Encyclopedia Titanica

Sarah Elizabeth Chapman

Sarah Elizabeth Chapman
Sarah Elizabeth Chapman

Mrs John Henry Chapman (Sarah Elizabeth Lawry) was born at Tremorkin, St Neot, Liskeard, Cornwall, England in the Spring of 1882, later being baptised on 6 October that year.

She was the daughter of William Henry Lawry (b. 1848), a farmer, and Emma Hill (b. 1849), both natives of Cornwall who had married on 22 June 1880.

She had three siblings: William Joseph Edward (b. 1880), Emma Louisa (b. 1884) and Charles Edwards Hill (b. 1889).

Sarah first appears on the 1891 census living with her family at Tremorcome in St Neot parish. Her father died later that year on 29 December 1891 and her mother never remarried; the remaining family are shown on the 1901 census living at an unspecified address in St Neot with a 19-year-old Sarah having no stated profession. Her mother died on 10 April 1910 and the 1911 census shows Sarah and her brother Charles, a tin miner, residing at Dye House in St Neot; again she had no stated occupation.

Her brother William, a carpenter, had emigrated around 1906, initially to Canada before settling in Fitchburgh, Dane, Wisconsin in 1909. Her younger brother also emigrated to Wisconsin later in 1911, leaving Sarah in Cornwall.

For many years Sarah had been corresponding with a childhood sweetheart John Henry Chapman (b. 1875), also from Liskeard but who had emigrated in 1906 and had made his home in Spokane, Washington since 1910.  The two became engaged and with the intention of marrying, Mr Chapman left his Washington home in November 1911 and returned to Cornwall. He and Sarah were wed on Boxing Day 1911 at the Wesleyan Chapel.

Wedding Card
Card commemorating the marriage of john Chapman and Sarah Lawry

Mr and Mrs Chapman boarded the Titanic at Southampton as second class passengers (ticket number 29037 which cost £26, purchased from George & Co of Liskeard). Sources differ over the eventual destination of the couple; one unidentified newspaper states that they were headed to Mr Chapman's home (1-2 Monroe Street) in Spokane whilst another states they were destined for the home of Mrs Chapman's brother William in Fitzburgh, Dane, Wisconsin; it is possible they were travelling to Spokane via Wisconsin. Whilst aboard the couple became friendly with Mr Samuel James Hocking of Devon and several others from Cornwall, including Mrs Emily Richards and her family and Mr James Vivian Drew and his family.

On the night of the sinking, according to Mrs Emily Richards, the Chapmans, the Drews, Hockings and Richards all waited on the deck together as the evacuation was taking place. The Drews later became separated from the main crowd and the remainder in the party were escorted to lifeboat 4 which was being filled from A-deck promenade. Mrs Chapman was reportedly following behind Mrs Richards as she began her climb into the boat but, realising her husband would not be allowed to accompany her said 'Goodbye Mrs Richards, if John can't go, I won't go either' before stepping back and rejoining her husband.

Mr and Mrs Chapman both died in the sinking. Mrs Chapman's body, if recovered, was never identified but the body of her husband was recovered and buried at Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Among his possessions was her handbag and their marriage certificate.

In Memoriam Card
In Memoriam Card

The couple are remembered on a family headstone in St Neot's Cemetery, belonging to her aunt Emma Elizabeth Lawry (1853-1934):


Her brother William remained in the USA and became a naturalised citizen in 1928, settling in Wisconsin for the rest of his life where he was married and raised a family 1. He died in 1959.

Her brother Charles also remained in the USA where he worked as a farmhand in Oregon, Dane, Wisconsin. He died in 1934.



  1. He was married to an English lady named Lydia (1885-1944) and had two children: William H. (b. 1915) and Agnes M. (b. 1918).
  2. Photo show Mrs Chapman identified as the lady (front row far, right) in white blouse at the inaugural meeting of the St Neots Mothers' Union.

References and Sources

Photos from an exhibit at National Maritime Museum Cornwall, 2009

Research Articles

Peter Engberg-Klarström Titanica! (2018) Lost Ladies
Who were they and why did they die?

Newspaper Articles

Was member of the Young Men’s Christian Association Choir
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser Mr. and Mrs. Chapman
Western Morning News (17 April 1912) Titanic Disaster, Westcountry Passengers and Crew (8)
Western Morning News (17 April 1912) Titanic Disaster, Westcountry Passengers and Crew (9)
West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser (18 April 1912) Unknown Title (6)
The Spokesman-Review (25 April 1912) Local man, Bride, Titanic Victims
Rhondda Tidrick Spokane Chronicle (20 August 1980) Mystery of the Titanic Best Left to the Depths
Stefanie Pettit The Spokesman-Review (23 April 2009) Monument Recognizes Titanic-Spokane Link
Rachel Alexander (15 April 2018) Unlikely Tie Linked Some Spokane Bound Passengers
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Comment and discuss

  1. Sheila Pearce

    Sheila Pearce

    I have previously used the message board,but have been off line for a few months owing to a house move. Mr John Henry Chapman was my gr.uncle. He & his wife lost their lives on their honeymoon vogage.I have postcards sent from Queenstown to my mother& my aunt, also some of the effects noted in the records. My new e mail address is

  2. Hydie Cheung

    Hydie Cheung

    Hello, Sheila. I have read about some stories about your great uncle and aunt. Do you still have the postcards now? - Hydie

  3. George Behe

    Hi, Sheila! Nice to see you here again! :-) I'm still plugging away on my project and would like to thank you once again for your kindness and for all the help you've given me in the past. Take care, my friend. Sincerely, George

  4. Dennis Smith

    Hi All, Did anyone in the UK watch "Country File" on BBC TV on Sunday morning? (Sounds off topic, but it's not). John Craven , the presentor, was in St. Neots in Cornwall and was interviewing a local historian and she took him to the memorial to Sara Elizabeth and John Henry Chapman. She told the story of what happened prior to the sinking. According to her John had left Sara in the UK while he went to the USA or Canada because Saras' mother was ill, anyway Saras mum died and he came back to the UK to take her back accross the pond on the Titanic. Now here is the rub, as the ship was... Read full post

  5. Bob Godfrey

    I had the TV on in the background and wasn't paying any attention to the prog until I caught the word 'Titanic', and then of course I started listening! The real story can be found in the recollections of Emily Richards. As a fellow Cornishwoman, she had made friends with the Chapmans and they, along with Emily's family, waited as a group until boat 4 was loading. When it became clear that her husband would have to stay behind, Sara made the decision to stay with him. So there's a kernel of truth in the TV version, but only insofar as Sara chose to die with her husband rather than live... Read full post

  6. Dennis Smith

    Cheers Bob, That is what I had read had happened, but when you hear a story from a reputed historian it's got to make you think. Again thanks Bob Best wishes and Rgds Dennis

  7. Michael H. Standart

    >>That is what I had read had happened, but when you hear a story from a reputed historian it's got to make you think.

  8. Matthew D. Chapman

    My parents and I think They were desendants from us. I think they stayed together too late and were crushed by the funnel when it fell as depicted in ANTR as anyone would know that the Chapmans were portrayed

  9. Lester Mitcham

    Matthew, Unless they had children before they married it seems unlikely that your family could be descended from John and Sara Chapman. I understand they were on their honeymoon. You might however be related to them through other family members. Unfortunately the URL links on this web-site are not presently working, so I cannot see who received monies from the MANSION HOUSE TITANIC RELIEF FUND or read the PROBATE REPORT for John's death.

  10. Bob Godfrey

    The honeymoon couple in ANTR (the Clarkes) were 'composite characters', there to represent all of the 2nd Class (and all of the young couples) on board. They weren't intended to represent any particular real people, though Mrs Clarke's refusal to be separated from her husband with the comment "We started out together and we'll finish together" were taken from Lightoller's recollection of an American couple on the boat deck. But even if the Clarkes had been based on the Chapmans, their death scene came from the screenwriter's imagination rather than any factual account of the sinking. No... Read full post

  11. Matthew D. Chapman

    Let me rephrase that. I meant to say Distant distant relatives

  12. Mike Poirier

    Hello Bob You wrote, 'American couple.' I also thought that however, someone pointed out that western, which was the exact word used, meant western England.

  13. Bob Godfrey

    Hallo, Michael. Lightoller's words were "evidently from the Western States". Over here we don't have States. We would refer to 'the West country' or perhaps 'the Western Counties'.

  14. Mike Poirier

    Hello Bob, Well this theory came from an English researcher who told me said that. Odd that another Englishman would not catch the 'states' thing unless that term sometimes used in certain parts of the country. I have an English friend that uses the word 'lawyer' and another who uses 'soliciter'.

  15. Bob Godfrey

    Well, Michael, I can only assure you that we don't have any Western States over here, and I'd be amazed if any English person would assert otherwise. Thanks to Hollywood, the Americanisation of standard English is well advanced, but it's still selective. We haven't yet got round (not gotten round, note ) to calling our pounds dollars or our counties states. Not in the West country nor in any other part of England I have live in over the past nearly 60 years. 'Lawyer', by the way, is as traditional a term here as in the US, but we rarely use the word 'attorney',... Read full post

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mrs Sarah Elizabeth Chapman (née Lawry)
Nationality: English
Marital Status: Married to John Henry Chapman
Last Residence: in Liskeard, Cornwall, England
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 29037, £26
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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