Provincial 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)


Page created: 23 May 2017
Latest revision: 24 May 2017


The foundation and stabilisation of the Liverpool Hebrew Schools
in the nineteenth century, based on an unpublished thesis,
'The Evolution of Jewish Elementary Education in England, 1840-1957'

by Cyril P. Hershon

(Byhoveringyour mousecursorover the superscript footnote number in the text,
the wording of the footnote will appear in a pop-up box.)

When Jewish day schools were founded, chiefly in the 1840s, parents sent their children so that they could learn to become Englishmen. Jewish aims in the nineteenth century can best be summed up as Emancipation and Anglicization and, if one considers what was actually achieved, it is not difficult to see the part that secular education played in this ambitious programme. The schools, with their aim of producing English men and women, without divorcing the latter from the Jewish bacground, fulfilled a vital need, since there was no government-supported non-denominational school to which Jewish children could be sent. Additionally, the community was impressed by, and even envious of, the progress of Christian denominational schools, in particular, those that had adopted the Lancasterian methods. Strangely enough, none of these reasons was responsible for the founding of the oldest, largest and most famous of these, the Jews' Free School, which was instituted primarily to combat the growing influence of Christian missionary work.1 At the request of Chief Rabbi Hirschell, it came into being in 1817 and was transferred to the much added-to Bell Lane building. The Western Synagogue Schools were amalgamated in 1853 to emulate Bell Lane, while further fear of conversionists led to the opening of the Jews' Infant School in 1841. Though aware of the capital's advances, provincial Jewry founded its schools for totally other reasons, First, the population of their towns was scarcely great enough to excite the interest of conversionist societies to any degree, in spite of the exaggerated claims of the converted Rev. Moses Margoliouth that over sixty Jews had been baptised in Liverpool alone.2

The temporary halt to immigration after the Napoleonic Wars enabled provincial communities to develop their own institutions, without losing their connection with the Great Synagogue. Thus the chief Jewish centres were now Portsmouth, Plymouth and Liverpool, soon joined by the industrial Birmingham and Manchester, the three latter all on the point of opening day schools.3 The large Leeds community was hardly in existence even as late as 1850, though it did have some sort of school whose history is only just traceable.

Hence there were six Jewish day schools outside London. Three flourished: Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester - and are well developed today, while the other three smaller schools in Bristol, Hull and Leeds eventually vanished or were absorbed into a Talmud Torah, the reverse of the London process. Whatever their fate, they represented considerable sacrifice and local endeavour. Hull and Leeds were directly connected to their synagogues, the Return for 1853 showing them to be little more than extensions of the synagogue classes.4 This theory is supported by the fact that they did not even rate a mention in the National Census of 1851. Hull's original school was replaced by a girls' establishment in 1863. Bristol, with over two hundred Jews in 1850,5 started its school as a charitable effort of the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society, which decided to "clothe and educate twelve children of poor Jewish parents, as well as to assist the poor families of the congregation".6 This school also died out and has no connection with the Hebrew School founded in Bristol in 1890.

Of the larger schools, Birmingham Hebrew National School started in 1840 as an adjunct of the Severn Street Synagogue which, with an average of 253, had the largest attendance in the provinces.7 Accordingly, it supported an "extensive free school for the education of the poor Jewish youth".8 Like-Manchester and Liverpool, it had no permanent premises and until 1841 classes were held in the vestry. Sir Moses Montefiore laid the foundation stone for the new building in Hurst Street, which was described by Margoliouth as a "beautiful National Hebrew School, which reflects considerable credit upon the zeal and piety of that community".9 The first Headmaster was their minister and noted scholar, Dr M.J. Raphall, whose efforts led to permanent premises. There was a furore when he left for America claiming that he was unappreciated, and his successor was a Philip Abraham, who had been dismissed from the Liverpool school for alleged inefficiency.10

Manchester's founders too were concerned at the non- provision for the religious, cultural and educational facilities for the Jewish poor, for not even the synagogue in Long Millgate had its own classes. Wealthier Jews sent their sons to the Grammar School, while their daughters had private tutors. The real founder of Jewish secular education was the city's only Jewish surgeon, Isaac Franklin, who, with his sister Sarah, undertook to educate some children in a Cheetham attic. In 1837 they moved to Gesunde Cottage, at the corner of Bury New Road and Broughton Lane, and from these the Hebrew Association founded religious classes in 1838. Isaac's brother Jacob, a co- founder of the Jewish Chronicle, convened a meeting in 1842 at his father's home in Strangeways, attended by his father and brother, Abraham Bauer, B. Hyam, Eleazar Moses and I. Schlesinger.11 Dr Isaac Franklin, always regarded as the true founder, was both Hon. Secretary and later President until his death on the platform when about to present the prizes in December 1880.12 The first President, Philip Lucas, rented two rooms at the Salford Lyceum Institute for the school which moved to York Street in 1851.

If Manchester Jewry was beset for too long by introspection, Liverpool provided a great contrast. The stability of Anglo-Jewry was manifest in Liverpool, whose Jews by 1840 had a history of acceptance and tolerance: hence they were remarkably anglicized. Indeed, their local newspaper, the Kos Yeshuos, attacked Yiddish as the chief bar to anglicization. Secular education and literature interested them as much as Jewish studies and several achieved academic eminence, so that the foundation of a school was"practically inevitable. Symbolic of Jewish attitudes to hospitality, the founders of the Liverpool Hebrew School met in the Angel Hotel, Dale Street, on 17th December, 1840, though the purpose of their gathering was hardly convivial. This preliminary meeting was called by Henry Daniel, a gold and silversmith, and those present were men of standing - bpuis Samuel (1794-1859), grandfather of the first Lord Samuel, David Behrend (1792-1863), founder of the port's largest shipping firm, Ralph Hess (1811-1871), also a gold and silversmith, John Daniel, Henry's brother and partner, Barnet Lyon Joseph (1800-1880), a jeweller who founded the schismatic New Hebrew Congregation, and Solomon Abraham Brandeis, a local merchant.13 Their purpose was "to take into consideration the propriety of instituting an enquiry as to the best mode of affording education to the children of the poor of the Hebrew faith'".14 They formed a committee of enquiry, co-opting outsiders, which consisted of Henry Daniel, Ralph Hess, Louis Samuel (who resigned), Henry Hyams, John Daniel, Abraham Abraham and the Rev. D.W. Marks. They reported quickly on 31st December and, though regretting the long neglect of education for the Jewish poor, they were still not prepared to suggest an exact remedy. They intended merely to send a few suitable boys to the Mechanics' Institute and to obtain an English school for girls. This latter interest in girls' education hes always been a mark of Liverpool Jewish education. By comparison, the Leeds Hebrew School, as late as 1891, regretted that "No provision of any nature was made for the religious education of girls; it was deplorable to see them grow up in perfect ignorance of the barest rudiments of our faith".15 In Liverpool, in 1840, Hebrew and Religion were to be taught to all pupils together. The Mechanics' Institute, with its two schools, was already connected with Jewry: the roll for 1838 showed at least a dozen Jewish names, while Samuel Behrend later served on its committee, Edwin S. Samuell became president of the Boys' School Governors in 1861, and his brother Charles, Chairman of the Hebrew School for over thirty schools, held the same position in 1866 and 1885. The Institute provided teachers for the Hebrew Schools and for many years offered its hall for speech days.

The new Hebrew institution was provisionally called the Liverpool Hebrew Educational Society (Chevras M'silas Ha'limud). Of the 19 boys selected, ten over 8 were to be sent to the Institute, and those under 8 to a Hebrew and English school. Thus the interest shown by the poor forced the Committee's hand and compelled them to open a school. Since governmental inspection was not available to them, the Committee made themselves responsible for examining the children and determining their fitness for transfer.16 The local community was canvassed for subscriptions: one guinea gave a subscriber voting rights, and lesser sums were called donations. Only in 1969 was the voting subscription raised to 2 guineas. Reports were printed and a public meeting held in the Clarendon Rooms, South Castle Street. Henry Daniel was elected first President, S.A. Brandeis Treasurer, and Edwin Samuell. Secretary. Circulars, however, did not reach those for whom it was intended to cater. Hence notices were posted on the two synagogues' doors inviting parents to fill in application forms. This presumed that even the poorest Jew was literate.

14 boys were chosen from the 16 applicants, who contributed in fees from nothing to 6d. and two were thought suitable for the Mechanics' Institute. The Hebrew master was an official of the Old Hebrew Congregation, a Mr Lindenthal, appointed at a modest 20 p.a. On the recommendation of T.B. Hodgson, Secretary of the Institute, the Committee appointed Benjamin Carrick, English master at 52 guineas. His testimonial described him as "a sober and industrious man, possessing fully the average amount of knowledge to be found among his profession",18 though Hodgson added that "his value as a teacher would be greatly enhanced were he to make himself more fully master of the modern improvements in education". On 10th June it was announced that a schoolroom had been taken at Mrs Blevin's, Suffolk Street, near Seel Street, at 5/- per week, and, having purchased books and equipment, the school received its first pupils on Monday, 21st June.

A rota of supervisory visitors was drawn up, a system which was to operate for the rest of the century. Indeed, many years were to elapse before a teacher could feel free from even benevolent interference and interruption. Good progress was reported, though unfortunately none of the reports are extant, the first log book dating from 1867. At first, Hebrew and Religious Instruction were emphasised, ten hours weekly being devoted to them, as well as additional Sabbath afternoon lessons. In recognition of his own success, Mr Carrick's salary was raised to 75 guineas on 21st November. Mrs Blevin's was evidently too small for additional numbers, and by 22nd August a new room was in use in York Street. Then, on 11th May, 1842, agreement was reached with a Mr Dutton for the use of a room in Nelson Street, Whitnall's School, St George's Square, at 10/- weekly. The frequency of removal caused a rumour to circulate that the school no longer existed, and a sub-committee called on parents to "disabuse their minds of the report that had injuriously been spread".19 The parents, too, were exhorted on "the necessity of their co-operation in enforcing their children's strict attendance at the school".20 The third problem, which remains unsolved today, was that of funds, since neither fees nor subscriptions - not to mention the Committee's personal generosity - ever sufficed. Donors of over ten guineas were offered the bait of life governorship and the two synagoguges were persuaded to contribute.

Printed laws regularised the foundation, the first surviving copy dating from 1853. Communal pride was bolstered by national recognition in the first edition of the Jewish Chronicle, and by the civic esteem with which the Liverpool Mercury took up the story:

Hebrew National School.
We may now declare that the period for the moral regeneration of our people is advancing. It affords us great pleasure, in this, our first number, to instance the establishment of schools for the education of the poorer classes of our community, in various parts of the kingdom. We are gratified to learn that in Liverpool, where our brethren are every ready in the works of philanthropy, an institution has been commenced, in which the children of the humbler classes receive useful information in all that may benefit their future prospects, and enable them to become honourable members of society. The short time that this establishment has been in action precludes us from lengthened details; but we are truly pleased to think that under the skilful management cf its directors, aided by the co-operation of its talented masters, the intentions of the subscribers will realise their expected effects. We know no charity that has more general claims on the assistance of the well-disposed than one of this nature; and no doubt all individuals in its immediate locality, as well as many in distant towns, will unite in contributing to so praise-worthy an undertaking.21

It was written, of course, by its teacher-editor., the great Moses Angel of the J.F.S. This emboldened the managers sufficiently to hold a carefully rehearsed public examination on Sunday, 6th February.22

The turnover of children in the early years was considerable. Some were refused admission, while occasionally there were remarkable enrolments; witness the acceptance of Henry Aarons, aged 26, the oldest pupil in the school's history. The first old boy's success was reported on 30th October, 1842, when Joseph Lyons was given a responsible post in a subscriber's firm. Discipline was firm, extreme cases being met with suspension: no pupil could be reinstated without formal application to the managers. The masters called on lax parents to threaten expulsion of their truanting offspring; yet one master, Mr Barnett, was himself condemned by the managers for sending an over-strongly worded circular to parents.24 Mr Barnett was also nearly dismissed when Mr Keenan, his colleague, complained of his excessive cruelty towards the children, an attitude which ran counter to the brutalising practice of many Victorian teachers.

Despite individualistic development, Jewish schools were influenced by prevailing trends, particularly of Bell and Lancaster, without incurring any of the religious problems aroused by the latter's rivalry. The monitorial system had been used at the J.F.S. since its inception and Lancaster's own school, in Borough Road, had many Jewish visitors. At the same time, the J.F.S. took the best of Bell, using the silver sand trough for tracing letters, previously learned from a rotatory disc.25 Liverpool, however, adopted the slate for writing and their numbers did not warrant the use of monitors. Mr Keenan succeeded Mr Garrick when the latter fell ill, but even after his appointment (initially for three months only), there was a desire for a Jewish master, for the managers advertised for someone in the London Voice of Jacob.26 Mr Abraham resigned in 1842 after suspicion of neglecting his duties, and his successor, Henry Barnett of Manchester, was often in conflict with the Committee over his hasty temper. An advertisement in the Jewish Chronicle of 7th February 1844, shows that they even tried to replace him while in office.

In 1843 Abraham Abraham became President and the election of Rev. Isaacs as honorary manager started a tradition whereby at least two local ministers acted in that capacity. The next President was E.J. Mozley, one of the distinguished Liverpool bankers, who was responsible for planning a girls' school. This was financed from the repayment of a burial society loan, bequeathed by Elias Joseph. Unfortunately the Minutes for 1844-47 are lost and we have no details of the opening of this school. Not counting the Sephardim, Liverpool was among the first in the field of Jewish girls' education, certainly in advance of the Chief Rabbi's pastoral letter on the subject. Speaking in Liverpool in 1852, Dr Adler said: "Those who believed that the destiny of a girl was poverty - that her destiny was an inferior one - might entertain such an erroneous opinion; but those who knew that she was fashioned for a higher life - for a better life - could not doubt that schools for girls were of the greatest moment - schools in which their understandings might be developed and informed, their hearts softened, and their tastes cultivated".27 A foundation, the forerunner of the current King David Foundation, was established with effort: the managers collected 288.19.0, 1,000 was received from Jackson and S. Samuel, solicitors, 825 from Elias Joseph's legacy, and 371 in subscriptions. One guinea was even received from William Rathbone, the noted local M.P. The aim of the foundation was to afford free education for the poor, who paid 1d if they could afford it.

By 1847 there was a roll of 29 boys and 20 girls, the latter supervised by a Ladies' Visiting Committee, whose twelve members began their duties on 2nd January, 1848, but whose powers were strictly limited to supervision and recommendations to the Schools Committee. At this time the schools felt a twofold pressure, one of limited accommodation and the other of the requirements of the Minutes of the Council, which in 1846 showed government stress on teacher competence and pupil-teacher training. The principal, the German Myer Stein, was appointed in 1845 to teach Hebrew throughout, while the English assistant, Mr Couldrey, was under-employed and inefficient by national standards. The Mistress, or Governess, was a Miss Donnegan, who commanded an annual salary of 30; though highly esteemed, she too needed to raise her academic standards somewhat.28 She gave her time willingly and helped eke out the meagre funds by selling the girls' handiwork. The pupils had long hours, and holidays amounted only to one week at Passover, a month for High Festivals and one week's Christmastide break.

The managers had a modern outlook on curriculum and especially promoted drawing since "this art is of such manifest utility in all mechanical pursuits that its desirability and importance as a branch of education cannot be a matter of question".29 Hebrew studies consisted of reading, grammar and translation and what might be termed catechism, while English meant the three Rs, grammar, composition, history and geography, with needlework for girls. In 1853 a library was opened, a first for girls, and another cultural venture was the literary society instigated by Rev. A. Fischel.

By now official recognition was seriously under consideration and when the English master was dismissed the Committee advertised in The Times. The post went this time to a local teacher, George Trowbridge, at 75, who held it until 1857. Birmingham Hebrew School evidently tried to tempt him away in 1851 and Liverpool held him only by adding 10 to his salary. He produced excellent showings at examinations; the public examination of 1856 moved the assembly to donate over 100. When he left for another post, he was replaced by William P. Nettleton, selected from a short-list of five, Nettleton's arrival occasioned the admittance of the first non-Jewish pupils, since he was permitted to educate his two sons at the school:

At first, the idea of admitting children not of the Jewish persuasion was scouted, but an amendment by Mr Charles Samuell, was finally adopted and tolerance gained the day.30

Nettleton also persuaded the Board to let him select pupil-teachers at 1/- per week, including his own proficient son Harry. The girls' assistant was also a former pupil, Kitty Shock, who was paid 5/-. Yet progress did not remove the thwarted desire to have the schools placed under inspection, for the master was uncertificated and he resigned in 1869 when he failed the examination. Meanwhile, Miss Donnegant despite an uncertain temper and warnings about the use of corporal punishment, learned from her mistakes and was sufficiently humble to take a course in the teaching of writing from George Trowbridge. One of her clashes with authority happened when the Hebrew master, Rev. Prag, withdrew his four daughters because of her severity. Other cases included a refusal to obtain a signing-on book and discourtesy towards the Ladies' Committee. Yet numbers rose steadily under her and she also introduced her first pupil-teachers, Minnie Levy and Sophie Aarons, for whose training she received the 5 normally given in official government schemes. Her downfall, however, resulted from rudeness in refusing to take her certificate, when requested to do so by the President, R.H. Samuel, and with a show of bravado not only refused to apologise but offered her resignation in writing. She was probably shocked to have this accepted, after twenty-one years' service, on 18th March 1867. We lose sight of her after that, except to note that she was unable to find another post for some time, and was voted some money in answer to several begging letters.

The new President, Charles Mozley (a Mayor of Liverpool), instituted a careful search for a replacement and the first Jewish mistress was appointed: Rachel Levy, a qualified teacher from the J.F.S,, a further example of the effective teacher training promoted by Moses Angel, who at one point provided headmasters for the Jewish schools in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Westminster and Bayswater, and head-mistresses in Liverpool, Birmingham, Westminster and Stepney.31 Rachel Levy was able to take girls' Hebrew and completely revitalised English education, as instanced by her large book requisition. Thanks to her, a proper scale of pupil-teacher fees was adopted in 1869 at 2/6d. weekly, with a further 1/6d. for every year of apprenticeship. Her school moved to a different part of the building in 1870, when a roll of 82 boys and 76 girls necessitated a complete reorganisation of the new premises.

While Miss Levy solved the problem of Hebrew staff in the girls' school, the boys' department had remained inadequately covered. In 1849 Myer Stein decided not to return from leave on the Continent, and Rev. D.M. Isaacs agreed to superintend temporarily. He was so successful that after six months he was offered the post at 60, but as he would accept no less than 100 the post was advertised. Thus short-sightedness lost the schools the services of one of the great teachers of the age. There was a great outcry from the community and seventeen influential members called on the Board to retain his services, including in their letter the plea "... that you will call a General Meeting of the Subscribers of the Institution, and endeavour to meet the exigency of the case so that the services of the talented Rev. Gentleman may be secured, which your Petitioners think will prove conducive to the interests of the Institution and very satisfactory to a large body of the members".32 The Board, however, refused even the compromise offer of 80 and instead appointed J. Silverstein of London whose health broke down, thereby causing the nomination of a local man, A. Lippschutz, whose main difficulty was his unfamiliarity with English. When he left, the two local ministers again stepped into the breach, thereby highlighting the still unresolved difficulty of finding qualified teachers of Jewish subjects. In 1856, Rev. Jacob Prag, newly appointed to the New Hebrew Congregation, took over but retired with ill-health, accepting the chair of Hebrew at the local Queen's College. He was described as being a thorough scholar', cultivated and respected, who wrote Hebrew verse, and persuaded Abraham Saqui to form an enlarged synagogue choir, long before even London had a choral tradition. Rev. Professor Isaacs (as he now was) also continued to assist until he took up a permanent ministry in Manchester in 1862.

Of the pupils we unfortunately know little. Their numbers doubled between 1850 and 1870:

Average Roll of the Hebrew School, 1850-1870


Numbers   on   Average   Roll







































(a) Census, 1851, gave 80
(b) Board of Deputies Return gave 83. The teachers reported 78 in February, the Return was made on 13th February.

This compared with the other Jewish schools as follows:



Deputies' Return

Jews' Free School




Jews' Infant Schools




National & Infant




Western (Westminster)




West Metropolitan




Gates of Hope








Manchester Jews




Birmingham Hebrew Nat.




Jews' Hospital




Hull Hebrew School




Orphan Asylum




Villareal Girls'




Bristol Hebrew School




Leeds Hebrew School




Orphans' School




There are slight inaccuracies in these figures, in that the Schools Enquiry of the 1851 Census lost the original returns, and the Deputies accepted whatever figures they were given. Several other authorities, notably V.D. Lipman, quote these figures, and there are variations or confirmations given by J. Mills (1853), H. Mann (1854), H. Mayhew (1851), and the JC (at various times).

A pupil's day may be glaned from the Liverpool bye-laws, and this included a two-hour lunch-break to enable children to eat at home: there was as yet no meals service. Compassion was shown when Samuel Yates Hess started a Ladies' Soup Committee, which frequently ran into trouble because it interferred with school discipline, but in 1863 it was a very real precursor of a meals service. Cleanliness and punctuality was stressed, as was parental co-operation, and certificates were awarded for improvement. Parental contributions rose with costs, and by 1849 the tariff ranged from 3d to 2/- for boys and 3d to 1/6d. for girls. Foundation scholars were still educated free, but the voluntary 1d was introduced to remove any sense of shame.33

After a period of seven years' stability, Liverpool followed the provincial pattern of looking for permanent premises, partly forced upon them by the impending closure of the St George's Square rooms. In 1849, Lewin Mozley rented in turn a house at 18 Nelson Street and 7 Slater Street, as temporary measures. A Building and Finance Committee was established, which immediately raised 72.10.0d.

The next year, the President, Abraham Abraham, purchased 300 square yards of land from the. London and North West Railway Company at 21/- a yard, with an option to buy a further 100. They engaged Mr Hay, an architect, and John P.. Isaac, the designer employed by Queen Victoria, supervised building and planned the interior. The schools' banker and Benefactor, Israel Barned, laid the stone on Wednesday, 1st September 1852, and the Liverpool Mercury34 not only reported the event at length, but published verbatim speeches delivered at the Adelphi Hotel dinner that night. Pilgrim Street synagogue, round the corner from the new schools, was decked with flowers; the gentlemen were formally dressed, while "the gallery and seats beneath it were occupied by elegantly dressed ladies, and in the body of the room were the pupils of the existing schools, of which the number on the books at the present time we estimate are 40 boys and 45 girls".35 The Chief Rabbi arrived in Lewin Mozley's coach and the sermon was delivered by the Rev. Isaacs. Among the speeches at night, the most notable was that of John (later Sir John, M.P.) Simon, who referred to the principle of the Chief Rabbi that wherever 25 Jewish children were to be found, a school should be formed. Needless to say, this remained an ideal.

The new schools opened for lessons on the following 1st May, one of two buildings only in the square known as Mount Zion.36 Originally a two-storey building, its three floors stand today as an Annexe to the Art School. It cost a total 2,975, the land being 735, the structure approximately 1,900, and the furniture and fittings 340. Thanks to Charles Mozley, the schools were completely freed from debt in 1862 and the freehold purchased.37 Under his presidency, which lasted from 1854 to 1866, the Institution settled its system of government, promoting the Board, Ladies' Committee, and three main sub-committees: Finance and Building, Visiting, and Bye-Law. The managers met monthly, though the ladies reduced their gatherings to quarterly. The visitors' rota was also on a monthly basis. The school was proud of its voluntary status; for instance, they refused to attend the Town Hall for the Queen's visit of 1851 on the grounds that the invitation applied only to charity schools.38 Mozley also refused the cost of a charity schools' treat on the Prince of Wales' marriage in 1863, and paid for it himself. Treats were long established in the school especially a Chanucah and Purim, and summer outings were made to the seaside on the other side of the Mersey. Endowments came from gifts and bequests. Mann's census of schools, despite being based on incomplete returns, showed Jewish schools to be well endowed despite their low number, but this did not prevent them from running at a loss, since they were earmarked only for scholars' benefit. This proved to be another obstacle to obtaining governmental inspection and grant. Health, too, was carefully catered for, and Dr. S. Lewis gave his services free for many years, introducing vaccination in 1865, followed by quarterly medical inspections.

However, the managers were dissatisfied with mere 'internal' success and the vexed question of government inspection ran through their deliberations like some leitmotiv. It was, after all, another civil disability in the struggle for emancipation. Inspection had been available in one form or another since 1833. The estimated annual cost of 7,000 to run the London schools seemed to precipitate matters. The Board of Deputies thus exerted their influence on the Government to assist Jewish voluntary schools. In 1847, emboldened by the fact that Catholic schools had been offered aid, the Deputies made a fruitless application for a grant. In 1851, Manchester Jews' School had their personal appeal turned down, but pressure from the entire community led to two years' negotiations. A major consequence of this application was that the Jewish schools, which had so vigorously kept ecclesiastical control at bay, now had to submit to the Chief Rabbi's authority. The government officials were somewhat disconcerted to find that the Deputies, which was a synagogal representative body, were unable to nominate an authority responsible for biblical instruction in the strictly lay schools. This consequently delayed the acceptance of the deed of grant. Official demands for ecclesiastical control caused a furore when the schools refused to submit to such an authority, and the deed was altered to allow the schools' management to nominate their own ecclesiastical controller.40

Finally, in 1853, the Government recognised the justice of the Jewish claims and afforded them the same facilities as other English schools, provided that they would admit children of all faiths and allow non-Jewish parents to withdraw their children from Religious Instruction. By the same token, Jewish children were in principle enabled to enter Christian grant-earning schools with comparable rights of withdrawal. Manchester had been receiving a few non-Jews for years, and Liverpool was willing to consider them; but the London schools refused point blank, on the grounds that there was scarcely room for Jewish pupils. As a result, they lost their building grants.

When one considers the disasters that the Revised Code brought upon schools, particularly in the relationship of teachers with their managers and the Inspectorate, one is at a loss to see why Jewish boards insisted on being included in the state system; especially as there was small financial benefit for many years. The viciousness of 'payment by results' would hardly appeal to the Jewish mind any more than it did to the rest of the country. Thus we see how the over-riding principle of emancipation at all costs compelled the Jewish schools to accept an undesirable system, even though it brought them equality. Liverpool, with a high attainment level, was slow to undergo the limiting state requirements, despite receiving the Model Deed of the Privy Council in 1853. In fact, the matter was not mentioned until 1860, when the Secretary of the Ladies' Committee urged "the propriety of placing the schools under Governmental Inspection."41 The sub-committee deputed to consider the suggestion evidently shelved it. The influential members of the community, however, were determined to take advantage of Robert Lowe's grants. The narrow, rigid syllabus resulted in a lowering of standards, such as was reported generally by Matthew Arnold in his General Report for 1867, and even though the managers urged the advantages of the grant,42 the schools stood firm for a little longer. When at last R.H. Samuel carried the day, the board was dismayed to learn that in any case the schools were ineligible for inspection, as neither William Nettleton nor Miss Donnegan were certificated.43 Immediately they set about remedying this, with the results already mentioned. The following year, however, the Privy Council made a surprising concession, "that the Schools could be inspected provisionally with the understanding that the teachers sit for examination at Christmas 1868".44 Despite fears to the contrary, the managers were delighted that the report proved successful and the schools were placed under official inspection.

Boys. The School is in good order. The teaching is intelligent and the results satisfactory. The reading is really good. The arithmetic needs a little more attention to numeration and notation.

Girls. The order here too is good, and the teaching also intelligent and productive of sound results, The reading is remarkable for audibility and clearness, but as in the Boys' School, so here the arithmetic needs a little attention. I ought to add that the present mistress has been here but three months, and found the school by no means in a good condition".45

Despite this, at the end of 1869 the Council denied the schools' entitlement to grants, on the grounds of their substantial endowments, though inspection continued. The 1870 Act fortunately settled the matter beyond dispute, when the grant became payable to all voluntary schools. The detrimental effects of the Revised Code were avoided in Liverpool because the schools could not be incorporated into the state system. But eventually they too were to lose their own peculiar character:

From 1866 to 1871, date of the passing of the Compulsory Education Act, the School began to lose its character as a private enterprise. Its government was still under the control of the managers, but its curriculum was regulated by the Government Code, the number and quality of its staff prescribed by law, its holidays limited and accounts examined. The Institution was merged in the great class of Public Elementary Schools which sprang up in the country and its doors were thrown open to the public irrespective of race or creed.46

Myer Kaizer was over-pessimistic, inaccurate and even narrow-minded in his assessment. Though compelled to assume a national character, the schools possessed too strong a Jewish flavour to lose their basic individuality.  

Note (↵ returns to main text)

  1. I. Finestein, A Short History of Anglo-Jewry, 1957, p.106; C. Roth, The Great Synagogue, 1690-1940, 1950.

  2. M. Margoliouth, The History of the Jews in Great Britain, 3 vols.,1851, vol.3, p.122.

  3. C. Roth, A History of the Jews in England, 3rd ed., Oxford, 1964, p.238.

  4. J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, 1875, p.434.

  5. V.D. Lipman, Social History of the Jews in England, 1850-1950, 1954, p.300; Margoliouth, p.200.

  6. Margoliouth, p.134.

  7. Lipman, p.25.

  8. Margoliouth, pp.106-7.

  9. Margoliouth, pp.106-7.

  10. Managers, Minutes, 6th Nov., 1982.

  11. Manchester Jewish Gazette, 13 July 1958; Jewish Telegraph, 13 January 1956; the Jewish Encyclopaedia is inaccurate on this subject.

  12. The Manchester Review, vol.71 1956, esp. p.371.

  13. See Gore's Directory, 1839.

  14. Minutes, 17 December, 1840.

  15. Annual Report.

  16. Minutes, 20 Jan.1841.

  17. Minutes, 2 April 1842. [footnote not marked in text]

  18. Minutes, 29 May 1841.

  19. Minutes, 11 May 1842.

  20. Minutes, 22 July 1841.

  21. JC, leader, 12 November 1841, p.4; Liverpool Mercury, 26 November 1841, p.314

  22. Minutes, 23 January 1841.

  23. Minutes, 5 June 1842. [footnote not marked in text]

  24. Minutes, 11 January 1843.

  25. C. Roth, Great Synagogue, p.229.

  26. Minutes, 29 May 1843.

  27. Liverpool Mercury, 3 September 1852, p.707.

  28. Minutes, 2 January 1848.

  29. Quoted in several minutes.

  30. M. Kaizer, Inaugural Address, Old Boys' Association Report.

  31. JC, 27 January 1856, supp.p.55.

  32. Minutes, 20 November 1850.

  33. Minutes, 21 October 1858.

  34. Supplement, 3 September 1852, p.2.

  35. Supplement, 3 September 1852, p.2.

  36. See Map of Liverpoo1,1851, area 12.

  37. Minutes, 7 April 1862; Report, 8 Jure 1363.

  38. Minutes, 29 September 1851.

  39. See the letters involved in the Minutes of the Committee of Council. [footnote not marked in text]

  40. Board of Deputies' Minutes, 21 December 1852.

  41. Minutes, 21 February 1860.

  42. 6/6d. a head under 6, 8/- over 6, on making 200 attendances.

  43. Minutes, 3 July 1866.

  44. Minutes, 6 February 1867.

  45. Log Book, 20 July 1867.

  46. Inaugural Address, p.7.


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