Miss Ellen "Nellie" Wallcroft1 was born on 9th December 1875 the daughter of John Wallcroft (Brewer's labourer) and his wife Rebecca (née Broughton). At the time they were living at West Street, Maidenhead, Berkshire. In the 1881 census the family are listed as living at 6 Norfolk Park Cottage, Cookham, Berkshire.
Nellie had an older brother, Fred (1873-1893) and three younger brothers Walter (1879-1968), Arthur (1882-1924) and John (1884-1885), their mother died just three days after John's birth. The following year, on 22 September 1885 John Walcroft remarried to Louisa Hicks and had five more daughters.
In the 1901 census, Nellie was listed as a cook at the home of surgeon George Moore, in Castle Hill, Maidenhead. By 1911 she had become a cook in the household of Mr Evan Spicer (a paper manufacturer) at Belair Park, Dulwich.
In order to earn more money, Nellie decided to go to America. Travelling with her friend Clear Cameron Nellie originally booked on another vessel, but they were transferred when their ship was laid up because of the coal strike. The two ladies boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number F.C.C. 13528, £21). On the Titanic they shared a second class cabin for two on E-Deck. Her destination was given as Ruddington Farm, Mamaroneck, New York to join her half-sister Lucy Land who had emigrated in 1911.
Nellie Walcroft wrote a letter to the Maidenhead Advertiser dated 23 April 1912 telling her story.
She recounted how she had left Maidenhead on 9 April, stayed in London and caught the special train to Southampton at 8.30 am, 10 April. A sister and a friend said goodbye to her. The train arrived at Southampton Dock station at 10.15 am.
On Sunday night, the 14th, they went to their stateroom about 10.30 p.m. and soon fell asleep. Suddenly there was a crash and she was nearly thrown out of her berth. She woke her friend Clear, by shouting: "Clear, what's that?". The engines had stopped. A steward arrived and said: "Go back to your beds, no danger!", but she heard outside "an iceberg". They dressed and went on deck. There they walked around, when suddenly rockets went up. They finally entered lifeboat 14. Officer Lowe was in command. He shot twice, over the side of the ship, to keep men away from the lifeboat. Then it was lowered and they rowed away.
Nellie said saw the ship split and heard two more explosions from underneath the water, when the Titanic went down. For a few moments it was silent, then terrible crying arose from the people left behind. This seemed to last for hours. When day broke, they saw six large icebergs. Nellie and Clear were transferred to boat 10 when Lowe decided to go back to search for survivors. Six were pulled from the water, two of them died.
At a quarter to seven they were picked up by the Carpathia. They found they had to sleep on the tables of the Dining Saloon. They arrived at New York about 8 p.m. on 18 April where her sister and brother-in-law met her. Mr Carl Land was a chauffeur who had been lent the family car to collect the girls.
From Mamaroneck she sent a cablegram to her parents at 'Briarwood' 4 Furze Road, Furze Platt, Maidenhead, England: "Arrived, well, Nellie".
Miss Walcroft later put a claim to White Star for her loss valued at $651.
Nellie Walcroft stayed for some time at Ruddington Farm. She got a job as cook at Mamaroneck, but she felt very unhappy. Another job at Rye, New York, was no better. Leaving Rye in August, she went to Springfield to look for another job. This didn't materialize so she spent a month at Ruddington Farm with her sister. She tried several other jobs, but could not find one to suit her.
She returned to England during the first world war, and served as a forewoman cook in Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps. Her efforts were rewarded in 1919 by the British Empire Medal, Military Division, which was presented to her by the Consul General in New York on 1 November 1920.
Returning to America, she was counted twice during the 1920 Federal census, On 11 January 1920 she was listed as staying with Lucy and Carl Land, Nellie Walcroft's half-sister and brother-in-law, their daughter and another sister of theirs, Eva Griffin on Wood Crest Ave. (the Bronx or Brooklyn?). It lists her as being 40, single and a cook and having immigrated in 1917.
On 29/30 January 1920 she is listed as a cook in Manhattan in Henry Schniewand's home in Manhattan. It states that she was 44 and had immigrated in 1912.
Later in the 1920s she married an Irishman named William George Lipscomb2. They lived in Brooklyn, New York with William's sister Rebecca.
In 1930 they were living at 295 Ryerson Street, Brooklyn, William was listed as a 'Floor Man' in a bank. By 1940 they had moved to 292 18 Street, Brooklyn; William's occupation was Apartment House Superintendant and Nellie was listed as a Seamstress.
William died 28 November 1945 and Nellie died 4 September 1949.
At an auction in Devises, England, in January 1999, a letter she had written, detailing her travails, was sold for $13,200.