Catherine Beatrice Cheape Cay

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
643
1
146
This is a real long shot, but does anyone know anything about Catherine Cheape Cay, who died on the Empress and whose sister-in-law was Margaret Ismay, daughter of J. Bruce Ismay?

I've just ordered David Zeni's book and am excited to get it, but from what I saw of the index of the book posted at Amazon, I don't think it makes any mention of this lady.

I know that the Cheapes were an established landed family in England, and the passenger list lists Catherine as "Mrs. Robert Cay of Golden, BC". Does anyone know what her age was, who her husband was, if she had any children, etc, etc?

Any info would be much appreciated. I know I'll probably be waiting a LONG time for a reply. Putting a human face on the Empress tragedy is extremely difficult.

Thanks,
Brian A.
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Hi Brian,

Here are my notes for Mrs Cay.

Mrs Albert Jaffray Cay was born Catherine Beatrice Cheape, in Wellfield, Strathmiglo, Fifeshire, on July 2nd 1875, and was 38 years old in 1914. She was the daughter of Colonel George Clerk Cheape, and his wife, Maude Mary, nee Hemming, who had married at St. George’s Hanover Square, London, on June 5th 1873. Catherine was sister to Hugh Annesley Gray, born in Wellsfield in 1878, Captain Leslie St. Clair, Captain Ronald, who had married the daughter of J.B. Ismay, the owner of the White Star shipping line, and George Cheape, born in Burntisland, Fifeshire in 1880. Catherine’s father owned the estate of Wellfield, near Gateshide, in Fife, Scotland, while her mother was originally from the manor of Bentley Pauncefoot, near Redditch, in Worcestershire.
Catherine married Charles Robert Lee in Bromsgrove in the summer of 1885. Charles was an American. From the marriage a daughter, Dorothy Lee Robert, was born in Maidenhead in 1897. When the census was taken in 1901, Dorothy and her father were living near Bromsgrove, while Catherine was visiting the family of John Thomson, in Kilconquhar, Fifeshire.
Catherine’s marriage did not last, and she later married Albert Jaffray Cay of Kenilworth, Warwickshire. Albert was the son of Mr Albert Cay, and his wife, Annie, nee Jaffray, of Woodside, Kenilworth. Albert’s mother was the daughter of Sir John Jaffray, baronet. Albert’s father was a manufacturer of coinage, and in 1881 the family, including year old Albert, were living at 13, Pakenham Road, Edgbaston, Warwickshire, where Albert had been born. Albert later attended Rugby School.
In 1914, Catherine had been living in Invermere, near Golden, British Columbia, where her husband had a farm, and was returning to her mother at Bentley Manor for a holiday, when she boarded the Empress of Ireland. It was reported that Mrs Cheape was dangerously ill at the time. Catherine Cay died when the Empress of Ireland sank, and her body was not among those recovered from the water afterwards.
Further tragedy was to follow Catherine’s death. Her husband, Albert, and brother, Leslie, were to lose their lives on the same day in World War One. The men were members of the Queen’s Own Worcestershire Hussars, Alfred being a lieutenant in the Worcester Yeomanry, and Leslie a captain in the First Dragoon Guards. Both men were sent to fight in Turkey, as part of the forces pushing their way to Jerusalem. They died at Ogheratina Katia, Egypt, on April 23rd 1916. Albert was just 36 years old, and his brother-in-law, 33. Catherine’s mother, Maude, who had been reported as dangerously ill, died at Bentley Manor, on November 21st 1919.

I hope that these notes are of use. I cannot say how Catherine's first marriage ended. It is a piece of the puzzle that escapes me.

Regards
Craig
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
643
1
146
Craig - a thousand thanks for your generous reply. All that information was new to me, and very interesting. I'm glad to know there are people putting the effort in on Empress passengers.

Regards and thanks again,
Brian
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,472
0
106
Hi Craig,
What a great biography! Poor thing certainly had enough excitement in her life!
Very best
Mike
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Hi Brian,
I'm glad that I was able to help.

Thanks, Mike.
Catherine certainly had a fascinating story. I would be very interested to learn how she met Charles Lee, as her marriage, and its end, are quite illusive. A search for another day I think.
Take care

Craig
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,472
0
106
Hi Craig
I am also wondering what the reaction was of the Ismay family. Perhaps J. Bruce Ismay attended the funeral, etc...
Mike
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
643
1
146
It's all too true that finding out a new scrap of information on these people is great - but only leads to ten more questions. Since I now know - thanks to you, Craig - the names of the Cheape family homes and a couple of their maiden names, a quick Yahoo search has turned up some of their history, like the fact that the family purchased the St. Andrews golf links in 1821 to protect it from mismanagement and rabbits, thus perhaps saving golf as we know it today.

Unfortunately, Catherine's first husband and daughter both had common names, so I haven't been able to dig up anything on either of them. I got the Zeni book yesterday, which seems loaded with info on a great many Empress passengers and crew and I can now finally connect several names to faces and find out some about the lives these people led. Alas, Catherine is not mentioned in the book (no reflection on David Zeni - the work he did was incredible). I have an image of her as one of those outdoorsy, well-bred, "county" types. But who knows the truth.

I would think her death had to be a horrible blow to the Ismays, whether they knew her well or not. I can't say why, exactly, but it seems to me that the fact that she was a woman may well have made it that much worse. Ismay was forced to try to live down surviving a shipwreck where women died, and here a young woman closely connected to his own family is lost.

Indulging in conjecture on these matters is fun - but futile.

Thanks again, Craig and Michael, for replying.
Regards,
Brian
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Hi Brian,

I hope that you enjoy David Zeni's book. It is an outstanding work on the Empress, and as you say covers many of the ship's final passengers and crew. It was David's book that started my interest in the Empress and her people, an interest which I now spend a lot of time researching.
Best regards
Craig
 
Apr 1, 2005
31
0
76
Hi Brian,
I have just joined the message board, Catherine Beatrice was my great aunt,what Craig has written I believe is basically correct, although I have no knowledge of her first marriage,I find it unlikly because if Craigs dates are right then she was only ten at the time. I do have a little to add,she was known as Katie,and was a very good horse rider, she hunted from a very early age, her mother owned several packs of hounds and was known as the squire of Bentley. her husband A.J.Cay owned a ranch at cranbrook,British columbia, called Thunder Ridge from which she was returning when she was killed, for a suprise visit to Bentley. Catherine was the eldest child she had 3 brothers and 2 sisters born in this order,Hugh,George Ronald,Leslie St Clair,Helen Margaret,Maude Ann. Hugh was drowned when his ship was torpedoed,[ check Hugh Annesley Gray Cheape,he changed his name to Gray Cheape after his marriage, and his decendants still live at Bentley, on the internet there are several sites ] George Ronald married Margaret Ismay [my grandmother],Leslie St Clair was killed with A.J.Cay at Katia when they opened fire on a group of men at an waterhole which was if fact the main rear guard of the Turkish army.Helen Margaret was also drowned, in a boat accident on Mull in 1896, Ronald and Leslie tried to save her but she was caught in the rigging as the boat sank. Her body was recovered later,the Cheapes owned several estates in the southeast of the island of mull where Daisy as Helen Margaret was known,was buried, Catherine had she lived was due to inherit one of them. Apart from Catherine two more of her mothers children died from drowning. As to Michael,s query about Bruce Ismay attending the funeral, as to my knowledge Catherine,s body was not recovered,there would not have been a funeral, there could have been a sevice of some kind, there is a stained glass window erected at Bentley to both Daisy and Katie.As my father met Margaret Ismay for the first time at Bentley,I think Bruce Ismay would have paid his repects when he was there, it may be mentioned in his wife,s diaries which I believe still exist
regards Malcolm
 

Mike Poirier

Member
Dec 31, 2004
1,472
0
106
Hello Malcolm
Thanks so much for the message. It's all very interesting. Do any pictures of Mrs. Cay exist?
Or perhaps any correspondence from survivors who saw her on board?
Thanks again
Mike
 

Brian Ahern

Member
Dec 19, 2002
643
1
146
Malcolm - thank you very much for taking the trouble to relate what you know about your interesting family. I had imagined Katie to be the horsey type!

It's nice to have you on the board and I hope we'll continue hearing from you. Any new info on Katie and her family will be very welcome to me, for one.
-Brian
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Hi Mike,

Thanks for picking up my typo. My apologies to everyone for that. I have been away for a few days, so I missed out on the update. Welcome Malcolm. I was very interested by your information on Catherine, I have always found her a fascinating individual.

Regards to all
Craig
 
Apr 1, 2005
31
0
76
Hi all,
Most of the information that I have on Catherine comes from a book written by her youngest sister Maudie A. Ellis, called 'The Squire of Bentley[Mrs Cheape] Memory's milestones in the Life of a great sportswoman' the book focuses mainly on the life of Catherine's mother and mainly on her fox hunting and hounds, and only mentions the children in passing, there are three photographs of Catherine, one may be a painting, all on horseback, only one a solo shot. The family will almost certainly have other photographs, although I doubt my father will. He is the youngest son of Margaret Ismay, and had three older brothers,I feel sure that someone will have more photographs.I did ask my father if he had any knowledge of the marriage to Charles Lee and he did not, I'm not sure what that means but I shall investigate further!I notice that the bentley Cheape did know a family of Thomson from fife
I don't know of any private letters from people who saw Catherine on the ship, they may exist I do Know that some papers relating to the White Star line and the Ismays are still in the family, although most were donated to a museum in liverpool quite awile ago,some of these other papers were looked at by Oldam when he wrote 'the Ismay line' The cheape family, related to Catherine are quite well spread, in scotland and abroard so tracking these papers could be difficult, there is one letter printed in 'The Squire of Bentley'`from Major Fairfax-Blakeborough who wrote; "Those who knew Katie Cay best admired that fearless disregard of danger which,often on indifferent horses,carried her bang up in the van with the hounds, be the country or pace what it might. There are many who still speak of her as one of the best horsewomen England has had for the last half century."
Catherine Cay wrote a poem to her friends on Mull for christmas 1913 printed in the local newspaper the Oban Times"
"'Oban Times,'please tell for me,
Who am far ayont the sea,
To the people I have Kenned,
All good wishes I would send,
In that island of the west
I have ever loved the best,
Mull,where ever in my dreams
I am wandering by her streams,
Seeing ever Inniemore,
And waves beat that shore.
Wish them all a guid new year
in your pages,aye so clear,
and guid to ane and a'
Is the wish of ane awa'."
Katie Cay
There are only a couple of other references to the Empress of india a mention of the author meeting her brother-in-law in Liverpool, broken hearted after spending a the saddest week of his life making inquiries into his wifes death.
The other concerning her brother Leslie who had just arrived in New York when he heard the news of his sisters death, he was there to play polo for England against the USA, "With a sad heart, Leslie had to take his place in the practice matches as England's No2 and even then bad luck followed, for he received a severe hit,, which prevented him playing for several days. Owing, However, to fine sportsmanlike behaviour on the part of the American team, the first test match was postponed to enable him to recover"
Catherine beatrice would have spent most of her youth at Bentley, wellfield, and Mull[summers]. there is not any more information that I have at present, if anyone wants a e-mail ot the portait picture of Catherine and Gumpy[the horse] i will send you it in due course.
regards Malcolm
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Dear Malcolm,

Many thanks for your post, it was very kind of you to share your knowledge of Catherine. I have to say that in my search for details relating to the Empress of Ireland, I have never come across a mention of Mrs Cay by any survivor. In those few minutes that people had to react, before the Empress sank, few people seemed to take in details of those around them. I have wondered if Percy Adie and his wife were acquainted with Catherine. He was a successful silversmith and jeweller from Birmingham, and it did occur to me that he might have become aware of Catherine in the short time before the accident. However, I have never located an account by him, or his wife.
Regarding Catherine's first marriage, I must admit I was quite surprised when I came across it, and seriously doubted that I had the right person. However, Catherine is Mrs Robert on the 1901 census. She was staying at Charleton Mansion House, Kilconquhar. Others at the house were John Anstruther Thomson, his wife, Isabel, and daughter, Rachel Jean.
I would like to put the marriage information correctly, as my typing let me down so badly earlier. Catherine Beatrice Cheape married Charles Lee Robert. The marriage was registered between July and September 1895 in Bromsgrove.
From the 1901 census, Charles Lee Robert is described as an American, aged 29 and living just outside Worcester. With him were Arthur Robert, also from America, aged 32, and Dorothy, aged 3. Dorothy had been born in Maidenhead.
I would very much like to uncover the details regarding the marriage, but to date, further details have not come to light.
Again, Malcolm, many thanks for your sharing those details on Catherine.
With very best wishes
Craig
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
It has occurred to me as I posted this last message, could Catherine's first marriage have taken place at Bentley? Bromsgrove is the registration district in which the marriage took place, but does not indicate a particular location. It would be reasonable to find that Bentley was in the Bromsgrove area.
Just a thought...
Craig
 
Apr 1, 2005
31
0
76
Hi again Craig,
The more I see the information you have the more interesting I find it,the first thing that comes to mind is that the child and the marriage were hushed up, which means that it will be hard to find anyone in the family now with any knowledge.I don't suppose you have a copy of the marriage or birth certificate any small detail would help.The family that you mention the Anstruther Thomsons are mentioned repeatedly in the book both at Wellfield and Bentley, there is even a photo of the three you state. All I can promise is I will let you know if I find any thing. regards Malcolm
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Hi Malcolm,
I have ordered the copy of the Catherine's marriage certificate, in the hope that it will answer some of the mystery surrounding the marriage. I'll let you know when it arrives. If it proves of use, I'll then order the birth certificate.
Regards
Craig
 
Jan 5, 2001
119
0
146
Hello Malcolm,
Catherine Cay's marriage certificate finally turned up today. So much for service in five days. It seems the marriage was no great family secret. Catherine married at the parish church of Taidebrigge, Worcester on July 4th 1895. She was 19 years old. Her husband was Charles Lee Robert, a gentleman, and the son of Christopher Rhinelander Robert, who was also described as a gentleman. Charles was 24 years old. Charles gave his address as Bradley, while Catherine came from Taidebrigge. Present at the service were Catherine's father, and one Arthur Remingdon Robert. The service was conducted by Rev J. Walker, rector of Abbot's Morton. I would think that the marriage was noted in the local press too, which might have included a list of guests.
Looking at the certificate, and seeing that George Clerk Cheape was a witness, I do wonder what the family made of the marriage.
I hope, Malcolm, that this adds to your family story.
With best wishes
Craig
 
Mar 28, 2002
1,015
0
166
Afternoon Craig,

You mention place names Bradley and Bentley. I don't know if it's a red herring but here in the West Midlands, Bradley (pronounced Bradeley in this case) is within Bilston, a suburb of Wolverhampton, and Bentley is an area of Walsall. Looking on the map, they're not a million miles apart and in the general area of Redditch, Rugby, Birmingham etc.

http://www.multimap.com/map/browse.cgi?client=public&X=397500&Y=297500&width=500&height=300&gride=&gridn=&srec=0&coordsys=gb&db=&addr1=&addr2=&addr3=& pc=&advanced=&local=&localinfosel=&kw=&inmap=&table=&ovtype=&zm=0&scale=50000&out.x=4&out.y=10

Cheers,

Boz