Derby & Burton 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)


Derby Published Data


Jewish Population 24
There is no regular congregation at either of the above towns, but a service used occasionally to be held in the Masonic Hall, Burton-on-Trent


Harriet Street (Founded 1899)
Hebrew classes are held in connection with the synagogue

[b - Jewish Year Book]


Derby Board of Deputies returns

  births marriages burials seatholders






Derby (and Burton on Trent)

Edited from material prepared by Samuel Simpson

There were few Jews in Derby in 1837 -  a contemporary list contains five names, one of them being the 'Israelite' who, in a letter in the Derby Reporter in 1833 stated, 'I am a Jew living in Derby' - but, by the late 1850s, there was a notable difference for, after the abortive 1848 Revolution in Germany, a number of German Jews settled in Derby.  There was still no synagogue there, however, for in 1858 one of the Derby Jews published a letter giving a vivid description of a Yom Kippur service in the Nottingham synagogue.  The population appears to have been floating rather than permanent, for few stayed in Derby for any length of time.  Some of the family inter-connections indicate, however, the close relations between many of the East Midland communities.

Amongst those who settled in Derby was John Davis who made for himself a considerable name in the local political and intellectual life.  One of his sons, Arthur Davis, educated privately in Derby, acquired sufficient Jewish learning to be the translator of what has been for several generations the most widely used Festival prayer-book of Anglo Jewry, while another, Henry, later played a prominent part in the setting-up of a proper congregation.  It is clear in all events that there were one or two individuals who tended to move about between various parts of the country, and tried to establish some regular congregation wherever they happened to live.  Barnet Berstein (or Bierstein) for instance, born in Dowlais in South Wales, at an early age went to Blackburn, where he was instrumental in acquiring a building suitable for a synagogue.  He moved to Burton-on-Trent some time before 1885, and in that year began to organise services at his home.  At about the same time the Jews of Derby were trying to organise themselves;  the Jewish Chronicle reported on 5 November 1886: 'There are at present six Jewish families in Derby, and steps are being taken towards the engagement of a shochet and the establishment of a minyan as preliminary measures for the ultimate formation of a congregation.'  On 4 March 1887 a meeting of the residents of Derby and Burton decided to form a joint congregation, but the attempt failed despite the existence of a nucleus in Burton, and the Jewish Chronicle reported on 5 May 1889 from Derby:  'The Jewish inhabitants assembled at the Temperance Hall on Sunday evening 30th April for the purpose of meeting Mr Henry Davis to whom a cordial and unanimous invitation has been sent to become the President of the newly-formed congregation.'  By 1895 the two groups had definitively separated, services being held in Burton at the Masonic Hall and at Derby in the Corn Exchange. 

The Derby community by 1899 had its own proper synagogue - a loft over a butcher's yard - and by 1901, when the Chief Rabbi paid a visit to Derby there was a properly organised community possessing a regular cemetery, and with all the appurtenances of a congregation.  A set of members' payments for 1902 record a total for weekly contributions of 17/1d. per week and of 2.15s. 'offerings'

Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain - List of Contents

Derby Hebrew Congregation and Jewish Community home page

Burton-on-Trent Jewish Community home page

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 Paper first published on JCR-UK: 23 October 2005
Most recent formatting: 28 January 2021

Reformatted by David Shulman


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