Posted by: Dawsr | May 17, 2011

The “celebrities” that went down with the RMS Lusitania

Sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

Though by no means as grand and luxurious as the tragic RMS Titanic, which as we all know sank in April 1912 with a tragic loss of life, the sinking of the RMS Lusitania, of the Cunard Line, was equally tragic. After being torpedoed off the Irish coast by a German submarine in May 1915 while en route to Liverpool from New York City, the Lusitania started to list dramaticaly on one side, and went down in just over a quarter of an hour. Only a handful of her passengers and crew were saved by nearby fishermen who actually saw the ship sink. Among the people who died there were many famous and welathy Americans and Europeans who for many different reasons chose to make the Atlantic crossing at such a dangerous time. Of the roughly 1,200 people who perished, the following are worthy of mention:

The New York Times front page following the sinking.

Frances McIntosh Stephens, a Montréal socialite and wife of Canadian politician George W. Stephens; Mary Crowther Ryerson, wife of George Ryerson, founder of the Canadian Red Cross; Lindon W. Bates, a political figure and engineer from New York; Harvard University lecturer Edwin W. Friend; Anna and Gwendolyn Allan, daughters of H. Montagu Allan, a Canadian banker and ship owner; actress Amelia Herbert; Marie Depage, the Belgian wife of surgeon Antoine Depage, founder and president of the Belgian Red Cross; American fashion designer Carrie Kennedy and her sister Kathryn Hickson; hotel proprietor Albert Bilicke; Anne Shymer, president of the United States Chemical Company; English-born American playwright and actor Charles Klein; American writer Justus Miles Forman; Charles Frohman, American theatre producer; American artist and philosopher Elbert Hubbard who founded Roycroft, and his wife Alice, who was a women’s rights activist; American pianist Charles Knight and his sister Elaine;  Irish-born Sir Hugh Lane, founder of the Dublin Gallery; Alfred Scott Witherbee, son of the president of the Mexican Petroleum Solid Fuel Company, and the former’s grandmother Mary C. Brown; American entrepreneur Frederick Pearson and his wife Mabel; American genealogist and historian Lothrop Withington; sportsman and millionaire Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, member of the rich Vanderbilt family; Mary Picton Stevens, wife of the American ambassador to Spain; editor and publisher Herbert Stone; Basil Maturin, Anglican priest and writer; Phyllis Hutchinson, 20 year-old niece of financial agent Andrew Carnegie; Irish composer T. O’Brien Butler; Arthur Henry Adams, president of the United States Rubber Company; Paul Crompton, director of Booth Steampship Company, who died with his wife Gladys and their six children, as well as their nanny; Iris Burnside, granddaughter of Timothy Eaton, founder of Eaton’s department store; Albert L. Hopkins, president of Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company; mining entrepeneur William Broderick Cloete, and William Sterling Hodges, who perished with his wife and two sons.

Just to mention a few of the innocent men, women and children whose lives were cut short by the Germany Navy. The sinking dragged the United States into the war, which ultimately helped the Allies in their quest for victory. But it was surely also a posthumous victory for the 1,200 victims of the RMS Lusitania.


  1. I thought I had heard in my university days that there had been a classical composer of some note aboard the Lusitania. Can anyone shed some light here. Thank you. Joe

    • You may be thinking of the Spanish composer Enrique Granados, who died in the sinking of the ‘Sussex’ in the English Channel in March 1916. Actually he was returning from New York on his first visit there to premiere his opera ‘Goyescas’, and after crossing the Atlantic safely his ferry to Dieppe was torpedoed.

  2. Hi Joe! The only musician/composer I’ve found was T. O’Brien Butler, the pen name of the Irish composer Thomas Whitwell Butler. He is best remembered for his opera Muirgheis written in 1903 which was the first libretto to be written in the Irish language. Hope it helps!

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