Mrs Rice and her 5 Children Died on the Titanic

Photo of Margaret Rice and her sons
Photo of Margaret Rice and her sons

When The Titanic Sank Margaret Rice and her Five Children Died

She was a widow and they were going home to Washington in America

The Rice family boarded the Titanic at Queenstown Cork in Ireland

But by Monday at 2.20 am on the morning of 15th April the new Luxury Liner that the White Star Line had just built lay at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

Of the 2,223 People on Board only 706 Survived

Margaret Rice and her five young children did not survive. They all died when the Titanic sank. Only the body of Mrs Rice was recovered for burial.

She was thirty nine years old as she stood on the Pier in Queenstown on Thursday 11th April 1912.

With her were her five sons; Albert who was ten, George eight, Eric seven, Arthur four and Eugene who was two and a half years old. They were waiting to go on board the ship the Titanic.

Irish immigrants at Scotts Quay, Queenstown in Ireland

They waited on Scotts Quay along with over one hundred other Irish immigrants to board the two small boats, PS Ireland and PS America that would take them out to the ship.

Margaret Rice had paid the White Star Line for 3rd class tickets for herself and her five young sons. Margaret and her children were on their way to Spokane in Washington, America.

They had been in Ireland for nearly two years and were now ready to board the Titanic for their trip home.

Neither Margaret nor any of the other Irish passengers had any idea what was to happen to them only a few days later when the Titanic hit an iceberg at 11.40 pm on Sunday night 14th April. The White Star Line had built the luxury liner with all the new and up to date safety regulations in place.

The Titanic was Unsinkable

But only a few hours later at 2.20 am on Monday morning 15th April 1912 the Titanic sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Only forty four of the passengers who boarded the ship at Queenstown would survive the journey. Margaret and her five young sons would also die that terrible night.

Two Boats the PS 'America' and the PS 'Ireland' leave Queenstown Pier taking Passengers to the Titanic

Margaret Rice and her five sons were on one of these boats on their way to the ship Titanic
Margaret Rice and her five sons were on one of these boats on their way to the ship Titanic

William and Margaret Rice get Married in Ireland

Margaret Rice was not the typical Irish immigrant that waited on the quay that day. Margaret Norton was born in Athlone, Co Westmeath in Ireland on the 6th October 1872.

As a young child she had taken the trip across the Atlantic Ocean with her family and they had settled in Canada.

It was here that she met and fell in love with William Rice

Moving to Ireland

When she was nineteen they moved to Margaret’s old town of Athlone, Co Westmeath in Ireland.

They got married there and had a son.

They settled into life in Ireland until the sudden death of their baby left them heartbroken.

The Young Child had Choked on his Pacifier/Child’s Dummy

William and Margaret decided that they would move back to Montreal in Canada. There William Rice got a job with the Grand Trunk Railway as a shipping clerk.

By 1909 William and Margaret had four young sons when they decided to move to Spokane, Washington in America. Their fifth son Eugene was born in October of that year.

Last Photo of the Titanic as it Leaves Queenstown Ireland

The Titanic Last Photo
The Titanic Last Photo

The Death of William Rice

William was now working as a machinist for the Great Northern Railway. But in 1910 William Rice was dead after an accident at work. He was buried at Fairmount Cemetery in Spokane. The plot cost Margaret five dollars.

Margaret Rice was left a Widow with Five Young Sons

She received compensation for the death of her husband of three hundred dollars from an insurance policy from Great Northern Railway.

With this money she bought a house in Spokane and a headstone for Williams’s grave. She had her husband’s body in Fairmount Cemetery re-buried on 15thApril 1910 to a more expensive plot at the cemetery.

As she stood there at her husband’s new grave she could have no idea that this very same day two years later she and her five children would also all be dead.

Margaret was now a widow with five young children

The grieving Margaret was left alone with her sons in Washington so decided to move back to Athlone with her children for a while after the second funeral of William.

The family lived in Castle Street in Athlone in rented rooms. Eventually at the beginning of 1912 Margaret decided it was time to go home to Spokane, Washington with the children.

She was able to buy the 3rd class tickets for the Titanic in her hometown of Athlone. They cost her twenty nine pounds, two shillings and sixpence for the whole family.

The Titanic was a Huge Ocean Liner of the White Star Line

This was the ship’s maiden voyage. The Titanic had left Southampton in England on Wednesday the 10th April with her first passengers on board. That same evening the ship had arrived at Cherbourg in France and picked up more passengers.

The Titanic arrived at Queenstown in Cork Ireland at 12.00pm on Thursday 11th April. All the passengers were aboard by 1.30 pm as the Titanic left Ireland and sailed towards New York in America.

First Class Accommodation on Board the Titanic

First Class Cabin on The Titanic
First Class Cabin on The Titanic
First Class area on The Ship Titanic
First Class area on The Ship Titanic

The Trip on the Titanic

As Margaret and her sons, Albert, George, Eric, Arthur and baby Eugene settled down on the Titanic for the journey to America none of them could have ever have imagined the horror that was to happen to them on board the Titanic just a few days later.

Life on board the new White Star Line ship the Titanic lived up to its name as a luxury liner. Even though Margaret and her family were in 3rd class it was comfortable and they would have had plenty of activities to do and places to explore on the enormous ship.

From that Thursday and for the next three days of Friday, Saturday and Sunday they would have enjoyed the journey.

The Titanic had First Class, Second Class and Third Class passengers on board

1st Class Passengers

First class passengers on board the Titanic all enjoyed the best of everything on the ship that money could buy.

Each of the first class cabins had their own bathrooms which was a first on any luxury liner at the time. These passengers also had their own areas on deck and within the ship. There were 325 first class passengers on board the Titanic.

a Plate used by a 3rd Class Passenger on the Titanic

Titanic Plate
Titanic Plate

2nd Class Passengers

The second class passengers were treated nearly as well. They too had their own areas of the ship which was also fitted out with luxurious furniture.

Their cabins and designated areas on board were still very well created for space and comfort. There were 285 second class passengers on board the Titanic

3rd Class Passengers

Third class passengers had bought the cheapest tickets available. But they too had a lot more room on board the Titanic that other ships had so far provided.

The food served was also good and varied in the 3rd class dining room.

There were 803 third class passengers on board the Titanic.

Class Distinction in 1912

In 1912 each person accepted their station in life so the passengers found nothing odd about the division and segregation of people on board the Titanic.

This was normal in the early 1900’s as class distinction was very much observed all over the world.

But what was not normal was that more men women and children would die for the sole reason that they happened to be 3rd class passengers that night on the Titanic on 15th April 1912.

Another contributing factor for so many deaths of women and children in the third class area was the accommodation arrangements.

The Men are Separated from the Women and Children

Unlike the 1st and 2nd class areas the men were separated from the women and children at night by sleeping in different areas of the Titanic.

The men had shared cabins on the bow of the ship and the women and children at the stern.

Lifeboats with Passengers from the Titanic

Survivors of the Sinking of the Titanic approach the Rescue Ship Carpathia
Survivors of the Sinking of the Titanic approach the Rescue Ship Carpathia

The Iceberg Hits the Titanic on 14th April 1912

It was eleven forty on Sunday night when the iceberg hit the Titanic. The third class passengers were told there was nothing to worry about and to stay in their cabins.

When they asked what had happened the ship’s crew explained there was a slight problem and it would be fixed soon.

At this early stage most of passengers went back to their cabins confident in the news they had just heard.

Because the iceberg hit the Titanic so late on Sunday night most of the 3rd class passengers would have been asleep. This meant that all the women and children would have been separated from the men.

Mothers had to cope with their children on their own. Margaret was a widow but other families with children were left to fend for themselves too until the men and husbands were able to get from the bow side of the ship to the stern side where they had been sleeping.

Margaret had Five Young Children to Get to Safety on her Own

The 3rd class passengers found that when they tried to escape the lower decks by moving upwards towards the second and first class areas where the life boats were they were confronted by stewards who refused to let them through.

They were told to wait until they were told it was alright to move up. At first they accepted this because that is the way it was in 1912.

The lower classes had to yield to the higher classes in every facet of life.

Barrier Gates from 3rd Class to 1st Class Accommodation

Barrier Separating The Classes on the Titanic
Barrier Separating The Classes on the Titanic

Lifeboats on Board The Titanic

They were also told that there was no need to panic and there was lots of time to get to the lifeboats. None of the crew told the passengers that there was not enough lifeboats on board the Titanic to save everyone.

The 3rd class passengers could soon see for themselves that the boat was sinking fast and their situation was becoming very dangerous.

This was because the 3rd class cabins and communal areas were in the lower decks of the ship and the water had steadily been rising there since the iceberg hit the Titanic.

The barriers between the 1st and 2nd class areas had been opened very soon after the order came from Captain Smith that the passengers should proceed on deck to the lifeboats.

The second class passengers were allowed to pass through the first class areas to get to the life boats.

Third Class Passengers

The third class passengers whose total amounted to more than half the passengers on board the sinking ship still had to wait.

When they began to get aggressive and angry the stewards blocked them from entering the higher decks of the ship by locking the doors and barriers in the 3rd class corridors and walkways.

Margaret Rice had her five young children to get to the safety of the higher decks. She must have known that as she was alone with no one to help her that there was no possibility she could get herself and the children to safety.

Route Titanic Took on her Maiden Voyage

Position of the wreck of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean
Position of the wreck of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean

Margaret Rice on Board The Titanic

There is an eyewitness account from another 3rd class passenger who did survive the sinking of the Titanic and who saw Margaret Rice on board ship that night.

When the ship was sinking and there was mayhem and panic everywhere Bertha Mulvihill saw Margaret and her children.

According to Bertha, Margaret was sitting down in a corridor holding onto her youngest son on her lap, two and a half year old Eugene. Her other four young sons, Albert, George, Eric and Arthur were all huddled around her.

There were over eight hundred 3rd class passengers who were in this terrible situation in the hours leading up the sinking of the Titanic.

Margaret Rice and her sons, Albert who was ten, George eight, Eric seven, Arthur four and Eugene two and a half years old all died on the 15th April 1912 as the Titanic split in two and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean.

The Grave of Margaret Rice
The Grave of Margaret Rice

Margaret Rice Body is Recovered

The body of Margaret Rice was recovered in the icy waters by the ship the Mackay Bennett. They were collecting the hundreds of bodies floating in the water.

Each body was given a number as it was taken on board. Margaret’s body was given the number twelve.

The bodies were then taken to Halifax in Canada were the process of identification started. The bodies of Margaret’s five sons were never recovered.

Margaret had a box of tablets on her which contained the information that they had been bought in a chemist shop on Church Street Athlone, Co Westmeath in Ireland on 9th April 1912.

There was no name on the box though. Margaret’s shoes also had the name of the shop where she bought them, which was Parsons in Athlone.

Margaret Rice was buried on Friday 3rd May 1912 at the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada along with other men, women and children who died on the 15th April 1912.

It still took until 25th September that year to positively identify body number twelve as that of Margaret Rice.

The Monument in Cobh, formerly Queenstown

Memorial Stone for the Irish Passengers who Died

The story of the life and death of Margaret Rice and her five children will never be forgotten.

Of the hundred and thirteen Irish passengers who boarded the Titanic at Queenstown that Thursday afternoon on 11th April 1912 only forty four of them survived the journey.

In 1998 a Memorial Stone was unveiled in Queenstown, now called Cobh, in Cork.

This remembers all those passengers who left the Irish port in April 1912 and died on the Titanic.

The picture in bronze on the Stone shows some of the Irish immigrants on the two small boats as they were ferried out to the Titanic.

Margaret Rice and her five young sons are also depicted on the monument.

Memorial Stone in Canada

On 15th April 2009 a monument was erected in Spokane Cemetery at the Fairmount Memorial Gardens.

This was to commemorate the deaths of Margaret Rice and her five young sons but also the deaths of three other residents from Spokane who died that night on the Titanic.

By a very weird coincidence these three other people were also connected in a small way to Margaret’s husband William Rice.

John Chapman was working at the Spokane Cemetery when William Rice died. It was he who dug the grave. John Chapman was engaged to Sara Elizabeth Lawry who was still in England at the time.

He went back to England and they got married there. They were on the Titanic because they were settling in Spokane Washington.

The journey was also their honeymoon and they paid for 2nd class tickets. Both John and Sara, known as Lizzie died that night as the Titanic sank.

Only John Chapman’s body was recovered and he is buried in the same cemetery in Halifax Nova Scotia in Canada as Margaret Rice.

John’s new wife Lizzie was never found. But what was found on John’s body and intact was his pocket watch. It had stopped at 1.45am.

As the Titanic did not sink until 2.20am the young couple could have decided to take their chance by jumping overboard and try to reach the only half full lifeboats. This is only speculation on my part though.

John Chapman’s watch is now on display at the Titanic Exhibit in Cornwall England

Charles Hays was a director of The Grand Trunk Railway which is the company that William Rice used to work for while he was in Canada.

Charles Hays and his family also live in Spokane. Charles was in England attending to Railway business. His wife Clara, his daughter and her husband also accompanied him on the trip.

They were on their way home to Spokane Washington as 1st class passengers on the Titanic. Charles Hays died that night but his wife Clara, daughter and son in law all survived. His body was recovered and identified and he was buried in Montreal.

Titanic Monument at Fairmount Memorial Park

The Titanic Monument at Fairmount Memorial Park was erected behind William Rice’s grave. The front of the monument explains in writing engraved in granite the connection to the town and the sinking of the Titanic.

There is also a sketch of the pocket watch that belonged to John Chapman. The picture on the monument in Cobh, formally Queenstown of Margaret Rice and her children is also reproduced here.

The Sinking of the Titanic

The story of the sinking of the White Star Line’s new luxury ship the Titanic on 15th April 1912 still lives on.

Even now after over a hundred years have passed since this tragedy people are still fascinated, curious and horrified by the events of that night.

1,517 people died that night when the Titanic sank.

Margaret Rice and her five young sons, Albert, George, Eric, Arthur and Eugene were only six of those people.

The story of this young widow and her children will never be forgotten.

All photos are from The Titanic Historical Society unless otherwise stated

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Comments 15 comments

Qbrown9 5 years ago

Disturbing event. Nice memorializing of Margaret and her five sons.


Jaypyramid profile image

Jaypyramid 5 years ago

How sad that Margarets children were never found and she was buried alone.


jerome mc cormick 5 years ago

as i live in cobh i cant wait to look at the memorial and remember margaret and her children[ nov. 2011.]


viking305 profile image

viking305 5 years ago from Ireland Author

Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment Jerome. Next April is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic so there will is a very big memorial service planned there.


78goldwing 4 years ago

Excellent article. I live in the Spokane Valley & have just recently become aware of the several people who perished on the Titanic with Spokane area ties.


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes there will be lots of memorial services all over the world in April for the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

In Belfast, Cobh and Spokane, Canada. There is a new Titanic Museum opening in Belfast in April too.

It was a long time ago but when you read about the personal stories and see the photos of the passengers it seems like it only just happened.

Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave a comment 78goldwing.


Jack White profile image

Jack White 4 years ago from Ormeau Road, Belfast, Ireland

Excellent hub!

No doubt Belfast will make the most of the centenary.


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes Jack Belfast has a new Titanic Museum opening and from the publicity photos it looks worth going to see.


Vanessa 4 years ago

A very sad story


Paula Oldham 4 years ago

This is my grandfathers sister Margaret rice such a sad loss for the family


viking305 profile image

viking305 4 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes Paula it may be a hundred years ago but it has so many personal stories of death and loss, I do not think those who lost their lives on the Titanic will ever be forgotten. It is even more poignant when they were such close relatives.

Everyone must have been terrified in third class, not knowing what was going on and being unable in some cases to get up on deck.

Thank you Vanessa and Paula for taking the time to leave a comment.


Paula Oldham 4 years ago

Thank you Vanessa think how scary it must have been with 5 young children the sad thing for the family is not been able to retrieve their bodies and bury them with their family I always think how different our fami

Y would have been if they had lived Margaret asked my grandfather to go back with him to America imagine I would not be here now strange feelin


Randall P. 4 years ago

Paula, I have been reading up on the Titanic these past few days and your Great Aunt's sad story has really touched me. It's simply heart-wrenching. I watched a Titanic documentary the other night which noted that even the third-class accommodations were quite elaborate for the day. I am hoping that those last few days of Margaret's life were as happy and as comfortable as she had experienced in a couple of years. God bless her and her family.


Pat Rice 2 years ago

I live in Belfast and only realised recently that this family of Rice's died on the Titanic thanks for this Pat


viking305 profile image

viking305 2 years ago from Ireland Author

Yes a very sad tale of these families and their fate on the Titanic

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