Mrs Mabel Kate Bennett (Stewardess), née Pilgrim, was born on 22 September 1878 in Eling, Hampshire, England and later baptised on 24 November that same year in Colbury.
She was the daughter of James Pilgrim (1847-1933), a labourer, and Sarah Ann Groom (1847-1935), both Hampshire natives who had married in 1865.
She was sister to nine surviving siblings from a total of ten: Sarah Louisa (b. 1865), Alice Ann (b. 1867), James (b. 1869), Emily (b. 1872), Charles William (b. 1874), Jessie (b. 1877), Eva Maud (b. 1881), Rosa (b. 1883) and Ada Beatrice (b. 1887) 1.
At the time of the 1881 census Mabel and her family were living at 7 Netley Tole Gate, New Forest, Hampshire and on the 1891 census the family were living at 8 Netley Tole Gate. Her father later worked as a gardener and when the family appear on the 1901 census they were living at Ashurst Bridge Road, Netley Marsh; Mabel was listed elsewhere as an unmarried domestic servant in Ashdown Park, Hartfield, Sussex.
Mabel was married in Southampton in 1905 to George William Bennett (b. 1869). The couple had one child, a daughter named Mabel who was born in Peckham, London in 1906.
At the time of the 1911 census Mabel and her daughter were living with her sister Emily Crawford and her husband Alfred Crawford at 17 Frederick Street, Southampton. She had no stated profession at the time but she is believed to have already been working at sea by this point, later serving aboard Olympic and being present aboard at the time of that ship's collision with HMS Hawke in September 1911.
When she signed-on to the Titanic on 6 April 1912 she gave her address as 22 Cranbury Avenue, Southampton, the same address given by her brother-in-law Alfred Crawford. She gave her previous ship as the Olympic and as a stewardess she received monthly wages of £3, 10s. Also serving aboard, besides her brother-in-law Alfred Crawford, was her nephew Alfred Crawford, the son of her elder sister Sarah Louisa.
On the night of the sinking Mrs Bennett was rescued in lifeboat 5.
Mrs Bennett later returned to England with other surviving crew; in Plymouth she was photographed alongside other surviving stewardesses.
What became of Mrs Bennett's marriage to George William Bennett is not certain but she was remarried in mid-1918 in New Forest to John W. Walker (1882-1964). Mabel was fated to outlive her daughter Mabel; Mabel had married, becoming Mrs Hebert Pegrum and she died in March 1964 in New Forest.
Mabel and her second husband settled in New Forest; she became a widow in 1964 and Mabel herself passed away on 22 September 1974, her 96th birthday. She is believed to have been the surviving female crewmember who holds the record for longevity in life and possibly second longest-lived crewmember overall, next only to steward Frederick Dent Ray who died aged 97. It is not clear, however, if she was the last surviving female crewmember; stewardess May Sloane is believed to have died in Northern Ireland in the 1970s but when is not known.
The fur coat that Mabel wore to leave Titanic remained in the hands of family for many years. It was eventually given up for auction in 2000 to Henry Aldridge & Son after narrowly escaping being donated to charity.
- Another child appears on the 1901 census, Stella Dorothy (b. 1896), listed as the daughter of James and Sarah. It is not clear if she was their daughter and when she appears on the 1911 census she is described as the niece of Mabel and her sister Emily. Stella later became Mrs William Henry Baker and she died in 1976 in Southampton.
General Register Office Index of Births, Marriages and Deaths
Crew Particulars of Engagement
Agreement and Account of Crew (PRO London, BT100/259)
Articles and Stories