Mary Anne ('Annie') Robinson1, 40, was born in Bedford, Bedfordshire, England around 1871. The exact details of her family remain unknown.
When she was quite young (around 1885) she had a daughter Gladys2. The father was Henry Kerswell, recorded later as a native of Pennsylvania. No details of Henry Kerswell can be found and no marriage record between Annie and Henry has yet been located.
Annie Robinson had previously served aboard the Port Kingston (Elder Dempster Lines) and more recently with the Canadian Pacific Line. On 6 May 1909 she was onboard the Lake Champlain en route from liverpool to Montreal carrying 1,000 passengers, when it struck an iceberg. The damaged vessel limped to St John's for repairs.
When she signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 she gave her address as 128 Shirley Road, (Southampton). Her last ship had been the Lake Manitoba. As a stewardess she received monthly wages of £3 10s.
After the Titanic struck the iceberg Robinson assisted the seven ladies, a maid and a governess she had attended as stewardess. All were saved. She met Thomas Andrews:
We had already got the blankets and the lifebelts out of the rooms which were unoccupied at the foot of the staircase. Mr. Andrews said to me, "put your lifebelt on and walk about and let the passengers see you." I said to him, "It looks rather mean," and he said, "No, put it on," and then after that he said to me, "Well, if you value your life put your belt on."
She was rescued in lifeboat 11 which she said left the Titanic at 1.40pm.
After her rescue she returned to England with the other surviving crew aboard the Lapland. After they berthed in Plymouth the stewardesses were photographed as a group. Annie was also photographed talking to smoke room steward James Witter.
She was subsequently called to testify before the Board of Trade inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic (day 11).
On 9th October 1914 she was aboard the SS Devonian, according to newspaper reports she was travelling to Boston to visit her daughter Gladys (c.1885-1929) 3 who had settled in Jamaica Plain with James Eugene Prentis (1874-1947)4. As the ship travelled through thick fog Annie reportedly became very anxious leading to her apparently jumping from the deck to her death:
Friday night when the Devonian slowed down in a heavy fog Mrs. Robinson apparently became nervous, and the continual sounding of the whistle so worked upon her nerves that she feared another disaster.
She was last seen when she left the main saloon about 10:30 Friday night. The suicide was not discovered until yesterday morning when she failed to appear at breakfast.
It is not recorded if her body was found but the entry in the register of deaths at sea simply states she was 'presumed drowned' between 42º35N 67º15W and 42º25N 69º30W.
- She is listed in the crew agreements as "A. Robinson", and in the survivor list as "A. Robinson (Mrs)". She is usually listed as Annie Robinson. Robinson is therefore generally assumed to be a married name, however in her daughter's marriage record her mother's maiden name is given as Mary Robinson. It is not known if she was ever actually married.
- If Annie really had been 40 on the Titanic it meant she had given birth to Gladys between the ages of 14 and 16. Glady's death record from 1929 gives her name as Gladys R. (Greison). It is not clear how the name 'Greison' fits in to the story but it is implied that it is a maiden name. She is variously listed with middle initials G, K, A and R.
- In the passenger list for the Devonian she is listed as a widowed housekeeper, the address given is the same as in 1912, 128 Shirley Road, Southampton. He last permanent address was given as Liverpool.
- James was born in the Seychelles. He was married and divorced before marrying Gladys. Gladys and James Prentis had three children. Thomas Theodore Prentis (1914-1993), James Eugene Prentis (1916-2000), Charles Franklin Prentis (1929-1997). Jame married again after Gladys's death in 1929 (she was dead by the 1930 census).
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Wreck Commissioners' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
(1914) WOMAN LEAPS FROM DEVONIAN Boston Daily Globe 11 October 1914
1910, 1920 Federal census
Massachusetts, Marriage Index
BT334 Registers and Indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths of Passengers and Seamen at Sea 0060/92
Picture courtesy of Ioannis Georgiou
Peter Engberg, Sweden
Articles and Stories
New York Times (1913)
Boston Daily Globe (1914)
New York Times (1914)
The Times (1913)