Ella Holmes White, 55, was a First Class passenger who was born in New York on December 18th, 1856. She boarded in Cherbourg with Ticket 17760 at a price of £135 12s 8d. She travelled along with her maid Nellie Mayo Bessette, and manservant Sante Righini (who did not survive the sinking) in cabin C-32.
Mrs. White spend her time in Europe with Marie Young, also aboard the Titanic, and they were returning home after completing a trip to Britain and France. With them, they brought four roosters and hens, which were probably kept in or near the F Deck dog kennels. They had imported them from France with the intention of improving the poultry stock at home.
She remained in her cabin for the entire voyage and only left it when roused by the collision which she described as if the ship had run over a thousand marbles. Mrs. White, Marie Young and Nellie Bessette survived the sinking by managing to get aboard of Lifeboat 8. Santa Righini lost his life during the sinking. His body was recovered and identified.
She had her own thoughts about the crew's behaviour during the night, as she says:
- "Before we cut loose from the ship two of the seamen with us ... took out cigarettes and lighted them on an occasion like that! ... All of those men escaped under the pretense of being oarsmen. The man who rowed me took his oar and rowed all over the boat, in every direction. I said to him, "Why don't you put the oar in the oarlock?" He said, "Do you put it in that hole?" I said "Certainly." He said, "I never had an oar in my hand before." I spoke to the other man and he said; "I have never had an oar in my hand before, but I think I can row." Those were the men that we were put to sea with at night - with all these magnificent fellows left on board, who would have been such a protection to us. Those were the kind of men with whom we were put out to sea that night.
Our head seaman would give an order and those men who knew nothing about the handling of a boat would say, "If you don't stop talking through that hole in your face there will be one less in the boat.""
She later testified before the American Inquiry that the Titanic had broken in two before sinking. Mrs. White died on January 31st, 1942 in New York City, at the age of 85. She was living at the Plaza Hotel at the moment she died.