The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Elizabeth Ellam

ELLAM, Elizabeth née Tilley

Elizabeth Tilley was born in Stratford, Essex about 1860, but her parents have not been confirmed. She married William Henry Ellam in West Ham, London in 1882 and they had eight children. William Ellam was first employed at the London Stock Exchange, and his brother, John Garth Ellam, was a Stock Broker’s Clerk. (John G Ellam’s second wife was also an Eliza Tilley, who may have been a half-sister of Elizabeth Ellam). William Tilley changed career to that of Commercial Artist and, working with the postcard publishers Raphael Tuck, became famous for his comic and novelty postcards.

Elizabeth and William lived in Croyden, Surrey where the youngest child, Douglas, was born in 1898. Three of the children were absent from the 1901 census and in 1911 the family were split up in several locations, and Elizabeth does not seem to have been registered anywhere. This seems to have been a temporary situation as the address ‘Sunnyside, George Lane, Woodford, Surrey’ appeared in 1913, where the family were registered well into the 1920s.

The first to give that address was Irene Violette, enroute to Boston, U.S.A., when she gave her occupation as Actress. She married William Townend in 1915.

Her younger sister Dorothy Elizabeth had married a dentist from Cork, Herbert Ronald Hackett in 1911 and was settled in Skibbereen. The eldest son, Leopold Garth, had emigrated to Canada and joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in September 1914. The two other older sons also joined the army.

In October 1918 Elizabeth Ellam was returning to England after visiting her daughter in Skibbereen and travelled on RMS Leinster on the 10th. It was reported later that a soldier with the Army Service Corps, William Henry Wood, presumably from Skibbereen, was also on the ship that day. Following the torpedoing he found himself near Mrs Ellam, and recognizing her as the mother of the local dentist, did his best to help her cling on to a baulk of timber. Both were rescued but Elizabeth Ellam subsequently died of her injuries. She was identified by Ronald Hackett and was buried on the 15th of October in Deansgrange cemetery, the burial being organised by her son-in-law 2nd Lieut, W Townsend.


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