Lady Countess Rothes
Lady Countess Rothes was born Lucy Noël "Noëlle" Martha Dyer-Edwards on December 25, 1884, in London, England. Born into a life of great privilege, Nöelle, Countess of Rothes, is remembered for her heroism during the Titanic disaster of 1912. Her father Thomas was a wealthy landowner, and the family kept homes in London, in the English countryside, and in France.
In the late 1890s, Nöelle met Norman Evelyn Leslie, the 19th Earl of Rothes. The couple married in 1900, and news of the wedding made the London society pages. Becoming a countess after her marriage, Nöelle met many members of the royal family and attended numerous galas, including the Royal Caledonian Ball, an event supported by Queen Victoria. She and her husband also enjoyed riding, hunting, and boating.
Nöelle gave birth to their first child, Malcolm, in 1902. The couple soon moved to the family estate, Leslie House, in Scotland in 1904. Three years later, they welcomed a second son, John. The countess was active in the community, supporting local charities. As a member of the House of Lords, her husband was often away from home.
Lord Rothes also had a number of business interests. In 1912, he traveled to the United States to explore the possibility of buying a citrus farm in Florida. He then decided to stay on for a time to do some traveling. To deciding to join her husband, Nöelle booked passage on the Titanic in April 1912.
The new addition to the White Star Line had received a lot of media attention, and the Countess of Rothes was among the many distinguished figures who decided to ride on the Titanic's maiden voyage. Other first-class passengers included John Jacob Astor and his young bride Madeleine, Benjamin Guggenheim, Charles Melville Hays, and Major Archibald Butt.
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic began its journey to New York City. The countess was traveling with her cousin Gladys Cherry on what was supposed to be one of the grandest, fastest, and safest ships on the seas. But the Titanic proved to be anything but safe when it struck an iceberg on the night on April 14, 1912. As it became clear that the mighty ship was going to sink, the crew tried to get the passengers onto the lifeboats. During this era, women and children were given the priority for rescue. There was much confusion during this time with too many people and too few boats. And some lifeboats were launched before they were even filled.
Nöelle and her cousin got on Lifeboat 8. According to some reports, there were only 28 passengers on the boat, which was designed to hold 65. The only crew member aboard, Thomas Jones, tried to do the best he could in the situation. A later letter to Jones from Cherry indicated that he, Cherry, Nöelle, and another passenger had wanted to go back to look for other survivors, but they were overruled by the others on the lifeboat.
In this desperate time, Nöelle helped Jones by manning the boat’s tiller and by comforting the other survivors. She worked to maintain the group’s morale until they were rescued the next morning and brought aboard the Carpathia.
Her husband traveled to New York to meet his wife when the Carpathia arrived there. They returned to their family estate, which later served as military hospital during World War I. The Earl of Rothes died in 1927.
Later that year, Nöelle married Colonel Claud Macfie. The couple stayed together until her death in 1956.
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