Ada Murdoch


Inger Sheil

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Yes, she was a bit older than the norm for marriage and childbirth (as discussed above). Merchant officers did tend to marry a bit later, though - Ellen Whitehouse was approaching 30 when she married Harold Lowe, for example. Officers established themselves in their career first, then thought of marriage (with exceptions such as Wilde outlined above). Often they might choose a wife considerably younger than themselves, but I've come across many cases when they chose to marry someone closer to their own age.
 
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sharon rutman

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Another consideration of course was money--since two career couples were also the exception rather than the rule these young ambitious officers wanted to make sure that they could support a wife and children before making a lifetime commitment. Also the up and coming officers on the glamorous transatlantic runs wanted to make sure their own futures were secure.
 
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>>Also the up and coming officers on the glamorous transatlantic runs wanted to make sure their own futures were secure.<<

Well that's certainly understandable. Careers were anything but secure, and in the maritime trade, it doesn't take that much to throw a monkey wrench in the works. Anything less then steller performance and you'ed be lucky to get a job as the Chief Manual Bucket Bilge Bailer.
 

Inger Sheil

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Yes, financial considerations are part of what I meant when I spoke about having a well established career as a foundation before one could marry.

The concept is a very old one - Victorian engagements could be interminable, as the male half of the couple strove to get enough capital to have a household establishment.

Harold and Ellen were already engaged at the time of the Titanic disaster - although we don't have an exact date for when they became affianced, it seems to have happened at about the time he joined the WSL. Joining the company seems to have given him enough of a stable future to propose marriage, although he waited another couple of years before they walked down the aisle.

One Murdoch researcher reminded me of an old saying in the British Army that was current in Victorian times: "Subalterns must not marry; Captains may marry; Majors should marry; and Colonels must marry." Life in the merchant navy wasn't quite as regimented, but looking just at the Titanic's deck officers and the dates of their marriage we see a definite trend to later marriage.
 

Tracy Smith

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Stanley Lord courted Mabel Tutton for six years before finally marrying her in 1907 when they were both 30, the year after he'd gotten his first command. From what you're saying Inger, their experience seems to have been the rule, rather than the exception
 
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sharon rutman

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Sure it was OK for MEN to marry later after their careers were well established so they could afford to support a family. But remember for women the infamous biological clock was ticking away ......
 

Inger Sheil

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Lord's experience could indeed indicate the norm, Tracy - although six years does seem very long, and must be indicative of the strength of their devotion to each other! I don't know how representative a sample this group of officers is, but just based on this group there does seem to be a bit of a trend in the direction of later marriage.

Sharon, I'm not advocating the idea of later marriage as beneficial for either gender (or detrimental to either gender) - just commenting on what I've observed seemed to take place. The issue of women postponing childbirth today so they can fully develop their careers is one of those contentious issues we still face, and even the feminist movement is divided on the issue. For example, later childbirth can mean potentially more difficulty in conception and a greater possibility of medical complications for mother and child. Some career women who choose to have a family prefer to get their families underway as early as possible so that they can return to the workforce. These are choices women need to make for themselves.

I'm not a biological determinist. I think we need to understand as much as possible how biology contributes to who we are, and the more we understand why we're motivated to behave in certain ways by our biological processes, the more we're able to make our own choices. I believe that women should have as much control over their reproductive decisions as possible. The ifs and whens of childbearing are still an area of debate.

We can only feel sympathy for the limited opportunities available to Edwardian women. Having a family early did not protect one from the hazzards of childbirth either - poor Polly Wilde died of complications arising from the birth of her twins.
 
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>>But remember for women the infamous biological clock was ticking away.<<

As Robert A. Heinlien once pointed out, natural laws have no pity. He knew what he was talking about too. They are blind, pityless and respect no creed, no cause...however noble...no desires on our part and no agenda. They just keep on doing whatever it is they do.

While we have options these days, such options didn't exist in 1912. No surrogate mothers, no hormone treatments which make it possible for an older female to carry to term an in vitro fertilized egg...no nothing. If having children was important to you, then the window of opportunity was decidely narrow back then.

Since there was no such thing as a social safety net back then, it's not hard to understand why bachelors tended to stay that way until they could reasonably afford to start a family of their own. They may not have had a biological clock throwing them a curveball, but their bank accounts more then made up for that. Especially if there was nothing in it.
 
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sharon rutman

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Please don't bring up anything that smacks of feminism! I learned my lesson about swimming against the tide the hard way.

Anyhow, no more hair splitting about Ada and William Murdoch's marriage. They loved each other, had a happy, through brief marriage and that's all that matters!
 

Inger Sheil

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I don't think we're hairsplitting by discussing specific aspects of the Murdoch's marriage - we're exploring facets of it in the context of the time. Given that so little is known about their married life, our comments are largely speculative and are identified as such. It's also useful to explore their experience in the context of the marriages of their contemporaries. Tracy's observations about the Lords' long engagement are of particular interest to me, as they provide a useful reinforcement of the observations I've made about the tendency to later marriage we see in the Titanic's officers.

I make no apologies whatsover for being a feminist. My comments on the subject in this thread, however, were in the context of the ever contentious subject of reproductive decisions that women face, both in 1912 and today.
 
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sharon rutman

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Part of the reason that the Murdoch's had a successful marriage was because William Murdoch himself was surrounded by accomplished women in his own family. According to the Dalbeattie website, his sister Margaret (Peg) graduated from Edinburgh University with a Master's Degree and became a headmistress. So he felt comfortable marrying someone with a career of her own.
 
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>>his sister Margaret (Peg) graduated from Edinburgh University with a Master's Degree and became a headmistress.<<

Sounds like a family that was ahead of their time in a lot of respects. You wouldn't happen to know what that degree was awarded for, would you? (I'm not sure, but I doubt the term "Liberal Arts" was in use, though I could be mistaken.)
 

Inger Sheil

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If you go back to my post on Monday, October 22, 2007 - 1:59 am (above), you'll find I mentioned Margaret (Peg) and her relationship with Ada.
 
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Andrew Williams

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Hello Inger,

Many thanks for your kind words of encouragement. Next year I am making plans to take my search around the U. K. Out of the seventeen e-mails I have sent to the various department's concern, only five have confirmed that a small part of the paperwork from the old Relief Fund survives. A bit depressing but one has to proud along in order to search for those missing answers.

I finally hunted down the book by Susanne Stormer. Besides how much one forgets, I haven't found any evidence to confirm her payments of £2 per week. One has to remember that December is around the corner, and thus I will endeavour to keep searching the Minute Book's and for any other material that may throw more light onto the background history of this highly intelligent woman.

However, another clue has come to light and can be found in Minute Book No 3.

In the case for Ada Murdock registered under C9 with the Southampton Committee, there is an entry acknowledging the Mansion House request that no further recommendations can be confirmed whilst her enquiry is still pending. Interestingly enough, the Southampton Committee was responsible in dealing with her case which first began way back in 1923.

I cannot give you anymore details than what I have already submitted. The real problem begins with another committee known secretly as the Southampton Revisions Committee and held a huge amount of power. None of these old Minute Book's from this old committee survive as they were all the victim of the grand clear out at Woolley & Waldron Southampton.

If they did survive then I would have had no problem by providing you with an insight of what the Southampton directive to the Mansion House would have recommended as a final payment. Not even her own personal letters that would have been stored in what became known at W&W the 'Yearly Files'. Ada's like the rest of the dependent letters was stored in a 'Yearly File' (one file for 1912, another for 1913, 1914, 1915 etc, etc.,) so if there was any kind of wrong-doing by a particular claimant, then they had further proof as evidence. All of those private letters stored was another casualty of the clear out between 1963 and 1964. So all I have are the Minute Book's at Southampton as a kind of back up for the evidence your seeking Inger.

Rather depressing news but one can only hope for a successful find at Southampton.

I will keep you posted of the latest, via this message board, or by private means.

Cheers for now.

A.W.
 
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Andrew Williams

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Further to my post of this evening, I meant to bring to everybody's attention the possibility of the latest find. This is what I reckon could have happened. Remember this only speculation so don't take my version as gospel.

If Stormer is correct, then I think I may have found Ada departing Britain during the year of 1913.

This poor woman. I bet she felt terribly lonely after losing William. Put yourself in her position. Just image, she living in a foreign country which so happens to be the powerhouse of the British Empire. Yes, she and her family may well be of British origin, but she must be wanting to seek the comfort of her immediate family who are thousands of miles away. She may even had contact with Sylvia Lightoller. Until her death in 1941, the pair of them may have kept in contact forever.

By 1913, Ada must be feeling homesick and is looking more and more towards her home country of New Zealand. Before departing, I reckon once she packed her bags, she did a different detour by first calling off at William's family up in Scotland to say her last good-bye's and farewells. Fully-well aware of this, she may have even stayed there fro a number of weeks before she departs once again for Liverpool, and thus her one way ticket to catch her vessel is bound for the United States.

Blow me damn people, I think I may have found Ada on FindMyPast. A web-site based in the U. K.
This particular Ada feats her description to a tee. She's aged 38, heading for the United States, and her first port of call is New York City.

Could this be the Ada Murdock we're all looking for??

I don't know, that is something I shall leave for everybody to discuss. I would however, like to ask the following question. To get home to New Zealand via the U. S., would she have had to depart from the port of San Francisco?

Thanks in advance for answering my questions.

A.W.
 
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sharon rutman

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Despite her intense grief over William's tragic loss, Ada Murdoch must have been so proud of her husband's conduct at sea. How many women were honored enough to be married to a man who courageously tried to steer a 46,000 ton luxury liner away from colliding with an iceberg? I mean what bravery and nerve Murdoch had.

I feel Ada's pain--I'm widowed too and it will always hurt.
 

Shea Sweeney

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I know this post is considerably old but yes Andrew! Ada Murdoch would have sailed for New Zealand via San Francisco, California in the time area of 1913. On the east coast the major shipping port and place of immigration processing office was Ellis Island next to NYC. On the west coast, the major immigration station of the time was Angel Island in San Francisco Bay. San Francisco was also the biggest port on the west coast at the time. Now it's not for certain, if Ada Murdoch left the USA for New Zealand (or as Andrew pointed out if she even reached American soil) than it probably would have been from San Francisco.
 
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Andrew Williams

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This thread is a bit dated, so I decide to come back to the fold with a recent update for which I have sent Inger the attachment but also to ask any of those Murdock researchers if they have managed to find any more details on whether Ada did hold a teaching post? When she left Britian in 1920, she appointed the name of Miss M Lewin at Chelmsford Essex as her confidant. The real name of Miss M Lewin is Maria Lewin and she died in 1938. The obituary is small but does give some minor details of her Father as a retired schoolmaster at Boreham Essex. Whether this acts as a new led to uncover the story of Ada holding a teaching post remains under the watchful eye miscible - unless some else has something on record to prove otherwise. The account of her Probate and Will shortly after her death in 1941 makes a furtherance of bring closure on another avenue of the unknowns and leaves me in limboland as I cannot press hard on the answer of what precisely was paid out from the Relief Fund over her claim of compensation. The figure quoted at Southampton is staggering and amounts well over three thousand pounds sterling. The highest on record. I have already done a draft letter to Essex Records to at least try and get something positive back over a so-called "teaching post" which I am not holding out with baited breath for a satisfory answer. I welcome any feedback of those who are the real McCoy of Murdock researchers who wish to excahnge anything new.
 

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