Birmingham Jewry
in Victorian Britain




Extract from papers on
Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain

Papers prepared by Dr. (later Prof.) Aubrey Newman for a conference at University College, London, convened on 6 July 1975 by the Jewish Historical Society of England
(Reproduced here with Prof. Newman's kind consent)

Paper first published on JCR-UK: 21 February 2004
Reformatted: January 2012 and November 2015
Latest revision: 27 November 2016

BIRMINGHAM - Introductory Data

(For the Community's early history, see "Birmingham" in Cecil Roth's "The Rise of Provincial Jewry", 1950)

A.    The Birmingham community was one of the oldest in England; during the eighteenth century it attracted a certain notoriety as being the congregation where Lord George Gordon was converted to Judaism.  It was an ideal base for the itinerant hawkers and pedlars of the time and it was a leading centre of the manufacture of a wide range of cheap jewellery. By 1850 it had a community of up to a thousand souls, and in 1851 its Sabbath attendance was the largest of any single provincial synagogue.  In 1845 there were 83 Ba'ale Batim and 99 seatholders; in 1851, 300 appropriated seats and 169 individuals. [Primarily from The Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), by Cecil Roth]

1874  [extracted from The Jewish Directory for 1874, by Asher I. Myers]

Synagogue, Singer's Hill, Blucher Street. Founded about 200 years.  Present building erected in 1855.  Has seat accommodation for 870 persons, 500 gentlemen's seats, 370 ladies seats.  Seat rentals - gentlemen's seats from 26s. to 18.10s. per annum. Ladies' seats from 8s.8d. to 26s. per annum.  Governed by a Council consisting of 21 members.  The council is divided into various committees, e.g. Finance and General Purposes Committee, School Committee, Choir Committee, et., etc.  Income 1872, 3474.18s.10d., expenditure 1872 2996.5s.2d.

Hebrew National Schools, Founded 1840.  Placed under Government inspection, 1867.  Building attached to the Synagogue.  Supported by the Congregation, the cost of the school being defrayed from the subscriptions of the members.  Additional income - Government grant averages about 140, fees about 40.  Subscriptions from Hebrew Educational Society, 50 per annum and books.  Governed by a Committee appointed annually by the Council of the Congregation.  Expenditure in 1872 estimated at about 530.  Average number of pupils 90 boys, 70 girls, 75 infants.

Hebrew Board of Guardians, founded March 1870.  Income 1872, 822.2s.1d., expenditure 732.19s.9d.  Applicants relieved: residents 104, casuals 355.  Number of grants: residents 1795, casuals 398.  Total grants 2193.

Hebrew Benevolent Educational Society.  To assist necessitous children to obtain education to pprovide them with books and clothing, apprenticeship. Income 1872, 411.17s.10d., expenditure 365.12s.4d.

Hebrew Philanthropic Society, found 1828.  To grant relief in cases of sickness or distress; render assistance by gifts of money; grant loans not exceeding 5; lend or hire sewing machines; distribute coals and blankets during the winter months; grant provisions to aged and infirm persons.  Income 1872, 445.14s.5d., expenditure 1872. 890.14s.2d.

Provident Co-operative Matza Association, founded 1870

Loyal Independent United Israelites Benefit Society, established 1853. Relief of members during sickness and week of mourning, allowance to widows, etc.

Ladies' Benevolent Society.  Relief of sick women and children, supplying clothes and other necessaries to women in confinement, etc.

1901 [Jewish Year Book]

Jewish Population 3,500. 1900 - 21 marriages, 69 burials

Synagogue, Singer's Hill, founded 1855.  Congregation more than a century old.  Seatholders 634.  Income 1900, 4507.16s.10d., expenditure 4278.9s.4d.

Hebrew Ladies' Benevolent Visiting Society.  Relief of sick women and children.  Care of women during confinement.  Visiting the homes of the poor generally.  Income 1900, 165.1s.6d., expenditure 143.3s.7d.

Birmingham Jewish Charities Aid Society (founded 1892).  To make annual grants to the Birmingham Jewish Charities.  Income 1899, 94.6s.6d., expenditure 89.19s.8d. (usually 85 distributed amongst the local Jewish charities).

Birmingham Aid Society of the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum (founded 1888).  To assist the parent institution by purchasing life governorships.  Income 1900, 52.7s.2d., expenditure 50.12s.8d. (excluding 42, produce of four life governorships).

Recreation Classes for Girls (founded 1887).  To instil into the minds of Jewish working girls a profitable method of spending their leisure time.  To improve their tastes generally.

Hebrew Philanthropic Society (founded 1838).  Objects: (a) the relief of indigent tradesman, (b) granting pensions to aged persons, (c) undertaking all cases of deserving people not eligible for consideration by the Board of Guardians. Income 1899-1900, 447.14s.4d., expenditure 472.15s.4d.

Hebrew Educational Society (Founded 1851).  To pay all necessary support of the Hebrew schools and to apprentice Jewish children leaving school.  Income 1900-1901, 362.4s.6d., expenditure 362.1.5d.

Hebrew Board of Guardians (founded 1870).  Relief of the Jewish poor and casual.  Income 1900, 940.11s.2d., expenditure 888.2s.9d.

Sabbath Meals Society.  To provide meals on Sabbaths and festivals to poor Jews passing through the town.  Income 1900, 52.6s.6d., expenditure 31.2s.11d.

Hebrew Schools (founded 1840).  There are 488 scholars, 179 boys, 174 girls, and 135 infants.

Chovevei Zion Tent No 20

Anglo-Jewish AssociationIncome 93.17s.3d., expenditure, including 70 remitted to London, 75.8s.6d.

Bikur CholimTo supply visitors to the sick poor and watchers for the dying.

Jewish Young Men's Association

Loyal Independent United Israelites Friendly Society.  This society is in a very flourishing condition, and has invested funds amounting to 1387.10s.3d.  Membership 163.  Income, 1900, 312.16s.6d., expenditure 212.4s.6d.

Jewish Working Men's Educational InstituteTo provide an English education for foreign co-religionists.  Income 1899-1900, 142.3s.9d., expenditure 130.19s.7d.

Birmingham Naturalisation Society (founded 1897)

Birmingham Hebrew Schools Old Boys Association (founded 1898).  Members 136.  To promote good fellowship among the former pupils of the Hebrew Schools, and to unite in any movement calculated to advance the interests of the school or the community generally.  Income 1900, 32.11s.0d., expenditure 28.19s.9d.

Birmingham Hebrew Ladies' Boot Fund

Court 'Jacob's Pride' No. 5946 AOF.  Invested funds 1376.9s.5d.  Income 1900, 241.6s., expenditure 139.4s.2d.

Birmingham Beth Hamedrash

Birmingham Talmud Torah

Birmingham Jewish Working Men's Club (founded 1899).  Number of members March 1901, 265.  Lady Associates 105.  To afford its members the means of social intercourse and rational recreation.  Income 1901, 768.5s.11d., expenditure 779.11s.8d.

Birmingham Jewish Lads' Brigade

Board of Deputies returns







39 (21M)





























Continuation -
A Portrait of Birmingham Jewry 1851

 by Birmingham Jewish Local History Study Group (with references and tables).

Acknowledgment is made to Zo Josephs and her group of fellow enthusiasts who produced three volumes on the History of Birmingham Jewry

Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain - List of Contents

Birmingham Jewish Community home page

Birmingham Hebrew Congregation home page

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Reformatted by David Shulman


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