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Showing posts with label Jewish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jewish. Show all posts

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Burial Grounds at risk in the UK

Back in 2008 Jewish Heritage UK reported on 'Burial grounds at risk' with a list of 9 Jewish cemeteries:

Exeter, Bull Meadow
London, Bancroft Road
London, Hackney [Lauriston Road)
Ipswich, Salthouse Lane
Merthyr Tydfil, Cefn Coed
Manchester, Prestwich Village
Sunderland, Ayres Quay
Swansea, Mayhill
Wolverhampton, Cockshutts Lane

And in 2009 the follwowing burial grounds were added:
London, West Ham Cemetery
Birmingham, Betholom Row Cemetery
Glasgow, Craigton Cemetery
Liverpool, Deane Road and Green Lane (Tuebrook)

CemeteryScribes has been able to record all remaining tombstones found at Bancroft Road, Lauriston Road, Sunderland - Ayres Quay and Wolverhampton - Cockshutts Lane. The latter 2 with the help of generous supporters of our project. We also have some photos of Ipswich - Salthouse Lane, Merthyr Tydfil - Cefn Coed, Exeter - Bull Meadow, Swansea - Mayhill and London - West Ham Cemetery.

As a result of local community efforts, restoration work is underway for Liverpool- Deane Road Jewish Cemetery and their hard work and dedication has recently been rewarded by a well-merited Grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund. Again, following a great deal of research and lobbying,  Bancroft Road is scheduled for restoration by Jeecs & the United Synagogues.
Obviously all restoration requires large amounts of money and in this day and age with our pockets being stretched in every direction its not always possible for the relevant bodies to put these tasks top of their lists.
However, there is no great cost involved in taking photos and that does at least serve as a form of preservation of what is there now. So if you are reading this and live near to, or plan to visit :

Exeter, Bull Meadow
Ipswich, Salthouse Lane
Merthyr Tydfil, Cefn Coed
Manchester, Prestwich Village acquired in 1841 - the second oldest burial ground in Manchester
Swansea, Mayhill
Birmingham, Betholom Row Cemetery dating back to 1823
Glasgow, Craigton Cemetery opened in 1880

Please take a few photos for us!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Start your family tree week - your Jewish Family Tree!

We at CemeteryScribes and SynagogueScribes fully support the idea of the UK Family Tree week which starts tomorrow 26th Dec 2010.
With the holiday season giving us all time to get together with family we all have the ideal opportunity to make some notes on family relations and find new ones.
Websites taking part in Start Your Family Tree Week are:
Findmypast, Genes Reunited, ScotlandsPeople and Eneclann.
Supporting Start Your Family Tree Week are:
The Society of Genealogists, The Federation of Family History Societies, Pen and Sword Books, BBC Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, Your Family Tree magazine, My History, Family Tree Magazine, Who Do You Think You Are? LIVE, Pandigital, from you to me and Francis Frith.
To start finding your Jewish family tree, go to and use the basic search at the top left hand corner. Enter your family name and see what you find.
We have included mini family trees to help you identify your ancestors and you will also find details of their burial place and transcriptions of tombstone inscriptions.
The top 20 family names found on CemeteryScribes are:
1. Levy
2. Cohen
3. Jacobs
4. Davis
5. Isaacs
6. Harris
7. Hart
8. Solomon
9. Nathan
10. Phillips
11. Samuel
12. Moses
13. Marks
14. Joseph
15. Abrahams
16. Lazarus
17. Benjamin
18. Emanuel
19. Myers
20. Alexander
Then to do some further research go to and search through the thousands of Synagogue records we have transcribed with the emphasis being on pre-civil registration records. As civil registration of births, marriages and deaths began on 1st Jul 1837 these are a must to get you back further.
You can also take a look at our getting started pages found here
Happy hunting and a very Happy New Year.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

An Englishman in New York - a success story

The SynagogueScribes and CemeteryScribes websites were born out of our personal interest in Anglo-Jewish genealogy.   We put our work out there on the Web in the hope that others will find it useful.  But forget about altruism: we do it because we love it!  And, of course, we are always delighted when we hear of success stories from researchers who have used the sites or, as in a recent case, when we were able to help a recent poster to one of the specialised forums, who did not know of our work,and had hit a seemingly inpenetrable brick wall.

The poster’s 3rd great-grandfather, Aaron Samuel, had evidently left London with his family for the United States around 1857 and, from there, she had successfully traced them until their deaths. On the UK side, she had located him, with wife, children and a named brother-in-law, Elisha Gottheil, in the 1851 Census, and with his father and sibs in the 1841 census.  And that was it.  No civil marriage had been found, and of course, Aaron’s birth in circa 1823 would have pre-dated the advent of mandatory civil registration in the UK.

Like her, we were unable to locate a civil marriage.   Nor did we find one on the SynagogueScribes website

Basic Search

Family Name = SAMUEL (or SAMUELS)

First Name = Aaron

Result = 0

But basic search identified an almost certain marriage for Aaron Samuel’s father, Lazarus.

Family Name = SAMUEL

First Name  =  Lazarus

Result = 2, of which one was for 1837 so much too late for him to be a father of Aaron born c 1824

Shows that Lazarus SAMUEL (Eliezer Lezer b. Moshe Jacob Aph\Akl\Aachen) married

Saratse NATHAN  (Sarah bat Meir Fishman) at the Great Synagogue London on 28 June 1815.

Assuming this is the correct marriage – and it seems safe to do so – we now have a name for Aaron Samuel’s grand father (Moshe Jacob) and the full name for his mother Saratse NATHAN

To see if we could find out more about Saratse’s family, we went to Advanced Search\Keyword and entered the word “Fishman”.  This produced 16 results, of which 3 had the family name of NATHAN.   We immediately ruled out the 1812 burial record for Elizabeth as she was a daughter of Solomon Fishman, whereas we were looking for a Meir Fishman.  That left Saratse’s marriage and one for an evident brother Simon Finding a sib, particularly a male sib, is always helpful as their records, both Community and Civil my contain additional information.

The lack of a civil or community marriage record for Aaron continues to create questions over the true identity of his wife, but this should be overcome if the poster orders civil birth certificates for one or more of their children.

In the meantime, we thought it might be helpful to find out more about the 1851  Elisha GOTTSEL Brother In Law Married M 30 1821 Shoemaker  b. Germany  so we conducted a further search in the SynagogueScribes database as follows.

Because of the uncertainty of the exact spelling of both his Family and First Name

We entered three letters only in each field

Family Name  = GOT

First Name = ELI

This produced one result which can be found at

From this we learn his wife’s family name and patronymic and, more importantly Elisha’s father’s Hebrew Name: Issachar Berel.  If Elisha is Phoebe Samuel’s brother, then that would indicate that she was nee GOTTSEL\GOTTSHEIL\variant spellings and that she, too, would have been bat Issachar Berel.

Another serious possibility arises, however that must be considered.

It may have been that Elisha GOTTSEL’s wife, Anne nee LEVY, was a sister of Phoebe SAMUEL.  Phoebe is shown on her tombstone as having been born in London and again on the 1851 census as being born in Whitechapel, whereas Elisha GOTTSEL who is only two years older than her, was born in Germany, so the jury is still out on this one and the Poster still has much work to do.

Harold Lewin ( Birth Records of the Great & Hambro Synagogues London, Second Edition. Harold & Miriam Lewin 2009. ISBN 978-965-91261-0-1) records the birth of their daughter Rose GOTTHEIL (Rahel bat Elia) on 18 July 1850.

The Poster might wish to obtain  the will of Elias Gottheil, died 1899 to see what, if any mention is made of additional family members and also his Naturalisation Papers  which can be ordered and downloaded online

We do not normally conduct research enquires but, since the Poster did not live in the UK and was, apparently, unaware of our websites, we were more than happy to introduce her to them and show her how she might use them to help with her research.  Our work in this respect was far from exhaustive and by some judicious use of the Advanced Search and Keyword options, she may find more of her ancestors therein.   She kindly provided us with a photograph of Aaron Samuel’s tombstone in Washington cemetery in New York and this can be found here.


Our records are regularly updated:  further BANCROFT ROAD\MAIDEN LANE burials are in the pipe line on

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Great Synagogue Burials added to !

We have just added over 3,500 Great Synagogue burial records (BSGSBUR)  to our sister site .  These have been compiled from transcripts left by the late Rabbi Dr. Bernard Susser, with additional material by the SynagogueScribes team and cover burials from 1791 to 1823 & 1832

Partial text versions of Dr. Susser’s originals can be seen on Frank Gent's website and we are indebted to Frank for allowing us to use this material and for the many hours of additional work he did in  editing and updating these very incomplete transcripts. [Please support Frank's latest fund raiser for Cavernoma Alliance UK]

As with many of these early registers, a large percentage of the entries contains no English family or first names. Where possible, we have made positive identifications or suggested lines for further research but we appreciate the difficulties some of you may have with these records and, over the coming weeks, we hope to offer you some step-by-step guides to help you use the two “Scribes” databases more effectively.

How  to Search SynagogueScribes - using Basic Search

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Bancroft Road Jewish Cemetery - Restoration Update!

The good news keeps coming!

Today we received confirmation from Leonard Shear that the restoration work is definitely being undertaken by the United Synagogue Burial Society.

They will be levelling the ground, clearing all the rubbish, turfing the areas that need it, planting bushes and pruning the trees. All of this is ongoing and seasonal.

Then, once all this has been completed, the U.S. will collate the burials and photograph the tombstones.

As Leonard so aptly says "all of this work will take time but most importantly a start has been made".

We will continue to keep our readers informed of the restoration work and its progress. While the photo here shows the current state of the cemetery we are so looking forward to being able to bring you the 'before' and 'after' shots!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Research outside UK & GenAmi

As our ancestors travelled and moved from one country to another before arriving in the UK we often need to obtain information from records held in other countries and sometimes we receive photos from cemeteries outside of the UK. Regular visitors to CemeteryScribes will have noticed that we recently added headstone photos from the small Jewish Cemetery in Landstuhl, Germany. We also have photos from Hong Kong Jewish Cemetery and will be adding, in the near future, headstone photos and plaques from Singapore Jewish Cemetery.

One website we always visit when needing help outside the UK is GenAmi, the Association of Jewish Genealogy. With their Head Office in Paris, France, associate members across Europe and beyond, they generally come up trumps.

Micheline Gutmann, GenAmi's president, explains their sole objective as being to help members know their ancestors and understand their history.

Their website is overflowing with information, articles, details of what's new, recent research trips, family trees, records, quarterly reviews and in addition to all this, their Forum where members can ask for help and help each other. There are over 9,000 posts, which gives an idea of how well used it is.


To keep on track with our Cemetery theme, GenAmi have also researched several parts of the Montparnasse Cemetery (Jewish Section) with details of burials in Divisions 5, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29 available to members. A fascinating resource, where I have been lucky enough to find several of my own families' burial details. These records include the date of death, birth, place of birth, spouse, plot details and when the plot was purchased.

While GenAmi do require a very small annual membership fee (30e) they also provide information to non-members see here and the site is available in English or French.

If looking for a nice Hanukah present for the genealogist in your family, membership of this fabulous resource may well be the answer!

GenAmi have provided information for the following family entries on CemeteryScribes:
TUCK family : ID:19908
LION family ID: I9918
BRUNSWICK family ID: I2957
BING-JACOB Rosine ID: I9919
MEYER Fanny (Jeanetta) (Feigla) ID: I2958
SAMUEL / WEIL family (F1940) ID: I8605
COHEN Abigail
COHEN Adelaide [Lydia b Chaim HaCohen]
COHEN Andrew Asher
COHEN Caroline
COHEN David Hyman
COHEN Elizabeth
COHEN Frances
COHEN Judah Hyman

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Co-incidences, WDYTYA, Dreyfus and Balls Pond Cemetery!

Genealogist should be used to co-incidences and synchronicity, but it still came as something of a shock when I suspended work on transcribing the stones in the Balls Pond Road Cemetery and switched on the TV to watch  the 1st  in the latest BBC series of Who Do You Think You Are.  

Davina Mcall's maternal French great great-grandfather, Celestin Hennion, was famous throughout France for revolutionising the French police service. But his name was to spread beyond his native land when,  putting his job and his reputation on the line,  he took a principled  and unpopular stand on the side of Capitaine Alfred Dreyfus in the lengthy trial that was to split French public opinion and still resonates today.  The pretext for the trial was treason. but the underlying cause was anti-Semitism. See more here.

And the synchronicity?  Well, Balls Pond Road is a Jewish cemetery, and the last stone I had transcribed before switching on the TV was for  the infant Alice Kate, daughter of Arthur DREYFUS born Paris 1836.  Dreyfus is not an uncommon name in France and uncovering a link between Arthur and Alfred will not be easy.   But that won't stop us trying!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

An application for a disinterment

George Eliot John (or David) Johnasson, was born in London on 4 February 1863 and was circumcised at 149 Sloane St, Chelsea by Rabbi Asher Ash, on 25th February - somewhat later than the usual seventh day following a birth. He was the only son of [Moses] John Johnasson and his Belgian born wife, Mathilde, and grandson of David Jonassohn of Usworth Hall Durham.

There may have been other causes for the delay, but the late circumcision could suggest the baby was rather sickly? Certainly, the child was to die on 21st February 1874, shortly after his tenth birthday. Evidently, a much loved child, the stone erected to his memory in the Balls Pond Road testifies to his "Gentle Spirit"

The death of the boy's mother was reported in the Times of Monday, Mar 21, 1887; pg. 1; Issue 32025; col A ad. on 19th inst at Paris, Mathilde, the beloved wife of John Johnasson Mathilde Johnasson died in Paris.

Some time between her death and 1890, John Johnasson remarried Alice, Belgian born like his 1st wife. No record of the marriage has been found; their daughter, Gladys Virginia was born Kensington Sep qtr 1890.

And it is around this time, in March 1889 that that John Johnasson made a request to the West London Synagogue to have his son disinterred for reburial in Kensal Green Cemetery. According to the report in the Jewish Chronicle, the request was refused as "being contrary to Jewish principles" [JC MARCH 29 1889 (Page:8)].

What prompted John Johnasson to make such am unusual and dramatic request? After all, the child was the grandson of a representative to the Board of British Deputies and Kensal Green Cemetery, whilst apparently inter or non-denominational, was not a consecrated Jewish burial place. For a father to voluntarily disturb the last resting place of his only beloved son, it must have been something very powerful.

We know little about either of John's wives; Mathilde born Antwerp circa 1838, died Paris 19th March 1887 and Alice V born Antwerp 1864 died Kensington Mar qtr 1933 and if anyone has any information regarding either of them, or the burial place of John Johnasson died Newcastle upon Tyne Jun Qtr 1907 do please contact us at

Thursday, 2 July 2009

English Law v. Jewish Custom and Practice Marriage with deceased wife's sister

English law regarding proscribed marriage partners was based entirely on those laid down by the Anglican Church and stemmed from Henry VIII's reformation of the English Church. These laws almost exactly correspond with those set out in Leviticus, which, whilst explicitly naming the parties forbidden to marry, makes no mention of a deceased wife's sister. Thus, the status of such a union was arguable until laws passed in 1835 rendered it illegal in England and Wales [It was to remain so until the law was repealed through the Deceased Wife's Sister's Marriage Act of 1907]. See here for more info.

As with all laws, however, those set on circumventing them would always find ways to do so.
On the death of his wife, Elizabeth, it seemed practical for John Michaelis Barnardo to marry her sister, Abigail, who had been in charge of the household since her sister's death. However, the Bill which was to permit marriage with a deceased wife's sister had not yet been passed, and according to the law as it stood it would have been illegal. By coming to London and by having the ceremony performed in a German church by a German pastor, John Michaelis was able to avoid the legal impediment to his marriage, for as a Prussian subject he was not bound by English law. The full story can be found here 'Birth and boyhood and the melting pot 1845 - 1866'.

The Wesleyan minister, William Morley Punshon (1824-1881) married three times. His first wife, Maria Ann Vickers of Gateshead, by whom he had 6 children, died of consumption in 1858 and was buried at Kensal Green. After her death, her sister Fanny came to live with Punshon to help care for his remaining children. Over the years, Punshon fell in love with her but, as it was illegal in English law, he was advised to send her away and marry someone else. Punshon, clearly a man of honour, decided his only course was to leave England. Invited by the Canadian Methodist Conference to become their President and, such unions not being illegal in that country, the couple were duly married in Toronto in 1868. More details available in a Biography here.

Jewish law imposed no such restriction and, indeed, it is specifically included in the list of those whom it is permissible for a man to marry. viz: His deceased wife’s sister, but not his divorced wife’s sister (unless the former is deceased already). provides a summary here.

But a combination of the passing of the 1835 Marriage Act and the introduction of Civil Registration in 1837, meant that Jews, along with the rest of their fellow citizens, would have had to go outside the country in order to enter a legal contract of marriage: Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels were the most likely destinations.

This would explain why no English marriage can be found for Ernst Falck who, on the death in 1877 of his first wife, Helene Samuel was to marry her younger sister, Matilda some time between 1877 and 1881.

If anyone has any information about this marriage, we should be pleased to hear from them.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Balls Pond Road London? Or Ayres Quay Sunderland? Which is the true burial place of David Johnasson?

The cemetery at Ayres Quay Jewish Cemetery in Sunderland, presently classed by Jewish Heritage UK as a "site at Risk" was closed in 1856.

However, a space was reserved for a memorial to David Johnasson, a local landowner, ship owner, owner of the Usworth Colliery, and a senior member of the community, who died in London on 25th July 1859.

Only a stump remains of the once imposing obelisk, raised in his memory by his children, but earlier photographs can be seen here.

David Johnasson (Jonassohn) appears to have been quite out of the usual run of early nineteenth century Anglo-Jewry.

A notice of his marriage in Hamburg to Charlotte, 2nd daughter of Mr. J Bouer of that city, appears in the Newcastle Courant on 15 July 1826, suggesting that, although still a young man, he was already an established figure in the North of England.

By the mid 1840's he was already the ow ner of an estate which included a fine property, Usworth House, later known as Usworth Hall and it was here that he sunk a Colliery which he ran for many years.

Pit accidents were far from rare at this time; how often this was due to lack of knowledge, and technology and how much to bad management, is hard to judge.

The raw facts reported by the Durham Mining Museum show that the one at Usworth on 5 June 1850 was caused by a naked flame resulting in the deaths of 12 men and one boy, from the 160 working the pit that day.

But the boss, David Jonassohn, was also possessed of a paternalistic streak. The Preston Guardian of 8th Feb 1851 reports:

".....Mr David Jonassohn and Partners have erected a large and commodious Chapel with school rooms for the alternate use of the Wesleyans and the Primitive Methodists".
In similar benevolent fashion, the following week, the Newcastle Courant reports that on the occasion of her marriage, the eldest daughter of D. Jonassohn Esq. of Usworth Place gave half-a-crown each (2 shillings and sixpence) to the poor widows and old people in the villages of Usworth and Usworth Colliery as well as £2 to the inmates of the Chester-le-Street workhouse.

David Jonassohn was still living at Usworth in 1851, but evidently moved to London some time prior to his death there on 25 July 1859. The stone, erected in his memory in the Balls Pond Road Jewish cemetery, is still standing.

In the English inscription, he is identified as DAVID JONASSOHN Esq. of Usworth DURHAM. and, this is repeated in the Hebrew inscription:

resident Durham

So, it would seem that, whilst his physical remains were laid to rest in London, his heart belonged to the North East of England.

Further information on the Jonassohn family can be found on Cemetery Project see here. Our thanks to Shaun for the use his photos.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

More Levy's than Cohen's on GenPals

A quick review of the numbers and names on GenPals Cemetery Project.

Since we launched the site with 500 entries back in Nov 2007 it has grown and grown!

There are now over 8,000 individuals listed, so we thought it would be interesting to look at the top ten family names:

  1. Levy
  2. Cohen
  3. Jacobs
  4. Harris
  5. Davis
  6. Nathan
  7. Solomon
  8. Hart
  9. Isaacs
  10. Moses
NB. Because we list women under their maiden names there are a large number with no family name on the site plus there are those where only the Hebrew name has been identified on the tombstone.

There are 7 individuals who died at the grand age of 100 years or more and 3 aged 99 years.

We are currently working on tombstones from Balls Pond Jewish cemetery in London and Nuevo Jewish Cemetery so expect the numbers to increase over the next month or so. Both of these cemeteries have been fully photographed as have Brady Street Jewish Cemetery, Brompton (Fulham Rd) Jewish Cemetery, Bancroft Rd Jewish Cemetery and Lauriston Road Jewish Cemetery.

We don't just cover London, see here for a full list of the cemeteries recorded on the site.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Restoration Projects: Make such a difference!

Who, in the Jewish establishment, is responsible for the Bancroft Road (Maiden Lane) Cemetery?

The argument has raged for over 100 years.

While that once historic burial ground has been reduced to a weed-covered desert and is now beyond restoration,

enthusiastic local activists have not only done, literally, ground-breaking work to restore the historic Deane Road Cemetery in Liverpool but have also mounted a campaign for Heritage funds which has resulted in a development grant of £13,800.

The wonderful work being done at Deane Road is described in photos here and the news of the development grant here on Louise Baldock's blog

For information on Bancroft Road Jewish Cemetery and a brief history see here

Friday, 5 June 2009

Workhouse burials?

A letter to the Hull Packet dated 29th Aug 1849 and printed in the Friday edition a couple days later describes the following situation.

Arnold Eichborn, a penniless cabinet maker, had died earlier that week. Due to the distance his body would have to be carried, the expense of interment was considerable, and had to be raised by the local Jewish community. The President Mr George Alexander applied to the workhouse for a coffin and was refused on the grounds that a coffin could only be provided if the burial took place in their cemetery, not if the burial was in a Jewish cemetery.

It raises the question and one I would be very interested to hear the answer to, of whether there were cases of Jews being buried in Workhouse cemeteries? It seems likely that there were, perhaps accidentally, perhaps due to lack of funds.

The City of London Burial records show, for example, Isabella Cohen who died on the 2nd Oct 1840 aged 3yrs at the Workhouse and buried St Mary, Whitechapel or perhaps Pho(e)be Solomons who died aged 84 on 19th Dec 1832 at the Workhouse, Cock and Hoop Yard and buried St Botolph, Aldgate.

Do you know more?

Note: FreeBMD Death Index records Arnold Eichborn as Arnold Ichborn Sep 1849

Monday, 1 June 2009

Beyond the high wall, Alderney Road Jewish Cemetery

It would have been around 1991 that I first visited the Jewish Cemetery in Aldernery Road, London E., the oldest Ashkenazi burial ground in Britain, dating from 1696\7. We came upon it, quite by chance, on our way back from the Tower Hamlets Family History Library in Bancroft Road. There was a door in a wall, a small sign, and a bell. We rang, not expecting an answer, but before long the gate was opened by an elderly woman, wearing slippers, followed by a large, mournful dog. She looked us up and down, nodded and let us in. For more than half an hour, we wandered, unimpeded, round the crumbling stones: just the two of us, under a blue sky, with the birds singing in the trees, and the deep, quiet layers of history beneath our feet. A magical experience! But not, apparently unique.

In 2001, a decade after our visit, the German author W. G. Sebald published his strange, disturbing and, ultimately, tragic novel 'Austerlitz'. A few pages before the end of this extraordinary book, is an unidentified photograph of an old Jewish cemetery and the following text:
......... And then he gave me the key to his house in Alderney Street.......And I should not omit, he added, to ring the bell at the gateway in the brick wall adjoining his house for behind the wall, although he had never been able to see it from any of his windows, there was a plot where lime trees and lilacs grew and in which members of the Ashkenazi community had been buried, including Rabbi David Tevele Schiff and Rabbi Samuel Falk, the Baal Shem of London. He had discovered the cemetery......only a few days before he left London when the gate in the wall stood open for the first time in all the years he had lived in Alderney Street. Inside, a very small, almost dwarf-like woman of perhaps seventy years old - the cemetery caretaker, as it turned out - was walking along the paths in her slippers. Beside her, almost as tall as she was, walked a Belgian sheepdog now grey with age who answered to the name of Billie and was very timid. In the bright spring light, shining through the newly opened leaves of the lime trees, you might have thought, Austerlitz told me, that you had entered a fairy tale which, like life itself, had grown older with the passing of time....."
When I read this sentence, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck! I have been back to the cemetery a couple of times since but, today, in the interest of security and conservation, all our old burial grounds are permanently locked and entrance is only possible by pre-arranged appointment : the mystery and the magic are still there, but you are unlikely to be alone and you may have to half close your eyes and ears before you can capture it.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Medieval Northampton Cemetery survey

We were delighted a week ago when Marcus Roberts, Founder and Director of Jtrails contacted us to offer further information for use on the GenPals Cemetery Project website, which we hope to be able to add soon.

Marcus supplied the definitive identification for the Northampton Stone in 1992, the only known example of a medieval Jewish tombstone in England.

The stone is on display at Northampton Museum and a couple of days ago the Northampton Chronicle and Echo reported that an archaeological survey of the site of the 13 century cemetery has begun. It is believed that the cemetery was in the town centre between 1259 and 1290. This is obviously a site of huge importance to Anglo Jewry.

Click here to read the full story.

There have been reports of a handful of other medieval Jewish stones, such as the one found in London Wall as described in Gentleman's Magazine in 1753, the original sketch of this stone is held at the British Library but sadly they all seem to have been lost, or have disappeared over the years.

For those readers who are able to get to the Northampton Museum, both the Northampton stone and their display on Medieval Jewish Northampton is well worth the visit.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Book on Jewish Convicts transported to Australia and The London Bet Din

The recent Bank Holiday gave me the opportunity to catch up on some reading, one particular book stands out as being of great interest to visitors of

We receive numerous enquiries from genealogists in Australia looking for their ancestors' burial places in the UK. This book sheds another light on the lives of those transported to Australia and what provisions were made for the families they were forced to leave behind.

'From one end of the earth to the other' The London Bet Din, 1805 - 1855, and the Jewish convicts transported to Australia by Jeremy I. Pfeffer ISBN: 9781845193669 (p/b) 9781845192938 (h/b) click here for more info.

The Jews has been specifically exempted from the provisions of the 1753 Marriage Act. The effect of this exemption was to put the matrimonial causes of the Jews of England exclusively in the hands of their Rabbis and Dayanim for the next hundred years. No Bet Din (Jewish ecclesiastical court) anywhere in the world has left such a complete record of its transactions - matrimonial and proselytical - as that contained in the extant Pinkas (minute - book) of the London Bet Din from 1805 to 1855.

In all other matters, including the offences punishable by transportation, Jews were subject to the civil courts. Of the estimated 150,000 convict transportees shipped to the Australian penal colonies, some seven hundred were Jews. Matrimonial and related matters involving twenty of these miscreants are recorded in the Pinkas. Jeremy Pfeffer recounts the history of the London Bet Din during these years as revealed in the Pinkas record and relates the previously untold stories of this group of Jewish convict transportees and their families.

Jeremy Pfeffer writes in the preface 'I set out to discover eveything I could about convict transportees whose names appeared in the Bet Din records, the circumstances that led to their trials and convictions and the stories of their first years in their new Australian home'. He has succeeded in producing an account that is both scholarly and accessible and which brings the past to life through the true stories of ordinary people.


Saturday, 23 May 2009

Interesting Headstone from Brady Street Cemetery

Well here goes with my first 'real' post. Its about an intriguing headstone we found at Brady Street. One of the more difficult to interpret as it included an Acrostic and a Gematria.

The inscription was transliterated as:

Creature of earth in his mother's bosom... His gathering comes now ...
His fineness with those who lack ...
Calling wisdom father and running from evil.
In the year 5538 [1788], he awakened the heart of his brothers, donated his money and was the head/chief to help.
The orphans of his brothers, fatherless children;
Joyous to begin and finish with bounty, running from contributor to contributor, calling out,
'Your brother is dead and you will abandon the children he left with you!
Awake and you will receive a good reward.'
... His lovingkindness will never be forgotten;
... on him praise and here will lie undisturbed;
At 60 years, taken live to his Father on the holy Shabbat and buried the following day, Sunday,
Nisan in the year 'raiser of the orphans' [5564/1804].

So the questions are, who was Yitzhak ben Yisrael Yaacov (Isaac ben Israel Jacob?)? do you know more about him and his good deeds? if so please let us know.

To see the entry on go to Yitzhak ben Yisrael Yaacov


Welcome to our blog.

We have started this as a place to publish items that would not really fit in with our main website which is a database of inscriptions from Jewish Cemeteries throughout the UK, including mini family trees created from a variety of sources. Along with general photos of the cemeteries and short histories.

So we hope they interest you as much as they do us.

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