Monday, July 30, 2007

Amor - A suitable name for a Yelf?

It’s strange how these things work. It only takes a couple of individuals to insist on doing a certain thing in a certain way and before you know it the original reasons are forgotten or lost in the mist of time and suddenly we’ve a ‘tradition’ on our hands That seems to have been the case on our particular branch of the Yelf tree with the middle name of ‘Amor’ (and that’s to rhyme with door not the French word for love!). It’s been around for a few generations now. It’s my son’s middle name and was also that of my youngest brother. The name missed my father but was the middle name of my grandfather and my great-grandfather before him. I had always wondered where it had come from and why I felt obliged to pass it down the genetic line like a hot potato, so I was intrigued when I saw a copy of Frank Amor William Yelf’s Birth Certificate of 1864. Did that elegant copperplate writing say Amor or (as it looked to me) Amos? Had generations of Yelfs named themselves after a spelling mistake? When I thought about it this didn’t really seem likely but I didn’t think to pay it much more attention until a month or two ago when I received an email from Carole Cumber in Canada.

Carole has being doing large amounts of research on the Yelf name and as it happens she is also from our ‘Amor’ branch of the family. She had obviously decided to look a little deeper and had succeeded in uncovering the origins of the Amor middle name and the results were far more interesting than a simple spelling mistake.

To summarise Carole’s findings (and it really is a summary, as Carole has much supporting documentation) we have to go to back to Salisbury in Wiltshire in the 1830’s where Francis WILLIAMS married Eliza AMOR. They eventually had seven children, Eliza, Francis, Catherine (‘Kate’), Maria, Emma, Henry and Mary. In the 1841 census they are still living in Salisbury but the 1851 census shows them living at ‘Above Bar’ in Southampton, Hampshire. But this is not the only change to the family’s circumstances obvious from the return. It seems that the pressure of having so many mouths to feed led the family to the fairly drastic step of asking Eliza’s sister, Maria AMOR, to take in the older children. Maria was a shoemaker living in Salisbury who employed a couple of workers in her business. She was single and obviously happy to take in her sister’s children as the 1851 census shows that Francis, Kate and Maria are all living with her whilst still attending the local Salisbury school. Presumably on completion of their education the children returned to their parents in Southampton.

The WILLIAMS family were not the only ones living at ‘Above Bar’ at this time – the YELF family were also living in the same area of Southampton and, as these things go, Catherine (Kate) WILLIAMS married her near neighbour Robert YELF. In 1864 they had a son called Frank Amor William YELF who might now possibly be seen to have been named for the following reasons - Frank (Possibly a version of Francis?) Amor (after the aunt who had been so important to Catherine?) William (a traditional Yelf name, but also near enough Catherine’s maiden name) Yelf (father’s name). Of those it is interesting that it is the Amor that has come down to the present day and become a family tradition, presumably because of its unusualness. None of us had an inkling that it was all due to the kindness of a maiden aunt who made shoes for a living but for what its worth my twelve year old Amor-named son seemed quite pleased with the result of all Carole’s hard work!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

“Reader, I married him..” – Yelfs in fiction

Let’s be honest here, this is not the sort of article you would expect to see written on a site dedicated to anyone researching the Browns, Bakers or Bartholomew family. Any attempt to look at the range of any of these names in fiction would be futile because, … well, there are just too many! If this is the case with these common names then the opposite is true with Yelf though. A name given to a few hundred individuals in a small corner England would be extremely unlikely to crop up in a work of fiction and you’d think that the chances of anyone deliberately choosing it were nigh on zero and if by some strange coincidence they did use it, you’d have to wonder where they heard it originally. Still, I thought it was worth a look so off I went…

Well, much to my surprise I found that there were a couple of fictional Yelfs. None recently it’s true and both the examples I found coincidentally occurred in children’s books, but it was intriguing nevertheless and it is possible (and quite amusing) to hazard a guess at connections between the Yelf family and the authors.

First up is “The Story of Dickwritten by Ernest Gambier Perry. This seems (and I have to confess I haven’t read it) to be a typical uplifting Victorian story of an orphan or poor relative moving in with a new family. There’s tension action and adventure and at last the youngster is seen to have been a positive force for all those around him. But don’t take my word for it as I found a short extract from “The Review of Reviews” by by William Thomas Stead in 1936

Without exactly intending to be unkind, Mrs. Yelf—a somewhat milder edition of Hannah Grieve – resented the coming of her brother-in-law’s ten year old soldier-like child to her home fearing that he would influence her own little son, whom she coddled and spoiled. In some respects the story reminds me of “Tim” but it is far happier and quite as pathetic. .Dick himself is a fine, honest, manly little chap and he soon strengthens the farmers girlish boy. The scene in which he reads the burial service over the soldier-suicide’s grave is very pretty. This is a story that will delight children and “grown-ups” alike.

Ernest Gambier Perry seems to have come from a wealthy and artistic family. His father, Thomas Gambier Perry was a notable art collector of Renaissance works whose collection now forms part of that belonging to the Courtauld Institute in London. In 1915 Ernest inherited much of his fathers collections in 1915, along with the Highnam Court Estate. Ernest also wrote articles, notably one on sport and sportsmen for the ‘New Review’ in1894 but I have not, as yet, found any evidence of other books. So where did he come up with the name of Yelf for the family? Well a look at the map shows that the Highnam Court Estate is just by Gloucester and about 45 minutes from another Gloucestershire town, Moreton-in-the-Marsh and in 1891 this was the home of one of the few Yelf families outside of Hampshire. (see the 1891 Yelf distribution map to the right). My guess would be that Ernest had either heard of or read of the Yelfs or possibly, as they were doctors and surgeons, met them in a professional capacity. He was looking for an interesting and unusual name for his protagonist family and Yelf fitted the bill nicely. OK, there’s no proof and this is wild speculation on my part, but it is a possibility. The only direct quote I could find for this book was

‘Mrs. Yelf prided herself upon the training of farm-servants’

which is always a useful skill to be able to fall back on!

The next book, or series of books really, is not quite so close to home. Here Yelfs appear in a series of Boy’s adventure stories known as the ‘Elm Island’ adventures written by a prolific American author and preacher called Elijah Kellog (and no, I’m not sure of the relation, if any, to the cornflakes Kellog’s). Elijah still has a church named after him in his town of Harpswell in New England and his books span the 1860’s and 1870’s, including such titles as “The Ark of Elm Island”, “Charlie Bell – The Waif of Elm Island” “The Boy Farmers of Elm Island” and “Lion Ben of Elm Island”. Elijah is included on a list of prominent Maine authors at the Waterboro Public Library site and There’s lots more on Elijah and his renowned father on the Bowdine library website. I’ve been able to see a few tantalising glimpses of these fictional Yelfs through partial quotes and they seem to be recurring characters throughout the books, albeit with the death of Mr Yelf after a few books and his wife taking on the mantle of Widow Yelf. Interestingly the first mention of a Yelf is in the opening chapter of The Ark of Elm Island

Seth Warren was indeed called second mate by which was merely meant that he took charge of the Captain’s watch whenever he saw fit to go below for Captain Rhines stood his own watch. In the larboard watch were Robert Yelf and Sam Edwards

I am again having to scratch around for on-line references, but the quotes I did find give a general indication of the Yelf’s progress through the novels

“The sponge they obtained by diving ; and Yelf brought up one that had attached itself to a conch” The Ark of Elm Island

“Father knows all about vessels, and Mr. Yelf is a regular shipwright. ... Ben and Yelf made the same criticism as Uncle Isaac” Young Shipbuilders of Elm Island

“…Yelf could ride when altogether too drunk to walk” Lion Ben of Elm Island

“…old Mrs. Yelf, was staying with me (she was a Dinsmore before she
married Sam Yelf)” Boy Farmers of Elm Island

“Yes ; tell us," said Charlie. “Well, I'll tell you, and see what you think of it.
Mr. Yelf is going to be put into the ground to-morrow, ...” Charlie Bell the Waif of Elm Island

So where might Elijah have picked up on the Yelf name? I’m not aware of any Yelf’s in America at that particular time but I think the very first reference to Robert Yelf is quite revealing, as Robert is such a strong family name. Could it be that there is a religious connection that bought the name to Elijah’s notice? Possibly he had read Dyson’s ‘History of Methodism on the Isle of Wight’ which features a good few pages dedicated to Robert Yelf of Newport? Or even the annotated version of Wesley’s Journals which notes that Mrs Yelf of Freshwater, ‘wife of the late Mr Robert Yelf’, recalled seeing Wesley himself step ashore. It’s impossible to say but I like to think of him having a small ‘Eureka!’ moment when stumbling across Yelf and deciding it fitted his drunk,shipbuilding sailor to a tee!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Frederick Steane Yelf, his house, another Yelf and a Hundred year gap!

The Yelfs are a very small, select family. In the 1890’s there probably were not more than two hundred Yelfs in the world. Now, there are probably about eighty to a hundred. When you think that historically the vast majority of those Yelfs were to be found on the Isle of Wight you would think that the chances of associating two Yelfs with a single house, outside the Isle of Wight, over the span of a hundred years must be pretty remote. Or put it this way – pick any house in England and ask yourself what the chances are that a Yelf might have crossed its threshold – then try to calculate the odds that two Yelfs have crossed the threshold, but separated by almost 100 years. Well as it happens I stumbled over one of these rare beasts not a week ago.

I live not far from Wimbledon and actually work in South Wimbledon (Colliers Wood if you are not an Estate Agent) so I was quite intrigued to find that a couple of Yelfs had made their homes there at different times. One was Marcia Yelf, the widow and second wife of Robert Yelf one of the Ryde Yelfs, of Yelf’s Hotel fame. The other was an individual who first came to my notice on various census returns – Frederick Steane Yelf, third son of the same Robert Yelf of Ryde, but from his first wife, Sarah

Frederick was born in 1831 on the Isle of Wight. His parents were Robert and Sarah Yelf and the 1841 census return for shows Frederick and his brother Leonard attending the Play Street Academy under the tuition of Mr Browne. Leonard Keatley Yelf went on to become a notable GP living in Moreton–in-the-Marsh in Gloucester but Frederick seems to have opted for a career in the Civil Service. The War Office List of 1863 records Frederick as being a 3rd class clerk in the ‘Director of Works’ branch responsible for Barrack and Hospital Repairs and Construction. To quote part of his entry,

“YELF F. Clerk 3rd class, War office. Appointed a temporary clerk in the late Ordnance Office, Jan 1856 and promoted to the Establishment of the Consolidated War office in 1856”

By 1883 both Frederick and his brother both appear as executors on his fathers will and at this time he is living in Hammersmith. In the same year his War Office returns reads

“YELF FREDERICK S. Late junior Clerk, War Office. Appointed a temporary clerk in the late Ordnance Office, Jan1856 and promoted to the establishment of the Consolidated War Office, April 1856. Retired, on-reorganization, March 1880 on a pension of £226 13/4d a year with gratuity”

Which means he retired at about 52 years of age.

My first mention of Frederick at Wimbledon is in about 1887 when he seems to have moved into his new house in 34, Queens Road Wimbledon, a road of three story villas laying alongside the railway track and only three or four minutes from the station. Frederick’s wife Ellen seems to have died by about 1880 so for the whole of the twenty odd years he was living in Wimbledon it was with his daughter Florence Steane Yelf. By 1907 he has evidently de-camped to Hove in Sussex for the latter part of his retirement where he died in 1911, followed by his faithful daughter Florence in 1935.

Unearthing all this information was enough to persuade me to hop on my bike one lunchtime in order to see if the house was still there. In truth I was half expecting to find that the site was now a retail development but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the building itself was still there. Not unchanged though, as in it’s original state it had been a semi-detached building like the rest of the road around it, but both 32 and 34 Queens Road had been purchased and combined into a single building which, with suitable extensions, was now an exclusive retirement home! The pictures show the building as it now is - Fredericks house was originally the right hand side of the building with the single porch being the site of two front doors. All the neighbouring houses retain their original layout so it was easy to compare and to imagine the original layout.

So where’s the coincidence then? Well, when I showed the photograph to my wife she knew the house straight away. As an Occupational Therapist who specialised in wheelchairs she had visited the house in its current role as a retirement home, to assess some of the occupants ability to use powered wheelchairs. Little did she realise that she was by no means the first Yelf to have trod those floorboards (not, to be honest, would she particularly have cared - I seem to be the only one in the house who finds this sort of thing remotely interesting). And her verdict on the new building? - “Very nice!”. Well in truth you’d expect no less from a Yelf dwelling, even if the last one moved out just before the First World War!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Yelf Wills (1948 - 1979)

This is the last section of the Will listings, although I do intend to post any details I have of other pre-1800's wills that I've come across over the years, but that may not be for a while.

1948 FRANCES HIND YELF Spinster, probate to Frances Sutton and Robert Sutton
London £4000

1950 ETHEL ALICE YELF Probate to Norman Yelf, husband

1951 SARAH JANE YELF (widow) probate to D.Turner £1946

1952 ANNETTE FRANCES YELF Of 15 Bramham Gardens, Earls Court, spinster, died 5 Nov 1951. Probate to National Provincial Bank £4285

1953 ANNIE LOUISA YELF Of Shirley, Kenion Rd, Wells, Somerset, widow, died 8 Dec 1952 at 'The Infirmary' Glastonbury Wells. Probate (save and excepted settled land) to John Gamble Deeming, chief financial officer and George Bertram Gibson Hand, rtd insurance manager £678

1954 FLORENCE LOUISA YELF 20, Wycombe End, Beaconsfield Bucks, spinster died 24 June 1954 at Islington, Bovey Tracey, Devonshire
Administration (with will) to Lloyds Bank Ltd £7207

1955 FRANCES WILLIAM YELF OBE, of Dream Tor, Hay Tor, Newton Abbot, Devonshire died 11 may 1955 at Louis Trichardt, Transvaal, South Africa. Probate to Lloyds Bank Ltd £16,237

1956 ERNEST WAY YELF Of 38 Cumberland Ct, Festing Road, Southsea
died 23 Dec 1955 at Portsmouth Hospital, Commercial Road. Probate to Frances Alice Yelf, widow
IOW £1245

1957 JOHN HIND YELF Of 10 Worsley Rd Newport died 16 Jan 1957. Probate to George Patrick Kiarney poulterer and Edward Leslie Barnham, poulterers assistant IOW £385

1957 KATHERINE HESTER CASTLEY HARBRIDGE YELF Of 'The Bungalows', Buxhalls, Lindfield at Brooklands Nursing Home Probate to Henry Wilkinson rtd Civil Servant, Dorothy R.M. Wilkinson (wife), Kathleen M. Griffith (widow) £1267

1958 ELIZABETH ADELAIDE ANNIE YELF Of Whitbank, Whitbank Gardens, Shanklin.
IOW £7612

1958 GEORGE ALFORD FRANK YELF Of Lea Bank, Clatterford Road, Carrisbrooke died in the County Hospital, Ryde. Probate to Alice Agnes Ella Gustar Yelf (widow) £12,087

1959 FRANCES ALICE YELF Of 8 Cavendish Road, Southsea. Probate to Olive Targett £1239

1960 WINIFRED ELLEN YELF Of Gurney Cottage, Selsey, widow. Probate to D. Marsh, spinster £10,360

1964 PETER YELF Of 5 Broyle Paddock, Ringmer. Probate to Margaret Yeldon, widow £389

1967 FRANK AMOR WILLIAM YELF Of 29 Doddington Road, London SW11 died at St Stephens Hospital. Probate to Rose Leary £1142

1967 FREDERICK CHARLES YELF Of 4 West Hill Rd, Ryde. Probate to Jean Mary Frampton (married woman) and Hugh David Dryer
IOW £3388

1968 EDWARD GEORGE YELF Flat 3, Ventnor Villas, Hove

1968 EMILY MARY ANN YELF Flat 3, Ventnor Villas, Hove

1970 JANET OLGA YELF 1, Bonner Road, Selsey, Chichester d.15 May 1970 £28,315

1971 MABEL ELIZABETH YELF 1, Neville Street, London SW7 d. 8 January 1971
Probate London 14 April £14,854

1973 EVA MARY INGRAM YELF 41 Wordsworth Rd, Worthing d.16 Feb 1973 Probate Brighton 6 March £1,565

1975 WALTER HARRY YELF 109 Calvert Rd Greenwich London SE10 d.28 Jan
Probate Brighton 10 April £595

1976 ALFRED JOHN LOOS YELF 60 Longfield Road Horsham d. 14 July Administration Brighton 26 August £3019

1977 GERTRUDE MARY YELF 1 Warwick Cottage, St Lawrence Ventnor IOW 28 August
probate Winchester 25 Oct £1626

1977 HILDA MARY YELF Hillcot Green End Rd, Boxmoor Herts d.30 March
Probate Ipswich 16 Dec £60,531

1979 DOROTHY MARY YELF Seven Hills Nursing Home, St Margarets Torquay
13 July Probate Bristol £38,872

1979 NORMAN YELF 7 Walberton Clo. Bognor Regis. Admin with will

Brighton 26 April £1493

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Yelf Wills (1916 - 1948)

1916 LEONARD LANE YELF Of Little Compton Warwickshire Gentleman d.6 Dec 1915 at Cottage Hospital Moreton in the Marsh Gloucestershire Probate 22 March to Alice May Yelf widow Birmingham £5276

1917 GEORGINA MARIA YELF Of Lyndale Head St Sandown IOW (wife of Richard Adolphus Yelf)d.14 Nov 1915 Probate 2 Jan to Richard Yelf retired wine merchant

1918 FRANK YELF Of 60 Rathmore Rd Charlton Kent d. 11 June 1918 Probate to Eliza Jane Yelf widow London £361

1919 ROBERT YELF Of 142 Wellmeadow Rd Catford Kent d.25 August 1919 Probate to the Public Trustee £567

1921 MARCIA YELF Of St Leo 22 Raymond Rd Wimbledon Surrey widow d.22 FEB 1921 Probate to Amy Percival Yelf spinster and Reginald Yelf Marvin clerk
London £4009
(resworn £4495)

1922 RICHARD ADOLPHUS YELF Of Lyndale Leed St Sandown IOW d.30 Dec 1921 Probate 25 April to Frederick Yelf Fishmonger and Beauclerc Bennett Beckinsale solicitor
Wells £3040 (resworn £3239)

1922 ROBERT YELF Of Burcoat Rd Wells rtd. Insurance Agent d.18 March 1922 Probate Elizabeth Yelf widow
Wells £791

1923 EDWARD GEORGE YELF Of 26 Queens Rd Salisbury d.22 Dec 1922. Probate to Louisa Yelf (widow)
Salisbury £156

1924 ALICE MAUD YELF Of Hazelmount, Shide Cross, Newport IOW, wife of Francis Herbert Wheeler Yelf, died 25 Dec 1924. Probate to Francis Herbert Wheeler Yelf company director and George Alford Kingwell farmer
IOW £2627

1925 JANE ADAM YELF Of Leasingham, Moreton Avenue Harpenden Hertfordshire, widow, died 28 Feb 1926 Probate to Robert Edward Burnet Yelf MRCS £217

1926 JOHN BURNET YELF Of Kay A Lami, Roughdown Rd Hemel Hempstead died 28 Feb 1926 Probate to Blanche Mary Yelf widow and Robert Edward Burnet Yelf, surgeon £3441

1928 AMY PERCIVAL YELF Of 5 Craven Gardens Wimbledon Surrey, spinster died 11 Oct 1928. Probate to Janet Hardy (wife of Basil Edward Hardy) and Ada Joel, spinster £1481

1931 THOMAS HARRY YELF Of 9 Riverside Rd Norwich died 31 Dec 1930 at Sea Probate to Edith Theresa Yelf, widow £413 10/6d

1932 LOUISA YELF Widow, of New Malden Surrey Probate to Florence Yelf

1934 CATHERINE FENWICK YELF Of 81 Exeter St Salisbury, widow died 23 June 1934 to Clara Elizabeth Manning, spinster
Winchester £4854 17/5d

1934 ELIZABETH YELF OF Shirley Wells, widow, died 2 March 1934 at Avalon Margate Road, Ramsgate. Probate to Alfred Robert Yelf, Water Works Inspector.
£949 2/1d

1934 ROBERT HERVE YELF Of Gurney Ct Norwich died 15 July 1934 at the Cottage Hosp. Horley Surrey. Probate to Robert Edward Burnet Yelf rtd. Medical practitioner
London £7031 19/9d
(Resworn new grant 6 May 1947 £7011 19/9d)

1935 EDITH HIND YELF Spinster, probate to Frances Hind Yelf IOW

1935 FLORENCE STEANE YELF of Central Hotel 123/125 Cromwell Road Kensington Middlesex, spinster, died 20 Jan 1935 at the Bishop Hannington Memorial Hall, Holmes Av., Blatchington, Hove, Sussex. Probate to Basil Edward Harvey rtd solicitor
London £1017 11/2d

1935 GEORGE HENRY YELF of Stanway, Laural Drive Brundell, Norfolk died 26 Jan 1935 at 32 Surrey St. Norwich¹ÉProbate to Cyril George Brown accountant and Edward Ernest Lofts, secretary
London £3354 8/7d
Resworn £4580 18/7d

1936 ERNEST GEORGE YELF Of 31 Helena Rd Norwich died 30 Sept 1936 at the Norfolk & Norwich Hospital. Probate to Edith Elizabeth Yelf widow
£2728 15/5d

1939 BLANCHE YELF Probate to Hilda Mary Yelf, spinster £567

1940 ELIZA MARY YELF Of 151 Earlham Road Norwich. Wife of Cecil William Yelf died 16 Nov 1940 at the Private Patients Home, Norfolk & Norwich Hosp. Probate to Cecil William Yelf architect
Norwich £867 10/-


1942 CHARLOTTE ELIZABETH YELF widow, of Newport, IOW. Probate to Mabel Elizabeth Yelf, spinster Lewes

1942 CLARA MARY FLEMMING YELF Otherwise Clara May Flemming, Otherwise Clara Marie Flemming otherwise Maria Clara otherwise Mary Clara Flemming of Clayton Croft, Hillfield Road, Selsey on Sea Sussex, spinster. Probate to John Forbes Burnet Wing Commander R.A.F.V.R. £4831 18/9d

1943 ALBERT VICTOR YELF OF 34 Oak Hill, Hollesley, Suffolk died 17 Nov 1942 at East Suffolk & Ipswich Hospital. Probate to Dorothy Maud Fanny Yelf, widow. Peter Yelf tool maker appointed an additional administrator.
Ipswich £499 19/9d

1943 CLARA ANN YELF Of 104 St James Sq Newport (wife of Gerald Hind Yelf) 28 Jan 1943. Probate to Gerald Hind Yelf baker
Winchester £255 15/8d

1944 CECIL WILLIAM YELF Of 31 Earlham Road Norwich died 2 Oct 1944 at Brunswick Rd Nursing Home. Probate to Lorna May Alway (wife of George William Alway) and the said Reverend George William Alway, clerk
Norwich £7113 2/7d

1944 ELIZA JANE YELF Of 62 Rathmore Rd, Charlton, London. Probate to Walter Harry Yelf, bottle sorter
Llandudno £571 16/8d

1945 ALFRED ROBERT YELF Of Shirley, Kennion Rd, Wells, Somerset died 15 July 1945É- Probate to Annie Louisa Yelf widow¹
Gloucester £1869 9/2d

1945 EDITH THERESA YELF Of 9 Riverside Rd Norwich died 9 Sept 1945. Probate to Barclays Bank Ltd
Norwich £7130 4/9d

1946 ROBERT EDWARD BURNET YELF To Winifred Ellen Yelf (widow)
Sussex £14,000

1947 FRANCIS HERBERT WHEELER YELF Of Glenfield, Newport IOW died 27 Jan 1947 (1?) Administration (with will) to George Alford Frank Yelf (see 1941), printer and Alice Agnes Ella Gustar, widow
Winchester £3476 14/6d

1947 JOHN LEONARD YELF Of Hillcot Green End Rd, Hemel Hempstead, Herts d.6 March 1947 Probate to Edith Priscilla Yelf widow and Frederick Hancock solicitor.
Birmingham £3657

1947 ROBERT HERVE YELF Of Gurney Ct Norwich d. 15 July 1934 d. at the Cottage Hospital Horley Surrey £2972

1948 FRANCES HIND YELF Spinster, probate to Frances Sutton and Robert Sutton
London £4000

Friday, July 20, 2007

Yelf Wills (1865 - 1916)

Day one I say that this is not the best format for posting information in lists and then a week later I start posting lists!

The old Index Yearbooks held at Somerset House provide a certain amount of information even without actually obtaining a copy of the will itself. The following is a transcript of all the entries relating to Yelfs and associated names. It’s also a reminder of the fragility of recording methods as I found the document on an old floppy disc. Sadly there was some difficulty reading the document and it came over with large amounts of strange pagination text that I’ve been manually cleaning up for a good few hours.

As a result I can’t guarantee that the information below is word perfect to the original, so be warned!

For ease of reference I will be posting it in three chronological sections containing the basic information as listed below.


1865 JANE YELF Nov (Wife of William Yelf). Granted to Robert Yelf, son. Winchester Under £800

1875 EMILY HARRIETT YELF 28 Jan: Late of 'Uplands' nr. Ryde IOW County of Southampton, spinster who died 24 October 1874 at Uplands was granted to the Principal Registrary to ROBERT YELF of Uplands, Gentleman, the Father and next of kin. £1,500

1876 JOHN WILLIAM YEALFE 13 Nov. of 6 Union St., Pimlico Rd Pimlico
Mdsx. Grocers assistant d. 11 Feb 1876.Granted to Harriet Yealfe, widow. £100

1877 MARY YELF 28 Nov (Wife of Robert Yelf the Younger) of Kinderton House, Ryde, IOW d.30 May 1877 at Kinderton House. Granted to Robert Yelf the Younger, Kinderton House, Gentleman £300

1880 JAMES YELF 2 March: of Newport IOW d. 13 Dec 1879 at Newport. Granted to George Newman Henton of Newport the brother by the half blood and George Henry Henton of Loverstone Farm in the parish of Carrisbroke in the said Isle yeoman, the Executors £450

1883 ROBERT YELF 20 March: Late of 'Uplands' nr. Ryde IOW in the county of Southampton, Gentleman who died 21 Nov 1882 at Little Compton in the County of Warwick. Proved by Leonard Keatley Yelf of Moreton in the Marsh county Gloucester MD and Frederick Steane Yelf of Keith House Queens Road Wimbledon in the County of Surrey, Gentlemen, the sons the executors. £16,100 7/10d
(Resworn Mar 1892 £17,146 12/d)

1888 EMMA YELF 24 May: Wife of Joshua Yelf, late of 66 Pyle St. Newport IOW d. 1 August 1883. Granted to William Walter Wapshott of 2 Mary St. West Cowes (The brother a legatee) £30

1895 HARRY FLEMMING YELF of 111 Dereham Rd, Heigham, Norwich,
Architect d.28 SEPT 1895. Granted 17 Oct to Ann Yelf Widow, Thomas Harry Yelf, builders manager and Cecil William Yelf architects clerk £358 6/-

1895 WILLIAM THOMAS of Middlesex County Lunatic Asylum near London Tooting, Surrey d.23 JUNE 1895. Probate to Annie Charlotte Yelf widow £165

1896 ROBERT YELF Of Paxford near Chiping Campden Worcestershire London Gentleman d. 10 March 1896. Probate 15 June to Eliza Mary Holme Yelf spinster £4589

1897 JOSEPH YELF Of Hunnyhill Carisbrooke IOW gentleman d. London 29 April 1897 Probate to Frances Hind Yelf spinster and John Hind Yelf carpenter £41 3/11d

1897 WILLIAM RICHARD YELF OF Newport IOW printer d. 28 Sept 1896. Probate London to Edward Hopkins Fox Payn draper and Frederick Kilner bottle manufacturer £683 10/9d

1898 JOSHUA YELF Of 8 Lower St, James St, Newport IOW dyer d.19 Feb 1898. Probate 12 March to Ellen Denton spinster Winchester £240 17/5d

1900 ANN YELF Of 231 Dereham Rd, Heigham Norwich (widow) d.19 Nov Norwich 1900 at 151 Earlham Rd, Heigham. Probate 19 Dec to Thomas Harry Yelf builder/contractor, Ernest George Yelf electrician, Cecil William Yelf surveyor £924

1906 EMMA YEALFE Of 17 St James St Portsea Hants (Wife of Francis David Yealfe Licensed victuallar) £211

1906 HELEN YELF Of Newbury House, Newbury Road Shirley Hants spinster d.6 July 1906. Probate to Robert Yelf insurance agent
Winchester £191 4/10d

1906 JACK ROBERT YELF Of 81 Exeter St Salisbury Retired bank cashier d.23 July 1906 at Shanklin IOW Probate 25 August to Catherine Fenwick Yelf widow Salisbury £2897

1911 FREDERICK STEANE YELF Of 21c Palmeira Mansions Hove Sussex d.27 June 1911 Probate 2 August to Florence Steane Yelf spinster London £3038

1912 LEONARD KEATLEY YELF Of The Chestnuts Bransgrove Hampshire d.3 October 1911 Probate 12 Jan to Jane Adam Yelf widow
London £4103
(re-sworn Robert Edward Burnett Yelf surgeon and Leonard Lane Yelf gentleman £4404)

1916 ANNIE CHARLOTTE YELF Of 4 Camden Av. Peckham Surrey widow d.28 March 1916 at 3 Camden House Camden Av. Probate to Annie Brookes Yelf spinster London £101

1916 LEONARD LANE YELF Of Little Compton Warwickshire Gentleman d.6 Dec 1915 at Cottage Hospital Moreton in the Marsh Gloucestershire Probate 22 March to Alice May Yelf widow Birmingham £5276

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Private Robert Henry Yelf - Killed in Action

My pillaging of old newsletters continues with this account of my research into the unfortunate death of my Great Uncle Robert who died during the First World War. Robert was one of only two Yelfs to die in that conflict and it was believed by the family that he had been killed by a sniper. The photograph below is of Robert and his new bride Catherine shortly before the outbreak of War and this is the account that I originally wrote in 1997.

A recent trip to the Public Records Office at Kew has provided some more information.

Robert’s death certificate gave his regiment as the 12th Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment (an odd choice for someone born and bred in South London) and his date of death as 28th October 1916, killed in action. A check in the library put this within the period of the battle of the Somme, which ran from July to November of that year. But was Robert killed at the Somme or somewhere else? I was able to confirm that the war diaries of the 12th battalion were stored at Kew and I was able to visit to have a look through them. Each unit of battalion size or above kept such a diary, often hand-written at speed with entries only a line or two long. They often also include operational maps, divisional orders, raiding party reports, artillery maps and many other bits and pieces, but most importantly from my point of view, notes of any casualties. Officers names are sometimes mentioned, but other ranks hardly at all, so I was really interested in finding where the battalion was and what it was up to when Robert met his end. In fact I think I may have found the actual circumstances of his death, something of an unexpected bonus.

Most of the reports were written in pencil, but those around this period for this particular battalion were typed, which made reading them a lot clearer. The unit was based south-east of Arras in northern France and was in the front line. The reports for a few days each side of Robert's given date of death were as follows - (Italics are mine)

Courcelles Oct 27th
In the morning A & B Companies proceeded to relieve C &
D Companies at Courcelles. C & D Companies returned to Warnimont Wood. Capt. D.C. Allen remained at Courcelles in charge of detachment.

O.C. [Officers Commanding] coys. were A Company Lieut. V.S. Simpson B Company Capt. E.L. Moxey

[Turning the page for the entry for the 28th, the day of Roberts death I was disappointed to see that an entry had not been made, However, the next entry was as follows]

Warnimont Wood Oct 29th In the morning companies were at the disposal of their commanders.

Notice having been received from Brigade Headquarters that a working party would have to be provided in the evening, afternoon parades were suspended. At night a working party of 2 officers and 100 other ranks was provided for work in the trenches. A HE (High explosive] shell bursting near the crossroads, HEBUTERNE [Name of village], caused 8 casualties in this party - 1 o.r. [other ranks] killed, 5 wounded and 2 shell-shock.

For the next few days the diary notes the lack of any casualties, despite heavy rifle fire. Although it’s impossible to be sure, I feel that this unfortunate soldier killed at night by a shell burst was almost certainly Robert as this is the only note of a casualty for several days either side of the date given for his death.

Looking at a Michelin map of the area, the region is covered in British war cemeteries and I hope that a letter to the War Graves Commission might provide information as to Robert’s final resting place, if it’s known. Hebuterne only looks an hour or so from Calais so I may be able to visit at some point in the future.

Background reading in the library also revealed that the 12th battalion was originally a ‘Pals’ battalion made up of friends and comrades from the same are. In their case the 12th was known as ‘The Bradford Pals’ who had spent early months of the war in Egypt. Many had purchased scarabs as lucky charms and carried them over to France. After some of the early, bloody battles, concern was expressed that casualty lists were having a disastrous effect on local morale. Whole villages or small towns might have their young men wiped out in a single day and from that point on regional regiments tended to be mixed (including putting cockney’s into kilted highland regiments) and Pals battalions broken up to spread the death toll. It seems Robert was transferred to the York and Lancaster regiment as part of these moves.

This year we finally did make it to visit Robert's grave in Hebuterne where my daughter took the photo of Robert's grave at the beginning of this article, but not before Robert had a visit from the band of the Metropolitan Police (but the circumstances around that are surely worth a separate blog entry of their own.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Who's the Daddy? Louisa Yelf and George Rendall

Looking back through my old notes and records (as I now find myself doing) I came across an intriguing encounter I had in 1994 whilst waiting for a copy of a Yelf will in Somerset House. It led to some interesting and intriguing information being passed on that I was, unfortunately, unable to bring to a satisfactory conclusion at the time. I offer all the information I have to any budding Sherlock out there who might wish to take up the challenge...

After hearing the name Yelf called out when my will arrived, I was approached by a professional genealogist cum journalist who was there researching background information on Lady Bienvenuda Buck (remember her?). It turned out that he had an ancestor called Louisa Yelf who had married James Henderson some time in the 1830's. However Louisa had always maintained that she was, in fact, the daughter of George Rendall, a wealthy and prominent Isle of Wight businessman. George was apparently a stalwart of the local church, a Mason and an investor in the Ryde Pier Company who, it was claimed, had conducted a steamy and tempestuous affair with the wife of his friend and business partner, Mr Yelf (this would have been Robert Yelf Jnr. of Ryde, Isle of Wight)

This seemed to be too good a story to pass by so I went to see what I could unearth to flesh out the story.

Looking first at the IOW births between 1759-1832 I could find no mention of a Louisa Yelf. Nor could I in the Catherine’s House records. However a Louisa was baptised in 1835, but she was certainly not getting married at the time, as this Louisa seems to have been. There was a baptism for a Louisa in London in 1827 but I couldn't find any more information on her at the time.

Then an extract from the IOW Family History Journal caught my eye which read -

‘In that year (1859) the town commissioners elected by the rate payers were: Geo. Rendall, Robt. Yelf (and 25 other names)’ It then went on to describe the formation of the Pier Company, 2,500 shares at £50 each and construction began on 31st June 1813.

This certainly confirms some of the details in the story, confirming that there was indeed a George Rendall who would have known Robert Yelf but whether the child might have been born 'off the Island' and not recognised by Robert Yelf Jnr., I could not say. Nevertheless with these details and the greater accessibility to records it just might be the time to start looking again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Yelf Bros. Printers - The last days...

1997 saw the final closure of Yelf Bros. Printers at Newport on the Isle of Wight when it was sold by its then owners to the County Press. This business was one of the most prominent of Yelf enterprises and had a long and distinguished history, much of it recorded in the history of the company 'Printers Pride'. By a slice of good luck the final closure coincided with a visit by Betty Richardson who was on a short holiday chasing up her Yelf relatives. Betty kindly wrote what happened for a Yelf newsletter that I published the same year but I think it's worth repeating as it seems Betty has a good foundation for her own Yelf museum...

"On our first day there we went to Newport and found Holyrood Street and the old Yelf House at No. 15 - I recognised it from the pictures in ‘Printer’s Pride’! John took photos of the outside but it looked so unpainted and neglected we felt that the business must have closed as there was no name-plate outside as there had been in 1984 when my friend Mary had photographed it for me. But we went down a little passage at the side of the house and we found the old printing house. The present owners told us that it had been built as a single-storey, purpose-built building in the huge garden of the house.

We went inside and the folk who were there were the ones who had bought the business from Ella Yelf-Gustar sixteen years ago! They greeted us with great warmth when we said who we were and said ‘How strange you should come this week - we have sold out to the County Press and are closing on the 25th April’. This was the day that John and I were leaving the Island.

They told us a lot about the business and what they knew of the family. There was one employee who had worked there for 40 years, so he knew the last two Yelfs. They gave me photos of three generations of the Yelf family - one of William Richard Yelf as a very old man (he was the son on William Wheeler who died in prison in London). Then there is a photo of each of the brothers George Henry (Yelf) and Francis Alford (Yelf) and finally one of the son of Francis Alford who was George Alford Frank Yelf who died in 1958. He was a brother of Ella Yelf-Gustar who I knew and who was the last Yelf owner of the business. She has died now.

Mr & Mrs Smith, who own the business, also gave me the Articles of Association of Yelf Brothers Limited, incorporated 19th day of April 1915, with a list of the seven directors. They also gave me a photo of the printing press which was set up at Osborne House on the night that Queen Victoria died by order of the new King Edward VII to do all the printing for the funeral. It was set up overnight and the picture shows the press, two printers and the two Yelf brothers standing either side of it looking very business-like. The picture is in ‘Printers Pride’.

It was all most extraordinary that we should be there that very week and I think that they were glad to give these things to a member of the family. The other thing that they wanted me to have was a top hat in its original box. This had belonged to one of the family and had been in the firm for a very long while - it was a sort of talisman. Wendy Smith told us that there was a tradition in the firm that the hat would stay in the firm as long as it was trading and that had happened. Now she wanted me to have it as I was a Yelf and the business was closing. Isn’t it all very strange?

We spent some time in the Newport Records Office and found hundreds of Yelfs dating back to Robert in 1694, the original one on the top of my family tree who married Elizabeth Booker and lived at Spicer’s Farm, Arreton.

We followed up the connection at Arreton Church and found the headstone of Elizabeth Waldridge (whose mother was a Yelf), the original ’Dairyman’s Daughter)!

Incidentally, I found a copy of ‘The Dairyman’s Daughter’ and other stories by a Rev. Leigh Richmond, but I couldn’t find a copy of Dyson’s ‘Methodism on the Isle of Wight’ but I do have people looking for it!"

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Top Ten Non-Yelf Yelf Sites

One of the interesting aspects of researching such an unusual name is that you tend to get very proprietorial about its use. Any genuine hit on a search engine that doesn’t relate to a family member in some way is viewed with an almost ‘Hey, don’t they know that someone’s name they’re playing about with there?’ attitude. I can’t imagine that this is an issue with names like Smith or Miller or suchlike but I thought I’d take you on a quick spin of all those non-Yelf Yelfs that seem to crop up from time to time. Lets start with the daddy of them all which is starting to appear quite frequently.

1. The Yelf Spiral
Sounds fun but is actually a way of prioritising jobs and not even named after a proper Yelf

“Educators, corporate executives, and everyday computer users probably agree that the Internet has made it easier and faster to complete projects. However; as technology evolves, so does the demand from a fickle consuming public. We want better, faster, smaller products.

ASU researchers are helping with the “better” and “faster” parts. They’ve developed a technique that helps reduce the inconsistency of waiting time that Internet users experience when working online.

As is the case with many other inventions, there is always room for improvement, says Nong Ye, director of ASU’s Information & Systems Assurance Laboratory (ISAL). Ye and ASU colleagues Xueping Li and Toni Farley created what they call the Yelf Spiral. Named for its three researcher/inventors (Ye, Li and Farley), the Yelf Spiral is a technique for determining the order of jobs to be serviced on-line.

It works to reduce the inconsistency of waiting time. Ye says that the technique involves scheduling jobs in a spiral fashion based on their processing times.”

2. Young Eritrean Liberation Front (YELF)
Not a website as such, but a Blog, and the reason that I had to use Yelf-family-digest as my address rather than just Yelf. There's just the one entry and the YELF -Master (!) says that

"As president of YELF I decided that it would be time to introduce YELF to the world....YELF was made so that people could meet the needs of a country called Eritrea."

Which is very laudable but I would have preferred a slightly different acronym, to be honest (Yelf sites for the Yelfs!)

3. Yelf Yelf
You can download your very own copy of this pop song from the Gulf of Arabia region
(obviously like New York, so good he named us twice…). It lasts a whopping 4 minutes 21 seconds and would cost you a mere 79p. The artist is Abdul Aziz Al Arooj and you can listen to a short sample, although if you can make out the sound of Yelf in there you’ve far better hearing than I have…

4. Frankfurt Branch Office (YELF)
This Yelf seems to be a code to identify the Frankfurt Branch Office of Yazaki North America. What is Yazaki North America? Well, in a nutshell, it’s a company with a vision.

Yazaki North America's Vision
Yazaki North America will be the world's leading provider of easily configurable automotive network solutions and associated products that enable connectivity.

That’s pretty much gone over my head too, but I think they want to be big in the world of joining things up.

5. “yelf
A quote from an article on Angels, fairies and elves, this one takes a little thinking about and probably best done after reading the article itself. Put crudely this particular Yelf is apparently a speech defect in those elves who

“…aspire to the sincerity that they see shining on the brows of the real selves, the ones who can say "my-self" and "your-self," not merely "melt" and "yelf," which is what the elves can say.”

6. "Yelf" My favourite of those listed, at number 6 we have Yelf the dog. As you can see Yelf is a very patient dog used for training on animal first aid injuries. Anyone who looks at his gallery and cannot empathise with the ‘dog with head bandage’ shot has a stony heart indeed.

The Pet First Aid was a fun and informative course- attendees learned how to handle injured animals, bandaging, resuscitation and much more in this one day course. Huge thanks to Heather Ferguson and her dog "Yelf" for a great course.”

Well done Yelf - a patient and long-suffering dog.

YELF also has an ex-page on Wikipedia. It has ceased to be. Bereft of life it sits there pushing up the digital daisies. You can read all about the discussion and its vote for deletion although not view the actual page itself. My interest was well and truly tickled as it looks as thought the article claims that the name of Yelf is somehow connected with Dane law! I should liked to have had a look at that, but its too late now…

8. Youth Environmental Leadership Forum III (YELF)
This is quite an interesting one as it seems to be a forum seeking grant funding from the North Shore Tribal Council, part of Indian and Northern Affairs in Canada. Their contract was due to expire in 2005 so I hope in the name of Yelf solidarity that it was renewed.

9. Natalie the Yelf
Beware of Yelf! A bit of a fantasy beast this one, but less swords and muscles more gingham and floral prints. A touch cat-like and altogether inoffensive. No doubt she has some incredible powers that only appear on a full moon …

10. YELF the poet I don’t know why but I find it slightly odd that someone would spend some considerable time searching about for an interesting pen-name and then end up calling themselves ‘Yelf’. No reason why not, of course, but its not one that I’d of picked, although you can see where it came from as her real name is Yvelle Fleury from Worcester, Massachusetts and some of her poems are available online

(A few didn't make the final list, including Yelf Aderlink a company accused of taking oil bribes from Saddam Hussain and type of raspberry trialled in Montanna. Both were excluded on grounds that they might well be typing errors. Better luck next time!)