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Jewish settlement of Staffordshire: the early year, 1811-1901

Shula P. Moreland

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 42, 2009 Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 SHULA P. MORELAND It is sometimes said that Staffordshire contains examples of every type of English landscape. In the same way, the story of Jewish life in the county reflects that of a large number of provincial communities and includes examples of many aspects of Anglo-Jewish history. There was a flourish? ing Jewish community in North Staffordshire in the late-nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries. It was based largely in the Potteries town of Hanley, where the only purpose-built synagogue was home to an Orthodox congregation. Until the reorganization of English counties in 1974, Wolverhampton, where there was a sizeable Jewish community and synagogue, was also included in Staffordshire, but this study has been restricted to the present-day county boundaries. Even so, in the early 1890s there were four congregations active within these modern boundaries. Hawkers and pedlars Following the Resettlement of 1655 and for the next fifty years or so there was a steady flow of Jews to England. Most of the first-comers settled in London, but in the first half of the eighteenth century another group began to arrive in increasing numbers from Holland, Germany and Poland. Many were single men who arrived destitute. They tended to gravitate towards the established London community, where concern grew that the capital city was becoming overcrowded. The newcomers were encouraged and financially assisted to disperse to other parts of the country. Men moved into the provinces, supporting themselves by becoming hawkers or pedlars selling haberdashery, jewellery and other small goods. They would walk from place to place, often stopping at market towns to sell their wares and replenish their stock. It could be a dangerous life. Robbery was frequent and some were murdered for their goods or cash. A number of these men eventually settled in the provincial towns that they had first visited as pedlars, such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool 97</page><page sequence="2">Shula P. Moreland Plate i Yates map of Staffordshire 1775. (Courtesy of Staffordshire Record Office.) and Leeds.1 Later still, smaller towns within striking distance of these major centres were explored as possible places to settle. This was the case in Staffordshire. The first Jewish settlement in North Staffordshire began in Newcastle under-Lyme, the only borough of any size in this part of the county along the important route from London to the northwest. It was a busy market town, centuries old. Pedlars would break their journeys there, almost certainly stop? ping at the twice-weekly markets, probably visiting the town in the 1700s when the Six Towns of the Potteries, later made famous by the author Arnold Bennett, were just tiny villages in the depths of the countryside. (See Plate 1.) Burslem, Hanley, Fenton, Stoke, Longton and Tunstall eventually grew into 1 B. Naggar, Jewish Pedlars and Hawkers (Camberley, 1992). This article is an amended version of a paper given to the Jewish Historical Society of England on 15 May 2008. It should be noted that recognizing Jewish individuals in public records is not an exact science and that errors will almost certainly have been made in collecting statistics for this study. Forename, family name, birthplace and occupation have been considered when deciding who to include, religiously observant and secular alike. 98</page><page sequence="3">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 the huge conurbation of Stoke-on-Trent, although the towns, each with its own town hall, retain a strong individual identity to the present day. The borough of Newcastle still does not consider itself part of the Potteries. In the early nineteenth century a pedlar named Samuel Harris, known to have visited Newcastle, wrote his memoirs with the help of a Christian minister.2 Samuel Harris was born in Warsaw around 1808. A clever boy with an enquiring mind, he had a difficult relationship with his convention bound father. When he was only eleven years old he heard about people journeying to England and decided to try his luck. Travelling alone across Europe, he arrived in Gravesend almost penniless and sought out a Jewish congregation in London, knowing that by custom they would help him. London Synagogues operated a type of seed-corn charity to assist desti? tute new arrivals. A collection would be made, providing enough money to purchase a pedlar's box and some small goods to sell on the street. In Samuel's account he relates that 'The Jews in Duke Street collected money to lay in some stock', thus enabling him to support himself. He was still less than twelve years old, but he was in business. It seems likely that Samuel was referring to the Great Synagogue in Duke's Place, but in telling his story some seven years later, he misremembered the name. He stayed in London for a week, but there were far too many others doing the same thing, so he set off walking towards Birmingham to take his chances there. The journey took him three weeks and, on days when he sold nothing, Samuel had to spend his nights sleeping in the fields. But once in the Midlands he began to do quite well and spent many months travelling round the area and, on occasion, even as far as the West Country. He described himself in his memoir as 'a little boy, about 14 years of age, with a pair of German boots reaching up to his knees, with a large black tassel attached to each of the tops. Add to this a pair of nankeen small clothes with a black silk waistcoat and a lead coloured nankeen long coat reaching down to the heels without any laps or opening behind and a hat on his head with a small crown and a very broad rim, with a stick in one hand and a bundle in the other.' (See Plate 2.) One Sunday in the spring of 1822 Samuel was in Birmingham and over? heard someone say that Newcastle Fair would begin the next day. He and a couple of other lads decided to walk through the night to be there for the start of the fair the following morning. It was a journey of forty-two miles. They set out at two in the afternoon and arrived in Newcastle early next morning. Samuel relates that 'first I went to the place where I used to lodge but it was full'. This short comment confirms that he was a regular visitor to the 2 The Reverend Clegg, History and Conversion of Samuel Harris (Bradford 1833), from which all quotations below are taken. 99</page><page sequence="4">Shula P. Moreland Plate 2 Sketch of Samuel Harris based on his own description. town. He went back to the market place and, despite being very tired, began trading and sold most of his goods. In the afternoon he was greeted by a friendly Jewish boy whom he had not met before. Samuel asked if he knew of any lodgings, and the boy suggested the Black Horse public house in the Ironmarket. He packed his remaining stock into his box and, because his takings were weighing down his pockets, broke his usual habit and put the cash into his box as well. They went to the inn together, sat down and called for a quart of ale. Weary from the night spent walking, Sam fell asleep. When he woke he found that both his companion and his box were gone. He cried out, tore his hair and ran back to the market place in tears. His travelling companions tried to help and offered a shilling from their own takings, but, as Samuel wrote, CI also ran to a Jew who lives there, with my complaints'. This must have been Abraham Francks. ioo</page><page sequence="5">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 The earliest settlers The Francks family lived in Hick Street, a narrow lane just off Newcastle market place. It can still be seen today, although it has been totally rebuilt. Abraham was an optician and jeweller whose family was among the founders of the Manchester congregation.3 He must have arrived from Manchester with his wife Mary by 1811, since his oldest daughter, Naomi, was born in Newcastle in that year. She has the distinction of being the first Jewish child recorded as born in Staffordshire.4 By 1822, when Samuel ran weeping to his door, Abraham and Mary already had six Staffordshire-born children. At least three more were born later. Samuel Harris recorded that he was received kindly. The Francks family were acquainted with the rogue, Jacob, who had stolen his box and said that he came from Norfolk. They gave Samuel a bed for the night, some money and a letter of introduction to relatives in Manchester, almost certainly Abraham's younger brother, Jacob Franks (the Manchester branch of the family had anglicized the spelling of their name). A portrait of Jacob Franks is in the Manchester Jewish Museum. (See Plate 3.) He too was an optician, but was noted for having twenty-four chil? dren.5 Several of his sons were trained by him and followed him into the optical trade. Abraham and Jacob's father Isaac, believed to have come from Holland during the wave of immigration around 1760, had been a hawker of Plate 3 Jacob Franks. (Courtesy of Manchester Jewish Museum.) 3 B.Williams, The Making of Manchester Jewry (Manchester 1985) 11. 4 Public Record Office (hereafter PRO) Censuses, Newcastle under Lyme 1851,1861,1871. 5 Williams (see n. 3) 24. 101</page><page sequence="6">Shula P. Moreland optical lenses before settling in Manchester. It is possible that Abraham himself had spent time doing the same and had identified Newcastle as a good place to settle. The shop in Hick Street may have acted as a focus for travelling Jewish pedlars who gathered there for Friday-night prayers. Abraham perhaps also acted as a wholesaler for them. Samuel Harris certainly knew where to go and, as his story indicates, the Francks family kept in contact with the Jewish communities, through the network of pedlars, both in Manchester and country-wide. They, together with other scattered families, relied on the Manchester synagogue for services. Abraham's will implies that it was not always easy for an isolated family to retain their Jewishness.6 He entreats his children to marry within their religion and not to forget their heritage. Although the arrival in Britain of numerous single young men might have created a gender imbalance in the community, leaving the girls spoilt for choice and tempting the surplus men to marry out, it appears that the situation was not so simple. Although Abraham Francks' daughters Charlotte and Leonora found Jewish husbands, Rosina remained unmar? ried, as did Naomi who died in 1879 aged sixty-four. Another daughter, Frances, has disappeared from the records completely. Naomi and Rosina lived out their lives with their brother, Henry, who had taken over the business from Abraham. When Henry died in 1899 the Francks family had lived in Hick Street for at least eighty-eight years. By then a congregation had been formed in nearby Hanley and a cemetery established in Newcastle, where Henry is buried. It has been claimed that he left the shop and business to his son, named Benn Franks,7 but in fact Henry died a childless bachelor aged eighty-five and his heirs were his two nephews, Leonora's sons Nathan and Samuel Lyons. Benn Franks, who became a famous optical instrument maker, was the son of Henry's cousin Joseph. An example of his work is in the British Museum. A stone in the children's corner of the North Staffordshire Jewish Cemetery marks the grave of Harry Franks, who died aged six in 1887. The inscription is now illegible, but before that happened, the Synagogue President Sydney Morris had noted down the names and dates on all the stones. Harry too has been described as Henry Franck's son, but at the time of Harry's birth, the unmarried Henry was already sixty-seven years old, so fatherhood, though not impossible, was unlikely. It seems probable that the child was a member of the Franks family of Manchester. 6 Lichfield Record Office. Abraham Francks. Will dated 28 April 1835. Probate granted 5 May 1848. 7 I. Down, 'A Modern History of Jewish Settlement in the Potteries', BA Dissertation, Keele University, May 1954. 8 PRO Census, Hanley 1841. 102</page><page sequence="7">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 18 1-190 i The Potteries Soon after Samuel Harris was robbed in Newcastle market, a family from Warsaw arrived in the nearby Potteries town of Hanley. They were George Mayer, a jeweller, his wife Amelia, also known as Malka, and three young children, Saul, Nathan and Fanny. A second daughter, Rachel, was born there in 1825.8 The Mayers arrived at the time of industrial expansion, when the villages of Hanley and Shelton were growing rapidly. By 1842 they had merged to form a small township, separated from Stoke and the other Potteries towns by fields and countryside. Writing of Hanley in his book The Rise ofProvincialJewry, Cecil Roth comments that 'Rachel Mayer (grandmother of Leonard Stein) is said to have been born in Hanley in 1825, her father being a prominent member of the local community; but it is improbable that its origins are so remote'.9 Roth is correct that there was no formally constituted congregation, but there was certainly a Jewish presence. According to the obituary of George Mayer's daughter Fanny, her father was a man of vision and energy who, during his many years in Hanley, acted as a focus for Jewish life in the area. Services were held in his house and he acted as his own shochet. He also wrote his own Torah Scroll which, by the time of Fanny's death in 1906, was in the possession of the Manchester Great Synagogue.10 The 1841 census Rachel Mayer appears to have been the first Potteries-born Jew. By the time of the 1841 census her brothers had moved back to Manchester and set up jewellery and pawn broking businesses. Fanny, aged twenty, and Rachel, then fifteen and described as a 'straw bonnet maker', were still living in their parents' shop in Piccadilly in the township of Shelton. In the same census a twenty-five-year-old jeweller, David Falk, was lodging in nearby Mill Street. Later that year, he and Fanny were married and moved to Manchester. Five years later Rachel married Louis Beaver and joined her siblings, but George and Malka continued to live in Hanley for another twenty years after all their children had married and left. The census of 1841 includes twenty-eight Jewish people living in North Staffordshire, sixteen of them members of settled families and the other Cecil Roth, The Rise ofProvincial fewry (London 1950) 21, available online at www.jewish gen.org/JCR-uk/susser/provincialjewry/intro.htm. 10 7ewish Chronicle (hereafterJC) 3 1 Aug. ioo6, pp. 28-9. 103</page><page sequence="8">Shula R Moreland twelve described as lodgers. At about the same time Lewis Jacobs, a cap manufacturer who does not appear in the census, was advertising his busi? ness in a Shelton trade directory. Sampson Goodheim, also a cap manufac? turer, had married a local girl in Hanley in 1838, perhaps a convert, and had several Hanley-born children. Two of their sons were sent to board with the Voorsanger family in Manchester to enable them to attend the new Jewish school there, and it was one of these, Samuel, was the first to win the coveted position of pupil teacher in that school.11 Rebecca Voorsanger was also a Staffordshire girl who had been born in the village of Abbot's Bromley. The first settlers in Staffordshire were dependent on the congregations of Manchester for burials, festivals and possibly for finding marriage part? ners. Both George Mayer and Samson Goodheim contributed to the build? ing fund of the New Hebrew Congregation Synagogue in January 1851.12 Their donations of five guineas each were among the more generous offer? ings. Travelling to Manchester in the early 1800s would have involved walking, like Samuel Harris, or riding in stagecoaches or carriers' carts. There were several daily services to Manchester, but travel would not have been easy. But in the 1840s the arrival of the railways made the journey more convenient and also affected the economic development of the area. The first railway line involved a four-mile road journey by coach westwards from Newcastle to Pipe Gate Station and then a change of trains at Crewe. The Potteries soon got its own direct rail link to Manchester: the North Staffordshire Railway. The Six Towns mushroomed and the importance of Newcastle and its turnpike road declined. A Sephardi tale The chairman of the North Staffordshire Railway Company was a London gentleman called John Lewis Ricardo and the company secretary his cousin, Jonathan Samuda.13 The uncle of these descendants from distin? guished Sephardi families was the eminent economist David Ricardo, who had converted to Christianity14 and was married to a Quaker woman. His parents disinherited him, but he influenced his sister Hannah (Jonathan's mother) and his brother Jacob (John Lewis's father) to convert as well. There was much heart-searching in the Sephardi community as many faced 11 JfC 25 March 1853, p. 195/1. 12 JfC24Jan. i85i,p. 127/1. 13 D. Stuart, People of the Potteries: A Dictionary of Local Biography, vol. I (Keele 1985). 14 Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford 1941, 3rd edn. 1963) 241. Ricardo himself joined the Unitarian church. 104</page><page sequence="9">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 181 i-iqoi Plate 4 John Lewis Ricardo at the sod-cutting ceremony of the new North Staffordshire Railway. the dilemma of how to be good and successful Englishmen and Jews at the same time. Many prominent Sephardi families concluded that it was not possible and converted. A print shows the ceremonial cutting of the first turf at the inauguration of the North Staffordshire Railway line with Ricardo in the centre,15 for which a specially engraved silver spade had been produced. (See Plate 4.) It was brought to the field in a polished mahogany wheelbarrow adorned with plaques of Minton china bearing the crests of Ricardo and Ingestre. More trouble had been spent on the spade's beauty than on its utility, however, because when Ricardo used his foot to thrust it into the ground, the blade bent. In addition to the railway, John Lewis Ricardo made his mark in North Staffordshire in other ways.16 He stood for Parliament as the Liberal Party 15 Wikimedia Commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/north_staffordshire_railway. 16 Stuart (see note. 13) 177. 105</page><page sequence="10">Shula P Moreland candidate in 1841. There had never been a Liberal MP in Stoke-on-Trent before and, as a non-local, Ricardo was not expected to win. But to every? one's amazement he did, and he won again in 1847, 1852, 1857 and 1859. Meanwhile, his cousin Jonathan Samuda seemed to prefer a quiet life. He married Jane Bromley, whose father was a shoe manufacturer in Stone, and after their wedding in St Michael's Church, Stone, they set up home in Stoke-on-Trent. Ricardo went back to London eventually, but Jonathan Samuda stayed in Staffordshire and is buried in Stoke.17 The 1851 and 1861 censuses The 1851 census includes fourteen settled Jewish residents in Newcastle and the Potteries. In Newcastle, in addition to the Francks family, Michael and Rosetta Jacobs had set up shop. They were clothiers and both were English-born. She had been born a Keyser from Cambridge. Michael had been born in the infamous Rosemary Lane in London, adjacent to Petticoat Lane, the heart of the old clothes trade. (See Plate 5.) In the Potteries towns, as well as the Mayer and Goodheim families, a single man, Benjamin Lazarus, was trading out of a hotel in Burslem. Eleven men described as lodgers were staying in the area on census night: twenty-seven people in all. In the rest of the county, twenty-eight-year-old Casimir Goldberg from Warsaw was running a small brewery in the village of Great Haywood, employing three men. Abraham Jacobs was lodging in Stafford, Hyman Frankel in Uttoxeter, Myer and Catherine Cohen were in Tutbury and Jacob Betsman and Lewis Worms in Cheadle. These last two were described as traveller vagrants, although the word 'vagrant' may be misleading. Worms, at least, appeared to have a settled home and a wife and children in Birmingham. In the previous census he had been staying with the de Souza family in Derby, where he was also listed as a traveller. Meanwhile, in Burton-on-Trent, Moses Falk advertised his services as 'surgeon' in a trade directory. Information from later censuses indicates that he too was married and had a child at the time. The early 1860s, by contrast, were a meagre time for Jewish life in North Staffordshire. The Goodheims and their four children had moved to Manchester, and the 1861 census includes only the Francks and the Mayers, a glazier called Benjamin Franklin, lodging in Newcastle, and the Essex-born tailor Benjamin Lazarus, who was then a householder in Hanley. Lazarus lived alone, apart from an elderly female servant, and was described as employing twelve men and one woman. There were just two 17 Stuart (see note 13) 187. io6</page><page sequence="11">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 Plate 5 Staffordshire pottery mug depicting old clothes man. (Courtesy of the Manchester Jewish Museum.) London-born travellers staying in Hanley. At that time, the Jewish popula? tion countrywide was largely settled and English-born, so more difficult to identify from the records. Nevertheless, there was one newcomer to Hanley whose birthplace makes him conspicuous. Paul Solomon Lieb or Levi had been born in Jerusalem, but he married a local girl and no evidence has been found of any involvement with the Jewish community. It seemed that North Staffordshire was on the decline as a Jewish centre. Elsewhere, Joseph Marks had established a jeweller's shop in Derby Street, Leek. Casimir Goldberg, now married, was still living in Great Haywood and a widow, Eleanor Poyninski, was lodging with her two chil? dren, Solomon and Rebecca, in Burton-on-Trent. Janetta Seyb, a professor of languages in a boarding school in Uttoxeter, and Maria Poliert, a governess in Brocton, were both Russian-born. It is uncertain whether or not they were Jewish. But Lyons Hagon from Poland, who was staying at Her Majesty's pleasure in Stafford Gaol, certainly was. The 1871 census In the 1870s things began to change. George Mayer had died in 1866 and his widow, Malka, had joined her children in Manchester, but just before George's death another Warsaw-born jeweller, Joseph Solomon, arrived in 107</page><page sequence="12">Shula P Moreland Hanley with a family of five children. The baby, Leah, had been born in Hanley in 1865, so it is likely that the families were acquainted. Their arrival was timely: Joseph Solomon later played a key role in the history of the congregation, although he has been sadly neglected in other accounts. It seems that he may have taken over George Mayer's role in the community. To judge from the census records, Solomon had lived in England for at least twenty years. He and his Colchester-born wife Jane had lived in Wigan and Manchester before arriving in the Potteries. There is evidence that Jane was not born Jewish, but also evidence that she had converted: several of her children married Jewish spouses and at least one son is buried in the Newcastle Jewish Cemetery. Two or three years after the Solomons, another family, the Aarons, came to town with seven children. Julius Aarons from Prussia had been living in England for fifteen or more years. His oldest son, Israel, was aged nineteen, and since Mrs Aarons was only twenty she was clearly a second wife. Julius fathered at least fifteen children before he died at the age of eighty-three. At the time of the 1871 census the Solomon and Aarons families had fourteen children between them. Another family, the Steinarts from Nimerstal, Poland, had settled in Hanley with their two babies. Herman and Esther Leberman from Germany, a young married couple, along with their board? ers John (Abraham) and Philip Burski (the names Leberman and Burski occur with several variations in spelling) were living in Newcastle Street, Burslem. Together with the children, a number of single men lodging in the town and the doubtful Leib family, the community still consisted of only thirty individuals. After George Mayer's death this small group must have found another place to meet and pray, probably in a private house. Local tradition says that the house was in Marsh Street and that George Mayer left it to the community, but there is no record of Mayer leaving a will and the exact location of the meeting place remains a mystery. Nevertheless, soon after? wards, early in 1872, this optimistic little band had written to the Chief Rabbi for a shochet and was already registered as a congregation.18 Joseph Solomon became the first president and held office for at least five years. The community began seeking suitable premises and, according to the Jewish Chronicle, had 'a nice room fitted up for worship for the holydays as a temporary synagogue'. This they equipped with a fine mahogany Ark sent by a Mr Marks of Sheffield and a Sefer Torah, a gift from Sir Moses Montefiore and described as the finest in the country.19 It is usually stated that the congregation was founded in 1873, but the key date was actually 9 October 1872, which is when the first service was 18 JC5julyi872,p.2o4. 19 JC ii Oct. 1872, p. 388. io8</page><page sequence="13">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 recorded as having being held in the temporary premises, although the location was not mentioned. Full of hope, the new congregation set about raising funds to erect a permanent synagogue. It soon became clear that they could not afford to build one, but fortunately some Welsh Presbyterians had outgrown their chapel in Hanover Street and in 1870 had been given permission by the Circuit to sell it to the Jews to convert it into a synagogue.20 Terms were agreed, but the funds were insufficient. The Jewish Chronicle of 14 June 1872 printed a first list of donors to the new synagogue: Sir Moses Montefiore, Bart., 'Sepher Torah' &amp;c (value ?100) Rev. Dr. Adler ?1. 0. o hanley: 5 guineas J. Solomon, ?5. o. 0 I. Aaron, ?2. 10. o E. Stainart, D. Pries [Price?] 2 guineas H. Libeman, J. Aaronson, H. Buirski 1 guinea L. Barnett, S. Stainart, J. Goldbloom, H. Landel, A. G. Price ios 6d A. Gensberg, P. Berkinstadt, S. Aaronson, L. Fisher, G. Davis J. Livingston, M. Saimer, J. Aaron, A. Solomon, B. Bartlestem birmingham: M.Joseph, M. Davis, L. Hyams, D. Friedlander, I. Cohen, Mrs E. Cohen, P. Cohen, A. Danziger, I. Aaron, I. Lazarus, Goldman, Martin Behn (Hamburg), Rogers (Coventry), Henry Berens, S. &amp; E. Abrahams, Fridlander, I. Abel, Morris, Rosenthal, E. Emanuel, Isaac Davis, Joseph Emanuel, Mrs Samuels, L. Robert, Joseph &amp; Sons, Myers &amp; Son, E. Noah, A. Nathan, L. C. Cohen, Moses Moses, L. Rosenberg, Spiers, L. A. Abrahams, Siranca, N. Bellman. The obituary for Fanny Falk, George Mayer's daughter, who died in 1906,21 states that the Hanley Synagogue owed its existence to her. But this was written some thirty-five years after the event and family memories are not always reliable. Her name does not appear in the list of original donors, but she was listed as a collector in Manchester, albeit not until some weeks after the original appeal was launched. Although her own donation was a relatively modest 2 guineas, as a fundraiser with her son-in-law Philip Falk, she raised the respectable sum of ?64.6s. In addition, Philip Falk provided a 20 'Yr oeddynt eisoes wedi cael caniatad i werthu yr hen gapel er 1870, a'r hyn a wnaethant i'r Iddewon er gwneud synagog o hono.' Mr Ieuan Jones kindly provided, translated and summa? rized this account from Griffith Owen, Hanes Methodistiaeth Sir Fflint ['History of the Methodist Causes of Fflintshire'], (Dolgelli 1914) 588-91. 21 JfC 31 Aug. 1906, p. 28-9. 109</page><page sequence="14">Shula P Moreland mortgage loan of ?100 to secure the purchase. The Falks were becoming seriously wealthy and by 1891 the family, including Fanny, were living in Palace Gardens, Kensington, nowadays known colloquially as Billionaire's Row.22 It had been intended to delay the opening of the new synagogue until it would be free of debt, but when it became clear that this ambition could not be achieved, the building was consecrated in September 1875. A contempo? rary report described it as follows: 'It is a small building of unpretentious architectural features. It will accommodate 100 persons in the ground area and about 40 in the ladies' gallery. There is a spacious schoolroom adjoining and a residence for the minister. The congregation is much indebted to Mr. Phillip Falk who kindly undertook all the arrangements for the purchase of the building and otherwise lent a helping hand.'23 On the foundation stone of the Birch Terrace Synagogue in Hanley (finally laid in 1922), Jacob Alexander is named as a founder member of the congregation, but he too is not listed among the original donors. His name appears in the records only some eight or nine years later when he was involved in acquiring land in Newcastle for the cemetery. But his son-in law Charles Jacobs played a key role in the congregation for about ten years from 1875, especially during a difficult period in the 1880s when Philip Falk wanted to call in his loan.24 The Alexander family continued to be generous supporters and benefactors to the congregation long after they had become prosperous and left the area. In April 1873, before the consecration had taken place, Abraham John Buirski, who had been lodging with Hyman (aka) Herman (the names of members of the Leberman and Burski families, and others, occur with several variations in spelling) and Esther Leberman on census night, married Sarah, the daughter of Joseph Solomon. The Jewish Chronicle reported that it 'was the first Jewish wedding in the Potteries and had been held in the temporary synagogue in Foundry Street'.25 It was said to have 'caused quite a stir'. This report is the first record of the synagogue's loca? tion. Yet the Staffordshire Daily Sentinel's detailed report of the same event placed it in Fountain Street, and noted that interest was so great that the street was blocked by crowds.26 The local paper's reporter recorded the ceremony and described the 'upper room in a new building, the ark covered 22 Census 1891. 23 JC 24 Sept. 1875, p. 420/4. 24 Chief Rabbi's Archive (hereafter CRA), London Metropolitan Archives (by permission of Charles Tucker, London Beth Din), series of letters involving several writers, Jan. to June 1884. 25 JC 11 April 1873, p. 26-7. 26 Staffordshire Daily Sentinel. 110</page><page sequence="15">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 by white curtains, the candles, the chupah, the minister's reading desk and pews either side'. The Jewish Chronicle reported that the bridegroom gave a gift of provisions to a hundred poor people,27 whereas the Staffordshire Daily Sentinel said it was the bride's father.28 During the 1870s the Jewish population of Hanley began to grow, partly because it had a synagogue and partly because the Jewish press was actively soliciting new settlers.29 But the new congregation and in particular the Buirski family were in the news for reasons other than the new synagogue. In 1875, under the headline 'RAID ON THE JEWS', the local paper reported that 'The keeper of a house in Bryan Street, Hanley was this morning fined for permitting Sunday gambling in his house. The house? keeper and three others found in the house are Jews.'30 The four men involved were named as Solomon Steinhart, Jordan Alexander, John Gregg and Julius Aaron. Two of the Buirski brothers had reported them to the police after Steinhart had insulted Henry Buirski. The incident was witnessed by Barnet Buirski, who gave evidence in court. The report explained that the men had been playing 'flappery hash', which Mr Bodley the magistrate 'supposed was the Hebrew name for it'. It is believed that the game in question may have been 'Clabberyash',31 which would have been an unfamiliar word to Potteries ears. Henry Buirski told the court that he was a glazier by trade and had been in England for fifteen months. His brother, Barnet Buirski, described as a trav? elling jeweller, 'was sworn in the Jewish manner'. The newspaper reported that one of his answers was unintelligible, partly due to his foreign accent. Barnet Buirski had recently married a local girl called Ann Wolfindale in Christ Church in nearby Stone, and told the court: 'I am no Jew now. I was a Jew before. I don't go to the synagogue'. But, he continued, 'Yesterday being a bit of a holiday I went to the synagogue to see what was going on. I have married an English woman.' Many families at that time would have disowned a son who married a Gentile girl, but it appears that he was still on good terms with his family and even felt able to drop in to the shul. Maybe that was the cause of the insults that led to the incident. This amusing story also had its serious side. The case became a subject of discussion by both the Board of Deputies in London and the Lord's Day Observance Society.32 27 JfC ii April 1873, p. 26-7. 28 Staffordshire Daily Sentinel. 29 JC March 1873, p. 750. 30 Staffordshire Daily Sentinel 22 March 1875, p. 2. 31 A card game for two or more players, probably of central European origin. The name is spelled in a variety of ways, occasionally with an initial 'k\ I am grateful to Lorna Kay, Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, for this suggestion. 32 7C29 Oct. 1875, p. 499. III</page><page sequence="16">Shula P Moreland Less than a month later, Barnet Buirski found himself in court and reported in the newspaper again. A petition of bankruptcy had been filed against the jewellers Hyman Leberman and Abraham John Buirski.33 Leberman and both Abraham and Philip Buirski had been described as glaziers and printers in the 1871 census and all three were listed as Naturalized British Subjects. Charges were laid to decide the validity of a deed of assignment of the furniture and stock-in-trade made to Barnet Buirski. The document appeared to have been backdated, while Leberman and Abraham Buirski had absconded. Esther and Hyman or Leiberman and several of the Buirski family emigrated to South Africa. Hyman Leiberman became the first Jewish mayor of Cape Town and was instrumental in providing the magnificent public library there.34 The 1881 census During the rest of the 1870s, once it had a synagogue and school, Hanley, described by the Jewish Chronicle as 'this enterprising little congregation',35 began to attract new families. By the time of the 1881 census there were 37 Jewish families living in Hanley, including 158 individuals in all. These, with a further 33 lodgers and boarders, made a total population of 191. It was a young community: 20 of the 37 heads of households were aged between 20 and 30 and there were 90 children. Figure 1, based on the 1881 census, shows the routes of arrival in North Staffordshire as indicated by the birthplaces of the older children, while Figure 2 shows that most of the children in the community had been born in Britain, the majority in Staffordshire. Figure 3 gives a list of the men's occupations. Most were glaziers and in their early twenties. George Livingstone and Hyam Jacobs, both glass merchants, may have been providing 'entry profession' opportu? nities for some of the newcomers. The majority of the older men were tailors and shopkeepers. Ten households included a live-in servant. Among the temporary residents in the 1881 census was Louis Barber, a seventy four-year-old hawker from Plotsk, enumerated in the workhouse. This was quite unusual, since Jewish communities usually looked after their own needy. For instance, the Hanley and Wolverhampton congregations coop? erated in providing food at Pesach for Jewish prisoners in Stafford Gaol.36 During the industrial expansion of North Staffordshire, settlers arrived 33 Staffordshire Daily Sentinel, o April 1875, p. 3. 34 Buirski Miscellany, Jewish Studies Library, University of Cape Town, South Africa. 35 jfC 21 March 1873, p. 750. 36 Synagogue Minute Books (hereafter SMB), currently held Sydney Morris, MBE, President, Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Hebrew Congregation. 112</page><page sequence="17">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 181 i-iqoi Figure i Census 1881: Routes of arrival in North Staffordshire based on children's birthplaces. ? staffs '/ other uk ? overseas Figure 2 Census 1881: Children's birthplaces. in the new towns from Staffordshire villages and from many parts of England, Wales and Ireland. Members of the Jewish community lived among other newcomers and their shops and small businesses provided services needed by all. This, and their comparatively small numbers, may have been one reason for their generally unproblematic acceptance by the non-Jewish population. Even before the new synagogue in Hanover Street had been consecrated, however, there were reports in the press of'unpleasantness'.37 No details were given, and it could not then have been anticipated that unpleasantness, 37 JC 'Town and Table Talk', 31 July 1874, p. 288/2. "3</page><page sequence="18">Shula P Moreland minister tinplate worker furniture dealer writing clerk financial manager butcher grocer optical dealer ^ssa paper dealers clothiers 1^^$???^ jewellers ksassass? lead/glass dealers ^mm ; hawkers/travellers w^w-mmiwrnm tailors sc^x&gt;03&lt;y&gt;^ glaziers ^v^aa^^^^ 1 Iii! 10 Figure 3 Census 1881: Jewish occupations, North Staffordshire. discord and division were to become the hallmark of the Hanley congrega? tion for the next fifty years. This was still in its infancy when the exodus from Russia began to impact on Britain. New families continued to arrive in North Staffordshire during the 1880s, but this turned out to be a mixed blessing. The fledgling community was rather like a frontier town, and frontier towns attract a mixed bag of migrants. As well as hard-working pioneers there are also opportunists and scoundrels. The ensuing culture clash had devastating results. Furthermore, the new congregation had only shallow roots and there were numerous power struggles and much jockey? ing for position. The early leaders of the Hanley congregation had been either British-born or Anglicized Jews. English-speaking congregations did not enjoy having their children instructed by men newly arrived from Russia who spoke little or no English and were unfamiliar with British customs and culture. The Revd Mark L. Harris, their London-born minister and teacher, had left and there was a shortage of young Englishmen training to be ministers. The Chief Rabbi, Nathan Marcus Adler, admired certain aspects of the organiza? tion of the Church of England, in particular the placing of an educated man in even the smallest parish. Accordingly, he assigned senior men as visiting ministers to oversee clusters of small congregations. As the Revd A. A. Green toured his circuit, which included Hanley, he recognized the same group of people turning up in one community after another, claiming char? ity. In a letter to the editor of the Jewish Chronicle he thundered against these 114</page><page sequence="19">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 professional beggars who were making a career of bleeding small congrega? tions dry of their limited funds.38 Small provincial communities needed to be pragmatic to survive. Their discussions about which adaptations were acceptable and which were not must have provided fertile ground for argument and fracture. In addition, since numbers were small, the arrival of only two or three new families could tip the balance of opinion, leading to instability. This was almost certainly the case in the early years of Hanley. Whereas a large community can support more than one congregation and thus accommodate different views and practices, a small community cannot. Dr Nathan Abrams, who has stud? ied small congregations in Scotland and North Wales, made the astute observation that a small provincial congregation is not merely a scaled-down version of a large city one, but of an entirely different character.39 In 1881 a schism occurred and a second congregation was set up. The Jewish Chronicle no longer wrote of'this enterprising little congregation', but rather that Hanley had 'the melancholy distinction' of being a prime example of the worst type of schism and dissent.40 Charles Jacobs, a Welsh born tailor living in Burslem, tried to resolve the problem. He was married to Regina, daughter of Jacob Alexander (not, apparently, related to Jordan Alexander of the card-playing incident), and spent ten years in the Potteries, playing a major role in the early years of the congregation and serving as president for a year. Jacobs sought the help of Mr Aronsberg JP, of Manchester, in healing the rift. In 1883, following a reconciliation meet? ing that took place on the neutral ground of Hanley Town Hall, the community marched back through the streets together, to Hanover Street, calling themselves the Hanley United Congregation. But by 1885 Charles Jacobs had left, moving first to Nottingham and then to Glasgow, and between then and 1889 - the exact date is uncertain - another rift had occurred. Synagogue minute books exist from the year 1889 and mention of 'the opposition' appears soon after. Gaps in the records during the follow? ing years appear to coincide with community disputes. The 1891 and 1901 censuses The 1891 census shows a population of about forty households, just three more than in the 1881 census. But this does not mean the community was static, even if its make-up had changed. Twenty-six families had departed 38 7C4junei886,p. 8. 39 Speaking at the Northern Conference of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, 2006. 40 JC2S May 1883, pp. 8-9. "5</page><page sequence="20">Shula P Moreland 500 i 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 Census Year Figure 4 Growth of North Staffordshire Jewish population. during the previous decade, leaving only sixteen of the 1881 families in the area; the rest were new arrivals who far outnumbered the old-timers. All but one of the original 'English Jews' who had founded the congregation had left. By 1901 the census records show a Jewish population of about seventy-eight households, consisting of 492 individuals including lodgers and travellers. Figure 4 shows the growth of the population of the North Staffordshire Jewish congregation over several decades. Meanwhile a cemetery had been acquired. In the early days of the community the dead had to be transported to Manchester or Birmingham, which was both distressing and costly. Following difficult negotiations with the local council, the jeweller Joseph Solomon and the tailor Jacob Alexander decided to ask the Duke of Sutherland, owner of much of the land in the area, for help. It is said that when they went to his Trentham estate one afternoon in 1881 the Duke wanted generously to donate some ground on the London Road. When the men explained that a Jewish ceme? tery must always be purchased, a token one pound was agreed. At the foun? dation-laying in 1922, Adolph Alexander, son of Jacob, related a version of this tale, but did not mention the sum of one pound. It is possible that the story was elaborated in subsequent years.41 But this charming tale does not agree with the written records, which report that the land was offered for a 'liberal' sum; ?200 was quoted. Yet, if the land was indeed given in exchange for the peppercorn pound, it might have been deemed wise to keep this arrangement discreet for fear of arousing envy in the wider community. The first burial took place in 1884. 41 Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel 5 Oct. 1922. n6</page><page sequence="21">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 Three more congregations and two reluctant teachers Around the year 1881, the Welsh-born Barnett Beirnstein, fresh from help? ing to found a synagogue in Blackburn, Lancashire, arrived in Burton-on Trent, in mid-Staffordshire, determined to do the same again.42 Services were held in his home. The Chief Rabbi sent Samuel Segelman to be shochet and teacher for the new congregation. Shortly afterwards, Beirnstein's recently widowed sister, Annie Hollander, joined him in Burton with her children and set up a boot and shoe shop in Station Street. But before long the nomadic Mr Beirnstein decided to move on again, this time to Derby where a new congregation was forming, and he invited Sam Segelman to accompany him. In a letter dated 7 February 5647 (1887), the distraught and furious Widow Hollander was moved to write to the Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler, on behalf of her 'fatherless children', pointing out that there were several children to be taught in Burton and none in Derby.43 Her letter, with its everyday details, helps to paint a picture of Jewish provincial life in the 1880s. 'Mr Sagelman [sic] at the very first objected to teach' and 'When we begd [sic] of Mr Beirnstein to write to you for a shochet and teacher it was really the teacher that we required', adding that 'I belong to the Birmingham congregation and we are very close to Nottingham and Leicester where we could get our meat cheaper than here'. To forestall any excuses from Segelman, she advised Dr Adler that 'you will see how the two places can be worked together Derby is only ten miles from here; a season ticket can be had for 3/6 a week. Mr Sagelman [sic] has plenty of time to go to Derby to kill &amp; still remain in Burton &amp; so keep our little flock together.' Sam Segelman indeed moved to Derby, but the congregation in Burton continued to meet for prayers in private houses. For the festivals they hired the Masonic Hall, borrowing a shofar from Nottingham. There was an active Jewish presence in the town at least until 1911, and the congregation produced a number of notables, including Michael, the son of the tailor Louis Balcon, who lived in Burton as a child and became the founder of Ealing film studios.44 Annie Hollander's son Joel founded the Wolfe and Hollander furniture company whose pieces are now collectors' items. Another reluctant teacher was unwittingly responsible for the founding of a further new congregation, this time in the Potteries. In 1889 Samuel Goldstone, a tailor and outfitter, had just retired from the presidency of the 42 PRO Census, Burton-on-Trent 1881. 43 CRA, London Metropolitan Archives. 44 PRO Census, Burton-on-Trent 1901. ii7</page><page sequence="22">Shula P Moreland Hanover Street synagogue following a 'futile' ballot in which it was discov? ered that there were more vouchers than voters.45 He had moved to Longton, about four and a half miles from Hanley, where there were at least seven Jewish families comprising about fifty individuals including twenty children aged between three and thirteen. In November 1889 Goldstone asked the committee in Hanover Street on behalf of the Longton families whether Samuel Sumberg, the minister and teacher, could come to Longton to teach their children. The committee replied that 'Mr Sumberg could not sacrifice his time to do so'.46 A few weeks later, in February 1890, an item appeared in the Jewish Chronicle under the heading of'LONGTON': 'The Jews living in this town have long been under the hardship of having to travel over four miles to attend a place of worship and procure kosher meat. Through the increase in the number of Jewish families they will now be able to hold a minyan and to support a minister or at least a shochet. A meeting was held last Sunday when it was decided to take steps for engaging a minister.'47 Mr A. Rosenberg of Manchester was unanimously elected.48 At Rosh Hashanah 1890 the Jewish Chronicle reported that 'Services were held at the residence of Mr S. Goldstone, Market Street and were attended by all the members of the congregation. The Rev J. Birnbaum and the Rev. Mr. Davis of Birmingham both officiated.49 But just as the new Longton congregation was preparing to celebrate the New Year and Yom Kippur, a General Meeting was being held in the Hanover Street synagogue at which it was decided that the Longtonians would not be allowed access to 'privi? leges' (probably the cemetery and mikveh) unless they paid for membership in Hanley as well, and in addition paid arrears for the time of their absence.50 Although the holy days were celebrated in Longton it seems that the congregation survived for only one year. The fourth congregation - Glass Street The Hanover Street congregational records exist only from 1889, but by the early 1890s there were references to 'the opposition'. Despite the recon? ciliation of 1883 there was yet another schism in Hanley, and a breakaway group set up a rival congregation. It has not yet been possible to ascertain 45 SMB 13 Oct. 1889. 46 Ibid. 3 Nov. 1889. 47 JC 21 Feb. 1890, p. 14. 48 jfC 11 April 1890, p. 16. 49 JC 19 September 1890, p. 14. 50 SMB 31 August 1890. n8</page><page sequence="23">Jewish settlement in Staffordshire: the early years, 1811-1901 Plate 6 Detail of title-page showing the book-stamp of the New Synagogue in Glass Street. exactly who they were or where they met. Some time later, another clash within the Hanover Street congregation led to some influential members leaving and joining the dissenters. In 1897 premises in Glass Street were officially registered as a synagogue. (See Plate 6.) Much could be written about this period in the community's history. Among other things, the Glass Street group were early supporters of the then new cause of Zionism. However, the dispute between Hanover Street and Glass Street became such a problem that finally, in 1901, the new Chief Rabbi, Herman Adler, came to Hanley to attempt a reconciliation. He called a public meeting for 'all Jews' of the town and told them, in a nutshell, that the community was too small to support more than one congregation, that the Hanover Street synagogue was unfit to be a place of worship and that they should learn to get along with one another.51 His words must have had some effect, as a mood of cooperation began to be seen. In 1903 land was purchased in Birch Terrace for the first purpose built synagogue. In 1916, another major dispute divided the membership and it was not until October 1922 that the foundation stones were laid by Adolph, the son of Jacob Alexander, fifty years after a purpose-built syna? gogue had first been planned by Joseph Solomon and his neighbours.52 51 JC 17 May 1901, pp. 22/3. 52 Staffordshire Weekly Sentinel, 7 October 1922. Press-cutting in Congregational papers. ii9</page><page sequence="24">Shula P. Moreland The new synagogue was consecrated on 6 September 1923 with great celebrations,53 and served the congregation for more than eighty years. In the 1940s membership was so great that extra chairs and benches had to be provided, but numbers gradually declined and the building was eventually far too big for a membership of twenty-two to maintain and was sold.54 In 2006 a new dual-purpose building was consecrated on the site of the former one and now serves the small remaining congregation. 53 Staffordshire (Weekly) Sentinel 6 September 1923. Press-cutting in Congregational papers. Header not shown. 54 Oral evidence, Sydney Morris, MBE (Synagogue President). 120</page></plain_text>