Lord, Stanley, 1877-1962Alternative names
Captain Stanley Lord (13 September 1877 - 24 January 1962) was born in Bolton, Lancashire. After serving his apprenticeship with J. B. Walmsley & Co, Liverpool, from 1891-1896, he joined the West India & Pacific Steam Ship Company in 1897 as a third officer on the Barbadian . The company was taken over by the Leyland Line in 1899, which in turn became part of the International Mercantile Marine Company in 1902, as was the White Star Line.
Lord obtained his master’s certificate in 1901, and was given his first command, the Antillian, by the Leyland Line in 1906, aged 28. In March 1907 he married Mabel Henrietta Tutton, daughter of a retired master mariner and the couple had one son, Stanley Tutton Lord (1909-1994). In March 1911 he was made Captain of the Californian .
The Californian, commanded by Captain Lord, was in the vicinity of the Titanic as it sank on the night of the 14th April 1912. Captain Lord was summoned to appear as a witness at both the US and British inquiries into the loss of the Titanic . Both inquiries concluded that Captain Lord had failed to assist the Titanic and this had compounded the tragedy. As he had appeared only as a witness he could not directly defend himself, but only answer the questions put to him. Such was the public interest in the case that Lord was forced to resign by the Leyland Line.
Immediately after the British inquiry’s finding were published Captain Lord made a number of attempts to put his side of the story, both to the press and the Board of Trade, who refused his request to reopen the inquiry. In 1913 he was contacted by Lawther Latta, managers of the Nitrate Producers Steam Ship Company, who had received a letter in support of Lord and offered him the command of the Anglo Saxon . Lord commanded various vessels for the company until he retired from the sea due to his failing eyesight in 1928 aged 51.
Lord retired to Wallasey. In 1958, the year after the death of his wife, Mabel, the film A Night to Remember was released and enjoyed considerable success. Based on the book of the same name by Walter Lord (no relation) the film concerned the sinking of the Titanic . Lord contacted the Mercantile Marine Service Association (M.M.S.A), which he had joined in 1897, and requested assistance in correcting what he saw as an untruthful and inaccurate representation of events being presented as fact. The M.M.S.A, mainly in the guise of its General Secretary, Leslie Harrison, took up Captain Lord’s case and began a campaign to reopen the British inquiry into the loss of the Titanic, which they hoped would clear Lord of any blame in the tragedy.
After Captain Lord’s death in 1962, Leslie Harrison continued his efforts on Lord’s behalf. The location and actions of the Californian and Captain Lord in regard to the sinking of the Titanic is still a subject of discussion and disagreement.
From the guide to the Captain Stanley Lord, Master of the SS Californian, career papers, Titanic articles and other papers, 1891-1997, (National Museums Liverpool: Maritime Archives and Library)
- Californian (Ship)
- Titanic (Steamship)
- Shipwrecks--Atlantic Ocean