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Elizabeth Wilson Tier  The children

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Elizabeth Wilson Tier +

William Harfield Wolfe?

Henry James Tee

Elizabeth Wilson Tier had two sets of children - the second being entirely legitimate and with a known father, the first two having unknown fathers really, even though the second was born in wedlock.  The gap between the two families was twelve years, so it is difficult to know how they worked as a family.  The two older girls, after all, had probably left home to work very soon after Elizabeth’s second family began.

Annie is my great-grandmother and her story is told here.  Suffice to say that her surname is her mother’s because we do not really know who her father is.  Even on her marriage certificate she isn’t saying - or perhaps she just didn’t know.

Agnes was baptised as Agnes Ellen Wolfe because by the time she was born her mother Elizabeth was married to William Harfield Wolfe (Elizabeth’s uncle).  She was born just four months after her mother’s marriage, so had obviously been conceived out of wedlock.  Whether her father was William, her future stepfather, Henry James Tee, somebody else completely, or even the same father as for her older sister Annie, we shall probably never know.  I do not have her marriage certificate, but must get it as it may give more information.


Whoever her father was, her titular father, a merchant seaman, was probably not at home much and so her mother, now ‘respectably’ married to Henry James Tee would have been able to spend some time with the two children, in between all the household chores of course, and maybe some dressmaking to earn extra money as well.  However, although the 1871 census has her with the surname of her stepfather, this is the only instance of her being called Tee.  In 1881 and when she married she gives the name Wolfe.


Anyway, initially she only had to share her mother with her sister Annie, and then on her mother’s second marriage she had to share her with three more children and most likely share the mothering.  Interestingly she called one of her own children Ada - maybe after her little sister Ada, so let us assume that they were fond of each other.  


Like her mother, she was a dressmaker, and maybe worked with her mother.  At the age of 22, however, she married George Richard Stickland who was two years older than she and a blacksmith, which, I think is a relatively well-paid trade.  Certainly more reliable than a sailor anyway.  The couple had five children as far as I can tell - three boys and two girls, and continued to live in Portsmouth.  But alas for Agnes, her husband died in 1909 at the age of fifty three, leaving Agnes alone like so many women of her time.  The youngest child, the aforesaid Ada would have been nineteen.  The family stayed together though, for in 1911, Agnes is still living with four of her children with Frank, the firstborn, having married and been transferred to Shropshire as a customs officer.  I found marriages for all of the remaining children, except the last, Ada, in the next few years, so whether Agnes lived with one or several from time to time until her death in 1938 I do not know.  It’s a long time to be on her own - some thirty years, although I guess that she continued working as a dressmaker for at least some of that time.  No occupation is given in the 1911 census, so maybe she just acted as housekeeper and also as grandmother support, for her children.


An unexceptional life, other than her first years and her parentage.  But maybe her family knows more.  Do get in touch.  Send us an email.

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Without sending for the birth and death certificate I have no real way of knowing that this is Elizabeth’s child - but I am guessing that she is because of the name - the same as Henry’s sister.  She was born in September, just over a year after the marriage, but tragically, died in December.  Another marriage with a tragic first baby.


There could be some others in between Rosina and Henry James, but there are a surprisingly large number of Tee babies born in Portsmouth in this time, and so it is impossible to tell.

Five years after the marriage, a healthy baby boy was born.  The five year gap between marriage and baby really makes me think that there must have been at least one other beside Rosina who died.


He was named for his father and mother’s father and grew to be a shipwright, no doubt in the naval dockyards, where eventually he rose to be an inspector of shipwrights.  The image at left is of the preparation for launch by shipwrights, of HMS Bellerophon in 1900.  Henry, may well have supervised such operations.  At the age of twenty three he married Helen Fisher.  The year was 1893 and in 1896 their only child, Ada Lydia L. Gwendolyn was born.  But Helen must have died, although I cannot find a death, as in 1906 he married Ada Louisa Knight, also widowed and with one daughter.  There do not appear to have been any children from this marriage, although they were both still of an age to be able to have some.  I also do not know whether she outlived Henry, who died in 1933 at the age of sixty two.

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By the age of 18 Herbert, Elizabeth’s second son, is described as a consumptive.  The year is 1891, he is living with his mother, now a widow/dressmaker, his shipwright older brother and his young sister.  The fact that consumptive is written beside his name, is perhaps to explain why he has no job.  Impossible to tell whether he had always been sickly, or whether he had contracted the disease around this time.  He did not die for another five years, one presumes from TB, so he must have been ill for a long time.  No doubt Elizabeth cared for him for this time.  I doubt he would have had very extensive treatment and he died in Portsmouth somewhere, so wasn’t sent away to a country sanatorium - but then I guess Portsmouth was by the sea and therefore deemed a good place for people suffering with TB.  It was a virtual epidemic of the time.  At least he escaped having to serve in World War 1.


You have to wonder about the logic of naming of children in this family.  Some names are obviously traditional, some not.  But why give some children just one name and others two, or in this case, three?  Whatever the reason, Ada was destined to be the baby of the family.  I have the appropriate records - census, marriage index reference, but they don’t tell me much.  She married Harry Philpot, a draughtsman in the naval dockyard - yet again demonstrating how Portsmouth is dominated by the presence of this institution.  There was only one child - Mabel Ada, born in 1902.  Sometime between then and the next census in 1911, the family moved to Catford in South London, but Harry was still working as a draughtsman for the Admiralty.  Ada died in 1922 at the young age of 47.  I do not know why she died.  Maybe there are descendants who know more about her.

This second family does not seem to be quite as sturdy as the first.  Maybe it is just coincidence, maybe it’s the genes, who knows.


Before marriage

Marriage no.1

Marriage no.2

After marriage

The children


Elizabeth Wilson Tier

James Tier

Mary Ellen Wolfe

William Harfield Wolfe

Annie Tier

Emsworth and Warblington


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