It is likely that Luigi “Louis” Brilly was born in Rome, Italy, in May 1872, and that he was a theatrical agent residing in London, England, but how and when he originally came to England is not known. He also appears to have travelled to the United States of America, on occasions, in the course of his business. In the 1911 Census of England, a Louis Brilly is recorded as being a ‘boarding house keeper’ at 34. Tavistock Square in London
On the 3rd April 1915, using his given name of ‘Luigi Brilly’, he boarded the
St. Louis as a second class passenger at Liverpool on a trans-Atlantic voyage, arriving in New York City on the 11th April. From there he travelled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to conduct some business, and having done so, for his journey back to London, he booked second cabin passage, as Louis Brilly, on the Lusitania which was scheduled to leave New York for Liverpool on 1st May 1915.
Arriving at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on that morning, he had to wait until just after mid-day before the liner left port. Her delayed sailing was caused because she had to wait to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Lines vessel Anchor Lines vessel the S.S. Cameronia which the British Admiralty had requisitioned for war service at the end of April.
Six days out of New York on the afternoon of 7th May, and within sight of The Old Head of Kinsale off the coast of southern Ireland, the
Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20. At that time, she was only hours away from her Liverpool destination. Louis Brilly was killed as a result of this action. He was aged 42 years.
As no trace of his body was ever found and identified after the sinking, he has no known grave.
In The New York Times edition of 9th May 1915, it is stated that Louis Brilly was engaged to be married to a Miss Gertrude Olgarden of 225, West 112th Street, New York City, and that the couple had planned to marry upon his return from Europe, after he had closed a business deal in London.
This reported has created a mystery, however; as no record of a person by the name of ‘Gertrude Olgarden’ can be found in the New York State Census for 1915, which was recorded on the 1st June 1915 – the date the couple were due to get married, and there was no person likely to have been Louis Brilly’s fiancée recorded as residing at the address at the time of the census. In fact, there is no record of the family name ‘Olgarden’ to be found anywhere in the world in modern times, and therefore the identity of the woman is unknown
1911 Census of England & Wales, 1915 New York State Census, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv D92/2/253, New York Times, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.