Elizabeth Machell was born in Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, Scotland in 1875, the daughter of Thomas Graham and Christina Machell. While still a child, her family relocated to Liverpool, Lancashire. Their home was at 35, Linacre Road, Litherland, Liverpool, Lancashire, England. She was a professional stewardess in the Mercantile Marine, and her father was also a ship’s steward, employed by the Cunard Steam Ship Company.
On 12th April 1915, she engaged a stewardess in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania, at Liverpool at a monthly rate of pay of £4-0s-0d., (£6-20p.), and reported for duty on board at 7 a.m., on 17th April, - the morning that the steamer left her Liverpool home port for the last time, for New York. Her previous ship had been the Anchor liner Transylvania.
Having completed the first leg of her voyage, the liner left New York in the early afternoon of 1st May 1915 to return to Liverpool, but never made it home. She was torpedoed and sunk off The Old Head of Kinsale, southern Ireland, six days later, by the German submarine U-20, when she was only 250 miles from Liverpool.
Elizabeth Machell was fortunate enough to survive the sinking - out of 22 stewardesses, who served on board ship, thirteen were killed and only nine survived. She was aged 40 years at the time of the sinking, although when she signed on, she claimed to be only 36!
Having been rescued from the sea, she was landed at Queenstown, from where she eventually got back to Bootle. She was also officially discharged from the
Lusitania’s voyage and paid the balance of wages owed to her, which amounted to £6-4s-0d., (£6-20p.) This was in respect her service form 17th April until 8th May, 24 hours after the liner had gone down.
In 1918, Elizabeth married George Craige in Liverpool. George was serving as a Second Lieutenant with the 10th Bn. (Liverpool Scottish)(Territorial) Kings (Liverpool Regiment) at the time of their marriage, and Elizabeth was serving as a nurse. Unfortunately, their happiness was short-lived as George Died in hospital on the 28th October 1918, and was buried in Great Crosby (St. Luke) Graveyard near Liverpool.
After the war, Elizabeth continued to serve as a stewardess on trans-Atlantic liner for many years, primarily as the chief stewardess on the
Berengaria. She re-married in Liverpool in 1934, her second husband being Alfred H. Hewlett.
Elizabeth Hewlett died in Shropshire, England, on the 19th October 1962.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 349.