann, age 9, Hilda, age 6, and Lucy, age 2.
    The 1911 census found a widowed Thomas Abram living with his family at Hayfield House, Haywire Street, Harrogate. John William Abram, age 49, was a joiner and a wheelwright. His wife of twenty-none years, Frances, was also age 49. Frances had given birth to seven children, all still living. At home were Thomas, age 27, and working as a gardener, Frances, age 17, Lucy, age 11, and Percy, age 10. The census recorded that Thomas had been married for less than a year.
    Thomas had married Jessie Smith in Leeds during the spring of 1907, but tragically, Jessie, age 23, had died later in 1907.
    The 1911 census found a widowed Thomas, age 26, and a gardener in domestic service, living with his parents at Hayfield House, Hayura Street, Harrogate. Thomas father, John, was age 49, and a wheelwright and joiner. John’s wife, of twenty-nine years, Frances, also age 29, had borne seven children. At home with Thomas were his siblings, Frances, age 17, Lucy, age 11, and Percy, age 10. Also staying with the family was a Miss Edith Taylor, age 23.
    Thomas married Edith Taylor at the church of St. Peter, Harrogate, Yorkshire, on January 31st 1912. At the time of his marriage Thomas was a widower, and a gardener.
    Edith was aged 28 in 1915. She was the daughter of a coachman, Joseph Taylor, and his wife, Sarah. Edith had been born on August 8th 1887 in Holmfirth, Huddersfield. She was sister to Charles, born in Holmfirth, John, born in Holmfirth, Marion, born in Huddersfield, Dorothy, born in Huddersfield, Eliza, born in Huddersfield, and Agnes M, born in Harrogate in 1900.
    When the 1891 census was taken Joseph Taylor was working as coachman for John Thorpe Taylor, a retired woollen manufacturer, who lived at Oaklands in Netherthong, Yorkshire. Joseph and his family lived at the lodge. He was then age 31, while Sarah was listed as being 35. The couple had three children; Charlie, age 6, Edith, age 3, and John, age 1.
    The 1901 census found The Taylor family living at 25, Eastville Terrace, Harrogate. Joseph Taylor was a coachman, age 45. His wife, Sarah, was also age 45. With their parents were Charlie, age 16, and a billiard marker, Edith, age 13, John, age 11, Marion, age 7, Dorothy, age 5, Eliza, age 4, and Agnes, age 6 months.
    In early 1913 Edith gave birth to a daughter, Frances E, also born in Knaresborough.
    Thomas had joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force as part of the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry. He had then been attached to the 11th Battalion, and while serving with them had been injured. Abrams was taken to Shornecliffe to recover, and to receive treatment for frostbite and rheumatism, but was then given leave to return to Canada.
    The family boarded the Hesperian on two tickets. Corporal Abram was one of a group of injured Canadian soldiers travelling on third class ticket 59712. Mrs Abram and young Frances travelled on third class ticket 59719. Thomas Abram had been fighting with the 11th Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
    Edith Abram was putting young Frances to bed when the couple heard the thud of an explosion. Thomas immediately put a lifebelt on his wife, and with their daughter the couple went on deck. There, Thomas saw a boat, and hurriedly placed his wife and daughter in it.
    The boat was lowered, but as it did, it capsized, tumbling everyone into the sea. Thomas looked anxiously for his wife and child, and when he saw them surface, he dived from the Hesperian into the sea. With only one good leg, he managed to swim to Edith and Frances, and hang on to them. Looking up the family saw another boat descending. The boat caught Mrs Abrams, cutting her around the left eye, and bruising her forehead. The family managed to swim clear, and eventually reached another lifeboat. The boat was full but the people took Frances. Thomas and Edith had to hang on the side for over an hour until they were taken into a boat.
    Thomas and Edith were taken on board the Laburnum and brought to Queenstown. There, Thomas was taken to the Military Hospital, while Edith was taken to the Queen’s Hotel. Concerned for his missing child, Thomas soon left the hospital, and arrived at the Queen’s Hotel just minutes after Edith had been reunited with young Frances, who had been brought to safety in another rescue ship.
    The family survived the sinking of the Hesperian. They returned to Canada together, on board the Corsican, departing Liverpool on September 10th, and arriving in Quebec City on September 20th. After Thomas and Edith made a claim for $11,000 in the Canadian courts for injuries sustained during the sinking, and for loss of property. Ultimately they were awarded just $3,350.
    Thomas and Edith raised a further two daughters, Elsie, born around 1920, and Doreen, born around 1924. By 1929 the family were living at 26, Connuaght Avenue, Forest Hill, Toronto.
    Thomas Abram died on April 9th 1951.
    Edith Abram died on October 10th 1988.

  63. David Trafford
    David Trafford 15 September 2014 at 18:41 · Reply

    Wow – that’s a wealth of interesting family history. And to think my mother went to England for many summers to plot the family tree. I will read this missive and she if she is unaware of any of these details.
    I also had another aunt, Evelyn Patricia Abram. There were 4 girls. I can fill in some of the dates if you are interested.
    It’s amazing that you have researched this much information on my family. If you do this for all the passengers, you have been a very busy man.
    I will let you know what I find out from my mother as I should try and visit her this week.
    Much appreciated.

  64. Craig
    Craig 16 September 2014 at 17:58 · Reply

    Thanks Dave,
    Let’s hope I got all the details correct. Sometimes it can be difficult to track people down after such a long time.
    I was very interested to learn that you had another aunt – 4 girls, just like my mother. She also had three sisters.
    I would be interested in the missing dates – it all adds to the story.
    With my best wishes

    MARC SCHWARTZ 28 December 2014 at 20:11 · Reply

    does anyone know anything about there being substantial tons of GOLD on the Hesperian…. ??? It was a time of war so it had to be very under the radar and also the presumption being that commercial vessels would not be sunk as compared to naval vessels.

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