Miss Kate Florence Phillips was born in Kings Norton, Worcestershire, England on 1 January 1893.
She was one of five children born to Thomas Charles Phillips (b. 1862), an engine fitter, and Mary Smith (b. 1861), both Worcestershire natives who had married in 1883.
Her four siblings were: Agnes (b. 1884), Charles (b. 1887), Ellen (b. 1889) and Edith (b. 1899).
Kate appears on the 1901 census living with her family at Martley Road, North Hallow, Worcestershire and by the time of the 1911 census she and her family were residing at 34 Waterworks Road, Worcester and she was described as an unmarried confectionary shop assistant; Kate's employer was Henry Samuel Morley (b. 1873).
Morley was the senior partner of the firm L. Morley Confectioners and was married with one daughter; he and Kate began a clandestine affair and soon made plans to elope and resettle in America. Abandoning his family, Morley and Kate boarded the Titanic in Southampton, travelling under the joint pseudonym Mr and Mrs Marshall and holding ticket number 250655 which had cost £26. The couple were travelling to Los Angeles, California, Henry having told his family and friends he was visiting that climate to recuperate from a recent illness.
The Titanic disaster was to tear the couple apart and whilst Kate survived the sinking Morley did not; in which lifeboat she escaped is not certain but it has been reported that she was clad only in a nightgown and had to be wrapped in the jumper of a crewman to keep warm.
Kate returned to England and to her family in Worcester. On 11 January 1913 on Waterworks Road she bore a child named Ellen Mary, claiming that the child was the daughter of Henry Morley although this has never been substantiated and no father's name appeared on the birth certificate. Young Ellen would spend the first decade of her life being raised by her grandparents.
Kate Phillips and her daughter Ellen
Kate later moved to London and worked as a shoe and hat saleswoman; she was married in Middlesex in 1918 to Frederick H. Watson, a café proprietor and sometime around 1922 took over guardianship of her daughter Ellen from her own parents. The relationship between mother and daughter was particularly strained and Kate reportedly became physically and mentally abusive toward Ellen, prompting the authorities to step in and investigate at one point.
In later years Kate reportedly became further emotionally unbalanced, was hypochondriacal and attempted to take her own life on at least one occasion, one time by ingesting a corrosive liquid, landing her in an asylum. Her attempts at suicide failed but the last years of her life were spent bed-ridden and her husband Frederick later abandoned her. She died in Hendon, Middlesex on 27 March 1964.
Her daughter Ellen, known as Betty, later worked for a florist and in the London passport office; during WWII she served as a railway porter. Only when she was 11 or 12 did Ellen learn that her father was supposedly Henry Morley and then only learned that information from aunts. She became estranged from her mother and did not know she had died until months after her funeral.
Ellen was married in 1935 to a Lawrence Farmer, a bus driver, and had a son named Robert the same year but she was widowed at a young age; she remarried in 1944 to Frederick Walker. Spending much of her life in London, from the 1980s onwards Ellen settled in her native Worcestershire. She fought for years to be recognised as Morley's daughter but this was and has never been recognised. She died in October 2005 aged 92 and her ashes were scattered at Cataclew Point in Cornwall.