Lily May Futrelle

Lily May Futrelle

Mrs Jacques Futrelle (Lily May Peel), 35, was born in Atlanta, Georgia on 26 May 1876, the daughter of David G. Peel and Molly Thompson.

May Peel Futrelle was the wife of Jacques Futrelle, Sr. they lived in Scituate, Massachusetts with their two children, Virginia and Jacques, Jr. The children were born barely 12 months apart. Virginia was born November 8, 1896, married a Mr Raymond, and died in Haverhill, Massachusetts in January of 1981. Jacques Futrelle, Jr. was born 20 November 1898. He later became the night news editor of the Washington Post and died in Herndon, Virginia in July 1979.

Mrs Futrelle was a prolific author short stories and had also published several novels.  The couple had been in Europe for several weeks while Jacques wrote a number of magazine articles. On the night before sailing, friends had gathered in London to celebrate Mr Futrelle's birthday. The party did not end until 3:00 A.M. and the Futrelle's never went to bed but packed and headed for Southampton. Mrs Futrelle was later to lament that "if my husband had got drunk that night, he might not have sailed, and he might be alive today. But he never did drink much."

On the night of the sinking, Mrs Futrelle made her way to the boat deck and encountered a group of men with "smoke-blackened faces" standing silently in a group staring at her. She later commented, "they said nothing but their eyes seemed to say, 'at least you have a chance, we have none.'" May Futrelle was rescued probably in Lifeboat 9 but Jacques died in the sinking.

Mrs Futrelle returned to Scituate, Massachusetts.

She died at the age of 91.

References and Sources

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Certificate of Death
New York Times. 26 June 1915, Says Ismay Ruled in Titanic's Boats

Newspaper Articles

Chattanooga News (6 March 1912) A distinguished visitor
New York Times (16 April 1912) BOSTON MAN MISSING
Nearly a dozen Boston men, known to have been aboard the Titanic, are unaccounted for.
Washington Herald (18 April 1912) PREMONITION CAME TO NOTED NOVELIST
By The Associated Press Worcester Telegram (18 April 1912) Report Futrelle Safe
Washington Times (19 April 1912) MEN SNEAKED INTO BOATS, SAYS WOMAN
Worcester Telegram (20 April 1912) Futrelle Met Death Like Hero Says Wife
Atlanta Constitution (26 April 1912) Mrs. May Futrelle's account
New York Times (30 July 1912) FUTRELLE'S MOTHER IS DEAD
The Washington Post (16 January 1913) TITANIC CLAIMS $10,000,000
Ballymena Observer (11 April 1913) THREE WIDOWS TO VISIT SCENE
New York Evening Post (28 June 1915) ISMAY AS BEHR SAW HIM
Boston Globe (16 April 1961) May Futrelle - RECALL TITANIC SINKING


Lily May Peel Futrelle in the 1920s
Mrs Futrelle's Grave
Titanic Survivors at A Night to Remember Screening
Boston Globe (1912) May Futrelle
Indianapolis News (1912) May Futrelle in 1912
Boston Sunday Post (1912) Jacques Futrelle with his family
Philadelphia Inquirer (1912) May Futrelle in 1912
Atlanta Constitution (1947) May Futrelle in 1947
Boston Globe (1961) May Futrelle in 1961
Boston Globe (1967) May Futrelle in the 1960s

Documents and Certificates

(1967) Lily May Futrelle (Death Certificate)
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Comment and discuss

  1. Charles Provost said:

    Hi! Does someone really know in which lifeboat Mrs Jacques Futrelle escaped? It is likely that she embarked in the same boat as Mrs Harris, her friend, but some sources place her in lifeboat 9 and some others place her in lifeboat 16. Thanks, Charles

  2. Katie Sharrocks (Katie) said:

    In the book "Women And children First" it says no.9. Other books say the same thing.

  3. Jeffrey Kern (Jeffrey) said:

    To Katie: Is that 'Women and Children First' by Judith B. Geller? If so, Mrs Geller does not mention that Mrs Futrelle entered Lifeboat 9, but it is most likely she and her husband stayed with their friends, the Harrises. My speculation, therefore, is that she definitely was in Collapsible D.

  4. Peter Engberg-Klarström said:

    Mrs Futrelle is probably one of the most enigmatic survivors to place in a particular lifeboat; Colonel Gracie put her in boat No 9, she describes 'the last boat on the starboard side' and said this was boat 16, she also describes some stewards in her boat and that she was with Mrs Harris. Now, the most likely boat is probably the half-filled collapsible boat D, but one never knows..... Best regards, Peter Engberg-Klarström

  5. J. Michael Doyle said:

    A few months ago, someone quoted in this forum Mrs. Ella Holmes White as having said that it was not so much courage on the part of the men passengers that made them remain on board the Titanic, but rather the fact that no one really believed it would sink. They went on to say that Mrs. White was a credible source. I would suggest that Mrs. White is somewhat less than credible as a source for two reasons: First, she had just abandoned her valet, Sante Ringhini, to his fate. She, after all, was the cause of his being on the Titanic, facing imminent death. One suspects there is some... Read full post

  6. Michael Findlay said:

    Dear Mr. Doyle, While Mrs. White may have been a bit eccentric, she did relate valuable testimony before the U.S. Senate Inquiry. Many of the incidents she described corresponded with what other survivors remembered. She stated that the ship broke in two before it went down. Other "credible" witnesses who believed just the opposite and whose testimonies other historians relied upon were later proven to be incorrect. Mrs. White's manservant, Mr. Reghini, was lost in the disaster. Mrs. White can hardly be blamed for this. The "women and children" first rule applied to the men filling... Read full post

  7. avatar

    Mike Poirier said:

    There has always been confusion over May Futrelle's boat. May remembers it being 16. But she also says Miss Thaw ( Maybelle Thorne )and Rene Harris was in her boat. We know Thorne was in D. She also mentions Jane Hoyt who was in the vicinity who also ended up in D. Rene Harris remembers travelling from boat to boat with a select group of 1st class women before she was convinced to get into D. Is there any evidence that proves that May was in 16?

  8. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hi Michael, I just checked my copy of The Wall Chart of The Titanic and it says that May Futrelle was in collapsible boat D, not in boat #16. Hope this helps Best regards, Jason D. Tiller

  9. Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme said:

    Hi Jason and Michael, If this helps, it was reported that Jacques Futrelle shouted to his wife, "This is your last chance, for god's sake go!" As collapsible D literally was the "last chance" of escape without getting cold and wet, it makes sense that Mrs. Futrelle escaped on that boat. Yours sincerely Ben (new person)

  10. avatar

    Mike Poirier said:

    Ben: Even though Jacques supposedly said this- when you read accounts you have to take certain things with a grain of salt. But if you see certain clues such as mentioning certain names that were grouped together ( ie Jane Hoyt and Mabel Thorne ) you can draw logical conclusions. Many husbands implored wives believing it was their last chance. But not every woman left in the last boat. The reason I originally questioned this was that she has been listed in 9 and 16 as well. Even though I believe D, I wanted to see if there was evidence otherwise.

  11. Daniel Rosenshine said:

    Gracie did put her in 9, perhaps he had conversed with her personally or had other evidence (which he did not mention) to place her in 9. I was also thinking, since 16 and D were both part of a flotilla of boats, where passengers were shuffled around so that 14 could go rescue some more. Perhaps May F. was in 16 and changed boats to D. Then again, she does not seem to mention that incident (I have not read any of her accounts, but this would have been pointed out if she had written it). Daniel. PS. Mike, I wrote you an e-mail some time ago, just wondering if you had changed your... Read full post

  12. avatar

    Mike Poirier said:

    No Daniel i did not receive your email. But I should wanr you in advance I am not doing too much with Titanic right now. I have been concentrating on 4 other ships. Lusitania, Laconia, Vestris and Athenia.

  13. Daniel Rosenshine said:

    Mike, I was offering to send some things, but if you're not doing much with Titanic it would probably be of no use to you. Is your e-mail address still @earthlink? D.

  14. avatar

    Mike Poirier said:

    It is earthlink. Definitely by February- I will be doing more Titanic related stuff. I do have your email on file.

  15. Ben Thomas Sebastian Holme said:

    Dan, I'm a little confused about the flotillas. As I understood it, Officer Lowe rounded up boats 4,10,12 and D along with his boat #14 and transferred passengers. I do not think 16 was part of this flotilla. However, #16 did transfer a stoker to #6 but this was separate from the big one. The only other transfer occurred between boats #5 and #7. Regards Ben

  16. Daniel Rosenshine said:

    Ben, I could be wrong. I never did too much reading into the boats, I knew about 5/7 and I knew that quite a few port boats were tied together into a flotilla, so I guess I presumed 16 was there too. As I said she does not mention being transferred, and at least three boats are mentioned for her, so I too am confused about where she could be. Daniel.

  17. Arne Mjåland said:

    According to the ET biography of her the local newspapers carried no death notice about her. It is wrong- "The Patriot Ledger" Scituate published her obituary Oct. 31 1967. It is mentioned that she was a writer of several books and short stories. She had one son, Jaques Futrelle of Washington. and a daughter Mrs. Charles F. (Virginia)Raymond of Scituate. Burial was at St. Marys Cemetery. Judith B. Geller has written three pages about the couple May and Jacques Futrelle in her book Titanic Frauen und Kinder zuerst. .

  18. Mark Baber said:

    Hello, Arne--- If you have a copy of that obit---and it sounds as if you do---why not transcribe it and add it to her bio page?

  19. Arne Mjåland said:

    Eites Thursday for Mrs. Futrelle' survivor of Titanic SCITUATE A high mass of requiem for Mrs. May (Peel) Futrelle, 91, of 33 Circuit Ave, one of the few remaining survivors of the Titanic will be celebrated Thursday at 9 a.m. in St Mary of the Nativity Church She died Sunday in a Scituate nursing home. Born in Georgia, she had lived in Scituate about 60 years. Mrs. Futrelle and her husband, a writer and author of the "Thinking Machine " mysteries were abroad the Titanic for its maiden voyage from England to New York. Mr. Futrelle was among the more than 1500 victims who died when the... Read full post

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Trevor Baxter, UK
Peter Engberg-Klarström, Sweden
Phillip Gowan, USA
Rachel Haight, USA

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2016) Lily May Futrelle (ref: #128, last updated: 26th May 2016, accessed 2nd August 2021 21:54:17 PM)

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