Sir Cosmo Edmund Duff-Gordon was born on 22 July 1862 the son of Cosmo Lewis Duff-Gordon.
Cosmo Duff-Gordon was educated at Eton and in 1896 he became the fifth Baron of his family estate (the baronetcy having been created in 1813). In 1900 Duff-Gordon married Lucy Wallace the eldest daughter of Douglas Sutherland. 'Lucile' who was the fashionable designer with a couture firm of which Duff-Gordon was a director.
Cosmo Duff Gordon was a proficient fencer and won a silver medal at the 1906 Olympics (now not recognised by the IOC), and help organise the British fencing team at the 1908 Olympics.
Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg with ticket 11755 (£39 12s) Sir Cosmo occupied cabin A-16 and Lady Duff-Gordon cabin A-20. For some reason the Duff-Gordons signed onto the ship as Mr and Mrs Morgan.
On the night of the sinking they approached First officer William McMaster Murdoch who was supervising the loading of the Emergency Lifeboat 1. Sir Cosmo asked if he and his wife could get in and Murdoch replied that he would be glad if they would. A few minutes later at 1:10 am Lifeboat 1 was lowered containing only 12 people of whom 7 were crew members.
Photograph from the Frank Blackmarr collection, unfortunately it is blurred, of the occupants of Emergency Lifeboat 1.
Left to Right, Standing: George Symonds, Laura Francatelli, Lucy Duff Gordon, Cosmo Duff Gordon, Abraham Salomon, Charles Hendrickson, Henry Stengel. Left to right Seateed: Robert Pusey (?), Edward Horswell, Samuel Collins, James Taylor (?), Frederick Sheath (?).
Courtesy of Randy Bryan Bigham, USA
After the sinking Leading Fireman Charles Hendrickson asked those in the lifeboat whether they ought to go back to help the people swimming in the water but Lady Duff-Gordon warned they might be swamped by people trying to get on board. Several of the men agreed that it would be dangerous to go back. Eventually Hendrickson was persuaded by Charles Henry Stengel's suggestion that they should head for a light that could be seen in the distance. So the twelve survivors set off while hundreds more were left dying in the water.
As they rowed and the cries of swimmers began to die down tempers began to fray among those in the boat. They were still rowing towards a light but it got no nearer and hailing other boats brought no result. Stengel continually shouted directions until Duff-Gordon eventually told him to keep quiet.
Meanwhile, Fireman Robert Pusey complained to Duff-Gordon that they had lost all their belongings (their 'kit) 'and that, in all probability, their pay would end when the ship sank, so the wealthy passenger offered all the men five pounds on their return. This was a pledge he would honour on board the Carpathia. Later Sir Cosmo would appear before a packed British Inquiry to defend himself against the accusation that he had bribed the men to secure his escape from the Titanic and that they were thus encouraged not to return to the scene of the sinking to rescue swimmers.
Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon died on 20 April 1931. At the time of his death he was living at 5 Alfredplace, South Kensington. He, and later his wife, was buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Near London.
References and Sources
Board of Trade Hearings, Day 10 Testimony , Day 11 Testimony
Daily Sketch, 17 April 1912
Walter Lord (1976) A Night to Remember. London, Penguin. ISBN 0 14 004757
Wreck Commissioners'' Court, Proceedings before the Right Hon. Lord Mersey on a
Formal Investigation Ordered by the Board of Trade into the Loss of the S.S. Titanic
Dave Gittins, Australia