Countess of Rothes

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Adam Odle

Guest
I just came across this painting of the Countess. No date on it, not sure if it's been posted here b4 or not. Also i was wondering if anyone knew where she was buried at and if there are any pictures of her grave site. Thank You!
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Apr 27, 2003
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Adam
I have the following:
Born 25th December 1884 and died on 12th September 1956 and has a memorial in St. Mary's Church, Fairford, Gloucestershire.
Also there is a memorial to her in Prinknash Abbey, Cranham, Gloucester, GL4 8EX.
The memorial reads:
Noelle Widow of the 19th Earl of Rothes and beloved wife of Col. Claude Macfie DSO of Fayre Court, Fairford - at rest 12 Sept. 1956.
Holiness is an infinite compassion for others - Greatness is to take the common things of life and walk truly among them - Happiness is a great love and much serving.

Regards - Brian
 
Jul 19, 2003
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I have always had a problem believing the information concerning Mrs. Macfie printed on her death certificate of 1956, stating that she died at age 77, indicating she was born in 1879 or thereabout. However, the plaque seems to read 1884; the present Earl of Rothes maintains that his grandmother was born in 1884; and even a newspaper article from early 1900 written by a journalist who was present at Noël Dyer-Edwardes' wedding to Norman Evelyn Leslie, 19th Earl of Rothes, said: "[Miss Dyer-Edwardes] is quite young - only about nineteen, I believe." (Of course the journalist only estimated her age, but she always described her as being girlish.)

It would therefore seem highly likely that the death certificate for the late Mrs. Claud Macfie contained certain errors. I am not positive, but I believe she is buried there at St. Mary's in Fayre Court, Fairford.

Adam,

The portrait you have posted is dated 1923, and can be found at the Clan Leslie Charitable Trust (www.clanleslietrust.org/)
 
Jul 19, 2003
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I would also like to add another note in addition to my July 5 post:

As regards to the plaque in memory of Mrs. Macfie, I should also mention that it seems to have been placed after the death of her husband, Colonel Macfie, who died on December 23, 1963 (as it is printed underneath the very kind words concerning this wonderful lady). I think whoever had that plaque placed there (and I doubt it was Claud Macfie himself) must have misprinted the Countess' name as "Noëlle" when indeed it was actually Noël Lucy Martha (somewhere mixed as Lucy Noël Martha). In her letters to her mother, Miss Gladys Cherry called her cousin-in-law "Noël." The present Earl of Rothes also calls his grandmother "Noël Lucy Martha." And a further source, the Clan Leslie Charitable Trust Organisation (www.clanleslietrust.org/) also calls her "Noël Dyer-Edwardes." From all accounts, I am inclined to believe there were a few errors made in Mrs. Macfie's death certificate.
 
May 12, 2005
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I believe Walter Lord had letters (now apparently at the Greenwich Musem) in which Lady Rothes signed her name "Noelle." So it may have been an idiosyncratic use of her own. I think the mix-up of her name as "Lucy Noel Martha" started with her entry in Burke's Peerage.
 
Jul 19, 2003
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Randy,

Thanks for clearing that up. I know there have been variations from "Noël" to "Noëlle" as far as she is concerned, and now it would make sense for her plaque to read "Noëlle," since she used that for herself. Perhaps she preferred to use the feminine version of the name instead of her actual given name, which was the direct translation for the French word for Christmas? Ainsi-soit-il!
 
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Adam Odle

Guest
Hello All,

Whatever happened to the brass # plate given to the Countess, from her lifeboat #8. I think i read somewhere it was lost? I'm not sure, thank you.

Adam Odle
 
Jul 19, 2003
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Hi Adam!

Unless auctioned, I do believe the brass plate given to the Countess remains in the possession of her grandson, the 21st Earl of Rothes. A picture of this brass plate can be found in Don Lynch and Ken Marschall's book, "Titanic: An Illustrated History" (p. 144).
 
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Adam Odle

Guest
Jeffrey,

Thank U for clearing that up, i always thought it was lost, good to know that her family still has it and not lost some where. Also are there any books out there ONLY about The Countess of Rothes, she's one of my favorite Titanic passengers. Again great thanks Jeffrey,

Adam Odle
 
Jul 19, 2003
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She is my favorite passenger also, Adam. Unfortunately there are no books available solely relating to Lady Rothes, save that her grandson published a brief article on her a few years back, available exclusively to members of Clan Leslie.

Perhaps your post has been a confirmation to me, Adam. It has been my desire to write a biography on the Countess for a very long time now, and I am barely getting started on this project. It will take a very long time, no doubt, but it is something I want to put my whole heart in doing.

Hopefully (and Lord willing) I can carry out this project. For now, I will do what research I can and see how far I can go.

Take care.
 
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Adam Odle

Guest
Hello All,

Jeffrey,Thanks for you input, wish there were books out there about the lovely Countess. I personally think she dont get enough attention like the other fameous passengers. Whatyou think? Also i was wondering, what ever happened to the letters written back and forth between her and Jones? Any of them been saved? Who do think she hung out with on board? Did everyone know her? Sorry for all the questions, i could probably think a million more stupid questions. I'll stop right here for now. Thank You,

Adam Odle
 
Jul 19, 2003
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Adam,

Let me just say that your questions are not stupid, but they are honest and excellent; anybody with a real interest in a passenger would not only love to know what they did while on board, but would actually loved to have been there to see it for themselves.

As far as letters between the Countess and Tom Jones, I was unaware they communicated by letter. I suppose they did write, but I was under the impression that Lady Rothes sent him a card every Christmas up until her last days of life. As far as who might have those letters, it would probably not be in the possession of the Countess' grandson, but in the possession of a relation of Tom Jones. That would be an interesting little project to undertake.

As far as people the Countess knew on board, I can guarantee that she and her husband's cousin, Miss Gladys Cherry, got to know Mr. and Mrs. Tyrell Cavendish. Also, the fact that a "Countess" was on board the Titanic was very well known due to the press, but also on board: Edward Colley, in writing a letter to his cousin that he sent off on April 11, 1912, just before the Titanic left Queenstown, mentions the Countess (you can view this letter in Senan Molony's book, "The Irish Aboard Titanic," which may still be for sale at Amazon.com).

I recall that the Countess was asked by a newspaperman if she had ever seen Mr. Ismay, and she replied, "I did not know Mr. Ismay by sight until one night at dinner he came in late, and someone pointed him out to me as being the managing director of the line."

The Countess also mentions Mr. Fletcher Lambert-Williams in her testimony to the New York Times, thus probably being acquainted with him from earlier in the voyage.

I can also tell you that she spent some time in the restaurant, listening to the orchestra perform. Unless it was the last song that she herself heard, the orchestra's last song they played that night in the restaurant was "The Tales of Hoffman," which Mrs. Macfie recounted to Walter Lord in a personal interview.

For her later life, I can also tell you that she led a very quiet, particularly uneventful life. She settled in Fayre Court, Fairford, with her second husband, Claud Macfie, and participated in town events there (when I say uneventful, I should mean no other disaster struck in her life, besides the loss of her father, mother, and first husband, the latter dying from war wounds in 1927). And as far as I know, Lady Rothes never again traveled overseas. The last voyage she ever took was the return trip to Great Britain with her husband from Canada in July 1912.
 
May 12, 2005
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Adam:

I know the Countess of Rothes is Jeffrey Kern's special area of interest, but I may be able to help with some of your comments/questions. On another thread, I also see that Ben Holme has given his excellent insight on the subject.

You asked: "...I personally think she dont get enough attention like the other fameous passengers..."

Although Noelle Rothes' social position would have ensured that she was well-connected (in Great Britain at least), she wasn't famous. Her experiences in the Titanic disaster offered her a measure of celebrity but she shunned it, as most blue-bloods of that day would have.

Having a title seems glamorous to Americans as we have nothing like it here, but in England lords and ladies are not a rarity and so, unless they are royal, active politically or noted in some other way, being a peer or peeress does not necessarily guarantee fame - or money! There were then (as now) not a few down-to-earth marquises and barons holding regular jobs.

"...Did everyone know her?..."

I doubt it, unless she was a part of the international set. From what I've gathered, Noelle Rothes lived a quiet, private existence, as befitted her role as chatelaine and hostess. I don't know for sure but I think it's likely that she would have been active in community affairs and charities in addition to devoting her time to her household and family. Geoff Whitfield, of the British Titanic Society, and Craig Stringer have done great research on her and they may be able to share some of it here. (I believe Geoff was in correspondence with the current Lord Rothes)

Having said that, I have no doubt that Noelle's beauty, which was exquisite, turned many heads on board Titanic and caused people to want to know her. She was probably very wise to have her cousin as companion. Otherwise she might have attracted more attention from gentlemen than would have been appropriate for a married, unescorted lady. She was definitely one of the most beautiful women on board Titanic.

Randy
 
May 12, 2005
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PS) I have no documented proof that the Duff Gordons were acquainted with the Countess but as they had a friendship in common with the Cavendishes, it's possible the couple met her on board. Also, as Cosmo Duff Gordon was a Scotsman, he may have known her husband.
 
A

Adam Odle

Guest
Hello All,

jeffrey, Gosh ur just full of info on the Countess thank u very much for answering my questions and more! Also Randy, thank you very much also! Someone needs to write a book! lol Again thank you very much! I wish i could have met this remarkable women in person. More questions! Who met The Countess and her cousen at Pier 54 when the Carpathia dropped the survivors off? If anyone met them. After staying in a hotel did they just continue their trip to Canada to be w/ her husband? Also did her husband @ the time give any interviews or remarks about his lovely wife about the night of the sinking? I think thats all i can think of right now. Well wait! 1 more. Are their any pictures or pantings other than the ones posted on this site? I thought i saw a picture? of her dressed in black somewhere, i just can;t remember where. Any help? Again thanks for ur help Jeffrey and Randy! means ALOT!

Adam Odle

Adam Odle
 
Oct 14, 2003
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Hello!

Does anyone know why the Countess and her cousin were going to Canada? It says on the bio that they stayed at the Plaza Hotel when getting to NY but did they stay there long?

Also, did Gladys and Cissy go back to England with the Countess and her husband or did they go back on a different ship?
 
Jul 19, 2003
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Hi Christa!

Actually, Noël was traveling to New York to meet with her husband; from there, the two would travel to Pasadena, California, for business purposes (which never followed through).

Gladys, meanwhile, went only as far as New York to meet with family. Although it may have been possible that she met up with Noël, it is more likely she returned with her immediate family, leaving from New York. The Countess returned to the United Kingdom in July.
 
Oct 14, 2003
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Wow Jeffrey! You're quick off the mark!

What do you mean by 'which never followed through'? Also, can you recommend any way to find out when Gladys went back?

Thanks heaps!
 
Jul 19, 2003
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No problem at all.

What I mean to say that Norman and Noël's business plans "never followed through" was that apparently Lord Rothes had been planning to move out to the West; he had been intending to purchase real estate (farmland in particular), but for some reason (of which I know little) he forsook the idea. The two returned to England via Canada.

As far as when exactly Gladys returned to England, sadly I am a blank sheet. I can only assume (which is of little value) that she stayed for a month or two, and then returned. On the Carpathia she wrote some letters, and in one she wrote that she dreaded "the voyage back again." Other than this as possibly being somewhat of a subtle indication, it is unclear when she returned.