Caroline Lane Brown - Titanic First Class Passenger

Caroline Lane Brown was a 59 year old first class passenger travelling home from Britain aboard Titanic with her sisters Charlotte Appleton and Malvina Cornell. The sisters had boarded Titanic in Southampton, and shared cabin C101 together.

Caroline Brown was born on 8th July 1852 in New York City, New York, United States. Her parents were Charles and Elizabeth Lamson. At some point she married John Murray Brown, a publisher. He died on 29th April 1908, leaving her a widow. She had two daughters and three sons.

In 1912, Caroline sailed to Europe to be with her sister, Lady Elizabeth Drummond, who was seriously ill. Lady Elizabeth Drummond died on 25th March 1912 in Paris, France. With Lady Elizabeth Drummond when she died were her sisters, Caroline Brown, Charlotte Appleton - who had also sailed from America to be with her – and Kathrine de Florez – who lived in Paris. Another of the sisters, Malvina Cornell, was at sea, on her way to join them in Paris from America, at the time.

Following the funeral of Lady Elizabeth Drummond, who was buried in Great Britain, Caroline Brown, Charlotte Appleton and Malvina Cornell boarded Titanic in Southampton on 10th April 1912. When Titanic called at Cherbourg, they were joined aboard Titanic by Edith Evans, a niece of the husband of a sister of Caroline. As the sisters were travelling on their own, Colonel Archibald Gracie offered to take care of them through the voyage. His wife was a friend of them, and he had attended school with Charlotte Appleton’s husband.

On the night of the sinking, after hearing the order had been given to load the lifeboats, Colonel Archibald Gracie guided Caroline and her sisters towards the lifeboats; being prevented from getting any nearer to the lifeboats himself, he left them in the charge of the crew there, thinking they would be safely loaded in to the lifeboats.

With Titanic in her final minutes before sinking, and with almost all of the women from first class safely in the lifeboats – Colonel Archibald Gracie had just made his way over to the starboard side of the ship, after 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller had ordered passengers to move from the port side, when he was soon “pained to discover” Caroline Brown and Edith Evans standing there – having become separated from Caroline’s sisters, who had managed to escape in Lifeboat 2. He took them by their arms and escorted them towards lifeboat D, the last lifeboat to successfully leave the ship. .

Again being prevented by the crew from getting near the lifeboat, Colonel Gracie had to leave them again. Edith Evans insisted on Caroline Brown being placed in the lifeboat first as she had children. Exactly why Edith Evans did not then join her in the lifeboat is difficult to understand: The crewman in charge of the lifeboat did later say that “he could not take” two women, and told them that there was another boat going to be put down - the other collapsible boats, that were never successfully launched. There was, however, plenty of room aboard the boat for another person. Perhaps she had difficulty being able to climb into the lifeboat with no one there to help her in, and then was told she could not join the boat. Charles Lightoller said there were no women about when he lowered the boat. So it seems she stood back, or wondered off. Caroline would have been one of the very last female to leave Titanic and survive.

Amongst the passengers sailing on Carpathia as it rushed to rescue Titanic’s passengers was Caroline’s uncle Charles Marshall, travelling with his wife, Josephine, and daughter, Evelyn. Arriving in the first lifeboat to reach Carpathia, her sisters had got a steward to fetch their uncle. They then watched the lifeboats arriving, waiting for Caroline. Lifeboat D with Caroline aboard was safely rescued by Carpathia. During the previous day the sisters aboard Titanic had communicated with their family aboard Carpathia through wireless message. Colonel Gracie, who saved Caroline’s life, was also amongst those rescued by Carpathia; he had survived the night on top of an upturned lifeboat which had floated off Titanic as she went down.

From 1918/19, Caroline was a trustee of Acton Memorial Library in Acton, Massachusetts. She is said to have been their first female trustee.

Caroline Brown died on 26th June 1928 at Emerson Hospital, Concord, Massachusetts. She was 75 years old. She was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts on 29th June 1928.

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