The Keyzor & Joseph Family
Australian family history researcher Keira Quinn Lockyer reveals the highs and lows experienced over information and misinformation contained within the Susser Archives
Date of original article: 23 April 2001
For many family historians, particularly those who have Jewish ancestors but have not been brought up in a Jewish home, the Susser Archives on the Web are a wonderful source of information and inspiration.
Because of the contents of these Archives, I believed for a time that I might have been descended from the Joseph and Levy families of Falmouth, England. Had I been, the information therein would have brought my ancestors vividly to life for my family and me and provided us with hundreds of interesting cousins.
I stumbled onto the Archives by recommendation and my life is richer for the experience, particularly after reading Item 156 'Records of My Family by Israel Solomon, New York, 1887'. The Archives also taught me a most valuable lesson about never trusting the written word until you have proven it with another source.
The Search for Benjamin Joseph.
Since January 2000, I have been researching the background of my great, great, great grandfather by the name of Benjamin Joseph, born c1790-1792, who died in 1838 in London. On official documents, his occupation has been given at one time or another as a broker, a furniture broker, a watchmaker and coffee house keeper.
We now know he was married to an Amelia Harris and, when he died at a relatively young age, some of her children went to live with various Joseph and Harris relatives.
Benjamin and Amelia had seven known children who have now been well researched: Alfred Joseph, Henry Joseph, and daughters Marian Maria, Jane, Belle, Bloom and Julia Joseph, my great, great grandmother. From Benjamin's will of 1838 we understand there was an older child, a son Isaac: we have yet to find out more about him than a name.
The two sons Alfred and Henry settled in Sydney, Australia, the girls stayed in London. Jane and Julia both married into the Kyezor/Keyzor family.
Jenny King, an Australian and an unrelated but so helpful fellow researcher I met on the Web, found an Australian Israelite death notice and sent it to me. It read as follows:
Discovering The Susser Archives
In January 2001, via the Web, a Chris Joseph of New Zealand, who had been asked to help me by an Edward Joseph of England, advised me to check out the Susser Archives Site. He said it had extremely detailed information on the Joseph families of Falmouth and Plymouth and that a number of them had come to Australia.
Imagine my delight when I found inside the archives, detailed family trees drawn up under Item 178 with the title Coats Of Many Colours - An Account of the Joseph Families of the English Speaking World, by Wilfred S. Jessop, Attorney at Law. Privately printed in 1951 in Chicago, America, it contained accompanying notes that included reference to the Australian Israelite death notice.
Jessop's Pedigree of Abraham Joseph and Hannah Levy J.10B, showed Joseph Joseph (1791-1872) as their eldest son and that Mrs. Maurice Menser was Arabella, the daughter of Joseph's brother Barnett. (To me this was a confirmation she was Joseph's niece.)
Note No. 62 for the Pedigree stated as published:
Another of Jessop's Trees, LEVY of Falmouth and Plymouth W.10, showed the family of Barnett and Esther Levy and that their daughter Hannah Levy (1770-1851) had married Abraham Joseph, son of Joseph Joseph of Mulhouse, Alsace.
It looked as if I had found two more generations of my family, and with a great deal of conviction and exhilaration, I believed there was enough evidence to look further into this link to the Falmouth Josephs. I just had to prove that my Benjamin Joseph was the brother of this Joseph Joseph.
On the Pedigree, Abraham Joseph had only six children shown, not the normal ten or twelve for those days. So I assumed it was possible there was another son by the name of Benjamin, maybe the black sheep of the Joseph family, who had lost touch with his siblings. (It was also of interest that Joseph Joseph of Falmouth had a sister Julia and a brother Henry, two of the names used by my Benjamin for his children.)
Understanding that Dr. Anthony Joseph of Birmingham was a known authority on a number of Joseph families and had written about the Plymouth and Falmouth Josephs and their Australian connections, I wrote to him seeking his help about Benjamin.
Meanwhile, I avidly read everything about the Josephs and the Levys in the Susser Archives (and what wonderful stories are contained therein) and continued my search.
Before I saw the Falmouth Joseph Pedigrees, I had not known the first name of Mrs. Morris Menser, or her maiden name. When I found out from Sydney records she was known as Rebecca Menser I began to wonder, although this fact did not cause great concern as Rebecca could have been her second or Hebrew name and the one she used in Australia. However the Falmouth Pedigree said Arabella Menser had two daughters called Helen and Lucy and I could not see that that was possible with the information I had on the birth of her children in Australia.
So I investigated Rebecca Menser of Sydney in greater detail, with the help of Joseph and Menser family history researchers registered with JewishGen.
It was quite a shock when I found out that Rebecca had been born in Liverpool and was the daughter of Abraham Chapman and Amelia Benjamin and there was no connection to Barnett Joseph of Falmouth.
About the same time Dr. Joseph wrote back expressing his concern that, according to his most detailed records of the Joseph Family, I had the wrong information on the birth/death years of Joseph Joseph of Falmouth. He had the years 1802 - 1877 on his family tree. He also advised that he understood that Arabella Joseph (1844-1938), daughter of Barnett Joseph of Falmouth, had married a Maurice Myer, not a Morris Menser.
When I provided Dr. Joseph with the detailed information I had found in the Susser Archives he was most concerned as to how such misinformation had been included in Jessop's family trees. This in turn generated a letter to Frank J. Gent of the Exeter Synagogue to see if the error could be noted.
Now, hopefully, another family historian reading this will know the answers and can pass on information about the children and descendants of Joseph Joseph and Barnett Joseph of Falmouth.
Later Research on Joseph Joseph.
I have since found out through a new list of London businessmen - Collinson 1861 - released by Jeffrey Maynard (www.jeffreymaynard.com) and a London death certificate, that Joseph Joseph of 33 Great Ormond Street was a watchmaker in 1861, and a Lace Dealer before his 1872 death. A Louis Joseph, watchmaker, resided at the same address in 1861 and 1872. His daughter Julia married a Louis Braun.
So back to square one I go.
Interestingly, fragments of information since learnt about Benjamin Joseph have steered me towards a family I call the Coffee House Josephs of Duke's-place - another most interesting family.
Any connection has yet to be proven and it may well be that my great great, great grandfather Benjamin Joseph was nothing more than a watchmaker from a humble watchmaking family that included his brother, Joseph Joseph of 33 Great Ormond Street, London.
Update February 2014.
It is nearly 13 years since I wrote the original of the above and I have been researching the Joseph family and the Kyezors all this time.
My Benjamin Joseph was the son of Isaac Joseph who was one of the founding members of the Maiden Lane Synagogue in London.
Isaacís daughter Abigail Polack lived past her 100th year and at age 101 was interviewed by the Jewish Chronicle. This provided me with a lot more information about Isaac and his family.
What she chose not to reveal was that many members of the Joseph family were involved for some decades with the infamous Mother Hís of Covent Garden.
I am now wondering if the Josephs, Brauns and Mensers who went to Australia wanted to get away from the stigma of brothels and ladies of the night.
My research goes on ...
With sincere thanks to a world-wide group including Dr. Anthony Joseph, Jenny King, Chris Joseph, Jenny Bywater, Edward Joseph, Harold Pollins, Helen Bursten, Laurence Harris, Graham Barnett and Greta James who generously contributed to my research and helped clarify information on the Joseph and Menser families. Also thanks to Frank J. Gent of the Exeter Synagogue for wanting to help others by putting the record straight
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