Resident of the Month


Emma Rolfe H0478


Emma Rolfe was born Emma Samson in 1844 Her father was a Master Mariner and as a child Emma lived in Checker Street with her mother and three siblings; John presumably was away at sea. He died when Emma was still quite young and her mother Anna moved to New Conduit Street where she worked as a dressmaker and took in lodgers. Emma went to live with her uncle’s family on London Road. Uncle Thomas ran the brewery which was next to the Queen’s Head pub, the brewery was out the back and the family lived in the house on the road.

Emma married John Jex Rolfe on Christmas Day 1866 at All Saints.  His family were bootmakers but he worked as a cork cutter until he became a brewer possibly through an introduction to or by Emma’s Uncle Thomas. The young couple lived  on Coronation Square which was around All Saints. They lived with Emma’s mother who was still taking in lodgers. In the first five years of marriage Emma had had four pregnancies that we know of. Her daughter Edith born in 1868 and still living, daughter Jesse E0001 born in 1869 who lived only a few months and two stillborn babies who arrived within ten months of each other in 1870. E0151 and E557.

By 1881 John Jex had become a master brewer so the family was able to move to London Road and employ two servants.  The Rolfe’s had three children, sadly Edith, the little daughter who was living at Coronation Square, died in 1878 H0482 aged 10 and another daughter, Emma, died in 1872 aged only one hour L0120. Emma’s youngest child was Horace. As his three siblings were all several years older and Emma had lost so many little ones Horace was probably the much loved “baby” of the family. Sadly misfortune continued to stalk Emma’s children and Grace died in 1892 at the age of 14 H0534; Winnie however, married Dr Allen Saunders on 26th August 1897 and Horace started training as a medical student.

Horace, the trainee doctor, moved to Lowestoft in Suffolk. His parents, having sold the brewery, moved there probably to be near him.  In 1907 Horace died, it must have been a huge blow for Emma and John Jex. On the 1911 census it says that  JJ and Emma had been married for 44 years and  had only two surviving children – Winnie and Ernest. Emma died in 1918 on a visit to Winnie in Maida Vale.  John Jex died in 1922 on a visit to Ernest’s family in Handsworth.


Emma’s cross in section H is one of the monuments restored with HLF funding.