Virginia Phelps, née Turner, was born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales on 20 May 1866. She was the daughter of labourer Thomas Turner and the former Mary Williams.
In 1870 Virginia, her parents and her baby brother Edward emigrated from Wales to New York aboard a ship aptly named Virginia; around 1872 the family settled in North Adams, Massachusetts.
She was married in August 1886 to legal student (and later a judge) Carlton Thomas Phelps; the couple made their home in North Adams and had three children: Christine (later Mrs Clarence Kimball), Arthur Carleton and Gordon Winfield (later an attorney), with their middle child Arthur dying as a toddler.
In April 1912 Mrs Phelps, her husband and their friends Mr and Mrs William H. Pritchard were first cabin passengers aboard the Carpathia, en route to a vacation in Europe. Once the survivors of the Titanic had been rescued, the party showed them many kindnesses, including giving up their staterooms and sharing clothing and other essentials. Mr Phelps’ description of the rescue was printed in The North Adams Transcript on 20 April 1912.
With their experiences not deterring them, the Phelps and Pritchard couples continued their journey aboard Carpathia, returning to the US towards the close of June but refusing to be further drawn to comment on the Titanic disaster.
Virginia Phelps died on 16 March 1947 following a stroke and was buried in a family plot in Southview Cemetery.