Kate Elizabeth Smith was born in Bredon, a village near the Worcestershire-Gloucestershire borders in England in the closing months of 1867. She was later baptised on 6 January 1868 in Norton.
She was the daughter of Charles William Smith (b. 1828), a solicitor's clerk, and his wife Harriett, née Evans (b. 1841) who both hailed from Gloucestershire and who had married in Bristol on 23 September 1863. She had two known siblings: Emily Jane (b. 1865) and Charles Henry (1875-1932).
The 1881 census shows Kate and her family living at Pitchcombe, Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire and would they would be in the same locale by the time of the 1891 census. By the time of the latter census Kate was described as unemployed whilst her father was living on his own account. Her father died in 1897 aged 69 and she, her mother and brother were listed on the 1901 census living at Slad Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire. Kate's profession was still ambiguous but it is known she had already commenced a career at sea.
Her first voyage was in 1893 on the Vancouver of the Dominion Line where she was in charge of immigrant children en route to Canada. She later joined the Cunard Line followed by the American Steamship Company and the White Star Line. Among the vessels she served aboard where the Servia, Umbria, Lucania, St Louis, St Paul and Olympic.
A veteran of sea disasters, Kate was aboard Olympic at the time of its collision with the HMS Hawke in 1911, reportedly only leaving the area of damage minutes before impact. On 25 April 1908 she was aboard the St Paul when, in adverse weather, she collided with HMS Gladiator, a Royal Navy cruiser.
Kate would be absent from the 1911 census but her by-now-married brother Charles and his wife , Edith were listed as living at 55 Slad Road, Stroud with their widowed mother Harriett and he was described as a post office clerk.
When she signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Kate gave her address as Balmoral, Cebbett Road, (Southampton). Her last ship had been the Olympic and as a stewardess she received monthly wages of £3, 10s.
Kate was rescued on lifeboat 11 alongside several other stewardesses. She returned to England and perhaps continued her career at sea but what became of her is currently unknown.
References and Sources
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Gavin Bell, UK