Mrs Margaret Ann Watson Ford

Mrs Edward Ford was born as Margaret Ann Watson on 3 December 1857 in Bracadale on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides, Scotland.

She was the daughter of William Watson (b. 1827), a shepherd, and Margaret "Peggy" Ross (1) (b. 1832), both natives of Rossshire who were married on 30 May 1851 in Alness, Ross and Cromarty. They seemingly initially settled in Sutherlandshire where their first three children were born before settling on the Isle of Skye sometime around 1856. They had twelve known children in all: Andrew (b. 1853), Christina (b. 1855), James (b. 1857), Catherine (b. 1859), Dolina (b. 1861), William (b. 1864), Thomas Neil (b. 1866), Catherine (b. 1868), Neil (b. 1869), Robert (b. 1871), Robert (b. 1873), Elizabeth (b. 1876).

Margaret appears on the 1861 census living in Gruile, Bracadale and on the 1871 census living at Borlen House Ganle, Bracadale. She was not listed with her family on the 1881 census when they were living at Gruile 2, Bracadale. Her father had passed away by the time of the 1891 census and the family home had passed into the hands of her brother Neil, a postman, who then lived with her widowed mother and sister Kate at Harport House, Bracadale.

She moved southward and was married in St Mark's Church in Hadlow Down, Wealden, Sussex, England on 17 June 1890 to Edward Ford (b. 1858), a native of Fletching, Sussex and who was a hay worker on a farm. The childless couple appear on the 1891 census living at an unspecified address in Hadlow Down; they would later go on to produce five children: Dollina Margaret (b. 1891), Frances Mary (b. 1893), Edward Watson (b. 1895), William Neal Thomas (b. 1897) and Robina Maggie (b. 1904).

The family show up on the 1901 census living in the hamlet of Mark Cross in Rotherfield, Sussex and are still in that locale by the time of the 1911 census.

Margaret's husband Edward later reportedly deserted the family and she was left to eke out an existence as a poultry farmer. Her daughter Frances had emigrated to the USA in 1911 and worked as a domestic servant with a wealthy Long Island family, and so impressed her family back home with tales of a better life that Margaret decided to leave their home in Rotherfield for America. Travelling with them was Margaret's sister Elizabeth Johnston with her family and a family friend, Phoebe Alice Harknett. Margaret bought ticket W./C. 6608 (which cost £34 7s 6d) for her and her children and they boarded the Titanic at Southampton as third class passengers and were destined for New London, Connecticut where Mrs Watson's brother Thomas lived.

The entire party of ten were lost in the sinking. None of their bodies were identified amongst those recovered after the sinking. Edward Ford later filed a claim for the loss of his family and was awarded five shillings per week. What became of Edward is not known but it is possible he remained in Rotherfield and died in 1933.

Frances Ford, having lost her mother, her siblings and other relatives, later went to live in Haverhill, Massachusetts with her uncle Thomas Watson and later worked as a laundress. She was married in Boston on 24 June 1916 to Massachusetts-native Charles Henry Langley (b. 1883) and had two children: Muriel (b. 1920) and Charles Henry (b. 1922). What became of her first husband is unknown but she was remarried sometime before 1930 to New Yorker Michael Nathanson (b. 1883), a leather dealer, and settled in Quincy, Massachusetts. She died in 1969.

Notes

  1. Some sources give her name as Catherine Margaret McGregor
  2. He would give his birthplace as Middlesex or London in some census records. His birth was registered in Sussex and he was baptised on 4 April 1858 in Fletching, Sussex.
 

Articles and Stories

Concord Enterprise (1913) 
Chicago Examiner (1912) 
 

Comment and discuss

  1. Emma Richardson said:

    HELLO, THIS IS MY FIRST MESSAGE SO PLEASE BE PATIENT WITH ME....I HAVE BEEN RESEARCHING THE FORD FAMILY FOR OVER A YEAR NOW AND HAVE FOUND SOME INTERESTING INFO OUT INCLUDING D.O.B FOR ALL CHILDREN. WHAT I WANT TO KNOW IS..MR EDWARD FORD IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE ABANDONED HIS FAMILY IN OR AROUND 1904 BUT EVEN HIS FAMILY DON'T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED SO HOW DO WE? ANY THOUGHTS ON THIS....

  2. Geoff Whitfield said:

    Hello again Emma! I think that the information comes from the American Red Cross Relief Fund records which give details of daughter Frances Ford's claim for compensation. It states that "the family had been abandoned by the father many years ago but he turned up after the sinking to claim 5 shillings (if my memory serves me) each week for the loss of the family. Margaret Ford's sister's family did not make a claim to the Red Cross - maybe they did from the British Relief Fund - I really can't remember.

  3. Emma Richardson said:

    Hello Geoff, I have recently discovered that Edward Was almost certainly living with the family in 1908 as he was listed as living in the same road as the rest of the family on the Electoral Register. Also the family's local church held a memorial service for them after the sinking which He attended and a collection was made for him which he received after the ceremony. Of course this doesn't prove one way or another that he left!!! however his family do seem to think that he may have married a few years afterwards and moved to London.

  4. Magda Natalia Piotrowska said:

    I know that entire Ford family died in the sinking. Did any survivor see their on the boat deck?

  5. Laura Melinda Varjo said:

    Hi Magda, I don't think so. There were no recollections of the family(or even their relatives the Johnstons) during the sinking. But you know, I too, was trying to figure this out some time ago, but gave up. I assume they never even made it to the boat deck, but were sadly trapped somewhere in the maze of Titanic. But I could be wrong. Hey, I'm Hungarian, but my mom has been to Poland several times. Laura

  6. avatar

    Arthur Merchant said:

    The liklihood of stories concerning the large families lost in the sinking pretty much relied on whether there were other friends or acquaintances (usually single females) who were fortunate enough to escape. So an account of the Paulson family was provided by August Wennerstrom; the Rice family from Bertha Mulvahill, the Anderssons from Anna Nyston and the Panulas courtesy of Anna Turja. In the case of the Ford/Johnstons, their single friend and traveling companion, Phoebe Harknett also perished. That leaves sadly, them along with the Goodwins, Lefevbres, and Skoogs whose final days... Read full post

  7. Miranda Martin said:

    Were there any photos of the Fords or Johnstons? Miranda

  8. Emma Richardson said:

    Hi Miranda I have been researching the Fords for over 6 years now and have been in contact with all sorts of their relatives. Sadly no known photographs survive for the Fords here in the UK, although there are photos of their close relatives. I have whole class school photos for some of the years they were in school but none of the children have been positively identified as of yet. I am currently getting my research together for publication in the near future. Best wishes Emma

  9. Miranda Martin said:

    If you manage to identify the children on the photos, could you please send them to me? Miranda

Leave a comment

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Geoff Whitfield, UK

References and Sources

Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])
Names and Descriptions of British Passengers Embarked at the Port of Southampton, 10 April 1912 (PRO London, BT 27/780B)
Marriages, births, deaths and injuries that have occurred on board during the voyage (PRO London, BT 100/259-260)
Search archive British newspapers online

Link and cite this biography

Encyclopedia Titanica (2015) Margaret Ann Watson Ford (ref: #813, last updated: 13th June 2015, accessed 4th June 2020 05:30:53 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-victim/margaret-ann-watson-ford.html