Rhoda Abbott Revealed

Great work Bob- I wanted to be among the first to congratulate you and your research efforts-not only on this subject but so many more over the years. Ever since our "On the Road" adventures in Rhode Island last year, and reading about Rhoda's sad life in Providence, I've wondered about how it all ended. Thanks for sharing. It's a remarkable story.

I also wish to thank you for the fascinating article on the elusive Rhoda Abbott. A sad story indeed. I know the hours you clocked in the pursuit of poor Rhoda.

I am especially glad that she has been found, and that the Titanic community at last finally knows what became of this most tragic figure.

My congratulations once again on a top-notch research article.

Paul Lee

Great resume of her life, but a little disturbing as to how Titanic researchers have repeatedly got her name wrong without doing any checking.


Wow! I've been waiting for years to find out about Mrs. Abbott. I had hoped that after her tragic loss that her life was better. I'm saddened to hear about how hard it was. Thank you for sharing the invaluable information with us. I think to me she will always be Rosa Abbott but I'm so glad to know that at last, her true name has been revealed!
Well, done, Bob! It was sad reading, but satisfying to discover the mystery solved. Only took 92 years, but you did it! Thank you so much for sharing it here with us.

Sad reading indeed. I went through the article yesterday and it seemed this lovely lady could just never get a break. If there is indeed a better place in whatever lies beyond the material world that we know, I hope she's there.

She's already spent her time in Hell.

Inger Sheil

I think we're being quite spoiled with such a wealth of information on Abbott! I seem to recall Phil G touched upon some of his discoveries at a BTS convention a few years ago, and how excited we were by her 'finding'. It is an almost relentlessly sad story.

One of the things that I found remarkable in all this wealth of new material was the location of her ashes - I was out at Mortlake Crematorium a while back to photograph where Charles and Sylvia Lightoller had their ashes scattered, and of course never had an inkling that it was Abbott's final resting place as well.

Christine Geyer

Yes, Phil G. and Brian have done an amazing job here once again!! There is hardly any researcher who could beat them. It's brilliant.
A huge thank you to Andrew Clarkson for posting the “new” Rhoda Abbott article by Phil G., Brian M., and Ben H. I put “new” in quotes because, although a lot of people won’t realize this, most of the info in the article has come from many years of painstaking research. I remember reading a nearly finished draft of this article at the 2003 BTS convention and being very impressed that so much had been found by Phil and Brian on such an elusive passenger. I’m glad to see that their stupendous work has finally found its way into “print.” I know that they were just waiting to find Rhoda’s final resting place in order to put the final touch on the article before presenting it to the public, and that little tidbit tied everything up perfectly. Now her story is complete.

I think it was John Feeney who once commented that no one can tell a story and make you feel what the person felt better than Phil Gowan. After reading the biography I’m sure that Rhoda would be pleased that someone finally told her story as it deserved to be told and truly closed out the last chapter. The little tidbit about Rhoda Abbott and Lightoller created one of those "oh, my gosh!" endings that Phil is known for coming up with.

To make one slight change to what Christine said above. In my opinion, there is *no* researcher or team who can beat them!

Congratulations for a superb article that has been years in the making. I look forward to reading more from you guys on the Titanic-Titanic site.

Eric Sauder
Is this the article that people were buzzing about several years ago, Eric? WOW! Now I see what the fuss was all about. I heard it was really good.... No exaggeration there! Thank you for pointing out that it was completed and revealed. Great job guys! Always a pleasure to see the final draft of long hours work.

Ben Holme

Hi Ing and Eric,

Glad you enjoyed the article. I'll be the first to admit that Phil and Brian did the lion's share of the research into Rhoda Abbott Williams' fascinating and poignant life story. I am greatly honoured to be listed as a co-author.

I was delighted to stumble across the information relating to Rhoda Abbott's cremation at Mortlake. As we all predicted, the indefatigable detective work of Phil and Brian would quickly yield a date and place of death. The latter tidbit proved the most crucial, however, and promped me to contact all cemeteries and crematoria in the Barnes area. I sent Mortlake a list of 10 names (Titanic and Lusitania), and Mrs. Williams was the only one that came back "positive".

I then recalled the detail that Charles Herbert Lightoller, whose miraculous escape from the Titanic closely mirrored that of Rhoda Abbott, also ended up at Mortlake Crematorium six years later. Eric is quite right to say that it provided an "Oh my gosh!" ending, and a very last minute "Oh my gosh!" it was too!

Thanks must also go to Bob Coates at the crematorum who did the preliminary sleuthing on my behalf to establish Rhoda's final resting place.

With thanks again,

(Actor and Burial-Botherer)
What I'm wondering is what it was that made finding that last tidbit so difficult, but in reading the article, I noticed that Rhoda kept a pretty low profile. Was her death even noted in any of the obituary sections where she spent her final years?

Looking at the photos, I noticed that she didn't age very well. Small wonder given the health problems she suffered as well as the anguish of losing her children.

Ben Holme

Hi Michael,

It was very common for people of little wealth or social standing to be bypassed in the death notices which appeared in the main newspapers at the time, and even if Rhoda's death *was* recorded, it is ulikely that a place of burial would be cited.

If is infinitely harder to locate burial locations in the UK, chiefly because the death certificates are so sparse on details. This is a cause of constant frustration for us Brit passenger blokes! Death certs in the US provide such revealing details as the disposition of remains, name of funeral director etc. On this side of the pond, we are usually forced to resort to the old-fashioned method of contacting the nearest cemetery to where the survivor died.

You're quite right to say that Mrs. Williams did no age well. While many first class survivors became distinctly overweight in later years, as reflected by ther photographs, Rhoda appeared to have veered in the opposite direction, and gradually withered away, both physically and emotionally.

As you mention, her countless sorrows in life would have compounded this.


>>Rhoda appeared to have veered in the opposite direction, and gradually withered away, both physically and emotionally.<<

So I noticed. I've a hunch that at some point, she just gave up and decided she'd had enough. Failed marraige, shipwrecked, lost her children, next marraige apparantly one of convenience only and God knows what else...that's a lot to have to live with.
Her first marriage was a turbulent affair as well. Stanton continued to live on his own in Providence and the vicinity for a time after, and I found his name in the church records, as well as the record of Rossmore's baptism, which is the first time I saw Rhoda's signature in her own hand. Rhoda took in sewing for a time to help support the three of them, and had a very hard time making ends meet. The little home they shared is no longer standing, and was in the heart of the city. Here is the family church, Grace Episcopal, which is still a very active parish, and the memorial service for those lost on Titanic. I understand Rossmore sang in the boys'choir at one time.