Miss Alice Catherine Cleaver

Alice Cleaver

Miss Alice Catherine Cleaver, 22, was born on 5 July 1889 in Kentish Town, St. Pancras, London, the daughter of Joseph Cleaver (Postman) and Lavinia Alice Cleaver (née Thomas). At the time of her birth, the family lived at 42 Marquis Road, Pancras1,2.

While she was still in her teens Alice started working as a nursemaid to fashionable English families. In 1911 she was working as a nursemaid in the Harley St. home of the Sargeant family.

She was later hired by Montreal millionaires Hudson and Bess Allison as a last minute replacement to look after their baby son, Trevor3.

She boarded the Titanic at Southampton in first class under the Allison's ticket (No. 113781).

After the collision on the night of 14th April 1912, Alice apparently bundled up the infant in her charge and went off to Second Class to round up the rest of the Allison household. Alice boarded lifeboat 11. Bedroom Steward William Faulkner held baby Trevor while Alice got in. Although there is no firm evidence it seems certain that the Allisons were unaware that Cleaver had taken the child off safely4.

The next day, Alice Cleaver and Sarah Daniels realized that they, along with Trevor and the cook - Mildred Brown, were the only survivors of their party.

When she arrived in New York with the child, Alice avoided talking to reporters by telling them her name was Jean.

After the sinking, she returned to England and on 22 June 1918 she married widower Edward James Williams (born 1891), a clerk (later a surgical appliance manufacturer). They had two daughters.

Although she reportedly never talked about the sinking, she is listed as a contributor to Walter lord's research for A Night to Remember (as Mrs. A. C. Williams)

Alice Catherine Cleaver died on 1 November 1984 in Winchester, Hampshire at the age of 95.

 

Notes

  1. In 1912 she gave her father's address as 35 Camden Park Road, London.
  2. Alice had three siblings: Jenny Lavinia Cleaver (born 1890);Daisy Cleaver (born 1894); Joseph J Cleaver (born 1899).
  3. In the book Titanic: An Illustrated History, it was alleged that the Alice Cleaver who was on the Titanic was Alice Mary Cleaver, who had been convicted in 1909 of murdering the infant she had borne out of wedlock. The allegation was repeated in another Titanic book Titanic: Women and Children First,  and in a made for television movie.  
  4. This, at least, was the Allison family's understanding of events when Mildred Brown and Alice Cleaver told of their experience to Hudson Allison's brother George.

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Pictures

Brave Nurse and the Babe She Saved
New York Herald  (1912) 
BRAVE NURSE AND THE BABE SHE SAVED
152 Abbey Road
152 ABBEY ROAD
Alice Catherine Cleaver
ALICE CATHERINE CLEAVER
 

Articles and Stories

(1984) 
(1984) 
New York Herald (1912) 
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (1912) 
(1889) 
Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 
 

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Comment and discuss

  1. Guest (R17) said:

    Hello This may get moved to the passenger research section - maybe it's not meant to be in this bit ? Was just reading about this nurse ! What a funny story... I was wondering what people who are familiar with the story think ? Do you believe that she really was told to take Trevor to a lifeboat by Trevor’s father…. Or that the mother and father had no idea where Trevor was and looked all over the ship in the hope of finding him...I read some eye witness accounts claimed that the mother and father were frantically looking for him. What do people believe about this little Titanic... Read full post

  2. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    What I believe that was she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and did what she felt she had to. According to tells a bit more of the story.

  3. Guest (R17) said:

    But the Titanica biography differs a bit from the book which it has suggested as reference reading 'Women and Children First' >>>This, at least, was the Allison family's understanding of events when Mildred Brown and Alice Cleaver told of their experience to Hudson Allison's brother George.

  4. mary mason said:

    i have just re-read women and children first, the section on the Allison's does seem to try to push the reader into thinking bad of Miss. Cleaver. could anyone tell me, did Alice ever actually make a written statement of what happened or did she just tell George. Allison what happened? the reason i ask is because if a written statement was never made, it is impossible for us to actually know what Alice actually said. i have been involved in a car crash, where all except me were killed, and what i have said about the acident, has been turned and twisted and incorrect details have been... Read full post

  5. Guest (R17) said:

    Hello Mary I'm sorry to hear you were in a car crash like that. Truly awful ! I read in the Women And Children First book that people saw the Alison family looking for their son all over the ship - yet if this nurse was told by the father to take Trevor to safety, then why would they have looked all over the ship for him - even missing a place in the life boat ? That's if the reports that she is *meant* to have said about taking the baby to safety by the father are true. Said that the family after the Titanic sunk were very pleased with her, but when found out about what is *meant* to... Read full post

  6. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    My opinion of Alice Cleaver is along the same lines as Michael and Mary. She knew that she had a job to do in looking after Trevor and she did it well. It's unfortunate for all these years, that she has been confused with another Alice Cleaver that killed her baby. I'm not sure if the family has had any success in finally clearing her name.

  7. Stephanie Stokes said:

    I think that Alice looked for the family and could not find them or they were not there at the time and she felt it her job to save Trevor.Look at it this way:She could have stayed on the ship and she and Trevor would have been lost.

  8. John Knight said:

    My sentiments are those of mary. As far as I can ascertain Alice has not had fair publicity. She did her job and looked after Trevor. I can find no justification for the statements that have been made past and present that she took Trevor without at least the knowledge of one of the parents, and as Hudson was finding out about the accident I suspect that Mrs Allison gave her blessing.

  9. mary mason said:

    i have today, purchased the book "From Workhouse to prison to.......... the Titanic?" by Dinah Burnett. ( Alice Cleaver's daughter, the name "Dinah Burnett" being a psuedonym) the book clears up all reference to Alice having murdered her own child, and gives documented proof to show that her mother was innocent of these accusations. she also makes some very good points to stress that her mother did not snatch baby Trevor but was given permission. i always find it interesting how Miss Cleaver is has been accused of being responsible for the death's of the Allisons. Every newspaper... Read full post

  10. avatar

    Fiona Nitschke said:

    Mary, I found the Dinah Burnett book a thought provoking read for pretty much the same reasons: solid research and historical documentation and that no one seems to have looked at Sarah Daniels's role on the night in such critical detail. Unfortunately the vitriol she directs at Don Lynch and the THS, and the blame directed at Daniels, detracts from the work overall. Also, that we don't actually learn anything about the real Alice Cleaver - and are chastised for wanting to do so. Anyway, FWIW that's my opinion.

  11. mary mason said:

    Fiona, i agree 100% with you that her personal feelings towards Don Lynch does detract from the work. I was dissapointed that the book does not let you know anything new about Alice Cleaver, because when i read the blub it suggested that it did, and at the end of the book, she belittles us for wanting to know about her. i just want to point out that, in my last post i was not suggesting that Sarah Daniels was to blame, i was just saying her actions havent been critisised like Alice's were. IMO Bess Allison was a big girl, and capable of dressing herself, even if her maid did walk out, she... Read full post

  12. Matthew Nicholas Clover said:

    Why do they blame Alice for the death of Hudson, Bess and Loraine Allison? She did only her job; protecting Trevor. And there is no prove that she didn't worn Bess. We all know Bess was really headstrong...

  13. Brenda Zermeno said:

    What was the poem that she wrote

  14. João Carlos Pereira Martins said:

    Personally I think that Mr. Allison knew that the officers wouldn't allow him to get on a lifeboat and Bess wasn't particulary interested in abandon her husband. So, he probably told Cleaver to run away with baby Trevor and save him. João

  15. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Joao, While there is no solid evidence, it seems to be that the Allison's were not aware that Alice Cleaver had taken Trevor off safely. If they had known about it, there would be no reason for them to search the ship. They would have made every attempt to get into a lifeboat and if Hudson had to stay on board, I'm certain he would have made sure that Bess and Loriane were off safely.

  16. Helen said:

    So you say that Trevor & there nurse were missing do you acctually think that the nurse capptured Trevor or is that impossible ? Also is it possible that somebody captured the nurse along with Trevor or the nurse was forsed to do it ?

  17. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    >>So you say that Trevor & there nurse were missing do you acctually think that the nurse capptured Trevor or is that impossible ?

  18. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Lina, That book is flat out incorrect, as the Alice Catherine Cleaver that was aboard Cleaver that killed her infant. For many years, there was a lot of confusion between the two, but in recent times the family has been working very hard to try and dispel this myth. Alice Catherine Cleaver was a very competent nursemaid and a respectable wife, and mother later on. If you click on the link from where... Read full post

  19. Grant Woollacott said:

    alice cleaver was not confused with another who killed her baby. she did kill her baby and modern day psychologists recognize her pathology of replacing what she had lost with trevor and most agree trevor was taken without the allisons knowledge. in new york alice cleavers story changed many times at first she said she had told bessie allison. but she did no such thing and thats why the allisons died. before she boarded in southampton she had a tiny portrait made of lorraine and trevor and she had it put in a gold heart shaped locket. if alice cleaver had told the allisons why did she spend... Read full post

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Credits

Audrey Barrett, UK
Anne-Louise Coldicott, UK
Barbara Enid Davis, UK
Mike Davis, UK
Richard Owen, UK
Ella Deeks (cousin of Trevor Allison)
Michael A. Findlay, USA
Brian Meister, USA
Phillip Gowan, USA
Alan Hustak, Canada
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Brian J. Ticehurst, UK

References and Sources

Birth Certificate; Death Certificate
British Census 1891-1911
The Chesterville Record, 18 April 1992
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Farm and Dairy, 2 May 1912
Judith Geller (1998) Titanic: Women and Children First. Haynes. ISBN 1 85260 594 4
Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story. Véhicule Press. ISBN 1 55065 113 7
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
Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History. London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2019) Alice Catherine Cleaver Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #74, updated 26th April 2019 04:02:52 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/alice-cleaver.html