Beatrice Agnew was born Beatrice Thompson in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America in 1888, the daughter of William and Mary Thompson (née Woodrow). Her parents originally came from County Antrim in Northern Ireland. She returned to her parents native land at some point in her life, but whether she met her future husband, Thomas Agnew, in Pennsylvania, where he emigrated to in 1910, or whether she first met him in Ireland, is unknown. In 1911, she travelled from Ireland to the United States to marry Thomas. He was a mill worker in Monessen, Virginia, but was originally from Ballylummin, Ahoghill, County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
In September 1914, Thomas’ father died and it is thought that Thomas was invited to take over the family farm.
In the spring of 1915, the couple decided to return home to Ireland. As a result, they booked third class passage on the
Lusitania which was due to sail from New York to Liverpool on the morning of 1st May and having left Monessen at the end of April, they boarded the liner on that date.
The liner’s sailing was delayed because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner
Cameronia, but just after noon, Thomas and Beatrice had their last glimpse of their adopted country as the
Lusitania slipped into the North River and out into the Atlantic.
Just six days out of New York, the liner was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20 just off the southern coast of Ireland and only hours away from her home port. It is likely that both had a glimpse of their native land before the liner was struck, but neither survived her sinking, nor was either of their bodies ever recovered and identified. They were both aged 27 years.
There is a memorial stone in cemetery of the First Presbyterian Church in Ahoghill, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, which states: -
IN MEMORY OF HIS BELOVED WIFE
MARGARET ANN AGNEW,
WHO DIED ON 21ST MAY 1913,
AGED 68 YEARS.
ALSO THE ABOVE NAMED
WHO DIED 15TH SEPTEMBER 1914
AGED 66 YEARS.
ALSO HIS SON, THOMAS W. AGNEW,
AND HIS WIFE, WHO PERISHED ON
THE “LUSITANIA”, 7TH MAY 1915.
1911 Census of Ireland, New York Passenger Lists 1820 - 1957, Ballymena Observer, Cunard Records, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, PRO BT 100/345, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.
Copyright © Peter Kelly