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Book Notes: Bevis Marks Records, Part VI: The Burial Register (1733-1918) of the Novo (New) Cemetery, Miriam Rodrigues-Pereira and Chloe Loewe (eds.)

Dr. Anthony Joseph

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Bevis Marks Records, Part VI: The Burial Register (1733-1918) of the Novo (New) Cemetery of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congrega? tion London, edited by Miriam Rodrigues-Pereira and Chloe Loewe, with Raphael Loewe and David Nunes Vaz (The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Con? gregation, London, 1997) ISBN 0-9501086-2-6. xxix + 402 pp. ?35. It has been noticed elsewhere, but is worthy of repetition here, that the public spirited attitude of the authorities of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Con? gregation for the past sixty years or so has made a major contribution to Sephardi genealogical research. This latest volume, compiled from the unique records of the Bevis Marks Congregation, is a most worthy addition to the existing five volumes of births, marriages, circumcisions and other relevant data. Although the prime interest of this series, including volume VI, is for the genealogist, the historian too will find much interesting and sensitive informa? tion. The introduction explains the scope of the work and lists the various sources that have been compared and checked against each other in compiling the death registers. It includes an overview of the history of the congregation's cemeteries, their keepers and some of the social problems that the congregation, in common with other guardians of burial grounds, encountered. For example, we are told that in the eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries cemeteries were vulnerable to the grisly activities of body-snatchers who stole corpses to sell to hospitals and schools of anatomy. Although the authorities appointed guardians to resist such outrages, they were by no means always successful. Other social commentary, such as the effects of cholera epidemics, is noted; and more details 335</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes of specifically Jewish interest, such as the treatment of 'outcasts', is also explain? ed. Each interred person has been catalogued with a unique reference number, which can be picked up in the various sections of the volume to enable all the information on an individual to be correlated. The occasional discrepancy between the data in one or another section is also recorded, so the details have all been accurately transcribed and may be reconciled with each other as best possible. Appendix C gives the epitaphs on the gravestones both in English (and in some cases other European languages) and in Hebrew. Equally usefully, the volume includes both Hebrew dates and equivalent secular dates of death, which allows the enquirer to pursue other potential sources of information (where available) such as personal announcements in the Jewish Chronicle or entries in the decennial censuses. The Honorary Archivist of the Congregation, Miriam Rodrigues-Pereira, and her team of eminent scholars are much to be congratulated on the quality of this volume. It is a 'user-friendly' database and an essential research tool for any Sephardi Anglo-Jewish genealogical investigation. Dr Anthony Joseph</page></plain_text>