Born in 1881 at Old Buckenham, Norfolk, and the daughter of Samuel Bird and his wife Maryann, Titanic survivor Ellen Bird was one of 11 children. The family lived at Stackford Old Buckenham, Norfolk. Samuel Bird was living in London when she was employed as a maid by Mrs. Isidor Strauss just before their return to New York. The Strauses had been in Europe since January 1912 and were trying to find a new French maid to bring back.
They had no success but did hire an English maid before sailing back home. The girl left at the last minute, and Ellen Bird was hired. In a letter from Ida to her children, she expresses her wish that Ellen worked out. Ellen boarded the Titanic and occupied Cabin C-97.
After the Titanic hit the iceberg, Mrs. Straus debated whether or not to enter a lifeboat. She handed Ellen some of her jewelry but then took it back. Ida also gave Ellen her fur coat, saying she would not need it. Even after being rescued, Ellen tried to return the fur coat to the family, specifically to the Straus’ oldest daughter Sara. Straus told Ellen to keep it, telling her that Ida had given it to her.
Encouraged by her employers, Bird boarded lifeboat 8 and was saved. Mrs. Straus stayed back to stay with her husband, and both went down with the Titanic.
After the Titanic, Ellen went to work for the family of Frederic Spedden of Tuxedo Park, New York. The Speddens were also on the Titanic and traveled to Europe in January of 1912 on the same ship as Isidor and Ida Straus. Ms. Bird stayed with the family until her marriage to Edward Beattie. Sources claim that he was a hotel worker, but he is also known as a yacht captain. She lived the rest of her life in Rhode Island.
Ellen Bird died in Newport, Rhode Island, on September 11th, 1949, and is buried at Acushnet Cemetery in Massachusetts. One of the most famous Titanic survivors, Ellen Bird, was the maid from one of the wealthiest and well-known families of the era.