Miss Elizabeth Bonnell was born in Bradford, Yorkshire, England on 29 July 1850.
She was the daughter of John Fearnley Bonnell (1819-1876) and Alice Elizabeth Duffill (1826-1896). Her father, a master saddler with several in his employ, was also born in Bradford whilst her mother was a native of London. They were married in Bradford on 17 January 1848. Elizabeth had six known siblings: John Meek Bonnell (1848-1884), Jane Ellen (1852-1915), Alice (b. 1853), Henry (b. 1855), Mary (1857-1942) and William Fearnley (b. 1862).
She first appears on the 1851 census living at 18 Bridge Street, Bradford and on the 1861 census living at 13 Edmund (?) Street, Horton, Bradford before moving to 16 Ashgrove by the time of the 1871 census. Her father died on 1 December 1876. She does not appear on the 1881 census with her mother and sister Jane who were still living in 16 Ashgrove and was instead listed as a visitor at an address in Wavertree, Lancashire. The family would later shift to Lancashire and it was here that Elizabeth lost her mother on 27 February 1896.
Elizabeth, known as Lily, was never married and continued to live with her likewise unmarried sisters Jane and Mary. Elizabeth is shown on both the 1901 and 1911 census records as living at 17 Welbeck Road, Birkdale, Southport, Lancashire and was described as a spinster living on her own means. She was a prominent member of the South and East Branch of the Women's Unionist League, and was a member of the General Council. She was also connected with the Mary Willett Day Nursery, of which she is a member of the committee. Well known in local musical circles, she was a member of the chorus which gave a performance of Elgar's Kingdom at Chapel-street Congregational Church a few weeks prior to her joining Titanic. She was a member of St. James' Church, Birkdale and was involved in several local charities. She had reportedly crossed the Atlantic several times and was no stranger to other foreign destinations.
Elizabeth joined the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as a first class passenger (ticket number 113783 which cost £26, 11s). She was planning to visit family in Youngstown, Ohio, including her brother William Fearnley Bonnell, and was travelling with her niece Caroline Bonnell, the daughter of her deceased brother John Meek Bonnell, and several in-laws including George Dennick Wick, his wife Mary and daughter Mary Natalie who had completed a vacation in Europe. She occupied cabin C103.
After the collision, Caroline Bonnell found Elizabeth in her stateroom and brought her up to A deck where they had been instructed to gather. The Bonnells and Wicks moved up to the boat deck where they were placed in lifeboat 8. Elizabeth and the other ladies in her party were saved.
The Bonnells stayed at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City after leaving the Carpathia. She would later file a claim of $1500 for loss of property against the White Star Line.
Elizabeth returned to England and would live at 17 Welbeck Road in Birkdale for the rest of her life. It seems she continued to travel well into her advanced age, with one trip to New York aboard Laconia departing from Southampton on 24 May 1930 and a further arrival into Liverpool from Bombay, India aboard the Franconia on 1 August that same year.
Elizabeth died on 20 February 1936 aged 85.
References and Sources
Biographical History of Northeastern Ohio (1893) Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
Gavin Bell, UK
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Homer Thiel, USA