Kate Elizabeth Smith

Miss Kate Elizabeth Smith 1 was born in Bredon, a village near the Worcestershire-Gloucestershire borders in England in the closing months of 1867. She was later baptised on 6 January 1868 in Norton.

She was the daughter of Charles William Smith (b. 1828), a solicitor's clerk, and his wife Harriett, née Evans (b. 1841) who both hailed from Gloucestershire and who had married in Bristol on 23 September 1863. She had two known siblings: Emily Jane (b. 1865) and Charles Henry (1875-1932).

The 1881 census shows Kate and her family living at Pitchcombe, Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire and would they would be in the same locale by the time of the 1891 census. By the time of the latter census Kate was described as unemployed whilst her father was living on his own account. Her father died in 1897 aged 69 and she, her mother and brother were listed on the 1901 census living at Slad Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire. Kate's profession was still ambiguous but it is known she had already commenced a  career at sea.

Her first sea voyage was in 1893 when she was a passenger on the Vancouver of the Dominion Line and where she was in charge of immigrant children en route to Canada who were under the care of Painswick, Gloucestershire philanthropist Harriett Wemyss. Miss Smith found that voyage so agreeable that she decided to commence her own career at sea and joined the Cunard line shortly after.

Kate was shown on numerous voyages aboard Cunard's Lucania between April 1898 and June 1899 when she was earning £4 per month as a stewardess and for the most part gave her address as 104 (on later voyages 98) Upper Hill Street. By June 1900 she was a stewardess aboard Ivernia and gave her address as Hawthorne Villa, Slad Road, Stroud. 

Miss Smith's stint with Cunard was followed by working for the American Steamship Company and the White Star Line. Among the estimated sixteen vessels Miss Smith served aboard up to 1912 were: Servia, Umbria, Lucania, Ivernia, St Louis, St Paul and Olympic.

A veteran of sea disasters, Kate was aboard Olympic at the time of its collision with the HMS Hawke in 1911, reportedly only leaving the area of damage minutes before impact. On 25 April 1908 she was aboard the St Paul when, in adverse weather conditions, she collided with HMS Gladiator, a Royal Navy cruiser.

Kate would be absent from the 1911 census but her by-then-married brother Charles and his wife, Edith were listed as living at 55 Slad Road, Stroud with their widowed mother Harriett and he was described as a post office clerk.

When she signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 Kate gave her address as Balmoral, Cebbett Road, Southampton. Her previous ship had been the Olympic and as a stewardess she received monthly wages of £3, 10s.

Kate was rescued but it is not currently known in which lifeboat (lifeboat 11 contained several other stewardesses and is a possibility). Her brother Charles, known as Harry, received a telegram confirming her survival on 19 April 1912. 

If Kate ever returned to working at sea is not known and there are no identifiable records for her having done so. On 18 December 1914 she arrived in New York via Liverpool aboard Cameronia; this time travelling as a passenger she stated no profession and gave her age as 39 (she was in fact 47) and listed her next of kin as her brother Harry. Headed to 72 West 124th Street, New York, she was described as standing at 5' 6" and with brown hair and eyes and a dark complexion. 

What became of Kate Smith is currently unknown.

Notes

  1. Often listed as Katherine Smith; her birth was registered as Kate Elizabeth Smith and she always signed-on on most vessels by this name. 

Research Articles

Titanica! (2017) Shipwrecked again!
Titanic passengers and crew that experienced shipwrecks either before or after the Titanic disaster.
Titanica! (2018) Titanic: The Disappeared
Which Titanic survivors have never been found?

Newspaper Articles

Illustrated London News (2 May 1908) A warship rammed by a liner, the disastrous collision between H.M.S. Gladiator and the St Paul
Gloucester Citizen (19 April 1912) SAFETY OF MISS K. SMITH OF STROUD
Relatives overjoyed at escape from death
Cheltenham Chronicle (20 April 1912) Stroud Lady's Safety

Documents and Certificates

1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 Census (England)
Agreement and Account of Crew, National Archives, London; BT100/259
General Register Office: Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Search archive online

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Kate Elizabeth Smith (ref: #2127, last updated: 7th May 2018, accessed 24th June 2021 11:07:33 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/kate-elizabeth-smith.html

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