The Aristocrat, the Able Seaman
and the tragic sinking of RMS Titanic,
a 45-minute illustrated talk
I found letters between my great-grandmother, the Countess of Rothes, and Able Seaman Thomas Jones, the aristocrat and the able seaman of this talk, while working on my novel THE DANCE of LOVE. Both survived the sinking of RMS Titanic.
Everybody knows that on her maiden voyage Titanic hit an iceberg and sank, but the people who kept hope alive among the frozen, frightened lifeboat passengers, the people who piloted those lifeboats, are sometimes forgotten. This talk remembers two of them, two who showed great courage, skill and kindness on that tragic night; two whose backgrounds were quite different and who, in any other circumstances, would never have met.
Thomas Jones was the son of a Welsh fisherman; Noël Rothes was the daughter of a wealthy businessman. He wasn’t married; she became an aristocrat through marriage and had two sons. Thomas Jones began working for the White Star Line (Titanic’s owners) in his early twenties; by her late twenties Noël Rothes was running Leslie House, the family seat in Fife that her husband, the 19th Earl of Rothes, inherited. But on the night of 14-15 April, 1912, these two worked tirelessly, side-by-side, for the sake of all those on board Lifeboat Number 8.
The sources for this talk are Noël’s and Thomas’s correspondence, their newspaper interviews and other written accounts including the statements they each gave to the official enquiries after the disaster. The 10-minute clip below gives a sense of the talk and if you’d like to book the full 45-minute talk for your school, WI meeting, history or literary society, association, club or gathering please email me here.
This clip is from a 45-minute film of the talk made by the brilliant Jim Burge @ Burgeoning Media.
Here’s a link to an archive page at the British Museum’s History of the World in 100 Objects which shows a photograph of the present Able Seaman Thomas Jones made for my great-grandmother after the disaster, a typed copy of the letter he sent with it and a note about the present she gave him.