Robert Yelf (1761-1834) is widely viewed as one of the most significant of the eighteenth & nineteenth century Yelfs. Living on the Isle of Wight as a resident of Ryde he seems to have made his fortune through property, his Hotel, Wine Business and a range of canny investments and along with William Wheeler Yelf in Carisbrooke, (who founded the Yelf printing business) provides a great deal of the wealth and political influence that made the Yelfs such a significant Island family. After his death his son, Robert Yelf Jnr took over the running of the business and continued in much the same vein as his father
I was particularly fortunate then to come across two pieces of information about this father and son that might be of interest to anyone looking to investigate them further. The first was the ‘So Near Yet So Far’ experience of finding a painting listed on the Denhams auction house website. ‘So Near’ was an oil of Robert Yelf Jnr that wouldn’t, I hoped, go for too much. I was just working out how much I could put on the credit card when, sadly, the ‘Yet So Far’ let-down kicked in with the realisation that the auction had taken place a month or so previously! Still, a photograph is better than nothing and I’ll just have to keep my eyes peeled in case it comes up again some time.
The second item is more for the active researcher and consists of two, faint and photocopied A4 sheets of paper I have tucked away in a folder. On the top is written ‘This was sent to me by Yelf’s Hotel in Ryde’ but sadly I didn’t think to write the name of the kindly donor beside it, so apologies for not crediting whoever sent it to me. The document is a summary of the Yelf Archive held, presumably, at the Isle of Wight Record Office and detailing all the documentation of the Yelf’s Hotel, Wine & Spirit business, farming and land interests. W. Pearce, who is described as ‘a descendant’, deposited the records ‘towards the end of the 19th century’. I will be transcribing what I can of this fascinating document before posting it up over the next few days. Sadly there are some blank patches on the photocopy, but even without referring to the archived documents themselves the summary gives a real insight to the range and scope of the Yelf business interests over many years.