Buying the dead

  • Thread starter Stephen Stanger
  • Start date

Dec 13, 1999
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To return to the subject!It's more than likely that WSL charged for the return of bodies given than cunard did some three years later with the Lusitania. Their archives show letters from families who had paid to have their relatives shipped back to New York. Cunard's rather terse letter stated that bodies could be returned to the USA - for a charge as the sinking was in no way the responsibility of the Cunard Company! It was suggested that recompense be sought from the German Government following the cease in hostilities! Strange, when they re-patriated American citizens who survived at little or no charge.

Geoff
 
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Stephen Stanger

Guest
Bleedin ell' what have I started?!
Sorry for the teaser on the subject matter, I got the news article from an associate and I am now in the process of locating it.
But on the subject of them leaving bodies at sea, I don't find it that unbelievable at all.
George hit a point with the reference to the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.
Granted it may not be something that the WSL would have done, but maybe more people were buried at sea than needed to be.
I mean human decency is one thing but that is from our 21st century perspective. I bet those in the business of recovering bodies back then were a rough breed of "lower class" men, ever heard of familiarity breeds contempt?
They could easily tell the difference in classes however it is obvious that the majority of the relatives of 1st and 2nd class victims were the first to contact the WSL concerning the fate of their family members, even to the point of contacting the recovery companies and maybe even "bribing" them to make priority, the recovery of the bodies of their loved ones.
And besides, on the class note
 
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Stephen Stanger

Guest
Bleedin ell' what have I started?!
Sorry for the teaser on the subject matter, I got the news article from an associate and I am now in the process of locating it.
But on the subject of them leaving bodies at sea, I don't find it that unbelievable at all.
George hit a point with the reference to the right hand not knowing what the left is doing.
Granted it may not be something that the WSL would have done, but maybe more people were buried at sea than needed to be.
I mean human decency is one thing but that is from our 21st century perspective. I bet those in the business of recovering bodies back then were a rough breed of "lower class" men, ever heard of familiarity breeds contempt?
They could easily tell the difference in classes however it is obvious that the majority of the relatives of 1st and 2nd class victims were the first to contact the WSL concerning the fate of their family members, even to the point of contacting the recovery companies and maybe even "bribing" them to make priority, the recovery of the bodies of their loved ones.
 
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Andrea Jane Rice

Guest
Hi all,

God, this is a very sad and morbid one isn't it.

There were actually 2 recovery ships sent and, in their defence, did the best of a lousy job. They in turn travelled miles in an attempt to recover the dead, because by the time they got there (even though their sailing out was pretty quick after the disaster), the tides had spread the bodies very wide afield.

I don't actually know 'facts', but from what I have read, they did attempt to take anyone back who was recognisable (whatever the class). However, yuck, many were burnt, crushed, partial remains, etc. These were photographed and buried at sea. They did actually publish some of these photos in an attempt to get identifications, loads more yucks!

Obviously, as the scale increased, they had to start resorting to only those who could be identified. But they were not just the well to do, but anyone who had personal effects which aided this.

Margaret Rice (nee Norton), who was a steerage passenger, was recovered and identified due to personal effects in her coat pocket. Unfortunately, her 5 boys weren't, including her 2 year old who she was seen holding in her arms just before the sinking.

Relatives of the 1st and 2nd class victims were treated with priority though, that is true, partially due to status in society and partially due to the dealing of their estates. The relatives of the 3rd class victims were left outside in queues for very long periods of time with no hind of information.

As for 'bribes', i'm sure you're right Stephen. That is just the sort of thing the wealthy in those days would have done (and probably now) - those born into money at least - self made might have been more understanding.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,662
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Easley South Carolina
Steve, since I'm not the moderator for this particular folder, I can't really do anything about the post above. Could I impose on you to do us a wee favour anyway?

Edit the post to a few lines and provide a link to the rest. What you posted is copyrighted material, and you need the permission of the copyright holder to print the whole thing. Anything us can get you and your forum hosts/moderators sued.

Thanks.
 
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Stephen Stanger

Guest
(Sorry Michael, consider me Curmudgeoned!)

The news source I was referring to is at:

NEWS.TELEGRAPH.CO.UK -
TITANIC'S OWNERS WANTED 20 FOR BODIES

Check it oot and get back to me
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Mar 16, 2000
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339
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The story is at http://www.news.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2002%2F02%2F24%2Fntit24.xml

You need to register to read it all. I might add that some of the information is not correct. For instance, quite a number of crew and third class passengers were retrieved.

Stephen's comments on the men retrieving the bodies under-estimates the piety of the age. Canon Hinds noted ‘how earnestly and reverently all the work was done and how nobly the crew acquitted themselves.’ I think Michael would agree that this was not all due to religion. The sea itself has its own powerful influences on those who traverse it.
 
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Andrea Jane Rice

Guest
You guys are really worrying me, all this talk of sinking ships and recovering of bodies - i'm going on a cruise next year (admittedly only for 2 days) - but it's enough to make you quite nervous and think twice (my son would probably beat me up if I cancelled it though!).

Anyway, your comments above are all very informative, in its own tragic way.

As I said earlier, I married a Rice and asked if anyone knew anything about the steerage family on board, which I got a brilliant reply to. The mother was found and identified from a receipt for new shoes for the trip, which was found in her coat pocket. However, the 5 boys (all of whom were very young and obviously small) were never recovered, presumably washed further away by the tides because of their small weight.

Additionally, my heart bleeds for Mrs Gill. I cannot begin to imagine her pain in losing a childhood sweetheart, finally married (and only just), and then losing him in that way. Further, making matters about as bad as they can get, to be asked for that amount of money for his body. Was she able to pay it - did she get him back?

Andrea
 

david wilson

Member
Mar 17, 2003
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Hi, I'm new to this forum, and have read with interest the correspondance on how the recovered where treated upon pick up. despite the sea's treatment of them, does anyone know as to what the appropriate course of action was, depending as to how they where found, having been in the sea for so long? We read so much as to 'they were badly beaten by the elements' In order to embalm, a complete un broken body is required, and if certain parts of the body would have suffered, and prevented embalming, then it would have seemed the correct thing to do, but to commit them back to the deep, given an appointed burial service -administered by Canon Hind. My question is, does anyone have any access, or information as to the remit of John Snow? he was the funeral director from Halifax, Novia scotia, who was given the task, of drawing together the operation on the Mackay Bennett, and the burial and repatriation of the departed lost. His staff, especially the embalmer would have been proffessional in all they did, given the class distinction and all that, I wonder if in fact that came into it? They would have brought them all home, if in fact they would have been able to identify or not, in the Mayflower Curling Ring.
Is any archive material available from Snow's - is the firm still in existence? Did they keep records? Who met their costs?
A morbid subject I agree, but one which is never the less all part of this never to be forgotton part of maritime history.

I look forward to hearing from any collegue of Titanic interest. Dave Wilson
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
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UK
David, the J.A.Snow Funeral Home is still in business in Halifax - their website is here:

http://funeralscanada.com/homes/snow/

The existing postings in this thread and others should answer some of your questions. Bear in mind that there were two John Snows, father and son. John Snr was head of the firm and in overall charge of operations in Halifax, in which personnel from several other firms were also involved. John Jnr, the firm's chief embalmer, was on the Mackay Bennett. His descriptive records of the bodies and their effects are here onsite, but no records were kept of the condition of bodies or of the treatment they received.
 
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Tom Pappas

Guest
If I had been family, I'd have been all over White Star Line for Breach of Contractual Obligation.

By selling them a ticket, WSL contracted with each and every passenger to transport them to New York. The fact that the ship sank does not relieve the carrier of that responsibility.

The crew, of course, is a different story.
 

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