Mrs Ernest Courtenay Carter (Lillian Hughes) was born in St George's, London, England on 3 March 1867. She was the daughter of Thomas Hughes (1822-1896) and Ann Frances Ford (1826-1901).
Her father hailed from Uffington, Berkshire and was a lawyer, being called to the bar in 1848, became Queen's Counsel in 1869 and a bencher the following year before becoming a county court judge. He was a committed Christian socialist reformer and involved with various co-operatives and early trade unions and was elected to Parliament as a Liberal for two terms. Also a novelist, one of his better known works was Tom Brown's Schooldays which was published in 1857. He was married in 1847 to a Northampton-born woman named Ann Frances Ford who was the daughter of a minister. The couple would have nine children, several of who were lost in childhood, and Lillian's siblings were: Walter Maurice (b. 1850), Margaret Evelyn (b. 1851), James Ford (b. 1853), Caroline Mary Henrietta (b. 1854), John (b. 1856), Mary (b. 1860), Arthur (b. 1863) and George (b. 1865).
The 1871 and 1881 census shows the family home was at 80 Park Street in St George's, London, although Lillian was only listed with her family on the 1881 record.
She was married in Chester in 1890 to Ernest Courtenay Carter (b. 1858), a clergyman originally from Berkshire. The newly married couple appeared on the 1891 census living at the Vicarage in Chieveley, Berkshire before they settled in London, appearing on the 1901 and 1911 censuses at St Jude's Vicarage, 26 Commercial Street, Whitechapel. The couple had no children.
Lillian and her husband boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 244252 which had cost £26).
On the night of the sinking it is believed that the Carters made their way up to the boat deck during the evacuation and were offered a space in a lifeboat together. They chose to remain behind and Mrs Carter refused to leave her husband. They both died in the sinking and their bodies, if recovered, were never identified.
A brass memorial tablet dedicated to the couple was later unveiled in St Jude's Church, Whitechapel:
IN LOVING MEMORY OF
ERNEST COURTENAY CARTER
BORN 17TH FEBRUARY 1858 AND VICAR OF ST JUDE'S,
WHITECHAPEL FROM NOVEMBER 1898 TO APRIL 1912
AND OF LILLIAN HIS WIFE
DAUGHTER OF THOMAS HUGHES THE AUTHOR OF TOM
BROWN'S SCHOOLDAYS. BORN 3rd MARCH 1867
WHO AFTER 14 YEARS OF SELF SACRIFICE IN THE
CAUSE OF RELIGION AND HUMANITY IN THIS PARISH
MET DEATH WHEN THE TITANIC FOUNDERED IN
THE ATLANTIC AFTER COLLISION WITH AN ICEBERG
ON THE 15TH OF APRIL 1912.
"LOVELY AND PLEASANT IN THEIR LIVES
IN DEATH THEY WERE NOT DIVIDED"
SHE REFUSED TO LEAVE HIM WHEN OFFERED
A PLACE IN A BOAT
The tablet was later moved following St Jude's demolition to St Mary's village church in Longcot, Faringdon, Oxfordshire where Lillian's uncle John Hughes had previously served as vicar.