Nicholas Boyle was born in the village of Hutton, near Lockerbie, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, in 1891, the daughter of John and Mary Boyle. Her father was a gamekeeper, and while she was still a child, the family moved to Kirkcudbright, Kirkcudbrightshire, where their home was at Craigness Cottage.
In November 1909, she travelled to an aunt, Mrs. Jardine, in Chicago, Illinois, and quickly found work as a domestic servant for the Emmerson family in the city.
In 1915, she decided to return home, perhaps because of the Great War and her own patriotism. Consequently, she booked third class passage from New York to Liverpool with the Cunard Steam Ship Company and having left Chicago, she boarded the
Lusitania at the company’s berth at Pier 54 in New York on the morning of 1st May 1915, in time for the liner’s scheduled 10.00 a.m. sailing. Accompanying her were three other young women, Agnes Smith, Agnes Crosbie, and Sarah McLennan, all originally from the Kirkcudbright area.
The liner’s sailing was then delayed until the afternoon as 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 just off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and only 250 miles away from her ultimate destination.
Nicholas Boyle was killed as a result of this action and as her body was never recovered from the sea and identified afterwards, she has no known grave. She was aged 24 years at her time of death.
Initially, Scottish newspapers reported that she had in fact been saved, but sadly, this was not the case.
Agnes Smith also lost her life, but Agnes Crosbie and Sarah McLennan were fortunate enough to survive.
1891 Census of Scotland, 1901 Census of Scotland, 1910 U.S. Federal Census, 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