REGISTERED AND OFFICIAL MAIL
The registered cover above is an embossed envelope. The embossed stamp reads, "Registered Two Pence - Postage One Penny." It has an additional King George V one-penny definitive attached.
On the front of the cover; R.M.S. (Royal Mail Ship) Lusitania is rubber stamped and written in script is R.M.S. Lusitania via Queenstown (Ireland). There is also a New York Received Registry Cancel of December 25, 1913. The cover was initially canceled in Curry Rivel on December 13, 1913.
The reverse of the cover contains the New York Registry cancel again and a Providence Registry Cancel of December 26, 1913. It was then routed to the Providence Eastside Station where it received a December 27, 1913 cancel. The text on the reverse side reads, "Compensation is given for loss or damage in respect of Inland Registered Letters and Packets of all kinds, and for the loss of Foreign and Colonial Registered Letters and Packets, subject to the limitations and conditions notified in the Post Office Guide."
The letter was sent from Curry Rivel in Great Britain. Curry Rivel is a small village located about 12 kilometers east of Taunton and about 20 kilometers southwest of Glastonbury. The Battle of Sedgemoor was fought here in 1685. The parish church of St. Andrews dates back to the 15th century.
The letter is addressed to Charles Morris Smith in Providence, Rhode Island. The Providence, RI Directory of 1890 lists a Charles Morris Smith on 116 Benevolent Street and lists a second address at 16 South Water. He is listed as being in business under the name, "C. M. & G. M. Smith." The census records list several Charles M. Smiths in Providence; the most likely match being the Charles M. Smith born in Massachusetts in 1774.
R.M.S. Lusitania was launched on June 7, 1906. Her overall length was 787 feet and her beam was 87 feet 6 inches. She displaced 38,000 tons and was powered by four Parsons steam turbines with a rating of 76,000 horsepower. She originally was equipped with three-bladed screws, but in 1909 was outfitted with four-bladed screws.
The Lusitania could accommodate 2,165 passengers; 563 in first class, 464 in second class and 1138 in third class. At the time of her sinking, she carried 22 standard lifeboats and 26 collapsible lifeboats. Lusitania commenced her maiden voyage on September 7, 1907 from Liverpool, England. She was the largest ship in the world until her sister ship Mauretania was launched two months later. She was the holder of both the eastbound and westbound Atlantic Crossing records, (Blue Riband).
The Lusitania, under the command of William T. Turner left New York bound for Liverpool, England on May 1, 1915. She carried 1,304 passengers and 655 crewmembers, (The number of persons on board varies from account to account - I believe this to be one of the more accurate figures). At 1:20 P.M. on May 7, 1915 approximately 10 miles off the coast of Ireland, Lusitania was torpedoed by the U-20 commanded by Captain Walter Schwieger.
The torpedo hit and exploded on the port side just aft of the forward mast followed almost immediately by a second internal explosion, (believed to have been caused by illegally stored munitions being carried on the Lusitania). It was this second explosion that doomed the ship and she sank so rapidly, (18 minutes) that only 6 lifeboats were able to be launched. 1201 passengers and crew lost their lives including 123 American Citizens.
The sinking of the Lusitania did not immediately lead to war with Germany, however the public outrage over the sinking in the United States contributed to the climate that allowed President Wilson to declare war in 1917.
I found 8 passengers listed as having originated from Rhode Island as follows:
1st Class: None
Arthur and Ellen Candlish - Pawtucket, RI
Elizabeth Hampshire - Pawtucket, RI - Survived
Samuel and Mary Hanson - Central Falls, RI - both died
John and Dora Wolfenden - Central Falls, RI
Mr. Ernest James Burke (British Citizen) -
listed from Central Falls, RI
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