Mrs Peter Henry Renouf was born as Lillian "Lilly" Elizabeth Jefferys in St John's, Guernsey in the Channel Islands on 26 February 1882.
She was the daughter of William John Jefferys (b. 1854), a general labourer, and Alice Ann Bennett (b. 1855), both Guernsey natives who had married around 1881. One of eight children, her siblings were: Ada Alice (b. 1883), Frederick William (b. 1885), Clifford Thomas (b. 1888), Ernest Wilfred (b. 1891), Hilda (b. 1897), William George Bennett (b. 1900) and Albert Edward (b. 1902).
Lillian first appears on the 1891 census living with her family at 3, The Green in St Peter's Port. Her family were listed on the 1901 census living at The Banks, 1 Elizabeth Terrace, St Sampson, her father now working as a stoker. Lillian was absent and recorded elsewhere as a domestic (chamber maid) at the Old Government House Hotel in St Peter's Port.
Lillian was married to Peter Henry Renouf (b. 1878), a carpenter and house decorator and a native of St Sampsons', Guernsey but they would have no children. The couple emigrated to the USA in 1907, leaving Southampton aboard the St Paul on 15 June and accompanying them was her brother Frederick. They appeared on the 1910 census living in Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey and they lived at Florida Street in that city, along with her brother Fred and a cousin Charles Cann.
Peter and Lillian returned to Guernsey in 1911 to visit relatives, including her recently widowed father who lived at Rosslyn, St Sampsons. For their return to New Jersey they boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 31027 which cost £21). Travelling with them were her two brothers Clifford and Ernest Jefferys alongside several other Guernsey folk: William Douton, Lillian Bentham, Emily Rugg and Albert Denbuoy.
On the night of the sinking Lillian reported that she was in her cabin shortly after the collision :
"... I was dressing myself again when my husband and brothers burst into the cabin. They had been in the smoking room, and had seen the iceberg as it bore away from the vessel and told me to dress hurriedly although they thought there was little danger. Nearly all of the passengers thought that the Titanic could not sink. Some of them took the collision as a joke and others were annoyed at the jouncing which they had received. My husband and brothers, who were fully dressed, helped me to put on my wraps and hurried me to the deck..."
Arriving on the boat deck, she related:
"...The first and second class passengers were calm in the face of the disaster but when the steerage passengers burst up from below, the scramble for places in the boats and the bedlam of noise was awful. I saw no flagrant instances of cowardice. Everyone was terribly excited and people forgot everything but their eagerness to get off the sinking ship. It was trembling from stem to stern. The foreigners from the steerage were like animals, but an officer with a revolver stood by every boat and ordered the women to go first..."
Lillian continued to live in Elizabeth, New Jersey and was later remarried in the 1920s to Arthur Stead (b. 1864), a butcher and widower originally from Cleckheaton, Yorkshire who had emigrated in 1910. His first marriage was in 1885 to London-native Augusta Alice Fuller-Lipscombe and he had two children, Alice (b. 1887) and Tom (b. 1890).
Lillian and her new husband settled in Elizabeth, later at 128 Reid Street in that city. She died there on 9 July 1933 aged 51 and was cremated three days later.
References and Sources
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55).
Titanic, Fortune & Fate, Letters, Mementos, and Personal Effects From Those Who Sailed On The Lost Ship (1998), Mariner' Museum. Simon & Schuster New York.
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