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Mary Ellen Wolfe



Well the Virgin Mary and/or Mary Magdalene of course are sort of the source for this name. It's a Hebrew name  and shares the same root as Miriam which originally meant 'bitter' then evolved through' 'bitterly' to 'bitterly wanted child'. The original version of Mary was Mara which meant 'bitterness'.  Not that popular today although sometimes used as a second name, it is, of course, one of the most popular names in history.   This Mary's mother's name was Maria but her older sister had already taken this.  She was probably named for her paternal grandmother.


Maria, Marie, May, Mair, and heaps of others.


Why would you abbreviate Mary?  My baby name book lists heaps but I suspect not many Marys have nicknames.



Scottish form of Helen meaning ‘light’.  I cannot find any other Ellens in her family tree.


Ellyn, Elena Elin, Eleni


Ellie, Elle

Mary Ellen Wolfe

c 18 June 1811 Westbourne

m James Tier 28 October 1835 Alverstoke

d 18 August 1878 Southsea



Elizabeth Wilson (1836-1922)

Ellen (1839-1874)

James (1840-1900)

Martha Jane (1842-1866)

Ann (1845-1931)

Charles Henry (1847-?)

William (1851-1872)

John (1854-1871)

Alfred (1856-?)

Caroline (1857-?)

Emily (1860-?)

Emma (1861-?)



Parish record of marriage

Death certificate

Censuses for 1841-1871

Birth certificate of Elizabeth Wilson

woman - mary ellen wolfe.jpg

I do not know who painted the above portrait, or indeed who it is, but she looks like the kind of strong but unassuming lady so typical of her age.  

From a long line of sailors and women who waited for them at home, she married a sailor herself, and spent the bulk of her life having children and caring for them in possibly straitened circumstances.  She is also, like the bulk of my mother's family from in and around Portsmouth. Indeed I suspect the bulk of the descendants are still there, although modern times hasve seen rather more movement of peoples around the world.

suspect there is not a lot to say about Mary Ellen, but this doesn't make her any the less remarkable.  12 children several of whom died before her for a start!


Before marriage

After marriage

The children



Mary Ellen Wolfe

Thomas Wolfe

Maria Harfield

James Tier

Elizabeth Wilson Tier

Emsworth and Warblington


Merchant seamen

Mary Ellen Wolfe

Before marriage

After marriage

The children

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