By A. Levy1
HE Jewish communities in Scotland, as they are known today, had their origin
in the second and third decades of the nineteenth century. In those years Europe
was in a state of social and political unrest; and during and following upon the
Napoleonic wars a wave of emigration from the continent started westwards, composed
of those who were seeking a more stable background than could be found on the European
mainland. These refugees from political and economic uncertainties landed, most of
them, on the east coast of Great Britain, and it is not surprising to find that the first
Jewish community in Scotland developed in Edinburgh in the early years of last century,
to be followed closely thereafter by the formation of a sister community in Glasgow.
While there is no evidence of any organised Jewish community in Scotland
prior to 1816, there are records of earlier Jewish settlement in the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries. A. M. Hyamson in his A History of the Jews in England quotes
Josippon as stating that on the expulsion in 1290 many Jews ‘are also said to have taken
refuge in Scotland’ and it is natural to surmise that some of these refugees may have
made their way northwards. But this route of escape could hardly have commended
itself to many. Despite the ‘golden age’ in Scotland that preceded the wars of indepen-
dence, Jews had not yet spread into that country from the south and lacked Scottish
experience and connections. Following the expulsion, England no longer provided a
stepping stone for immigrants by land; the disturbed Scottish scene was not such as
to encourage direct immigration by sea from the continent. At any rate, there is no
record of Jews in Scotland until a very much later date, namely, until the seventeenth
Professors of Hebrew at Edinburgh: J. C. Otto
The earliest individuals of Jewish origin who come to our notice in Scotland were
isolated persons in the form of converted Jews. Although some were obscure or nameless,
others were teachers in the college and town of Edinburgh, including, as we shall see,
the first and third occupants of the Chair of Hebrew and Oriental Languages.
Julius Conradus Otto first occupied the Chair of Hebrew and Oriental tongues in
1641. Paulus Scialitti Rabin was in 1665 permitted to reside in Edinburgh and practise
as a teacher of oriental languages; and in 1679 Alexander Amadeus was appointed to the
Chair of Hebrew. Although Otto later returned to Judaism each of those linguists was
described as a converted Jew. This cannot have been a coincidence. There are records
during this period of other persons of more humble status who are described as converted
Jews and such conversion appears to have been a prerequisite of recognition by authority.
Scotland had, in the seventeenth century, its own Marrano Jews, few in number as they
may have been.
The first of these teachers is also the earliest known immigrant described as a Jew.
He now figures in the Jewish Encyclopedia as the subject of a section of the article
Margolioth under the name of Naphtali Margolioth of Vienna. We are told, however,
that when he embraced Christianity in 1603 he assumed the name of Julius Conradus
1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 13th January, 1958.
the origins of scottish jewry
Otto. According to the Encyclopedia he was born in 1562, became professor of Hebrew
at Altdorf and was the author of four learned works published at Nuremberg between
1604 and 1607—Usus Ebreae Linguae, Grammatica Hebraica, Gale Razayah and Lexicon
Radicale. Neither in the Encyclopedia nor in the continental bibliographers from whom
its information is derived is there any mention of his connection with Scotland; in
fact, they give no particulars of his later life or of his death. For his Edinburgh career
we depend on the burgh records and on the histories of the university which describes
Julius Conradus Otto as the first professor of Hebrew in that institution. The Scottish
sources and writers for their part contain no reference to the name Margolioth; but
the identity seems reasonably well established on the basis of the adopted name and
of the professional and continental background. There was a Julius Otto ‘of Prague’
who edited a Hebrew version of the Psalms published at Hamburg in 1614; but, if
this was a different individual, there are no grounds for preferring him, for the simple
reason that nothing else is known about him.
The only obstacle to the identification is a tradition of the bibliographers that Otto
was born in 1562; which would mean that he set sail for these shores in or near his
eightieth year. Since general attention must have been paid in 1603 to his baptism
and to his inauguration as Public Professor of Hebrew at Altdorf, it appears likely that
his age would also be the object of interest and would subsequently be handed down.
But we find that writers are sometimes at a loss to say when he was born; and there
are no facts on record to bear out any suggestion that we are dealing with two J. C. Ottos.
On the whole we seem entitled to maintain the identification and to describe the new
Scottish professor as an old man; but we may well doubt whether he was as old as
some of the bibliographers indicate.
The accounts of his earlier career also inform us that, although baptized, he later
returned to Judaism. It does not follow, however, that he came to Scotland as an
avowed Jew. Indeed, in the context of our tale of the earliest immigrants of Jewish
origin it will be seen that such adherence is highly improbable. It is a point regarding
which nothing is stated though his Jewish descent has always been accepted; nor have
we any details of the identity or affiliations of the manservant who is found with Otto
almost immediately after the latter’s arrival in Scotland.
The Latin works of the continental bibliographers which we have been able to
consult give his original name variously as Naphtali (or Naphthali) Margolith and as
Naftali Margaliot; and the statement that he bore the name of Margolith is also annotated
‘i.e. Margarithae’. It is not asserted, however, that he actually called himself Margaritha
which had been the form of surname adopted by the convert Margoles of Regensburg
in the preceding century. The Usus, setting out to be a mystical exposition of the
vocabulary of the Hebrew Old Testament, was published in 1604. The Hebrew Grammar
based on the first chapter of Genesis, and the Gale appeared in the following year;
and the latter was republished in Stettin in 1613. Both editions and the Grammar were
recorded by Steinschneider in the Bodleian; a Catalogue of Rabbis by Otto ‘cum
annotatione temporum Talmud’ was recorded by Steinschneider at the same time as
appended to each ‘Gale’, The Dictionary of Roots and words, biblical, Talmudical and
rabbinical, was an ambitious work which remained unfinished though publication was
begun. The Venerable V. E. Loescher also reproduced a specimen, bestowing on the
author’s methods the compliments ‘diligenter’ and ‘perdiligenter’. Two other works
attributed by some to Otto were a Syriac Grammar ‘cum expositione Judaico-Germanica’
and an anonymous ‘MS. Hebraeum Cabbalisticum’.
the origins of scottish jewry
We are instructed to distinguish the Gale from an anonymous book of the same
name. Gale Razayah is a phonetic version of Otto’s title which consisted of the Hebrew
words גךא רזיא taken from Daniel, II, 29, for which the author provided the Latin
alternative ‘Occultorum Detectio’; the Vulgate renders them as ‘qui revelat mysteria’
and the Authorised Version as ‘he that revealeth secrets’. In the Latin preface he claims
that he had gone, not to the recent Basle edition of the Talmud, but to a genuine ancient
version and had gravely endangered his life in doing so. Although this work professed
to demonstrate, in Hebrew, German and Latin, the teachings of right-thinking (‘recte
sentientes’) rabbis of old concerning the One Divine Essence, the Persons of the Trinity
and the Messiah, it became the opinion of the learned that its real purpose was to hold
up Christians to Jewish ridicule. It is not surprising, therefore, to read that in December,
1607, Otto absconded from Altdorf early in his fourth year of office. The university
itself has long since ceased to exist1 but the abuse persistently directed at one of its early
teachers remains on record. A single, brief quotation from one of his critics will
suffice as typical. ‘Pseudojudaeus, pseudorabbinus and pseudochristianus’ was the
judgment of J. C. Wagenseil, a librarian and historian writing many years after his
subject’s death. He is not only decrying Otto’s conversion and his competence as a
scholar but also accusing him of desiring to be regarded as a rabbi in spite of never
having been so authorized. One conclusion at any rate is now plain. To a person
embroiled in Otto’s troubles the prospect of foreign employment must have appeared
as a godsend, irrespective of the faith that he was following at the time.
Two other interesting items of information are provided by the bibliographers
regarding Otto’s continental career. One is to the effect that he lectured ‘in collegiis’,
i.e., at several seats of learning. The other is that he figures in a letter addressed to
Scipione Gentilis, an Italian at Altdorf, by Isaac Casaubon, the famous scholar who
spent his last few years in England and was buried at Westminster Abbey in 1614.
The former is urged [Van Almeloveen’s Collection of Casaubon’s Letters, Rotterdam, 1709,
p. 231] to encourage a project of Otto to publish works by ancient Hebrew writers.
Casaubon’s knowledge of the project, however, appears to have been based entirely on
a report received from the Italian.
Since completing this paper in manuscript the writer has been referred to a description
of Otto by George F. Black2 who in writing of ‘The Beginnings of the Study of Hebrew
in Scotland’ states that the first Professorship of Hebrew in Edinburgh as a separate
chair was founded in 1642 and that Otto appears to have held the chair till 1656. In
a footnote (p. 469) Black writes ‘Council Register (in MS.) quoted by Bower History
of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, 1817, V. 1, p. 201, Sir Alexander Grant
History of the University of Edinburgh, London, 1884, V. 1, p. 214 errs in stating that
nothing is known of Otto’s history or nationality. He was a son of Naphihali
Margolith (Margaritha) who was born in Vienna in 1562 and died in 1607. The
father embraced Christianity in 1603 taking the name of Julius Conrad Otto and
under that name published his Gali Razia Occultorum detectio, Noribergae 1605
in Hebrew, Latin and German. He returned to the faith of his fathers shortly
before his death. I have not been able to find any information about the son’. This
is evidence of two Hebrew scholars, father and son, each named Julius Conrad Otto,
It originated in a gymnasium which removed to Altdorf from the neighbouring town of Nuremberg
Studies in Jewish Bibliography and Related Subjects, in memory of A. S. Freidus (New York,1929).
the origins of scottish jewry
the father having been the convert who returned to the Jewish faith. It is not Jewish
practice to name children after their parents but Julius Conrad Otto the second may
have been baptized between the dates of his father’s conversion and recantation. The
existence of two scholars of like name would explain some of the beforementioned
difficulties of identification. The evidence of the authorities is conflicting and there we
leave the question of identity.
The liberty to erect a college at Edinburgh had been granted by King James the
Sixth in 1582. Sixty years later its Rector was Alexander Henderson who was also a
leading member of the General Assembly, having held office as its Moderator. He
persuaded this body to resolve that ‘it were good for the Universities to send abroad for
able and approved men’ to be professors of divinity. It was probably the same influence
that led to the following minute of the council dated the 26th January 1642: ‘The same
day, Sir Alexander Clerk, provost, William Gray, John Trotter, John Pearson, James
Rae, baillies, &c., being convened in counsell,—The counsell, considering that they had
caused bring home Julius Conradus Otto to be ane professor of the Hebrew and orientall
tongues,—Theirfoir, they have thought good to take ane yearis tryell of the fruites of
his labour and learning and for his interteinement thay allow unto him the soume of
twelff hundreth merks, to be payet to him at four termes in the year, Candlemes, Beltane,
Lambes and Hallowmes, beginning the first termes payment at Candlemes next1; and
ordaines the thesaurer of the colledge to pay the same, and it sall be allowed to him in
his comptis; and if it sall happen the rentis of the colledge not to be sufficient for
defraying therof, ordaines the thesaurer of the toun to supplie the same, and the same
sail be allowed in his compris’.
The reader of this minute will have noticed that Otto was in the country prior to
the date of the meeting, the council having already ‘caused bring home’ their protege.
A scrutiny of the accounts of John Jossy, the college treasurer, reveals the following
entry for 1641:
‘Item payed Mr. Otto professor of the Oriental Tongues be ordor of the Counsell
Item to himself in money ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Item payed to Elizabeth Beatton for his and his man’s ludging and ther dyett during
xvii lib. viii sh.
Item mair payed for bedding linnings and uther necessarys to him
lcxvii lib. 15 sh.
Item delyvered him in money ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Item delyvered him in money per his recept ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
There being no prior entry relating to Otto in the coHege accounts, it would appear
that he began his work in 1641, prior to the minute of 26th January, 1642, recording his
The chair of Hebrew and Oriental Languages was only the second professorship
(as distinct from a regentship) founded in the University of Edinburgh; and, according
to Dalzel, the new professor’s course of study for the first time was ‘announced by a
public program’. The source from which Professor Dalzel obtained this detail cannot
now be traced; if it were, we might be able to discover other facts to add to our meager
Candlemas—2nd February; Beltane—1st May; Lammas—1st August; Hallowmas—1st
the origins of scottish jewry
collection. A successor was not elected until 3rd September, 1656, when the minute
still refers to Otto as ‘the last professor’; but the opinion of the historians of the University,
shared by George F. Black, that he taught until near that date was mistaken, as was first
indicated by the late Dr. Marguerite Wood, Keeper of the Burgh Records of Edinburgh.
The Edinburgh evidence on the matter can now be given more fully. The college
treasurer’s accounts continue for the year 1642 as follows:
‘Item payed to Julius Conradus Otto professor of the Oreintall Tongues per act of counsell
the 26th of January, 1642
Item payed him per his recept ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
payed to Thomas Patterson for him ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Lxxxxi lib. xviii sh.
payed to Sir John Smith1 which he delyvered to the said Mr.
Otto 100 rex dollars as may appear by Sir John his ticket
iic Lxx lib.
Item payed him per his recept ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
In the succeeding years the annual payment of his 800 pounds Scots is recorded until
the entry for 1649 which reads:
Item to Julius Conradus Otto professor of orientall tongues
for his Candilmis quarter ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
for his Beltane quarter ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ...
There is no entry of any later payment and the presumption arises that Otto died between
the Beltane and Lammas payments of 1649.
The last payment had a curious sequel. A council minute of 20th May, 1653,
containing the review of the accounts of George Jollie, the former college treasurer,
includes the following passage: ‘... the compter has dischairgit himselff with the payment
of four hundreth punds to umqle2 Doctor Otto for Candlemes and beltan quarteris 1649
as is sett down in the 27 page of the saids accompts whereof the compter now efter
tryell acknowledges that he is payit to him onlie two hundreth pund . . .’ Reviews by
the council of the accounts of the college treasurers were usual, if infrequent, procedures.
The nature of the ‘trial’ that also occurred in this instance is unknown; but Jollie
appears to have remained a person in good standing with the council. How he came
to make his mis-statement in Otto’s account is not related. We are merely informed
that the 200 pounds overcharged were deducted from the considerable sum—‘Twa
thousand eight hundreth twelf punds four schillings’—otherwise found by the auditors
to be due to him by the college as superexpended during the five years of his office
between December, 1646, and December, 1651. What does emerge from the incident
for our purpose is support for the presumption that Otto died in 1649. The Edinburgh
chapter of his life tells a story of esteem and useful work. He holds an honourable
place in the history of Scottish learning.
Moses or Paul Scialitti
The hiatus in the Hebrew curriculum that followed Otto’s death could not have
been a major preoccupation about the time of the battle of Dunbar; and the influential
Sir John Smith, who was to be provost in the following year, was a councillor in 1642.
‘Umqle’ is a contraction or variation of the old Scots word ‘umquhile’ which, in the context,
the origins of scottish jewry
Henderson, with his zeal for the higher education, had died a few years previously.
The interruption was brought to an end in 1656 only when the council received two
petitions to make a new appointment, one from the students of Divinity and the other
from David Dickson, professor of Divinity. The second professor of Hebrew was
David’s son, Alexander, minister of Newbattle. For his duties in the chair he received
to begin with £50 sterling, a salary only three-quarters of that of his predecessor.
Alexander Dickson was to hold this appointment for many years but during his tenure
another teacher, of interest to us, was introduced into the town. An entry in the Town
Council minutes bearing the date 1st September, 1665, reads: ‘(The Council) Admitís
and receives Paulus Scialitti Rabin converted from the Jewish Religioun to the Christian
faith to professe his skill and knowledge in the orientall tongues within this Burgh and
liberties therof dureing the Counsell’s pleasure Wheranent thir presents sall be his
warrand. This Paulus was presentit to the Counsell be Mr. Johne Meldrum minister
as a convert Jew’. The ‘Rabin’ had made his conversion the occasion of changing his
name from Moses to Paul and also of a public apologia. He published (London, 1663)
‘A Letter written to the Jewes by Rabbi Moses Scialitti, A Jew of Florence, baptised
June 14 1663, Declaring the reasons of his Conversion, and exhorting them to embrace
the Christian faith’.1 The baptism took place in St. Margaret’s, Westminster. One
annalist of the university has taken it for granted that Scialitti taught in the college and
one would think that it would have been convenient to all parties for him to do so.
The minute, however, does not entitle us to regard him as more than a private tutor.
It also seems probable that he had been allowed into Edinburgh for the special purpose
of teaching oriental languages other than Hebrew because of Dickson’s deficiencies in
these studies. The late Dr. Marguerite Wood adopted both these latter views and
pointed out that when Dickson was elected the five examining ministers had declared
themselves content with his knowledge of Hebrew but had not committed themselves
regarding his skill in the other languages.
Dickson was finally removed from the professorship by order of the Privy Council
in 1679 for refusing to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy and to engage to submit
to church government by the archbishops. The minute of the 16th April of that year
notes the vacancy and continues: ‘And being certainlie informed of the abilities and
qualifications of Mr. Alexander Amedeus Florentan and his abilities to exerce that charge
Therefore they elect him to be professor of Hebrew in the said colledge for the space of
a year efter the dait of thir presents and allowes to him sex hundred merks scots yearlie
of cellary’. The council may have been conscious of the meagreness of the Florentine’s
salary; for on the 14th May they allowed him ‘ane hundred pounds of his fiall by way
of advance in respect he has present need of money’. The hundred Scottish pounds
were worth only eight pounds, six shillings and eightpence sterling, but they represented
exactly a quarter of the professor’s annual salary. He held the chair for only a brief
period. A minute of the council of 30th September, 1681, reads: ‘The Counsell
considering that the professor of the Hebrew his place in the Colledge of this burgh
is at present vacant throw the removeall of Mr. Alexander Amadeus last professor of
that language in the said Colledge. . . Therefor they doe heirby elect him (his successor)
in place of the said Mr. Alexander Amedeus And allowes to him sex Hundred merks
1 C. Roth, Magna Bibliotheca, p. 279.
the origins of scottish jewry
Scots money of yeirly cellary . . . Beginning the first quarters payment frae lambas last
to Hallowmas nixt . . .’
Here two versions of the professor’s surname are given. It is also supposed that
he is identical with Amidei, the Italian Jew mentioned by Anthony à Wood in his account
of the literary martyrdom of Samuel Austin, an Oxford versifier. University acquaint-
ances of the latter conspired to publish a selection of his verse and prose under the title
of Naps on Parnassus (London, 1658), prefacing it with poems of mock commendation
from several hands. In enumerating the authors of some of these ironical verses à Wood
writes: ‘And among others, not now to be named, must not be forgotten Alexander
Amidei, a Jew and Florentine born, then a teacher of Hebrew and other tongues in the
university, afterwards a converted Christian and reader of a Hebrew lecture in Sion
coll(ege) London’. Lee (1888) refers to him as Alessandro Amidei and to his contribution
to this satirical volume as an Italian sonnet entitled ‘Sonetto in lode del Autore, or in
plain English, a Jews letter in Ink to commend our Negro’.1
The circumstances surrounding the lapse of his appointment in 1681 remain unknown.
Local historians have interpreted ‘removal’ as signifying dismissal for failure to give
satisfaction; but this cannot be regarded as certain. That he was re-engaged after his
first year of office is confirmed by the accounts of the college treasurer. These accounts
are wanting from November, 1676, to November, 1679. When they resume we find
the record of the payment to Professor ‘Amedeas’ of his 400 pounds Scots in the accounts
for the year ending November, 1680, and the following entry in the accounts for the
year ending November, 1681: ‘to the professor of the Hebrew four hundered pound
for his sellarie and per act of Councill ane hundered pound’. The additional hundred
pounds Scots must be explained by the minute of 30th September, 1681, according to
which, as we have seen, his successor’s payment was to begin ‘frae lambas last’. Amedeus
must therefore have ceased to be professor by the beginning of August, 1681. Another
reference is to be found in a manuscript volume, presently in the strong room of the library
of the university, containing a chronological list of the teaching staff and candidates
from 1663. Between one entry dated October, 1681, and another dated October, 1683,
there occurs the following undated item: ‘A.D.—mense—D. Alexro Armidaeo Floren-
tino Hebreae Linguae Professori Academiae valedicente successit D. Alexr Douglass’.
We do not know why the Italian took his leave of the northern city; but the university
must have accepted the event with some regret. Douglas was much less of a savant,
being merely a student of theology.
There are references to other converts in Scotland in the second half of the 17th
century. On April the 7th, 1667, the kirk session of the Cross Kirk, Peebles, ordained
the treasurer to give to the minister at Kirkurd2 to give to ‘the converted Jew’ three
pounds Scots. On the 5th of May, 1675, the Edinburgh minutes state, ‘The Councill
apoynts the Colledge thesaurer... to give to the Jew that was laitly baptised ane hundred
merks’. There is a similar minute for the 11th of May, 1687: ‘The Counsell appoints
the Town Thesaurer to give to Lodovicus Vieil formerly a jew and now converted to
Christianitie as appears by a testificat from the principal professors and masters of the
Colledge of this Cittie who has perused his former Testificats four rix dollars of supplie’.
Lodovicus Viell was the father of Sir Louis de Veil, the London Police Magistrate who
was one of the founders of the London police system.
Cecil Roth refers to Amidei in Jews in Oxford after 1290, Oxoniensia, Vol. XV (1950), a copy of
Kirkurd is a parish in Peebles-shire,
the origins of scottish jewry
It would be wrong to condemn these converts too harshly in retrospect. In some
instances the conversion may have been sincere, while in others it would almost certainly
be for reasons of expediency. The information available regarding them is sparse and
not strictly relevant to our theme; but has been included here for the reason that it has
not previously been recorded in collated form. Our principal purpose is to search, from
the Cromwellian resettlement of 1655 onwards, for such information as is now available
regarding the immigration of avowed Jews. There are reliable records of professed
Jews resident in Edinburgh in the seventeenth century although, as already stated, it
was not until the early decades of the nineteenth century that organised Jewish com-
munities emerged, first in Edinburgh and then in Glasgow, each with its own synagogue
and burial ground.
Early Jewish Traders in Edinburgh
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was necessary to secure permission
from the Town Council of Edinburgh before commencing the practice of a trade or
profession and we turn to the minutes of the council for the earliest references to the
settlement of avowed Jews in Scotland. In 1691 a sharp controversy took place within
the Town Council concerning the right of a Jew to reside and trade in the City. David
Brown, a professing Jew, applied to the Town Council for permission to carry on business
and this permission was duly granted on 4th September. At a later meeting held on
9th September, a strong protest against this decision was met with an equally strong
defence. The minute of the meeting narrates: ‘William Patoun, old dean of Guild,
protested that David Brown Jew can have noe priviledge of tradeing conform to the Act
of Councill in his favours presently read, being against the standing law of the nation
and acts of burrowes And that Noe person whatsomever that denyes the basis or
foundamentalls of our Christian religion can have any priviledge within the city of
Edinburgh or suburbs As the said David Brown does not denye he being a profest Jew
And therefore took instruments. To which Hugh Blair old Thesaurer gave in the
following answer: . . . Whereas it is alleadged that this is contraire to the standing lawes
of this Kingdom It is denyed that there are lawes in this Kingdom restraining Jewes
fra liberty of trade And where the lawes are most severe against the adversaries of the
trew religion whether subjects or strangers, their returning to or remaining in this
Kingdom unless they obey the law, yet ambassadours, messengers or merchants are
excepted (James the Sexth parliament seventh Cap. ane hundred and five). Whereas
It is alleadged to be against reason that they that deny the foundamentalls of our religion
should have or enjoy any civill priviledge Its answered that Jewes as such are not to
be considdered or treated as other infidels They being the ancient people of God of the
seed of Abraham of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came. To them belongs the
promise, to them were the Scriptures consigned And from them have wee handed down
to us the law and the Gospell. The Jewish Church in their best estate had the love
and affections of a sister to the future gentle Church then pagan And though now in
their rejected state they are enemies to the gospell for our salce yet as touching the
election they are beloved for their fathers sake Upon which and several other acompts
it is that they are allowed the libertie of trade in places of greatest trade wher the reformed
religione is professed’. This minute may be regarded as a Charter of Liberty for the
Jews of Seventeenth Century Edinburgh.
Hugh Blair carried the majority of the Council with him and the earlier permission
granted to David Brown was upheld. We do not know what trade David Brown followed.
Edmburgh the nynt day of September
Jarvy & and nyntie one years
Patrick Haly burton
George Warrander al
Mr. Henry Ferynson
Extruordmar deacones Andrew pales for wright Thomas
Humiltion masson James Huntar baxter patrick Hunter Cardiner
John Blacke fellmaker Thomas wylle bonnet maker & Alexr
The which day after the Sederunt was publick he read
the origins of scottish jewry
Other Early Jewish Residents in Edinburgh
On January 19th, 1712, the admissibility of the testimony of a Jew was the subject
of a legal decision. Sir John Lauder of Fountainhall (Lord Fountainhall) reports the
judicial opinion as follows1: ‘The Lords thought, if a Jew were led a witness in a cause
betwixt a Christian and a Jew, there might be reason in that case to suspect him, but
it being two Christians, his disowning Jesus Christ for the Messias could no more
incapacitate him, than it would a Socinian; our formula jurandi mentioning only God
in the general; and though he will not swear on the New Testament, yet he will swear
by Jehovah, on his Torah or the law of Moses. Yes, which is more, a Turk or a Pagan
are capable; for in Captain Green’s case for piracy, two Heathen boys were admitted;
and if in criminals why not in civil causes? It was also remembered, that the Queen
had knighted Sir Solomon de Medina a Jew trading at London; and if capable of honours,
why not of bearing testimony? And we allow Quakers to declare in their own way’.
In 1750, we are informed in The Rise of Provincial Jewry, there is a reference in the accounts
of the Great Synagogue, London, to ‘Wolf (i.e., Benjamin) of Edinburgh’. Another
Edinburgh Jew is mentioned in the minute-book for 1761 of a lodge of freemasons.
R. S. Lindsay reports the occasion in the following terms2: ‘The raising of the Apprentice
fee in 1761 produced two interesting entries in the Minute Book . . . The other incident
happened on 11th November, 1761, when a Bro. Isaac Solomon, Embroiderer, and
Affiliate from Lodge St. David, Edinburgh, insisted with the liberality wrongly denied
to his people, in defraying the increased fees demanded from his friend, Bro. James
Sommerville, Dyer and Burgess of Edinburgh, 1760, who was Entered that night’.
The Lodge St. David, Edinburgh, No. 36, according to the brochure published when its
chapel was consecrated in 1954, had been erected in 1738 and was the lodge at which
Sir Walter Scott was to be made a mason. One Shadrach Moyse was in 1780, according
to the Edinburgh Almanac, a ‘Customs House Officer’ in Princes Street; in 1806 and
1810 he was a ‘Commissioner’ at 21 Princes Street. The records show that in 1802 the
city borrowed from him the sum of £1,200 which suggests that he was a man of some
substance. The loan was renewed in 1809 and reduced to £700 in the following year.
Dr. Cecil Roth doubts that Shadrach Moyse was a Jew, although he accepts the possibility.
The office he held itself suggests the doubt but, if his name is accepted as evidence for
the affirmative, Shadrach Moyse can be regarded as the first Jew in Scotland to be in
Dr. Joseph Hart Myers
As will be seen later it was the practice at some of the Scottish universities to confer
degrees by recommendation without examination; and several Jewish physicians from
London and elsewhere received their M.D. degrees in this way from Aberdeen University.
By the early years of the nineteenth century, however, strict regulations had been
introduced. Reference is made later to the first Scottish born Jew to graduate at a
Scottish university. The first Jew, however, to graduate after examination at a Scottish
university was Joseph Hart Myers who was born in 1758 in New York and graduated
M.D. at Edinburgh in 1779. He received schooling in New York but came to London
at a youthful age, beginning his professional studies by attending the lectures of Dr.
William Hunter at Windmill Street School as well as those of Dr. George Fordyce at
The Decisions of the Lords of Council and Session, Vol. II, Edinburgh, 1761, p. 708.
A History of the Mason Lodge of Holyrood House, Vol, I, Edinburgh, 1935, p. 174.
the origins of scottish jewry
the latter’s house in Essex Street, Strand. He then proceeded to Edinburgh where he
took classes during the four sessions commencing 1775-8. His Latin thesis for the
doctorate was entitled De Diabete; and two copies are still to be found in the library
of the university. After qualifying he visited Leyden, Paris, Berlin and Vienna, making
a considerable stay in each city. He returned to London; and was L.R.C.P. there in
1787. In 1785, in spite of being an Ashkenazi, he was elected a Doctor of the Poor
by the Bevis Marks Synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews. He thus became
physician to their hospital which had been founded in 1747. He served as President
of the Talmud Torah of the Great Synagogue, London, which developed into the Jews’
Free School. He was later an active member of the British Endeavour project initiated
in 1798 to collect funds for a naval orphanage. During the last years of his life he was
prevented from practising his profession by gout of which he died on 1st June, 1823,
at his home at John Street, America Square, Whitechapel. He had become a member
of the Medical Society of London, holding the office of librarian; and he appears in
a group-portrait of members painted by Samuel Medley. This picture is known as the
‘Founders Picture’; but, according to the late Mr. W. E. Tanner, f.r.c.s., a recent
President, it was painted in 1800 and engraved by Nathan Branwhite in 1801 whereas
the Society had been founded in 1773. It provides us with painstaking and detailed
likenesses of twenty-two of the chief personages in the Society around 1800, including
the illustrious Edward Jenner who is seen standing in the centre at the back of the group.
Myers is seen seated on the extreme left of the picture. He is one of three Americans
in the company, another being Dr. John C. Lettsom, one of the founders, who is shown
presenting property deeds to the Society.
So far in the story we read only of individual Jewish settlers and this picture continues
throughout the eighteenth century. Towards the end of the century a Jew, Herman
(later Heyman) Lion, practised as a dentist and ‘corn operator’ and he was the author
of a remarkable book on corns. This work is indeed a curiosity of literature, and perhaps
that is its main claim on posterity. The Edinburgh University library possesses a copy,
bound with Duncan’s Lectures on the Institutions of Medicine, the volume being backed
‘Duncan and Lion’. Lion’s title page reads ‘An Entire new and original work being
a complete treatise upon Spinae Pedum containing several important discoveries illustrated
with copperplates, exhibiting the Different Species of Spinae, by Heyman Lion, Chiropod-
ist חיימ בב ריב Edinburgh, Printed by H. Inglis for the Author and sold by Peter
Hill, Edinburgh, and Longman and Rees, London, 1802’. The work runs to 438 pages.
On the fly leaf there is written in pencil a letter addressed ‘To the Librarian of the
Honr. Edinr. College’, bombastic in its terms and purporting to be written by the author.
There are also many marginal notes all of which are critical of the work; and it is
obvious that the letter was written by an anonymous detractor to ridicule the author.
One imagines that the book had little scientific value, even according to the standards
of the time, but of its kind it is probably unique. In an appendix there is a narrative
which gives us a glimpse of the man. He speaks of the success of his practice in Edin-
burgh for many years notwithstanding which his business is considered disreputable.
He is called a corn cutter! He narrates that he applied at the Surgeons’ Hall for examina-
tion to obtain a diploma, disclaiming the intention to practise either surgery or physic.
Although he had studied at Edinburgh University for five years his diploma was refused
after examination but the reason for refusal was withheld. He then applied to King’s
the origins of scottish jewry
College, Aberdeen, for a degree in medicine, recommended by Dr. John Barclay, Dr. J.
Yule and Dr. William Farquharson. He was advised by an Edinburgh surgeon to
produce his certificates (College tickets?) ‘as I was a German’. The Aberdeen professors
entertained no doubt of his medical qualifications but because of ‘the public line of
practice which he has for some time adopted’ the degree was refused. He resented the
stigma thrown on his ‘business’ which he considered to be ‘as genteel and creditable as
any other’. It is known that Herman Lion matriculated at Edinburgh University for
the sessions 1791-2 (Anatomy and Surgery), 1793-4 (Chemistry) and 1794-5 (Theory
and Practice of Medicine and Botany). Herman Lion was frustrated, a man with a
grievance, flamboyant, perhaps unhappy, but he was not without ability, never mis-
represented his professional status and one imagines that he was a somewhat engaging
and likeable person.
Herman Lion is of particular interest in respect that he acquired from the city of
Edinburgh a small piece of ground on the Calton Hill as a burial place for himself and
his family. The minutes of 11th September, 1793, state that there was ‘Remitted to the
Dean of Gild and Convener Report by William Sibbald about a burial place on the
Calton Hill, for the Jews, to visit and report’. The minutes of the council for 6th May,
1795, give particulars of the transactions as follows: ‘Approved of Report from a sub-
committee named by the Magistrates, old Magistrates and Convener, to whom was
remitted a Petition from Herman Lion, Dentist in Edinburgh, which Petition and report
are of the following tenor: Unto the Right Hon. The Lord Provost Magistrates and
Town Council of the City of Edinburgh . . . Humbly sheweth That your petitioner has
for many years been an inhabitant of this City, and he hopes has conducted himself
in an orderly and peaceable manner. As he has been educated and brought up in
Religious Tenets different from the established Religion of this country which on occasion
of the death of himself or any of his family might prevent their remains from being
interred in any of the consecrated burying grounds belonging to the City, he is most
anxious to purchase a small spot of ground, which he will inclose for a burying place
for himself and family either on the lands of Calton Hill or Bruntsfield links, as may
be pointed out by your Honour’s Overseer of Works . . . Having inspected the ground
on the north side of the Observatory Are of opinion that there is a spot near the north-west
corner of the surrounding wall that might answer for a burying ground. This spot is
very retired and out of the way and might be inclosed with a stone wall at Mr. Lions
expence. The area when inclosed may be fourteen by eleven feet over walls...Which
having been considered by the Magistrates and Council they agreed to convey the
ground mentioned in the foregoing report for the purpose solely of a burying place for
the Petitioner and his relations upon his paying to the Chamberlain seventeen pounds
sterling, and his getting the consent of the tacksman of the lands of the Calton Hill’.
According to Abel Phillips1 this burying place is shown on the Ordnance Survey map
of 1852, and is marked ‘Jews’ Burial Vault’ and a part of it is identifiable about fifty
feet from the North Wall surrounding the Observatory. It is believed that only Herman
Lion and his wife were interred in this ground. Some of his descendants were later
buried in the Jewish cemetery in Braid Place. There is some confusion regarding
Herman Lion’s forename. Dr. Cecil Roth accepts the name Heyman and rejects that
of Herman but he is named in the minutes of the council as Herman Lion. In The
Rise of Provincial Jewry Dr. Roth refers to an announcement in the Newcastle Courant
1 Article in Jewish Chronicle, 8th August, 1958,
the origins of scottish jewry
relating to the marriage in Sunderland on 3rd December, 1791, between ‘Lyon Hermann,
dentist of Edinburgh’ and Mrs. H. Pollock, a widow from London. He is described
in the university class lists and library accounts as Herman Lion. On the other hand
he published his book in the name of Heyman Lion. His name first appears in the
Edinburgh directory for the year 1790 which gives his address as ‘opposite Linen Hall,
Cannongate’, and gives his name as Herman. In later directories he is named both
Heyman and Hayman and he is listed for the last time in the directory for the year
1822/23. It would appear that originally his name was Herman Lion, and that he
himself adopted the name Heyman in place of Herman. An additional detail is culled
from Daiches (1938). A daughter of Herman Lion married Jacob Isaac, said to have
been ‘an owner of ships plying between Leith and Italy’, one of whose descendants
was in 1938 still alive in London. We shall later note the name of a J. Isaac in one of
the Edinburgh directories of the pre-Victorian period. A ‘Jacob Isaac’ was the subject
of the legend quoted by Grant (1882) from ‘a rare book by Viscount D’Arlincourt, a
French writer’ to the effect that having paid 700 guineas for the privilege he was duly
interred on the Calton Hill; but Daiches (1929) rightly dismissed the tale as
The First Synagogue
In the early years of the nineteenth century, the individual Jews settled in Edinburgh
began to increase in numbers and they ultimately organised themselves into a community
which, in 1816, opened the first synagogue in Scotland situated in a lane off Nicholson
Street. Dr. Cecil Roth in The Rise of Provincial Jewry gives reasons for the belief that
there was an organised community in Edinburgh as early as 1780. He refers to the
burial in that year in the Old Hoxton cemetery of the Hambro Synagogue, London,
of Zipporah B. Menahem, wife of Isaachar Ben Abraham ‘from the Holy Congregation
of Edinburgh’. This phrase, states Dr. Roth, ‘is never used except in relation to an
established Jewish nucleus with regular divine service, and one must conclude that
Edinburgh was already provided with this. But this fact itself shows that there was
no cemetery, the House of Life having been acquired by a local chiropractor, Heyman
(not Herman) Lion ...’. The present writer is not competent to question the inference
to be drawn from the phrase ‘from the Holy Congregation of Edinburgh’ and any opinion
expressed by Dr. Roth must be treated with respect. There are, however, grounds for
suggesting that there was no organised community in Edinburgh in 1780, nor for many
years after that date. We have seen that Herman Lion of Edinburgh was married to
a London lady in Sunderland in 1791, and Dr. Roth himself suggests that since neither
of the parties was apparently a native of Sunderland it is probable that they went thither
for their marriage because that town already harboured an established community.
Sunderland was the organised community nearest to Edinburgh, and one may surmise
that the wedding ceremony would have taken place in Edinburgh if facilities had been
available there. As we have seen, Herman Lion purchased in 1795 from the city of
Edinburgh a piece of ground and had it consecrated as a burial place for himself and his
family. If at that time there had been an organised community in Edinburgh, one would
expect that the provision of burial facilities would have been a communal matter, and
the fact that Herman Lion found it necessary himself to acquire and pay for the ground
on Calton Hill strongly suggests that in 1795 Edinburgh Jewry was not yet organised.
So far as the writer is aware there is no positive evidence of organised divine service
the origins of scottish jewry
in Edinburgh as early as 1780, or of any synagogue in Edinburgh prior to that opened
in a lane off Nicholson Street in 1816.1
When the first synagogue was opened in 1816 the small community consisted of
twenty families. There is some doubt as to the identity of the first minister of the
Edinburgh community. Rabbi Dr. Salis Daiches writes positively that the first minister
was the Rev. Moses Joel who remained in office for forty-six years and died in 1862,
thus placing the year of his appointment as 1816—the year of the conscecration of the
first synagogue. Dr. Roth, however, points out in The Rise of Provincial Jewry that
Moses Joel was licensed2 to act as a shochet only in 1831 and he suspects that Moses
Joel was preceded in office by Meir Rintel (Cohen) author of various Hebrew works,
whose son, Moses Rintel, subsequently Hazan in Brighton until 1844 and later Rabbi
in Australia, was born in Edinburgh in 1823. A reference to the Edinburgh directories
discloses the entry ‘Moses Joel, Clothier’ in the year 1825/6 but whether this relates to
the Rev. Moses Joel is not known. The Rev. Moses Joel appears in Gray’s Annual
Directory of 1832 as ‘Priest of the Jews’, in the directory for the year 1833/34 appears
the entry ‘Moses Joel, Jews’ eating house, 19 North Richmond Street’ and the following
year he is entered at the same address as the ‘Reader, Jews’ Synagogue’. In all probability
he was appointed in or about the year 1834 and so far as the present writer is aware,
there is no record of the names of his predecessors. In or about 1825 the congregation
moved from the synagogue to a hall in Richmond Court and this served the needs of
the community for forty-three years. Despite this evidence that the community during
that period did not increase greatly in numbers, a small section, with the characteristic
individuality of the Jew, seceded from the main body and maintained their own place
of worship, also in Richmond Court, from 1833 till 1840. The community consisted
mainly of those trading in clothing, furs and jewellery and the import of goods from the
The Ashenheim Family
Jacob Ashenheim was admitted a burgess of Edinburgh in 1828, paying a fee as
an unfreeman. His name first appears in the directory for 1829, and the entry is found
as late as 1859, in which year he was president of the Edinburgh congregation. He was
a jeweller by trade. He married Malky Aaron in 1813 and had two sons, Lewis and
Charles, and two daughters, Jane and Hannah. Lewis Ashenheim, born in Edinburgh
in 1816, matriculated at Edinburgh University for the medical courses for the
academic years commencing 1834-7 and later practised in Kingston, and in Falmouth,
Jamaica. According to the minutes of St. Andrews University dated 6th August, 1839,
Lewis Ashenheim had the degree of M.D. conferred on him by that university after having
been carefully examined on Latin, Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Materia
Medica, Surgery, Practice of Physic and Midwifery. His descendants form one of the
leading families of Jamaica and the Jewish community there, and the youngest members
are his great-great-great grandchildren. Neville Noel Ashenheim, a member of this family,
by profession a solicitor, Past President of the Jewish community of Jamaica, and Chair-
man of the Industrial Development Corporation of Jamaica, had the honour of C.B.E.
Dr. Roth has since suggested to me in a personal communication that the word in the Hebrew
By Chief Rabbi Hirschell on ‘40 Omer 5591’, according to Dr. C. Duschirsky, The Rabbinate
the origins of scottish jewry
conferred on him in the Honours’ List of 1st January, 1958. The Jewish Encyclopedia
records that Lewis Ashenheim became a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons,
Edinburgh, visited Paris, Berlin and other European cities acquiring professional experience,
practised for some time in London, lectured there frequently and was an active contributor
to the Anglo-Jewish press. According to James Picciotto’s Sketches of Anglo-Jewish
History, Dr. Lewis Ashenheim when in London in 1841 became one of the contributors
to and then sub-editor of the Voice of Jacob. In 1844 in Jamacia he edited, jointly with
the Rev. M. N. Nathan a monthly Jewish magazine, Bikkure Hayam, the First Fruits
of the West, copies of which can be seen in the Institute of Jamaica. He was a leading
figure in freemasonry and held in high regard not only by his co-religionists but by the
general community in the island. He passed away on 22nd October, 1858, at the early
age of 42 years and was interred in the Jewish cemetery at Falmouth, Jamaica.
Three pamphlets from the pen of Lewis Ashenheim are in the Edinburgh public
library. The first is ‘An Exposé of the manner in which the Hebrew language is
generally taught in Scotland, by Lewis Ashenheim, Medical Student at the University,
Edinburgh: London, Printed by John Wertheimer & Co., Circus Place, London Wall
MDCCCXXXVI’. In this publication he attacked those whom he described as the
anti-punctuists. His attack was not against the Jewish teachers but against the clergy
in general, and he declared that Scotland was far behind other countries in a knowledge
of ‘this interesting tongue’. At the time when this pamphlet was published Lewis
Ashenheim was twenty years of age. A copy of this work is in the British Museum.
In 1842 appeared ‘The Fallacies of Mesmerism exposed by Medicus, Kingston, Jamaica.
Printed by J. R. de Cordova, 66 Harbour St. West MDCCCXLII’. The copy in the
Edinburgh public library is autographed by the author. There is some doubt as to
the year when Lewis Ashenheim settled in Jamaica but there is evidence that he was
in London in 1841, and the date of the publication in Jamaica of his exposure of mesmerism
being 1842, we can safely place the year as 1841/2. A third pamphlet was published
in 1845 and the title page reads ‘On Precipitate Burial amongst the Jews Theologically,
Physiologically and Morally considered (A Reprint from a series of papers published
in The First Fruits of the West) by Lewis Ashenheim M.D. Printed by A. D. Y.
Henriques, 13 King St. Kingston, Jamaica’. The dedication of this publication is dated
8th September, 1845. Ashenheim had graduated at the time of the commencement of
the public health agitation in Britain and he advocated the cause actively overseas.
An obituary tribute in the Falmouth Post of 2nd November, 1858, describes him as
‘the apostle of sanitary reform in Jamaica’ and praises him for his conduct during a
cholera epidemic that had ravaged the island a few years previously. His importance
to our story, of course, lies in the fact that he was the first Jew born in Scotland to
graduate at a Scottish university.
According to Dr. Cecil Roth’s Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica, a booklet of sixteen
pages from the pen of a pseudonymous writer ‘Ashenheim, Junior’, was published in
Edinburgh in 1844 under the title A cursory glance at the present social state of the Jewish
people of Great Britain. The publishers were Messrs. Menzies. It seems probable
that the author was Charles Ashenheim who took medical classes at Edinburgh University
in the academic years commencing 1843,1844,1845,1847 and 1851. He finally graduated
M.D. in 1853 with a thesis on Delirium Tremens. Charles Ashenheim is believed to
have settled in New South Wales. A third Ashenheim named Michael matriculated
at Edinburgh in 1847 for the first year’s Arts course. There is no further university
record of him. He is, however, probably to be identified with the ‘Michel’ Ashenheim
the origins of scottish jewry
who had contributed four stanzas in French to the joint August-September issue of
Bikkure Hayam, Jamaica, in 1844 (‘Vers composés sur la mort d’une jeune et aimable
enfante morte à l’âge de seize ans’). This contribution may have been sent from
Scotland; for there were strong connections between the Jamaica magazine and the
editor’s native city. The issue for June, 1844, for example, contains an Edinburgh news
item regarding the annual post-Passover celebrations or ‘festival’ of the Hebrew Philan-
thropic Society of Edinburgh. This report is of particular interest on account of its
reference to a notable friend of the community in the person of James Douglas. The
celebration was held in the Synagogue Chambers in James Square. ‘Mr. Ashenheim,
George Street, was in the Chair and Mr. Lyons, George Street, acted as Croupier.
Mr. Ashenheim proposed the customary loyal toasts with great enthusiasm. The health
of Mr. Douglas, the founder of the Society,1 was as usual highly celebrated as of several
Christian friends who attended the festival.’
Other names to be found in the Edinburgh directories during the early decades
of the nineteenth century include those of Philip Levy, manufacturing furrier (1817/18),
who described himself as ‘the only Fur Manufacturer in Scotland’ and ‘Furrier to His
Majesty’ and also had a place of business in Glasgow, Jacob Moses (1823/4), Henry
Lipman (1824/25), Jacob Lisenheim (1824/25), a family name which also appears in the
early annals of Glasgow Jewry, Samuel Joseph (1826/27), Abraham Prince (1826/27),
and H. Prince (1827/28). The Princes were furriers, which seems to have been the
occupation of, relatively speaking, a large proportion of Jews engaged in business at
that time and H. Prince, like Philip Levy, had also a branch establishment in Glasgow.
Mrs. Alfred Rubens’ great grandmother was née Prince of Edinburgh. Other names
which appear are those of S. S. Zempelburgh, 1828/29, teacher of German, Hebrew and
Chaldee, described in the directory for the previous year as a watchmaker and jeweller,
and J. Isaacs, previously referred to, whose occupation is not given. A murder trial
in Edinburgh High Court in 1827 (Symes Reports 1826/29, p. 281) is the somewhat
morbid source of the names of other members of the Edinburgh contemporary community.
The victim was Alexander Phillips (Solomon) a dealer in furs, and three of the witnesses
for the Crown were his father, Phillip Solomon, a furrier and capmaker and the victim’s
friends, Moses Henry Lisenheim and Solomon Flatow, a stoneware merchant. The
statistical account of Scotland (Vol. I, p. 68) states that the community in 1835 consisted
of twenty families.
John Lazar, who was to attain distinction in distant lands, was born in Edinburgh
in 1801. As the striking colonial career of this Scottish Jew has not hitherto been well
known here, it seems worth while at this point to reproduce in its entirety the official
biographical account (1920), a copy of which has kindly been provided by Mr. W. C. G.
Veale, presently town clerk of Adelaide, South Australia: ‘The fourth person to occupy
the mayoral chair was Mr. John Lazar, who was born at Edinburgh, Scotland, on 1st
December, 1801. He was married in London on 2nd November, 1825, and left England
for Sydney, New South Wales, by the ship Lady McNaughton in 1836. During the
voyage fever broke out in the vessel and 123 deaths resulted. Mr. Lazar lost three of
his children by the fever. Three others had died previously in England. Four survived
—Abraham, Samuel, Rachel and Victoria. On arrival in Sydney he was engaged in
1 Our italics.
More I protest before god that Transess and wllen with my heart the true Religion presently professed
within this Realm. and autherized by the Loes thereof. I shall abide thereat, and desend the same to my
Lifes and, renouncing the Roman Religion called Papistry. I shall. be had and true to our Sovereign Lord
the King's Majesty, and to the Provost & Bailkes of this Burgh I shall obey the Officers thereof. fortily,
maintain and defend them in the excution of their Office with my body a no goods I shall not colour
unfreemens goods under colour of my own In all tassations walekings and wardings to be laid upon
the burgh I shall wdlingly bear my part thereof as I am communded thereto by the Magistrates;
I shall not for thereof complion before thereof announcing the trenetil the same for eres
I shall do nothing truthful to the Liberties & common well of this Burgh I shall not brew. nor
cause brew, any malt but such as Esquireded at the Town's milns, and shall grind no other
corns, execpt wheat pease rye and bean but at the same allenarly. And hew of as I shall
happen to break any part of this my oath I Hige me to pay. to the common affairs of this burgh
the sum of One hundred pounds Sevls one up and shall remark in ward while the same be
paid So help me God.
I shall give the best council I can and conocal the council shown to me. I shall not
consent to dispone the common goods of this burgh. but for ane common cause. and ane common
profit I shall make conourd where discord is to the atmost of my power. In all lienalions.
and neighbourhoods. I shall give my send and true judgment but price prayer or reward.
So help me God
It Glasgow the twenty second day of September Eighteen hundred
and twelve Years Daniel Mackenrie Esqrs. Dean of Guild
Brethren of his Council in Judgment I. Isaac Colien haller
is admitted Burggs he having poor be<ill>
at for hand and given his oath as use is
burgess certificate of isaac cohen, dated at glasgow 22nd september, 1812
the origins of scottish jewry
the theatrical profession, and from 1836 to 1851 leased and managed various theatres in
Australia including the old Victoria Theatre in Gilles Arcade, off Currie Street, Adelaide.
As an actor he played with the late Mr. George Coppin, who afterwards became a
member of the Melbourne City Council. On leaving the stage he went into the jewellery
business in Hindley Street, Adelaide, in a shop situated where Messrs. Clutterbuck
Bros.’ premises now stand. In 1853 he was elected an alderman in the Adelaide City
Council and continued to hold that office until 1855, when he was selected by his colleagues
to occupy the mayoral chair. He was again returned to the Chief Magistracy in 1856
and 1857, and in the following year became an Alderman once more. His retirement
from the City Council occurred in 1859. After a residence in South Australia of 24 years
Mr. Lazar left in 1863 for New Zealand and became Clerk of the Dunedin Town Board
on 4th November of that year. In 1865 the Provincial Council dissolved the Town Board
by ordinance and Commissioners were appointed in its stead on 17th April. Mr. Lazar
received the appointment of Clerk to the Commissioners. On 18th May following, the
Provincial Council passed another ordinance under which the inhabitants of the City
of Dunedin were incorporated. The first meeting of the Dunedin Council took place
on 5th August, 1865, and Mr. Lazar became the Town Clerk. He continued in the
position until 30th April, 1866, when he retired. The Council made him the recipient
of a gratuity of £200. As further evidence of the esteem in which he was held, he
received a public presentation from the citizens before his departure from Dunedin for
Hokitika, a town on the western coast of the South Island. There he was made Town
Clerk shortly after his arrival in 1866. In 1873 he was appointed County Treasurer
and subsequently became Provincial Treasurer when the county gave way to provincialism.
Shortly after the latter appointment he retired into private life. He was initiated as a
Freemason in Sydney in 1838 and held the office of Provincial Deputy Grand Master
of South Australia. In 1871 he was installed as Provincial District Grand Master of
Westland, and held the office until his death on 7th June, 1879. He was a prominent
member of the Jewish congregations in South Australia and New Zealand. Mr. Lazar’s
remains were interred in Hokitika cemetery, where a very handsome monument was
erected on his grave by the Freemasons of Westland’.
A temporary Jewish resident of Edinburgh also appears to merit mention. This
was the Hebraist and mathematician Hirsch Filipowski of Wirballen, Lithuania.
According to Daiches1 he came to London in 1839 and worked in Edinburgh at some
time between 1850 and 1860. There ‘he achieved fame as a mathematician and probably
also established a Hebrew printing press’. He is stated to have been a friend of Israel
Lissa who is named in the directory for 1857.
The Cemetery: and Estimates of Population
At the same time as the first Synagogue was opened the Edinburgh community
acquired ground in Braid Place, Causewayside, duly consecrated as a cemetery. This
was the first communal burial place in Scotland, the ground at the Calton Hill previously
referred to having been the property of an individual, Herman (otherwise Heyman)
Lion. The Braid Place cemetery is small and the tombstones cover little more than
half its area. There is no existing record of the names of those who were laid to rest
in this ground and it is certain that many lie there who have been denied even that faint
claim on the attention of posterity, provided by a weathered and decaying epitaph.
1 Article in Jewish Chronicle, 6 May, 1938.
the origins of scottish jewry
Indeed some of the headstones are not only bereft of their inscriptions, but have partially
disappeared by erosion. This cemetery, which is small in extent, served the needs of
the Edinburgh Jewish community for about sixty years; a portion of the Echo Bank
cemetery was then purchased with sums raised by public subscription. This suggests
that the community increased in numbers very slowly. In the interesting appendix to
Cecil Roth’s The Rise of Provincial Jewry, we find numerical estimates of the Jewish
populations of Edinburgh and Glasgow as reported in connection with the vote in the
Chief Rabbinate election of 1844. The figures were 107 and 128 respectively; smaller,
that is to say, than those given for several English provincial towns as well as for Dublin
and for Swansea though large enough to mark the two Scottish burghs as fairly important
centres of contemporary Jewish settlement. It was not until the closing decades of the
century that the new waves of immigration from the Continent brought any substantial
addition to the numbers of the Edinburgh Jewish community. Those immigrants, who
chiefly resided in the Dairy district of the city and set up a place of worship in Caledonian
Crescent, were largely engaged in the waterproof clothing industry. At the time of
writing (1957) the Jewish population of Edinburgh is estimated to be just short of 1,500.
Later Edinburgh Synagogues and Ministers
In September, 1868, Ross House situated in Park Place was adapted as a synagogue
(with a house for the minister above it) and there the community worshipped until 1896
when the ground was required for city improvements; it later formed a portion of the
site of the University Union. The old synagogue in Richmond Court had meanwhile
been turned into dwelling-houses. A chapel in Graham Street was acquired and
converted into a synagogue consecrated in 1898. Here the community worshipped for
many years until, after amalgamation with two smaller congregations which had set up
separate places of worship, a new synagogue was built in Salisbury Road and consecrated
on 11th September, 1932, under the ministry of the late Rabbi Doctor Salis Daiches.
Following on the death of the Rev. Moses Joel in 1862 several ministers held office for
short periods. They were Mr. Elkan, a British born minister who shortly afterwards
left Edinburgh for New Zealand; Mr. Rosebaum, who was later minister in Plymouth;
Mr. Abraham Harfield who officiated from 1864 to 1866 in Edinburgh and subsequently
in the United States; Mr. B. Rittenberg, who served from 1864 to 1873 and then went
to Jamaica; Mr. Albu, a native of Berlin, who left Edinburgh for London; and Mr. S.
Davidson, who held office from 1874 until nearly the end of 1878. In 1879 the Rev.
J. Furst received the appointment and held it until shortly before his death in 1918.
He was succeeded by the late Rabbi Dr. Daiches who brought distinction to his office
and to the community not only by his ministrations but by his scholarship.
Glasgow: Early Jewish Residents
Today the Glasgow Jewish community is by far the largest in Scotland, their
numbers being estimated at 20,000. This community was constituted in 1823 and in
some respects its development has followed a pattern similar to that of the community
in Edinburgh. There is no evidence of the settlement even of individual Jews in
Glasgow prior to the nineteenth century, although there is a record of a Jewish convert
to the dominant faith who was in the city towards the end of the eighteenth century
and during the short time he resided there preached in church to large congregations
and was received and entertained by many of the leading citizens. He was ultimately
the origins of scottish jewry
exposed as an adventurer and found it necessary or advisable to depart the city at short
The first reference we have to a Jewish settler in Glasgow relates to one Isaac Cohen,
hatter, who on 22nd September, 1812, having taken the oath in the prescribed form,
was admitted a burgess of the city of Glasgow ‘at far hand’—that is, he bore no relationship
to a freeman of the city.
It will have been noted that, prior to 1846, when exclusive privileges of trading
were abolished by statute, several Jews received licences from the Edinburgh Town Council
to carry on businesses or professions. There is no record of any such licences having
been issued by the Glasgow Town Council but as will be seen some Glasgow Jews were
in the early decades of the nineteenth century admitted burgesses and one may assume
that the preliminary oath implying adherence to the dominant faith was regarded as
a matter of form rather than belief. Isaac Cohen is said to have come from Manchester
and there is a legend that he introduced the silk hat to Scotland. This is the earliest
record in the annals of the Jewish community of Glasgow and Isaac Cohen can be
regarded as the earliest known member of that community. Emmanuel Cohen, his son
(or grandson), who died on 3rd January, 1890, aged 73, carried on business in the city
and held office in the administration of the synagogue, and his lineal descendants—Mr.
Reginald Levy, a well known Glasgow dentist, prominent in the scout movement, and
Mrs. Beryl Levy—are today members of the Garnethill Hebrew Congregation.
In the Glasgow Chronicle of 28th January, 1817, we find the advertisement of
P. Levy, furrier, whose name has already appeared in these pages in relation to the
Edinburgh community. The Glasgow directories of the period are a source of authentic
information as to some of the members of the community in those early years. In
McFeat’s directory for 1819 appears the firm name of M. H. Schwabe and Gobert,
merchants, 76 Brunswick Street. The Schwabes were a family of prosperous merchants
who ultimately assimilated. The name reappears later in these pages in connection with
a curious incident in 1860 connected with the Old Cemetery at the Glasgow Necropolis.
Among the members of this family were H. L. Schwabe residing at 54 West Nile Street
and L. Schwabe of 8 Blythswood Square, as also in all probability were A. F. Schwab
and Adolphus Schwab, whose names were spelled without the final ‘e’
Jewish Occupations in Glasgow
In the directory for 1822 there appears for the first time the name Michael which.
in different records, is spelled variously ‘Michael’, ‘Michaels’, Micheal’, and ‘Micheals’,
The entry relates to the firm of J. and H. Michael, ‘Agents, Auctioneers and Furniture
Warehouse’, 12 Candleriggs. Jonas Michael was the head of this family which included
Samuel, Henry, David arid Michael Michael. They were at various times auctioneers,
cabinet-makers, wood merchants, mahogany and veneer merchants and muslin and
shawl commission merchants. Samuel H. Michaels was, on 24th July, 1823, through
the Incorporation of Hammermen, admitted a burgess of the City and Guild brother.
The leading member of the community circa 1823 and for many years thereafter
was David Davis, an optical and mathematical instrument maker, who founded a pros-
perous and well known firm of jewellers in the city. David Davis and Jonas Michael
were not always in accord and, as the latter, with his sons, mustered eight for ‘minyan’
he was a force to be reckoned with in a community where it must have been at times
difficult to secure the ten confirmed Hebrews necessary for public worship. In the early
the origins of scottish jewry
eighteen thirties David Davis and Jonas Michael fell out and Jonas Michael organised
Divine service in his own home. Davis retaliated by withholding from the Michael
group facilities for obtaining Kosher meat. Michael thereupon made arrangements to
secure his supplies from Edinburgh, but Davis had sufficient influence to have this
source of supply stopped. Michael Michael, a son of Jonas, had been licensed as a
schochet in 1826. He was able to supply his father and his adherents with all the Kosher
meat they required. Michael Michael at the age of 28, died in 1833, and Jonas Michael
applied for permission to have him interred in the cemetery recently acquired at the
Necropolis. It is on record that permission was granted, but only on payment of a
charge higher than usual, and the interment took place on 23rd October, 1833. No more
is heard of this early rift in the small community but one has the impression that David
Davis in the end prevailed. Two headstones in the Jewish burial ground at Janefield
cemetery probably relate to members of this family—Auguste Michael, born 1821, who
died on 14th April, 1871, and Moses Michael, who died aged 76, the date of his birth
on his memorial stone being indecipherable.
In 1828 there is a directory entry relating to Joseph Levi, quill merchant, who,
as will be seen, died in the first Glasgow epidemic of cholera which killed over 2,800
victims, and was the first person to be interred at the old Jewish cemetery near Glasgow
cathedral. In the same directory Moses Benjamin is recorded as a furrier at 68 George
Street. In 1829 there appears for the first time an entry relating to Woolf Levy, a
furrier, who resided at 29 Huîcheson Street and carried on business at 8 Hutcheson
Street and 42 Argyll Arcade, from which it may be inferred that he was related to and
succeeded Philip Levy already mentioned. Woolf Levy was one of the leading members
of the community and he was a burgess, being a member of the Incorporation of Skinners.
A relatively large proportion of the community traded as furriers. In 1838 there appear
for the first time the names of Philip Asher, stationer and general agent, and Mrs. P.
Asher, furrier, both of 5 King Street. Thereafter for many years until 1895, the name
of Mrs. Asher appears alone. Philip and Hannah Asher were the parents of Dr. Asher
Asher, a distinguished son of Glasgow Jewry, whose record is referred to later. Philip
Asher died in 1862, aged 72, but his widow, Hannah Asher (born in Amsterdam) survived
until 1901, when she died at the advanced age of 96. Other early and pre-Victorian
names are those of Lehman Lesser, general merchant; Simon Prince, quill merchant;
G. T. Ascher, French fancy goods dealer; Moses Henry Lisenheim, mentioned earlier
in these pages, Morris Lyons, artificial flower manufacturer; Sales Schwabe, admitted
a member of the Merchants’ House in 1832 and described as a son of E. H. Schwabe,
merchant, ‘Oldenburgh’, Samuel Davis and H. Prince, furrier, 37 Argyll Arcade, whose
name appears also in the Edinburgh directories of the period. G. T. Ascher, referred to
above—in no way related to the family of Dr. Asher Asher—was born in Naugard,
Prussia, in 1795. He left Glasgow and settled in Montreal where he was President of
the Congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews for thirty years. His son, Isidore G.
Ascher, born in Glasgow in 1837, when an infant accompanied his father to Montreal,
graduated at McGill university and became a member of the Canadian bar. He spent
the later years of his life in London where he acquired some distinction as a minor poet.
He was a regular contributor to the Poets’ Corner of leading London newspapers, and
his book, One hundred and five Sonnets was published by Blackwell of Oxford in 1912.
The present writer met him in 1912 and again in 1923. He died in London in 1933
at the age of 96. Michael Russell, described on his memorial stone in Janefield as
‘the eldest son of the late Samuel Russell of Sheerness’ died on 9th October, 1890, at
the origins of scottish jewry
the age of 72. He was almost certainly a member of the family originally named Levy
(referred to by Dr. Cecil Roth in The Rise of Provincial Jewry) which provided Henry
Russell, the song composer, William Clark Russell, novelist and nautical writer, Sir
Herbert Russell, the war correspondent and Sir Landon Ronald, conductor of the
Scottish and other orchestras and principal of the London Guildhall School of Music.
Crawcour the Dentist
So far we have glanced at some of those who formed the Glasgow community in
its early years but a notice appeared in the Glasgow Herald of 25th August, 1831, relating
to visitors to the city in these words: ‘It will be seen by the advertisement of Messrs.
Crawcour, the eminent dentists, that they are now on a professional visit to this city.
They have just completed a set of pearl teeth for the Emperor of Persia which they invite
the nobility, gentry and gentlemen of the faculty to inspect previous to its being sent
off for the Persian monarch. We believe this is the only set of teeth ever made in Europe
for the same illustrious personage’. The Glasgow Herald of 7th June, 1956, brought to
light the story of this visit to Glasgow one hundred and twenty five years before, and
quoted from the advertisement of the Crawcours, who are described as the old established
London firm of surgeon dentists, and who intimated to the nobility, gentry and inhabitants
of Glasgow and its vicinity a grand discovery for the teeth. From their residence in
the house of Mrs. Johnston at Number 1 St. Vincent Street, they promised to demonstrate
and apply to the public their celebrated mineral succedaneum for filling decayed teeth
which continues to give universal satisfaction and is highly recommended by the faculty
of London and Paris. The advertisement announced that ‘the nature of the unrivalled
mineral succedaneum is such that the cavity which retains it will, in the space of a second,
become as hard and as durable as the natural enamel and by its means arrest the progress
of further decay, or any unpleasant effect of atmosphere. The operation is performed
in about two minutes without the SLIGHTEST PAIN, inconvenience or pressure. Patronised
by the Royal Family and the most distinguished nobility of Great Britain, Ireland and
France’. The advertisement proceeds to advance the claims of Messrs. Crawcour’s
incorridible teeth, incapable of discoloration or corrosion, which, when fixed in the
mouth, either single or in sets, could not be distinguished from those placed there by
the hand of nature ‘giving a youthful appearance and likewise guaranteed to masticate
and articulate; give perfect sound of Articulation, more particularly the Dento Lingual
Double Consonant (TH)’. There is the further assurance that the Messrs. Crawcour
‘use neither wire nor any other ligature but fix the teeth on a peculiar principle, so as
to support the adjoining ones whilst pressure on the gums is avoided’. Dr. Cecil Roth,
in The Rise of Provincial Jewry, in the chapter devoted to Jersey and the Channel Islands,
states that among the local families was, according to family tradition, that of Crawcour,
a dentist said to have originated the amalgam filling of teeth, and in the chapter on
Norwich he records that a cemetery there was acquired in 1813 in the names of Barnett
Crawcour, dentist, and three others. One of the brothers who visited Glasgow in 1831
was Barnett Crawcour whose daughter, Hannah (who died in 1920, aged 93) became
the second wife of Benjamin Simons, fruit broker, in Glasgow and the mother of Phillip
Barnett Simons, solicitor in Glasgow, who survived until 1948. Fanny Alexander
Crawcour, Barnett Crawcour’s widow died on 29th November, 1885, in her 92nd year
and is interred at Janefield Cemetery, Glasgow, as also are her daughter Hannah and her
three other daughters, Emma Esther Crawcour, who died in July, 1894, in her 77th
the origins of scottish jewry
year; Fanny Crawcour, who died on 8th September, 1917, in her 99th year; and
Sarah Barczinsky née Crawcour, who died on 19th December, 1928, in her 99th year—
a remarkable record of family longevity.
It was not until 1823 that the first synagogue was consecrated in Glasgow. This
was situated on the first floor of a building on the west side of High Street within a few
yards of Trongate and it may be said that the Glasgow Jewish community, as such,
was formally founded in or about that year. The congregation, which was small in
numbers, moved about 1837 to other accommodation in Old Post Office Court. The
back premises at that address, adapted as a synagogue, had at one time formed part of
the Glasgow Post Office, and afterwards of the offices of the Glasgow Herald, and remains
of this building can still be seen if approached through No. 114 Trongate. From there
the congregation (or part of it) proceeded to worship in the Andersonian University,
then at 204 George Street, and in 1850 they again moved, this time to top-floor rooms
approached through the first entry on the south side of Howard Street, east of Jamaica
Street. There the congregation, still small in numbers, continued to worship until 1858
when they consecrated a synagogue—the first in the city specially erected for the purpose
—at the corner of George Street and John Street, the site of which is now incorporated
in the Royal Technical College. There the community remained until 1879 when
Garnethill Synagogue, which has been called the Cathedral Synagogue of Scotland, was
consecrated. It is a point of interest that there is inserted into the west wall of the
ladies gallery, behind the present choir box in Garnethill Synagogue, a piece of stained
glass bearing the date A.M. 5619—the year (1858) of the consecration of the synagogue
at the corner of George Street and John Street, and removed from there when Garnethill
Synagogue was erected. Having traced the movements of the congregation since it was
first constituted we see that the Garnethill Hebrew Congregation can place the year of
its foundation as 1823. During the nineteenth century the Garnethill congregation was
known as the Glasgow Hebrew Congregation. A branch of the congregation was
inaugurated about 1887 and worshipped in the Standard Hall, Main Street, Gorbals.
Eleven years later this branch synagogue obtained complete autonomy, but both congre-
gations formed the United Synagogue of Glasgow. In 1899 a site was purchased in
South Portland Street and the whole community joined to raise funds to build a synagogue
there. This synagogue, known as the South Portland Street Synagogue, and later as
the Great Synagogue, was consecrated in 1901. In or about 1881 an independent
congregation, with a small membership, opened a synagogue at 2 Commerce Street.
It was known as the New Hebrew Congregation and they acquired a burial ground of
their own, used first in November, 1881, situated at Craigton cemetery. As the twentieth
century progressed other synagogues were, at different times, opened to serve the needs
of a community, steadily growing in numbers, and gradually moving to outlying residential
districts of the city,
David Davis had ceased to be president of the congregation prior to 1858 but he
was still resident in the city and a member of the congregation in 1860. He ultimately
retired to London. Benjamin Simons, already referred to, had arrived in Glasgow via
Newcastle and Edinburgh in the eighteen forties and in 1857, when the congregation
were contemplating an ambitious scheme for the construction of a synagogue, he became
hon. treasurer. The following year the property at the corner of John Street and George
the origins of scottish jewry
Street was acquired, the title being taken in name of ‘Abram Harris, Wholesale Watch
Manufacturer, Glasgow, Benjamin Simons, Fruit Merchant, there, Henry Levy of the
Shakespeare Saloon, Saltmarket, there, Samuel Levenston, Medical Student, there, and
Samuel Morris, Commission Merchant, there’, in trust for the congregation, and a
mortgage was obtained from ‘The Trustees for David Harris and Henry Harris presently
residing in Rogasen County, Posen, Prussia’, children of Joseph Levi Harris, sometime
jeweller, Dublin, believed to be a brother of Abram Harris. At the date of the conse-
cration of this synagogue in 1858 Solomon Themans, a cigar merchant, was president—
but only for a year—Benjamin Simons was hon. treasurer and I. Solomon, hon. secretary.
In 1870 there was a secession of seatholders, as distinct from members, who farmed
themselves into the Glasgow New Hebrew Congregation and applied to the Chief Rabbi,
the Rev. Dr. Nathan Marcus Adler, for recognition. The result was the first official
visit to Glasgow by the Chief Rabbi in 1871, accompanied by his son and successor,
Herman Adler. In 1875 a special meeting of the members resolved to erect a new
synagogue with more accommodation, those present at the meeting being Samuel Morris,
president, Julius Frankenburgh, treasurer, Michael Simons, secretary, Henry Samuel,
Benjamin Simons, A. Jacob, M. Stremer, David Heilbron, H. Alperovitch, L. Bloom,
Isidor Morris, D. A’Albert, E. Cohen, M. T. Cohen, S. Woolf, W. Kuttner, J. Lewis,
S. L. Abrahamson and N. Solomon. A committee was formed which ultimately acquired
the site on which Garnethill Synagogue was erected, the title being taken in names of
‘Benjamin Simons, Fruit Broker in Glasgow, Michael Simons, Fruit Broker, there,
Samuel Morris, Commission Merchant, there, Julius Frankenburg, Manufacturer, there
and Samuel Levenston, Physician, there’ as trustees for the congregation. Samuel
Levenston had been one of the trustees in 1858, being then described as a medical student.
He graduated M.D. at Glasgow University in 1859 and died in Glasgow in 1914 at the
age of 93.
Jewish Ministers in Glasgow
James Cleland, who, as mentioned later, made a census of the community in 1831
named Moses (Henry) Lisenheim as ‘Priest, Hebrew Teacher and Killer’, but there is
no record of his certification. In the list of shochetim from the E. N. Adler MSS.
contained in Dr. C. Duschinsky’s book, The Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue, London
1756-1842 (published in an edition of 250 copies by the Oxford University Press in
1921) there occurs the name of Moses Lisenheim, licensed in 1838 and stated to be ‘of
Schoenlanke’. It is not known if he was identical with the Moses Lisenheim already
mentioned, but as the latter had resided and practised in Glasgow for years prior to
1838 it is probable that he is not the person referred to in the list. Dr. Duschinsky
mentions that the MSS. contain a letter written by Chief Rabbi Hirschel, sometime
between 1830 and 1842, concerning the Glasgow congregation but he does not quote
or give any indication of its contents. Michael Michael previously mentioned, received
his certificate from Chief Rabbi Solomon Hirschel, as did also Solomon Sternburgh.
From the position of their names in the Chief Rabbi’s fist it would appear that Michael
was authorised in December, 1825, or January, 1826, and Sternburgh some months later
in 1826. When the congregation worshipped in Howard Street, Rabbi Sholum was the
spiritual leader of the community. There is no record of his appointment but, in 1858,
when the synagogue at George Street and John Street was opened the congregational
records bear that he was superannuated at full salary. At the consecration in 1858 the
Rev. Dr. Mayer was minister of the congregation. Dr. Mayer resigned in 1859 prior
the origins of scottish jewry
to emigrating to America and the same year the Rev. Marks Alperovich was appointed
reader and held office until he retired in 1877, to be succeeded by the Rev. Isaac Levine
who had been appointed assistant reader in 1875. The Rev. Isaac Levine officiated
as reader at George Street and then at Garnethill until his death in October, 1921. He
was the father of the Rev. Ephraim Levine, of the late Arthur Levine, the well known
actuary, and of Jack Levine, senior warden of the Garnethill congregation for many
years, and of Israel Levine, professor of philosophy at Exeter. The Rev. E. P. Phillips
was appointed minister in November, 1878, and served the community for fifty years.
He retired in 1929 and died in October, 1943, at the age of 88. The Phillips family
have a remarkable record in the Jewish ministry. The Rev. Isaac Phillips of Portsmouth
and the Rev. Phillip Phillips were brothers. The Rev. Jacob Phillips and the Rev. Lewis
Phillips were sons, and the Rev. Henry Phillips Silverman, of Kingston, Jamaica, is a
grandson of the Rev. Isaac Phillips and the Rev. E. P. Phillips was a son of the Rev.
The Glasgow Jewish Cemetery
The oldest Jewish landmark in Glasgow is the Jewish cemetery in the Glasgow
Necropolis in the vicinity of Glasgow Cathedral. Prior to the consecration of this
burial place it is said that the earliest Jewish residents in the city conveyed the remains
of their deceased relatives by road to Edinburgh for interment in the Jewish cemetery
in Braid Place there. There is no trace today on any of the head stones in the old
cemetery in Edinburgh of the names of Glasgow residents, but during the second and
third decades of the nineteenth century the community was so small that such interments
must indeed have been few in number. The Merchants’ House of Glasgow resolved
in 1829 to convert their lands known as Fir Park into a large cemetery laid out after the
style of the Père la Chaise cemetery of Paris. Before the Merchants’ House had completed
their plans they were approached by the leaders of the community for accommodation
and the transaction is thus recorded in the first annual report of the Glasgow Necropolis:
‘The Chief of the Synagogue sent, offering to purchase possession of a burial-place before
any arrangements were completed or prices fixed, stating frankly that they had a specific
sum raised and laid aside for the purpose, and their desire to have such accommodation
as could be given for it. There was a corner with a few trees in the end of the park
next the burn, where freestone had been wrought, and which seemed peculiarly adapted
for the purpose, and least likely to interfere with any future operations. The request
was accordingly complied with, although the price, when calculated, according to what
has afterwards been obtained from others, has proved a trifle under the average. The
payment of tribute upon interments was considered inconsistent with their religious
ideas; and their mode of interment being peculiar, and such as the committee would
certainly wish to see generally introduced, of preserving the spot where any remains
have ever been deposited from being used again, the fees which were not then fixed
were also agreed to be given up in their case’. The reference in this quotation to the
burn is to the Molendinar which then flowed a few yards to the west but which has
disappeared underground since the construction of a roadway skirting part of the west
boundary of the Necropolis. The purchase was completed in 1830 at the price of one
hundred guineas and, in the certificate of sale, the ground was declared to be ‘for a
possession of a burying place for the burial of the dead of the said Synagogue in Glasgow
for ever’. The committee who carried the matter through on behalf of the synagogue
were Samuel Davis, Woolf Levy, Henry Prince and David Davis. This small burial
the origins of scottish jewry
ground, having an area of approximately 150 square yards, is marked by a monumental
column and gateway. The gateway, incorporating cast iron lettering is badly dilapidated.
The pedestal of the column was engraved with Byron's verses the last of which reads:
'Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,
Where shall ye flee away and be at rest,
The wild dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,
Mankind their country—Israel but the grave'.
The tombstones in this old cemetery are covered by soil and have all but disappeared
and the ground itself has been thickly planted with shrubs. This cemetery at the
Necropolis served the needs of the community from 1832 until 1851—the first interment,
that of Joseph Levi, a quill merchant, a victim of the great cholera epidemic of 1832,
having taken place on 12th September, 1832, and the last interment on 19th December,
1851. Unless steps are taken now to renovate and preserve the monumental column,
and what is left of the cast iron gateway, this relic of early Glasgow Jewry will inevitably
Two memorial stones are erected outside the wall close to the column. One of
these stones marks the last resting place of one whose remains were denied interment
in the consecrated ground in respect that he had married out of the faith. It is believed
that the person who lies beneath the other stone, bearing the date 9th August, 1847,
was denied burial within the cemetery as the result of some communal disagreement—
perhaps that referred to in a later paragraph. A complete list of all those interred in
this ground between 1832 and 1851 is given in an annexe to this paper.
The Glasgow Necropolis itself was not ready for use until 1833 so that the first
interment in any part of this great cemetery was that of Joseph Levi. Mr. J. S. Rubin-
stein of London (grandfather of Harold Rubinstein, the dramatist) wrote to the Glasgow
Evening Citizen of 1st March, 1894, with some interesting reminiscences. He came to
Glasgow as a boy in 1829 and he recalled the burial of the cholera victim, Joseph Levi,
at which he was present with two men. It was impossible to secure the attendance of
any one else partly because of the fear of infection. Much lime and water were placed
in the coffin before the lid was screwed down and a watch had to be kept on the grave
for sometime after the burial as a protection against body snatchers. No doubt Rubin-
stein and his friends had in mind the Burke and Hare trials of three years before. It
is not clear whether the lime and water were thought to hasten the process of decomposition
and thus render the remains valueless for the purposes of dissection—or were intended
as a protection against infection—probably the latter. Dr. Cecil Roth in his Anglo-
Jewish Letters publishes a translation of a letter in Hebrew addressed to J. S. Rubinstein
at Glasgow by his teacher Mordecai Aaron Ginsberg and written from Germany.
This cemetery at the Necropolis became the focus for a communal difference when
feelings ran high and which culminated in proceedings in the Glasgow Sheriff Court
in the eighteen forties. In April, 1842, it was resolved by a majority of the congregation,
then worshipping in the Old Post Office Court in Candleriggs, to remove to what was
regarded as more suitable accommodation and forming part of the Andersonian University
or Institute, a medical school, then situated at 204 George Street, and not to be confused
with the synagogue later erected at the corner of George Street and John Street. The
minority declined to accept the decision of the majority on the ground that the Andersonian
Institute was a medical college, possessing a dissecting room, and that it was contrary
to the principles of Orthodox Judaism to hold religious services under the same roof
the origins of scottish jewry
as covered the dissection of human bodies. The majority, led by David Davis, removed
to the Andersonian Institute and he minority, led by Woolf Levy, continued to worship
at the Old Post Office Court. It was not long before the controversy became acute
in respect that the majority asserted its ownership of the Necropolis burial ground and
claimed the right to refuse the privilege of interment to the minority. Solomon Davies,
one of the minority group, died on 2nd October, 1843, and his interment was carried
out the following day in face of protests from David Davis and his supporters. An
action was thereupon raised in the sheriff court by David Davis and two others as
representing the majority to interdict Woolf Levy and another as representing the minority
from the use of the cemetery. The majority claimed that on democratic principles they
were the true synagogue of the city in sole right of the burial ground, the minority
pleading, for the reasons already stated, that the majority were acting contrary to Jewish
law and that they, the minority still worshipping in the old synagogue in the Candleriggs,
represented the true synagogue of Glasgow. Sheriff Glassford Bell ultimately decided
in favour of the majority, his judgment being issued on 29th September, 1845. An
appeal was taken to the Sheriff Principal, Sir Archibald Allison (an erudite lawyer and
internationally known for his History of Europe) who upheld Sheriff Glassford Bell.
Woolf Levy, leader of the minority, was interred in the cemetery on 11th November,
1845, as at which date Sheriff Principal Allison had not issued his judgment in the
appeal. The probability is that interim interdict was refused pending the decision of the
action on the merits. The two groups were known respectively as the old congregation
and the new congregation and in the year 1844 they both voted in the election for the
Chief Rabbinate, each for a different unsuccessful candidate. The congregation became
reunited at the time of, or shortly before, the removal of the synagogue to Howard Street
in or about the year 1850 and the breach caused by this long forgotten controversy
An occurrence, which may be unique in the annals of any Jewish community, is
recorded in the synagogue minutes for July, 1860. The president, Mr. A. Harris,
reported that Mr. Schwabe had removed the bodies of his children from the old cemetery
at the Necropolis, presumably for interment elsewhere, and that without any authority
from the court and without the knowledge of the synagogue council. In a letter to the
Chief Rabbi who was asked for his advice, it was stated that Mr. Schwabe had verbally
offered to have the bodies and the tombstones returned. The president and Mr. Benjamin
Simons, the hon. treasurer, were instructed to wait upon the procurator fiscal (the public
prosecutor) and place the matter in his hands unless the bodies were returned the
following day. There is no record of what transpired but later minutes disclose that
it was agreed to inform the superintendent of the Necropolis that the council desired
the remains of the Schwabe children, together with the tombstones, returned to the
cemetery. There this curious story ends so far as the records are concerned. The
writer recalls a conversation he had in the year 1911 with Henry Davis, then over eighty
years of age, who was a son of David Davis and had been born and lived throughout
his long life in Glasgow. Henry Davis remembered the incident and explained the
motive of the Schwabe family as an attempt to remove all traces of their Jewish affiliations
before emigrating to America. He said that the incident created a great sensation in
the community at the time. Some twenty years ago enquiries were made in the United
States which established that this Schwabe family were not related to the well known
family of steel makers of the same name, which originated in Holland and, so far as is
known, were never members of any Jewish community.
the origins of scottish jewry
As we have seen, the last interment in the Necropolis took place in December, 1851.
In January, 1853, the congregation then worshipping in Howard Street, purchased from
the Glasgow East Necropolis Company ground in Gallowgate which formed part of
Janefield cemetery. The area was 900 square yards, about six times that of the old
Necropolis ground. The first interment in Janefield, that of Joseph Nathan, was in
February, 1856. There is no reliable record, so far as the present writer is aware, of
any other ground in use between 1851 and 1856. There is a suggestion, for which no
conclusive evidence is available, that in the eighteen seventies some Jewish bones were
removed to Craigton cemetery from ground on a site (not far distant from the old
Necropolis ground) now occupied by College Goods Station in High Street, and then
occupied by Glasgow University, which included a church and graveyard. It seems
unlikely that for more than four years the community was without a cemetery but no
authentic information on the matter is available.
Glasgow Jewish Statistics
The first and only official census of the Jews of Glasgow was made by James Cleland,
LL.D., who was responsible for a census of the city in 1831. He published a book
entitled Enumeration of The Inhabitants of the City of Glasgow and County of Lanark
for the Government Census of 1831, in which the following passage occurs at page 72 in
the section relating to religious bodies: 'A Jews' Synagogue was opened in this city in
September, 1823, Mr. Moses Lisenheim is their Priest, Hebrew Teacher and Killer.
The Feast of Tabernacles, which used to be celebrated by the Glasgow Jews in Edinburgh,
is now observed in this City. A Burial Ground is about to be opened in Hutchesontown
for the interment of the Seed of Abraham. Edward Davies, a son of Mr. Edward Davies
Optician, was the first that was circumcised in Glasgow; the rite was performed by
Mr. Michael on 18th July, 1824'. On page 188 (Note E in the Addenda) the
record of the census is given by Cleland in the following words: 'As the Jews resident
in Glasgow are too small to be classified in themselves, they are included in the list of
sectarians. The Jews are 47 in number, viz., Males 28—Females 19;—above 20 years
of age, 28—below do., 19. Born in the following countries, viz., In Prussian Poland, 11
—in various parts of Germany, 12—in Holland, 3—in London, 5—in Sheerness, 10—and
in Glasgow, 6'. The reference by Cleland to a burial ground in Hutchesontown (instead
of the Glasgow Necropolis) is an error which was corrected in the New Statistical Account
of Scotland, published in 1845 in the article on 'Glasgow', the authorship of which was
shared by Cleland. It may be further observed that the reference to 'Edward Davies'
the father should be to David Davis, already referred to, who as will shortly be noted,
had a son named Edward. Notwithstanding these slips James Cleland had and has a
deserved reputation as a statist and one need have no hesitation in accepting his figures
as accurate. The community was indeed small in numbers in 1831, and it may be
claimed that the names appearing earlier in these pages of members of the community
in its early years represent, with their families, the majority of the Jewish residents of
the city at that time. The development of the community throughout the nineteenth
century was slow and, although no accurate statistics are available, it may be estimated
that in 1879 when Garnethill synagogue was consecrated the population of the community
did not exceed 1,000. By the turn of the century it may have reached 5,000 and in
1957, as an estimate only, the community is computed to number 20,000 more
the origins of scottish jewry
Glasgow Jewish Notabilities
Before we leave the Glasgow community let us recall some of the men who helped
to mould it in its early years. Reference has already been made to David Davis who
was the first to hold the reins as leader and who served the community for twenty years.
He founded a firm of wholesale jewellers whose successors still trade in the city although
the Davis family have long ceased their connection with it. David Davis was resident
in Glasgow for about forty years but it is believed that he ultimately retired to London
where he died. His two sons, Edward and Henry, who succeeded to the family business,
drifted away from the community but Henry Davis was still alive in Glasgow in 1911
and died shortly thereafter. Edward Davis, who died at Cheltenham in 1911, left
substantial legacies to Scottish Hospitals, the Royal and Western Infirmaries, Glasgow,
received £16,000 each, the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow, £10,000, the Royal Infirmary,
Edinburgh, £2,000, and the Royal Infirmary, Dundee, £1,600.
Asher Asher, M.D., born in Glasgow in 1837, graduated at Glasgow University
in 1856—the first Jewish graduate of that university. He was also in the same year
a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. He was a son of Philip
and Hannah Asher and a great grandson of Rabbi Zeev Wolf of Lublin, Poland. He
started life without the advantage of wealth or social position. He practised medicine
in and near Glasgow for a few years and, for a short period, was secretary of the Glasgow
Hebrew Congregation. In 1862 he went to London and practised there for a few years.
Dr. Asher Asher was adviser on Jewish affairs to Baron Lionel de Rothschild, over whom
he had great influence and he became almoner to the Rothschild family. In 1866 he
was appointed secretary to the Great Synagogue. He devoted his ability and energy
to the promotion of the Act of Parliament which constituted the United Synagogue,
which body he served as secretary until his death in 1889. In 1910 as a tribute to his
father's memory, his son the late Samuel G. Asher, donated to Glasgow University a
sum of money, and a die for a medal, for the provision of an annual prize in the class of
diseases of the throat and nose.
Benjamin Simons settled in Glasgow in the eighteen forties, and founded the firm
now known as Simons and Co. Ltd., probably the largest firm of fruit brokers in the
world, with establishments in Glasgow, Liverpool, London, Southampton and New York.
His son, Michael Simons, born in London in 1842, came to Glasgow with his father,
and when he died in 1925 he had a distinguished career of public and communal service
to his credit. He was a leading member of the town council for many years as also a
magistrate and a deputy lieutenant for the county of the city of Glasgow. A polished
speaker, generous and broadminded in his sympathies, and of a distinguished presence,
he was rightly regarded as one of the first citizens of the city. He served as secretary
of the congregation for twenty four years and was closely associated with the affairs of
the community throughout a long and useful life. David Heilbron, who became a
member of the congregation in 1871, was the head of a family which was closely associated
with the community in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and one of his sons is
the distinguished scientist, Professor Sir Ian Heilbron, D.S.O., LL.D.
Outwith Edinburgh and Glasgow the communities of Scottish Jewry are small and
of comparatively recent origin. The community in Dundee originated in 1874 when
there was consecrated the first synagogue in Murraygate. Despite the small numbers
the origins of scottish 'jewry
of the congregation, another synagogue was opened in Ward Road. One of its founders
was Elias Bloch, father of Sir Maurice Bloch, and of the late Joseph Bloch, J.P. If it
is a characteristic of small Jewish communities to divide, it is equally in character that
they again unite, and this happened in Dundee in 1885 when the two sections came
together and again worshipped as one congregation. At that time there were about
fifty Jewish families in Dundee, most of whom were of Polish or Russian origin, but
there were one or two families of wealthy Jewish merchants of German origin engaged
in the jute trade who, seventy years ago, were tending towards assimilation. A
new synagogue in Meadow Street was consecrated by the Dundee community
The Aberdeen Jewish community, which consists of a few families only, is neverthe-
less organised, but so far as the nineteenth century is concerned, it has little or no history.
Reference has already been made to the practice at certain Scottish universities in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries of conferring degrees by recommendation, without
written or oral examination, and this was specially true of Aberdeen. It was the custom
both at the university of Aberdeen and King's College, and at Marischal College and
University to confer the degree of M.D. on anyone who was prepared to pay the fee and
who could find two members of the senatus to sponsor him. Many Jewish physicians
in London and elsewhere thus secured Aberdeen degrees but, as none of them are thought
ever to have resided there, their significance in relation to the story of Scottish Jewry
A small Jewish community existed in Inverness for a time but is now dissolved.
A small Jewish community has developed in Ayr. For the rest there are a few Jewish
families scattered throughout Scotland—among the hills and glens of the highlands and
in the agricultural and pastoral counties of the lowlands—but they are not in any way
organised and have no position in or influence on Scottish Jewry as a whole.
The history of Scotland for many centuries, and until comparatively recent times,
has for its background the national struggle in defence of its civil and religious liberty
and the people of the country are, taking them by and large, broadminded and tolerant.
There never has been any widely supported hostility to the small Jewish minority and
there is no Jewish problem in Scotland. Jews take their part in all manifestations of
the country's activities—in its local government, in its commeriçal life, and in the arts,
the sciences and the professions—and as one would expect, some have achieved distinction
recognised beyond its boundaries.
The purpose of this paper is to trace only the origins of the Scottish community,
and it was well established before the end of the nineteenth century. Whilst its develop-
ment in the twentieth century has been considerable, not only in population, but in the
number and scope of its communal activities, its pattern does not differ materially from
that of other provincial Jewish communities. Perhaps at some future time, some pains-
taking writer will set himself the task of recording the story of Scottish Jewry beyond
the point where we leave it, and that writer of the future may find in these pages a helpful
background on which to paint his picture.
the origins of scottish jewry
Acknowledgment is made of the assistance the writer has received from his brother-
in-law, Dr. Ellis Bloch, who has been an indispensable collaborator. He is the author
of most of the pages which deal with 17th century Edinburgh, and he was responsible
for the research which produced most of the information relating to the Jews who were
the first to appear in Edinburgh. The writer would also like to express his appreciation
to Dr. Cecil Roth and Mr. V. D. Lipman for a number of most helpful suggestions.
Roll of Edinburgh Burgesses and Guild-Brethren, 1406-1841, edited by C. R. Bogg Watson, Scottish
Record Society publication, 1929-33.
Dr. Clement B. Gunn, Book of the Cross Kirk, Peebles, A.D.1560-1690, Peebles, 1912.
Extracts from the Records of the Burgh of Edinburgh, 1642-80, edited by Marguerite Wood, Edinburgh
and London, 1938-50; and Extracts 1681-9, edited by Marguerite Wood and Helen Armet,
Munk's Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London Vol. II, (1701-1800).
List of Graduates in Medicine in the University of Edinburgh from MDCCV to MDCCCLXVI,
J. Fabricius, Historia Bibliothecae Fabricianae, Part IV, 1721, p. 340.
J. C. Wolf, Bibliotheca Hebraea, 1725-33, Vol. I, p. 480, Vol. III, p. 365, Vol. IV, p. 845.
Anthony à Wood, Athenae Oxonienses, article: 'Samuel Austin' (Third Edition, Vol. III, London,
1817, p. 675).
Alexander Bower, The History of the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh and London, 1817.
'The Voice of Jacob', London, 6th December, 1844. (Election of Chief Rabbi N. M. Adler).
M. Steinschneider, Catalogus Librorum Hebraeorum in Bibliotheca Bodleiana, Berlin, 1852-60,
Andrew Dalzel, History of the University of Edinburgh from its Foundation, Edinburgh, 1862.
James Grant, Cassell's 'Old and New Edinburgh', Vol. II, London, 1882, pp. 107, 338, 344.
Edinburgh Evening Express, 29th March, 1883. ('The Edinburgh Kirks, LXII—the Jewish
Sir Alexander Grant, The Story of the University of Edinburgh during the First Hundred Years,
S. L. Lee, 'Elizabethan England and the Jews', Transactions of the New Shakespeare Society,
The Jewish Encyclopedia, articles: 'Ashenheim', 'Edinburgh', 'Margolioth'.
Municipal Year Book of the City of Adelaide, 1920.
Salis Daiches,'The Jew in Scotland', Records of the Scottish Church History Society, Vol. III, 1929.
The Glasgow Herald, 2nd May, 1931 (Foundation of new Synagogue in Edinburgh).
Brochure of the Edinburgh Hebrew Congregation, 1932.
Salis Daiches, 'The Growth of the Community', Jewish Chronicle, 6th May, 1938.
Paul H. Emden, Jews of Britain, London, 1943 (Myers, Russell).
W. E. Tanner, Annual Oration, 12th May, 1947, and Presidential Address, 12th July, 1948, Medical
Society of London Transactions, Vol. LXV.
A. Levy, The Origins of Glasgow Jewry, Glasgow, 1949. This book contains an extensive biblio-
graphy not repeated here.
Cecil Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry, London, 1950, articles indicated in text.
Abel Phillips, 'Origins of the Edinburgh Community', Jewish Chronicle, 8th August, 1958.
the origins of scottish jewry
Also, by courtesy of Miss Helen Armet, assistant keeper of the burgh records,
Edinburgh, the accounts of the treasurer of the college 1641-9 and 1679-81, the register
of burgesses and guild-brethren 27th November, 1717, and the minutes of the town
council of 26th January, 1642,20th May, 1653,1st September, 1665,4th and 9th Septem-
ber, 1691, 14th September, 1698, 15th November, 1700, 11th September, 1793, and
6th May, 1795; by courtesy of Mr. Robert Donaldson, the Library, the University of
Edinburgh, 'Tabullae petentium et adeuntium etc.', being a manuscript record of
appointments to chairs from 1663, biographical card index of Edinburgh medical Graduate
(compiled by Dr. J. D. Comrie), matriculation books and class lists 1775-8, 1791-4,
1834-6 and 1843-51 and library accounts 1791-4; by courtesy of the late Dr. J. B.
Salmond, keeper of the muniments, the University of St. Andrews, the minutes of the
university of 6th August, 1839; personal communicantions from Mr. N. N. Ashenheim
and the Rev. Henry P. Silverman, both of Kingston, Jamaica; particulars relating to
the Davis bequests from the secretaries of the Boards of Management of the named hospitals
in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee; particulars relating to the Asher Medal from the
Registrar, the University of Glasgow; and various other sources mentioned in the text.
LIST OF INTERMENTS IN THE JEWS' BURIAL PLACE
AT THE ELAYON NECROPOLIS
Alpha No. 1 and No. 1A.
The Merchants' House of Glasgow has provided the following particulars of all those interred in
Joseph Levi—age 62 years.
Micheal Micheals, son of Junis Micheals—age 28 years.
Emma Angus Schwabe.
Samuel Hieam—age 50 years.
George Sigma—age 34 years.
George Herman Schwabe—age 1 year 5 months.
Edward Cowan—age 26 years.
Alfred Hermann Schwabe—age 5½ years.
Fraidol Isaacs—age 82 years.
Semion Phillipa Burns—age 2 years 8 months.
Mariann Lessier—age 1½ years.
Julia Philipa Burn—age 1 year.
Stillborn son of Philip Burn.
Solomon Hart—age 54 years.
Stillborn son of William Bergson.
GulniS, daughter of H. J. Rosenbaun—age 3 years.
Louisa Bergson—age 6 years.
Stillborn child of Wolf Burgson.
Stillborn son of M. Schwabe.
Elizabeth Frazer—age 9 months.
Noah Joseph Lipman—age 6 years.
Stillborn child of A. Cohen.
Solomon Davies—age 72 years.
Mrs. Sarah Davis—age 78 years.
John, son of Abraham Harris—age 1 year 10 months.
Samuel Davis—age 25 years.
the origins of scottish jewry
Eve, Daughter of Lehmen—age 5 months.
Lazarus Frinkle—age 73 years.
Mordecai, son of Abraham Cohen, age 1 year 5 months.
Woolf Levi—age 65 years.
Flora, daughter of M. Philips Burn—aged 8 months.
Samuel Tennenbaun—age 60 years.
Sarah, daughter of M. Lipman—age 6 years.
Infant daughter of M. A. Lazarus—age 2 weeks.
George Lippstubs—age 40 years.
Philip Philipsburn—age 42 years.
Solomon, son of Solomon Barnet—age 7 weeks.
Fanny Cohen, daughter of Joseph Cohen—age 1 year 7 months.
Mrs. Rosie Jacobs—age 76 years.
Jacob Lessenhiun—age 60 years.
Deborhah Jacobs—age 3 years 9 months.
Elizabeth, daughter of D. Davis—age 7 years.
Mary Ann Rosenbaun—age 4 years 6 months.
Morris Lesenhiun—age 22 years.
Frederick, son of Frederick Davis—age 11 years 10 months.
David Cohen—age 66 years.
Avon Jacob—age 74 years.
Solomon Goulberg—age 60 years.
Tod, son of Abraham—age 14 days.
Jacob Tobias—age 47 years.
Burials in Alpha No. la Outside Wall of Jews Burial Place Alpha No.1
Mrs. Ascherson—age 46 years.
Morris Isaac Rubens—age 52 years.
Some of the names suggest errors in spelling but the names are given as they appear in the Merchants'
House records. The high proportion—nearly one half of the total—of stillborn and young children
the origins of scottish jewry
ADDENDUM TO 'THE ORIGINS OF SCOTTISH JEWRY'.
SINCE these transactions have been printed further information regarding the
Professor of Hebrew at Edinburgh University, Julius Conradus Otto, father or son,
has been made available to the writer by Mr. J. R. Seaton, Secretary of the National
Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. In the fourth line of paragraph 13 of the original
paper there is a reference to a 'public program', announcing the professor's course of
study, which could not be traced. Probably the only copy now in existence of this
'public program' is in the National Library of Scotland, who have kindly permitted
reproduction of a photostatic copy of the original.
The Latin text of the 'program' is as follows:
'Quod felix faustumque sit Ecclesiae Reip.& Academiae Edinburgenae, D. Julius Conradus
Otto, linguarum orientalium, Hebraicae, Caldaicae, Syriacae, Rabbinicae, & Sclavonicae
celeberrimus professor, qui Hierosolymis annos quatuor Judaeis familiariter convixit; qui
Constantinopoli, Hadrianopoli annos duodecim, in Gallia annos viginti, in Germania annos
decern, easdem Linguas publice & privatim, summo cum discentium profectu, admirabili
compendio praelegit: in Academia Edinburgena singulis diebus Martis, Jovis, Saturni, hora
secunda pomeridiana, publice linguam sanctam professurus est, nee non privatim in suo
Musaeo, illam & quatuor alias horis condicendis docturus. Hoc igitur programmate linguae
sanctae, & reliquarum quatuor studiosos invitat, ut adsint operam non paenitendam navaturi.
Spondetque eos qui modicum laborem impenderint, brevi temporis spacio plurimum profec-
This may be translated thus:
'With a view to the welfare and progress of Church and State and of the University of
Edinburgh, it is announced that Mr. Julius Conradus Otto, the celebrated professor of oriental
languages (Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Rabbinic and Slavonic), who has lived for four years in
Jerusalem on intimate terms with the Jews, and has taught these languages, both in public
appointments and privately, for twelve years in Constantinople and Adrianople, for twenty in
France and ten in Germany, achieving excellent results in his pupils by his wonderfully direct
method, has been appointed to teach the Sacred Tongue in the University of Edinburgh.
He will teach a class in Hebrew at the University every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday at
2 p.m. In addition he will hold private classes in Hebrew and the other four languages in
his rooms at a time to be arranged. By this announcement therefore he invites the attendance
of students of the Sacred Tongue and other oriental languages who would wish to pursue a
rewarding course of study. And he undertakes that those students who are willing to do a
moderate amount of work will make very great progress in a short space of time'.
In considering the question of identity the relevant parts of the 'program' are the
details relating to Otto's sojourns abroad—four years in Jerusalem, 12 years in Constanti-
nople and Adrianople, 20 years in France and ten years in Germany. He is not described
as teaching in Jerusalem but, according to his own announcement, he had a record of 42
years as a teacher before taking up his appointment at Edinburgh at the end of 1641.
Assuming that this covered the period of his professional career prior to the date of his
appointment, and that he was say 20 years of age when he first began to teach, his age in
1641 would be 62, fixing the year of his birth about 1579. Now Otto the first is said to
have been born in 1562 and, if Otto the second was the Professor, his father must have
married at the age of 16. If Otto the first was the Professor it will be recalled that, on
the origins of scottish jewry
the information available, he was about 80 years of age on his appointment. No attempt
is made here to reconcile the improbabilities, but the information provided by the ‘Public Program’ would appear still further to complicate the mystery of identity, as
between father and son.
With regard to the possibility of the settlement of individual Jews in Scotland
earlier than the 17th century, the writer’s attention has been directed to a Roman grave-
stone, of the second century A.D., in the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University
which, it has been suggested, may be the earliest record of Jews in Scotland. The stone
was found at Shirra near Kirkintilloch, on the line of the Antonine Wall. The inscription
which freely translated reads: ‘Sacred to the Divine Manes (Spirits of the Dead)
Salmanes lived 15 years. Salmanes placed this stone here’. Macdonald in Roman
Walls of Scotland simply described the name Salmanes (Solomon) as Semitic and this
seems to be the only ground for suggesting that Salmanes, father and son, were Jews.
The name was oriental, and not specifically Jewish, and must have been common
amongst oriental peoples, other than Jews, who were under the dominion of Rome and
some of whom may have served in the Roman Legions. Not only does the stone bear no
Jewish symbols or characters, but it has carved on it a laurel wreath, and two sun discs,
which are matched on a stone in the same museum relating to a Celtic lady and found on
the same site. The stone to Salamanes is typically Roman in craftsmanship and design,
and apart from the name, which was not specifically Jewish, there appear to be no grounds
for accepting this stone as evidence of the presence of Jews in Scotland in 2 A.D.