Miss Alice Catherine Cleaver, 22, was born on 5 July 1889 in Kentish Town, St. Pancras, London, the daughter of Joseph Cleaver (Postman) and Lavinia Alice Cleaver (née Thomas). At the time of her birth, the family lived at 42 Marquis Road, Pancras1,2.
While she was still in her teens Alice started working as a nursemaid to fashionable English families. In 1911 she was working as a nurse maid in the Harley St. home of the Sargeant family.
She was later hired by Montreal millionaires Hudson and Bess Allison as a last minute replacement to look after their baby son, Trevor3.
She boarded the Titanic at Southampton in first class under the Allison's ticket (No. 113781).
After the collision on the night of 14th April 1912, Alice apparently bundled up the infant in her charge and went off to Second Class to round up the rest of the Allison household. Alice boarded lifeboat 11. Bedroom Steward William Faulkner held baby Trevor while Alice got in. Although there is no firm evidence it seems certain that the Allisons were unaware that Cleaver had taken the child off safely4.
The next day, Alice Cleaver and Sarah Daniels realized that they, along with Trevor and the cook - Mildred Brown, were the only survivors of their party.
When she arrived in New York with the child, Alice avoided talking to reporters by telling them her name was Jean.
After the sinking, she returned to England and on 22 June 1918 she married widower Edward James Williams (born 1891), a clerk (later a surgical appliance manufacturer). They had two daughters.
Alice Catherine Cleaver died on 1 November 1984 in Winchester, Hampshire at the age of 95.5
- In 1912 she gave her father's address as 35 Camden Park Road, London.
- Alice had three siblings: Jenny Lavinia Cleaver (born 1890);Daisy Cleaver (born 1894); Joseph J Cleaver (born 1899).
- In the book Titanic: An Illustrated History, it was alleged that the Alice Cleaver who was on the Titanic was Alice Mary Cleaver, who had been convicted in 1909 of murdering the infant she had borne out of wedlock. The allegation was repeated in another Titanic book Titanic: Women and Children First, and in a made for television movie.
- This, at least, was the Allison family's understanding of events when Mildred Brown and Alice Cleaver told of their experience to Hudson Allison's brother George.
- Some sources give Alice Cleaver's birth date as 1894 and place and date of death as Ohio, 1984. However this again, it seems, is a case of mistaken identity.
References and Sources
Birth Certificate; Death Certificate
British Census 1891-1911
The Chesterville Record, 18 April 1992
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Farm and Dairy, 2 May 1912
Judith Geller (1998) Titanic: Women and Children First. Haynes. ISBN 1 85260 594 4
Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Véhicule Press. ISBN 1 55065 113 7
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB 85 T715 Vol 4183
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
Audrey Barrett, UK
Anne-Louise Coldicott, UK
Barbara Enid Davis, UK
Mike Davis, UK
Richard Owen, UK
Ella Deeks (cousin of Trevor Allison)
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Brian Meister, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Alan Hustak, Canada
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Articles and Stories
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1912)
New York Herald (1912)