Miss Alice Frances Louisa Phillips was born at 85 High Street, Ilfracombe,
Devon on 26 January 1891, the only child of Escott
Robert Phillips (Shop Porter) and Mrs Hannah Maria Phillips (née Knight).
She received all her schooling in Ilfracombe, finishing her schooldays
at 'The Hermitage'.
In 1904 she moved house with her parents to 32 Westbourne Grove, Ilfracombe,
where her mother ran a guest house business. In 1911 her mother contracted tuberculosis
and subsequently passed away in the August of that year. Alice's uncle, William
Phillips had emigrated to Pennsylvania with his wife some years before, and
now, following the death of her mother it was decided that she and her father
should sell the house and join him in America. With the sale of their house
complete they stayed for a short while at the Central Hotel in Ilfracombe from
where, they were to travel on to Southampton to take passage aboard the American
Line's SS Philadelphia. However with the coal strike continuing that
sailing was cancelled. For the sum of £21 Alice and her father Robert found
themselves transferred to the second
class passenger list of the Titanic, their ticket was #2.
On Tuesday 9 April 1912 Alice and Robert left Ilfracombe by train, they
arrived in Southampton 9 hours later. That evening they walked down to berth 44
to view the ship, later Alice wrote to her grandmother in Ilfracombe:
'Dad and I have been to look at the Titanic. It is a monstrous
great boat as high as the Clarence Hotel, and I cannot tell you how long! We
are going to embark tomorrow morning soon after breakfast.'
They embarked the ship as planned the following morning and enjoyed the
first few days of the voyage, making friends with a family of four who
shared their table at meal times. Alice shared a cabin with Cornish travellers
Mrs Agnes Davis, her son John and Miss Maude
Sincock, all of whom were from St Ives, Cornwall.
Alice was to survive the sinking, her father did not. The following
account was printed in the North Devon Journal on 25 April 1912.
|I was in the cabin,'' she said, ''when all at
once there was a tremendous shock. Naturally I was dreadfully frightened, and
at once ran outside. Just beyond the doorway I met the cabin steward, and asked
him what had happened, but he assured me there was nothing wrong. Everything
was all right, he said, and advised me to go back to the cabin.''
''I could not understand it, and felt there must be something
amiss, but I listened to his advice, and, with many doubts, went back to the
''Then I heard shouts and the sounds of general confusion on
the deck, and determined to at least see what was being done for myself.
Without a moment's further hesitation I rushed to the upper deck, and no sooner
had I got there than someone picked me up and put me into one of the
''There was already a large number of other women and children
in the boat, and I had not been in it a few moments, and did not even fully
understand what was the matter, when it was pushed off into darkness.''
''That was the last I saw of the 'Titanic', and I shall never
see my poor father again.
The time was 1.25am, the lifeboat, number 12.
It would be some 9 hours before Alice was to be lifted onto the Carpathia. Alice was
ultimately met at pier 54 in New York by her uncle who took her to his home
at 700 13th Street, New Brighton, PA.
A letter written by Alice shortly after the disaster to an old
school-friend Miss May Williams was subsequently published in the North Devon
|My Dear May,
I expect you have read of the awful wreck of the 'Titanic', and
have seen my name in the list of survivors? I expect you have. Oh! I cannot
tell you how dreadful it was! My darling father has perished in the wreck, and
I feel almost out of my mind with grief. You know how good he was to me, so you
can imagine just what I feel like. It seems almost too hard to bear, dear.
I cannot give you a full account of everything that happened. It
would take too long to tell, but I will try to describe something of it. I had
gone to bed on the Sunday night, but was not asleep. About a quarter to twelve
we felt an awful crash - when the boat struck an iceberg - and was nearly
rocked out of bed. Soon after I heard the engines stop. I rung up the steward
to enquire what had happened, and he said it was nothing serious, and that we
could go to sleep. I did not feel satisfied. Father came to my cabin, and asked
if I would care to go on deck with him; so I did. we had not been there long
when someone said: ''All on deck with lifebelts on.''
I cannot tell you, dear, how I felt in that moment! Dad and I got
our belts on, and I went on deck again, and then all the women and children
were put into the lifeboats and lowered. I saw my dear father for the last time
in this world, and I almost felt I would have liked to die with him. To see
that boat sinking, and to know he was there was too terrible to think of. After
drifting around for nine hours, almost frozen with the intense cold, we were
rescued by the ''Carpathia.''
I cannot tell you the joy we felt when we were safely on the boat.
We had hot coffee and brandy, which warmed us. We were sleeping in the
smoke-room on the floor or anywhere, and were only too thankful to do so! We
reached new York on Thursday evening, and my uncle was there to meet me. I
cannot tell you how pleased I was to see him. We stayed at the Strand Hotel for
the night, and the next day a lady, who is named Mrs Longstaffe, came and
enquired for me, and took us to her home for the day, and provided me with some
clothes. I lost everything I possessed, and had not a penny to call my own. I
cannot forget the awful cries of those poor people who perished. It was simply
As a result of her ordeal Alice was ill for some time but after
recovering sufficiently she decided to train as a stenographer at her uncle's
place of work. After a few weeks, however, she became so homesick she returned
to her relatives in Ilfracombe.
Alice received a total of $650 from various American relief sources.
Alice Phillips subsequently married a man by the name of Mead and moved
to Manchester. In 1916 she fell victim to an influenza epidemic and, as a
result of which, she died, aged 25.
North Devon Journal, 25 April 1912
Exeter Flying Post
Western Morning News
The Ilfacombe Gazette
Steve Coombes, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Ron Rose, UK
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Related Articles and Documents
Titanic Passenger and Crew Summary
Name: Miss Alice Frances Louisa Phillips
Born: Monday 26th January 1891
Age: 21 years
Last Residence: in Ilfracombe Devon England
2nd Class Passengers
First Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 2 , £21
Destination: New Brighton Pennsylvania United States
Rescued (boat 12)
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Travelling Companions (on same ticket)
Mr Escott Robert Phillips
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