Encyclopedia Titanica

Marian Longstreth Thayer

Marian Longstreth Thayer
Marian Longstreth Thayer

Mrs John Borland Thayer (Marian Longstreth Morris), 39, from Haverford, Pennsylvania, her husband John B. Thayer and son Jack Thayer boarded the Titanic as first class passengers. Mrs Thayer's maid Margaret Fleming travelled with them.

At around 5 p.m. on the afternoon of 14 April, Marian went to the stateroom of her friend Emily Ryerson to ask if she would care to join her for a walk. Mrs Ryerson agreed, which delighted Marian because it was the first time Mrs Ryerson had been on deck in public during the voyage. She was in mourning for a son killed the week before in Bryn Mawr, PA.

The two ladies walked for nearly an hour before settling into deck chairs outside the aft staircase on A-Deck to enjoy the sunset. As they sat there they were approached by Bruce Ismay. He sat down, and after asking whether the ladies were comfortable and enjoying the trip, he explained to them about the possibility of meeting icebergs in the area. He showed them the ice warning from the Baltic that Captain Smith had passed to him.

The family were preparing for bed when the collision occurred. Jack went up immediately to investigate, he returned to their stateroom and they followed him back on deck.

'I saw what looked like a number of long, black ribs, apparently floating nearly level with the surface of the water, parallel with each other I [and the side of the ship] but separated from each other by... two or three feet of water... the nearest one being probably twenty feet from the ship, and they extended from near the bow to about amidship. I saw no high iceberg at the time.'

Marian said good-bye to Jack, her husband, at the top of the grand staircase on A deck. She and Miss Fleming then went onto A deck on the port side. The two men thought she was safely off the ship until Chief Second Steward George Dodd told them that she was still aboard. He then took them to her.

Jack somehow lost his parents in the confusion on deck but John B. and Marian eventually made their way back to the port side forward on A deck. By around 12.30 a.m. they and other first-class passengers waited by the windows of the enclosed promenade to board lifeboat 4 which hung in the davits on the other side of the windows. After first being led up to the Boat Deck and then back down again Mrs Thayer exclaimed 'tell us where to go and we will follow!'

The boat finally left at 1.55 a.m. With only two seamen aboard Mrs Thayer and the other ladies grabbed the oars and helped to row.

During the night when lifeboat 12, with boat 4 alongside, picked up the survivors from the upturned collapsible B Mrs Thayer was too numbed with cold to see that her son Jack had also been saved. Their reunion had to wait until 8.30 a.m. when boat 12 arrived at the Carpathia. On meeting her son she asked 'Where's daddy' Jack answered 'I don't know, mother.'

After they disembarked from the Carpathia Marian, Jack and Margaret Fleming made their way to Jersey City, NJ where they boarded a private train back to Haverford.

On 31 May Marion dined with Madeleine Astor and Florence Cumings. The guests of honour were Captain Rostron and Dr. McGhee of the Carpathia.

Marian never claimed from White Star for the loss of her husband's life, but did claim for the loss of their luggage.

Marian Thayer never remarried, she continued to live in Haverford, Pennsylvania and died on 14 April 1944.

Courtesy of Michael A. Findlay, USA

References and Sources

Philadelphia Inquirer, 16 April 1912

Newspaper Articles

Doris Robertson Polley Hanford Sentinel Reliving A Tragic Night On The Sea
Washington Times (18 April 1912) Mrs. J. B. Thayer
New York Times (23 April 1912) Philadelphia Survivors Ill
New York Times (1 June 1912) Capt. Rostron Guest Of Mrs. J. J. Astor
New York Times (2 June 1912) Capt. Rostron Guest Of Mrs. J. B. Thayer
Philadelphia Inquirer (15 April 1944) Mrs. John B. Thayer


From 'The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters'
(1912) Marian Thayer
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Comment and discuss

  1. Brian Ahern

    It's always struck me that every book on the Titanic mentions the Thayer family. And so it's always seemed strange that virtually nothing is ever mentioned on who Marian Longstreth Morris Thayer was before her marriage. Does anyone know who her parents were, where she was from, and what sort of upbringing she had? I've always assumed she was a well-born New Englander. Am I right? Any answers would be appreciated... --Brian A.
  2. David F. Smith

    Another little known fact about her is that she died 30 years to the very day the Titanic sank! It was a shock to read what happened to Jack junior also.
  3. Alison Marchese

    Alison Marchese

    Marion Longstreth Morris was born on November 9, 1872, to Frederick Walton Morris and Elizabeth Flower Paul. I have not been able to locate the exact date of her marriage to John Borland Thayer II. However, John Borland Thayer II was born in Phildelphia (4/21/1862) as was their first son, John Borland Thayer III (12/24/1894). I assume the wedding occurred in Phildelphia sometime between 1890 and 1894. I have no other information about her life prior to her marriage. I wish I could you offer you more!
  4. Brian Meister

    Dear Alison, Marian Longstreth Morris was the daughter of Frederick WISTAR Morris and the wedding of John Borland Thayer Jr and she took place on her 20th birthday in Philadelphia. Hope this helps, Brian
  5. Alison Marchese

    Alison Marchese

    Thanks Brian - that is a huge help! I recently portrayed Marian in a production of Titanic the Musical at college. My senior thesis is based on my performance of the role, but I am finding some difficulty including the historical facts, since the musical suggests that Jack Thayer was only nine at the time of the disaster, rather than seventeen. I am unfortunately forced to take some artistic liberties and rearrange some events of her life. Any other information you may have would be helpful with this little puzzle! Thanks! Alison
  6. Randy Bryan Bigham

    An interesting fashion footnote for Marian Thayer is that not long before the European trip from which she was returning on Titanic, she had attended Philadelphia's First Assembly Ball, regarded as the city's "prime social event of the season." The ball took place at the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel on the evening of January 5, 1912 and Marian Thayer's appearance was a sensation. Here is what "Women's Wear Daily" had to say about the occasion and Mrs. Thayer, whom that paper hailed as the "most splendidly fashionable" woman in Philadelphia society: WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY, 6 Jan. 1912 - "...As a display of beautiful and costly gowns, the event exceeded any fashion show that has been seen for years ... Mrs. John B. Thayer, Jr. was one of the most strikingly costumed women at the ball. She wore a gown of white satin cut on Grecian lines with a high waist and long train, falling from her shoulders. Turquoise and blue trimmings outlined the belt and train. Over this was a gauzy overdress,... Read full post
  7. Kyrila Scully

    Oh, this sounds luscious! Wish there was an illustration in a Tom Tierney book somewhere! Got that urge to sew, but I've spent so much on my new gowns already that I'm broke! Kyrila
  8. David Huffaker

    I am not sure if this will help you in your portrayal. Marian was the third of seven children: Frederick Wistar Morris, Margaret Elizabeth Morris, Marian Longstreth, Samuel Wheeler Morris, John Paul Morris, Dorothea Hollingsworth Morris and Pauline Flower Morris. Her paternal grandparents were Israel (1811-1905) and Elizabeth Longstreth (1817-1898) Morris. He was born In Philadelphia; she in Burlington, New Jersey. Both died in Philadelphia. Her maternal parents were Wiliam W. (1817-1886) and Elizabeth Wheeler (1817-1906) Paul. Her father died in 1916 and her mother in 1920 - both in Philadelphia.
  9. Martin Williams

    I absolutely ADORE that description of Marian Thayer's costume, thanks so much. I always think of her now as being 'splendidly fashionable'. I was fascinated to discover in the recently published Ismay family memoir, 'A Voyage Closed and Done', that J. Bruce Ismay himself was a good friend of the Thayers and socialised much with them during the trip. Even more interestingly (because I had no idea and had never even seen it hinted at elsewhere), it seems that Ismay conceived a violent crush (to put it mildly) on Marian Thayer and the two corresponded regularly after the sinking. It appears that Ismay blamed himself terribly for the loss of Mr Thayer (and approximately 1,499 others) and poured his heart out to Marian, in terms that Mrs Ismay may not altogether have approved! Eventually, Marian became perturbed by Ismay's emotional dependance upon her and gently distanced herself from him.
  10. Martin Williams

    Further to my last post, I'm interested in continuing the discussion on John and Marian Thayer. I believe I read that John was something of a self-made man at the Pennsylvania Railroad and that he worked his way up through the company to acquire a position of considerable importance. In monetary terms, does anybody know how much he was worth at the time of his death? I've heard that he was one of the wealthiest passengers aboard the 'Titanic' - would his fortune have been derived from shares or from his wages as Second Vice-President? It sounds like Marian Thayer came from an impeccable background (I'm thinking of her Morris/Longstreth connections which have been previously raised on this thread and during our recent discussions on Society). She was, in my opinion, something of a beauty and was evidently very well-dressed too. No wonder Ismay fell for her! But Brian has suggested that she became something of an eccentric in later life - Brian, care to shed any more light?... Read full post
  11. Brian Ahern

    Sorry, Martin. Didn't see this thread. I've finally got around to googling the Thackaras, the people with whom the Thayers stayed in Berlin. It turns out Mrs. Thackara was the daughter of General William Tecumseh Sherman, of Civil War fame. They lived in the Rosemont suburb of Philadelphia, which must be how they knew the Thayers. You can read a bit about them here: It seems much of the Sherman-Thackara correspondence has been well preserved. The seeming social importance of the Catholic Eleanor Thackara gives credence to what has been said on other threads about the rules being less rigid than we tend to think. And, the Thayers' friendship with these globetrotters could be indicative of a certain degree of cosmopolitanism on their part. Martin, I'm afraid I've already shared with you pretty much all the tidbits I have on Marian. But her eccentricity has been... Read full post
  12. Brian Ahern

    If anyone feels like picking their way through cursive writing, much of the family correspondence is actually scanned online:
  13. Michele Lawson

    Thank you so much to everyone here who had information about Marion Thayer. I'm playing her in the Youth Theatre Musical Titanic in my town, and I'm playing Marion. Our director had us do a history report on our characters, in recognition that there is a lot of creative license taken with the show. This thread in particular really helped me with that. I've found that Marion Thayer is actually a very interesting person! Unfortunately, our reports couldn't be longer than 200 words, so I had to omit a lot of fascinating information. I thought her connections with J. Bruce Ismay was really interesting, for one. And her death date was entertainingly ironic.
  14. David Paris

    When I was about twelve and developed a fascination with Titanic, Marian Thayer was from the word go the passenger who grabbed my attention the most. It may have been the oft-published regal photograph of her sparkling in her tiara that did it! Despite her being mentioned in passing in numerous accounts of the sinking, not much information seems to be available. It is known that she never remarried, became withdrawn and attempted to contact her late husband via seances and the like, but what of her personality? This site is so full of passenger nuts like myself (hi Randy and everyone else!) so let's throw all we know of Mrs Thayer into a single thread (if only to satisfy my curiosity on this lovely lady!) DP
  15. Martin Williams

    Hello David You're seemingly new to the board (welcome) so it might be an idea to peruse existing threads relating to the Thayers - a good deal of information on both Marian and Jack in their later lives can be found there and it seems a bit futile to duplicate it here. I do agree, though, that Mrs Thayer is one of the more attractive first class passengers. Like you, I've been drawn to her because of her good looks and glamour: you might be interested to hear that the photograph you mention above was one of several taken in one sitting; I've seen another shot from that session, with Marian seated in a different pose, sans tiara. I don't believe that Randy Bigham is still posting on the forum (his profile has been deleted) but he once added a memorable quote from a magazine published in the winter of 1912, in which Marian is described as 'the most splendidly fashionable' woman in Philadelphia Society. As you'll know, she and her husband ran with a very glitzy crowd and were... Read full post

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Marian Longstreth Thayer (née Morris)
Age: 39 years 5 months and 6 days (Female)
Nationality: American
Marital Status: Married to John Borland Thayer
Embarked: Cherbourg on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 17421, £110 17s 8d
Cabin No. C68
Rescued (boat 4)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Friday 14th April 1944 aged 71 years
Cause of Death:

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