Helen Melville Smith


Scott Blair

Dear Group,

I am researching the life of Helen Smith,daughter of Captain Smith.This may lead to an article for ET.

I have read the material on ET about her and have the THS articles about her.I have also gleaned some material from the two published books on the Captain, as well as from the Children of the Titanic site.

As some of you will be aware she was a remarkable lady who managed to overcome a great deal of personal adversity to lead a long and adventurous life.Her married name was Russell-Cooke.

As she only died in 1973 I cannot help but feel that there will still be people out there who knew her or know who now holds any items or papers about her life and of course that of her father and Eleanor Smith.She lived in Leafield , Oxfordshire from 1934 until 1973 and as I live in Scotland-the distance of 400 miles makes it difficult to do much first hand research/and or interviewing.

I suppose that is my first hope and question for the group.

Does anyone know of someone who knew her and can be contacted ? Does anyone know of a branch of the Russell-Cooke family out there ?

Does anyone know of any material about her views on her father/Titanic ? I know about her comments in ANTR and her visit to the set of ANTR in 1957.

Does anyone know what became of her personal items and papers ? She was of course a widow , possibly twice over , and outlived her two
children and had no grandchildren.

I suppose her executor would have dealt with this. Does anyone have a copy of any will or indeed death certificate?

Does anyone know what became of her home of close to 40 years, "Pratts".Hope upon hope does anyone on the list live near to it or in the Oxfordshire area ?I am sure she will still be remembered there.

Anyone have any ideas for possible leads or even just general information ?

I look forward to hearing from you.

I have the death certificates for her, her daughter, and her mother. I also have Capt. Smith's birth certificate, if any of those items will help.


And I will be sending the photos I promised of the graves of Helen & her mother at Brookwood Cemetery. I am having copies made and enlarged. Good luck in your work.

Hi Philip and Randy,

Philip, the certificates would be great. Could you
attach them to an e-mail? If not copies would be
fine.I'll refund any postage.

Randy , once again thanks for your help here.

Hello Scott,
I was wondering if you are any relation to David Blair, the original second officer?
Hi Michael,

I am pretty sure I am not related.

As far as I know although he too was a Scot he hailed from the east of the the country and my family are from the west.It is also a common name in Scotland.

I do sometimes wonder what it would be like to read about Blair if he had been second officer !

Scott Blair
Hey Scott, it me again.

Just another question about surnames, do you know if David Blair is any relation to tony Blair and William Murdich a relation to Rupert Murdoch?
Scott, copies of Wills in England and, I believe in Wales, are easy to obtain.
Write to:
York Probate
Sub Registry
Duncombe Place
Tel: 01904 624210
State date of death and last known address and full name of deceased. Ask for "Grant and Will" of the deceased, that way you'll pick up any codicils or attachments.
Enclose cheque for £5.00 made payable to “HMPG” (Her Majesty’s Paymaster General). The fee was £5.00 in May 1999.

I live close than you to Oxford, if you give me the address, I’ll have a look to see what’s there.

What a mine of information is ET!

Martin Pirrie

Thanks for the help on any will.

In Scotland the registration of wills as a public document is at the discretion of the maker or after death,the executor.This can make research harder in this part of the UK.

Hmm.... an article on the wills of well-known Titanic characters might be an interesting project in itself !

Your offer to visit Leafield is very kind.

Helen lived in a house called Pratts from 1934 until her death there in 1973. I did a search on the on-line OS Map but no house of that name showed up. There was a Spratts Farm but I am not sure if this is the same place.

It is quite possible that my search was not complete or of course that the name of the house has changed.

Equally I am not sure if the house was situated on or near a street.From what I gather Leafield is rural in character and it may be that the house was known by it's name only.

I will try to trace the will. That may have more on an address. I will try the OS again.If of course you can get there and trace it based on my limited information then that would be great.You may wish to await hearing from me

If of couse on your travels you met someone who knew her then that would be really great !

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Wishes

Scott Blair
Scott: The Scots always were a secretive race!

Leafield is about 20 miles away, the other side of Chipping Norton.

She Who Must be Obeyed, likes to look at antique shops and The Cotswolds are full of them. So I may be able to satisfy two people at the same time! No mean achievement!!

My e-mail address [email protected]


Martin Pirrie
As far as the Pratt Home this was what was written about the "Pratt" Home

In 1934, Mel moved to a quiet country village in Oxfordshire, Leafield, near Witnet. "Pratts" had a large and beautifully cared for garden which she loved.

It was also said to be a large house containing expensive furniture and other valuable objects d'art also that many social events and parties were held at "Pratt" as well as weekend visitors. Now when you put is all together this sounds more like a country mansion than a small house in a village.
Kathleen J., I take it from what you said that Helen Melville (Smith) Russel-Cooke became at least fairly affluent and became a socialite of sorts late in life? Or am I mistaken?

Richard K.
It is said she loved her solitude, but thrived on social events.

She rubbed elbows with artists like David Rhode and was even known to have the famous Bomber Harris (he commanded air raids over Germany) stay for the weekend.

The way I hear it she was a bit of a wild woman later in life. Example: Driving Fast Sports Cars.