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.
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.
The couple are remembered on a family headstone in St Neot's Cemetery, belonging to her aunt Emma Elizabeth Lawry (1853-1934):
LOVING MEMORY OF
JOHN HENRY CHAPMAN
AGED 35 YEARS
ALSO OF HIS WIFE
SARAH ELIZABETH CHAPMAN
AGED 30 YEARS
WHO LOST THEIR LIVES THROUGH THE
SINKING OF THE TITANIC IN 1912.
PEACE, PERFECT PEACE
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.