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The London Jews Database (pre-1850)

Compiled by Jeffrey Maynard

· Introduction
· Sources
· Search the Database

Introduction

This is a database of names addresses and some other information about Jews who lived in London, UK, in the first half of the nineteenth century.  It has been compiled principally from London trade directories of the period, with a few other sources, such as subscription lists and some printed obituaries.  During this period, many smaller tradesmen literally "lived above the shop" or worked from their homes.  Thus a majority (but not all!) of the business addresses given in directories were also residential addresses.  There are some limitations.  The names were culled from many publications just by recognising Jewish names.  Obviously, there were Jews with non-Jewish sounding names and non-Jews with Jewish sounding names, so there is some room for error.

Many of the directories employed agents to gather information.  However, most agents were reluctant to canvass for names in the slums of Victorian cities.  Directories rarely listed all families in multi-occupied houses.  They tended to emphasise the craftsmen, traders and professional inhabitants.  Few labourers or domestic servants were included.  The directories tend to be more complete in their coverage of business and commercial activities and are often the only reliable source available.

This database of over 9,000 entries was collected over a period of some years, and there is still additional material which was collected in notebooks before the advent of the personal computer, and has yet to be entered.  It is intended that updates will be forthcoming.

Much work went into gathering this material, which is being made available to JewishGen on condition that it is not reprinted or used for commercial purposes.  Those who find it interesting or useful may wish to show their appreciation by a modest charitable contribution to South Shore Yeshiva, William Street, Hewlett, New York.  This school is producing students who will keep the Jewish flame and tradition alive for future generations.

Users will obviously want to query by surname.  A less obvious method is to record the streets that people lived in and then query by street address, using the "Global Text" search type.  This will reveal who (if in the database) lived there earlier or later.  Sometimes businesses were passed on to relatives.

Sources

These are the sources which were used:
  • AlexRit
    Alexanders Hebrew Rituals, published in 1819, is an early book explaining the tenets of the Jewish religion in English.  It has a subscription list that includes names and addresses.

  • Andrew
    Andrews directory of 1790 is early and includes mainly the better class of Jewish merchants.

  • BM3
    This is an eclectic selection of marriage records taken from volume three of Bevis Mark's published records.  Records included, from 1839 to 1860, were chosen because they are connected with families already included in the database.

  • Boyle
    Boyle's directory was published in 1800.  It has a limited selection of Jewish merchants.

  • Britten
    This is a listing of watch and clock makers and the year (from 1769 to 1847) is the year of commencement of each person's activities in this field.

  • GM
    The Gentlemans Magazine.  This is an important source of earlier British obituaries.  It includes some Jews, surprisingly of all classes.  Entries here cover the period 1788 to 1853.

  • Holden
    William Holden issued an earlier Triennial business.  His directories of 1799, 1801, 1802, 1805, 1809 and 1814 were used in the database.  He went out of business in 1814.

  • JC
    These are a selection of family announcements and other advertisements that were printed in the London Jewish Chronicle.  The Jewish Chronicle carried only limited advertising and announcements until the tax on advertisements was abolished in 1853.  However, the records included in the database are selected from the years 1844 to 1869.

  • Johnston
    In 1817 Andrew Johnstone published a four part directory of London that included an alphabetical arrangement of London streets and that also listed the names and occupations of each householder, an alphabetical list of people, and one of trades arranged alphabetically with the names of persons engaged in each trade.  This was the most comprehensive directory of it's time and includes many Jewish tradesmen, shopkeepers and artisans.  The directory was not a financial success, however, and was discontinued after the second edition in 1818.  Both the 1817 and the 1818 editions were consulted for the database.

  • Kent
    Henry Kent issued directories of London merchants from 1734 to 1771.  Afterwards, this directory was published by others until it was discontinued in 1827.  Directories for the years 1795, 1800, 1814, 1818, 1820, 1825 and 1827 were consulted for the database.

  • Machzor
    The David Levi Machzor of 1807.  At the end of volume 6 (Shavuos) there is a subscription list, with names and addresses.

  • Pigot
    James Pigot, who started his career as an engraver in Manchester, produced his first national directory in 1820.  In 1839 he formed a partnership with Isaac Slater, but withdrew from London directories in 1840 because of competition from Kelly (see below).  His directories were successful with information collected by personnel canvass.  They included more Jewish shopkeepers, tradesmen, artisans and others that any previous directories.  The editions of 1824, 1827, 1828, 1832, 1836, 1839 and 1840 were consulted and provided material for the database.

  • PO
    This is the London Post Office Directory, which was taken over in 1835 by Frederick Kelly, who was then chief inspector of the inland letter carriers.  Originally (and controversially) he used Post Office employees to gather information.  They circulated forms on their rounds and sold directories on commission.  Eventually, Kelly's directories bought or destroyed all rivals, being issued annually until the Second World War.  Volumes consulted for the database include 1841, 1846, 1849, 1860, 1861 and 1866.

  • Robson
    Robson's London directories were discontinued because of competition from Kelly.  Years consulted for the database were 1820, 1823, 1828, 1830, 1831, 1835, 1839, 1840, 1841, and 1843.  A hard copy of the 1830 edition is in the Tower Hamlets local history library in Bancroft Road, Mile End.

  • Thompson
    This directory was issued in 1844.

  • TJHSE29
    These are references that were printed in volume 29 of the Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England.

  • Underhill
    This directory was published in 1822.

  • Universal
    The Universal British Directory, compiled largely by John Wilkes was issued in five volumes at irregular intervals between 1790 and 1799.  The records in the database are tken from a volume published in 1798.

  • VOJ
    This is the Voice of Jacob, an Anglo-Jewish newspaper published in London from 1841 to 1846.  The database includes some obituaries, advertisements and other announcements.

  • Wakefield
    This directory was published in 1790.

  • Watkins
    This is an interesting and comprehensive directory that includes detailed listings of streets in the Jewish area of East London.  Material from directories for 1852, 1853 and 1855 is included in the database.  The New York Public Library has hard copies.

  • WesSyn
    These are burials in the Bancroft Road cemetery of the Western Synagogue which were listed in a book about the history of the Western Synagogue.  The Bancroft Road cemetery was severely damaged by a direct hit from a bomb in the Second World War.  Most tombstones were destroyed and the burial records were lost.  The burials were of people who died between 1811 and 1854.

For additional data on the Jews of London, see Anglo-Jewish Miscellanies.

Searching the Database

This database is searchable via the JewishGen U.K. Database.


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Last Update: 15 Jan 2004   WSB
Data Copyright ©1999, 2002 by Jeffrey Maynard.
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