Passenger Mrs. James Duffy research.

Bryan Duffy

Feb 8, 2019
There is a pretty reliable story in my family that my Grandfather's first wife was one of the unfortunate passengers that perished in the Empress of Ireland sinking.

The passenger's name (3rd Class) is listed as "Mrs. James Duffy", but in other information I have seen it says "nee. Mary Ann Speake". My late Grandfather married a "Polly Speake" in Toronto, York County, Canada in 1911. The age on the wedding license matches the passenger's age.I have a digital copy of the wedding license.

The story in my family is that my Grandfather sent his wife back to Ireland for a visit on what turned out to be the ship's final trip with a 1st Class ticket. The story goes on that she sold the ticket in Quebec City in exchange for more travel money and a 3rd Class ticket that she then used. After the sinking my grandfather and his sister traveled to identify the recovered body.

I am looking to confirm (or dismiss) this family story. I would like to know the origin of the Mary Ann Speake in the passenger list and if there would be any way to trace and confirm that it was my late grandfather's first wife - aka Polly Speake. The age matches the marriage license. There were no children from the marriage that we know of.

I am not sure if the death certificates are available and if they listed the next of kin that identified the body (which would be great proof).