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JOSEPH WOLFF (1795–1862)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 775 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOSEPH WOLFF (1795–1862), Jewish Christian missionary, was born at Weilersbach, near Bamberg, Germany, in 1795. His father became rabbi at Wurttemberg in 18o6, and sent his son to the Protestant lyceum at Stuttgart. He was converted to Christianity through reading the books of Johann Michael von Sailer, bishop of Regensburg, and was baptized in 1812 by the Benedictine abbot of Emaus, near Prague. Wolff was a keen Oriental scholar and pursued his studies at Tubingen and at Rome, where he was expelled from the Collegio di Propaganda in 1818 for attacking the doctrine of infallibility and criticizing his tutors. After a short stay in the monastery of the Redemptorists at Val Sainte near Fribourg, he went to London, entered the Anglican Church, and resumed his Oriental and theological studies at Cambridge. In 1821 he began his missionary wanderings in the East by visiting Egypt, the Sinaitic peninsula, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Mesopotamia, Persia, Tiflis and the Crimea, returning to England in 1826, when Edward Irving introduced him to Lady Georgina Walpole, 6th daughter of Horatio Walpole, earl of Orford, whom he married in February 1827. In 1828 Wolff set out to search for the ten tribes, travelling through Anatolia, Armenia, Turkestan and Afghanistan to Simla and Calcutta, suffering many hardships but preaching with enthusiasm. He visited Madras, Pondicherry, Tinnevelly, Goa and Bombay, travelling home by Egypt and Malta. In 1836 he found Samuel Gobat in Abyssinia, took him to Jiddah, and him-self visited Yemen and Bombay, going on to the United States, where he was ordained deacon in 1837, and priest in 1838 In the same year he was given the rectory of Linthwaite in Yorkshire. In 1843 he went to Bokhara to seek two British officers, Lieut.-Colonel C. Stoddart and Captain A. Conolly, and narrowly escaped the death that had overtaken them; his Narrative of this mission went through seven editions between 1845 and 1852. In 1845 he was presented to the vicarage of Ile Brewers, Somerset, and was planning another great missionary tour when he died on the 2nd of May 1862. He published several Journals of his expeditions, especially Travels and Adventures of Joseph Wolff (2 vols., London, 186o). His son, SIR HENRY DRUMMOND WOLFF (1830-1908), was a well-known English diplomatist and Conservative politician, who started as a clerk in the foreign office and was created K.C.M.G. in 1862 for various services abroad. In 1874-188o he sat in parliament for Christchurch, and in 1880-1885 for Ports-mouth, being one of the group known as the " Fourth Party." In 1885 he went on a special mission to Constantinople in connexion with the Egyptian question, and as the result various awkward difficulties, hinging on the sultan's suzerainty, were got over. In 1888 he was sent as minister to Teheran, and from 1892 to 1900 was ambassador at Madrid. He died on the 11th of October 1908. Sir Henry was a notable raconteur, and he did good service to the Conservative party by helping to found the Primrose League. He was created G.C.M.G. in 1878 and G.C.B. in 1889.
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