Harry RODLIFF (1874 - 1913)

  Rodliffe & Blomfield Roots & Branches ©2010-2017 Rosemary & Stan Rodliffe

St Columb to the City of London

Harry was the 4th of 6 sons of farmer William RODLIFFE and Betsey née CORNISH who lived at Talskiddy, St Columb Major in Cornwall. He was born in May 1874; his four year old sister Kate died later that year.

In 1891 he was still living with his parents at Rosedinnick and apprenticed to a draper, possibly one of the GATLEYs to whom older brother John Cornish RODLIFFE had been apprenticed. After completing his apprenticeship he followed in his brother's footsteps and went to work in London as a warehouseman. He lived in Chiswick.

Marriage to Lottie Mabel PROUT

Harry Rodliffe & Lottie Mabel Prout marriage 1900

Harry married Lottie Mabel PROUT in 1900 at St Paul's Meeting, Paul Street, Taunton, Somerset. Lottie had been born in 1881 at Plymouth, the daughter of John Cawse PROUT and Ada Spriggs née YERWARD. She had two sisters, Maud and Millie, and three brothers, Stanley, John Frederick and Francis Yerward. Francis was the first-born child of the family and he died in infancy. John Cawse PROUT was a master mariner who died aged 60 on 18th May, 1907 in Las Palmas, Canary Islands, after falling sick on board his ship, and was buried in the British Cemetery there. {Patricia Paterson née Prout}

Harry and Lottie were living at 79 Tabley Road Islington in London in 1901 although Lottie returned to Taunton for the birth of their son Cyril Harry in November that year. They lived in London for several more years but Harry was not faithful and abandoned Lottie and Cyril in early 1906 when he emigrated to Canada.

Harry returned from Canada in May 1908, arriving at Liverpool from Halifax Nova Scotia on board the Victorian (Allen Line). In The Times, Wednesday 14 October 1908, his undefended divorce from Lottie was reported. Lottie's petition was a catalogue of his infidelity:

  • He had "frequently committed adultery with divers women."
  • In December 1904 he had "knowingly wilfully and recklessly" infected her with a venereal disease.
  • About March 1906 he had deserted her and Cyril without cause for over two years.
  • In May 1908 he "frequently committed adultery with divers women in Cardiff."
  • On 26th May 1908 he "committed adultery with one Nora Preece at 32 Somerset Street Cardiff."

Harry departed nine days later on the Victorian from Liverpool bound for Quebec travelling 2nd class and recorded as a returned Canadian, occupation traveller.

New lives for Lottie & Cyril in South Africa

Lottie studied to be a midwife, took her examination on 9 February 1909 and her success was recorded in The British Journal of Nursing Supplement, 6 March 1909. In early September 1910 Lottie and Cyril left London for South Africa aboard Union Castle ship Galician travelling 3rd class, recorded as English with no occupation, unaccompanied by her husband and contracted to land at Cape Town.

Lottie, now recorded as a nurse, and Cyril returned to England in June 1911, arriving at Southampton from Durban South Africa on board Armdale Castle (Union-Castle Mail Steamship Co). I can find no record of Lottie's return to South Africa but Cyril stayed until September 1912 when he left London bound for South Africa on board Galician. At Barberton, South Africa, earlier that year Lottie had married John Thomas BROWN. Cyril must have been very unsettled following the abandonment by his father but following his return to South Africa he had a good education, built a career in South African Railways, umpired 1st class cricket matches, married and had children.

Second life and second wife in North America

(Annie) Evelyn PARRY was born in December 1883 at Caernarvon in Wales, daughter of Thomas Henry PARRY & Annie née THOMAS. At some time she emigrated to Canada, encountered Harry and married him at Maxville, Glengarry, Ontario in March 1909.

The, hopefully, happy couple returned to England in 1910, travelling 2nd class on the Tunisian and arriving at Liverpool on 13 November. In April the following year Harry, describing himself as a financial agent, was visiting his relatives at St Columb Major while boarding at the Red Lion Hotel in Fore Street. Meanwhile Annie was the guest of Melville Wesley JAMES and his wife at 58 Cambridge Street Paddington; another guest was A Wendell JACKSON a 56 year old engineer and financier born in the USA.

Harry and Evelyn left Liverpool on Tunisian in May 1911 for a nine day crossing to Montreal. On arrival Harry claimed that he had been living at Ottawa as a Canadian citizen for 6 years and they returned to their home in Ottawa in time to complete the June census return.

Only six months later in October 1911 Evelyn returned to England, travelling unaccompanied 1st class on the Minnewaska of Atlantic Transport Line and arriving at London from New York on 30 October. Whether her return was to visit a dying relative or because her relationship with Harry was deteriorating we will probably never know. She stayed until December that year when she embarked at Southampton on Oceanic for New York. She arrived with $55 in her pocket, was met by Harry and they headed for Michigan Alpena. On her immigration record she had given her next of kin in England as her friend Mrs G NEAME living at 7 Tisbury Road, Hove, Sussex, suggesting that she had no living close relatives in the UK.

Harry worked as a stock salesman (bonds and shares not cattle) from May 1911 to August 1912, visiting Ogdensberg, Alpena and Detroit all close to the border between the USA and Canada. His appearance was described on the forms as he sought entry into the US in August 1912: height 6ft ½ in, ruddy complexion, dark brown hair, partially bald and blue eyes. On this occasion he was headed for a rented house at 22 Seldon Street, Detroit.

Harry's last days spent in Cornwall

According to the City of Ottawa Tax Assessment and Collector Rolls for 1912 and 1913 Harry was resident at 228 Albert Street. In 1913 Evelyn was working as a dressmaker and living in rooms at 16 E. Willis Street, Detroit, Michigan. Whether or not they had separated by this time is unclear but sometime in late 1913 Harry returned alone to Cornwall where he died on Boxing Day 1913, in the County Asylum at Bodmin, age 39 and was buried at St Columb Major in grave number 1476 on 2 January 1914. Harry's lifestyle had finally caught up with him!

Evelyn's fate

On 8 Oct 1916 at Detroit Michigan, Evelyn married 39 year William G REID, a real estate salesman who had been born in Canada of an Irish father. In 1920 they were living at 24 Henry Street, Wayne, Michigan. The marriage was not blessed with children and lasted only until 1924 when Evelyn alleged that William had treated her with extreme cruelty and was granted a divorce. I have yet to track down her subsequent life.