Ramsgate Jewish Community

Ramsgate, Thanet, Kent




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Ramsgate Montefiore Mausoleum
Montefiore Mausoleum, Ramsgate
© David Newman 2017

Town of Ramsgate

Ramsgate (population about 38,000) is a coastal resort on the English Channel in southeast England, which was particularly popular among both Jews and non-Jews in the nineteenth century. In 1900, there were six kosher restaurants and boarding houses. It is part of the Isle of Thanet, which, although originally separated from the mainland by the Wantsum Channel, is now practically joined to the mainland as a result of the build up of silt and shingle. Ramsgate is in the local government district of Thanet in the county of Kent, formed in 1974 by the merger of the municipal borough of Ramsgate with of the municipal borough of Margate and adjoining areas.

The Ramsgate Jewish Community

Ramsgate’s first recorded Jewish family was that of Isaac Lyon, a silversmith, who first appears in 1786, initially living in the High Street and later at 13 Harbour Street, Ramsgate. This family was followed quickly by Levi Abraham formerly of Portsmouth, a tailor, who had married Elizabeth Moses from a Dover family. He had his shop first at 63 and then at 70 High Street, Ramsgate.(i) The earliest recorded circumcision of a Jewish child in Ramsgate was in 1789.(ii) The Ramsgate Jewish community was significantly enhanced by Sir Moses Montefiore taking up residence there in 1822 and erecting the synagogue in 1833. Following Sir Moses's death in 1885, the small community declined but the town continued to have a functioning synagogue thanks to financial support from the Montefiore Endowment and the scholars attending Montefiore College (which moved to London in 1960).

Jewish Congregations

The following are the Jewish congregations that exist or existed in Ramsgate:

* An active congregation.



Search the All-UK Database

The records in the database associated with Ramsgate include:

  • 1851 Anglo Jewry Database (updated 2016)

    • Individuals in the 1851 Anglo Jewry Database who were living Ramsgate during the 1790s (3 records), 1800s (1 record), 1810s (1 record); 1820s (1 record), 1830s (13 records), 1840s (20 records), 1850s (35 records), 1860s (15 records), 1870s (16 records), 1880s (19 records), 1890s (9 records), 1900s (9 records) and 1910s (4 records).


Online Articles and Other Material
relating to the Ramsgate Jewish Community


Some Notable Jewish Connections with Ramsgate

(provided with the assistance of Steven Jaffe)

  • Beyond doubt, the most significant Jewish connection with the town was great banker, financier, activist and philanthropist, Sir Moses Montefiore (1784-1885) and his wife, Lady Judith Montefiore (1784-1862), who purchased their home and country estate at East Cliff, Ramsgate, in 1831. Both are interred in the Mauseleum adjoining the Synagogue established by Sir Moses in Ramsgate in 1833. Sir Moses, who was the longest serving president of the Board of Deputies for British Jews, also established a Jewish Theological College in Ramsgate, which later moved to London.

  • John Henry Amshewitz (1882-1942), artist and caricaturist, was born in Ramsgate. He was the son of Rev. Asher Amschejewitz* of the Judith Lady Montefiore's Theological College in Ramsgate.

  • Joseph (Joe) Barnett (1911-1967) was three times Mayor of Ramsgate, from 1961 to 1963.

  • Lazarus Hart (1831-1917) was twice Mayor of Ramsgate, in 1896 and 1897 (profile on the Ramsgate Town website). The Lazarus Hart Havens of Rest, alms houses, built between 1917 and 1922 on the Thanet Road in Ramsgate, from a bequest by Lazarus Hart, were to be "shared by Jews and Gentiles". The houses are a Grade II Listed Building, listed on 4 February 1988 (number 1086061). View description on Historic England website.

  • Harry Marks, MP (1855-1916), financial journalist and newspaper proprietor, was Conservative MP for the Isle of Thanet (including Ramsgate) 1904-1910, having previously represented St George, Tower Hamlets (1895-1900). He was the son of The Rev. Professor David Woolf Marks,* the first minister of the West London Synagogue.

  • Benjamin Norden (1798-1877), a pioneer of Jewish settlement in South Africa, who became a leading explorer, investor, developer and trader, retired to Ramsgate in 1858 and died there. He is buried at the Jewish cemetery in Ramsgate which he bought for the community in 1872. (Profile on JewishGen's Southern Africa SIG website.)

  • Sir Joseph Sebag Montefiore (1822-1903) (born Joseph Sebag who in 1885 took the additional name Montefiore by royal licence) who was President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews 1895-1903, resided at East Cliff Lodge, Ramsgate, which he inherited from his uncle, Sir Moses Montefiore. Founder of Joseph Sebag & Company, stockbrokers.

  • For rabbis connected with Judith Lady Montefiore's Theological College, see below.

*To view a short profile, hold the cursor over his name.


Other Ramsgate Jewish Institutions & Organisations

Educational & Theological

  • Judith Lady Montefiore's Theological College established and endowed by Sir Moses Montefiore in 1866. The College moved to London in the 1960s and the Ramsgate building was demolished. For details of the current activities of the College, see its website  https://www.montefioreendowment.org.uk/about/.

Rabbis associated with the College during its time in Ramsgate include:

Rev. Asher Amschejewitz, who came to the College in 1867 as a scholar in residence.

Rabbi Benjamin Schewzik, who was elected a member of the College.

Haham Rabbi Moses Gaster, principal of the College from 1891 to 1896.

*To view a short profile of one of the above, hold the cursor over his name.


Rabbi in Green Jacket

  • Hereson House Academy was a Jewish boarding school which advertised in the Jewish Chronicle from 1868 until the late 1880s. It was located at Hereson Road, near the turning off to the synagogue. The school's principals were Rev. Emanuel Myers, succeeded by Mr. J. Tritsch. By 1889 Mr. Tritsch was accepting Jewish boarders at Hereson House who attended the near by South Eastern College, an Anglican public school (today St Lawrence College). Hereson House remained the home of Anne, widow of the Rev. Emanuel Myers, until her death in 1898.

  • Townley Castle College was a second Jewish school eastablished at Ramsgate, in 1890, as a "high class" boarding school for young Jewish gentlemen. The founding principal was Rev. S. H. Harris, who on his death in 1907 was succeeded by his son-in-law, Rev. Samuel Levine. A photograph of the school indicates it had its own synagogue.(viii) During World War I, the school moved from Ramsgate to Highbury New Park, north London. It was later at Putney Heath, London, and for its final 13 years at Eton Avenue, Hampstead. The school closed in 1940 or 1941, shortly before the death of Rev. Levine.(ix)

Alumni of the school include the following:

Leslie Hoare-Belisha (later 1st Baron Hore-Belisha) (1893-1957), British politician and Member of Parilament. He initially represented the Liberal Party, then National Liberal Party and later the Conservative Party and served as the UK Minister of Transport (1934–1937) and Secretary for War (1937–1940).

Lesley Keysor (1885-1951), who was awarded the Victoria Cross serving with Australian forces at Gallipoli.

Other Societies

  • Hebra Kadisha(x)

  • Jewish Literary and Social Society - (until 1930s, Jewish Literary Society)(xi)

  • B'nai B'rith, Thanet (Montefiore) Lodge No 1155 (active during 1930s)(xii)


Community Records

  • Registration District (for BMD): Kent (since 1 April 2004)

    • Previous Registration Districts:
         Thanet (from 1 July 1937 to to 1 April 1998);
         Thanet with Dover (from 1 April 1998 to 1 April 2004).

    • All registers would now be held by the current office.


Ramsgate Jewish Cemetery Information

Prior to the establishment of a cemetery in 1872, Sephardi Jewish residents of Ramsgate were generally buried in the cemeteries in London End Cemeteries and the Ashkanazi used the cemetery in Canterbury.

The following are the Jewish cemeteries used by the Ramsgate Jewish community:

  • Ramsgate Jewish Cemetery, Upper Dumpton Park Road, Ramsgate CT11 7PG. Contains some 400 burials. It was opened in 1872 and extended in 1913 and 1929. The original plot was was purchased by Benjamin Norden and presented to the local Jewish community as a burial ground. It has been administered by the the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation (now the S&P Sephardi Community) of London since 1887.
    The cemetery's prayer hall and section of attached cemetery wall is a Grade II Listed Building, listed from 17 March 2008 (number 1392476). View description on Historic England website.

  • The Reform Hebrew Section of the Margate (St. John's) Cemetery, Manston Road, Margate, used by the Thanet and District Reform Jewish Community since 1986.

  • The Montefiore Mausoleum, next to the Montefiore Synagogue, contains the remains of Sir Moses Montefiore and his wife Lady Judith Montefiore. (circa 1862). It is a Grade II* Listed Building, listed on 13 August 1968 (number 1085375). View description on Historic England website

(For some additional information, also see IAJGS Cemeteries Project - Ramsgate)


Ramsgate Jewish Population Data



(The Jewish Year Book 1897/8)



(The Jewish Year Book 1900/1)



(The Jewish Year Book 1901/2)



(The Jewish Year Book 1948)



(The Jewish Year Book 1949)



(The Jewish Year Book 1950)



(The Jewish Year Book 1951)



(The Jewish Year Book 1952)



(The Jewish Year Book 1958)



(The Jewish Year Book 1960)



(The Jewish Year Book 1962)

Footnotes    (returns to main text)

  • (i) Information extracted from rate books and from ‘THINK and THANK’, published in 1933 to celebrate the first 100 years of the Montefiore Synagogue, courtesy Mark Negin.

  • (ii) Entry number S26 of the Circumcision Register 1765-1818 ascribed to Rabbi Ash of Dover, part of the Susser Archive available on JCR-UK.

  • (iii) to (vii) Reserved.

  • (viii) J Trails - Ramsgate.

  • (ix) Rev. Levine's Jewish Chronicle obituary 9 December 1941.

  • (x) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1912.

  • (xi) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1904/5.

  • (xi) First listed in Jewish Year Book 1933.

Jewish Congregations in Kent

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 2 December 2016
Page most recently amended: 5 February 2024

Research by David Shulman, assisted by Steven Jaffe
Formatting by David Sulman

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