Family Pages - ROLF, Minnie Jane

My grandmother Minnie Jane ROLF was born on 6th November 1879 at The Terrace, Rookley. She was the second child of Frederick ROLF (1856-1921) of Northwood and Jane née WHITEWOOD (1850-1919) of Newbridge. My grandmother was baptised on 6th November 1879 in Newport regrettably I do not know the venue. My grandmother had an elder sister Rose Anne (1878-1938), a younger sister Amy Ruth (1882-1959), a younger brother James Edward (1886-1962), a younger brother William George (1889-1936) and a younger sister Ada May (1894-1968).

The 1881 census lists the ROLF family living in The Terrace, Rookley; Frederick (head) occupation general labourer, Jane (wife), Rose Anne (daughter) and Minnie Jane (daughter).

The 1891 census lists the ROLF family in Bunkers Lane, Rookley; Frederick (head), Jane (wife), Annie (daughter), Minnie (daughter), Amy (daughter), James (son) and William (son).

In the 1901 census my grandmother is listed as living as a servant at Bradley Lodge, Newport the home of the VIBERT family. Bradley Lodge used to stand to the south of Church Litten Cemetery, now a park. Litten comes from a Saxon word meaning cemetery. Bradley Lodge was originally called St Nicholas Villa named after the parish of St Nicholas in which it was situated. From the 1861 census the building was renamed Bradley Lodge. The VIBERT family are listed as occupants in the 1881 and 1891 censuses as well as the 1901 census. By the time the 1906-07 Ordnance Survey maps were produced the building had reverted to the name of St Nicholas Villa. During Word War II the building was badly affected by the bombing of the Gould, Hibberd and Randall lemonade factory on the east side of Church Litten Lane (Did the factory serve another purpose during the war?) and was demolished after the war.

In 1906 at St Paul's Church, Barton my grandmother married Lawrence Samuel PARDEY (1882-1953) of Newport the ninth of ten children of George PARDEY (1843-1912) of Lymington, Hampshire and Emily née DORE (1846-1940) of Yarmouth.

A year earlier my grandmother's sister Rose Anne had married my grandfather's elder brother Frederick Walter ROLF (1875-1946) of Yarmouth.

In 1907 in Newport my grandmother gave birth to her first of ten children Edward Lawrence (1907-1983). Her second child was born two years later, Arthur Douglas (1909-1975).

According to the 1911 census the family was living at 78 Caesar's Road, Newport where my grandmother remained for the rest of her life. Her eldest daughter was born in 1911 Elsie Minnie (1911-1994) she was called "Sis" by her siblings and to me she was "Aunty Sis." A second daughter was born Minnie Ruth (1915-1915) sadly she only lived for four days. Her third and youngest daughter was born in 1916 Doris May (1916-1987), my mother, followed by her twin brother Stanley Roy (1916-2000) was born. A standard comment made years later by my Uncle Roy was that my mother was twenty minutes older than him and that she never let him forget it. Three years later her fourth son was born Sidney Edgar (1919-1991) followed two years later by her fifth son Albert Gordon (1921-1978) and lastly her youngest son Cecil Donald (1924-2002).

My grandmother made sure that all of her sons took apprenticeships. My Uncle Ted went to work for a company called "Farmer's Trading" in Newport which years later became part of the SCATS Group (Southern Counties Agricultural Trading Services). My Uncle Arthur became a driver for the Shotter's Bus Company which later became part of Southern Vectis. My Uncle Roy became a master builder and went to work in the Gold Coast now Ghana. My Uncle Sid also became a builder. My Uncle Bert went to work at Saunders Roe in East Cowes and My Uncle Cecil went to work at Morey's the timber merchants in Newport.

My Aunt Elsie 'Sis' as far as I know just helped my grandmother around the house until she was married in 1939 at St Mary's Church, Carisbrooke to William Robert John 'Jack' HAYTER (1909-1994) of Brook. In 1933 at the age of 17 my mother (Doris May) was sent to live with her godmother in the Parkstone area of Poole, Dorset where she was to stay until 1940 when she joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). According to stories my mother later told me there used to be a tunnel which leads from her godmother's house to the coast that was used by smugglers.

During World War II all of my uncles served in the army except my Uncle Cecil who served in the Royal Navy he was a coxswain on one of the D-Day landing craft.

In 1949 I moved to the Island with my parents. Did someone say, "And the Island has never been the same since"? we lodged for a few months with my Aunt Sis and Uncle Jack in Cowes Road, Newport until we moved to Caesar's Road and then later to Whitepit Lane, Newport. One vivid memory I have of my grandfather is when I was about fours years old we were on a walk in the extensive grounds surrounding Carisbrooke Castle. I was walking very close to some undergrowth where an adder was resting and I would probably have been bitten had my grandfather not clobbered the adder with his walking stick. For the benefit of any overseas readers the adder is the only poisonous snake in Great Britain and its bite is not usually fatal unless the victim has some other medical condition.

My grandmother had fifteen grandchildren, fourteen of which lived to be adults some producing children of their own.

As she lived until I was twelve years old I have many happy memories of my grandmother whom if memory serves I saw at least once every week if not more frequently. My grandmother died on 17th April 1958 at her home in 78 Caesar's Road, Newport she was buried in the cemetery off Fairlee Road, Newport.

Peter Spencer : IWFHS Member : 2187 (Journal Editor)

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Peter Spencer