JCR-UK

Boston Hebrew Congregation

& Jewish Community

Boston, Lincolnshire

 

 

   
 


Page created: 17 January 2016
Latest revision or update: 4 September 2016

Jews of Boston, Lincolnshire

by Harold Pollins

(Initially published in Jewish Journal of Sociology, vol 52, 2010, pp. 57-68,
amended in the Jewish Journal of Sociology, vol 53, 2011, pp.81-2.
and reproduced here (with updates) with the kind permission of Harold Pollins)

(By hovering your mouse cursor over the superscript footnote number in the text,
the wording of the footnote will appear in a pop-up box.)

In Anglo-Jewish history the county of Lincolnshire was important in two eras. First, in the Middle Ages the town of Lincoln had a significant Jewish settlement and was particularly notorious for the long-lived blood-libel and myth of Little Hugh of Lincoln. More recently, there has been the community of Grimsby and also the role of that port as a point of entry for Jews and other immigrants. In the 19th century small numbers of Jews settled in several towns in the county - a few at Gainsborough and Louth; rather more at Lincoln, and most at Boston. The Jewish community of Grimsby has greatly declined in recent years, but a new community, a Progressive congregation, was formed in Lincoln in 1992.1. In this article I shall look at Boston.

In his Rise of Provincial Jewry, Cecil Roth devoted a page to the Jews who lived in Boston, and in the 1975 publication, Provincial Jewry in Victorian England., very little more information was added to Roth’s account,2. but it is possible to add considerably to the little that has hitherto been published about its Jewish component.

Cecil Roth ended his book on provincial Jewry at about 1840 although with some references to later events and people. He referred to one man who lived there in the 18th century, about 1779-80, and to Mary Myers who was born in the town in 1799. Otherwise he wrote particularly of Henry Lewis Leo, born c. 1800 in London, who married Mary Myers in Boston in 1822. One person he missed was Sarah Moses, born in Boston in about 1818, daughter of Bedford-born Emanuel, a watch maker, who travelled greatly, three children being born in Ipswich and one in London. Sarah married Swansea-resident John Moses Moses (also born in Bedford) as his second wife in 1852 and settled in Swansea. But more important is the fact that there was apparently a synagogue in Boston, at least as early as 1812. A local newspaper reported a wedding which took place on 29 January 1812 ‘at the Jewish Synagogue in Boston’, between Mr Levy, a Silversmith in the High Street and Miss Levy of Bargate, Boston.3. A synagogue, even if it had been only a room in a dwelling-house, presupposes a number of resident Jews; but their names are unknown. One wonders who conducted the marriage ceremony.

There is no doubt that soon after that, and at least by the 1840s, the community ceased to exist. The Chief Rabbi’s survey of 1845 did not mention Boston, nor did the Religious Census of 1851.4. When the new congregation was formed in the early 1890s the Jewish Chronicle (henceforth JC) said, fairly accurately, that this was after ‘a lapse of nearly a century’.5. Confirmation, perhaps, of the absence of a community is the fact that when two Boston residents were married in the town in 1857 the ceremony was carried out by Rev. L. Goldberg of the Nottingham Hebrew Congregation. The celebrants were Rosina Leo, the youngest daughter of Henry Lewis Leo, and Benjamin Abrahams, and it took place in her father’s house in Red Lion Street, Boston.6.

Rosina Leo had been born in Hull in about 1830 but her two sisters, Abigail and Elizabeth, were born in Boston in about 1826 and 1828 respectively; they remained unmarried. Roth said that ‘the Leo family’ were ‘traditionally quill-pen manufacturers, and at the same time cigar and sweet-merchants’. In the 1841 Census Leo is described as a ‘quill dresser’, in 1851 as a general shopkeeper, and in 1861 as a tobacconist. He died just before the 1871 Census but his widow then became the tobacconist, in the few months before she died.7. 

There were many items about Boston in the JC from its beginnings in 1841 but apart from a report of 1848 describing a public meeting in favour of the Bill to allow Jews to sit in Parliament, they were almost entirely about the Leo family. They consisted largely of their contributions to various Jewish charities, sometimes noting that the money had been collected from Christian friends.8.

A curious story about Henry Lewis Leo appeared in a local newspaper, which was picked up and partly reprinted in the Jewish Chronicle. It stated:

THE GUILD OF WORMGATE. - Election of a Jew Mayor. The members of the above Guild assembled in strong force on Monday evening last at their hotel (the Dog and Duck) in Wormgate to inaugurate the Mayor (Mr. H.L. Leo) for the ensuing municipal year. After which a splendid supper was served by the host, and a very pleasant evening was spent. The usual loyal toasts were given and responded to in an enthusiastic manner, not forgetting our glorious allies, the French (which by some carelessness or other cause was omitted at the dinner given to F. Cooke, Esq. at the Town Hall on Friday last.) The health of the Lord Mayor of London was also received with great applause, and responded to by the Mayor, who congratulated the citizens of London and the Guild of Wormgate on the liberality of spirit displayed by them in electing their magisterial officers from members of the Jewish persuasion - a class hitherto debarred from public offices similar to those to which he and Mr. Salomons had been elected.

This was a strange news item. The Mayor of Boston was not Henry Lewis Leo but Frederick Cooke who was indeed the Mayor for three years, 1853-6.9. 

It has been suggested to me that this was an ironic view of the recent dinner given to Cooke, the Mayor-elect, and compared the recent election of David Salomons to be the Lord Mayor of London with the absence of a Jew in municipal office in Boston.10. 

It was not until the 1880s that any sort of Jewish communal activity took place in Boston. Table I indicates that there was a small increase of population by then when, in addition to the Leo family, a few Jews had lived in the town.

Table I

Jewish Population of Boston, at the decennial Censuses 1841-1911

Census Year

Jewish Population

1841

19

1851

11

1861

 7

1871

 6

1881

8 (+1?)

1891

18

1901

41

1911

53

Notes
1. Jews are identified in the Census by name, country of birth, and occupation. Several are mentioned by name in the JC.
2. The additional 1 in 1881 is with a question mark because this refers to Lina Frank, a domestic servant from Germany, in the household of Lewis Szapira, who may have been Jewish.

At the 1841 Census the 19 Jews comprised two families: six were of the Leo family, including his mother-in-law, all born in the UK; the other family was that of Daniel Cohen, a general dealer, amounting to seven, five of whom were born abroad. There were also six single men, born abroad, two tailors, a hatter, and three jewellers. The Leo and Cohen families were still there in 1851 (the latter family less three sons), as were three travellers (sc. hawkers) residing in a lodging house. One of these three was Abraham Moses who may well have been the same Abraham Moses who was in Boston at the 1841 Census. He moved to Lincoln in the 1850s as did the Cohen family, thus markedly reducing the small Boston population. Cohen’s wife died in Lincoln in 1868 and the husband in 1872. In Boston in the 1861 Census there now just the Leos, less the now-married daughter Rosina, who was with her husband and two children, born in Coventry where the family lived. However, her eldest daughter, Pamela Kate, was with her grandparents in Boston where she had been born. In addition, in Boston in 1861 there were also two transient travellers. As mentioned above, Henry Leo and his wife died in the early 1870s, and their business came to an end. The Leo connection with Boston remained, however, with the continued residence of the two unmarried daughters Abigail and Elizabeth, who were reported in the 1881 Census as having ‘Income from houses and dividends’ and in 1891 as ‘Living on own means’. Elizabeth died in Boston in 1892 and Abigail in the same town in 1908.

To conclude this early history, a new name appeared in the 1871 Census; This was Szapira, a family to be associated with Boston for many years. Two Polish immigrants, Lewis Szapira and Annie Lave were married in the Boston Register Office in 1870. The groom had a curious history. At the 1861 Census he was an inmate of the Operative Jewish Convert Institution in Palestine Place, Bethnal Green, and in 1859 had been baptised in the Episcopal Jews’ Chapel, associated with the conversion institution. Yet his family was to be closely associated with the Jewish community, and he was buried in a Jewish cemetery.11.

After their marriage in 1870 in Boston they apparently moved to the East End of London. According to the various Census reports, their first child, Moses, was born in London in 1870; yet curiously the birth of Moses Myer Szapira was registered in the Boston district in the December quarter of 1870. While the family had a continual association with Boston, at the 1871 Census Lewis was living in Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London, as a general dealer (in the Census his name was recorded as ‘Lewis Sypird’) while his wife Annie was in Boston as a picture dealer. The husband must have returned to Boston quite soon as another three sons were born there by 1882. In the 1881 Census his occupation given as ‘shop keeper general’. Lewis died in 1885 but it is interesting that his household, at the 1881 Census, included a ‘servant’, one Gambert Fitelson, from Courland (sc Latvia), who, as ‘shop keeper’s assistant’, presumably worked in the Szapira’s shop (rather than someone else’s). Fitelson (renamed ‘George’) was to be an important figure in the soon-to-be-established Jewish community in Boston, but left late in the 1890s for Manchester. Lewis’s widow, Annie Szapira, remarried in 1895 and went to live in Cardiff with her second husband, Solomon William Joseph, a pawnbroker, with whom she was recorded there in 1901. But in the 1911 Census she was back in Boston, as a jeweller and antique dealer, with her son Samuel while her husband was in Cardiff. Another son, Moses Szapira, was also in Boston, as an antique dealer. He had nine children, all born in Boston. Annie’s husband Solomon died in Cardiff in 1921; she died in Boston in 1924. I shall return to her.

In July 1892 the JC printed its first news of communal activity in Boston:12. 

BOSTON. After a lapse of nearly a century, a Jewish Congregation has again been formed at Boston (Lincolnshire). Divine services were held for the first time a fortnight ago by Mr. W. S. Woolman. There are but five Jewish families in the town, and funds being small, and the expenses at the outset large, the congregation seek help from outside. Mr. G. Fitelson, the President, of Emery Lane, will gladly receive contributions.

Cecil Roth quoted the Jewish Year Book that ‘two congregations existed at Boston at different times, one at the end of the nineteenth century’. He correctly averred that the latter was ‘at one time … properly organised, with a marriage secretary under whose auspices a wedding between two local residents was solemnised in the Synagogue’. I take it that they were the Russian-born Abraham Lipman and Polish-born Lena Yansberg/Yansburg, married in 1892; the latter (as Johansburg) was Annie Szapira’s housekeeper in 1891. They left Boston soon afterwards for Scotland where three children were born, and a fourth in Manchester in 1900.

At a general meeting of the congregation, held in October, 1892, Fitelson (a draper) was re-elected President, and Wolf Robinson (a picture frame maker, born in Poland), having retired as Treasurer, Max Goldstein was unanimously elected Treasurer and Secretary. In the following month the President of the Board of Deputies was authorised to certify for the first time, in the person of Mr Marks (sic) Goldstein, the Registrar for Marriages for the Boston Hebrew Congregation.13. The congregation obtained a Sepher Torah at a cost of £12. More than that was raised, mostly from people living elsewhere, and the surplus money was to be spent on a megillah.14.  I have managed to find four Jewish households in Boston in the 1891 Census: they were headed respectively by Annie Szapira, Wolf Robinson, George Fitelson, and the 77-year old Abigail Leo. I have been unable to find Max (or Marks) Goldstein or W. S. Woolman, unless the latter was a misprint for S. Wolman who may have formally been appointed minister at Boston, following an advertisement of the autumn of 1893:15.

‘BOSTON HEBREW CONGREGATION WANTED,

for Boston, Lincolnshire, a YOUNG MAN (single), authorised to act as Shochet. Salary £30 per annum, which can be increased by an industrious person. Apply Mr. Cannin(sic), Secretary 51 Pen-street. Boston, Lincolnshire’.

This Secretary was Abraham Canin, who had been elected Treasurer and Secretary earlier in the year in the place of M. Goldstein who had resigned on leaving the town.16, Canin was a shadowy character but was probably a brother of Leopold (Leo) Canin, who was in Annie Szapira’s household in 1891 and who became an officer of the congregation in due course. Abraham Canin married Bessie Dight of Birmingham in 1893 and stayed in Boston for at least a year as a daughter was born in the town in 1894. Leo married Bertha Tudelowitz (or Judelwich) in Liverpool in 1896 and the family settled in Boston.

In the meantime, although this was a small community, hopeful reports emanated from it. Thus in September 1893 the JC noted: ‘BOSTON (LINCOLN.) This year, many persons who formerly went to Grimsby or Hull to attend service in synagogue preferred to pass the festivals in Boston. The services were conducted by the Rev. S. Wolman, assisted by Mr. Levy, of Hull. A choir trained by the Rev. S. Wolman added to the solemnity of the services’. And in the same issue of the newspaper the community’s Hatan Torah (G. Fitelson) and Hatan Bereshit ( Abraham Canin) were noticed. In March 1894 Abraham Canin became the Marriage Secretary in place of Goldstein.17.

At the end of March 1894, ‘A meeting of the Boston Congregation, for the purpose of reorganisation, was held on Sunday, and was presided over by Mr. M. L. Dight of Birmingham, who was on a visit to the town‘. Dight was the father-in-law of Abraham Canin who was elected President. Mr. W. Robinson, and Mr. M. Marks were respectively elected Treasurer and Hon. Secretary. The Rev. S. Rudnitzky delivered an address, and arranged to give expositions of the Pentateuch on Sunday afternoons’.18. Perhaps Rudnitzky was the new minister of Boston. Or he may have been a visiting minister, to replace Wolman. The latter must have left Boston as he was at Hull in 1894 and was married at Brynmawr in 1895 and became the minister of that town’s congregation soon afterwards.19.

Perhaps the highlight of the congregation’s history was its first bar mitzvah, in 1894. The JC reported:20.

The congregation having been but recently established, a Barmitzvah which took place last Sabbath aroused more than ordinary interest. Many Christian friends attended the ceremony. Mrs. L. Szapira, the mother of the youth (who read the usual portion, a younger brother reading the Haphtorah), has resided in Boston for nearly a quarter century, and is much respected by the Christian townspeople.

Yet any euphoria about these events were short-lived. Within a few months, as early as February 1895, there was a reference, at a meeting of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, to the ‘transfer of one of the Marriage Register Books of the extinct congregation at Boston (Lincolnshire) to the Board’, and three months later the Board again referred to ‘the Boston Congregation which had … become extinct’.21. It had clearly lost members who had moved away; three have been mentioned: Max Goldstein, Abraham Canin (a daughter was born in Birmingham in 1896), and Abraham Lipman.

In 1895 the JC reported:22.

Thirty-five Russian Jews arrived at Boston (Lincolnshire) in a more or less destitute condition on Tuesday evening. They were, in the first instance, expelled from Russia, travelled to Egypt, and were there sent to Alexandria, from which port they were despatched by a local Committee in a cotton vessel, the “Palatine” to Boston. They were landed on Wednesday morning, and received by Mrs. L. Szapira, who provided them with food and clothing. One family possessed sufficient money to proceed to America, but the rest were totally destitute, and in accordance with their wish were forwarded to London. One woman is left with seven children, her husband having remained in Alexandria, and a girl sustained a fractured arm on the voyage. There was practically no accommodation for the party on the vessel, and many of them slept among the ship’s coal supply en route.

Their sojourn in Boston did not last long. The majority had gone after a fortnight, leaving for the USA on 5th March apart from one couple who remained in the town and were to be set up in business. ‘During their stay in Boston’, reported the JC, ‘they were provided by food by Mrs. Szipire(sic) and Mr. Robinson, with the help of other kind friends’ They were Mrs. Annie Szapira and Wolf Robinson. (I have been unable to discover the identity of the couple who remained.) In the same issue of the JC there was a report of a meeting of the Russo-Jewish Committee at which ‘Letters of acknowledgement were … ordered to be sent to Mrs. Szapira, and the Mayor of that town in recognition of the humanity with which the refugees had been treated at Boston’. The episode ended with a court case at Newcastle upon Tyne Police Court at which ‘swift and condign punishment has overtaken the captain who brought 38 Jewish passengers from Alexandria to Boston (Lincs) in the “Palatine”, under circumstances which are most discreditable’.23.

Roth neglected to mention the demise of the 1892 congregation and its succession by a second one, which came into existence some time in the late 1890s. A notice in the JC in 1900 is tantalising in reporting that ‘The New Year services were held as usual in Boston. Mr. T. Hoppenstadt, of Leeds, officiated’.24. Clearly they had begun before this. From desultory newspaper reports, in subsequent years, it appears that a formal congregation was established but without a recognised building for prayer and meetings. Thus in 1904 there was reference to a President, S. Barnett, and that a hall had been engaged for services ‘on the High Festivals’. Mr Hoppenstadt of Leeds had acted as Baal Korah and Baal Tokeah. He conducted the services again in 1905.25. I take it that ‘S. Barnett’ was Solomon Barnett, a Master Tailor, an immigrant from eastern Europe along with his wife who had previously lived in Hull but whose first child in Boston was born there in 1903. He was still there at the time of the 1911 Census and later.

In the meantime, there was an event affecting Moses Szapira which is worth recording. In 1901 he was charged with attempting to commit suicide. The evidence at the preliminary hearing at the Boston Police Court was that he had drunk some laudanum and had to have his stomach pumped. His evidence was that, although a teetotaller, he had met some men, had had too much to drink and had taken the laudanum which he had bought to treat his wife’s toothache. However at least two witnesses stated that he had threatened to commit suicide. At the Quarter Sessions he pleaded guilty, evidence being given that he had twice before threatened to commit suicide, in 1899 and 1900. The magistrates had dismissed the charges on the prisoner’s promises - on the last occasion, to go to South Africa. He was sentenced to three months hard labour.26. Apparently he settled down, produced several more children - three of whom died young (Frank aged 17 in 1919; Vera aged 21 in 1926; and Trixie aged 21 in 1930) - was bankrupt in 1914, and died in London in 1945.

There is stronger evidence of an organised community, to accommodate growing numbers (42 in 1901, 53 in 1911). Rev. Solomon Chaitowitz (born 1880) arrived in England in the early years of the century and settled in Boston where he was the minister in 1906. A son, Isaac, was born in the town in that year and he, and another son, Abraham, born after the family had left Boston, both became rabbis.27. The obituary of the father says that he was in Boston until 1910 but there is only one reference in the JC to him in the town, mentioning that he had officiated at the Hanucah services in 1906. A report from nearly two years later refers to Rev S. Michaelson delivering an address to the congregation at a meeting held in the house of the Treasurer, Mr Jackson.28. Moreover, from 1908 several children were born in Whitechapel to Solomon and Jane Chaitowitz.

However, despite the existence of an organised congregation it was deficient in one respect: it did not have a cemetery.29. Those who died in Boston were necessarily buried in cemeteries in other towns. Rosina Myers (1847) was buried in Hull as were her daughter Mary Pamela Leo (1872) who died a year after her husband Henry Lewis Leo, and their two unmarried daughters, Elizabeth (1892) and Abigail (1908), all buried in Hull. Lewis Szapira (1885) and his wife - after her second marriage - Annie Joseph Szapira (1924) were also buried there. In addition four (unnamed) others were buried in Grimsby.30.

The 1911 Census saw the largest number of Jews living in the town; there were eight families and a total of at least 53 people. Of that total, 35 were accounted for by four families of 11, 9, 8, and 7 persons. Only one household head, and his wife, had been born in Britain (Moses and Beatrice Szapira, and they had lived in Boston as a married couple since at least 1894); most of the others were born in eastern Europe, but had been in the UK for some time - one (Annie Szapira Joseph) had been married in Boston in 1870. Five of the immigrant families had been in Britain for over a decade, one of them (Solomon Barnett) having lived in Hull before arriving in Boston; and only two less than a decade, one (Harry Brookfield) first settling in Leeds. Whatever their history, they were mostly occupied in typical immigrant trades. A general draper; a traveller (pedlar); a picture frame maker; an antique dealer; another antique dealer who combined that trade with jewellery; a tailor; a merchant tailor (with a live-in domestic servant); and the market trader, selling lace curtains, already mentioned.

Such a number might be thought to have laid the foundation for a small but organised congregation, but there is little evidence that that was so. References to ‘Boston’ in the JC are certainly very numerous, but almost all refer to Boston, USA. In the years up to the Great War one comes across the occasional bar mitzvah of a Boston boy but held at the Grimsby Synagogue. There are letters from Boston children in the ‘Young Israel’ section of the JC indicating the continuing residence there of some Jews. At least three men, all Boston born, served in the Great War: a Pte S. Canin, 4 Lincolnshire Regiment, was listed in the JC, 2 April 1915 page 11. I take him to be Solomon Canin, son of Leo. Two members of the Boston Szapira family served. Cpl S. Szapira was mentioned in the JC 25 September 1914 p. 13, as serving in the Lincolnshire Yeomanry, and in the Medal Roll at The National Archives, he was a Sergeant in that regiment. He was Samuel Szapira, son of Annie, and his pension papers have survived at The National Archives (WO/364). He was a pre-war soldier, having joined the Lincolnshire Yeomanry on 7 November 1912. His papers give his age as 31 and occupation as jeweller. These are consistent with his entry in the 1911 Census, which shows him as aged 30, and working as an assistant to his mother, who was a jeweller and antique dealer. Despite illness, which resulted in his being medically downgraded in 1916, he remained in the army. The third soldier was Leo David Szapira, son of Moses, and nephew of Samuel. His papers have also survived at The National Archives and they show that he had been in the Territorial Army and that he joined the Royal Scots, at Manchester, on 5 November 1914, aged 20. He had an undistinguished and very short army career. He was discharged a few weeks later, on 16 December 1914 on medical grounds, for ‘internal derangement of knee joint‘.

The large number of 1911 did not prevent the rapid ending of the formal community. The report of the Board of Deputies on defunct communities, completed in March 1915, included Boston among the 12 congregations that it studied.31. Perhaps the last word was said by Cecil Roth. In an article on the history of Jews in Penzance, he lamented the ending of some historic communities. ‘It is hard to believe that synagogues once functioned - and not so very long ago - in places like Boston, Bedford. Ipswich, and Falmouth.’32. The major reason for the decline was an exodus from the town. Sophia, daughter of Wolf Teper, wrote in 1914 to ‘Young Israel’:33. ‘My parents have just left the town for Hull’. Sophia explained that she was staying in Boston for the time being to finish her schooling, but continued, ‘I have five younger brothers. and my father has left Boston, where there are very few Jewish people, in order that they may be brought up amongst Jewish people, so that they shall become good and true members of the Jewish community’. The wife of Moses Szapira had two children in Boston and nearby Spilsby, Lincolnshire, in 1911 and 1913 but the 1914 army papers of their son Leo David Szapira give his parents’ address as 58 Petherton Road, Highbury New Park, London, and indeed they had two children born in Islington in 1915 and 1917. In 1919 Leo was in Hove and the Szapira family married and scattered. Moses and his son Leopold David changed their surname by Deed Poll to Napier.34. But Moses’s brother Bernard retained for a time the name Szapira; the births of his three children were registered in that name.35.

However, a few other Jews remained in Boston. In 1914 S. Barnett, Boston, advertised in the JC.36. A list of towns in Britain and the colonies which had contributed to the ‘Fund for the Relief of Jewish Victims of the War in Russia’, published in 1915, included Boston.37. Two of the children of Harris Rappaport, who died in Birkenhead in 1917, were mourners, mentioned in his death notice as ‘Miss Sophia, Boston’, and ‘Isaac, Boston)’.38. Harry Brookfield‘s family were still in the town in 1919, appearing in the JC Supplement that year as sending their New Year Greetings. At least three families were in Boston after the first World War and were mentioned in Kelly’s Directory of Lincolnshire, 1919. One was Annie Joseph (in business under the name Szapira) who died in Boston in 1924, and there were Leo Canin, Picture Frame Maker, and Solomon Barnett, Tailor. Leo Canin’s daughter, Hilda - born in Boston in 1905 - was married there in 1929. Her parents, Bertha and Leo, went to Hull where they died in 1937 and 1943 respectively.

Table II

Birthplaces of Jews of Boston, in the decennial Censuses, 1851-1911

Birthplace

1851

1861

1871

1881

1891

1901

1911

United Kingdom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Boston

 2

4

4

 3

 8

14

23

  Grimsby

 

 

 

 

 1

 1

 

  Lincoln

 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Hull

 1

 

 

 

 

 

 4

  Leeds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2

  London

 2

1

1

 1

 1

 4

 2

  Southampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2

  Sunderland

 

 

 

 

 2

 

 

Abroad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Germany/Austria

 5

 

 

 1?

 

 1

 2

  Eastern Europe

 

2

1

 4

 6

21

18

  South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 1

 

Totals

11

7

6

8+1?

18

42

53

Notes
1. The 1851 Census was the first in which countries/towns of birth were individually identified.
2. The extra 1 in 1881 refers to Lina Frank, who may have been Jewish.

In the period of large-scale immigration of Jews from eastern Europe, from about 1870-1914, most settled in London but very few of them settled in other towns of southern Britain. They went to the industrial towns of the north and south Wales to create new communities or expand older ones. As Table II shows, while the numbers from eastern Europe coming to Boston increased in the latter part of the period, they amounted to only a handful. Some had lived in other towns in Britain before coming to Boston. In 1901 half the Jewish population had been born in eastern Europe, amounting to 17; ten years later, in 1911, virtually the same number (18) formed about one-third of the population. The trouble is, we have no idea what attracted them to the town - as distinct from others - or why they left. Notably, the largest contingent in 1911 was born in Boston. Of the 23 born in Boston, as many as 14 were accounted for by two families: Moses Szapira and his wife (both born in Britain) had nine Bostonian-born children; as mentioned above they had four more children after the 1911 Census. At that Census, Wolf Teper and his wife (both born abroad) had five.  


Footnotes    (returns to main text)

  1. Daphne and Leon Gerlis. The Story of the Grimsby Jewish Community, Humberside Heritage Publication, No. 10, Hull, 1986. Jewish Chronicle (henceforth JC), 15 January 2010, Community Section, p.C2: ’…communities in the north, like Darlington and Grimsby … had functioning, viable communities. Now they are hanging on by their fingernails’. For the current Progressive congregation http://www.jewishgen.org/JCR-UK/Community/lincoln1/index.htm and http://www.bbc.co.uk/lincolnshire/asop/people/jewish_community.shtml .

  2. Cecil Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry, 1950, pp.33-4. This is available at http://www.jewishgen.org/JCR-UK/community/Boston/index.htm Aubrey Newman (compiler), Provincial Jewry in Victorian Jewry, sv ‘Boston’, n.p.

  3. Lincoln, Rutland & Stamford Mercury, 31 January 1812. Printed in ’The Teresa Williams Column’, Journal of the Lincolnshire Family History Society, vol. 21 no. 2, May 2010, p. 80. Thanks to Pat Pomeroy of the Boston branch of the Lincolnshire Family History Society for apprising me of this.

  4. Bernard Susser (transcriber), ‘Statistical Accounts of all the Congregations in the British Empire 5606/1845’, in Aubrey Newman (ed.), ‘op. cit., (the Chief Rabbi‘s survey); V.D.Lipman, ‘A Survey of Anglo-Jewry in 1851’, Trans. Jew. Hist. Soc. of England, vol.17, 1953, pp. 171-88, for an examination of the Religious Worship Census of 1851. The figures from the 1845 survey were reprinted in JC, 23 July 1845, p. 201, but with misprints.

  5. JC, 8 July 1892, p. 17.

  6. ibid., 27 February 1857, p. 913. Also Lincoln Mercury, 27 February 1857 (from Pat Pomeroy). I take it that the wedding was carried out by a Nottingham officiant, and was thus registered in that town, because there was no Jewish Secretary for Marriages in Boston. Rosina was probably named after her grandmother, Rosina Myers (called Rosina Lyons in Roth’s book, p. 34), who died in Boston in 1847: JC, 31 December 1847, p. 379.

  7. Strangely, the notice of his death on 10th March 1871 describes him as ‘MRCP, of Bevis Marks, London’. Roth (page 33) notes that his father was ‘Dr. Lewis Leo of Bevis Marks’. It is likely that the death notice was garbled and was meant to read that he was the son of Dr Leo. The death notice is reprinted from the JC in Doreen Berger, The Jewish Victorian: Genealogical Information from the Jewish Newspapers 1871-1880, Witney, Robert Boyd Publications, 1999, p.313.

  8. JC, 14 January 1848, pp.391-2: Report of meeting in favour of the removal of ‘the disabilities of the Jews’. ibid., 25 January 1861, p. 1: for the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor (London), 10 shillings from ‘Miss Elizabeth Leo, Boston, collected by her in small sums from benevolent Christian friends’.

  9. Boston and Louth Guardian, 14 November 1855. An abridged version was published in the JC, 23 November 1855, p. 389. I have checked this with the Boston Library who have consulted many publications on the history of Boston. They all agreed that the Mayor in 1855-6 was Frederick Cooke and there is no reference to Leo in that position. I am grateful to Lisa Brown of the Library for her assistance.

  10.  I wish to acknowledge the help and advice of Pat Pomeroy. She also suggested that there was no Guild of Wormgate; rather it was probably a diners’ club at the Dog & Duck hotel.

  11.  The baptism is listed in http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/DB.aspx?dbid=1558. At least two sons had synagogue marriages and a grandson was bar mitzvah. On the marriage certificate Annie’s name was Lave yet, curiously, in the 1881 Census the mother-in-law of Lewis, her husband, was Marie Rachman. 17 March 1903, p. 1,816.

  12.  JC, 8 July 1892, p. 17.

  13.  ibid., 14 October 1892, p. 16; ibid., 25 November 1892, p. 11

  14.  ibid., 24 February 1893 p.1; 17 March 1893, p. 3.

  15.  ibid., 25 August 1893, p. 15.

  16.  ibid., 31 March 1893, p. 19.

  17.  Synagogue report., ibid., 29 September 1893, p. 14; hatan torah etc. ibid., p. 16; marriage secretary, ibid 23 March 1894, p. 9.

  18.  ibid., 30 March 1894, p. 18. He then went to the Oxford synagogue: ibid., 11 October 1895, p. 18 and 1 October 1897, p. 20. Also, David M. Lewis, The Jews of Oxford, Oxford, Oxford Jewish Congregation, 1992, p.106.

  19.  Hull, Wolman ‘late of Boston‘; ibid., 23 February 1894, p.16; Brynmawr, ibid., 13 March 1896, p.22. For a brief mention of Wolman see Harold Pollins, ‘The Jewish Community of Brynmawr, Wales’, The Jewish Journal of Sociology, vol.50, nos. 1 and 2, 2008, pp. 12-13

  20.  ibid., 20 July 1894, p. 22. I take it that the bar mitzvah was Sampson (also called Samuel) who was aged 13 in 1894. Perhaps the older brother was Solomon, born 1872, or Moses born 1870. Soon afterwards Sampson and another brother Bernard was pupils at Isidore Berkowitz’s Tivoli House School, Gravesend, Kent; ibid., 29 January 1897, p. 24., in a list of pupils at the school who had passed the examination of the College of Preceptors. They are named as S. and B. Szapira, of Boston.

  21.  Marriage Register Books, ibid., 22 February 1895, p, 7; congregation extinct, ibid., 17 May 1895.

  22.  ibid., 22 February 1895, p. 13.

  23. food supplied, ibid., 8 March 1895, p. 8; Russo-Jewish Committee; ibid., p. 10; court case, ibid., 23 March 1895, p. 7.

  24. ibid., 28 September 1900, p. 26. My italics

  25. President, ibid., 16 September 1904, p. 6; services, ibid, 13 October 1905, p. 31

  26. The Boston Independent, 23 March 1901; ibid, 13 April 1901. Supplied by Pat Pomeroy.

  27. JC, 20 May 1966, p. 23. Obituary of Rev Solomon Chaitowitz; ibid., 24 July 1936, p.12, profile of Isaac Chaitowitz.  In 1948 Isaac obtained his rabbinical diploma, after having served as a chaplain to the forces in the Second World War. He had earlier changed his name to Chait. JC, 16 July 1948, p. 17.

  28. ibid., 18 September 1908, p. 27. This was presumably Harry Jackson, who had arrived with his family from Russian Poland at the turn of the century and had probably settled immediately in Boston - a child was born there in 1902. He was a market trader, selling lace curtains, according to the 1911 Census.

  29. Roth, p. 34, however, said that ‘an old lady of eighty-five, resident there in 1915, stated that an infant brother of hers had been buried locally’.

  30. For Hull: http://data.jewishgen/wconnect/wc.dll?jg-jgsearch-model2-[jowbr]j-England. To access this one needs to go to http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/uk and then login. For Grimsby: Gerlis, op. cit., p. 75, which relate to the period beginning February 1896. Mrs Annie Szapira, although buried in Hull, apparently had close connections with Grimsby. She raised money from ‘friends in Grimsby’ for the Sepher Torah (JC, 24 February 1893, p. 2) and she also presented a stained-glass window to Grimsby synagogue in memory of her mother and husband (JC, 8 June 1906, p. 37.)

  31. JC, 26 March 1915, p. 17, stated that the report on defunct communities had been completed but would not be issued yet; ibid., 7 July 1933, p. 10, a letter mentions the report and lists the defunct communities which included Boston.

  32. ibid., 2 June 1933, Supplement, p. iii.

  33. ibid., 20 February 1914, ‘Young Israel’, p. 3.

  34. Deed Polls in the London Gazette: Moses Myer Szapira/Napier, 10 December 1918, p. 14,606, living in Highbury, London; Leopold David Bernhard Szapira/Napier, 28 February 1919, p. 2,908, living in Hove.

  35. They were Lewis P., 1923, Nottingham; Barbara A, 1927, Finchley, London ; and Shirley, 1929, Blackpool. The JC, in announcing the last two births, referred to the parents as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Bernard (Szapira)’, 25 March 1927, p. 1, and as ‘Mr. and Mrs. Bernard (Szapira)’, 12 April 1929, p.1. The engagement of ‘Miss Bernard (Szapira)’ to an American air force man was announced in the JC on 18 January 1946, p. 11. She was Shirley, described as ‘youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Bernard’. I have found no entry in the London Gazette for a change of name by means of a Deed Poll from Szapira to Bernard.

  36. JC, 7 April 1914, p. 3. This was probably Solomon Barnett.

  37. ibid., 24 November 1915, p. 15.

  38. ibid., 3 August 1917, p. 2.

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