Clear Annie Cameron

Clear Annie Cameron

Miss Clear Annie Cameron was born in Pendleton, Salford, Lancashire, England on 8 March 1877.

She was the daughter of Harry Arthur Cameron (1846-1899) and Annie Chiles (b. 1845). Her father, a tailor, hailed from Leek in Staffordshire whilst her mother was from Kemberton in Shropshire. They were married in Warwickshire in 1870 and besides Clear had three other children.

Clear's siblings were: Earnest (1870-1945), Janet Gertrude (1873-1914) and Nie (1883-1972, later Mrs Joseph Stewart Graham). Her sister Janet, known as Gert, was married in 1898 to Edward James Dowding, a post office inspector, and had two surviving children: Gertrude Ella (b. 1908) and Arthur Edward "Ted" (b. 1910). Janet and her family lived in Bournemouth, Hampshire.

Clear appears on the 1881 census with her family living at 73 London Road in Buxton, Derbyshire. Her parents were still at the same address on the 1891 census but Clear was listed elsewhere as a house servant at 117 London Road, Buxton. By the time of the 1911 census she was working as a housemaid at 46 Hyde Park Gate, Kensington, London, the home of Colonel Henry Hugh Oldham and his wife Ella Frances Emma, née Pigou. Colonel Oldham was invested as a Commander, Royal Victorian Order (C.V.O.).

Clear Cameron and Nellie Walcroft

Clear Cameron (right) with Nellie Walcroft
(Ted and Dinah Dowding Collection, Courtesy of Gavin Bell)

By 1912, even though Clear was relatively comfortable by those days' standards, owning her own motorcar at one point, she decided that life in England was not enough and she and her friend Nellie Wallcroft decided to emigrated to the USA where there were more opportunities. Initially booked on another liner for their crossing, the coal strike forced their passage to Titanic which they boarded at Southampton on 10 April 1912 as second class passengers (joint ticket number 13528 which cost £21). Whilst aboard it seems that Clear and Nellie were acquainted with the West family, among others.

On the night of the sinking Clear and Nellie went to bed at around 10.30pm. Feeling especially tired that evening she soon fell asleep but was awakened by Nellie exclaiming "Clear, what's that!?" Clear dismissed her but Nellie insisted that she had nearly been thrown from her bunk; soon the two ladies realised that the engines had stopped. Clear, however, was indifferent and lay down again to sleep when she heard a man's voice shouting something about an iceberg. This encouraged her to get up and dressed and she instructed Nellie to do the same. As they were preparing themselves a steward came to their door, advising them to get up on deck.

Arriving on the boat deck Clear and Nellie saw two young officers running around shouting orders. They got into a boat (lifeboat 14) and during the fragile craft's descent to the ocean Clear described the scene of Fifth Officer Harold Lowe brandishing his pistol to deter "immigrant men" from jumping into their boat from the passing decks. When the lifeboat was about two miles from Titanic Clear described the ship breaking in two. She later helped row the boat during the night.

Following her rescue by Carpathia she described the generosity of those on that ship but lamented over the cramped conditions. She also expressed disgust at how many men from first class had survived over women and children and was critical of the actions of the Duff-Gordons and Ismay.

Arriving in New York Clear and Nellie were met by the latter's sister and brother-in-law, Mr and Mrs Carl Land. Clear soon found work as a maid with a Mrs Nelson Henry of 59 West 9th Street, whom she described as  "Society Lady". Mrs Henry was the wife of General Nelson H. Henry and was the leader of the Women's Relief Committee and she remained in her employ for around six months. She never acclimatised to New York, finding it overly expensive, and could not get accustomed to the ways of her new home. She would describe New York as "one of the dirtiest, rottenest holes on earth" but later joked with her sister that she might return to England with a black husband, Clear being amazed at the number of African-Americans living in New York and who she found to be very affable. She later worked for a Mrs McCawley in Haverford, Pennsylvania, a city which she found much more to her liking.

She corresponded with her sister Janet frequently whilst in the USA, the last letter dated 18 October 1913. Janet died on 28 March 1914 and her widower Edward was remarried towards the end of the year to Milly Tucker; he died in 1967 aged 94. Janet's children always grew up wondering what had become of their Aunt Clear. Ted uncovered nineteen letters from Clear and Nellie Walcroft in his father's attic in the 1990s and soon made it his mission to determine what became of her. He lived in Thurso, Scotland with his wife Dinah and died in 2001 without knowing whatever happened to Clear.

Clear had married in Philadelphia on 29 April 1914 to Ernest William Francis, an English butler over a decade her junior. Having never enjoyed her experience much in America, Clear and her husband left the USA in December 1914 aboard the Baltic, arriving in Liverpool on New Year's day. The couple settled in Surrey, living in Worcester Park for many years, but had no children. It is not certain if Clear and Nellie Walcroft maintained contact.

In later years Clear was afflicted with senility and spent her last days in a nursing home in Woking, Surrey. She died on 2 February 1962 aged 84 and was cremated with her ashes being scattered across the Keats Garden in the Woking St. John Crematorium, Surrey.

Her widower Ernest died less than a year after her. He passed away on 17 September 1962 aged 71.

References and Sources

Ted & Dinah Dowding (1997) Clear to America by Titanic - & beyond. Thurso, Scotland.
Caithness Courier, Thurso.
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

Newspaper Articles

Nellie Walcroft Maidenhead Advertiser (29 April 1912) An account of my journey on the Titanic


Clear Cameron
Clear Cameron and Nellie Wallcroft
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Comment and discuss

  1. chloe said:

    Hello, Is clear really Annie's real first name or is it a nickname of some sort? i was curious. thanks. Chloe

  2. avatar

    Inger Sheil said:

    Clear is indeed her first name. BTW, the Dowdings are still looking for leads on Ted's aunt if anyone has seen anything (I've resorted to hoping she returned to England, and checking the deaths register at the FRC in the hopes she'll turn up there eventually...) All the best, Inger

  3. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    On occasion I've jumped up and down when a long sought after Titanic survivor has finally been located. But I don't think one has ever excited me as much as this past Thursday. Through the confluence of tidbits shared by several researchers including Geoff Whitfield and Senan Molony, I'm very pleased to report that what amounted to a global search for Clear Cameron has been successfully concluded. Brian Meister and I located her on Thursday afternoon and are putting all the pieces into the puzzle at long last. Because of the great respect we share for Dinah Dowding and because of the... Read full post

  4. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Phil, Congrats to you and Brian on your long-awaited find. You know everybody's excited and waiting to hear your news. We are only saddened to hear of Mrs. Dowding's misfortune. Great work! My best, Randy

  5. Deleted member 173198 said:

    Here, Here, and well said Randy! Regards-Andrew

  6. Pat Cook said:

    Outstanding, O M! This is the best news I've heard in some time. Congrats to you and Brian M. And I know Dinah will be so happy to hear your results. Warmest regards, as always, Cook

  7. avatar

    Michael H. Standart said:

    Way to go, Phil! I'll be looking forward to reading the results of the work you and Brian put into this when you're ready to go public. Cordially, Michael H. Standart

  8. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    That's wonderful Phil

  9. Christine Geyer said:

    You leave me curious Christine

  10. Beverly J. Crowder said:

    Hats off to you gentlemen! Good show! Beverly

  11. Diane Ostrow said:

    Go Phil and Brian! Hurray to you both! As everyone else is,I eagerly await your story! Ahoy! Diane

  12. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Thanks Diane, Beverly, Randy, etc. Both Brian and I appreciate the kind words. We are really excited about this find and will give details very shortly. Phil

  13. Deleted member 173198 said:

    Philip sorry to trouble you but did you receive my e-mail congratulations last Sunday(8th July)? Andrew.

  14. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Andrew--yes I did--thank you! Sorry I've been so long in responding and will do so more fully tonight or tomorrow--have a flight to catch in an hour- Phil

  15. Dinah Dowding said:

    I would like to pay my own tribute to a man that has searched for over four years for his beloved Aunt Clear Cameron. It was ironic that Ted died before the letter arrived in March - I never gave up the search. Thanks to all the people who knew and loved Ted for there cards and condolences. Thanks to "Clear to America" its a winner. Thank you Philip.

  16. Dinah Dowding said:

    I would like to state QUITE CATECORICALLY at no time in the searching of our Aunt Clear Annie Francis née Cameron we attained help from any one person or information leading to the finding of Aunt Clear - except from a Lady called Jan Mawrood who wrote to Ted & I (after Ted died) saying she thought the Clear in "Clear to America" was the same Clear whom she believed was her Gt. Aunt in law. This letter was dated 25.03.2001, which gave me location etc., which has bore a lot of fruit. Lots of hard work, luck, kindness of people and a lot of common sense helped. I have at hand this moment... Read full post

  17. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    An Open Letter to the Message Board: This morning Dinah Dowding sent me an email telling me that it would be fine with her if I added a message on this thread relating to the above message. I waited for her approval before I did so and she may want to add something further--that will be up to her. First, to the anonymous cellphone caller who attempted to sabotage our relationship, you failed. Few people have any respect for someone who bushwhacks anonymously and makes allegations with nothing to back them up. Whether based on envy, jealousy, or simple hatred, it was a crummy, rotten thing... Read full post

  18. Randy Bryan Bigham said:

    Phil, Bravo! Well said. It doesn't take much wondering to guess where such a missive came from and it should certainly open the eyes of many who either are unaware of some of the treachery that has gone on behind the scenes or else prefer to look the other way. It was certainly a horrid thing for someone to do - to call up this dear lady who has gone through such an awful loss and, indifferent to her grief, unload upon her a lot of petty personal gripes and sour grapes. You have all my admiration and respect, Phil, as you have always had. I was hurt - and awfully mad, too - to... Read full post

  19. avatar

    Inger Sheil said:

    Dinah and Phil - Although not an habitual poster here, Dinah and another friend mentioned these messages and I wished to make a few comments. Firstly, as I told Dinah last week via email and phone, and Phil on TML, congratulations. The community at large has followed the search for many years now, enthralled. To see it reach its conclusion is something of a bittersweet moment for all involved, I imagine. It's also a beautiful tribute not only to Clear, but to Ted as well - a man to whom many of us (and certainly I myself) owe much. Secondly, I'd also like to register... Read full post

Showing 20 posts of 47 total. View all.

Reply Watch Thread


Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Ted & Dinah Dowding, UK
Diana Thebaud-Nicholson, USA
Hermann Söldner, Germany
William Wojcik, Canada

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2015) Clear Annie Cameron (ref: #367, last updated: 11th September 2015, accessed 22nd July 2021 23:42:47 PM)

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