Mrs Alfred Benjamin Chibnall (Edith Martha, late Bowerman, née Barber) was born in Badingham, Suffolk on 27 February 1864, the daughter of Chase Barber (a draper) and his wife Eliza. The family later moved to St Clements, Hastings, Sussex.
Edith Barber came to live at Sinnock Cottage, Hastings Old Town, and worked as a draper?s assistant. About 1888 she married her employer, William Bowerman
1. He was a town councillor from 1885-88 and owned rental properties and a chain of drapers? shops in Hastings and St. Leonards, in which he employed ten people. William was 58 and Edith 25 when Elsie was born, on 18th December 1889 at Tunbridge Wells. In 1890 William sold his chain of shops and retired. The 1891 Census indicates that he was ?living on own means? at 145 London Road, St Leonards, with his wife, baby daughter Elsie, and two servants. William died in 1895 bequeathing to Elsie and Edith a string of rental properties in Hastings which provided a handsome income for them. Edith erected choir-stalls in his memory in St. Matthew?s Church, Silverhill. A commemorative brass plaque is attached, facing the organ.
In 1907, Edith, now 43, married 67-year-old Alfred Chibnall
2, a wealthy farmer. This union is somewhat mysterious: it appears that they split up within two years, certainly before 1910, from which time Edith began to use the name ?Mrs. Bowerman Chibnall? instead of ?Mrs. Chibnall?. He is omitted from Elsie?s correspondence, is missing from her photograph collections and did not accompany Edith and Elsie on their holidays. When Alfred died in 1929 he left his entire estate of £10,000 to male friends.
Perhaps he disapproved of his wife?s involvement in politics. By 1910 there were six societies in Hastings campaigning for women to have the parliamentary vote. Edith and Elsie joined the most militant: the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), which had been founded in 1903 by Mrs. Pankhurst in Manchester and spread throughout Britain. Edith was in addition an official of the Women?s Tax Resistance League and, during the university holidays. Edith joined a deputation to Parliament in 1910, which the police obstructed and which turned violent, resulting in 119 arrests and many injuries. She was herself injured on her second deputation in Parliament Square, London on 22nd November 1910.
Edith and Elsie boarded the Titanic at Southampton as first class passengers (ticket number 113505, cabin E-33). They were travelling to New York in the first instance and then on to Cleveland, Ohio where, it was reported, they were to be the guests of Mr T. W. Guthrie.
They were both rescued in lifeboat 6.
Edith Martha Chibnall (late Bowerman, née Barber) died on 8th October 1953 of heart failure. She was 89 years old and still lived in St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex.
Bowerman gravestone at Hastings Cemetery.
© Helena Wojtczak, UK
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Homer Thiel, USA
Helena Wojtczak, UK
- William Bowerman was born on 30 August 1831 in Bicester, Oxfordshire. He married his first wife, Emma Smith, in Fleet Street, London in 1865. At the time of the 1881 census they were living in Hastings, Sussex where William had a drapery business employing 10 hands. Emma must have died soon afterwards.
- Alfred Benjamin Chibnall was born in Bromham (another source says Biddenham), Bedfordshire in 1840 (christened 12 April 1840) the son of Anthony Chibnall and his wife Alice (née Henman). He was first married to Helen and they had several children (five are listed in the 1881 census). The family lived in Kempston, Bedfordshire. Very little is known about Alfred's marriage to Edith Bowerman. What is known is that after their marriage in 1907 or 1908 Edith and Alfred lived for a time at 'Heathfield' a house in the village of Thakeham, Sussex. In 1910 Edith gave a large donation to Thakeham church. It has been conjectured that Alfred become estranged from Edith soon after their marriage. In most surviving documents from the time Alfred Chibnall is not mentioned as part of the household where Edith was living. Apart from brief periods of residence in 1913 and 1919 Edith moved away from Thakeham and in 1912 was living with Elsie at the house at 145 London Road, St Leonards-On-Sea, Sussex which she had shared with her first husband. Elsie wrote almost daily to her mother, as 'Mrs Chibnall' throughout 1910, and from around 1911 Edith began to refer to herself as 'Mrs Bowerman Chibnall'. In the Titanic immigration list from June 1912 Mrs Chibnall is listed as a married woman and her next of kin is listed as her husband. Alfred Benjamin Chibnall died in Kempston, Bedfordshire on 11 October 1929, aged 89.
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Cleveland Plain Dealer (Ohio), 17 April 1912
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
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton, 10 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/780B)
Raeburn, A. (1973) The Militant Suffragettes. p 172
Articles and Stories
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