Mrs Leopold Weisz (Mathilde Françoise Pëde) was born Gent, Belgium 1 on 24 May 1874 and at age 21 went to study at the Bromsgrove Guild of Art in England where she met, (and much to her parents chagrin), married a Hungarian-Jewish stonecarver, Leopold Weisz. Her husband had been employed in Montreal, and decided to emigrate to Canada. He returned to England to fetch her. Originally they were to travel first class on another vessel, but because of the coal strike were transferred to Titanic (ticket number 228414, £26).
On the evening of the sinking, Mrs Weisz took part in the impromptu hymn sing in the Second Class Dining Room. Dr. Pain played the flute, Douglas Norman the piano as she sang the Last Rose of Summer. She thought she had performed well, and that her rendition had met with great success, but after the performance as she joined her husband for a walk around the deck she told him she felt uneasy about something. They had just returned to their cabin at 11:40 p.m. when Mrs Weisz said she felt a tremor.
Her husband drowned in the sinking and Mrs Weisz was about to be deported as an indigent from Canada but her husband's body was recovered, with $15,000 worth of gold sewn into the lining. It was returned to her, and she remained in Montreal.
In the spring of 1914 she married her late husband's business partner, Edward Lancelot Wren. In an interview on the 20th anniversary of the sinking, the Montreal Herald reported that during World War I she had raised $57,000 singing for Belgian charties. For her efforts, she was decorated by the King of Belgium with the Medaille de la Reine Elisabeth.
Mathilda Weisz in Montreal 1920s
Courtesy of Dirk Musschoot, Belgium
Mrs Weisz continued to take part in Montreal musical theatricals and operettas until the end of World War II. She died in Montreal on 13 October 1953 and was buried in Section TR7532 of Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery two days later. For many years the grave remained unmarked, however in 2003 a marker was finally placed on the site.
1. The list which recorded immigration into the Unites States gave her birthplace as Cannes, France. Several other documents, e.g. passenger lists, 1911 census, give her birthplace as France. There is also confusion over her date of birth but the birth certificate would appear to settle it as 24 May 1874 although other sources suggest 9 June 1874.
In the year 1874, 25 May at 3 p.m.
Eugenius PEDE, labourer, 32 years old, living in Rogier Street in Gent
came to show his daughter;
born yesterday at midnight
mother is Ivanna Allyn, his wife, 29 years old.
The child has been given the name MATHILDIS FRANCISCA.
At the time of her death it was stated in one source she was 69 when in fact she was 79. Her death certificate on file with the fabrique Notre Dame, Montreal gives her birthdate as 1884. Parish records read, in translation:
On 16 October 1953, the undersigned priest, interred in the parish cemetery, the body of Mathilde Francoise Pède, wife of Edward Lancelot Wren who died on the 13 of October, 1953 at the age of seventy-nine years, five months, and 19 days in the parish of St. Edmund of Caterbury in the diocese of Montreal. Signed, Raoul Gagnon, priest.
References and Sources
Birmingham Daily Gazette, 16 - 19 April 1912 inc.
Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Véhicule Press. ISBN 1 55065 113 7
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55)
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
Birth Certificate (Translation)
Montreal Herald, 14 April 1932, Montreal Passenger Recounts Tragic Sinking of Titanic
Montreal Gazette, 14 October 1953, Obituary
Montreal Daily Herald, 15 April 1932
Phillip Gowan, USA
Elisabeth Houle, Canada
Alan Hustak, Canada
Dirk Musschoot, Belgium
Alan Tucker, UK
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Articles and Stories
Montreal Star (1912)
Montreal Herald (1932)