Officers' Families


Hanna Turunen

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Mar 23, 2004
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Hello!

I've heard that some of the officers (Lightoller, Lowe and Moody) had got some troubles with their fathers? Is it true and what are those troubles?

And second question? Did the officers had got pets? I know that Smith had got dog and Lightoller had got dog too, in his later years, but what about other officers?

Thank you!
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Hanna - good to see you again -

Lightoller's father left his children and emigrated to NZ after the death of his second wife (not with his second wife, as has been erroneously stated).

Lowe's troubles with his father are partially documented in his testimony at the American Inquiry, and I'll explore them further in the bio I'm writing. It is worth noting, however, that he was effectively reconciled with George by 1900, and at the time of George's death he and one other brother were George's sole beneficiaries.

Moody's relationship with his father is a bit more complex. J H Moody was a good looking, charming, highly intelligent man who was not overly fond of work and who squandered many of his talents - it was this that James found difficult to understand. There is more to the story, but out of respect for his family I don't think it can really be aired on a public messageboard without their knowledge.

Many of the officers had pets, from a puppy I know James Moody had as a child to the cockerspaniels that Boxhall cherished in his later years. Moody wrote of ships' cats and once tried to get hold of a parrot as a pet. Harold Lowe seems to have had something of an affinity with animals, and one particular WWI shot of him I'm fond of shows him bundled up in winter furs craddling the ship's dog in his arms. Another photo shows him in his merchant officer uniform, holding what seems to be a tiny kitten. In his retirement years he had both dogs and cats, and one of the best photos of him in this late period shows him with a particular favourite dog.
 

Hanna Turunen

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Mar 23, 2004
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Hi Inger!

Yes, I was on holiday in Paris so I didn't use net
happy.gif
.

Okay, thank you for your information again, Inger!

Do you know what type of puppy did Moody had got?
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Sorry, Hanna - I don't know what type of puppy it was. It was just mentioned in one of his mother's letters - and that he and his brother loved it 'very much'. He was only a small child at the time.

Holiday in Paris is a great excuse not to get on the net
happy.gif
I think it would be the last of my concerns if I was over there!
 

Hanna Turunen

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Mar 23, 2004
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That's okay, Inger
happy.gif
. Can you say now when Moody's siblings were born?

Yes, I agree
happy.gif
. And I went there to Maritime Museum too! That was very interesting place as you can guess
happy.gif
.
 
Oct 14, 2003
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Hello!

This is not on the subject of fathers (or it might be!) but I was meandering through the crew posts and wondering what life would have been like for the wives and children of the officers and crew. How often would they get home? Would they have long between journeys to stop at home? I wouldn't be too impressed if I was Sylvia Lightoller with an absent husband and a couple of kids running rampant!
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Christina,

Articles of Agreement ran for two years, upon the expiry of which the agreement terminated and the crew had to be repatriated with due despatch from wherever the ship happened to be. It was not unknown for the term to run its full course, particularly in the cross-trades and in tramping.

Married men naturally opted for companies with short voyages but they could occasionally get caught out by a 'double header' where the next turn-round was in a foreign port.

As to the effect all this had on wives and children: infidelity and divorce were not unknown and there were apocryphal(?) tales of getting bitten by the dog and of children wondering who the bloody hell that strange man is. However, in most cases the return of father, particularly with plenty of 'prezzies', was a periodic joy.

Noel
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Christa -

I covered the subject of his father's absences and how the family managed while he was away with the late Harold W G Lowe. He wrote and spoke to me a good deal about his childhood and how his father's periods away from home impacted on his upbringing.

Briefly, the period of time HG Lowe was away from his family depended (of course) on what run he was on - for most of the 20s when Harold WG was very young, his father travelled to Canada and Australia. If it was the former, he would be away for a matter of weeks. If the latter, it would be months.

His returns were greatly anticipated by the children (HWGL remembered for the rest of his life a particular incident in which his father and an old crony tried to bring him home a rather exotic present - an Australian marsupial. Unfortunately the idea was defeated by quarantine laws).

The frequent absences did mean that there was a certain distance between Harold and his children in these early years. Although this changed as they grew older, I suspect that the gulf was never quite bridged - Lowe remained a figure inspiring awe, at least for his son, for the rest of his life.

One of the most moving pieces of ephemera connected with HGL is a letter he wrote to his son while at sea, in which it is evident that he was trying very hard to be a good, albeit often absent, father figure, offering guidence and advice to his son. HWGL valued the letter highly and kept it for the remainder of his life - when people asked him if his father was the martinet he sometimes comes across as in stories of HWGL's childhood, Harold would point to the letter as evidence to the contrary and proof of his father's loving, if strict, parenting.

His wife spent a good deal of her time nursing an ill member of her family, so she relied quite a bit on women who were employed as 'ladies' helps' to assist her with the children. She was a tremendously capable woman - I have the impression of sheer competance in the recollections those who knew Ellen Lowe.
 
Oct 14, 2003
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Hi Noel and Inger,

Thanks for the replies. I s'pose it would be hard juggling family and work - particularly if you were fond of your work. It's nice to hear that HG Lowe put in the effort with his son and that there was affection between the two. Without having much knowledge of the informal family times it's hard to picture what family life was like in the early 20th century.

Were 'ladies helps' like Silver Chain (whom help families with elderly family members) or more in line with helping with housework and the kids? I was surprised to hear that they had something like that back then?
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo again Christa -

"Ladies' helps" were women hired to assist with the housework and children. HWGL described 'a succession' of them.
 
M

mark garfien

Guest
"would Husbands ever be allowed to bring their families onboard"- When the Officers were working they were not allowed to bring there families/wives on board.
-Mark
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Deck officers could - and did - arrange visits for their families to their ships when in port. By way of example, James Moody was trying to arrange a tour of the Titanic before she sailed for one of his aunts and a sibling or two, but they had to postpone the visit (they tentatively rescheduled for when the ship was back in Southampton). Murdoch mentions an officer giving Ada a tour of the ship while he was writing a letter. There's a photograph in the Bell albumn that includes one of Boxhall's sisters.
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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A notable exception, of course, were the Lightollers. They married in Sydney after a shipboard romance, and Sylvia was allowed to return to England with her new husband on the Medic
 
A

Alyson Jones

Guest
What Hanna said about the officer's getting in to trouble with there fathers,is it true,if so how did there fathers delciplaine them?were there father's like our father's?
Exspecially James Moody,i would love to find out,lowe and lights i would to like to find out about them too.

Regards
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Alyson, I think you've slightly misinterpreted the use of the word "trouble" here. It is not so much that the officers as children and adolescents were in trouble (e.g. that they had earned their fathers' censure), but rather that some of them had "troubles" - i.e., difficulties - with their fathers, either through the actions their fathers took, or by their absence.

Lightoller was estranged from his father, who emigrated when Lightoller was very young, effectively abandoning him to the care of relatives. Moody's father also left him largely to the care of relatives, and although the two remained in (sometimes patchy) contact until Moody's death, Moody had problems with what he saw as his father's lack of initiative. Pitman's father died when he was young, and Wilde's father died shortly before he was born. Lowe, as I indicated above, had a rather complicated relationship with George Lowe (HGL decided to share a bit of that at the inquiry, but it's not the full story).

Murdoch and Boxhall, however, seemed to have rather solid, positive relationships with their fathers.

I couldn't say specifically what means were used to discipline them as boys, but I suspect it was the usual in an era when spanking wasn't out of order for more serious misbehaviour. Otherwise, there was the usual range of punishment, from being sent to your room/withholding of treats etc.
 

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