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: 12 June 2017
Latest revision: 23 July 2017


by Bill Williams

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Little progress has been made in the historiography of provincial Anglo-Jewry since 1940, when Cecil Roth composed the paper which was subsequently published, in expanded form, as The Rise of Provincial Jewry(2). His comment that the historians of Anglo-Jewry had 'hitherto shewn little interest in what went on outside the capital'(3) remains substantially true. This does not mean only, or even mainly, that most provincial congregations await their historian; more importantly, it implies that Anglo-Jewish history has been written largely from a metropolitan stand-point, that it has been interpreted almost exclusively within the context of metropolitan trends, and that it has relied far too heavily on documents which lie in London repositories. In general histories of Anglo-Jewry, the provinces appear most often as a footnote, with the assumption, usually incorrect, that their development ran exactly parallel to that of London. Or they are dismissed in sweeping sentences whioh gloss over the signifioant complexities which local sources would have revealed.

Nor has the historical demography of provincial Anglo-Jewry made any significant progress since 1940, when Roth based his calculations on speculative comment in the Jewish Chronicle, Moses Margoliouth's highly suspect History of the Jewry in England, the allocation of votes in the election of a new Chief Rabbi in 1844, and the Religious Census of 1851. Studies of the evolution of Jewish communities in the English provinces still lack a hard statistical base. In more general terms, little has been done to extend the relatively narrow range of sources upon which Roth relied - references in the records of the oldest London synagogues, wills in Somerset House, subscription lists, obituary notices, tombstone inscriptions, genealogical records, circumcisionml registers, Masonic sources, and the early Anglo-Jewish press.

Finally, in spite of Roth's lead and his declared hope that his own work would engender systematic local research, little has been done either to define the questions which the historians of provincial Anglo-Jewry ought to be asking or to preserve the material in which the answers might be found. Much of provincial Anglo-Jewish history remains anecdotal in form and martyrological in sentiment, and fails to grapple with such central historical issues as the mechanics of communal evolution, the nature of congregational dispute, the degree and effect of external influences stemming from Gentile society, or the changing relationships between local congregations and the central institutions of Anglo-Jewry. The failure of Jewish institutions to take adequate steps to channel their surviving archives into repositories in which they would be properly calendared, effectively preserved, and made available to scholars under satisfactory conditions, has reached the proportions of a national scandal. The archives of one vacant provincial synagogue were recently vandalised and substantially destroyed; the records of another (whose members included the first Lord Sieff) were buried in the rubble of its demolition and now form part of the foundations of a block of flats; the early Minute Books of a third were destroyed by a well-meaning caretaker to make way for their successors. Early Manchester Zionist records have not survived, even for the period of Chaim Weitzman's residence in the town, during which he served his political apprenticeship. Throughout the country, official Jewish records of immense historical value are both dangerously at risk and effectively insulated from serious scholarship.

Much the same is true of private collections. The fate of the records of the late Bertram Benas of Liverpool, some of which were lost or destroyed, some bought by an antiquarian book dealer, and the rest almost irreparably fragmented, may serve as an object lesson as to what might happen to the private archives even of a serious historian.(4) The Rothschild family has set an unfortunate precedent in its persistent refusal to allow access to its records, even to an historian of the stature of Cecil Roth, whose Magnificent Rothschilds(5) was necessarily based on inadequate secondary sources. And yet Letter Books in the possession of the family are known to date back to the foundation of the English House, in Manchester in 1801. Other material has fallen into the hands of Hebrew book and manuscript collectors, some of whom have acquired it direct from synagocal sources.

It is the intention of this paper to open up for discussion some of the practical steps which might be taken to increase the critical content of provincial Anglo-Jewish history, to widen the range of its techniques, to strengthen its statistical base, and to preserve its sources. It is important that specialists (non-Jewish as well as Jewish) should be attracted to the field, but I have in mind particularly the amateur historians upon whose initiative, enthusiasm and ingenuity the immediate future of provincial Anglo-Jewish history largely depends.

(1) The Use of Census Material

One of the most significant developments in modern social history has been a move away from excessive reliance on subjective and impressionistic sources (letters and diaries, for example) towards the use of quantifiable data as a basis for valid historical generalisation.(6) In this country, the lead has been taken by the Cambridge Group for the Study of Population, whose work on Census material has, I think, a particular relevance for provincial Anglo-Jewish history.

Essentially, the Cambridge Group has made use of the original Census Enumerators' Books (the forms, that is, on which the Census Enumerators recorded information as they moved from house to house) as a means of reconstructing the general pattern of life and work in 19th century England. Under a 100-year secrecy rule which is imposed on all detailed Census material, work has been possible only on the decennial censuses taken between 1841 (when personal information was recorded for the first time) and 1871. The original Census books for this period are preserved in the Public Record Office, but local sections on microfilm are normally available in larger regional libraries, and would therefore be accessible to any group which cared to use them as the basis of a local Jewish history.

No attempt to obtain reliable demographic statistics of provincial Anglo-Jewish communities in the 19th century from sources other than the Census Enumerators Books has so far proved successful. Calculations based on places of birth given in the Census summaries (Russians, Poles, Germans, etc) are of little value in the Jewish context, since a town like Manchester included many non-Jewish foreigners, and since by 1841 a large proportion of the Jewish community was already native-born. Only one attempt was made in England to take a religious census (on the basis of attendance at places of worship on a particular Sabbath in 1851), and this was far from satisfactory, even in general terms.(7) Dr Lipman's interpretation of the returns to assist in his analysis of Anglo-Jewry is at best a rough guide, supplemented in most instances by speculation.(8) The use of synagogue membership is also risky, since the members of a synagogue represent only a fraction of the community, and that an incalculable one.(9) Often the figures for every synagogue are not available. In Manchester, the records of the Reform Congregation (founded in 1856) were destroyed by enemy action in World War Two, and the archives of most chevroth (of which there were at least 20 before 1881) have been irretrievably lost, presuming that they ever existed. Figures for attendance at communal schools (available in the case of Manchester from 1842) are unreliable as a guide to the total Jewish population, since only the poorer children were expected to attend a communal institution, and, until the early 1870s, they were not compelled to do so; by that time Jewish children were to be found in Board Schools and even in Christian voluntary schools. No form of 19th century communal statistic has been found which bears a constant relationship to the total Jewish population, while contemporary estimates, by Jews and conversionists, vary wildly.

In the absence of satinfactory alternatives, it is worth turning to the Census Enumerators Books which, whatever their defects, provide the most comprehensive and accurate account of the general population, and which undoubtedly include the Jewish community, however difficult it might be to detect and delineate. Sampling techniques are clearly inappropriate, since most Jews lived in one or more compact residential groupings. Instead I think that an attempt night be made to extract the total Jewish population of a town or district from the Enumerators Books, provided that a sufficiently systematic and cautious procedure were to be adopted. Of course, the religious allegiance of the population did not form part of the English Census enquiry, but I do not see this as an insuperable obstacle to the reconstitution of the community. The Birmingham group has managed very well with the Census of 1851 using techniques devised by the Jewish History Unit in Manchester, where work is nearing completion on the full range of Censuses, from 1841 to 1871. I would like to see the procedure more widely used, and I have little doubt that in the process it would become incresingly refined.

The first question to be asked is what it is that one is trying to reconstitute. This does not require an esoteric definitional debate. Since the concern of the local historian will be with the development of the community, it seems reasonable to accept as Jewish anyone of Jewish descent (or any convert to Judaism) who associated himself or herself with the institutions of the community, in however tenuous a manner; and, conversely, to reject any person, even when Jewish descent could be proved, who did not associate himself with the community in any way at all. In the Manchester context, it made no sense to include as a member of the community, the Unitarian calico printer, Salis Schwabe, who, although German-Jewish in origin, had severed all his Jewish connections, or H M Steinthal, who had become an ardent sunporter of the Society for the Promotion of Christianity Anongst the Jews, or Israel Napthali, who had become a local agent of the conversionists. On the other hand, it was logical to include John Peiser, a coach-lace manufacturer who came to Manchester from Prussian Poland in the 1820s. Although he did not join the Manchester synagogue, he subscribed liberally and regularly to Jewish charities, heading the list of those who contributed to the building of the Great Synagogue during 1857-58. The test, I would suggest, should not be descent, or religious allegiance, but participation, however indirectly, in communal life in any of its manifestations, religions, social, educational, or political. This, at all events, was ,made the yardstick adopted for work on the Manchester and Salford Census of 1871.

But the final selection in the case of each Census was the end of a long process of sifting which began with the extraction of every person who might for any reason (place of birth, surname, occupation, or place of residence) be thought, on basic sociological and historical premises, to be of Jewish origin. The object at this stage was not to make a final judgement in each case, but to compile as full a list as possible for whittling down in the light of further evidence. None the less, it clearly required some knowledge of Jewish nomenclature and naming customs, of the economic pattern of 19th century Anglo-Jewish life, and of the main areas of a town in which the Jewish population might be expected to be concentrated. In the case of large towns like Birmingham or Manchester, the local trade directories provided a useful preliminary guide to Jewish residential districts, as well as to Jewish families which lived outside them. At this stage, the rule was to include everyone, including any doubtful cases (those, for example, born in Russia but not possessing an identifiably Jewish surname). The information was entered on forms such as the simplified version of the Enumerators Card devised by Marcel Glaskie [see next paper], and full details were entered of every household which included at least one Jewish person (including, for example, non-Jewish landlords, servants or fellow-lodgers). In the case of the 1871 Census in Manchester, two researchers went through the Census independently (the first of whom describes his experiences in another paper) and their results were later compared and collated. The material was then indexed by surname and initial.

Inevitably, some families were missed at this stage, even allowing for a cross-check against the directories. This was particularly true of those who had adopted English surnames (in one instance, Friedlander had become Sykes; in another Wilhelm Vitcovsky had become William Whitcover), who had moved out of typically Jewish occupations, or who were no longer living near an area of Jewish concentration. The next stage, therefore, was to scan communal zecords of all kinds - synagogue membership lists, subscription lists of the Jews School or the Board of Guardians, school registers, institutional account books, marriage and burial registers, and so on - in the period 1865-75 - for names which did not appear in the first index. These names were then traced back to the Census, via the directory, to check whether they had in fact been in Manchester on Census night, 1871.

The final task was to eliminate from the long list those who were not, in fact, members of the oommunity; those, that is, who had broken every link with communal life. This was relatively easy in the case of middle-class families, since those could safely be excluded who did not appear on subscription or membership lists. In the case of poorer families, however, this yardstick could not be applied, since many fell well below the level of income which made synagogue membership possible, while the records of the smaller immigrant chevroth had disappeared. Some appeared in later burial registers, or as members of Burial Societies such as the Manchester Burial Society of Polish Jews, founded as a limited company in the 1870s, or as recipients of the Board of Guardians, the Soup Kitchen, or some other communal charity, but there were others whose names appeared nowhere but in the Census, as the inhabitants of crowaed cellars or tenements in Fernie Street, Red Bank. Ultimately it was decided that those who lived in a recognisable 'immigrant area' (Red Bank or Strangeways) and who possessed other clear indications of a Jewish identity (in name, occupation, or place of origin) night justifiably be included; but this was a dispensation extended only to those whose poverty excluded them from the ordinary run of communal records.(10)

What kind of information do the Census Enumerators' Books reveal? The Census of 1841 was in many ways inadequate, and provided more formidable problems of identification than its successors. Exact addresses were not given, relationships between members of a family were not stated, and, most important of all, respondents were not asked to name the exact place of their origin; they were asked only if they were born in the same country as that in which they were residing on Census night, and, if not, whether they were born elsewhere in England, in Ireland, or 'in Foreign Parts'. None the less, this Census was helpful, particularly as a means of describing the economic structure and the residential pattern of the Jewish community at a critical phase in its development, with country peddling on the decline and the suburbanisation of the provincial Jewish population in its earliest phase. Although the data on origins was not altogether reliable, the Census of 1841 also piovided a useful guide to the proportion of the Jewish population which was locally-born. Succeeding Censuses were much fuller, and made possible a fairly detailed analysis of origins, economic life, residential patterns and social structure. The Birmingham group has used material from the 1851 Census to compile the tables which accompany their paper, and many other listings and correlations are also possible. Summaries of the Census material as a whole in the Registrar General's report make it possible to relate the pattern of Jewish life and origins in a particular town to that of the host society.

(2) The Evolution of the Community

While the Enumerators Books for each Census provide a detailed static picture of the size and shape of a community frozen at an instant in time, material from the full range of Censuses reveals the direction of social and economic change within the provincial Anglo-Jewish milieu and serves as a basis for understanding the dynamics of communal evolution.

The birth-places of the population help the historian to assess the relative importance over time of the channels of immigration which have converged on a particular town. They serve to indicate, for example, the extent to which the earliest provincial Jewish population was reshuffling itself from the 1840s in response to the growth of large industrial towns and the development of railways. They reveal new sources of immigration. In the case of Manchester, the analysis has shown in particular, the considerable importance of Polish immigration in the period before the mass-influx of the late 19th century. The Manchester evidence, taken at a strategic point on the main route of transmigration between Eastern Europe and the United States, suggests that the influx of 1881-2 may be regarded not as a new beginning, but as the culmination of a process which can be traced back to the mid-1840s, and possibly earlier, and which owed its origin to deteriorating economic conditions in the overpopulated Jewish districts of Russian and Prussian Poland, aggravated in the former by constant discrimination and occasional persecution. In 1861 27% of Manchester's Jewish population was of Polish birth or parentage, and the proportion had risen to over 50% by 1871. The poor relief books of the Great Synagogue reinforced this picture, revealing that a majority of tranamigrants who had applied to the congregation for relief during 1848 and 1851(11) had travelled from towns and townlets in the districts around Warsaw and Posen, aided by improving rail services converging on Berlin and Hamburg. The Birmingham evidence suggests that a residue of this transmigration was remaining in other English industrial towns.

It is clear from a variety of other sources that the pattern of immigrant society usually associated with the 1880s - closely-knit slum settlement, a narrow range of workshop trades, and a distinctive cultural and religious life centred upon the chevroth - was already evolving during the 1850s and by 1875 had already achieved a form which did not alter in its essentials for the succeeding forty years. I do not wish to take this interpretation too far here. What I an arguing is that the Census provides firm statistical data which assists in the interpretation of other sources, including impressionistic material in the Jewish and in the local press.

The use of Census material in conjunction with synagogal sources proved especially fruitful, since it related the institutional development of the community to the changing social and economic composition of the communal population. Take, for example, conflict within the synagogue, which is too often dismissed as a perennial and inevitable symptom of personal dispute, and attribruted, even by contemporaries, to trivial causes. It is my experience that an analysis of the backgrounds of the combatants, based on information provided by the Census and extended from other sources, often reveals underlying differences of major significance. A dispute which developed in the Manchester synagogue in 1844, which was said by one contemporary to have turned on the price of misheberachs,(12) was found on closer examination to have been the revolt of a new and growing petit bourgeosie against the exclusive control exercised over congregational affairs by their richer and longer-established co-religionists: a reflection, that is, within the synagogue, of class divisions outside it.

A more bitter conflict during 1869-72, which centred on the personality of a new Reader, Henry Davis Marks, and which led ultimately to the establishment of the first South Manchester Synagogue, proved to have been, in essence, an attempt by a new middle-class of Eastern European workshop entrepreneurs to assert themselves within the congregation at the expense of the more acculturated and (they believed) religiously lax English and German members. The South Manchester Synagogue was the haven of refuge of an anglicised elite. Again, I do not wish to substantiate these points here: what I am stressing is the need to interpret synagogal conflicts (and other congregational changes) in terms of their participants (or promoters), and for this purpose to build up an indexed information-bank based, in the first instance, upon Census data.

Other developments within the community must also be placed within the context of social and economic change. The foundation of communal schools in Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester, between 1839 and 1842, was described by one contemporary as evidence of the Jewish phoenix arising from the ashes of its former grandeurs(13) and no doubt it was to some extent true that they reflected the growing size and prestige of provincial Anglo-Jewish centres. But I think they might also be related to one of the major economic changes affecting Jewish life in the provinces during the 1830s: the decline of country peddling, revealed especially by the declining number of English-born Jewish hawkers. The new communal schools were in part an attempt to wean the Jewish poor from peddling, and to direct them to more reputable occupations, at a time when the community's political future seemed to depend upon its respectability. The first annual report of the Liverpool school spoke quite explicitly of the need to replace 'Idleness and Peddling' with 'Industry and Handicrafts'.(14)

Of the other questions relating to communal change to which I think local Jewish historians ought particularly to be addressing themselves, two of the most important are the relationship between a Jewish community and its host society (which might be expected to throw some light on the history of other minorities) and the relationship between provincial congregations and the central institutions of Anglo-Jewry. The first suggests the need to use non-Jewish sources, particularly the local press, as a means of defining the role of Jews in non-Jewish society, while avoiding the customary list of civic virtues and achievements which is no more than the obverse face of anti-Semitism. I would suggest that one of the first tasks of a local Jewish history group might be a careful scrutiny of major local papers in search of Jewish references and as a means of assessing local attitudes towards the community and its aspirations. At the same time, evidence relating to other local minorities - the Manchester Greek Orthodox or German Catholic communities, for example - might be used to judge whether or not the Jewish experience was unique or the attitudes towards Jewry exceptional.

On the second question, provincial sources, particularly synagogal minute books and correspondence, might be expected to throw considerable light on the development of such national institutions as the Chief Rabbinate and the Board of Deputies, which have been most often studied in the light only of national archives, and then very inadequately. Long ago, Cecil Roth pointed to the relevance of provincial attitudes in the evolution of the central authority vested in the Chief Rabbits Office. It is possible to show, I think, that the Chief Rabbinate was both refined and strengthened as a result of a crisis in the early 1850a when several congregations, particularly Manchester, attempted unsuccessfully to move in the direction of religious autonomy. The role of the Board of Deputies was also deeply affected by pressures from provincial congregations exerted by such deputies as David Hesse and Jacob Franklin from Manchester in the late 1840s. Nor has the role of the provinces in the evolution of Jewish poor relief been adequately explored, in spite of hints thrown out by Lucien Wolf at the and of the last century. My own opinions aside, I think it important that local Jewish historians begin to ask seriously whether or not the provinces played any creative role in the evolution of the central institutions of Anglo-Jewry, and to look for answers in their own congregational records.

I think that more attention might also be given to the part played by the provinces in the origin and character of the English Reform movement, in the development of Sephardi institutions in England, and in the evolution of Zionism. As Joseph Massel wrote in 1911, in the Manchester-based Zionist Banner:

'Anglo-Jewry does not consist of an important community in London and several insignificant collections of Jews in 'the Provinces' ... There are healthy centres outside the metropolis which ... have a large measure of influence in our communal institutions.'

(3) Local Research Groups

The fact that researchers in many local Jewish centres might be asking the same, or similar questions raises another possibility. In Birmingham, a highly successful research group has been organised by the local branch of the Jewish Historical Society of England and the Extra Mural Department of the University of Birmingham, and has been provided with impetus and coherence by Mrs Zoe Josephs and Dr Anthony Joseph; in Manchester, Marcel Glaskie [see next paper] is anxious to promote a similar development, and some group research has already been conducted. It seems to me that such groups night well become a regular feature of the national apparatus of the Jewish Historical Society of England, which could well sustain them with advice, and possibly with funds. Certainly, the development of such groups would form an excellent means of promoting the kind of research which I have suggested, particularly Census and newspaper work.

I would argue, too, that such groups should have as their first priority the location of local Jewish records and their safe preservation in public repositories, for it seems likely that only sustained local influence would persuade local institutions to take the urgent steps required to rescue Jewish archive material.(15)

Ideally, Jewish institutions and private individuals would be persuaded to deposit their records, either as a donation, or on permanent loan, in a local archive. But when this proves impossible, at least steps might be taken to have the material copied (by photostat or on microfilm) and the copies preserved. Recently, my attention was drawn to a document in private hands in Birmingham, which turned out to be a 14-page letter, dated December, 1841, in which an English-born hawker of stationery described in circumstantial detail a 2-month circuit in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Fortunately, the ownor was kind enough to allow the document to be copied, and one copy is now lodged in Birmingham's Local History Library. Recently, Mr John Shaftesley allowed important records in his own collection to be copied by the Manchester Central Reference Library. Local groups might well make similar arrangements in the case of other records in private collections as a systematic matter of policy. It cannot be too often stressed that the disappearance of records means, all too often, the destruction of the persons or events to which the records refer.

There is room, too, for joint seminars between local research groups, when common problems night be discussed. Too often researchers work in isolation from one another, when they night more profitably pool their experiences. A joint seminar is envisaged between the groups in Manchester and Birmingham to discuss the problems involved in the social classification of Jewish Census material; others night well be arranged to consider questions related to the mechanics of archive retrieval. What I an arguing for is a national network of Jewish researchers and research groups, co-ordinated by the Jewish Historical Society of England, advised by specialists in Anglo-Jewish history, and meeting occasionally (perhaps regularly) to compare notes.

(4) The Use of Oral History

Finally, I would like to put to you the possibility of systenntic work in the field of Oral History, another of the new techniques employed by the social historian. At its simplest, Oral History is a convenient shorthand term for the collection and critical use of spoken evidence preserved on tape. In England, it is a field which has been pioneered by Dr Paul Thompson of the University of Essex, whose methods of recording, transcribing, indexing, and storing material have now been widely adopted. There is a national Oral History Society which produces a regular journal, Oral History(16) describing new work in the field, and Oral History Units are being developed in many centres, including Manchester Polytechnic, where an attempt is being made to adapt the technique to the study of Anglo-Jewish history.

Oral History has proved particularly valuable in approaching those areas of historical experience which have left ]east trace in the written record, and it is for this reason that it seems peculiarly adapted to the study of Jewish imrigration, both in the period 1860-1920, and in the 1930s. In the earlier period not enough is known of the many factors which led fnnilies in Eastern Europe to uproot themselves and begin a long westward trek, of the ways in which they organised and financed their journeys, of the routes they followed, or of the way in which they survived the first few months in their chosen destination. More information is required about the social and economic structure of immigrant life and about the slow and complex process of social and cultural integration. In the later period, in spite of a substantial literature on Germany during the 1930s, less than enough is known of the way in which anti-Semitism impinged upon the life of the ordinary German-Jewish family before the outbreak of war and the onslaught of the Final Solution.(17) Even less is known of the way in which German refugees adjusted to life in England during, and immediately after the war. Further, a researcher working on the patterns of family life in England between the wars has found variations of attitude and experience in the case of Jewish subjects which warrant further exploration.(18)

Like work upon the Census, Oral history lies well within the scope of nnateur groups, providing they were prepared to accept specialist advice. Unlike the Census, it is given a special urgency by a natural law of diminishing returns, particularly in the case of the period, 1880-1920. Manchester respondents like Philip Mosco, who arrived in Manchester in the 1890s at the age of 12 are increasingly rare. None the less it has been possible to mount a project on immigrant life which will begin with memories of the shtetl before World War One and end with the great days of Magnolia Street in the 1920s. Such projects deserve serious consideration in every major centre of Jewish population.

The object would not be to collect random information for ephemeral use, but to assemble permanent sound archives. Tapes based on carefully-constructed schedules of questions would not only be stored, but ideally transcribed, indexed, and used as a means of historical interpretation. The immediate aim of the Manchester project is a book describing and analysing the pattern of immigrant life in which contemporary accounts would be supplemented by contemporary photographs of the immigrant districts and other local sources. Again, researchers adopting Oral History techniques in different parts of Anglo-Jewry would gain from joint seminars at which they might consider problems relating to equipment or methodology. It may perhaps be stressed that the preservation of memories is every bit as important as the preservation of written documents. Until such time as other facilities might become available, a limited transcribing service and suitable storage space could be provided by the Jewish History Unit at Manchester Polytechnic.

(5) Summary

The study of provincial Anglo-Jewish history is so much in a state of infancy that much more could be written of its potential. The steps I have proposed are no more than a suggested beginning:

(a) the setting-up of a network of Local Research Groups co-ordinated by the Jewish Historical Society of England, which night provide the preliminary advice and continuing support that would be required;

(b) occasional joint seminars between two or more such groups, on the Birmingham-Manchester model, to consider common problems;

(c) the use of Census material as a means of providing Anglo-Jewish history with a stronger statistical base and of tackling some of the fundamental issues of communal development;

(d) A degree of concentration on the dynamics of communal evolution rather than upon the merely anecdotal;

(e) the adoption of Oral History as a method peculiarly suited to the study of Jewish innigzution and immigrant life;

(f) the recognition by Anglo-Jewish historians that provincial congregations were far more than peripheral satellites of the metropolis, that they had independent identities and distinctive characteristics of their own which contributed in no small measure to the overall development of Anglo-Jewry.

Bill Williams
Manchester Polytechnic
May, 1975

FOOTNOTES (↵ returns to main text)

  1. Points of fact and interpretation relating to the Manchester community are based on The Making. of Manchester Jewry, 1740-1875, to be published by Manchester University Press in the Spring of 1976.

  2. Cecil Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry (London, 1950).

  3. Cecil Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry (London, 1950), p11.

  4. Fragments of the Benzes archives were seved bythe Liverpool City Library and by Dr Mervyn Goodman, the president of the Merseyside Communal Council.

  5. Cecil Roth, The Magnificent Rothschilds (London, 1939). My own extensive correspondence with the House of Rothschild was no more fruitful than that of Cecil Roth.

  6. A useful introduction to the application of quantitative methods to social history is E A Wrigley (ed), Nineteenth Century Society (Cambridge, 1972).

  7. E A Wrigley, opicit., pp 15-19.

  8. Dr V D Lipman, 'A Survey of Anglo-Jewry in 1851', in Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Vol. 17 (1951-2). In modifying his general hypothesis (p.173) to interpret the Manchester returns (p.183), Dr Lipman arrives at a figure over in excess of the total arrived at by the methods described below.

  9. I cannot accept Dr Lipman' formulae (pp 172-3) as valid, even in general terns, particularly since membership lists, even assuming they embraced seatholders, included an unknown number of brothers and of women who were full members in their own right. In Manchester, the list submitted to the Board of Deputies also included non-resident members, living as far away as Bradford, Leeds, Hanley, Preston, Whitchurch (Shropshire), and Bangor (North Wales).

  10. See Appendix 1 to the paper presented by Marcel Glaskie.

  11. Account Book of the Board of Relief, 1848-52, in the archives of the Manchester Great and New Synagogue, now in the Manchester Central Reference Library.

  12. Moses Mairgoliouth, A History of the Jews in Great Britain (London, 1851), Vol. 3, p. 125.

  13. Cursory Glance at the Present Social State of the Jewish People of Great Britain (Edinburgh, 1045), quoted in the Jewish Chronicle, 7th March, 1845.

  14. Liverpool Hebrew Educational Institution, 1st Annual Report, p3.

  15. Reference should here be made to the gifted amateur, Karl Abrahams of Liverpool, whose lone efforts have preserved many important Liverpool records, against the time of their deposit in the City archives.

  16. Published by the Oral History Society and edited by Dr Paul Thompson, of the Sociology Department, University of Essex, Colchester.

  17. Dr Ian Kershaw of the History Department, University of Manchester, is presently contemplating a study of German-Jewish refugees of the 1930s, using an Oral History approach.

  18. The researcher is Ms Annie Yugman of the Department of Sociology, University of Essex, who is presently seeking support for an Oral History programme on Jewish family life between 1900 and 1945.


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