Miss Violet Constance Jessop

Violet Constance Jessop

Miss Violet Constance Jessop, 24, of 71 Shirley Road, Bedford Park, London was born in the pampas near Bahia Blanca, Argentina, the first child of Irish emigrants William and Katherine (Kelly) Jessop. Her father was a sheep farmer and she had five younger brothers and sisters. As a child Violet contracted Tuberculosis, Doctors gave her only months to live but she managed to overcome the disease.

When her father died in Mendoza the family returned to Britain, her mother found a job as a stewardess for the Royal Mail Line while Violet attended convent school. When her mother's health deteriorated Violet gave up school to became a stewardess herself, first with the Royal Mail Line, then later with White Star.

Violet didn't want to work for White Star because she didn't like the idea of sailing the North Atlantic run due to the weather conditions, and she had heard stories about the demanding passengers on that run.

Nevertheless Violet, who had grey-blue eyes, auburn hair and spoke with an Irish accent became a stewardess for the White Star Line working 17 hours a day, and being paid £2 10s. per month. She served on board the Olympic before joining the Titanic and was aboard the Olympic when she was in collision with HMS Hawke in 1911. Violet was happy on the Olympic and didn't really want to join the Titanic but was persuaded by her friends who thought it would be a 'wonderful experience'. So Violet, 'dressed in a new ankle-length brown suit' set out in a horse-drawn cab to join the brand new ship at her berth in Southampton.

Among the people she mentioned in her memoirs was Thomas Andrews and, like all other crew members it seems, she greatly admired him. Mr Andrews was the only person who seemed to heed the requests of the crew for improvements in the crew's quarters. The stewards and stewardesses were quite pleased with their quarters on Titanic. "Often during our rounds we came upon our beloved designer going about unobtrusively with a tired face but a satisfied air. He never failed to stop for a cheerful word, his only regret that we were 'getting further from home.' We all knew the love he had for that Irish home of his and suspected that he longed to get back to the peace of its atmosphere for a much-needed rest and to forget ship designing for awhile." Violet claims to have been friends with Scottish violinist Jock Hume, one of the few people working on the ship whom she identifies by his real name.

She said that it was her habit to take in the fresh air on deck before retiring for the night, and that "If the sun did fail to shine so brightly on the fourth day out, and if the little cold nip crept into the air as evening set in, it only served to emphasize the warmth and luxuriousness within."

In her memoirs she says that on Titanic's maiden voyage she brought a copy of a translated Hebrew prayer that an old Irish woman had given her. Upon settling down in her bunk she found that prayer and read it, then made her roommate (probably stewardess Elizabeth Leather) read it.   It was a strangely worded prayer that Violet says was supposed to protect her against fire and water. Violet was a devout Catholic who carried a rosary in her apron and believed strongly in the power of prayer. Violet wrote that she was "comfortably drowsy" in her bunk, but not quite asleep when the collision occurred.

''I was ordered up on deck. Calmly, passengers strolled about. I stood at the bulkhead with the other stewardesses, watching the women cling to their husbands before being put into the boats with their children. Some time after, a ship's officer ordered us into the boat (16) first to show some women it was safe. As the boat was being lowered the officer called: 'Here, Miss Jessop. Look after this baby.' And a bundle was dropped on to my lap.''

After eight hours in the boat Violet and the others were picked up by the Carpathia:

''I was still clutching the baby against my hard cork lifebelt I was wearing when a woman leaped at me and grabbed the baby, and rushed off with it, it appeared that she put it down on the deck of the Titanic while she went off to fetch something, and when she came back the baby had gone. I was too frozen and numb to think it strange that this woman had not stopped to say 'thank you'.

Violet served as a nurse with the British Red Cross during World War One and was on-board the Britannic when that vessel was sunk in the Aegean in 1916. Violet attributed her rescue from the sinking of the Britannic to her thick auburn hair:

''I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship's keel which struck my head. I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!''

In her late 30's she had "a brief and disastrous" marriage but the name of the husband has long eluded all researchers*. They had no children.

Miss Jessop retired to a sixteenth-century thatched cottage in Great Ashfield, Suffolk. She filled her home with mementoes of her forty two years at sea and looked after laying hens and her garden. She was interviewed for Woman Magazine (19th July 1958) when the film A Night to Remember was released in 1958.

Notes

* Senan Molony reveals the identity of her husband in his exclusive new article: Violet's barren White Star wedding
 

Pictures

Violet Jessop in her Voluntary Aid Detachment uniform
VIOLET JESSOP IN HER VOLUNTARY AID DETACHMENT UNIFORM
Violet Jessop's Grave at Hartest, Suffolk
VIOLET JESSOP'S GRAVE AT HARTEST, SUFFOLK
 

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2017) 
(2015) 
Titanica! (2011) 
THE STORY OF TITANIC SURVIVOR VIOLET JESSOP'S SHORT-LIVED MARRIAGE REVEALED FOR THE FIRST TIME.
(1971) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Michele said:

    Does anyone know the cabin number and the location of 's room, the Glory Hole location and what deck was Violet a stewardess on? Thank you!! Michele

  2. Daniel Rosenshine said:

    Hi! No one really knows which room Violet Jessop was in. She never revealed it in her interviews. Stewardesses did not occupy numbered cabins. On the various decks there were special rooms for stewardesses. They were marked "stewardess" on the deck plans. Although no one knows for sure, Violet Jessop was probably on E deck, in the stewardess room next to the elevator hall, oposite cabin E20. Hope this helps. Daniel.

  3. michelle said:

    Thank you Daniel!!! One more question.......Do you happen to know which first class passengers she was serving, was she working on C deck? michele:)

  4. Daniel Rosenshine said:

    Hi! As I said "although no one knows for sure, Violet Jessop was probably on E deck" Miss Jessop does not mention names at all in her account, well when she does they are only names she made up for the people she was talking about. Her account is rather confusing, but it is still interesting. She frequently mentions the staircase. She mentions "youngsters" in a cabin accross to hers, and she mentions putting a lifebelt on a child, who might be Douglas Spedden, but this of corse is not for sure. She sais she went up on deck, so I presume she was definitely not on A deck. E deck... Read full post

  5. belle said:

    Hello, I had a question regarding Violet Jessop, who is she? was she a passenger on the Titanic? Can someone tell me? thanks. Belle

  6. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Violet Jessop was a stewardess. She survived the Titanic...and also the Brittanic when that ship had the misfortune to park on a mine and sink. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  7. avatar

    Dave Gittins said:

    There is a book called Titanic Survivor, which consists of her memoirs, plus a commentary. I suggest you read it for interest but I wouldn't spend cash on it. For some reason she uses false names for nearly everybody involved and the book adds little to what we know.

  8. Lisa Watson said:

    I agree with what Dave said and I just wanted to say that I bought a copy at Barnes and Noble for $6 whereas other places I have seen it have been $16 and up.

  9. Adrianne Lapar said:

    I first heard about Violet Jessop one evening on a program on the Discovery Channel. When I learned that she published memoirs of her survival on the Titanic and her sister ships, Brittanic and Olympic, I rushed to buy it. Although, as Dave says, it uses fake names and is a very limited account, the book is quite interesting. Violet Jessop survived the well-known Titanic disaster. Then she served aboard the Brittanic, which became a hospital ship in WWI. Brittanic suffered the same fate as her sister ship when she struck a mine. I can't recall what exactly happened with the Olympic,... Read full post

  10. Dean Manning said:

    Actually, Adrianne, with all due respect, the Olympic did not sink. She went on to serve in WWI as a troop transport, and then made the trans-Atlantic run untill 1935, when she was scrapped. -Dean

  11. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Adrianne, as Dean pointed out, the RMS Olympic didn't sink. in fact during World War One, she earned a destinction in being the only merchent vessel to sink an enemy warship when a lookout spotted a german U boat on the surface on the morning of 18 May 1918. They were too close to train down the auxilary six inch guns fitted for self defence so the Olympic turned in on the sub and rammed it. During that war, she was one of four ships being used as troopships. After the war, the Olympic was overhauled and refitted for passanger service in which she served until being retired in 1935 and... Read full post

  12. Adrianne Lapar said:

    Thank you, Dean and Michael. You're right. I wasn't quite sure about the Olympic. Violet Jessop did serve aboard the Olympic, though, didn't she? Best Regards, ADRIANNE

  13. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Adrianne, I'm not certain if Miss Jessop served on the Olympic, however, her career with White Star was a long one, so I wouldn't be surprised if she did. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  14. Dean Manning said:

    Adrianne, Michael, Violet Jessop did indeed serve aboard the Olympic. I'm not sure of the exact dates, but I can tell you she was on Olympic when she was rammed by the HMS Hawke just off the Isle of Wight; which implies that she served on Olympic first. -Dean

  15. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Hi Dean, and thanks. Miss Jessop certainly had a predilection for ending up where the action was. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  16. Adrianne Lapar said:

    I found this on the Internet: "The Olympic and Brittanic both served as hospital ships in World War I, but only the Olympic survived the conflict--the Britannic exploded on just her fifth voyage. And in 1934, the Olympic struck the Nantucket Lightship, killing seven. The damage to the massive ship was so extensive that she was sold for scrap the following year." -HistoryChannel.com BEST REGARDS, ADRIANNE

  17. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Hi Adrianne, and now you know why some don't take the History Channel too seriously as a source. The Olympic was used as a troopship during the war. As to the Nantucket Lightship, the damage to the Olympic wasn't that severe. Inch thick steel plate vs. the much thinner plating of a lightship isn't much of a contest. ;-) She was used for eleven more months befor being retired in April of 1935. (The collision with the lightship happened on 15 May 1934). In the end, it was economics which led to the Olympic's retirement. She had been losing trade for some time and the Depression didn't help.... Read full post

  18. Dean Manning said:

    Hi Adrianne. It seems Michael has beaten me to the punch here. After the Nantucket lightship incident, the Olympic was repaired and continued to make crossings untill march of 1935, after which time her interiors were acuctioned off and the hull was towed to Inverkeithing, Scotland, were it was demolished. As far as the Olympic being a hospital ship, I really, really doubt it. Hospital ships, which were painted in white with big green stripes and red crosses(like the Britannic), were protected under the Geneva(sp?) convention, which prohibited them from being attacked by German... Read full post

  19. Florian B. Millare said:

    i have just found out on a book that Miss Violet Jessop is also in the adriatic. it reads "Violet Jessop, a stewardess, had once nearly capsized on the Adriatic..." Is this true? thanx

  20. Ashley Jean King said:

    Hi am am only 11 yrs old and I am already Fasanicted on the Sinking of Titanic. Information needed on Violet Jessop who was a strewadress on the Unsinkable R.M.S Titanic PLEASE HELP ME

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Credits

Phillip Gowan, USA
Senan Molony, Ireland

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Violet Jessop (1997) Titanic Survivor: The Memoirs of Violet Jessop, Stewardess. Sutton. ISBN 0 7509 1758 X
Search archive British and Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2017) Violet Constance Jessop (ref: #1937, last updated: 20th August 2017, accessed 5th June 2020 12:25:24 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/violet-constance-jessop.html