The Countess of Rothes, First Class Passenger

With much gratitude to Kate Tebb, Tracie Brelsford and Penny Culliton for help in deciphering the awful handwriting!
Some parts are still difficult to discern; included in the transcription are links to the original letter. If you can help in reading the writing, please email me

August 7th (?), 1955

Dear Mr Lord, I have been a long time in answering up each letter & P.C. for which many thanks but I have been ill in hospital up in London which delayed me. I will try & answer your questions but although I have been looking up old letters & papers at the time of the Titanic very many years ago & my personal feelings & experiences are very small (?) in comparison to others who were involved & I was so lucky not having neither husband or children with me. My cousin Gladys Cherry & I shared a cabin & we were both asleep when the Titanic struck the iceberg. It was about 11.45 P.M & I was awakened by a grating sound & slight shock & then realized the engines were quiet silent. I awoke Gladys & we both threw on our fur coats over our night things & went up on deck as we heard people saying we had struck an iceberg but no one in the least realised there was any danger and people were walking about laughing & picking up pieces of ice off the deck. But in a few minutes the purser appeared & called for silence & then told us all that we had 10 minutes to go below & put on our life belts & return on deck. I ran down to get my Maid "Maioni" & found her coming up on deck with her life belt. she told me the water was already getting into her cabin. Gladys & I then dressed quickly & found it difficult to put on our life belts - we were helped by another passenger I don't know who he was who gave us some ... ... had no time to be really frightened & we never thought of taking our valuables with us & only had very few clothes on & I had no stockings & only evening shoes & of course no hats. As we were coming up on deck we met the Purser who said to me "Hurry little lady there is not much time - I am glad you did not come to me for your jewels as some ladies have." We shook hands & I hoped he might have a chance of rescue but he did not come up on deck. The noise when we got up was appalling. The water was reaching the boilers which were exploding - nearly everyone especially the Italians were shouting & huge white rockets were flaring up - I did not hear the Band. Everyone was marshalled into lines & a good many of the Boats had gone - I still felt it might be a frightful dream & then I saw a very young couple Spanish honeymooners who I had noticed before - they could not speak any English & were terrified - I went out of line & spoke to them in French & he begged me to take his wife with me so of course I did & eventually got her into Boat 8 with me & trying to soothe her and keep her quiet by saying I was sure her husband would follow in the next boat tho' I knew by this time there was no chance of that & very little hope for anyone. The Spanish girl was with me in New York for some weeks - until her uncle came to fetch her - she was only 17 & her husband 18 - Her father sent me a most wonderful letter later & a lovely sapphire ring which I always wear. As our Boat was launched Capt Smith called to us & told us to row to the steamer whose lights we could see & leave our passengers & return for more. We started to do this - but the steamer went away - & the sailor (T.Jones) & I wanted to return & try & pick up more people as we had a little room left - Before I got into the Boat - I heard a woman say, "I am not going without my husband." She was Mrs Straus & tho' we all begged her to get into the Boat she refused & went back to join her husband. A girl next to me suddenly said "I've forgotten Jack's photograph & must get it & in spite of protests went down and fetched it! It was of course quite unreasonable but it only struck me as natural at the time. I was was beginning to feel really frightened - the fearful cold made it all much worse tho' after a few hours one felt very sleepy - The water was so black & very calm at first - & then towards dawn it got rough & one felt an awful loneliness & exhaustion - but my cousin & I had to row & steer as only T.Jones the sailor knew anything about a Boat. About Capt Smith I think he really thought we might reach the other steamer - but he looked to be under a terrible strain. All the crew were of course magnificent in their behaviour & I always think so much ought to have been said & written about the engineers & firemen who never ever came up on deck & did all they could to keep the ship afloat - for as long as possible - We have only gone a short distance when the Titanic broke in two & we tried to reach several people - but they sank almost at once. The cold of the water was so awful that very few could bear it alive for more than a few minutes - It was very dark & we had no lights & we tried to keep in touch with the other boats & rafts by shouting but it was impossible. I had offered to row or steer as I knew a little about about small Boats from a small racing yacht ... has had in Devonshire. After about 5 hours in a life boat we began to feel rather hopeless & could only see a short distance when we came up on the tops of a big wave. No one talked much - at about 7.00 7.30 the next morning the sailors said to me in a very low voice (I was rowing next to him) can you see any lights - look the next wave we top but didn't say anything in case I am wrong - I looked & thought I saw dim lights & in a little while we were certain - & told the others - but we were a long way from the Carpathia took us another hour to reach her & then we were dashed against her side as we were too exhausted to get round to her lee side - but one of her sailors jumped into our boat with a rope & we were hauled on board at last - I don't remember anything more for hours - All on board the Carpathia were wonderful to use & there was a lot to do for the orphaned children & always write every Xmas to the sailor T Jones - he gave me the No.8 which was on the boat which he had framed for me. I got in touch with the wife of a man who went down on the Titanic & who at the last moment gave me their name & address in Torquay in case I survived as he did not think he would . about a year later I was dining out with some friends & not thinking or talking of the Titanic when I suddenly felt the awful feeling of intense cold and horror that I associated with it all & I then realised the orchestra was playing The Tales of Hoffman which was the last music I had heard played after dinner on the Titanic tho' until that moment I had quite forgotten this . I am afraid this is a terribly long and discursive letter & may not be at all what you want. I have of course many newspaper accounts some aren't very accurate but the press were very kind to us & I much appreciate their consideration. Can you tell me anything more about your book & the reason you are interested in the Titanic Disaster.

Of course I made various friends on the Carpathia. Capt Rostron was a wonderful man also the ships Dr. but the many extraordinary stories I heard could not be repeated.

To go up a level click here.