Mr Lawrence Beesley was born in Wirksworth, Derbyshire on 31 December 1877, the son of Henry Beesley (bank manager) and his wife Annie Maria.1
He was married in 1901 to Gertrude Cecile "Cissie" Macbeth. A son, Alec Macbeth Beesley was born to the couple on 15 October 1903.2
Beesley was educated first at Derby School, where he took a scholarship and afterwards at Caius College, Cambridge, he was a scholar and a prizeman. In 1903 he took a 'First Class' in the National Science Tripos. Then in 1904, after having two years experience in teaching at Wirksworth Grammar School, he moved to Dulwich College where he worked as a science master.
Getrude died in 1906 due to a longstanding respiratory disease.
According to contemporary reports he had resigned his position to go for a holiday in the States, and to visit his brother in Toronto.
Beesley boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger. His ticket was number 248698 and cost £13.
Beesley had been in his cabin (D-56) reading when the collision occured, he only noticed a slight heave of the engines and the regular dancing movement on his mattress seemed to stop. Beesley stopped a steward to ask what had happened but was advised that it was nothing.
He went up to A-Deck while the boats were being loaded but then decided to return to his cabin, as he did so he noticed a strange sensation as he descended the stairs, the stairs seemed to be level but his feet did not fall quite where they should. He donned his Norfolk jacket, stuffed some books into his pockets and then headed back to the A-Deck.
Beesley and a friend in the gymnasium on the Titanic
The list was worse when Beesley returned to A-Deck but he found that men were now being allowed to board lifeboat 13 which had been lowered to the level of the windows of the enclosed screen, he boarded the boat which finally lowered away at 1.25 with 64 people aboard. As the boat descended it came perilously close to an outfall which was discharging water at a tremendous rate. Only the shouts of the boat's occupants prevented them being flooded. Quick action was also needed when they eventually reached the water, they were unable to cut the falls and drifted under the path of boat 15 which had started to descend, again the occupants of boat #13 shouted to those on deck and the descent of boat #15 was halted. The falls of boat #13 were eventually cut and the boat drifted away from the ship.
A Derbyshire Survivor
(The Courier, 29 April 1912)
Beesley watched as the Titanic sank deeper, he observed the lights blink and then go out for good. After the ship was gone he tried to comfort a crying baby by tucking a blanket under its toes, he disovered that he and the lady holding the baby had mutual friends in Clonmel, Ireland.
At 4.45 boat 13 tied up alongside the Carpathia and Beesley was soon aboard, relieved to feel a solid deck beneath his feet once again.
After his rescue Beesley wrote a successful book, The Loss of the SS Titanic, about his experience.
In 1919 he remarried to Muriel "Mollie" Greenwood (nee Brownjohn) and had a further three sons.
He later became headmaster of Normandale preparatory school in Bexhill.
Lawrence Beesley attended the filming of A Night to Remember and famously attempted to remain on the ship as the sinking scenes were filmed.
He died on 14 February 1967 at the age of 89.