Mrs Ada Maria Clarke

Ada Maria Clarke

Mrs Ada Maria Clarke was born Ada Maria Winfield in Netley near Southampton, Hampshire, England on 14 December 1883.

She was the daughter of Menel1 John Winfield (1852-1932) and Maria Gallon (1855-1943) who had married in Hampshire in 1878. Her father, a general labourer was a native of Great Ponton, Lincolnshire whilst her mother was from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland. 

The middle child of five daughters, Ada's sisters were: Mary Ann (b. 1879), Margaret Elizabeth (b. 1881), Martha (b. 1885) and May (b. 1888, later Mrs Henry S. West).

The family appears on the 1891 census living at 13 Victoria Road, Netley, moving to 5 Arthur Terrace by the time of the 1901 census. Ada wasn't present with her family and was listed elsewhere as a servant (kitchen maid) at Rownhams House in Rownhams, Hampshire in the employ of a wealthy family.

She was married on 29 June 1908 to Charles Valentine Clarke (b. 1883), a dairyman and native of Cosham, Hampshire. The couple would have no children and appeared on the 1911 census living at Sea View on Solent Road, Drayton, Hampshire.

Ada and her husband boarded the Titanic at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as second class passengers (ticket number 2003 which cost £26) and their last address was Colaba, Grange Lane, Netley, the home of her parents. They were destined for San Francisco, California where they intended to settle; Ada had a sister living at 142 Ox Point, Richmond, California.

Ada survived the sinking, escaping in lifeboat 14 but her husband was lost in the sinking.

Safe in New York, but now a widow, Ada elected not to continue to California. She gave an emotional interview to the New York Press:

MADE WIDOW BY WRECK
WOMAN ARRANGES RETURN

Was on way to live in California
Praises Bravery of Men Who
Were Lost

Mrs Ada M. Clarke, one of the many women made widows by the Titanic disaster, went to the White Star Line offices yesterday and engaged passage to England. She and her husband were on their way to California to make their home. She was a guest Thursday night last in the home of the Rev. G. T. Baker, in Ozone Park, L. I. Mrs Clarke, who was married four years ago, told her experience and praised the bravery of the men.

"I was in one of the three boats lashed together," said Mrs Clarke, "when one of the officers unlashed one of them and taking all but two of the seamen, rowed off to rescue another boat, which was crowded to the sinking point. 'Be brave women,' the officer said, as they rowed away. And they were brave. The women and the two men manned the oars until we were rescued later. How long, I don't know, but it seemed many hours."

"The women wouldn't leave the men on the ship until we were forced to. We shouldn't have gone unless they made us. Ah, the men were brave; they were splendid; and so were the women. We were in the last boat, I think; anyway, it was boat No. 14, I'm sure it was the last boat launched. I saw the ship sink slowly. No, I heard no pistol shots."

Her husband stood at the rail of the second deck and she saw him go down with the ship.

"He made me leave him," she said brokenly. "I shouldn't have done so otherwise. Oh, they were brave and splendid all the men. They died like brave men. And there floated out across the water the strains of 'Nearer my God, to Thee.' I could hear it and saw the bandsmen kneeling too."

"How long after we were launched did the ship sink? Oh, oh, I can't tell. I don't know. How could I remember such a time?"

Then, with Mr and Mrs Baker, Mrs Clarke went bravely from the office to make further preparations for her journey back home to England. Every bit of furniture she possessed was lost on the ship. Mrs Clarke said she did not know Colonel Astor or Major Butt. Asked if she saw the iceberg she said "Yes, yes--it was big--and black--black."

New York Press, 20 April 1912

Ada returned to Britain on board the Celtic on 25 April 1912. The following day a memorial was held in her late husband's memory:

COSHAM MEMORIAL SERVICE
THE LATE MR C. V. CLARKE

Though a general memorial service for those who lost their lives in the Titanic disaster was held in the Wymering Church on Sunday, a special service was held on Thursday evening in the Chapelon Ease, High-street, Cosham, to mark the deep sense of regret at the tragic end of Mr Charles Valentine Clarke of Cosham, who was one of the victims of the awful catastrophe. Mr Clarke was a member of the Cosham Church of England Men's Society, and it was in connection with this organisation that the service was held. Canon Scott, M.A., Rector of Havant and Rural Dean, conducted the sad service, assisted by the Rev. J. W. Fell-Middlehurst, curate-in-charge. The hymns "God moves in a Mysterious Way," "Nearer, My God, to Thee," and "On the Resurrection Morn" were sung, Mrs Daysh presiding at the organ. In the course of a touching address Canon Scott said that Mr Clarke was only enrolled a member of the Society on Good Friday Morning, and sailed with his wife on the following Wednesday. He helped the women and children into the boats after the collision. Mrs Clarke was saved.
(Portsmouth Evening News, 26 April 1912)

Ada never remarried and remained close to her parents, later living with them at Mayarda on Archery Road, Woolston, Southampton. She would continue to remember her late husband in years after the sinking:

ECHO OF THE TITANIC DISASTER
MRS C. CLARKE, of Cosham, wishes to place a brass plate on the north wall of St Peter and Paul's Church in memory of her husband, Charles Valentine, who went down on the ill-fated Titanic.
(Hampshire Telegraph, 28 March 1913)

Ada's father died in 1932 and by 1939 she was still residing at Mayarda with her mother and sister May West; at the time she was described as a housekeeper. Her mother later died in 1943. 

Ada Clarke died on 8 February 1953 aged 69 and is buried in Holy Trinity churchyard, Weston Lane, Southampton. Her late husband is commemorated on her grave.

Notes

  1. Spelling varies: Birth registration as Menhill John and on baptismal record and death record as Menuel John. He listed himself as Menel/Menal John on census records.

Pictures

Charles Valentine Clarke and his wife, Ada Maria Clarke
Daily Mirror  (1912) 
CHARLES VALENTINE CLARKE AND HIS WIFE, ADA MARIA CLARKE
Invitation to the wedding of Ada Maria Winfield and Charles Valentine Clarke
(1908) 
INVITATION TO THE WEDDING OF ADA MARIA WINFIELD AND CHARLES VALENTINE CLARKE
Grave (1)
GRAVE (1)
Ada Maria Clarke
ADA MARIA CLARKE
 

Articles and Stories

Cleveland Plain Dealer (1912) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Mike Herbold said:

    I'm researching all passengers destined for California, and other than limited info on ET and Ticehurst's Titanic's Memorials, can find little about them. Why were they going to San Francisco? And what about Mrs. Clarke's sister, Mrs. Young, who lived across the bay at 142 Ox Point, Richmond.

  2. Mike Herbold said:

    On a lark I tried mailing something to the occupants at 42 Ox Point, Richmond, Calif, but it came back "Not Deliverable as addressed". Is there anyone out there in the San Francisco Bay area that can help? I'd like to get a picture of the house if it still exists. Maybe the address was 42 Ox, Point Richmond. Thanks, Mike

  3. Jan C. Nielsen said:

    I live in the Bay Area so I looked on a map. Of Richmond (which is located across the bay, on the east side of it, directly across from San Francisco), there wasn't any "Ox" anything. I did find an Oxford Avenue, but the street no.s appear to be in the 2000 range. "Point Richmond," north of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, is part of a national park although there are some residents and farms in the park. Frankly, I wouldn't go cavorting around Richmond, California, looking for a house to take a picture of, because it's sort of run down, the neighborhoods aren't all that great,... Read full post

  4. Jan C. Nielsen said:

    Just a follow up on my previous message. There's a neighborhood in San Francisco named "Richmond." It is located on the ocean side, just south of the Golden Gate Bridge, where the Golden Gate Park, Presidio, Cliff House, Sutro Baths, etc. are contained. Except for the Presidio, most of Richmond was built up after the Second World War. Before that, it was sand dunes and the like. There is an Oak Street which runs into the Richmond neighborhood, from an old neighborhood called "Haight-Ashbury." Again, these house nos. tended to be high (in the 1000 range). Probably the only thing you can... Read full post

  5. Mike Herbold said:

    Thanks, Joe. I lived in the Bay Area for about 25 years before moving back to Southern Calif. I know what you mean about Richmond, but Pt. Richmond is right on the bay next to Richmond, just a little southwest of the Chevron refinery. There's some nice houses out there and a sailing marina. If I remember right, you drive through a tunnel right next to the Natatorium, an indoor pool. You might be on to something, though, because everyting I've seen on the Clarke's said they were going to San Francisco. Maybe they were headed for the Richmond District of San Francisco. Yes, I'm aware of... Read full post

  6. Jan C. Nielsen said:

    Hi Mike: thanks for the interesting feedback. I'm sorry, I think I had "Point Richmond" confused with "Point Reyes."

  7. Mike Herbold said:

    Hi Joe: Point Reyes is definitely nicer than Richmond or Point Richmond. Where in the City is Dodge Street, by the way?

  8. Jan C. Nielsen said:

    "Dodge Place" is a tiny street located near the intersection of Larkin and Turk streets, in the Civic Center area of San Francisco. It is very close the Federal District Court building. If you proceed down Turk Street, going east, or, in other words, in the direction of the financial district and the Bay Bridge, you'll hit it just after crossing Larkin. It's about two long blocks east of Van Ness, and about four short blocks south of Geary. I didn't know about it until one day I was walking a different route back to the BART station, after a hearing in the Federal District Court, and... Read full post

  9. Mike Herbold said:

    Thanks, Joe. We'll have to find a way to find out how to determine who streets are named after. I've got Clark Avenue down here that runs through Long Beach, Lakewood, Bellflower and Downey that I suspect is named after Walter Miller Clark or some other Clark relative. The Church that was mentioned in his ET bio is one block off Clark. I've got a local historian researching it for me. I've got another development up your way. Please contact me direct at Thanks. I might be delayed in getting back to you. Best Regards, Mike

  10. Mike Herbold said:

    Eureka!! The Titanic Commutator, v. 16, #1, May-July 1992, Part two of "The Clark Family of Los Angeles" by Don Lynch, page 18, reads: "....there is a street in Redondo Beach named for the Clark family" That would be Clark Lane, which is just a few blocks long. "The Los Alamitos Sugar Factory closed its doors in 1926 when the farmland which produced the beets became more valuable to developers. The Clark family's Montana Land Company was sold during the late 1940's, with the Long Beach property becoming what is now the city of Lakewood. Once again one of the streets is named for... Read full post

  11. Barry L Clarke said:

    Hi Brian, If is not too much trouble do you have any further information on Charles Valentine Clarke and his wife Ada Maria Regards Bazzer

  12. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Barry - Morning - Here is my printout on Mr. and Mrs. Clarke - I hope that ithelps? Clarke, Mr. Charles V. Missing. Picture in the Hampshire Post, Cosham. There is a fine plaque in his memory in the St Peters and Paul Church, Wymering, Sussex. UK. also he is named on his wife's gravestone (see below). Aged 29 years. Dairyman going to California. CLARKE, Mrs. Ada Maria. Saved in Lifeboat number 14. (Wife of above). Colaba, Grange Lane, Netley Abbey, Southampton, Hampshire. Sister of Mrs. Ada West, who survived the Titanic with her two daughters, sadly her husband was lost in the... Read full post

  13. Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Afternoon Brian, You say that survivor Ada West was a sister to either Charles or Ada Clarke, also Titanic passengers. Is this true? I have never seen the family connection anywhere else before. Cheers, Boz

  14. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Dear Boz, Ref the Ada West / Ada Clarke link-up. I have tried to prove this over the years but have been unable to do so. Mrs. Barbara West (nee Dainton) as you know has for many years now wanted nothing to do with the Titanic after being upset by some of our American cousins. I have been corresponding with Barbara for over 20 years now and I have never been able to get her to confirm or deny it. How the information came about was that not long after I discovered Ada Clarkes grave in the Weston Cemetery the Vicar there rang me up and asked for exact details as he had a... Read full post

  15. Peter Engberg-Klarström said:

    Hello Brian, I trust everything is well with you? I hope to see you in Southampton next month. Have you ever found an interview with the Wests? How they abandoned ship, I mean. Best wishes, Peter

  16. Iain Stuart Yardley said:

    Evening Brian, Now that's an interesting story. I also noticed that, although at the time of her relief fund grant in 1913, Ada Clarke was listed as having no children and yet her gravestone bears the name of the Clarkes' daughter May West, and if I am reading it correctly, would have been older than her mother when her mother died! Would there be some suggestion here then that a daughter of Ada Clarke could have married into Edwy West's family after the Titanic disaster? Cheers, Boz

  17. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Peter - Yes everything is well here. Yes, I have found an interview with the Wests on their way home on the train to Cornwall in May 1912. But unfortunately its embargoed at present. Cheers Brian

  18. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Boz, There are many facts in this equation that I just cant find answers to - it seems every question is met with a question. Lets hope we can find some answers. Cheers Brian

  19. Barry L Clarke said:

    Brian This is fantastic! As you may know I am studying my family history and this all adds to it. Just a few corrections if you don't mind. Ada's headstone states that she died in "1953" and the inscription about May West just says "In loving memory of May West" Could this be a sister of Ada's? Regards Bazzer

  20. Barry L Clarke said:

    I see that Ada Maria Clarke's bio states that Ada Mary West is her sister.Is this a "fact" now and where did it come from.Is this the May West(died in 1966 aged 77) mentioned on the head stone of Ada Maria Clarke Bazzer

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg, Sweden
Hermann Söldner, Germany

References and Sources

United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912.
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer At Port Of Arrival (Date: 18th-19th June 1912, Ship: Carpathia) - National Archives, NWCTB 85 T715 Vol 4183
1939 Register
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

(2020) Ada Maria Clarke Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #378, updated 1st April 2020 04:02:00 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/ada-maria-clarke.html