Sunday, December 28, 2008

Keatley/Yelf Article

One of my 'missing ' posts was this one from Paul Keatley who kindly sent a scan of a newspaper page from the mid 19th century. The original is below but as it's a little small,even when viewed in its own window, that I've cut and pasted an enlarged copy below

Just come across this newspaper article while researching my Keatley line.
You may find it interesting

Ventnor, Isle of Wight - Keatley's Ventnor Hotel (late ???? ???) - This most desirable hotel, in immediate conexion with Yelfs Hotel Ryde, having been considerably enlarged, is now replete with every comfort and ready for the reception of visitors to this romantic and delightful Watering Place. The lawns and pleasure gardens surrounding the house are extensive and the hotel is situated at the western extreme of Ventnor in the most sheltered part of the Undercliffe. The proprietors beg to announce that Families may be provided with private appartments and boarded on reasonable terms and that a spacious coffee room offers to tourists and gentlemen every convenience during their sujourn. Communications to and from London by coach, steamer and railroad in eight hours. Choice win, spirits, ales porters etc. Carriages and post-horses. An engraving of the above delightful hotel may be seen at the above office.
I'm intrigued by the connection between the two hotels, especially as they are not even in the same town!

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tracing members of the Yelf family

Dear Clive
Thank you for maintaining the valuable blog page on the Yelf Family. Here is an update for the family history.

My Mother Eileen Joyce Yelf died recently in Torquay hospital, Devon, on the 22 October 2008. I flew over from Australia and was holding her hand at that time. She was 86 years old.
We have buried her with ceremony and dignity at St Mary's Parish Church, Dartington, near Totnes Devon on the 1 October 2008. She is buried next to her husband (my father) Jack Dallin Yelf who died in 2003. They were married for 54 years, and had three children: Sarah Jill , Heather Joy and Richard Jack (in that order).
The "Order of service" and eulogies are attached. We have recorded both her service and also my fathers previous funeral service digitally onto CD. It contains a lot of interesting information about their very varied lives in Africa, Fiji and Arabia, before returning to England. We can make this available on CD (or possibly mp3 or wav files) as downloadable file if required, or send you a copy on CD.
Our parents have left me some high quality family portraits of our ancestors dating from around the early - mid-1800's.
We would like to identify and place these ancestors within the family tree. I believe they may come from Dorothea Yelf (nee Le Cren) side of the family, but am not sure. She married Francis William Yelf, who was head of Llyods Bank during WW2 and a close personal friend of Winston Churchill. I have some personal papers from Winston Churchill given to my grandfather F.W. Yelf which would be interesting for the archives. F.W. Yelf had 3 children: Jack Dallin Yelf (my father), Robert Lawrence Yelf and Margaret (Meg) Bembridge (nee Yelf).
Please would you kindly assist to identify the portraits ? I will photograph them and send you digital copies with included notes..

Richard Yelf

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yelf Births 1830-1860

A good few years ago I found myself between jobs and took the opportunity to spend the time researching the Yelfs at the old St Catherine's House. I can't guarantee the results were 100% correct, that I haven't missed any or that everything was transcribed correctly but they may be of use to those doing a little research of their own. The records were broken down in quarters as indicated. These are all YELF records unless otherwise noted. Remember the registers were started in 1837 but took a while for everyone to comply so there may be gaps. And finally, there will be more to follow...
  • 1837 Sept: CLARA WHEELER (IOW)
  • 1838 Mar: CLARA (IOW)
  • 1838 Sept: ALFRED (IOW)
  • 1839 Sept: EMILY BROOKS (IOW)
  • 1840 Mar: WILLIAM (IOW)
  • 1840 Jun: MARY ANN (READING)
  • 1841 Jun: SARAH LOUISE (IOW)
  • 1841 Sept: KATE CRESSWELL (IOW)
  • 1842 Mar: EMMA (IOW)
  • 1842 Jun: SARAH JANE (WINDSOR)
  • 1843 Sept: 'MALE' (STH. STONEHAM)
  • 1844 Sept: MARY JANE (STH. STONEHAM)
  • 1845 Mar: FANNY (IOW)
  • 1847 Jun: JOSEPH (IOW)
  • 1849 Sept: FANNY NUNN (IOW)
  • 1849 Sept: GEORGE (IOW)
  • 1850 Dec: HARRY HAUGHTON (IOW)
  • 1850 Dec: ROBERT (IOW)
  • 1852 Mar: ELLEN (IOW)
  • 1852 Mar: HELEN (STH. STONEHAM)
  • 1855 Dec: ERNEST CHARLES (IOW)
  • 1856 Dec: JANE ( RADFORD)
  • 1857 Jun: GERTRUDE ALICE (IOW)
  • 1859 Mar: BLANCHE EMILY (IOW)
  • 1860 Mar: ELIZA MARY HOLME (IOW)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yelf Bottle top

Well it's been a while since my last post, but put that down to a lack of new items coming in and an absorption with my 'Faded London' website, which takes up quite a chunk of my available time. However a nice little item came up recently on ebay. This was for a Yelf beer bottle top, something that wouldn't only be interesting on its own merits, but because I happen to own a couple of top-less Yelf beer-bottles myself!

£2.99 and a week or so later here it is perched at a jaunty angle on it's new home.

I think that brewing some beer and bottling up with this old relic might be taking it a bit far, but it's certainly nice to have the two back together again.

Of course I didn't buy it on its own - some other Isle of Wight bottle tops came along with it
The breweries represented are
The Ventnor Brewery
Dear & Morgan - Cowes
F. Saunders - Shanklin
Henry Adams - Ryde
Randall & Co - Ryde
I suppose my other Yelf Beer bottle will have to make do with an inferior stopper for the meantime, but the vendor mentioned another exciting object to keep my eyes open for "I have a... stoneware stout bottle from Yelfs. Very collectable..." Eyes peeled then!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Death of a Yelf

Dear Clive,

It is with deep sorrow that I announce the death of Eileen 'Joyce' Yelf, wife of the late Jack Dallin Yelf.
She died at 8am on Monday, 22nd September 2008 in Torbay Hospital, Torquay, Devon. Her family were at her side when she died. She was a generous kind hearted woman, who will be sadly missed, but not forgotten.

Anje Yelf

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"A Norwich House" by Harold Flemming Yelf

Another interesting acquisition from Ebay this week consists of a grey-scale water colour signed by H.F. Yelf. This would seem to be the work of Harold 'Harry' Flemming YELF an Isle of Wight Yelf who settled down as an architect in Norwich.

Harold was born on 14th March 1834 on the Isle of Wight - probably at Newport as he was one of six children born to William Wheeler YELF and his wife Jane (nee OUTRIDGE). You might recall the unfortunate demise of his father from earlier posts on here and as his brother William Richard YELF took over what must have been a business in trouble, 'Harry' might have found it politic to make a clean start far away from any lingering scandal. He married Ann BERRY at St George's, Hanover Square London had a total of seven children in all before dying in 1895 at the age of sixty in Norwich.

The item was originally listed as being by W.F. YELF, and at first glance it does look a little like a W, as you can see in the picture below.

Harry seems to
have been a pretty successful architect and his company Searle, Son & Yelf were commissioned for many buildings, including churches and the Holloway Workhouse! Altogether a very nice item to pick up and I just have to see about getting it framed now...

Friday, July 4, 2008

A Victorian Adventure - A Yelf and the Second Burmese War

You would think that as most Yelfs were to be found in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (not much more than a cannon-shot from the important naval centres of Southampton and Portsmouth) that there would be a strong nautical tradition running through the family. Not really, so it seems. There was certainly James Yelf, who served and died on a ship later to become one of Nelson's early commands , but he seems to be an exception rather than the rule. So I was intrigued then to come across a reference to a 'Midshipman Yelf' serving during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. I must admit that this wasn't a conflict that I was particularly aware of (which puts it on a par with the First and Third Anglo-Burmese Wars if I'm being honest) but with my curiosity pricked, I set about trying to identify the Yelf concerned.

The original 'tip-off' came from an account that mentioned the Midshipman Yelf serving aboard a ship called the Sesostris - a very Egyptian name for an ship and even more interesting because it turned out that the Sesostris wasn't actually part of the Royal Navy! She was, in fact, part of a unit that was the precursor to the current Indian Navy, a force originally called The Bombay Marine, and whose origins were to be found in the 17th century as a local nautical force set up to guard English trading ships around the coast of India. Their main role was to protect ships from privateers, local pirates and enemy (French and Dutch) frigates. Quite an exotic posting for a Hampshire boy...

I set about doing some passive research (in other words just at the computer) and came across some extracts from a very useful publication called Allen's Indian Mail which detailed all the comings and going's between Britain and India. One entry was particularly interesting
Bombay Estab- Mr Alfred Cresswell Crawley,
appointed volunteer for the Indian Navy
Mr William Tyner Tayleor, do. do.
Mr Alfred Yelf do. do.
Mr Alexander John Clarke do. do.
So now we know we are looking for an Alfred Yelf, which narrows it down a bit. Later on we can then see that the East India Register of 1850 gives the starting date of Alfred's commission as being the 24th of February 1849, which is confirmed later on in Allen's Indian Mail as it provides the following information about embarkations to the sub-continent
To rank from the date of the sailing from Gravesend of the ships by which they proceeded and in the following order viz. ---
Joseph Timpson, per Swithamley sailed 24th February 1849
Robert George Hurlock ditto ditto
Morgan Price Smith Tozer ditto ditto
Alfred Yelf ditto ditto
There's really only one Yelf that I'm aware of that this could be although I seem to have two possible dates of birth for him! I believe he was the son of Robert YELF and Sarah MEW of Yelf's Hotel fame. The two dates I have for him are 15th December 1833 and 7th December 1835 but both of them agree he was born in Ryde on the Isle of Wight and was the brother of Leonard Keatley Yelf and Frederick Steane Yelf amongst others. My records have very little information other than his appearance on the 1841 Ryde census - no later marriage and no death details, so I am wondering if it was possible that Alfred never returned from his adventure?

As Allen's Indian Mail was an annual publication it very conveniently also records the date of arrival in India as being the 13th June 1849, nearly four months later. It wasn't long before Alfred found himself assigned to the steam frigate Sesostris, a new, modern type of ship that had both steam powered paddle wheels as well as sails. I haven't been able to find a picture of the Sesostris herself but I imagine she must have looked something like HMS Valorous, a steam-frigate of of the Royal Navy, below
Sesostris and several other ships like her had been chosen as the best types upon which to base what was in essence an Indian navy, officered by Britons but crewed by Indians. With a combination of steam-powered paddles as well as sails she would be able to work her way up many of the large river deltas to be found in the region and was also to be used for troop transport, as a military tug and , in times of peace, even to carry despatches, supplies and passengers. In fact she was eventually to serve as far from Bombay as New Zealand and proved her value in many actions such as the First Anglo-Chinese War before being decommissioned in 1859.

An idea of her armament and size can be seen in a report to the the London Gazette of July 20th 1852 under the heading
A list of the naval force commanded by Commodore G.R. Lambert in the action and capture at the city of Bassein on the 19th May 1852 [the list of ships includes the Sesostris]
East India Company's Steam Frigate Sesostris, Commander C.D. Campbell I.N., - two 8-inch, two 32-pounders, two 12-pounders; total 6 guns. Officers and crew 168
I found an excellent website dedicated to the history and the various sources of information available about the Bombay Marine and the Indian Navy, compiled by Len Barnet, a naval historian. This is a real treasure trove and a fascinating read for anyone interested in colonial naval development.

Alfred's arrival was also recorded in Allen's Indian Mail with a premptory note that 'Yelf, Volunt. Ar. June 13'. Soon after he would have joined the Sesostris as Midshipman and had a couple of years to become an established member of the crew before the Second Anglo-Burmese War of 1852 broke out.

For the role that the Sesostris played in the conflict - and by extention Alfred - you have to look at The Second Burmese War: An Narrative of the Operations at Rangoon in 1852 by William F. B. Laurie Lieut., Madras Artillery

She started being kitted kitted out as a troop carrier with her sister steamers
21st of February orders were received in Bombay from the Governor General for all the war steamers that could be spared to be sent to Rangoon without a moment

Following some hard fighting the campaign reached a successful conclusion and the appendix records the crew of the steam frigate.
Sesostris Commander CD Campbell I N Lieutenants Lewis Davis and Windus Surgeon Wright Assistant Surgeon Crawford Purser Gibbon Pro Mate Lamb Messrs Dawson Turner Yelf and Capel Midshipmen ARMAMENT Two 8 inch guns two 32 pr mediums and three boats guns
The real question though, is what became of Alfred? Did he stay abroad and marry? Did he die of disease or illness? Why did he decide on a career in the Indian Navy in the first place? It looks as though there may be some information available on various returns held at the Public Record Office so with luck and a following wind it may be possible to find out a little more about this particular colonial adventurer!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Erotic Yelfs in Fiction

Well there aren't that many to be honest, but there is at least one! I was looking through Google Books for any new references when I was slightly surprised to find a reference to a Yelf in an anthology of American Erotic stories called Best Fetish Erotica. The editor is Cara Bruce and the snippet that caught my eye was a reference to one of the heroines who
... lost her virginity to a sixty year old director, a vicious genius named Max Yelf the director of a troupe called Dollsbody. Yelf's mission was to drag theatre off the stage and into the streets...
I think it's probably safe to assume that the sort of theatre Max Yelf had in mind wasn't Shakespeare or Chekov and possibly of a more burlesque character, but it will be interesting to see how well he succeeded.

From a family history point of view the choice of the name is quite interesting. This is an American anthology and there were few if any American Yelf's that might have served as a template. The Yelf name had turned up in earlier American fiction (mainly in the Kellog 'Ark Island' series of children's novels mentioned in a previous post) and there are some Canadian Yelf's of course, but I wonder if the choice of name was arbitrary - in that the author 'made it up' or whether there is some other family connection? All very intriguing...

The only course of action for me is to purchase the anthology, read the story and do my best to contact the author to see what information they can impart. Any responses I eventually obtain will, of course, appear on here but if you'll excuse me I have a collection of Erotic stories to purchase (Well it's a chore. but someone has to do it and research can be hell)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Yelfs and the History of Television

You might think this would be an article featuring all those Yelf's who have appeared in Big Brother or The Apprentice or even Ready Steady Cook!, but no this is much more worthy than all that (though such a list might be fun). This is a tantalizing snippet of information worthy of further investigation, either by myself or anyone out there who would like to pick this one up and run with it.

If you had to compile a list of the most influential developments of the 20th century I suspect television would be up there with the Contraceptive Pill, the Teenager and the Atom Bomb. It's quite heartening to discover then that a Yelf was involved on the cutting edge of at least one of these!

Jack Robert Yelf was born in Hitchin in 1884. The son of Edward George Yelf the 1891 census has the family living in Wiltshire but I'm not sure what line of business Edward was in nor much of the early life of his son. The first concrete records I have relate to Jack's service in the First World War and the Medal Rolls of Honour
YELF Jack Robert R.E./ Comm. & Staff - Lieut./Capt./Maj./Lt. Col. Victory Star, British War Medal/1914-1915 Star
It looks from this as though Jack was in the Royal Engineers and rose from a Lieutenant up to a Lieutenant-Colonel during the course of the war. It was this engineering background that seems to provide a key to Jack's interests, initially in radio and later with the embryonic science of television. At the moment I have no indication as to how these interests develop, but by 1926 he is championing the cause of the new medium. I found a 1926 reference to Jack in a booksellers catalogue
Experimental Wireless and the Wireless Engineer A Journal of Radio Research & Progress. 1926 Vol.3 Jan -Dec
Includes articles on Television, a paper by Mr J.L. Baird read by Lt. Col. J. Yelf before the Radio Society of Great Britain on Tuesday 26th October 1926.
However, at £85 the book was a little beyond my price range so I couldn't tell what it was he was explaining but as Mr Baird had just delivered the world's first public broadcast of a television image you could make a reasonable guess. Jack Yelf seems to have been an early proponent and champion of the new technology, despite the initial skepticism of the BBC.

In his book John Logie Baird: Television Pioneer the author R. W. Burns noted that Baird gave a talk to the British Association meeting at Leeds.
During the vote of thanks WGW Mitchell, a member of the BA, suggested that a ‘Television Society’ should be formed. This was seconded by Lt. Col. J.R. Yelf, another BA member and was supported by the chairman of the meeting, Dr Tierney. At a subsequent informal meeting the 45 signatories to the proposal became the founder members of the Television Society of Great Britain, set up ‘to form a common meeting ground for the assistance of the amateurs need for lectures and for professional research workers and others interested in the progress of television’….Lord Haldane of Cloan...agreed to become the society’s first president.
At the same meeting Lt. Col JR Yelf was elected as a member of the founding council and I have seen reference to a magazine article that has 'portraits' of some of these early members, including Jack. All I have to do now is to hunt it down!

The society became the Royal Society for Television in the 1960's and is still in existence today. I found it's website and it's good to see that they have an active archivist who might well be able to provide me with more background to their creation. Of course if anyone else has some knowledge of Jack apart from his pioneering promotion of television I'd be very grateful to hear it but now it looks like Yelfs and television will be an ongoing piece of research...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Arrival of a new Yelf!

As there are precious few of us around (under 100 in the last UK census) it's always a pleasure to hear of the birth of any new Yelfs. Doubly so if they happen to be my nephew!
So welcome then Albert Yelf, delivered quickly and safely at 3pm this morning and weighing in at a healthy 7 1/2lb. Mother and baby doing fine and my brother as pleased as punch. At this rate, and with a bit of luck, we may still have Yelfs into the next century. And, following in the great Yelf tradition, one of his middle names is Amor!

Monday, March 17, 2008

William Wheeler Yelf - Supplemental

It's strange how these things go.... a few weeks ago I had just finished my last little piece on William Wheeler Yelf and was thinking of the next Yelf item to post about when something popped up on ebay. It was a copy of the Illustrated London News dated Saturday April 23rd 1853 an although its lead story was Mr Gladstone's budget (an increase in the duty on Scotch and Irish whiskies was in the offing), what caught my eye was a story from the provinces entitled Defalcations at a Savings Bank, Newport. It was, of course about poor old William Wheeler Yelf whose crimes had hit the big time of the London weeklies!

It took a while but following a frantic bid I obtained the newspaper for a total of £14.99 and I was happy to find that it had arrived today. It was quite strange to think that I was reading a paper produced at the same time as William Yelf's trial - a real piece of Yelf history and an incredible co-incidence that it should appear for sale when it did. Anyway, the piece itself is scanned in below but for those that can't be bothered clicking on the picture for a closer look I have transcribed the full text.

DEFALCATIONS AT A SAVINGS BANK, NEWPORT - On Tuesday week an inquiry was instituted respecting the deficiencies at the savings-bank. It appears that the accounts at the bank had been kept in the most careless manner and that the accused (Yelf) who is the actuary, must have commenced his dishonest practices as early as 1839. It was then that he first presented a false cheque for £150 and since that period many such-like memoranda have been used by him. Large sums of money must have been extracted from the deposits by Yelf as there is a deficiency existing of £8276 16s 3d. On Monday he made a full confession of his guilt, and has expressed a desire to render every assistance in making the necessary inquiries. One great source of regret is, that, from the great loss of which stock of not more than £60,000 has experienced, a reduction of nearly 25 per cent will take place in the value of each person's investment.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

William Wheeler Yelf - One Man's Downfall Part 3

Convicted of fraud, sentenced to transportation and lucky to escape execution - William Wheeler Yelf must have felt himself at the lowest possible ebb as he was removed from his family and taken up to London to await transportation. What is interesting is that his printing business seems to have carried on unaffected. Certainly there is no mention of a crisis in 'Printers Pride' and as was seen, the business eventually passed smoothly on to Richard Yelf. Had the Bank recouped all it's losses? Did they take pity on the innocent members of the family? We don't know, but for William, with his health failing, being placed in prison must have been the last straw. Millbank prison, on the bank of the Thames, was the point of embarkation for those sentenced to transportation. Charles Dickens noted in his Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879

Millbank Prison stands on the river bank, near Vauxhall-bridge. It is built on Benthams “Panopticon” plan, six different buildings radiating from a common centre. The building is intended to hold 1,000 prisoners, and cost half-a-million, which, with ground rent, &c., represents an outlay per head for rent, &c, of about £50 per annum, or, as the prison is rarely more than half full, practically not far short of £100. Prisoners pass through here from Newgate and elsewhere as the first stage of “penal servitude,” and the discipline is somewhat severe. Orders to view from Home Secretary, or Directors of Convict Prisons, 44 Parliament-street, S.W. NEAREST Railway Station, Vauxhall; Omnibus Routes, Vauxhall-bridge-road and Palace-road ; Cab Rank, Vauxhall-bridge.

The site of the prison is now covered by the Tate Gallery, but the small steps, especially designed for prisoners in leg-irons, are still visible leading down to the river bank. Incarceration in such dismal surroundings must have taken its toll and sickness eventually overcame William. Before he could be transported he died in Prison on 9th March 1854, nine months after he was convicted. His death certificate states that he died of bronchitis and disease of the heart. I've no idea where he was buried, but it seems the family were able to 'gloss over' this unfortunate episode and the overstamping of William Richards initials on his father's might have been a strong symbolic act. News of his final demise was noted in a curt report in the 'Bankers Magazine and Journal of the Money Market' of 1854.

ISLE OF WIGHT SAVINGS BANK - Yelf, the fraudulent Isle of Wight actuary, died at the Millbank Penitentiary in the early part of March

William Wheeler Yelf - One Man's Downfall Part 2

For many years it seems William Wheeler Yelf and his business prospered. He was a respected member of Newport society and a leading light in the Methodist church as well as holding a number of other prestigious posts, including the secretaryship of the local Building Society. But it seems that the Building Society had an uneasy suspicion that something wasn't right. It might have been a strange entry in the ledger, or an unusually large number of transactions, whatever it was they knew that something wasn't right. In George Robb's book 'White Collar Crime in Modern England' he notes that
The trustees ... allowed Yelf, a Wesleyan preacher, to inspect the books, which he invariably found sound.
It's not clear what transpired, but the bank were obviously not convinced and took further action. The Isle of Wight Observer of 23rd April 1853 carried an item that would no doubt have caused gossip amongst the middle class of Newport

BOROUGH SESSIONS - William Wheeler Yelf, printer, bookbinder, secretary to the Isle of Wight Savings Bank and stamp distributor, was charged with fraud and embezzlement. J. Eldridge Esq., one of the directors of the Savings Bank, prosecuted and J.H. Hearn Esq. defended.
The prisoner filled a respectable position in society - the Directors had placed implicit confidence in him - he had made gross alterations to the balance sheet from 1838 to 1849.
A letter from W. W. Yelf to Mr George Kirkpatrick, trustee of the savings bank, dated 16th April 1853, was read out "...he had to reveal the secret that was destroying his health...In a moment of sudden and great pecuniary embarrassment led to the downward path of ruin...sincerely repented...have told my wife and son and mother in law, Mrs Outridge, have a bedroom, which I hope will be secured to them...the rest I freely yield up..."
£8, 276 16s 3d was the discrepancy in the balance sheet...he had placed a false cheque of £150 before the Trustees in 1839 [list of amounts taken]. Totalled £4,182 - it was supposed the rest was compound interest

The prisoner was remanded.
This was a not-so-small fortune in the 1840's and William was remanded in custody. His case was deliberated for over 5 hours before the decision was made and he was sent for full trial at the Winchester Assizes. The next report in the Observer was in the edition of 16th July 1853

HANTS SUMMER ASSIZES - William Wheeler Yelf, charged with committing fraud and embezzling the Isle of Wight Savings Bank of £4,182 over ten years, but the books show a discrepancy of £8,200
Yelf pleaded guilty.
Mr Sewell made an eloquent appeal for mitigating of punishment - the prisoner had given himself up etc.
Mr Baron Marten said he would be departing from his duty if he didn't inflict the most severe punishment - a few years ago he would have been executed.

Sentence - Transportation for Life
It looked as though a new life was beckoning William in Australia. Part three will look at what happened next...