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The Lyon Family of Plymouth

I have just spent the evening going through the Plymouth Tombstone Inscriptions (again).

Were all the notes\bios\editorial comments made by Rabbi Susser, and is there any ongoing editing ? I ask because there is at least one contradiction (which is also in Dr. Susser's thesis, so I presume it's his error, if I may be so bold to call it that). There appear to be two tombstones, B18 and B74, ascribed to the same individual, Judah Lyon, son of Francis Lyon:


* B18 Jacob was a perfect man, upright in his flock/ He turned from wickedness, faithfulness was his love/ He departed from evil, his way was good/ The portion of Jacob is his inheritance/ A lion, with clean hands.

J. P. Lyon died 23 Yiar [sic] 5612 [= 12 May 1852].

(The Hebrew name, Jacob Pesach ben Aryeh, is indicated by the first word of the first line. The first letter on each of the next three lines gives the name Pesach, and the first two words on the fifth line say that he was ben Aryeh. In spite of his first name he was known as Judah P. Lyon (1794 1852), born Bideford, married Fanny, (born Swansea 1803). Watchmaker and jeweller of 7 Union Street. A different Fanny Lyons, spinster, aged 55, strawbonnet maker, born Bideford, and another Judah Lyons, bachelor, 23, wholesale traveller, born Plymouth, described as friends, were in his house on the night of the 1851 census.)

* B74 Judah Lyon.

(Judah ben Avigdor. Probably son of Francis Lyons, died 1837. Brother of Solomon Lyons and Mathilda Lazarus. Watchmaker in Bedford Street, Plymouth 1836.)


The supposition that Judah Lyon\ Judah ben Avigdor was the son of Francis Lyon makes sense in that Francis' Hebrew name was Avigdor ben Moses Isaac. Solomon Lyon (s. of Francis Lyon) was Isaac ben Avigdor. I don't know how Avigdor ben Judah would have a son Jacob Pesach ben Aryeh. (I see the connection between Judah and Lyon, but that skips a generation). Both Judahs are described as watchmakers, but clearly this is from two different sources and may in fact be referring to the same person. There's a 25 - yr difference between their times of death, so it does raise some questions !!

Any thoughts on which of the two you'd bet on as Judah Lyon, son of Francis?

I haven't been able to identify all Dr. Susser's sources of information (some are obviously census records), so I don't know how he matched the bits and pieces on the Judah Lyons. There are however, some connections he didn't put together. The notes for both Francis Lyons and Judah Lyon\Judah ben Avigdor give Francis' children as Judah, Solomon and Mathilda (who m. Lippa Lazarus). He must also have had a daughter Phoebe, because his wife Sara (Rachel Yettela bat Abraham ) (tombstone (B41), d. of Samuel (Mark) Lazarus, "when she was widowed,... returned to Bath with her adult daughter Phoebe.." [Jews of the S-W of England p. 57]

The spinster Fanny Lyon mentioned in the notes for Judah Lyon\ Jacob Pesach ben Aryeh and listed as "Friend " in the '51 census is likely another sister. Both were born in Bideford, and in the '61 and '71 census' she is described as "sister-in-law" of (widowed) Fanny Lyon.

I expect this is a lot to sort out, and I don't know if it's your "job" to do so, but any suggestions are welcome.

By the way, two summers ago I was bequeathed an oil portrait of Frank Lazarus of Plymouth - handed down to me from his granddaughter. Also, I have the document he was given by the Ados Yisroel Congregation in Hartford Conn., USA , of which he had been president for several years, on the eve of his return to England. I have tried to get in touch with authors who have researched and written about the history of Hartford's Jewish community, but have had no response. Do you know if any groups in England would be interested in them at at some point, if none of the next generation here show any interest ?

You are welcome to add my name to any emendations, as long as I am allowed to make emendations to the emendations ! I realised yesterday that I had made some errors - Eleazar Lazarus' (possible) second wife was not his son's sister-in-law - she being a Jacob by a previous marriage and not by birth. (What a relief !!)

But the Judah Lyon question really puzzles, and without the sources on which Rabbi Susser based his information I don't know how it would be sorted. How did he know that Francis Lyon had children Solomon, Isaac, and Mathilda ? How did he know thay were born in Bideford ? Where does he get the information that Judah (Jacob Pesach Aryeh ) was born thee, or is he only assuming this is the same Judah who was born there ?


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