People's Stories

Everyone on the Lusitania's last voyage, including passengers and crew.

About Emma Louisa Black

Emma Louisa Black was born in New York, in the United States of America, on the 12th December 1863, the daughter, and the eldest of five children, of Hiram and Eliza Ann Black (née Tovell).  Her father was a sewing machine agent, and in her childhood years, her family resided in New York and Michigan, before her parents returned to Canada, where they were natives of, and settled in Guelph, Wellington County, Ontario.  For most of her life, Emma stated that she had been born in Canada, but this was incorrect!

On completing her education, Emma became a milliner and dressmaker.  On the 22nd July 1885, she married George Robert Copping in Guelph, Wellington County, Ontario.  The couple had two sons – Norman Judson, born in 1886, and Russell Verner, born in 1890, and the family home was in Toronto, Ontario.

In the spring of 1915, her husband had business to conduct in Europe and decided to take Emma with him.  Consequently, having booked saloon passage for them both on the Lusitania’s May sailing, through travel agents A. F. Webster & Son, of Toronto, with ticket number 13104, the couple left Toronto at the end of April.  They arrived at the Cunard berth at Pier 54 in New York harbour on the morning of 1st May. in time for the liner’s 10.00 a.m. sailing. Having boarded, they were escorted to their accommodation in room E75, which the personal responsibility of First Class Bedroom Steward Alfred Wood who came from West Derby, a suburb of Liverpool.

The liner’s sailing was actually delayed until the early afternoon.  This was because she had to embark passengers, crew and cargo from the Anchor Liner, which had been requisitioned by the British Admiralty as a troop ship at the end of April.  Six days later, on the afternoon of 7th May, the Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-20, whilst she was twelve miles off The Old Head of Kinsale in southern Ireland and only hours away from her Liverpool destination.

Both Emma and George Copping were killed as a result of the torpedoing and although her husband’s body was recovered from the sea and later identified, hers never was.  As a result, she has no known grave.

Bedroom Steward Wood, who had looked after the couple in room E75, also survived the sinking and eventually made it back to his West Derby home.

Russell Copping lodged a claim with the Canadian Commission, which had been established to deal with claims by Canadians for compensation for losses incurred as a result of the War, seeking compensation for depreciation in company stocks, and also compensation for the loss of the property that George and Emma Copping had with them when the Lusitania sank.

Presumably, his older brother, Norman, had been a party to the claim, however; he had died of pneumonia on the 3rd August 1921, long before a decision was made in the case on the 29th June 1926.  The Commission ruled that no compensation could be made in relation to the depreciation of the company stocks, but awarded the estate of George Robert Copping the sum of $4,000.00 in compensation for the property and money lost as a result of the sinking.  Just over two months after the ruling, on the 2nd September 1926, Russell Copping died as a result of a heart attack.  Both Norman and Russell were laid to rest with their father in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario.

Emma Copping is also remembered on the family memorial at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Ontario Canada Marriages 1826 – 1937, 1870 U.S. Federal Census, 1881 Census of Canada, 1891 Census of Canada, 1901 Census of Canada, 1911 Census of Canada, Cunard Records, PRO 22/71, PRO BT 100/345, Deaths at Sea 1871 – 1968, Graham Maddocks, Geoff Whitfield, Michael Poirier, Jim Kalafus, Cliff Barry, Paul Latimer, Norman Gray.

Copyright © Peter Kelly.

Emma Louisa Black Copping



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