|Rhoda Mary Abbott|
January 14, 1873|
|Died||February 18, 1946
Abbott was born Rhoda Mary Hunt in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire on January 14, 1873, the daughter of Joseph Hunt and his wife Sarah Green Hunt. She grew up in Aylesbury, and spent her early adulthood in St Albans with her family, before moving to the United States in 1894. Upon her arrival in Providence, Rhode Island, she met London-born middleweight champion Stanton Abbott, whom she married soon after in 1895. The couple had two children, Rossmore (born February 21, 1896) and Eugene (born March 31, 1899). She settled as a housewife and mother, and was active at the local Grace Episcopal Church.
In 1911, Abbott divorced from her husband, and, upon returning to England with Rossmore and Eugene on the RMS Olympic, started supporting herself and her two sons by working as a sewer, as well as becoming a soldier in The Salvation Army. She quickly realized that the boys were not happy living in England, and booked a ticket returning to America in April 1912. The family boarded the RMS Titanic as third class passengers in Southampton on April 10. On board, she befriended Amy Stanley, Emily Goldsmith, and May Howard, who had cabins nearby.
Rescue from the Titanic
On April 14, the family was already asleep when the Titanic hit an iceberg. By 12:15 AM, they were alarmed by a steward to put on life jackets and retreat to the ship's deck. After waiting in line to follow other third class passengers to the deck, Abbott and her sons waited at the second class saloon area. There, her son Rossmore is said to have knelt in prayer asking that his mother's life be spared even if he and his brother were not saved. Even though only women and children were allowed past the gate, Abbott's sons were able to accompany their mother to the lifeboats. They finally arrived when one of the final remaining lifeboats, Collapsible C, was already being loaded around 2:00 AM. When it was her turn to enter the lifeboat, she realized that her sons would be denied a spot, and stepping back, refused a place in the lifeboat.
When the sinking proceeded, Abbott was swept away from the deck into the water. She tried to clasp her sons, but to no avail. Having given up to find her sons, and about to die of hypothermia in the freezing water, she was able to make it to Collapsible Boat A, which was washed off Titanic at 2:12 AM. Hours went by before Fifth Officer Harold Lowe returned to the site with lifeboat 14, to retrieve survivors in the water. Several occupants of Boat A either had succumbed or slipped back into the icy water; of the people on board, Abbott was one of only thirteen that survived. Her two sons were lost at sea, and only Rossmore's body was later identified.
According to Stanley, Abbott had no regret of remaining on the Titanic until the very end, because it allowed her to stay with her sons. On board the rescue ship Carpathia, Abbott received special care in the smoking room. As a result from the cold water, her legs were badly damaged, disallowing her to move until arrival in New York. There, she was hospitalized for two weeks in Manhattan's St. Vincent's Hospital. She was one of the last survivors to be discharged.
As a result from the sinking of the Titanic, Abbott lived with respiratory problems and severe bouts of asthma for the rest of her life. She was not able to comprehend the loss of her sons, and grieved for months. On December 16, 1912, she married longtime friend George Charles Williams, and the couple settled in Jacksonville, Florida. By 1928, they had returned to England to settle Williams' father's estate in London. Abbott took care of her husband until his death in 1938. For the remainder of her life she tried (to no avail) to immigrate back to America, but was consistently denied the authority to do so. Ultimately she would spend the rest of her life in England.
- Spignesi, Stephen (2012). The Titanic For Dummies. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. p. 113. ISBN 978-1-1181-7766-2.
- "The Mystery of Rhoda Abbott Revealed". encyclopedia-titanica.org. Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
- "Mrs Rhoda Mary 'Rosa' Abbott (née Hunt)". Encyclopedia Titanica. Retrieved April 16, 2012.