Marie Grice Young and Ella Holmes White: Same-Sex Intimacy on the Titanic, 1912

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Marie Grice Young and Ella White "lived and travelled together for thirty years", and White left the "bulk of her estate" to Young.[1]


Bibliography

Bigham, Randy Bryan. "Friends for Life".

Fifty-five year old Ella White, the wealthy widow of a Manhattan businessman, was short and stout with an outspoken, often brash personality. Her companion, Marie Grice Young, 36, tall, slim and soft-spoken, was a music teacher from Washington. The pair shared Ella’s family home, Briarcliff Manor and Farm in New York, spent summers at their cottage in New Hampshire, and often traveled abroad together, collecting art and Russian and Asian antiques. Concluding a vacation in England and France, where they had purchased poultry for their farm, the ladies joined Titanic at Cherbourg, accompanied by Ella’s maid and manservant. Ella twisted her ankle while boarding and was placed under the care of the ship’s doctor, who confined her to her cabin. On the night of April 14, her trusty walking stick enabled her to get on deck, although she couldn’t climb the stairs and had to take the elevator. There she boarded a lifeboat (No. 8, the first to be launched from the port side of the ship), accompanied by her maid and Marie; Ella’s manservant was lost in the disaster. Ella felt helpless in the lifeboat, being unable to row with the others. Her contribution was to try and signal the ship whose lights could be seen nearby, using her cane, which had an electric light in the tip. Ella later testified at the American Inquiry into the Titanic’s sinking, sparing no criticism for the crew in her lifeboat, whom she said were inept and rude. After the tragedy, Ella and Marie resumed their life together at Briarcliff and continued traveling and collecting. On Ella’s death the bulk of her estate was left to Marie for life.


Brewster, Hugh. Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World.

Discusses the close relationship of Marie Grice Young and Ella White. Says the two women "lived and travelled together for thirty years", and that White left the "bulk of her estate" to Young (page 54).


"Miss Marie Grice Young". Encyclopedia-Titanica.org


Yasinsac, Rob. Images of America: Briarcliff Lodge. August 2004; Reprinted April 2008; March 2010. Briarcliff Lodge was a hotel 30 miles from New York CIty in which Ella White and Marie Grice Young shared an apartment. Yasinac says:


In 1912 Ella Holmes White was a 55-year old widow and lived in an apartment at Briarcliff Lodge. It was not uncommon in the early 20th century for wealthy people to live in hotels, often in a city residence for most of the year and a country hotel for the summer. Mrs. White lived with a companion named Marie Grice Young, a 36-year old musician who once taught a daughter of Theodore Roosevelt.


Ella White and Marie Young visited England and France in early 1912 and boarded the Titanic in Cherbourg, France, for the voyage home. The pair were traveling with White’s maid and manservant. Also on the boat for Mrs. White’s trip to New York were French chickens. The manservant did not survive the disaster; I don’t know about the chickens, however well they may have been cared for. White was able to get to safety in a lifeboat where she found the men rowing her craft to be inept. She also managed to still have her cane with her, and with its lighted tip she tried to flag down a nearby rescue boat . Ms. Young’s recollections of the disaster, told six months later, can be read here. Ella Holmes White died in New York City in 1942, and left most of her estate to Marie Young.


Young, Marie Grice. "LEST WE FORGET by Marie G. Young - A Survivor of the Titanic / Miss Marie G. Young, Former Music Teacher at the White House, Rescued From the Titanic, Describes the Sufferings of Some of the Survivors. National Magazine, October 1912.


Notes

  1. Hugh Brewster, Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World. page 54.


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