Mary Elizabeth Jones was born in Llanfairfechan, Carnarvonshire, Wales, in 1872, the youngest daughter of Richard and Grace Jones of Church Cottage, Llanfairfechan. Both her parents pre-deceased her but her two sisters lived at ‘Rockland House’, Llanfairfechan. Like her sisters, Mary Jones was unmarried and she lived at 36 Markfield Road, Bootle, Lancashire.
She had worked for the Cunard Steam Ship Company for many years and was known as one of their principal stewardesses on the trans-Atlantic crossing. She normally served on the
Lusitania's sister ship the Mauritania, but as this ship was undergoing repair, she was transferred to the
Lusitania, in early 1915. She engaged at Liverpool on 16th April 1915, for what proved to be the liner’s last ever voyage, at a monthly rate of pay of £4-10s-0., (£4.50p.) and joined the vessel the following morning.
It was to be a fateful and tragic choice for her, for out of 22 stewardesses on board when the ship went down, on the afternoon of 7th May 1915, torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20, fifteen were killed and only eight survived. Miss Jones was not amongst the survivors!
In an article entitled Final Voyage written by a Brian R. Meister, with information probably taken from the southern Irish press at the time, her fate is outlined: -
Second cabin stewardess Miss Mary Jones, supported by a man who treaded water to keep her afloat, died in his arms shortly before rescue. She was among the second group, retrieved by the British torpedo boat 050.
Her body was landed at Queenstown and given the reference number 30 in one of the temporary mortuaries there, probably the one set up in the yard of the Cunard office at Lynch’s Quay, before being positively identified. There was no torpedo boat with the number 050 in the Royal Navy at that time and it is probable that this was the pennant number of a naval craft, possibly H.M.S.
Stewardess Jones was buried in The Old Church Cemetery, Queenstown, on 10th May 1915 in Mass Grave C. This was the day on which most of the victims were buried following a large funeral procession from the Cunard offices at Queenstown’s waterfront. She was aged 43 years.
Despite the fact that she has an identifiable burial site, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was not aware of the fact and after the Great War, commemorated her on the Mercantile Marine Memorial to the Missing at Tower Hill, London.
However, once the author had established beyond doubt that she was buried in The Old Church Cemetery; the Commission agreed to erect a permanent memorial to her where she is buried and this was done in November 1998.
It takes the form of a monument of Irish limestone, sited at the head of Mass Grave B, the centre one of the three. The names of crew members buried in the three mass graves are incised on two black granite panels on the memorial, with a legend in between them, which reads: -
1914 - 1918
IN HONOURED MEMORY
OF THOSE NAMED WHO,
SERVING ON THE
DIED WHEN THE SHIP WAS
SUNK BY ENEMY ACTION
ON 7 MAY 1915
AND ARE BURIED NEARBY
The name of Mary Jones is incised on the left hand panel.
The Commission has also stated that should it ever be necessary to renew the panel bearing her name on the Tower Hill Memorial, her name would be omitted from its replacement.
On 14th June 1915, property belonging to her was sent to her brother, John Richard Jones who was a drapers' manager at 95, Brynland Avenue, Bishopsgate, Bristol, Gloucestershire. This property consisted of a gold locket inscribed
MARY, with a chain attached. Administration of her estate was also granted to him on 15th November 1915, her effects amounting to £160-15s-9d., (£160.78p).
Probate Records at that time, show her address to have been, 14, Selbourne Street, Toxteth, Liverpool, which conflicts with that stated by herself in Cunard’s
Particulars of Engagement book, when she engaged. At that time, she also stated that she was aged 39 years and had been born in Liverpool, when in fact she was aged 43 years and born in Llanfairfechan.
Perhaps Miss Jones' personal tragedy is heightened by the fact that she had decided that when the ship reached Liverpool, she would leave the Cunard Steamship Company and retire from the sea altogether!
1881 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Conway Public Library, Cunard Records, Brian R. Meister, The North Wales Weekly, Probate Records, UniLiv.D92/1/8-10, The Welsh Coast Pioneer, PRO BT 334.