Miss Susan Webber

Susan Webber

Miss Susan Webber was born in North Tamerton, Cornwall, England on 2 July 1873.1

She was the daughter of Richard Webber (1830-1904), a carpenter, and Elizabeth Chapman (1839-1907), natives of North Tamerton and Treneglos respectively who had married in 1871.

She had three known siblings: Ann (b. 1872, later Mrs Richard Sanders), Maud Mary (b. 1880) and Ernest (b. 1884).

Susan first appears on the 1881 census living with her family at Vale House, North Tamerton, also appearing there on the 1891 census. By the time of the 1901 census the family are residing at Commons Gate, Clawton and Susan is described as a domestic cook. Her parents died with a few years of each other and she was shown on the 1911 census working as a cook to retired Lieutenant Colonel Herbert Walker and his wife at Leeford, Budleight, Salterton, Devon.

Arrangements had been made for Susan to cross the Atlantic to keep house for her cousin Charles Ernest Webber (1883-1975) and his wife Bessie (1889-1922) who had emigrated to Hartford, Connecticut in 1909. She purchased a second class ticket (number 27267 which cost £13) for the Titanic and her family threw her a leaving party prior to her departure. Also travelling with her, albeit in third class, where neighbours Samuel and William Dennis and family friends Lewis and Owen Braund.

Aboard Titanic Susan shared cabin E101 with two other women, fellow-Briton Edwina Troutt and Irishwoman Nora Keane; Miss Troutt recalled that Susan spent much of her time speaking over a gate between second and third class to her friends from home. Aboard however she became acquainted with some new faces, including Kate Buss, Marion Wright, Lucy Ridsdale and Ethel Garside.

On the night of the sinking Edwina Troutt reported that Susan left their cabin ahead of she and Miss Keane. It is not certain in which lifeboat she escaped but did describe a Japanese man in her lifeboat (Masabumi Hosono), perhaps placing her in lifeboat 10 (although it had also been suggested that she was saved in lifeboat 12) and dressed only in her nightgown and covered by a coat.

Aboard the Carpathia Susan, like many others slept in one of the dining saloons on top of the tables. Sleep was scarce as the huge influx of additional passengers meant that meal times lasted from early morning until near midnight, she being wakened up by stewards at an early hour who needed to set the tables for the next sitting. A fierce thunderstorm on their way to New York only unsettled already-worn nerves.

By the time Susan reached New York and with all the commotion going on at the Cunard Pier she felt dishevelled, grubby and starved, still standing in the same nightgown she had wore when leaving the Titanic and with her unkempt hair hanging down her back. When a Red Cross official approached her and asked her if there was anything she needed she replied "a comb."

Susan, along with Kate Buss, was taken to the Junior League House until she was reunited with her cousin Charles Webber who had travelled from Connecticut and who brought her back to his home in Hartford. In the weeks after the disaster she maintained contact with Kate Buss and later became part of the action suit filed against White Star by a group of survivors.

Susan never married and maintained her cousin's house for the rest of her life. She returned to Britain at least twice, once in October 1926 and another in September 1931, all outward and return voyages being made aboard the Mauretania.

She appears on the 1920 census as a boarder at 16 Trinity Street, Hartford and was described as an unmarried domestic. The 1930 and 1940 records show her living with her by-then widowed cousin Charles Webber and his daughter Gladys (b. 1912) on French Street, Hartford and being described as a housekeeper. She became an active member of the Grange and the Congregational Church.

Susan Webber passed away on 29 January 1952, having earlier been admitted to the Hartford Hospital after suffering from coronary complications. She was 78 and was buried in Center Cemetery in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Susan Webber Grave
© Michael A. Findlay, USA

 

Articles and Stories

Western Times (1912) 
Unidentified Newspaper (1912) 
(1901) 
 

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Stephen Coombes, UK
Chris Dohany, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Brian Ticehurst, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK

Notes

  1. Birth date frequently listed as 2 July 1874; her birth was registered in 1873. By the time of the 1911 census she had shaved six years off of her age.

References and Sources

Western Morning News, April 1912, Devon Lady's Escape
Unidentified Newspaper (Hartford, CT), 29 January 1952, Obituary
Hartford Courant, January 30, 1952, Obituary and Death Notice
Connecticut State Department Of Health Certificate Of Death

Link and cite this biography

(2017) Susan Webber Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #593, updated 13th November 2017 08:48:54 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/susan-webber.html

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