Falmouth Jewry
in Victorian Britain




Extract from papers on
Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain

Papers prepared by Dr. (later Prof.) Aubrey Newman or 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)

FALMOUTH (Cornwall)

Published Data

A  -  In 1842 there were 14 families. In 1847 there were nine subscribing members, 3 additional seatholders, representing a total Jewish population of 50.

In 1851 is was stated, 'since the breaking-up of the foreign packet establishment here the congregation has decreased with the inhabitants generally.'  In 1892 the Chief Rabbi persuaded the Trustees to sell its synagogue.


Synagogue Porham Hill.
There are now only three Jewish families resident in Falmouth, where once a large Jewish population existed. Mr. Samuel Jacobs is the principal supporter of the Congregation. Divine service is only occasionally held in the Synagogue.

[A - Primarily from The Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), by Cecil Roth]
[a - The Jewish Directory for 1874, by Asher I. Myers]


Board of Deputies returns

  births marriages burials seatholders












Nil return under all heads. No further returns


(Extracted from the article by Alex M. Jacob. 'The Jews of Falmouth, 1740 - 1860'
Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, vol. XVII, pp 63 - 72)

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

Falmouth in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, had been a very flourishing community, playing a full part in the affairs of the town. Amongst the leading Jews was Jacob Jacob; his son, Moses Jacob, who presided over the Congregation from 1853 until 1860, used to pay an annual visit to London, where he never failed to call on the Chief Rabbi - at whose election in 1844 Falmouth had been represented on the Committee of Delegates1. - when Dr. Adler would welcome him as representing one of the few Congregations which never had disputes to bring before him.

Towards the middle of the nineteenth century, Falmouth's importance began to dwindle.  As early as 1836 the port had sent a delegation, headed by its Mayor, to London in consequence of a rumour that the Post Office was to withdraw its packet service, and in 1850 this withdrawal took place;  in 1857 a telegraph service was installed so that it was no longer necessary for shipping to wait in the harbour for instructions (whose receipt might take a week or more) from London.  Falmouth was rapidly becoming less isolated.  Until 1863, the quickest route to London and other parts of the country had been by boat to Plymouth, whence the railway ran; in that year, however, a railway was built from Truro and the improved communications resulted in a fairly rapid exodus of the local Jews who moved to Bristol, Birmingham, Plymouth and London.  Departures such as these brought a swift decline to the always small community at Falmouth.  When The Jewish Chronicle, in the first year of its existence, surveyed provincial Jewry, the Falmouth Community was still, in 1842, a flourishing one of some fourteen families - which, bearing in mind the size of the Victorian household, must have represented at least seventy or eighty individuals; within thirty-five years, this number had shrunk to three families,2. services were no longer regularly held, the Community had ceased to enjoy the presence of a minister, and from 1854 onwards it was necessary to have recourse to Penzance - itself by now a dwindling Community - for supplies of Kosher meat.3.

Apart from a burial in 1913,4. the end came in 1880 with the departure for London of Samuel Jacob, whose family had been the mainstay of the Congregation during four generations.

Footnotes ( returns to main text)

  1. C. Roth - History of the Great Synagogue (London 1950), p.226

  2. The Jewish Chronicle, 18th March 1842 refers to 14 families; on 23rd July 1847to 9 heads of households and 50 individuals. The Jewish Directoryfor 1874 gives the membership to three families..

  3. C. Roth. - "Penzance: The Decline and Fall of an Anglo-Jewish Community." Jewish Chronicle supplement, May 1933.

  4. Nathan Vos buried 9th November 1913.  An account of the funeral appeared in The Jewish Chronicle 14th November 1913.


Provincial Jewry in Victorian Britain - List of Contents

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Reformatted by David Shulman

Paper first published on JCR-UK: 21 April 2004
Latest revision: 11 December 2016


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