Annie Chatt was born in Hexham, Northumberland, England, on the 5th June 1869, the daughter of George and Hannah Chatt (née Wemyss). Her father was the first editor of the West Cumberland Times newspaper, and Annie was the third of five children, although her two younger siblings had died in infancy or early childhood.
On completing her education, Annie became a domestic servant and children’s nurse. She worked for a time in the home of Fred T. Lange, a coal dealer, and his family, at Portland Villa, Forest Hall, Tyneside, and also the home of Rev. H. Pownall M. Layfone and his family at The Vicarage, Ambleside, Westmoreland, as a nurse to their children. She was unmarried.
In 1910, she decided to go and work in The United States of America and as a consequence, left Southampton, Hampshire, on the 31st August 1910 on board the White Star Liner
Majestic, arriving in New York on 7th September. Once there, she took up employment in New York City, N.Y..
Perhaps because of the conflict in Europe and maybe because she thought that her skills could be of use to the Allied war effort, in the spring of 1915, she decided to return home. As a result, she booked a second cabin passage on the scheduled May sailing of the Lusitania from New York to Liverpool and boarded the steamer on the morning of 1st May 1915 at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 on the west side of the city, in time for her scheduled 10 o‘clock sailing.
The liner’s sailing was then delayed until the early afternoon as she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner, 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 at 12.27 p.m. 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 hours away from the safety of her home port.
Annie Chatt was killed as a result of this action and as her body was never recovered from the sea and identified, she has no known grave. She was aged 45 years at the time of death, although Cunard records show her to have been 43.
Cunard records also show her forename to have been Anna, but birth and baptism records state her name was Annie.
Although her remains were never found, Annie is remembered on the headstone of her parents’ grave in Cockermouth Cemetery, Cockermouth, Cumbria.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, England Select Births and Christenings 1538 – 1975, 1871 Census of England & Wales, 1891 Census of England & Wales, 1901 Census of England & Wales, Cunard Records, New York Passenger Lists 1820 – 1957, PRO BT 100/345, Imperial War Museum War Memorials Register, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly.