Alfred Lennon
Office-boy, bellboy, Steward, Kitchen Porter, Dishwasher
Alfred Lennon
Alfred "Alf" Lennon was the father of English musician John Lennon. He spent many years in an orphanage—with his sister, Edith—after his father died. He was known as being very witty and musical throughout his life—he sang and played the banjo—but not as being very dependable. Although always known as Alf by his family, he later released a record as Freddie Lennon, and was quoted in newspapers under that name. He married Julia Stanley in 1938.
Biography
Alfred Lennon's personal information overview.
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Timeline
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    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1976
    Age 63
    By 1976, Alfred was diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer and Pauline contacted John via Apple Corps to make sure that he was aware that his father was dying.
    More Details Hide Details John sent a large bouquet of flowers to the hospital and phoned Alf on his deathbed, apologising for his (John's) past behaviour. In 1990, Pauline published a book called Daddy, Come Home, detailing her life with Alf and his meetings with John. Pauline later remarried, and is now known as Pauline Stone. "In My Life" is John's song about his youth in Liverpool. Alf replied to this song by releasing the single, "That's My Life", b/w “The Next Time You Feel Important”, in 1965. Although the main characters are fictional, some real people have been portrayed in the wartime sequences of the 1990s TV series Goodnight Sweetheart, including Alfred Lennon. A series of short animated films by Peter Bagge showed "Murry Wilson, Rock and Roll Dad" and had the father of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys collaborating with Michael Jackson's father Joe and "Freddy Lennon" (portrayed as an old man with horrible teeth).
  • FIFTIES
  • 1969
    Age 56
    Alf and Pauline moved to a flat in Bourne Court, London Road, Patcham (a suburb of Brighton) before moving to Ladies Mile Road, Brighton, in November 1969.
    More Details Hide Details Alf had two sons with Pauline: David Henry Lennon (February 26, 1969) and Robin Francis Lennon (October 22, 1973). Late in his life, Alf wrote a manuscript detailing his life story which he bequeathed to John. It was Alf's attempt to fill in the lost years when he had not been in contact with his son, and to explain that it was Julia, and not Alf, who had broken up their marriage. John later commented: "You know, all he wanted was for me to hear his side of the story, which I hadn't heard."
  • 1966
    Age 53
    In 1966, Alf asked John if he could give Pauline a job, so she was hired to help, looking after Julian Lennon and also the piles of fan mail.
    More Details Hide Details Pauline spent a few months living at Kenwood in the attic bedroom.
    Pauline had been an 18-year-old Exeter University student and a Rolling Stones fan when she met the 54-year-old Alf in 1966.
    More Details Hide Details Alf and Pauline grew tired of trying to convince Pauline's mother to allow them to marry, so they eloped and were married in Gretna Green, Scotland.
    In 1966 "Freddie Lennon" (the name under which Alf recorded) tried again, and issued three singles with the group Loving Kind.
    More Details Hide Details These records did not sell well, either. Though the public at large quickly forgot these attempts to cash in on his son's success with the Beatles, the records do command fairly high prices among collectors of rare records, with "That's My Life" being worth over £50. Three years after meeting John in the NEMS office, Alf (who was then 56 years old) turned up at Kenwood again, with his fiancee Pauline Jones.
  • 1965
    Age 52
    After Christmas, in 1965, John was embarrassed to hear that Alf had made a record: "That's My Life (My Love and My Home)", released on 31 December 1965.
    More Details Hide Details John asked Epstein to do anything he could to stop it being released or becoming a hit. The record never made it into the charts.
  • 1964
    Age 51
    When the Beatles were filming a scene for A Hard Day's Night in the Scala Theatre in Soho in April 1964, Alf walked into Brian Epstein's NEMS office in Argyle Street with a journalist. "I'm John Lennon's father", he explained to the receptionist.
    More Details Hide Details When Epstein was informed, he "went into a panic", and immediately sent a car to bring John to NEMS office. Alf was shabbily dressed, with his unkempt, thinning grey hair greased back. He stuck out his hand, but John did not take it, saying "What do you want?". Alf placated John somewhat by saying, "You can't turn your back on your family, no matter what they've done." Their conversation did not last long, as John soon ordered Alf and the journalist out of the NEMS office. The Beatles' personal stories were kept out of the newspapers — by agreement with journalists who were offered exclusive stories in return — but one day John opened a copy of the Daily Express and saw a photo of his father. A few weeks later, John's wife Cynthia opened the door of Kenwood (their home in Weybridge) to see a man who "looked like a tramp" but, alarmingly, with John's face. Cynthia invited Alf in, and gave him tea and cheese on toast until John came home, which he was expected to do in an hour or so. While waiting, Cynthia offered to cut Alf's "long, stringy locks" of hair, which he allowed her to do. After waiting for a couple of hours, Alf left. John was annoyed when he came home, and told Cynthia (for the first time) about Alf's visit to the NEMS office a few weeks earlier.
  • FORTIES
  • 1958
    Age 45
    In 1958, when Alf was working with Charlie Lennon in the Barn Restaurant in Solihull, their brother Sydney sent a newspaper clipping from the Liverpool Echo reporting that Julia had died.
    More Details Hide Details A saddened Alf left Solihull for London, but kept in touch with Charlie by phone. Alf made no real attempt to contact John again until the height of Beatlemania (claiming he did not know who the Beatles were). He was working as a kitchen porter at the Greyhound Hotel at Hampton Court, in Middlesex, when someone pointed out a photograph of John Lennon in a newspaper and asked whether he was related to him. Alfred and Charlie visited one of the Beatles' Christmas shows at the Finsbury Park Empire in London.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1949
    Age 36
    In 1949, Alf's career at sea ended when he was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.
    More Details Hide Details He had been drinking when, late at night, he saw a mannequin in a wedding dress in a shop window. He broke the window, picked up the mannequin, and danced with it in the street until he was arrested.
  • 1944
    Age 31
    He eventually served on a troopship from North Africa to Italy before finally boarding a ship that was making its way to England, in 1944.
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  • 1943
    Age 30
    Alf later told his version of what happened while he was AWOL in 1943.
    More Details Hide Details He claimed that he had sailed from America to Bône, North Africa, but was arrested for stealing one bottle of beer from the ship, consequently serving nine days in a military prison. After his release he became involved in various "shady deals", and was supposedly rescued from a criminal gang of Arabs.
    The cheques to Julia stopped when he went absent without leave in 1943.
    More Details Hide Details Neither Julia nor the Merchant Navy knew of his whereabouts. Julia only found out because she stopped receiving her allowance money, and the Navy wrote to her to inform her that they were looking for him. Julia had started going out to dance halls in 1942, and met a Welsh soldier named 'Taffy' Williams who was stationed in the barracks at Mossley Hill. Alf blamed himself for this, as he had written letters telling Julia that because there was a war on, she should go out and enjoy herself. Julia took his advice, and often gave her young son a piece of chocolate or sugar pastry the next morning for breakfast that she had been given the night before. She became pregnant by Williams in late 1944, though first claiming that she had been raped by an unknown soldier. When Alf eventually returned to Liverpool on 13 January 1945, he offered to look after Julia, their son and the expected baby, but Julia rejected the idea. Alf took John to his brother Sydney's house, in the Liverpool suburb of Maghull, a few months before the birth. The baby girl, Victoria, was subsequently given up for adoption (after intense pressure from Julia's father and family) to a Norwegian Salvation Army Captain. Julia later met Bobby Dykins and lived with him, but after considerable pressure from Mimi — who twice contacted Liverpool's Social Services and complained about the infant sleeping in the same bed as Julia and Dykins — Julia reluctantly handed the care of her son over to Mimi.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1938
    Age 25
    On 3 December 1938, 11 years after they had first met, Julia married Alf after proposing to him.
    More Details Hide Details They were married in the Bolton Street Register Office, and Julia wrote 'cinema usherette' on the marriage certificate as her occupation, even though she had never been one. None of Julia's family were there, but Alf's brother Sydney acted as a witness. They spent their honeymoon eating at 'Reece's' restaurant in Clayton Square (which is where his son would later celebrate after his marriage to Cynthia Powell), and then went to a cinema. On their wedding night, Julia stayed at the Stanleys' house and he went back to his rooming house. Julia's family did not like Alfred at all: Julia's father said he was "certainly not middle class," and Julia's sister Mimi was particularly opposed to him. Julia's father demanded that he present something concrete to show that he could financially support Julia, but his only idea was to sign on as a Merchant Navy bellboy on a ship bound for the Mediterranean. He later worked on ocean liners that travelled between the Greek islands, North Africa and the West Indies. He graduated from bellboy to steward during the months he was away, but when he arrived back in Liverpool he moved into the Stanley home in Newcastle Road. He auditioned for local theatre managers as a 'ship's entertainer', but had no success, and went back to sea.
    He married Julia Stanley in 1938.
    More Details Hide Details John was their only child together, but as Alf was often away at sea during World War II, he did not see much of his child during his infancy. During this period, Julia became pregnant with another man's child. He offered to look after his wife, their child and the expected baby, but Julia rejected the idea. He had very little contact with his son until Beatlemania, when they met again, but later had only intermittent contact with each other. He died in Brighton, where he had gone to live after marrying 19-year-old Pauline Jones, with whom he had two children. James Lennon (b. 1829) and Jane McConville (1831 - 1869), Alf's grandparents, moved with their respective families to Liverpool in the 1840s. James and Jane were both from County Down, Ireland, and were married in St. Anthony's Chapel, Scotland Road, Liverpool, on 29 April 1849. James was a warehouseman and a cooper at the time. They had seven children together: Elizabeth (b. 1850), James, John "Jack", William George, Richard Francis, Joseph (b. 1865) and Edward. Jack Lennon (b. 1855), a shipping clerk/bookkeeper, the father of Alf Lennon and grandfather to John Winston Lennon.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1930
    Age 17
    In March 1930, he took a job as bellboy on board the Cunard passenger liner SS Montrose.
    More Details Hide Details He kept in touch with Julia, writing to her and meeting her whenever he docked in Liverpool. He was later offered a job on a whaling ship for two years—which could have earned him enough money to buy a house—but turned it down when he found out that Julia's father had arranged the job, so as to keep him as far away from Julia as possible.
  • 1927
    Age 14
    In 1927, he auditioned for a children's music hall act, Will Murray's Gang, at the Empire Theatre in Liverpool.
    More Details Hide Details Having passed the audition he ran away from the orphanage and joined the show. He travelled with the troupe for a time before being discovered in Glasgow and returned to the orphanage, where he was severely punished. He was known as being always quick with a joke or a witty line, but never held a job for any length of time. When he was 15 years old he left the Bluecoat orphanage and found a job as an office-boy, but preferred to visit Liverpool's many vaudeville theatres and cinemas, where he knew the usherettes by name. His brother Sydney often lent money to him, after Sydney got a job in a tailor's shop. Alf first saw Julia Stanley at the 'Trocadero' club, a converted cinema on Camden Road, Liverpool. Although he did not speak to her at the time, he later saw Julia again in Sefton Park, where he had gone with a friend to meet girls. Alf, who was dressed in a bowler hat and holding a cigarette holder, saw "this little waif" sitting on a wrought-iron bench. The 14-year-old Julia said that his hat looked "silly", to which the 15-year-old replied that Julia looked "lovely", and sat down next to her. Julia asked him to take off his hat, so he promptly took it off and threw it straight into the lake.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1915
    Age 2
    Jack eventually married Polly in 1915, after they had moved to Elmore Street, Everton.
    More Details Hide Details One of the witnesses at the wedding was Polly's sister, Catherine Seddon. Daughter Edith Lennon was born that year and then Charles (21 November 1918 – 26 May 2002). The Lennons moved back to Toxteth Park, and Jack died in 1921, at 57 Copperfield Street. He is buried in a common and unmarked grave (along with five unknown adults and three children) in the Anfield Cemetery, Liverpool. Polly could not read or write, but was reported to be very humorous and supposedly had psychic abilities. After Jack died, Polly did not have enough money to keep the whole Lennon family together, so she placed two of her children, Alf and Edith, in the Blue Coat School Orphanage. It was situated just around the corner from Newcastle Road (where Julia Stanley lived). Polly died on 30 January 1949.
  • 1912
    Born
    Born on December 14, 1912.
    More Details Hide Details
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