Miss Mary Kelly

Miss Mary Kelly was born in Dernagaragh, Castlepollard, Co Westmeath, Ireland on 9 March 18901

Coming from a Roman Catholic family, she was the eldest daughter of Lawrence Kelly (b. 1855), a farmer, and his wife Mary McKeon (b. 1862). The couple had married on 21 October 18862 and had a total of eight children. 

Mary's siblings were: James (b. 28 April 1888), Kate (b. 16 March 1892), Anne (b. 14 January 1894), James "John" (b. 18 March 1895), Edward (b. 6 April 1897), Bridget (b. 15 October 1899) and Margaret (b. 20 April 1902).

She appears on the 1901 census with her family living at house 16, Collinstown in Westmeath. Her father died from tuberculosis on 16 November 1901 aged 46; her mother was carrying her youngest child Margaret at the time who was born six months later and who apparently died shortly after. 

Mary would be absent from the family home by the time of the 1911 census when they were living at 18 Pakenhamhall Street, Kinturk, Castlepollard.
Mary Kelly worked as a domestic in Castepollard and hoped to find employment working for wealthy families in New York. She was also engaged to be married to a Castlepollard man by the name of John Heslin (b. 22 March 18933) who had crossed the Atlantic a year in advance of her own journey, he arriving on 26 March 1911. He was the son of carpenter Patrick Heslin and the former Mary Anne Mantell.

Mary Kelly boarded the Titanic in Queenstown, Co Cork on 11 April 1912 as a third class passenger(ticket number 14312 which cost £7, 15s). Her destination was 113 West 15th Street, Manhattan. On board Titanic she shared a cabin with two Cork girls, Annie Jermyn and Bridget Driscoll.

On the night of the disaster Mary and her cabin mates made their way to the upper decks and eventually to the forward boat deck where they were rescued in the last lifeboat successfully launched from the Titanic, collapsible D. Whilst afloat Mary helped look after the two mystery French boys, Edmond and Michel Navratil, whose father had placed them in the lifeboat before stepping back and sinking with the ship.

Mary eventually reached New York and was reunited with her fiancé. The couple were wed around 1913 and settled in Brooklyn where they had six children: Howard Vincent (b. 18 December 19144), Maureen (b. 4 March 1921), Margaret (b. 7 May 19225), Jacqueline Elizabeth (b. 29 September 19236), John Lawrence (b. 25 June 19277) and James William (b. 28 April 19308). 

By 1920 their address was McLain Street in Bedford, Westchester, New York where her husband worked as a farm labourer. They moved to Brooklyn and by 1930 their address was on Ralph Avenue, Brooklyn and her husband worked as an inspector on the railways. At the time of John Heslin's 1942 WWI draft their address was Coney Island Avenue, where they were also listed on the 1940 census and where Mary would live for the remainder of her life. Although John Heslin later became a naturalised US citizen it would appear that Mary did not follow suit. 

Mary remained in Brooklyn for the rest of her life but did traverse the Atlantic again as early as 1919 when she and her son paid a visit to her sister Anne in London. She may also have had a visit to Ireland in later years.

Mary Kelly Heslin died at her home in Brooklyn on 27 December 1950 and was buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. Her widower John died less than a year later on 1 July 1951.

Notes

  1. Date as per birth record; given in her social security records as 19 February 1892.
  2. Their marriage record states that Lawerence Kelly was a widower; however, no record has been found of his previous marriage(s).
  3. Date as per birth record but in all records in America he made himself a day younger.
  4. Died 6 August 1993 in Brooklyn.
  5. Died 22 July 1952 in Mississippi. 
  6. Later McGee, died 11 March 1990 in New York
  7. Died 5 December 2004 in Queens, New York
  8. Died 9 September 1991
 

Comment and discuss

  1. CAROLE MARY ROGAN said:

    Does anyone know what happened to who was my grandfathers sister? We know she settled in New York and married a man named STEEN/STEENE or STEIN. She had a brother, James, also living in New York

  2. Michael Findlay said:

    Dear Carole, The Mary Kelly who sailed on the Titanic settled in New York City, married John J. Heslin, and died in Brooklyn, New York, on December 27, 1950. She is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately, her grave is unmarked. I hope this helps.

  3. CAROLE MARY ROGAN said:

    Thank you Michael, Do you know whether she was ever married to someone named Steene and whether she had any children?

  4. Michael Findlay said:

    Hi Carole, Mary Kelly was only married to John J. Heslin, and the couple had several children. I knew her son James well, and the two of us had a lengthy correspondence many years ago. I believe there may be some confusion concerning the real Mary Kelly who sailed on the Titanic. Mary Kelly Heslin was born on 9 February 1891 in Castlepollard, County Westmeath, Ireland. She was 21-years-old when she sailed on the Titanic. I hope this will shed some additional light on the Mary Kelly you were inquiring about. Mike Findlay

  5. CAROLE MARY ROGAN said:

    Hello Michael, My brother, Michael, feels it must be the same person because the age is correct and the family came from the same area in Eire. Apparently, she was so traumatised by the journey to the US she was afraid to travel again, do you recall your friend ever mentioning that. Also, did he mention that he had an uncle Jim living in NY who travelled to England to visit his brother, Joseph, who had a farm? Thanks again for your help

  6. Tom Nelligan said:

    I'm looking fir as much information about Mary Kelly and her descendants. According to the Senen Maloney book "The Irish Aboard the Titanic" she looked after the Titanic Orphans in Collapsible D, but other books make no mention of her when discussing the Titanic Orphans. Any help and info is greatly appreciated.

  7. Tom Nelligan said:

    Forgot to mention that she subsequently married and lived in New York

  8. mary moynihan said:

    Mary Kelly was my grandmother, she was on Titanic and was in lifeboat D. In the lifeboat she was handed 2 little French boys who took care off until they reached New York. Many years later those boys looked her up and they met in Brooklyn. Mary Kelly married John Heslin lived in Brooklyn. They had 6 children Howard, Maureen (my mother) Peggy, Jackie, John and James. She did return to Ireland and traveled quite a bit in her lifetime she was quite a gal.

  9. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Mary, Welcome aboard. That would have been Michel and Edmond Navratil. It sounds like your grandmother lived quite an interesting life.

  10. mary moynihan said:

    Hello Jason. Mary Kelly did in fact lead an interesting life. Besides having six children She traveled quite a bit with her sister she went back to Ireland twice and spent vacations in Canada. Her picture in hanging on the wall at the Titanic Museum when it was in St Petersburg Fl. It was a very large picture, I have had that same picture only smaller since I was a little girl. My Mom was still with us at that time, we brought the little picture with us. That was a strange experience we had no idea that when we went into the next room. We would see that very same picture. The museum had... Read full post

  11. Adam Went said:

    Not to be confused with Mary Kelly of Spitalfields, London in 1888.... ;-) Cheers, Adam.

  12. Tim Buckley said:

    This post is meant for Mary Moynihan: I hope you get this post and respond. You mentioned in a post in September 2011 that Mary Kelly had six children, one of whom was named Peggy. Could her name have been Margaret Peggy Heslin? My Grandmother's name was Margaret but I am told the family called her Peggy. Her parents were John J and Mary Kelly Heslin and I have been told that her father was a NY police officer and mother was a survivor of the Titanic. I know very little of this side of my family, only that I was told my Great Grandmother survived the Titanic and that my Grandfather met... Read full post

  13. Noel Coakley said:

    Hi Mary Moynihan You stated on a message board of another site that your grandmother, Mary Kelly, came from Ballydehob Co. Cork. Though she is officially listed as being from Castlepollard, Co. Westmeath, her ticket was, indeed, purchased in Ballydehob which is over 200 miles from her home in the midlands of Ireland. Also, it is in sequence with two tickets purchased from the same agent by two Ballydehob natives, Bridget O'Driscoll and Annie (Nancy) Jermyn. All 3 young ladies were fortunate to survive escaping on the last lifeboat, ‘D’ launched. Here in Ballydehob we are hoping to... Read full post

  14. avatar

    Jason D. Tiller said:

    Hello Tim, Noel, Please be advised that according to Mary's profile, she has not accessed the board for almost five months. Therefore, she may not see your messages. However, you can send her an e-mail through her profile by clicking on her name.

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Credits

Gavin Bell, UK

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279]). Noel Ray (1999) List of Passengers who Boarded RMS Titanic at Queenstown, April 11, 1912. The Irish Titanic Historical Society
Search archive Irish newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2015) Mary Kelly (ref: #936, last updated: 23rd June 2015, accessed 2nd August 2020 13:06:15 PM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/mary-kelly.html