Elizabeth Ann Farrar was born in Stalybridge, Cheshire, England on the 7th July 1854, the daughter of William and Rachel Farrar. Her father, at various times, had been a botanist and chemist. The family moved from Stalybridge to Ashton-under-Lyne when Elizabeth was a child. Elizabeth became a milliner on completion of her education, and then, on the 15th July 1873, she married John Henry Bull in Ashton-under-Lyne. Her husband was a fruiterer and seeds man, and also in later life, a florist.
The couple set up their home at Albemarle Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, but later moved to nearby Dukinfield, and later still, back to Ashton-under-Lyne. The couple had twelve children – Harry, Florence, Frederick, Percy, Beatrice, Albert, Nellie, Rosa, Harold, Edith, Reginald and Ernest.
One of her sons, Frederick M. Bull, and one of her daughters and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Wild, lived at 28, Camp Street, Ashton. Another daughter, Mrs. Meadows, lived in Summercoats in Derbyshire, while her eldest daughter, Mrs. Florence Burley, lived in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, with her husband and two children.
Elizabeth Bull and her husband ran a successful fruit stall in Ashton Market for many years until their retirement. In September 1911, Elizabeth and her husband travelled to Canada to spend time with their daughter and her family.
On the 25th October 1914, John Henry Bull died in Hamilton, Ontario, and sometime later, Elizabeth decided to travel back to England.
Her intention was to return to Ashton in the spring of 1915. Her daughter Florence, son-in-law Reuben, and her two grandchildren - Doris and Reginald, decided to accompany her back to England for a holiday. Consequently, they all booked second cabin passage on the May sailing of the Lusitania which was scheduled to leave New York for Liverpool at 10.00 a.m. on 1st May 1915.
The party arrived at the Cunard berth in New York in good time to catch this sailing but once on board, found that the liner’s departure was postponed until just after mid-day. This was because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner Cameronia, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty for war service as a troop ship, at the end of April. The
Lusitania finally left port just after mid-day, and just six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20. At that point, she was off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and only 250 miles hours away from her Liverpool home port destination.
The entire family perished as a result of this action, including Elizabeth Bull. She was aged 60 years. Only Elizabeth’s body, from the five, was recovered from the sea; however, and after it was landed at Queenstown, it was taken to one of the temporary mortuaries, where it was given the reference number 78.
Once a positive identification of her remains was made on the 10th May, she was buried in the second row of the lower tier of Mass Grave C, in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown. This was the day on which most of the recovered dead from the sinking were buried, following a long funeral procession which began at the Cunard offices at Lynch’s Quay.
That same day, her daughter Mrs. Meadows, set out from Summercoats for Queenstown to identify her mother’s body and, if possible, to bring it home for burial. By the time she got there, however, she was too late to do either.
Property recovered from her body, which probably aided its identification, was sent to her son, Frederick, at the Camp Street address, on 4th June 1915. It consisted of a gold necklace, five gold rings, a gold brooch, a gold bracelet, a pair of spectacles a bunch of keys, a cheque drawn on The Bank of Hamilton for £51-17s-1d., (£51.85p.), 21 £0-10s-od. (£0.50p.) treasury notes, £0-10s-0d. (£0.50p.) in gold coinage, £0-13s-0d., (£0.65p.), in silver coinage, three silver American coins and a few British copper coins.
L.F. Stevens, the executor of Elizabeth Bull’s estate, later lodged a claim for the loss of personal effects and money which he stated she was in possession of on board the
Lusitania. The claim was decided upon by the Canadian Commission, which had been established to decide on such claims, and in August 1926 he was awarded $1,000.00, with interest of 5% from the 7th May 1915.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1861 Census of England & Wales, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1881 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, 1911 Census of England & Wales, Canadian Passenger Lists 1865 – 1935, Cunard Records, Stalybridge Reporter, PRO BT 100/345, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, UniLiv D92/2/95, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Canadian Claims Case No. 807, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.