Mistakes in Countess' biography on ET

Sep 1, 2004
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I have contacted Alastair Leslie, a grandson of Noëlle. He have set me few pages about her but there are some mistakes. On that papers is written that countess was born in 1884, she occupated cabin on C-Deck and her was Noel. What is right? Encyclopedia Titanica or her grandson?

Thanks
Regards, Vitezslav
 
May 12, 2005
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Vitizslav:

Some time before the late Earl’s death, I corresponded with him, and the information he shared also cited his grandmother’s date of birth as 1884. Also, her name was indeed Noelle, at least that is the name she preferred, as her birth name was Lucy Noel Martha. The matter of her cabin assignment is up for debate, I suppose, but most researchers have settled on cabin C-77 as the one she and her cousin occupied.

As to "mistakes," Encyclopedia-Titanica can only be as "right" as the researchers who contribute to it. I’m nearly finished with an account of Noelle’s life, which I’ll be submitting here soon. Also, at that time I will add my research sources and some "new" photos of her that I’ve found to her biography page.

There was a lot of civic and charity work that Noelle did, mostly relating to the care of children, and she was long associated with the Red Cross, to which she endowed an ambulance brigade. She was herself a trained nurse, which came in handy during WWI when she tended to soldiers as well as a group of Belgian refugees whom she sheltered at Leslie House, her husband’s family seat. There’s quite a bit more that I’ve found, but very little of it has to do with Titanic, which isn’t my focus. But there are some new tidbits about her connection to the disaster —— for instance, the real reason she was aboard Titanic, the reaction of the townfolk of Leslie to the news of her escape, and what her father did to commemorate her rescue.

People like Ben Holme, Bob Godfrey, Daniel Klistorner and others here on ET are more expert than I on the passengers as a whole, and another ET member, Craig Stringer has done quite a lot of research on Noelle and her family in particular.

Best wishes,
Randy
 
Sep 1, 2004
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Thank you Randy! I have sent you a letter yesterday, so you should receive it soon. I have used the address what was on the envelope from Discretions.

Regards, Vitezslav
 

Sally Sorour

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Nov 4, 2005
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Randy
Where did you get all this info on the countess of rothes such as she was a nurse and associated with the red cross? Was there a registry of public records in her hometown or did you talk to family descendents. One would think that someone with her position would not normally have been a nurse. She would have lived like any other high society woman, a luxury life with parties
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>She would have lived like any other high society woman, a luxury life with parties<<

While there may be some truth to this, people in high society also gave a lot of their time and money towards charitable and humanitarian enterprises. It was not unusual for some to sign on with such oganizations as the Red Cross. Even royalty did this.
 
May 12, 2005
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Sally:

"….Where did you get all this info on the countess of rothes such as she was a nurse and associated with the red cross?…."

I got all that info from researching newspaper and magazine stories.

"….Was there a registry of public records in her hometown or did you talk to family descendents…."

I don’t know about a registry but her work as a nurse and her contributions of money, supplies and hard work were well recorded in the press. And, yes, I corresponded with her late grandson, as I mentioned above.

Here’s a small clipping from a 1919 story about the Countess of Rothes’ work as a nurse; it was syndicated in the American press:

View Image

"….One would think that someone with her position would not normally have been a nurse…."

Well, one would be wrong if one thinks that. During World War I many aristocratic women "did their bit," as the slogan went. They served soup to soldiers in canteens, made bandages and sewed socks for them, drove ambulances, and indeed worked as nurses, tending the sick and wounded in hospitals and even on the battlefield. Elsie de Wolfe, the New York society decorator, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for her services as a nurse in the trenches of France in WWI. Titanic’s own Helen Churchill Candee was decorated by the Italian Red Cross for her work as a nurse. And titled Englishwomen were no different —— the Duchesses of Sutherland and Wellington both worked as nurses during WWI, and there were many more like them. What is interesting about the countess is that she was a nurse before the war, aiding the sick and poor on her estates as well as in hospitals in Fifeshire and elsewhere.

"….She would have lived like any other high society woman, a luxury life with parties…"

She had her share of parties but Noelle Rothes did a lot of charity work, which was also part of the life of a "society woman."

Randy
 
Jan 28, 2003
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There is a long tradition of society women 'doing their bit' in times of both peace, and emergency / war, as Randy says. They had the time and resources, and during Victorian, and especially Edwardian times, it was considered a duty. Patriarchal, maybe, but also very valuable in times before the Welfare State. And possibly more efficient, in a local sense, than the Welfare State.

Noelle was also young and energetic during 1912 -1918, and for women used to a round of social activities, the wartime opportunities for service may have offered adventure and independence, on top of a desire to be of use in desperate times.

A much-enjoyed book of mine is "To War with Whitaker" - the wartime diaries (WW2) of the Countess of Ranfurly. This well illustrates the work that can be done by those with time and contacts - not available to most of us of course, but not to be denigrated nonetheless, if it helps society at large surely?

After the war, Hermione Ranfurly set up a charity for sending second-hand books to developing nations, which seems a rather good idea to me. She seems to me to have been rather similar to Noelle in outlook, energy, and modernism. OK, they were privileged, but they also were able to put the privilege to useful work.
http://www.bookaid.org/cms.cgi/site/about/history.htm