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  1. #1

    Default Isaacs Asher/Hyam/Benjamin = Charles Sinclair

    I am a descendent of ‘Professor’ Charles Sinclair – a wizard (1851 Census) and ventriloquist – born Benjamin Isaacs, abt 1825 in Southampton, to Hyam and Amelia Isaacs.

    I have lots of info to share on our wizard but am stuck on his Jewish heritage trying to trace grandparents - Asher Isaacs, married to Betsey Isaacs.

    I consulted Philip who suggested I post out to the Forum to see if you can break down the blockage…..

    Hyam Isaacs (not to be confused with Hyam Burn Isaacs) and Amedia Woolf (daughter of Benjamin and Sara Woolf, Exeter) married 17th Feb 1805 at the Great Synagogue – Synagogue Scribes Ref GSM 092/19.

    They had 5 children that I know of and converted to Christianity with a family baptism at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street 1814. I have a copy of Parish Records from the Guildhall. Children are listed below:

    1. Elizabeth b 9 June 1807, North Street, Exeter
    2. Isaac Isaacs b 4 December 1809, North Street, Exeter
    3. Chapman Isaacs, b 7 March 1812, Commercial Road, London
    4. George Christian Isaacs b 8 March 1814, Commercial Road, London
    5. Benjamin Isaacs was born in 1825/26 [supposedly Southampton] and obviously not included in the mass baptism of 1814.

    We cannot find any trace of Benjamin’s birth and have a theory that he could have been the son of his sister Elizabeth (b. 9th June, 1807). The 1841 Census shows the parents with Hyam (16) and Elizabeth (28 – she was really 35) living in Heavitree.

    Going back to Hyam (Avraham Chaim) … He was born 5th March 1780, Hind Street in Spitalfields, a son to Asher Isaacs (Asher Aryeh Lemon-Man) and Betsey (no details of marriage date or Betsey’s maiden name).

    Asher’s profession on the 1814 Baptism record for Hyam was ‘fruit dealer’. His address in 1814 was Keat Street Spitalfields and I note a reference in Machzor 1807 for Ashur Isaacs address as Keate Court.

    Philip noted several other possible children to Asher Lemon man (Barnett Isaacs b 1801, Chapman Isaacs married 1806) and I hope someone can help with further information on these connections or more on Asher’s origins.

    Thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Super Moderator christanel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Wairarapa New Zealand


    Welcome to the British-Genealogy forums.

    I spent an hour or so looking at this before I had to go to an appointment and didn't find anything you haven't already got. I will do some more searching and others will be along I'm sure when they wake up in the Northern hemisphere
    Sometimes paranoia is just having all the facts.
    William Burroughs

  3. #3


    Thanks Christina for spending an hour on this brick wall. Let's see if anyone else has any leads for us.

  4. #4


    An interesting family history Denione!

    I have only studied Jewish genealogy a little and recall that many Jews, and other dissenters, used the Anglican Church as cover; in other words, to escape persecution. They might have wanted to intentionally blend in with others at the time, and because the provision of work in those days was controlled by the higher class (where religious persuasion was important) it sometimes paid to appear to believe as they did. The same if you wanted poor relief. They may well have converted as you say; or it might be that they did as many others in those early 19th century days.

    One other reason the Anglican Church was used was because non-Anglican registers were not as well kept (although Jewish usually were) and so often children of middle class families were baptised in the Anglican church so that a legal record was kept which would in the future provide a proof of age and parentage; either for occupational pursuits or political or other.

    Regarding Benjamin, many Jewish simply never registered their baptisms, whether in a Jewish synagogue or the established church, so the fact that Benjamin is missing isn't probably reason to suspect something; often the most simplest answer turns out to be the truth. His birth was before civil registration and so that's probably all it was.

  5. #5


    Thanks Annalies, we have wondered if the baptism in 1814 was a cover but Hyam Isaacs, Amelia (wife) and Benjamin Wolfe are apparently listed as founder members of Joseph Frey's Palestine Place.

    Hyam also published a number of books on extolling his Christian beliefs before his suicide age 69 on 10th July 1847 in Exeter. The books are listed on Amazon. We have a first edition of the first book.

    1. Ceremonies, customs, rites, and traditions of the Jews, interspersed with gleanings from the Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmud and the Targums, Mishna, Gemara, Maimonides, etc – 1830
    2. A solemn and affectionate Address to the Jews, clearly demonstrating ... that Jesus Christ is the only and true Messiah - 1835
    3. The awakening of the Jews from their slumbers: together with traditionary tales, etc – 1842

    Hyam's suicide is covered by newspaper article and it was over an argument with his (business) partner and a patent. By all accounts Hyam seems an intelligent man. He is listed as a ‘gentleman’ (1843 marriage certificate for his son Benjamin) and ‘glass cutter’ on his death certificate (1847). Details of his death are covered in newspaper articles and here is an extract from

    Thursday, 15 July 1847, Issue 4257 – Gale Document No. Y3200677464
    CORONER'S INQUEST. - On Saturday last an Inquest was taken before John Warren, Esq., Coroner for Exeter, at the Royal Oak, Milk-street, on the body of HYAM ISAACS, between 60 and 70 years of age, who some years ago acquired no small notoriety from being paraded about at religious meetings as a converted jew, and since which he appears to have lived comfortably without following any business; and about three weeks since returned to this city from Southampton. He had invented a means for preventing accidents from collision on railways, and also an improvement of the buffers, but of which – (as has happened to many others before him,) – the world does not appear to have thought so highly as himself. This preyed on his spirits, and under circumstances of excitement on Saturday morning, he swallowed prussic acid with which he had furnished himself, and life was soon extinct. The Jury returned a verdict of "Destroyed himself while labouring under temporary insanity."

    But my brickwall remains on his parents - Asher and Betsey Isaacs. I will reach out to SOG and Jewish Genealogy Society and continue to hope for a lead here.

  6. #6


    Incredible Denione; what a story - yet such a tragedy and loss! How very fortunate to have a first edition of something written by your ancestor so long ago. And of course, your brickwall as you say remains on his parents. Goes to show that sometimes we answer queries not in the way people wanted us to just because we feel we have something to add!! In reading just these brief messages you've written I am positive you will solve your puzzle; you seem very experienced and industrious in your genealogical pursuits.

    As an afterthought - Dr Penelope Christensen wrote the module about non-Anglican churches, including Jewish, and so she might be someone you could email for her thoughts on this (she is a retired genealogy lecturer and author).

    Best wishes to you

  7. #7
    Newcomer to Brit-Gen
    Join Date
    Mar 2018


    Hi My family records suggest that I too am a descendant of Charles Sinclair through an Arthur Sinclair of Lambeth. A cousin seems to have traced the family to Eastern Europe

  8. #8


    Hi Gordon, great to hear from you and that you have more information. We have Arthur Sinclair on our files as the 8th child born to Benjamin Isaacs and Eliza Paterson on 5th June 1861. Is this the same Arthur? I'd be keen to know what your cousin has discovered on Eastern European roots. We have not managed to get back on Asher and Betsey [details given above]. My father Kenneth [Gordon] Sinclair and I look forward to hearing from you.

  9. #9
    Starting to feel at home
    Join Date
    Feb 2008


    Hello ,
    My GG Uncle was the other Hyam Isaacs [ above] When I was trying to find information about my HB Isaacs , I naturally came across your Hyam quite often... & his son [not listed above] Moses ? The Australian website Founders & Survivors has details & at one time, I was able to access the original records but this facility appears to have vanished. The basic facts however are still available & make for 'interesting' reading...not least in that his Mother's name is recorded as Lavinia & place of birth is Poland .That his father is your Hyam is not in any doubt from the record ; Moses was clearly very proud of him & of the fact that he wrote books [ original record] , Would you know if your Hyam made any trips to Poland?

    Sadly Moses died in 1842 , before he could get home to Devon. This is the website

    All the best with your search Isaacs also came from Europe & I shall follow yours with interest.

  10. #10


    Thank you Ellen for the information about Moses. I had stumbled across him some time ago but couldn't re-trace the link and certainly didn't have the detail of his mother - who is different to the other children [Amelia]. I shall have to do some more research on that angle.

    I'm not aware of trips to Poland but Hyam obviously travelled around. We have a first edition of one of his books which my father diligently read.

    Good luck with your own research and THANK YOU again.


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