Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley


Amy Stanley's father, Thomas James Stanley, was born in Nether Worton, Oxfordshire c.1849 but by 1861, when Thomas was 12, he, his parents (John Stanley, 60, and Rebecca Stanley, 43) and Mary A. Stanley (his 11 year old sister) had moved to the nearby Hamlet of Leadwell where they ran a grocers' shop (also licenced for the sale of beer!).

In 1881 Thomas (32) and Mary (31) still lived in Leadwell where Thomas ran a public house and Mary was a housekeeper.

In the autumn of 1882 Thomas was married to Eliza Agnes Margetts of Deddington, Oxfordshire.

Eliza Agnes Margetts was baptised in her home village of Deddington, Oxfordshire, on January 31, 1861. She was the daughter of sometime wine-merchant, innkeeper and grocer Henry Margetts and his wife Eliza. Between 1850 and 1870 Henry and Eliza had around 12 children, at least three of whom died as children.

The newly-wed Thomas and Eliza Stanley remained in Leadwell until after the birth of their third child (c.1887).

The 1891 census shows Thomas and Eliza to be living in Green Road, Wolvercote, a village north of Oxford. Thomas was working as a Farm Sherriff (a kind of foreman), and they had 5 children John H. (7), Harry O. (5), William S. (4), Alfred Margetts (1, born August 9, 1889) and their only daughter Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley (3). A sixth child Walter Fredrick Stanley was born on April 7, 1894.

Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley was born on (?) 4 January 1888. She was baptised at the church in Barford St. Michael, Oxfordshire on March 16 1888. Barford St. Michael (or Great Barford is a village about 2 miles W.N.W. of Deddington situated on the river Swere.

As she grew up Amy probably helped in the family grocery on Green Road (they sold butter, bacon and cheese). Eventually however, she became a dressmaker working in the nearby city of Oxford. Later she left home to go into domestic service in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

In 1912, when Amy was 24, she prepared to move to New Haven, CT, USA to become a children's maid. She purchased a third class ticket through Thomas Cook & Son, Ludgate Circus, London and left Wallingford in April of that year to join the Titanic at Southampton. According to contemporary newspaper reports, she would have made the journey earlier but for the coal strike, by which she was delayed.

My two cabin mates were a Nurse and an 11 year old [sic] child, her name was Elizabeth. The child was alone, because her parents were still in Europe and she was going home to America.

Amy's cabin mates were almost certainly Elizabeth Dowdell (30) and Virginia Ethel Emanuel (5).

Amy survived the sinking and completed the journey to New York on board the rescue ship Carpathia. During the journey the Carpathia's wireless operator accepted the following Marconigram, however, it was never transmitted due to lack of time:

To: Mrs Stanley, Wolvercote, Oxford.
''Saved Carpathia.- Amy''.

Whilst on board the Carpathia Amy also made a happy discovery:

I found Elizabeth and the Nurse I roomed with on the Titanic, I was so glad they survived the trauma.

After her arrival Amy wrote to her parents:

Dear Father and Mother,
I have had a terrible experience, one that I shall never forget as long as I live. I seemed to have a presentiment that something would happen to the boat I was going to sail on. I enjoyed the first part of the voyage immensely. I had not been sea-sick all the voyage. I am now only suffering from shock and exposure to intense cold, with scarcity of clothing. I was writing a postcard the night that the boat struck the iceberg. It was about 11.30 p.m. I got out of bed and put my coat on and went out on deck and asked the steward what was the matter. He told me it was only the engines stopped, and ordered all the women back to bed. But I did not go. I shared a cabin with an American lady and child. I assisted them to dress, and then we went up on deck. We tried to reach the boats. Then I saw two fellows (whom we met at meals, the only men we made real friends of) coming towards us, who assisted us over the railings into the lifeboat. As we were being lowered a man about 16 stone jumped into the boat almost on top of me. I heard a pistol fired-I believe it was done to frighten the men from rushing the boat. This man's excuse was that he came because of his baby. When we rowed off the child must have died had I not attended to it.
We were rowing for several hours. I seemed to have extra strength that night to keep up my nerves, for I even made them laugh when I told them we had escaped vaccination, for we were all to have been vaccinated that day (meaning the Monday). I will say no more of that awful row, except that I was able to fix the rope round the women for them to be pulled up on the Carpathia while the men steadied the boat-the women seemed quite stupefied-yet when I was safe myself, I was the first to break down.
The sight on board was awful, with raving women-barely six women were saved who could say they had not lost a relative. Oh! the widows the Titanic has made! The last three days have been terrible. I attended to a woman [Mrs R. Abbott] who was picked up on a raft with four men. The latter died, but she lived. She has lost two sons on the Titanic. Their cabin was next to mine. She was the last woman I spoke to on the ship's deck. I am staying in a Woman's League Hotel, but I am quite well, and these people are fitting me up with clothes. I have telegraphed to Grace but have not yet received a reply. I long now to be with her. I will not write again until I am safe in Newhaven [sic]. Don't you think I have been lucky throughout?

I remain your loving Daughter
P.S. I nearly lost the boat at Southampton.

Image Image
Amy Stanley after her arrival in America (© Jessica Tanner).

Amy later expanded on her meeting with Rosa Abbott:

We were very close since we were on the Titanic together. And her stateroom had been near mine. I was the only one that she could talk to about her sons because I knew them myself. She told me that she would get [sic] in the lifeboat if there hadn't been so many people around. So she and her sons kept together. She was thankful that [the] three of them had stayed with her on that piece of wreckage. The youngest went first then the other son went. She grew numb and cold and couldn't remember when she got on the Carpathia. There was a piece of cork in her hair and I managed to get a comb and it took a long time but finally we got it out.

Amy was give $200 by the American Red Cross (Entry no.431) and she travelled on to New Haven to start her new life.

Amy married Eugene Sheldon Tanner Sr. on November 1, 1918 in Brooklyn, NY. Through connections with the family she worked for in New Haven Amy managed to get Eugene an early honorable discharge from the Navy so they could be married.

On July 22, 1921 (in North Attleboro, MA) Amy gave birth to Alfred Stanley Tanner Sr. (died 30 September 1993 in Warwick, R.I). A second son, Eugene Sheldon Tanner Jr. was born in Providence, RI on August 8, 1926.

Amy Tanner (née Stanley) died on April 21, 1955 in Providence, RI and was buried at Oakland Cemetery, Cranston, R.I. on 25 April 1955.

Private funeral services for Mrs Amy E. Tanner, 66, of 60 Eliza St., will be held Monday at 2 P.M. at the Bailey-Shippee Funeral Home, 417 Plainfield St. Burial will be in Oakland Cemetery, Cranston.

Mrs Tanner, wife of Eugene S. Tanner, died Thursday at Rhode Island Hospital after a short illness.

Born in Oxford, England, Jan. 4, 1889 [sic], a daughter of Mr and Mrs Thomas Stanley, she had been a resident of Providence 38 years. She was a communicant of the Church of the Messiah, Episcopal.

Mrs Tanner was a survivor of the Titanic disaster.

Besides her husband, survivors are two sons, Alfred S. of Cranston and Eugene S. Tanner, Jr. of Warwick, and three grandchildren.

Amy Stanley Tanner's Gravestone
(Courtesy of Shelley Dziedzic)


Amy's father died on August 4, 1921 aged 73. Her mother died on December 27, 1937 aged 77. The couple are buried in the graveyard of St Peter's Church, Wolvercote, Oxford.

References and Sources

Oxford Times, 18 May, 1912, p.11
Jackson's Oxford Illustrated Journal, 24 April 1912, p.3
Oxford Chronicle - Bucks & Berks Gazette, 19 April, p.7; 26, p.7; May 10, p.10; 17 pp.7,9
Parish Registers for the parishes of Barford St. Michael; St. Peter's church, Wolvercote

Research Articles

Shelley Dzeidzic Titanica! (2004) Rhode Island - The small state with big Titanic connections!
Taking a Titanic tour of New England
Philip Hind Titanica! (2012) RMS Titanic 100 Years On

Newspaper Articles

The Oxford Chronicle (19 April 1912) Oxford Passengers Saved
The Oxford Chronicle (17 May 1912) Wolvercote Passenger's Narative


Amy Stanley Tanner
Amy Stanley, Grave Marker
Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley
The Tanner home on Eliza St., Providence, R.I.

Documents and Certificates

1861 Census (England)
1881 Census (England)
1891 Census (England)
General Register Office: Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths
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, New York; NWCTB-85-T715-Vol. 4183.
(1955) Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley (Death Certificate)
State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations Certificate of Death


Limitation of Liability Hearings Affidavit and Claim of Amy Elsie Stanley, National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55(279)
American Red Cross (1913) Emergency and Relief Booklet
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton, 10 April 1912, National Archives, London; BT 27/780B)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Samuel Gilpin said:

    I want to know how old these people were when they died.

  2. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Amy Stanley was the roommate of little Virginia Martin-Emanuel and her nanny Elizabeth Dowdell on the. They had to negotiate large crowds and barriers to get to the boat deck and were reportedly helped by some male friends that they had made during the voyage. Amy Stanley must have become separated from the other two at some stage because while Virginia Emanuel and Elizabeth Dowdell were rescued on Lifeboat #13, Amy Stanley ended-up on Collapsible C. Of course it was Virginia Martin-Emanuel whose identity a woman named Vera Hanson tried to claim in the 1950s just as Walter... Read full post

  3. avatar

    chrismireya said:

    There was an auction of Ms. Stanley's firsthand written account of the sinking. In the letter, she described the ship breaking apart. In it, she writes: [URL... Read full post

  4. avatar

    chrismireya said:

    If you click on each page of the letter (written in Ms. Stanley's own handwriting) at the Sotheby's website, you find a remarkable story that you don't hear very often regarding the initial moments following... Read full post

  5. avatar

    Arun Vajpey said:

    Thank you very much. The writing is hard to read after but I made the effort and it is fascinating. I need to go through it in careful detail over the next few days. I believe the 'Lizzie' Ms Stanley refers to is her adult roommate Elizabeth Dowdell, who was the nanny of the... Read full post

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Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Arthur Merchant, USA
Jessica Tanner, USA (great grandaughter)
Brian J. Ticehurst, UK

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Amy Zillah Elsie Stanley (ref: #1236, last updated: 4th January 2018, accessed 24th September 2021 15:43:53 PM)

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