the former

Falmouth Jewish Congregation

& Jewish Community

Falmouth, Cornwall




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congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.

Town of Falmouth

Falmouth, a port on the south coast of Cornwall in southwest England, has a population of about 20,000.

It was a municipal borough until 1974, when it was merged with neighbouring localities to form the local government (non-metropolitan) district of Carrick. In April 2009, the district of Carrick and all other local government districts in Cornwall were abolished, and Cornwall became a unitary authority.

The former Falmouth Synagogue
© Tim Green

The Falmouth Jewish Community

Jews began settling in Falmouth from at least the 1720s, and the community was established in 1740, at which time Falmouth was an important and flourishing port carrying on trade with the West Indies, Portugal and southern Africa. The Jewish community also flourished through the eighteenth century until the middle of the nineteenth century when numbers began to dwindle and, by the latter part of that century, the community had ceased to exist.

One of the principal works covering the community is The Lost Jews of Cornwall (2000), edited by Keith Perace and Helen Fry with Geoffrey Simmons as consultant (which we refer to here as "The Lost Jews"), which was largely republished and enhanced in 2013 as The Jews of Cornwall, A History, Tradition and Settlement to 1913 by Keith Pearce.

Congregation Data


Falmouth Jewish Congregation


1 Gyllyng Street, Smithick Hill (or Parram Hill), Falmouth TR11 3EH,(iv) initially known as Fish Street Hill.(v) The synagogue was purpose-built, constructed in 1806 or 1808(vi)

It is a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 1 October 1975 (number 1270005). See Historic England Listing & Description.

The synagogue was previously (from 1766) at Hamblyn's Court (later Dunstan's or Jeffery's Court),(vii) near the harbour on the site of the later gas works.


Community was established by Moses Alexander (later known as Zender Falmouth) in 1740,(x) and the first synagogue acquired in 1766.


The synagogue closed about 1880, when Samuel Jacob, who had until then kept the synagogue open for services and whose family had been the mainstay of the congregation, left with his family for London,(xi) the last minister having also left the community.  

In 1892, the synagogue building (then known as "Synagogue House") was sold on the order of the Chief Rabbi to the trustees.(xii) It was converted into a flat and studio (known as Summerhill Studio).(xiii)


Ashkenazi Orthodox


The congregation was an unaffiliated congregation under the aegis of the Chief Rabbi.

(To view a short profile of a minister whose name appears in blue, hold the cursor over his name.)

Little is known of the the early ministers of the congregation.

Rev. Isaac Polak - may have served as a minister/reader in 1760s.(xvii)

Rev. Samuel ben Samuel HaLevi ("Rabbi Saavill") - dates uncertain.(xviii)

Rev. Moses Hyman (Rev. Moses ben Hayyim) - reader from at least 1815 until about 1830.(xix)

Rev. Joseph Benedict Rintel - minister from about 1832 until 1849.(xx)

Rev. Samuel Herman - minister about 1851 until about 1860.(xxi) [

Rev. David Herman - the son of Rev. Samuel Herman, who reportedly served as minister in 1852.(xxiv)

Rev. Marks Morris - minister from about 1860 to about 1864.(xxv) 

Rev. Abraham Abelson - minister from about 1868 to about 1871.(xxvi)

Rev. Nathan Lipman - minister from about 1871 until 1875.(xxvii)

Rev. Samuel Orler - minister from 1875 until 1880.(xxviii)

Presidents of the Congregation:

Alexander Moses (1715-1791), known as Zender Falmouth, is considered the founder of the community (c.1740) and the effective president of the congregation until his death in 1791.(xxx)

Moses Jacob (1733-1807), son-in-law of Zender Falmouth (husband of his sister, Sarah Moses) was president from 1791 until his death in 1807.(xxxi)

Lyon Joseph (1775-1825) was parnas (president) from 1807 until 1815.(xxxii)

Jacob (John) Jacob (1774-1853), son of Moses Jacob, was president from about 1816 until his death in 1853.(xxxiii) 

Moses "Moss" Jacob (1813-1860), son of Jacob (John) Jacob, was president from 1853 until his death in 1860.(xxxiv)

Samuel Jacob (1837-1912), son of Moses "Moss" Jacob, was president from 1860 until he left the community and the synagogue closed in 1880.(xxxv)

Membership Data:


1845 - 9 ba'alai batim and 3 seatholders (Chief Rabbi's Questionnaire)

Number of Seatholders - Board of Deputies Returns(xxxviii)

1852 - 3 seatholders

1860 - 2 seatholders

Registration District:

Cornwall, since 1 May 2007(xxxix) - Link to Register Office website


Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Falmouth include:

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living in Falmouth during the the 1770s (2 records), 1800s (16 records), 1810s (10 records); 1820s (17 records), 1830s (19 records), 1840s (28 records), 1850s (34 records), 1860s (4 records), 1870s (3 records) and 1880s (1 record).


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Falmouth Jewish Community


on Third Party Websites


Falmouth Jewish Cemetery Information

Courtesy Len van der Put, 1982

Falmouth had its own Jewish cemetery:

  • Falmouth Jews' Burial Ground, A39 Falmouth Road, Penryn, Ponsharden, Falmouth TR10 8AB. The burial ground was established about 1780 when the plot of land was presented to the Jewish community by Lord de Dunstanville (who also presented an adjoining plot to the Christian Non-Conformists. The cemetery contains over 50 recorded burials, of which over 30 have in-situ legible gravestones. The earliest in-situ gravestone is dated 1790 and the latest 1868, apart from a burial in 1913, long after the Falmouth Jewish community had dispersed. The cemetery is one of the disused cemeteries administered by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
    The cemetery is a Scheduled Monument, listed from 17 October 2002 (latest amendment 20 December 2019 (number 1020815). See Historic England Listing & Description


 Courtesy Len van der Put, 1982

Articles and other material on JCR-UK:

Tombstone Inscriptions at Falmouth Jewish Cemetery, transcribed by Rabbi Dr. Bernard Susser (a section of Rabbi Susser's "Jewish Tombstone Inscriptions in S. W. England - Studies in Anglo-Jewish History No. 3", which includes an Introduction that also makes reference to Falmouth). Part of the Susser Archive.

Under the heading "Irreplaceable: A History of England in 100 Places", the ecclesiastical.com website lists 10 places "that have witnessed some of the most important historic events connected to a belief; mythological, supernatural or spiritual", which list includes Falmouth Jewish Cemetery, along with the likes of Stonehenge, Canterbury Cathedral and Holy Island of Lindisfarme, along with Brick Lane Mosque (formerly Machzike Hadath's Spitalfield Great Synagogue).

(For additional information, see also IAJGS Cemetery Project - Falmouth)


Falmouth Jewish Population Data





14 families

(Jewish Chronicle 18 Marh 1842)


9 heads of family
(50 individuals)

(Jewish Chronicle 23 July 1847)


3 families

(Jewish Directory for 1874 by A. Myers)


Notes & Sources
( returns to text above)

  • (i) to (iii) Reserved.

  • (iv) Jewish Heritage of Britain and Ireland by Sharman Kadesh, 2015, p.118.

  • (v) The Lost Jews, p. 292.

  • (vi) The Lost Jews, p. 292.

  • (vii) The Lost Jews, pp. 53, 70/1.

  • (viii) and (ix) Reserved.

  • (x) The Lost Jews, pp. 70/1 and note in Jewish Year Book 1940, p.231.

  • (xi) The Lost Jews, p. 220.

  • (xii) The Lost Jews, p. 103.

  • (xiii) Jewish Heritage of Britain and Ireland by Sharman Kadesh, 2015, p.118.

  • (xiv) to (xvi) Reserved.

  • (xvii) The Lost Jews, pp.159-161.

  • (xviii) Alex M. Jacob, "The Jews of Falmouth 1740-1860", TJHSE, XVII (1949), p. 66, n. 2, also now included as pp.49-68 in The Lost Jews.

  • (xix) The Lost Jews, pp.161/2.

  • (xx) The Lost Jews, pp.162/7.

  • (xxi) Chief Rabbinate Archives, vol. VII, 18 April 1860 and The Lost Jews, p.167.

  • (xxii) and (xxiii) Reserved.

  • (xxiv) The Lost Jews, p.167.

  • (xxv) The Lost Jews, p.167.

  • (xxvi) Jolles's Encyclopaedia.

  • (xxvii) The Lost Jews, p.168.

  • (xxviii) The Lost Jews, p.168.

  • (xxix) Reserved.

  • (xxx) The Lost Jews, pp.50/55.

  • (xxxi) The Lost Jews, pp.55, 99.

  • (xxxii) The Lost Jews, p.56.

  • (xxxiii) The Lost Jews, pp.59, 99 and Papers on Falmouth.

  • (xxxiv) The Lost Jews, p.99 and Papers on Falmouth.

  • (xxxv) The Lost Jews, p. 99.

  • (xxxvi) and (xxxvii) Reserved.

  • (xxxviii) Papers on Falmouth.

  • (xxxix) Previous Registration District: Falmouth - from 1 July 1837 to 1 May 2007. All registers would now be held by the current office.

Jewish Congregations in Cornwall

Jewish Communities of England homepage

Page created: 6 October 2005
Data significantly expanded: 11 March 2016
Data further expanded and notes first added: 7 November 2023
Page most recently amended: 14 November 2023

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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