Lucy Noël Martha Leslie, Countess of Rothes (25 December 1878 – 12 September 1956) was a British philanthropist and social leader, a heroine of the Titanic disaster, famous for taking the tiller of her lifeboat and later helping row the craft to the safety of the rescue ship Carpathia.
She was born in Kensington, London. "Noëlle," as she spelled her forename of choice, was the only child of Thomas and Clementina Dyer-Edwardes.
Lord and Lady Rothes had two children:
• Malcolm George Dyer-Edwardes Leslie, later 20th Earl of Rothes) (1902–1975), married Beryl Violet Dugdale, daughter of Captain James Lionel Dugdale and Maud Violet Woodroffe, on July 17th, 1926 and had issue.
•The Honourable John Wayland Leslie (1909–1991). He had issue.
Noëlle Rothes is best known as a survivor of the RMS Titanic. She embarked at Southampton with her parents, Thomas and Clementina Dyer-Edwardes, cousin Gladys Cherry, and maid Roberta Maioni. Her parents disembarked at Cherbourg, while the others continued, en route for New York and possibly Vancouver, British Columbia. While The Countess and her cousin were originally installed in the first class basic cabin C-37, it is possible they upgraded to a more commodious suite, C-77 (in an interview with the American press, she has been quoted as having said she and her cousin stayed in stateroom B-77). Her table in the Dining Saloon was served by Ewart Sydenham Burr, who bragged about that in a letter he sent to his wife, posting it in Queenstown.
The Countess, her cousin and maid were rescued in lifeboat 8. Thomas William Jones, the able seaman in charge of their lifeboat, later said Rothes "had a lot to say, so I put her to steering the boat," a compliment on her leadership abilities. She took the tiller, asking her cousin to assist her until she went to sit next to and comfort a young Spanish newlywed, María de Soto y Peñasco, whose husband had remained behind on the sinking liner. There she remained for the duration of the night, rowing all the while and helping to boost the morale of other women until their lifeboat was picked up by the RMS Carpathia; once aboard Carpathia, she devoted herself to the care of the steerage women and children from Titanic. As a token of his esteem, Jones later presented her with the brass number plate from their lifeboat. The Countess wrote to Jones every Christmas, and the two maintained correspondence until her death. The number plate is now in the possession of the Countess' grandson Alastair Leslie of Leslie, Fife.
After her husband died in March 1927, Lady Rothes remarried on December 22nd, 1927; to Colonel Claud Macfie, DSO, in London. The Countess retained her title. The couple had no children. She died in Hove, Sussex, on September 12th, 1956 having suffered for some time from heart disease.
In Popular Culture Edit
The recent bestselling e-book Lifeboat No. 8, by author Elizabeth Kaye, focused on the Countess' experience of the Titanic's sinking.