She was born in St Sampsons, Guernsey on December 19th, 1889 as the daughter of William Henry Rugg (b. 1868), a carter, and Rachel Selina Bougard (b. 1866), both St Sampson natives who had married in 1887. One of six children, her siblings were: Rita May (b. 1887), Violet Louisa (b. 1892), William James (b. 1894), Ernest John (b. 1896) and Wilfred (b. 1898).
She appeared on the 1891 census living at Brock Road in St Sampson and, it appears, at the same address on the 1901 census. Her family were listed on the 1911 census living at Bus Road in Vale, Guernsey whilst Emily herself was listed as a servant at Duncreggan Delancey in Guernsey, the home of a Mr and Mrs Frank Higgs who were fruit growers.
She was given the opportunity to leave Guernsey and to work in the USA in Wilmington, Delaware where her relatives owned a store. She joined a group of other passengers travelling from Guernsey which included William Douton, Lillian Bentham, Peter and Lillian Renouf, Clifford and Ernest Jefferys and Albert Denbuoy. She boarded the Titanic at Southampton as a second class passenger (joint ticket number 31026 which cost £10, 10s) and was destined for Wilmington.
Emily survived the sinking alongside Lillian Bentham and Lillian Renouf in lifeboat 12. She later related that she had been sleeping when the Titanic struck the iceberg and that the impact had wakened her. Looking out she saw a mass of ice and she threw on a coat and headed topside where she saw lifeboats being prepared. Returning to her cabin she awakened the two women she shared a cabin with before returning to the deck where she was bundled towards a lifeboat which she described as a third from last lifeboat to be lowered. She also described an "Italian" jumping from the deck and into her boat, landing on a woman holding a baby. Emily described the sight of the ship sinking in the darkness, with lights still shining bright, as one of the grandest sights she had ever witnessed.
Landing in New York aboard Carpathia she was met by her uncle Frederick W. Queripel of 119 South Van Buren Street, Wilmington, a grocer and Guernsey native. She was never married and continued to live with her uncle and aunt Frederick and Eliza Queripel, appearing with them on the 1920 census. For many years worked for a Mr and Mrs Paul Nowland of Wilmington, appearing with them on the 1940 census.
After many years Emily made the first return visit to her native Guernsey where she still had family. Her first visit was in April 1930 (aboard Leviathan) followed by another trip in April 1937 (aboard Bremen), April 1948 (aboard Queen Elizabeth) and her last visit in May 1955 (aboard Queen Mary). Her visits home always attracted the attention of local media who would interview about her experiences on Titanic. Her visit in 1948 saw an interview taken with her in which she claimed that the taxi driver who met her on the jetty in Guernsey was a steward aboard Titanic.
In later years, following the death of her aunt in 1944, Emily lived with a cousin, Frederick Oliver and his family at 1914 Delaware Avenue. She was a member of Calvary Episcopal Church for many years, being member of the choir there, and was also a member of the Delaware Chapter Order of the Eastern Star and the Ladies of St George.
Emily died in the Delaware Hospital on July 8th, 1958 and was buried in Silverbrook Memorial Park, Wilmington.