View Full Version : Tracing Jewish Ancestors
26-01-2010, 5:16 PM
I know next to nothing about the Jewish faith. From what I have learnt so far it would seem to be a good idea to subscribe to a Jewish Genealogy site because I read somewhere that Jewish marriage ceremonies record information such as the couple's Jewish names and the groom's brothers.
Can anyone advise me which Jewish site would be most beneficial?
27-01-2010, 7:27 AM
It really depends on whether you are researching your ancestors before or after they arrived in Britain.
For the time in Britain, go to british-jewry.org.uk
You might also like to investigate becoming a paying member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (jgsgb.org.uk).
For the time in Britain and, in particular, for the time in the 'homeland' you become a member of (jewishgen.org)
Depending on your ancestors' country(ies) of origin, there are various sites that you may want to use.
These three should get you started.
27-01-2010, 10:10 AM
If you were to supply a bit more info it would help.
There are different records available for different time frames. You mention brothers on Marriage records and yes a Synagogue Marriage Authorisation will normally give the brothers' names, however whether you would be able to get a copy will depend on when the marriage was.
Synagogue marriage records do normally have the Hebrew names, as do births, deaths, circumcisions etc ... again depends on when as to their availability.
28-01-2010, 7:54 PM
Thanks CS and Justini,
At the moment I would just be happy to find out about my Jewish roots in terms of the culture. My great grandparents were born in the East End of London as it seems were most Jews in pre 1900s. Jane Barnett (b1877) married her first cousin Isaac Levy (b1875) in 1897. Their mothers were sisters, Phoebe and Hannah Cohen and their parents were Moses and Rosetta (nee Phillips). Interestingly Moses and Rosetta are stated in the 1841 census as having been born in London and there is a pallot marriage thingy on Ancestry that shows a couple of this name having been married in London. In the 1841 census though they were living in Bristol for some baffling reason and most of their children were born there. Phoebe always claimed inthe census records to have been born in Dublin so whether they lived there before moving to Bristol I don't know. By 1861 Moses and remaining dependent children had moved back to Spitalfields, by this time Rosetta had died.
Phoebe married a widower Daniel Barnett in 1867 in the Great Synagogue, London. Daniel's parents were Samuel and Sarah but would these be there real names because on the 1841 census it says they were born in Russia? On one of Danie's sibling's birth certificate it states mother's maiden name as being Aaron. None of these names seem Russian, would have adopted Anglicised names on entering Britain or are these names typical of Jews found all around the world at that time?
03-02-2010, 8:24 AM
Could you please share with us the data you have (presumably census records)? Who lived in Bristol and when? Who then moved back to Spitalfields? I found Phoebe and Daniel in '81, but it would help to know some more names and places/dates of birth.
Jews had been permitted to resettle in England in the mid-17th century. Although London was always home to the greatest number, there were thriving communities elsewhere. By the early to mid-19th century, Jewish communities were being established in west London too.
04-02-2010, 11:31 PM
Hi Justin, here goes:
Living in Temple, Bristol (Pooly Ct?) All members of the family recorded as born in Bristol
Moses Cohen 1816 Tailor,
Rosetta (wife) 1816
Living in Bristol (Melbourne Bldgs)
Moses 1811 London
Rosa 1811 London
Phoebe 1835 Bristol
Philip 1836 Bristol
Catherine 1842 Bristol
Leah 1843 Bristol
Abraham 1844 Bristol
Jane 1846 Bristol
Benjamin 1847 Bristol
Ann 1849 Bristol
Living 27 Fashion St, Spitalfields, London
Moses (widow) 1807 London
Phoebe 1838 Sommertshire, Bristol
Lea 1845 Sommertshire, Bristol
Abraham 1846 Sommertshire, Bristol
Hannah 1849 Sommertshire, Bristol
1 Little John Street, Whitechapel
Samuel Barnett 1835 General Dealer, b Bethnal Green
Phoebe Barnett 1839 b Ireland, Dublin
Sarah Barnett 1860
Annah Cohen 1849 Sister-in-law b Bristol
I don't know why Samuel is Head of Household in this entry. Phoebe married Daniel Barnett 1867. Daniel was a widower when he married Phoebe. All subsequent census records show Phoebe as having been born in Dublin, Ireland.
05-02-2010, 10:37 AM
I would like to recommend a couple of books that have helped me understand more about the lives of my Jewish ancestors.
The Jewish Book of Why by Alfred J Kolatch. ISBN 0-8246-0256-0
The Second Jewish Book of why by Alfred J Kolatch. ISBN 0-8246-0305-2
They answer questions like Why is a mirror in a house of mourning covered or turned to face the wall? Why does the Bridegroom break a glass at the wedding ceremony? and Why do women light candles on Friday night?
All the sort of questions I had in my head but didn't like to ask for fear of seeming intrusive or rude or just plain stupid. I treasure my copies - I bought them through Amazon - and I use them regularly
I hope this helps
08-02-2010, 12:17 PM
Thanks for the additional info. It provides a lot more to work with.
I would agree that you have the same family in Bristol from 1841 to 1861. However, I find it hard to believe that Phoebe suddenly believed that she was born in Dublin. Very odd indeed.
Do you have the marriage cert for Daniel and Phoebe?
Was Moses consistently recorded as a tailor?
08-02-2010, 11:56 PM
I know it's a bit weird isn't it? Before I started researching it was a family 'fact' that Jane (Phoebe's daughter and my gt grandmother) was Irish. It took some convincing my mother that Jane was born in the Mile End. It's the family moving about that makes me wonder if Phoebe might have been born in Ireland, what with Moses and Rosetta being Londoners (as far as I am aware from censuses) and yet most children being born in Bristol. Was there any social reason as to why people would move around, it is strange. They were easy to track in Bristol as Cohen wasn't a common name there at the time and they had so many children to align between censuses. As it happens there seems to be a lot of child deaths in this family.
Moses is a tailor both in Bristol and London.
On the 1861 census Moses states birthplace as London and the children, Phoebe, Lea, Abraham and Hannah as Sommertshire (which is in Bristol). Whilst tracking this family I have found more consistency than inconsistency so I am convinced I am following the same family.
I have Phoebe and Daniel's marriage cert. They were married 1867 in Gt Synagogue, London and Phoebe's father is Moses. Daniel is a widower. In the 1871 census, Phoebe and Daniel (although listed as Samuel which is strange and presumably a mistake) are living in Spitalfields with their children (3 from his first marriage). This is the first entry where Phoebe is listed as born in Ireland, Dublin. Daniel and children are all London born. Living with them is Annah (Hannah) Cohen, sister-in-law, born Bristol 1849. This census record convinces me that they are the same family moved from Bristol. Phoebe records Dublin as her place of birth on all subsequent census records.
The children are:
Sarah b 1860
On the 1881 census children Sophia and Samuel do not show but the other children do with exactly the same years of birth. There are another 5 children to follow from this point as well.
Hannah, Phoebe's youngest sister, married 1872 to Samuel Levy and on the marriage certificate her father is stated as Moses, deceased. Incidentally, I was tracking back what I thought was a different line when this certificate confirmed that my gt grandparents were first cousins which came as a bit of a surprise to say the least.
Thanks for your post, I'm interested in your thoughts on this.
09-02-2010, 1:59 PM
You really have got quite a mystery on your hands here.
The Jewish population of Dublin in 1842 was 50; Bristol was the home to about 300 Jews in that same year.
Obviously, there is a chance that Moses and Rosetta tried their luck in Dublin. However, I really do not see any reason for concealing Phoebe's birthplace on the earlier censuses.
The only concrete suggestion I can make is to take the plunge and join the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain. There is already a member researching a Cohen family of London and Bristol from 1800s to 1950s.
See this link: jgsgb.org.uk/FamFind_A-C.shtml
What was the name and occupation of Samuel's father?
09-02-2010, 11:50 PM
Ok, yes, I will joing jgsgb.
Samuel, Phoebe's husband? Phoebe's husband was actually Daniel, only appeared as Samuel on 1871 census so guess that was an error on someone's part. Daniel's was a general dealer, he was born in St Boltolph to Samuel and Sarah (nee Aaron) who are listed on the 1841 census as being Russian. Daniel had a few brothers who I have been unable so far to track forward in time. It was a younger sister with the unusual name of Brina who appeared on an early census and then on Daniel's death certificate that helped me link Daniel to Samuel and Sarah.
Even though it seems unlikely on the face of it that Phoebe was born in Ireland, it seems most peculiar that she put that as her place of birth on all censuses after leaving her father's house. It does seem strange to me too, if only we could speak to them. thanks for info on population numbers, that's very interesting :)
10-02-2010, 7:44 AM
There are too many Samuels! I actually meant Hannah's father-in-law.
On the subject of the Jewish community of Bristol, have a read through everything on this page.
The synagogue constitutions in particular should provide an interesting insight into role of religion in your ancestors' lives.
Scrolling to the bottom of that page, you'll see a link to 'Birth & Death Records'. I was r eally excited when I saw it. However, there is a large gap in the records and all your Cohens fall into that gap.
11-02-2010, 12:00 AM
Thank you Ladkyis, I am interested in the customs so will put this book on my list. I know so little about the Jewish way of life I haven't asked anything like the questions you have posed above. My Nan showed no hint of her faith other than to give my daughter a Star of David necklace.
11-02-2010, 12:49 AM
I am stuck on Samuel Levy's side. Hannah's husband Samuel is only mentioned on one census and the place of birth is not known for any members of the family. On the 1881 census he is a feather brush maker. Like you rightly said, there are too many Samuels and this means I cannot backtrack any further with the little information I have on him.
I got quite excited re the burials but couldn't see any of my line there.Would babies show up on the burials registers? There are registered deaths for children that fit neatly into this line. If you search Ancestry.co.uk for Cohen births in Bristol between 1838 and 1851 you only get the names of the children in my line for Bristol. If you search the deaths for Bristol in this time span you get babies born and died who fit neatly into the gaps in the family. However, I couldn't find any of the deaths in the burials.
Cohen children born in Bristol incl. those who died
Elizabeth b1838 Q1, d1848 Q4 - on 1841 census but not 1851
Benjamin Woolf 1839 Q2, d1839 Q4
Catharine 1840 Q4
Leah 1841 Q4
Abraham 1842 Q4
Sarah 1843 Q4, d1844 Q1
Jane 1845 Q3
Jacob 1846 Q1, d1846 Q1
Woolf Benjamin 1847Q2 (recorded as Benjamin on 1851 census)
Ann 1848 Q2 this is the child who is Hannah unless there is another birth (Hannah) and death (Ann) not recorded which I think is probably unlikely. The name seems to evolve because in some censuses it is recorded as Annah but her year and place of birth are consistent throughout.
11-02-2010, 8:01 AM
Do you not have Samuel's and Hannah's marriage cert?
I found those birth and death registrations too. I was a bit doubtful about Jacob though; his birth was registered less than 9 months after Jane's.
I would imagine that Hannah was registered as Ann. Do you not have that cert either?
You would have thought that with so much information available for the Bristol community, it would be a doddle to find your Cohens. It's quite maddening.
12-02-2010, 12:51 AM
I haven't got Hannah's birth certificate, I have her sister Leah's as I didn't realise Hannah was a direct line ancester until some time later. Rosetta's maiden name was Phillips and Moses' profession was recorded as a Tailor.
Samuel Levy's father's name was Isaac but recorded as 'dead' (don't mince their words) under rank or profession. Samuel and Hannah were married in the Hambro Synagogue, London in 1872. There was quite an age difference between them, Samuel 39 and Hannah 22.
I agree regarding the birth of Jacob because at most gestation could have only been 8 months at most. However, as it was he, and not he and not Jane that died I think it's reasonable to guess that he may have been premature. Of course, without buying the certificate I can't be sure and at this point of investigation it's not important. My gut instinct, going on the overall trend of one baby a year, and the absence of other Cohen families leads me to think he probably was one of Moses and Rosetta's.
Thanks every so much for looking up these things, it's really helpful to have someone else's ideas. My immediate family is not interested.
22-02-2010, 11:22 AM
I can thoroughly empathise with you when it comes to disinterested immediate families.
But I haven't lost interest in yours. So Samuel lost a few years by the time of the 1881 census.
Have you had any luck finding him with his parents in '51?
22-02-2010, 7:31 PM
Thanks for the interest lol. Families eh?
Yes, Samuel did lose a few years on the census but I am assuming that the age on the marriage certificate is nearer to being accurate. I have looked at all the earlier censuses and cannot find a likely fitting Samuel or his father Isaac. Due to Samuel's age it's possible he was independent in 1851 leaving only 1841 to search. I wonder why he married so much later than usual? Could it be possible he was an immigrant? Who knows? I think until I start looking at the Jewish records (procrastinating on that one) I am unlikely to be any closer.
The only reason I am putting off joining Jewish Gen is because I know that once joined I will become absorbed and at the moment I can't spend the time. I usually do most of my 'intense' browsing in the summer when I while away time well into the early hours.
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