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  Catherine Outram (later Baker) misses the sinking of the Titanic


My grandmother, Catherine Baker (nee Outram) had a lucky escape when she declined an offer to go to America on the fated liner, Titanic.

As a teenager, Catherine went into service, first working in the kitchens of a large house in Burton on Trent, then later as an under housekeeper at Crakemarsh Hall, Derbyshire, owned by Charles Tyrell Cavendish and his wife, Lady Anne Cavendish.

In 1906, Charles Cavendish's son, Tyrell William Cavendish, married an American, Julia Florence Siegal, the daughter of Henry Siegal, a millionaire merchant from New York. Henry owned the Seigal-Cooper Department Store on Lower 6th Avenue, New York, and was said to be worth about $10 million in 1900. After the wedding Tyrell and Julia lived at Little Onn Hall, Church Eaton, Staffordshire. They had two sons, Henry and Geoffrey Cavendish.

In late 1911 Tyrell and his wife decided to visit Julia's father in America, and booked a passage on the maiden voyage of the Titanic, the flag ship of the White Star Line and the largest and most luxurious passenger liner at the time. Their son Geoffrey took ill soon after they made the booking, so the children's berths were cancelled and they stayed in England with their Grandparents.

Julia Cavendish asked my Grandmother, Catherine Outram, to go to America with her as her personal maid, but Catherine declined saying that she was getting married and therefore couldn't go. Mr and Mrs Cavendish boarded the ship at Southampton, England, on 10 April 1912 with Nellie Barber, a maid they hired at Southampton. According to the records they travelled first class in cabin C46.

After the ship struck an iceberg at 23.40 on Sunday 14 April 1912, Julia Cavendish and Nellie Barber climbed into lifeboat No.6, and were later rescued by the RMS Carparthia, but Tyrell Cavendish stayed onboard the Titanic and drowned. His body was recovered by the ship MacKay Bennett and he was cremated at North Bergen, New Jersey on 4 May 1912, aged 36 years.

Julia Cavendish bought her husband's ashes back to England where they were buried in Golders Green in London. In 1932 she returned to Crakemarsh Hall near Uttoxeter, Staffs and died there in 1963, aged 77 years.

Newspapaper report of the sinking

What was ironic was that although Catherine had agreed to marry Harry Baker, when she turned up at his mother's house in Horninglow Street, Burton, suitcase in hand and now without a job, she found to her horror that he had married Gladys Birch instead. Apparently Gladys said she was pregnant and as was often the case then, Harry was forced to marry her. In the face of this news, and for reasons unbeknown to anyone, Catherine agreed to marry Harry's brother, Fred Baker instead. They were married on Christmas Day, 1911. As it happened, Gladys wasn't pregnant and she and Harry Baker never had any children.

If Catherine had sailed on the Titanic its quite likely that she would have survived, but no-one knows for sure.

Reference: Thanks go to Encyclopedia Titanica for information used in this article. More information on the sinking of the Titanic can be found on their website at http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org