What Do We Know of the Wolfs?
Precious little actually!
My late mother, who was adopted as a baby by Joe Henry and Emily Clegg, must have at some point found out, presumably from the Cleggs, that her birth parents were Amy Alice Oakham and Ernst Wolf. She was also told that he was a musician and was Austrian (she wrote this information in her third born child’s ‘baby book’). My mother’s old school, Polam Hall in Darlington, gives her date of birth as 2nd February 1919, which matches the birth record and baptismal record of one Rose Amy Wolf. However, rather than Ernst, the few scant documents I have unearthed name him as Henry Wolf.
Here are copies of the supporting documents so far:
She knew of her birth parents by the time of her first marriage to Peter Grant as the following certificate confirms:
Her mother, Amy Alice Wolf (nee Oakham) remarried in 1922 to one Frederick Walker, naming herself as a widow:
From Amy Alice’s first marriage record, we find that Henry’s father was called Hubert and that he was a tailor. Henry gives his occupation as Hotel waiter (not that this means he wasn’t too a musician!) Henry is also documented as a Waiter on the parish records of Rose Amy’s Baptism at St. Barnabas’ Church Pimlico.
So far we know that Henry Wolf was 22 when he married Amy Alice Oakham in 1913, thus giving us his birth year as 1891.
In summary then:
Henry (Heinrich) Wolf was born in 1891, married Amy Alice Oakham in 1913, had 3 daughters: Adeline W Wolf born in 1912, who adds an ‘e’ to her name on the electoral roll in the 1930’s, where she lives, still, at 11 St. Barnabas Street; Helene Bertha Wolf, born 1914, who married one Norman E Barnacle and died in 1989; they had one daughter Ann Barnacle in 1937 who married one Ronald A Edmonds and who died in 2005. And my mother, Rose Amy Wolf, born in 1919, was adopted, had her name changed to Rosemary Yolanda Clegg (nicknamed Mollie at school), who married 3 times and had 8 children, of which I am the youngest!
If anyone recognises any of these names and can throw any light upon what happened to Henry Wolf that forced his wife to hand over her baby, and what became of that babies two sisters; my aunts, and their children (if any), my cousins; I should be enormously grateful.
Since writing this blog in November (2013), I have discovered a census document, which, although doesn’t give his first name, is almost certainly him. The district (Pimlico), his age (19), his profession (waiter) all match.
I have also learnt, through contact with newly-discovered cousins, to whom I am immensely grateful and very eager to meet, that Henry Wolf was interned on the Isle of Man, as an ‘Enemy Alien’. His middle daughter, Helene (deceased) remembered his returning after the war. It is likely that he was then deported, ‘repatriated’ to Austria, as there was little appetite for sympathy towards the internees after the war with national newspapers, chiefly the Daily Express, demanding their deportation. These internees were held for a cruel further year after the war had ended while the tribunals were heard.
Most of the records from WW1 were held in London and were destroyed by fire during WW2 (the Blitz). The indexed cards of these records were destroyed by mistake in 1970! The International Red Cross have some records, though not in any form which means they can be easily searched, and I understand that they may search them for a fee. They facilitated the repatriation and may also have records of the vast number of internees who died during that time.
I am reliably informed by an Historian on the Isle of Man, that women in Amy Alice’s position, for whom divorce was unavailable (it being a luxury only the rich could afford), very often chose the title of ‘widow’.
How it was that he and Amy Alice conceived Rose Amy (summer of 1918) in order for her to have been born on 6th February 1919 I am yet to discover! There were instances of internees being released early on humanitarian grounds (ill-health), but it may never be possible to find out as the records have been lost/destroyed.
It does, at least, go some way in explaining why my mother was given up.
As for my part, I shall never rest until I have discovered what became of him, where he was born and who his mother was, at the very least! I may have to learn German and visit Austria!