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William Harfield Wolfe


William Harfield Wolfe

b 13 February 1826, Emsworth

m Elizabeth Wilson Tier 21 May 1858 Portsea

d ?



?Annie Tier 1856-1927

?Agnes Ellen Wolfe 1858-1938



Baptism record

Marriage certificate

Birth certificate of Agnes Ellen Wolfe

Sailing tickets



An extremely common name in the 19th century.  It is apparently Teutonic in origin meaning will and resolve, but was taken to England by the Normans as Guillaume.  Both of his grandfathers were called William.


Guillaume, Gwilym, Wilhelm


Bill, Will, Wills is a current version.




A place name and his mother’s maiden name


Harford, Hafford, Hereford, Hareford.



I’m not sure whether William Harfield Wolfe is a direct ancestor or not.  Theoretically he is the father of Annie Tier, my maternal great-grandmother, but this is by no means a sure thing.  We have yet to find her birth certificate, and besides, as we know from other lives, what you read on a birth certificate as to parentage is not necessarily true.  She does not name a father on her marriage certificate.  Whether he was her father or not, she was illegitimate, but he did marry her mother - though how he did this is still a mystery to me, as his wife was his niece!  So in any case he is part of the family, so I present his story.


William, like most of the men in Emsworth and Warblington - small seaside villages near Portsmouth in Hampshire, was a sailor.  He was not in the Royal Navy like his father, which is interesting in itself, but a merchant sailor - mate of a coasting vessel.  We have found a few details about his sailing life, but basically we have no idea what happened to him after his marriage.  He disappears.  I am still trying to find out what happened to him. A very tantalising figure on the Ellis side of the family.


The portrait I have chosen is by Matisse and is of an anonymous, rather bored, and sulky looking young sailor.  Not really how I think of William Harfield Wolfe, though what would I know?  But it is, of course - being Matisse - a striking portrait, so I’ll keep it as the stand-in for this enigmatic ancestor  And, because of his profession and where he spent his childhood, there are lots of beautiful paintings with which to illustrate his story.  For example, just feed Monet and boats into Google’s image search and be amazed by the quantity of glorious paintings that appear on your screen.

I have not given links to a Children page.  I am really unsure that the two girls involved are actually his.  If you wish to know more about them, go to the page on their mother's Children page.

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