top of page

Violet Jessop


Was Violet Jessop the luckiest Seadog ever. She managed to escape three shipping disasters during her life at sea.

She was born in Argentina to Irish immigrant parents In 1887. As a child she contracted tuberculosis and was only given a few days to live, she miraculously survived.

When she was sixteen she lost her father and her family moved top England. She was enrolled in a convent school, but when her mother became sick she left the school in 1908 to earn a living.

She sought work as a ship stewardess, following in her Mother’s shoes

She became a stewardess for the ocean liner business, following in her Mother’s shoes. At the time stewardess at sea were mostly middle-aged. But she was only 21 and had difficulty finding a job as shipping employers feared her youth and good looks would cause problems with the crew and passengers. She eventually passed an interview by looking frump, wearing shabby clothes and no makeup.

RMS Orinoco 1886-1909

1st steel vessel to be built for RMSPCo; for Southampton-West Indies service.

21/11/1906 collided with Norddeutscher Lloyd's KAISER WILHELM DER GROSSE off Cherbourg, 4 passengers on the German vessel were killed, and three crew of ORINOCO lost when a lifeboat capsized.

She initially joined the Royal Mail Line and sailed on Orinoco for a short stint before she was hired by the luxurious White Star Line to serve aboard Majestic. Violet didn't want to work for White Star because she didn't like the idea of sailing the North Atlantic run due to the weather conditions, and she had heard stories about the demanding passengers on that run.

RMS Olympic - Sister ship to the Titanic.

In 1910 she transferred to Olympic and like a cat with nine lives she escaped unharmed when Olympic collided with HMS Hawke. The Hawke was designed to sink ships by ramming them. Both ships sustained serious damage but made it back to port and Violet disembarked unhurt.

In 1912 The White Star Line was looking for crew to cater for VIP’s on their luxurious new ship The Titanic. Violet took a job on the unsinkable ship.

On 15th April 1912, Titanic hit an iceberg.

Around 1500 lost their lives as Titanic went down.

But for the second time, she escaped with her life onboard lifeboat 16.

Violet Jessop n her memoirs she recalls.

“I was ordered up on deck. Calmly, passengers strolled about. I stood at the bulkhead with the other stewardesses, watching the women cling to their husbands before being put into the boats with their children. Sometime after, a ship’s officer ordered us into the boat first to show some women it was safe,”

The lifeboat was rescued by RMS Carpathia. Whilst on the lifeboat she was handed a baby to care for. On reaching the Carpathia a woman grabbed the baby from her arms and ran off without saying a word. Violet later learned that the Mother left her baby during the rescue. Years later she got a call from a lady claiming to be that baby and thanking her for saving her life during the disaster.

Britannic was the third, final and largest Olympic Class ship, built for the White Star Line. Britannic is best known as being the sister ship of Olympic and Titanic, and also for her own sinking while serving as a hospital ship in 1916.

As they say, disasters always run in threes and they certainly did for Violet Jessop. Having survived Titanic you would imagine that she had had enough of the sea, but no such thing. Her next job was on Britannic as a nurse for the British Red Cross. The ship was operating in the Aegean Sea transferring wounded soldiers back to Great Britain during World War I. The ship ran into a mine planted by a German U-boat. Britannia was damaged and started to sink. Unable to reach a lifeboat Violet jumped overboard. She later wrote.

“I leapt into the water but was sucked under the ship’s keel which struck my head. I escaped, but years later when I went to my doctor because of a lot of headaches, he discovered I had once sustained a fracture of the skull!”

After surviving all these disasters she was still not deterred and continued to work at sea until she retired in 1950 to Great Ashfield in Suffolk. Where she spent her last years firmly planting the land, cultivating a beautiful garden and raising chickens to sell eggs for extra income. Violet Jessop died at the age of 83 in 1971

Other Salty Seadog Stories

If you have a funny or interesting story

from your time at sea

please send them to

104 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All


Jamie, The Purser
Jamie, The Purser

Interesting story about Violet, she was sucker for punishment eh? I see the book is still available on Amazon, thanks, David, for sharing her story.

     Please subscribe to  Salty Seadog

Thanks for joining us

bottom of page