Ellen Mary "Nellie" Barber, was born in Penshurst, Tonbridge, Kent, England in the latter months of 1885.1
She was the eldest child of house carpenter William Hopkins Barber (1859-1935) and the former Fanny Izzard (b. 1859), both natives of Penshurst who had married in 1884.
One of just two children born to her parents, her only sibling was her sister Edith Emily2 (b. 1888).
Nellie and her family appear on the 1891 census living at The Warren in Penshurst. At the time of the 1901 census the family address is The Square in Penshurst and a 15-year-old Nellie has no stated profession. Forwarding to 1911 the family home was still The Square but Nellie was not listed with her parents; instead, she was listed at the home of Mr and Mrs Tyrell William Cavendish at Little Onn Hall in Church Eaton, Stafford; they had an entourage of servants and Nellie was described as a domestic ladies maid.
Having worked for Mrs Cavendish for at least a year and being no stranger to Atlantic travel, Miss Barber and Mrs Cavendish were shown entering the USA via New York on 25 January 1911 aboard the Oceanic.
Nellie boarded the Titanic at Southampton and was travelling with Mr and Mrs Cavendish on their ticket (ticket number 19877 which cost £78, 17s); their destination was to Orienta Point in Mamaroneck, New York, the home of Mrs Cavendish's father Henry Siegel.
Mrs Cavendish and Miss Barber were rescued in lifeboat 6. She sent a Marconigram to her parents' address; it was transmitted at 9.40 pm, probably on 18 April 1912:
Mrs Barber Penshurst nr Tonbridge Kent England
Upon landing in New York aboard the Carpathia Nellie stated her closest relative as her father of The Square in Penshurst. She and her employer returned to England but she was soon to brave the seas again.
On 10 July 1912 Nellie arrived in New York aboard the Kronprinz Wilhelm with Mrs Cavendish and her children; they were travelling to the latter's father's home in Mamaroneck. Nellie then specified her closest relative as her mother back in Penshurst, Kent and she was described as standing at 5'8" and with brown hair and eyes and a fair complexion.
How long Nellie remained in the employment of Mrs Cavendish is not clear; she remained unmarried and later retired to London, her last address being recorded as 18 Victoria Rise, Wandsworth.
Nellie Barber died in London's South Western Hospital on 2 May 1963. Her death came just four months after that of Mrs Cavendish, who had passed away on 16 January.
Her estate, worth £436, 18s, was administered to her aunt Blanche Constable3 on 16 July 1963.