Ian Holbourn born John Bernard Stoughton Holbourn on November 5, 1872, to Alfred Holborn and Mary Jane Stoughton. John Bernard, who later went by Ian, which is the Scottish version of John, was the eldest of their two children. His mother died when he was very young and due to his father’s ill health, the children were sent to live with their stern Aunt Augusta. As a young man he became fond of the remote Scottish island of Foula, which he succeeded in purchasing around 1900, thus becoming its laird (owner of a large, long-established Scottish estate). He was also a professor and lecturer for the University of Oxford, and a writer.

Avis Gertrude Dolphin was born on August 24, 1902, in Rotherham, Yorkshire, England to John Henry Dolphin and Alice Schofield Dolphin. Avis as twelve years old when her parents booked passage for her and two nurses, Sarah Smith and Hilda Ellis, on RMS Lusitania, bound for England where Avis was to attend school while living with her grandparents. It was on that voyage that Ian Holbourn and Avis Dolphin would cross paths and their lives would be forever changed.

Ian befriended the young girl, who seemed to need a friend at the time. They talked of many things from the journey they were on to her upcoming school. She told Ian in one of their talks, that books for girls were uninteresting. Ian, an author, wrote his book “The Child of the Moat, A Story for Girls, 1557 A.D.” for Avis in 1916. The two would be friends for the rest of Ian’s life, but only because they were both destined to survive the sinking of the ship they met on. RMS Lusitania was hit by a torpedo launched from a German U-boat on May 7, 1915. That afternoon, RMS Lusitania was 11 miles off the southern coast of Ireland inside the declared war zone. The torpedo triggered in internal explosion. The damage caused her to sink in 18 minutes, killing 1,197 passengers and crew. Eventually, 289 bodies were recovered or found from the wreck. Only 761 people survived, among them, Avis Dolphin and Ian Holbourn. Ian was married to Marion Constance Archer-Shepherd, and together they had three sons. Ian died on September 15, 1935. Avis was introduced to journalist Thomas Foley during a visit to Holbourn’s home, and the two were married in 1926. Avis lived the remainder of her life in Snowdonia, Wales and died of natural causes in Meirionydd, which is a coastal and mountainous region of Wales, at the age of 93 on February 5, 1996.

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