Mrs Maud Louise Slocombe was born as Maude Louise Walden 1 on 31 July 1881 at 44 Clayton Street in Islington, London, England. She was baptised on 28 August that same year in St Andrews Church, Barnsbury.
She was the daughter of James William Walden (b. 1854), a printer and compositor, and Louisa Jane Pengelly (b. 1859), both natives of London who were married in St Marylebone Church in Middlesex on 12 July 1880.
Maud had six known siblings: Florence Eleanor (b. 1883), James Thomas (b. 1885), Harry Alfred (b. 1887), Charles William (b. 1889), Agnes Cecilia (b. 1891) and Matilda Rose (b. 1894). Her sister Agnes died in 1894 before reaching her third birthday.
Maud first appears on the 1891 census when she and her family were still living at 44 Clayton Street, Islington. Her father later died on 9 February 1894 aged 39, then a resident of 21 Simpson Street, Battersea. The remaining family are not identifiable on the 1901 census.
On 4 September 1901 Maud gave birth to a son, Stanley Andrew, but it is uncertain as to who the child's father was. It also appears, although not certain, that he was primarily raised by his maternal grandmother.
Maud was later married on 2 June 1906 in Holy Trinity Church, Islington to John Sylvester Slocombe (b. 16 August 1876 in Hackney, son of tailor John Sylvester Slocombe and Jane Seymour Gregory). At the time of the marriage John was described as a bookbinder by profession. He would leave the UK, bound for Québec on 14 May 1910 aboard the Megantic and crossed into the USA on 20 October 1911.
Maud appears on the 1911 census living at 350 St Ann's Road, Tottenham and she was described as a married masseuse. Her son Stanley was listed as living at 70 Offord Road, Islington with his maternal grandmother Louisa Walden and his aunts and uncles.
When Maude signed-on to the Titanic, on 9 April 1912, she gave her address as 8 Leopold Terrace, Tottenham, London. Her last ship had been the Olympic. As a Turkish Bath stewardess she received monthly wages of £4.
Maude described parts of the Titanic as remaining in a semi-completed condition and with the odd half-eaten sandwich left in various corners which she laughingly attributed to the builders being Belfast men. She most likely shared a cabin with Turkish Bath attendant Annie Caton.
In a 1957 interview Mrs Slocombe later recounted that she was in bed at the time of the collision and was alerted by a thud. Rising, she went out into the passageway and encountered Second Steward George Charles Dodd who told her to get dressed and go up on deck, but when she pressed for an explanation as to what was wrong he replied that he did not know. Upon reaching the upper decks Maude described a calm and almost "cheerful" atmosphere and had high praise for the conduct of the crew. Upon an attempted return to her cabin for some personal possessions she was halted by rising water and she returned to the upper decks.
Although Maude would later claim she was in the last lifeboat to leave the Titanic, it is generally believed that she was rescued in lifeboat 11, and described her boat as being loaded with 72 persons. From her vantage point in the lifeboat Maude stated she watched the final moments of the ship and claimed to have heard the band play Nearer my God to Thee. In the morning before her rescue by the Carpathia, she recalled seeing lots of ice and icebergs around. Whilst on the Carpathia bound for New York, Maude would later tell of the attitude of some of the female survivors who expressed disgust that "common" crew men and women had survived whilst their own husbands had been lost. Maude returned to England aboard the Lapland with other surviving crew members and was not required to give evidence to either the British or American Inquiries into the disaster.
Maud apparently returned to work for the White Star Line but she would later emigrate to the USA and arrived in New York on 13 April 1914 aboard the Saint Paul; described as standing at 5' 4" and with fair hair, blue eyes and having a fair complexion, she was destined to the home of her brother Harry in New York. She returned to Britain in September 1915 but re-entered the USA aboard the Philadelphia, destined this time for the Adlon on 54th Street, New York, the hotel where she worked.
Maud and her husband John were eventually estranged and by the close of the decade were living apart although it is uncertain as to whether they were ever divorced. John Slocombe settled permanently in Canada and lived out his life before he died in Bancroft, Ontario on 11 January 1970 aged 93.
Maud's signature from her naturalisation papers
On the 1920 USA census Maud and her then "husband," a "Claude Slocombe" were living at West 145th Street, Manhattan, the latter being described as an English-born seaman in the merchant marine. The true identity of Claude(2) is not known but that relationship was evidently brief. Following the death of her mother in 1925, Maud was joined in the USA by her son Stanley. She would continue to make visits back to Britain, the last time being aboard the Queen Mary in 1949.
Maud's son Stanley in the early 1930s (naturalisation record)
In March 1927 Maud declared her intention to become a US citizen and was described as a widowed masseuse. Her address was then listed as 2246 Grand Concourse, Bronx, New York. She became a US citizen later that month, then being described as a Turkish Bath Operator and her address also changed to 2298 Creston Avenue, New York. On the 1930 census she was listed with her son at the 2246 Grand Concourse address and she was described as a masseuse. Also living with them was a lodger, American-born Grover C. Peacock (b. 20 July 1888), a manufacturing manager who would follow them to their next address at the time of the 1940 census, 2252 University Avenue, Bronx. There may be a possibility that Mrs Slocombe and this younger man were lovers but this is uncertain. Peacock died on 3 January 1948.
During the 1950s Maud corresponded with Walter Lord during his research for A Night to Remember and she is credited in his book alongside her anecdotes of the disaster. Around that same time her memories were recorded to film.
Maud Slocombe remained a masseuse and later a housekeeper for many years and, despite her prolonged residence in the USA, retained her native Cockney-London accent. She died in Bronx, New York on 30 July 1967, just one day shy of her 86th birthday.
Her son Stanley, a furrier, never married and died in New York in 1976.