Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Alice Catherine Cleaver was born on July 5, 1889 in St. Pancras, London to Joseph Cleaver and Lavina Alice Cleaver. When she became a teenager, she went to work as a made for several English families before becoming the maid/nurse for the wealthy Montreal family, Hudson and Bess Allison and their children, Lorraine and Trevor. In 1912, the Allison family were going back home on the Titanic taking Alice along with them. On April 14, 1912, the Titanic struck ice. Hudson went out to see what was going on. While Mr. Allison was gone, Mrs. Allison broke into hysterics. SHe either left with Trevor and got the servant and cook for the Allison family in 2nd class, or Hudson returned with the rest of the party and they got separated. She then went into Boat No. 11, assuming that the rest of the Allison family would do the same. Unfortunately, they didn't. No one knows what happened next. Either they went looking for Alice and Trevor, or they waited too long to get into a boat. Lorraine was the only child in 1st Class to die on the Titanic. The servant and cook from the Allison family along with Alice didn't realize that the Allison family except for the precious child that she was holding didn't survive, until the next day on the rescue ship Carpathia. Trevor was returned to the Allison family after they arrived in New York. All of them went up to Montreal where they recovered from the disaster, and then the servant, cook, and Alice was returned to England. To avoid the reporters, she went under the name of Jean. She was disgraced later by false reports. There were stories that she murdered her own baby before she met the Allisons, but that was mistaken identity with another woman named Alice Mary Cleaver. It was also said, that she ran away from the Allisons on the sinking ship in hysterics although that can not be proved. Alice returned to England, and married Edward James Williams and had two daughters. She died on November 1, 1984 in Hampshire, England.
In a letter, Alice Cleaver Williams wrote this letter to Titanic author, Walter Lord:
"I was acting as a nurse to the two children of Mr and Mrs Allison. Having taken the position two weeks before we sailed as their own nurse decided not to go at the last moment -Lorraine was 3 years old at the time and Trevor 10 months.There is not much I can tell you in a letter. I had some difficulty in persuading Mr.Allison to get up and go to see what had happened after the crash, which they did not hear at all and thought it was my imagination. Some long time after the engines had stopped he decided to go and find out the trouble.
While he was away I was warned we would have to leave the ship, so prepared the children and Mrs.Allison - but she became hysterical and I had to calm her. About that time an officer came round to close the cabins and advised us to go on deck - here met Mr.Allison outside the cabin but he seemed too dazed to speak. I handed him some brandy and asked him to look after Mrs.Allison and Lorraine and I would keep Baby, the child I managed to get off the ship, some confusion occurred outside as to which deck we should go and that is how he came separated, afterwards I learned from one of the staff that Mrs.Allison was hysterical again and that Mr.Allison had difficulty with her and I can only surmise that is how they lost their lives - as there was plenty of room in the lifeboats because people refused to leave thinking it was safer on the ship."