Encyclopedia Titanica

Elizabeth 'Bessie' Lavington

RMS Titanic Stewardess

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.

Miss Lavington was rescued (probably 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 an 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.

References and Sources

Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Craig Stringer (2003) Titanic People, CD-ROM
Hampshire Chronicle, 10 September 1949
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Arne Mjåland

    Here is the obituary about a stewardes on the Titanic: LAVINGTON - On Sept 1, Bessie eldest daughter of the late Richard Inward and Leah Lavington, of Ampfield, aged 77. Cremation at Woking Sept 6. (Hampshire Cronicle 10 September 1949) It seems that she was not maried?. May be the mother was Jewish (the name Leah). Anybody having more about her?

  2. Kevin Dennis Stones

    Kevin Dennis Stones

    As a child my grandfather,Frank Vivian Lavington always told me 'we had a relative on the Titanic' that was all I ever knew. I found this site and have found the relative she was Bessie Lavington, Lavington being my mothers maiden name. Can anyone point me in the right direction for more info or a picture of Bessie or where her family or relatives are. I have a 2nd cousin Jonathan Lavington he has terminal cancer.He has complied and comprehensive family history and Bessie's further details are missing. I would sincerely appreciate some help here for him especially

  3. luke jackson

    I am also a distant relative of Bessie Lavington she was my great grandmother's cousin Nan mackintosh,her maiden name was Reynolds.Contact me on e-mail ,my name is Luke Jackson.

  4. Researcher

    In fact, Bessie Lavington (born Elizabeth Lavington 31.1.1872) died 1.9.1949 in Alton. The Manor Farm address provided was the address of her sister, Fanny Hunt née Lavington. I have come accross Bessie in a family tree I am researching - how fascinating to discover she was a survivor of the Titanic!

  5. Ljmeekat75

    Hi i am also a distant relative of Bessie,i was always told of a relative who was on the Titanic by my dad.She was the cousin of my great grandmother nan Mcintosh,maiden name Reynolds.I did a little research myself and managed to find out a little of her story of that night in a round about way.If you want get in touch to compare research i would be happy to hear from you. Luke Jackson 

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Titanic Crew Summary

Name: Miss Elizabeth Lavington (Bessie)
Age: 40 years 2 months and 15 days (Female)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Single
Last Residence: at Manor Farm, Headbourne Road Winchester, Hampshire, England
Occupation: Stewardess
Last Ship: Olympic
Embarked: Southampton on Saturday 6th April 1912
Rescued (boat 11)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Thursday 1st September 1949 aged 77 years

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