Mrs Fanny Maria Kelly

Mrs Fanny Maria Kelly was born as Fanny Maria Tozer in Wandsworth, London, England in late 1863 or early 1864 but her birth was never registered.1

Sometimes known as Nellie, she was the daughter of Charles Tozer2 (1825-1884), a shoesmith3, and Annie Knott4 (1831-1890), natives of Bow, Devon and Lacock, Wiltshire, respectively who were married in Pentonville, London on 30 November 1856. 

Fanny had twelve siblings, several of who did not survive infancy: Charles Knott (1855-1856), Eliza Tryphena (b. 1857), Charles William (1858-1858), Annie Rosina (b. 1859), William Richard (1860-1860), Mary Louisa (b. 1862), Alice Maud (b. 1865), Charles William (1867-1868), Charles Mark William (b. 1869), Emmeline Florence (b. 1871) and Lily Beatrice (b. 1873) whilst an unnamed sister was stillborn in early 1866. 

The Tozer family are shown on the 1871 census residing at 25 Brooks Mews in Hanover, London, later appearing at the same address on the 1881 census; by the time of the latter record Fanny was described as a dressmaker. 

Fanny was married in St George’s Parish Church, Middlesex on 17 January 1883 to Richard Henry Kelly (b. circa 1857), an Irish-born jeweller. 

Marriage Certificate
Marriage record between Fanny and Richard Kelly

Richard Kelly hailed from Dublin but little else is known of his origins; when he and Fanny appeared on the 1891 census—as residents of 6 Regents Square, St Pancras, London—he was described as an “East India precious stone merchant”. Their only child, their son Richard Charles, had been born at the same street on 29 June 1883.

By 1901 Fanny was the proprietor of a boarding house at 22 Upper Bedford Place in Bloomsbury, London and she was shown living there on the 1901 census, then being described as a widow. What had become of her husband is unknown. On the 1911 census she was still described as a boarding house keeper but was herself a boarder at 59 Torrington Square in Bloomsbury, London where her son, by then an unemployed clerk, was also staying. 

Fanny’s son Richard left Britain and arrived in New York aboard the Oceanic on 8 March 1912; curiously he had been scheduled to arrive there the week prior aboard the New York, but he did not join that voyage. Giving his next of kin as his uncle, a Mr Hamilton of Wilberforce Road in Southsea, Hampshire (the husband of his maternal aunt Mary Louisa, née Tozer), he was destined for 135 Lennox Avenue in New York and was described as a lunch room owner and of Irish ethnicity.  

Using the first name Florence, Mrs Kelly purchased a second class passage aboard the Titanic (which cost £13, 10s), intent on joining her son in New York, her first-ever visit to the USA. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton and whilst aboard shared a cabin with Hilda Slayter. She was reportedly carrying her life savings across the ocean, some $8000, with which she intended to help her son solidify his business.

Mrs Kelly survived the sinking and was rescued by the Carpathia, although in which lifeboat she escaped is uncertain (possibly in lifeboats 9, 10 or 13). On the Carpathia she sent a telegram to her sister in London on 18 April at 6.32 pm:

Hamilton 32 Bedford Place London
saved cable Dick lost address
Fanny

Arriving in New York, Mrs Kelly gave her next of kin as her sister Mrs Hamilton of 32 Bedford Place in London. She was described as standing at 5’ 6” and she had brown hair and blue eyes and was destined to the home of her son at 68 West 71st Street, New York City. Her son, incorrectly identified as James Kelly in contemporary media, had apparently resigned himself to the fact that his mother had been lost when he could not find her name on the lists of survivors. When a revised list was published on the day of Carpathia’s arrival in New York with Mrs Kelly’s name on it, he was overjoyed and was at the Cunard Pier to meet her:

MEETS MOTHER AT PIER;
BELIEVED HER LOST

After having believed since Tuesday morning that his mother, Mrs F. Kelly, had perished with the Titanic, James Kelly discovered her name among a revised list of survivors published in the Evening Telegram last night and hurried to the Cunard pier to meet her.

Mrs. Kelly was on her way to the United States for the first time, bringing with her $8000 so that her son could purchase the Chester Lunch, at No. 130 West Thirty-sixth street, and start in business for himself. It was all the money she had in the world, and it was this sum which was to set her son up in business. He forgot the money when he saw his mother’s name among those saved. He could only rejoice at his good fortune.

“My mother I saved!” he cried while tears of joy streamed down his face. “I don’t know whether she lost the money or not, and I don’t care so long as I have her.” - New York Herald, 19 April 1912

According to the 1913 The Emergency and Relief booklet by the American Red Cross (recipient number 236), Mrs Fanny Kelly returned to England, arriving in Britain sometime between September and December 1912. By 1919 she was living at 32 Bloomsbury Street, London.

Fanny Maria Kelly died aged 56 on 1 March 1920 at 32 Bloomsbury Street, London. According to her death certificate, she had been afflicted with diabetes for eight years, perhaps suffering with the effects of this ailment whilst aboard Titanic. Her final resting place has not yet been located.

Probate record 
Fanny Kelly’s probate report

Her son Richard, described as a hotel proprietor, was married in London in August 1920 to Myrtle Dorothy Eugenie Curtis (b. 1900), the daughter of a photographer. In December 1924 when passengers aboard the P&O ship Barrabool, which was en route to Australia, the couple had been living in Hove, Sussex and Richard was described as a chef. Richard and his wife settled in Sydney where he died in June 1945.

Notes

  1. Her siblings born either side of her, Mary Louisa and Alice Maud, had their births registered in different districts: Mary Louisa in last quarter of 1862 in Saint George Hanover Square, and Alice Maud in first quarter of 1865 in Wandsworth. 
  2. Charles Tozer was the son of Charles Tozer and Tryphena Cockram; he was baptised in Bow, Devon on 25 December 1825.
  3. He was described as a master shoe smith on census records but on Fanny’s marriage record he was described as a veterinary surgeon.
  4. Annie Knott was the daughter of George Knott and Eliza Newman; she was baptised in Lacock, Wiltshire on 29 May 1831.
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Pat Cook said:

    That's it in a nutshell, folks. Does ANYbody know of a photo of Fanny Kelly? This is one of those haunting (t'is the season, after all) items that I thought I'd bring up on the board here. Actually, Daniel Rosenshine suggested I post it here - we were again discussing the Carpathia photo with Lawrence Beesley (big surpirse, huh?), Hilda Slayter and a third unidentified woman. It has been suggested that the third woman is Fanny Kelly, who was a cabin mate of Slayters. I can tell you this much - on the back of the original photo, the Fenwicks (who took the photo) had written 'Sclaters... Read full post

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  2. Geoff Whitfield said:

    Hello Cook, How are you doing? All I can say on the photograph situation is that Fanny Lydia Kelly was travelling with Marion (aka Mary Ann) Smith. The story is that Smith was to marry Kelly's son who was the proprietor of an hotel in New York but it appears that the marriage - if indeed there was to be one - did not take place as Smith returned alone and unwed to Basingstoke.Fanny Kelly was born 22nd October 1856, which would make her 55 in April 1912. I would be interested to hear the outcome! Good hunting! Geoff

  3. Pat Cook said:

    Hi Geoff, I hope all is well with you, sir. I cannot take credit for any of the identifications on the Carpathia photo. Although I DID ask Mrs. Fenwick (the daughter-in-law who now owns all the Fenwick photos) about the writing on the back and passed along that info. Alan Ruffman is working on the 'Slayter Scribbler' with Gary Shutlak, as you know , and he firmly believes the third woman to be Kelly in the photo. Senan Molony, Alan Hustak, Daniel Rosenshine plus Ruffman and Shutlak have all contributed in this search. If we can just locate a photo of Fanny, this would certainly be... Read full post

  4. Daniel Rosenshine said:

    If Kelly was traveling with Smith, what was Slayter doing in a cabin with Kelly? I don't know, but I don't think Slayter makes any mention about Smith being in the cabin too. Thanks to Hermann Soeldner, who transcribed the Titanic - Carpathia - survivor lists, we know that the given information for Kelly was 45 years old (not 55, but the list is not to be taken for granted with ages, so I stick to 55) and that the height given for her is 5'6" and Slayter being 5'8". If Slayter was indeed that height (which is believable, compared to Beesley's 5'11") then the other woman on the photo looks... Read full post

  5. Geoff Whitfield said:

    Daniel, Your guess is as good as mine regarding sharing a cabin. Smith's adress was given as c/o Mrs Kelly, 68 West 71st Street, NYC. which would seem to back up all the claims that I have seen about the relationship between them. I have wondered though if Smith was simply going to work for Mrs Kelly's son. The details regarding Kelly's date of birth are correct, researcher Craig Stringer found her through tracing the birth certificate for her son and then using the information from that to obtain her birth certificate. Another researcher claims that Smith was born 10th January 1863 which... Read full post

  6. Edmund Turner said:

    Isn't Fanny Kelly spelt "Fannie Kelly"?? ED

  7. Pat Cook said:

    Hi Ed, Unless I'm mistaken, her name is spelled 'Fanny'. Phil Gowan sent me an email on this and he has a copy of her birth certificate (I DO remember her name isn't Florence). Gowan, correct me on this if I'm wrong. Best regards, Cook

  8. avatar

    Phillip Gowan said:

    Nope, that's right--her birth certificate (as Geoff said) lists her as Fanny Lydia Kelly and that is what is on the son's certificate as well. Phillip

  9. Jim Kalafus said:

    In the New York Herald for April 19, 1912, there is a human interest story headlined "MEETS MOTHER AT PIER; BELIEVED HER LOST Mrs. Kelly Was Carrying $8000 To Start Son In Business, But He Forgets That." (pg9) The text of the article is basically an expanded version of the headline, ending with the quote "My mother is saved.....I don't know whether she lost the money or not, and I don't care so long as I have her." There was no follow up article that I could find, and I have been wondering how this resolved itself. Did she rescue the money; if not, did she put in a claim for it, or was... Read full post

  10. Rosalyn said:

    Please please help trying now to find out information regarding Florence 'Fanny' Kelly 2nd Class passenger anything will help. I believe that she would of been travelling with Marion Smith as Marion was due to marry Fanny's son Richard. My interest in Marion is becoming an obsession that is driving my family insane so they give thanks to Brian Ticehurst for his information that he gave the last time Tx in advance to anyone who can help

  11. avatar

    Brian J. Ticehurst said:

    Rosalyn Greetings - here is a bit on Mrs. Kelly: KELLY, MRS. FLORENCE (FANNY). Saved in Lifeboat number 10. Lived at 32, Bedford Place, Russell Square, London, W.C. UK, and en route to 68 West 71st Street, New York City. Widow aged 45 years. (From The Emergency and Relief booklet by the American Red Cross, 1913). No. 236. (English). Widow, 45 years of age, suffered very severely from shock and exposure, and lost a large amount of personal belongings and $500 in cash. She received clothing and $120 from other American sources of relief. Being still unwell from the effects of her... Read full post

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Alan Hustak, Canada
Hermann Söldner, Germany
Charles Caldwell, USA

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
John Booth & Sean Coughlan (1993) Titanic Signals of Disaster. White Star Publications, Westbury, Wiltshire. ISBN 0 9518190 1 1
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
The Emergency and Relief booklet by the American Red Cross
United States Senate (62nd Congress), Subcommittee Hearings of the Committee on Commerce, Titanic Disaster, Washington 1912
British Census
GRO Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2020) Fanny Maria Kelly (ref: #478, last updated: 30th August 2020, accessed 20th September 2020 14:14:54 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/fanny-maria-kelly.html