Miss Elizabeth Lavington, better known as Bessie, was born in Wells, Somerset, England on 31 January 1872 and she was baptised on 7 March that same year in St Cuthbert's Church in Wells.
She was the eldest surviving child of Richard Inward Lavington (1842-1884), a bailiff, and Leah Reynolds (1843-1930). Her father was originally from Hampshire and her mother from Middlesex and they were married in Winchester, Hampshire in 1866, living in Wells for a time before settling back in Hampshire.
Elizabeth had six known siblings: Leah Kate (1867-1871), Sarah Jane (1869-1871), Richard James (1873-1908), Fanny (1876-1973, later Mrs Frederick Richard Hunt), George (1878-1945) and Martha (1881-1896). Her two elder sisters died within weeks of each other in early 1871.
She first appears on the 1881 census when she and her family were living at the Ampfield White Horse Inn in Hursley, Winchester, Hampshire where her father was the publican. He later died on 9 February 1884 aged 42.
When the 1891 census was taken Bessie was listed at 3 Station Road (?) in Weeke, Hampshire and her mother was described as a tobacconist and Bessie as her assistant. Bessie was working as a barmaid by the time of the 1901 census when she was living in High Street, St Pancras, London. Sometime thereafter she went to sea and appears on the 1911 census as a visitor at 18 Milton Road, All Saints, Southampton, the same address as Titanic steward Charles McKay, and she was listed as a mercantile marine stewardess.
When Bessie signed on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 she gave her address as Manor Farm, Headbourne Road, Winchester, the home address of her married sister Fanny Hunt and her family. Her previous ship had been the Olympic and a stewardess she received monthly wages of £3.
During the evacuation of the Titanic, Miss Lavington escaped in lifeboat 11. She was not required to give evidence to either the British or American Inquiries into the disaster.
How long Bessie continued her career at sea is uncertain but it appears to have been the case that her trip aboard Titanic may have been her last working sea voyage. She continued to live in the Hampshire area and lost her mother Leah on 24 September 1930. By 1939 Bessie was living alone at 32 Stockbridge Road, Winchester and was described as an unmarried and retired housekeeper. Her last known address was at 39a Anstey Road, Alton, Hampshire.
Bessie Lavington died on 1 September 1949 aged 77. She was cremated in Woking on 6 September and she left and estate worth £128 6s 9d to her sister Fanny Hunt.
LAVINGTON--On Sept. 1st, Bessie, eldest daughter of the late Richard Inward and Leah Lavington, of Ampfield, aged 77. Cremation at Woking, Sept. 6th. - Hampshire Chronicle, 10 September 1949
Besides her sister Fanny, Bessie left just nieces and nephews. Sister Fanny Lavington died in Winchester on 28 December 1973 at the age of 97.