Encyclopedia Titanica

Alice Catherine Cleaver

Alice Cleaver

Miss Alice Catherine Cleaver, 22, was born on 5 July 1889 in Kentish Town, St. Pancras, London, the daughter of Joseph Cleaver (Postman) and Lavinia Alice Cleaver (née Thomas). At the time of her birth, the family lived at 42 Marquis Road, Pancras1,2.

While she was still in her teens Alice started working as a nursemaid to fashionable English families. In 1911 she was working as a nursemaid in the Harley St. home of the Sargeant family.

She was later hired by Montreal millionaires Hudson and Bess Allison as a last-minute replacement to look after their baby son, Trevor.

She boarded the Titanic at Southampton in first class under the Allison's ticket (No. 113781).

After the collision on the night of 14th April 1912, Alice apparently bundled up the infant in her charge and went off to Second Class to round up the rest of the Allison household. Alice boarded lifeboat 11. Bedroom Steward William Faulkner held baby Trevor while Alice got in. Although there is no firm evidence it seems certain that the Allisons were unaware that Cleaver had taken the child off safely3.

The next day, Alice Cleaver and Sarah Daniels realized that they, along with Trevor and the cook - Mildred Brown, were the only survivors of their party.

When she arrived in New York with the child, Alice avoided talking to reporters by telling them her name was Jean.

After the sinking, she returned to England and on 22 June 1918 she married widower Edward James Williams (born 1891), a clerk (later a surgical appliance manufacturer). They had two daughters.

Although she reportedly never talked about the sinking, she is listed as a contributor to Walter lord's research for A Night to Remember (as Mrs. A. C. Williams), a letter she wrote to Walter Lord is preserved among his papers:

"I was acting as a nurse to the two children of Mr and Mrs Allison. Having taken the position two weeks before we sailed as their own nurse decided not to go at the last moment - Lorraine was 3 years old at the time and Trevor 10 months. There is not much I can tell you in a letter. I had some difficulty in persuading Mr. Allison to get up and go to see what had happened after the crash, which they did not hear at all and thought it was my imagination. Some long time after the engines had stopped he decided to go and find out the trouble.

While he was away I was warned we would have to leave the ship, so prepared the children and Mrs. Allison - but she became hysterical and I had to calm her. About that time an officer came round to close the cabins and advised us to go on deck - here met Mr. Allison outside the cabin but he seemed too dazed to speak. I handed him some brandy and asked him to look after Mrs. Allison and Lorraine and I would keep Baby, the child I managed to get off the ship, some confusion occurred outside as to which deck we should go and that is how he came separated, afterwards I learned from one of the staff that Mrs. Allison was hysterical again and that Mr. Allison had difficulty with her and I can only surmise that is how they lost their lives - as there was plenty of room in the lifeboats because people refused to leave thinking it was safer on the ship." - 13 September 1955

Alice Catherine Cleaver died on 1 November 1984 in Winchester, Hampshire at the age of 95. Alice was cremated at Southampton crematorium on the 7 November 1984 the whereabouts of her remains is unknown.


  1. In 1912 she gave her father's address as 35 Camden Park Road, London.
  2. Alice had three siblings: Jenny Lavinia Cleaver (born 1890); Daisy Cleaver (born 1894); Joseph J Cleaver (born 1899).
  3. This, at least, was the Allison family's understanding of events when Mildred Brown and Alice Cleaver told of their experience to Hudson Allison's brother George.

References and Sources

Birth Certificate; Death Certificate
British Census 1891-1911
The Chesterville Record, 18 April 1992
Farm and Dairy, 2 May 1912London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
Lord-MacQuitty Collection (National Maritime Museum)
Paul Lee's Titanic Pages

Newspaper Articles

Margriet E. van Achterberg M.D. et al Journal of Clinical Psychiatry Emergence of PTSD in Trauma Survivors With Dementia
Case study of a Titanic survivor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle (19 April 1912) BABY OF TEN MONTHS AMONG THE RESCUED
New York Herald (20 April 1912) Nurse Alice Cleaver
New York Herald (24 April 1912) Brave Nurse and the Babe She Saved

Documents and Certificates

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]).


Don Lynch & Ken Marschall (1992) Titanic: An Illustrated History, London, Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0 340 56271 4
Judith Geller (1998) Titanic: Women and Children First, Haynes, ISBN 0393046664
Alan Hustak (1999) Titanic: The Canadian Story, Véhicule Press. ISBN 1 55065 113 7
Dinah Burnett (2000) From workhouse to prison to .......... the Titanic?, ISBN 0953728803
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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Miss Alice Catherine Cleaver
Age: 22 years 9 months and 10 days (Female)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 113781, £151 16s
Rescued (boat 11)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Cremated: Southampton Crematorium, Southampton, Hampshire, England on Wednesday 7th November 1984

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