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Miscellanies: Alexander Raphael M. P.

Albert M. Hyamson

<plain_text><page sequence="1">ALEXANDER RAPHAEL, M.P. Who was Alexander Raphael ? Hitherto the name is unknown in Anglo-Jewish history, except for one very unobtrusive appearance on the very edge of the field. This is on page xix of Volume 35 of the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society where in a list of gifts to the Library of the Society mention is made of " a broadsheet of the Order of Procession, November 10, 1834, at the induction of the Lord Mayor of London, showing Alexander Raphael as one of the two sheriffs ". Alexander Raphael was a member of parliament from 1847 until his death on the 11 th November, 1850, having been elected for the Borough of St. Albans as a Whig, after two previous unsuccessful attempts to enter Parliament as an extreme Radical. However, on another occasion, in 1835, he was momentarily successful. The two Conservative members for Carlow County having been unseated on petition Raphael was put forward by Daniel O'Connell, the Liberator, as one of his candi? dates. As transpired later there was, however, a somewhat curious financial arrange? ment between the two, Raphael undertaking to pay O'Connell as a contribution towards the expenses of the other candidate ?1,000 before nomination and a further ?1,000 on election. This first sum Raphael paid and he was elected on the 20th June and took his seat in the House of Commons. A petition was, however, presented against his return. Under pressure he paid the second sum of ?1,000 to O'Connell and was then advised by him to give up the seat, because his defence against the petition was hopeless, the inquiry having been referred to a Tory committee. Raphael, however, persisted. His majority of 56 was turned into a minority of 49 and he thereupon found himself out of Parliament. A very angry public correspondence with O'Connell followed. The aftermath of this political escapade, it was said, was to be found in the blackballing of Raphael when he was nominated for a Fellowship of the Royal Society shortly afterwards. Raphael was a citizen of London of great wealth, the owner of property in Sussex, Surrey, and elsewhere and the developer of the newly established town of Surbiton, where he had his country seat. He served as Sheriff of London and Middle? sex in 1834 and had previously held some of the principal municipal offices in Kingston-on-Thames. He was also described as an excellent scholar and apart from his claims to fellowship of the Royal Society, was a Member of the* Royal Asiatic Society. He moreover held a position in society, his membership of Brookes' Club having been sponsored by Lord Cowper and Lord Althorp, among others. Raphael was described 2 at the time of his death as " by descent an Armenian Jew, but in religion a Roman Catholic ". He was very generous to his religious 2 Gentleman's Magazine, xxxv, pp. 97 and 98,</page><page sequence="2">226 miscellanies community, having devoted during the last few years of his life more than ?100,000 mainly for the building of churches. The Gentleman's Magazine also adds that " he opposed the Jewish claims (to emancipation), and it was remarked that he was the only Roman Catholic member that did so, except Mr. Moore of Mayo ". In the debate in the House of Commons on the Third Reading of the Jewish Disabilities Bill on the 4th May, 1848, he spoke in opposition, although a general supporter of the Government that had sponsored the measure. He did so on the ground that the Jews were responsible for the Crucifixion and had accepted that responsibility for all time. They could be relieved of this responsibility only by baptism and such relief he trusted " was an event which was not far distant". There was an obvious retort to this speech and it came from the next speaker, J. Brotherton. " The hon. gentleman who had just sat down, being a Roman Catholic, was not entitled twenty years ago to a seat in that House ; and now he testified his gratitude for the privilege conferred upon him, by using his power in order to exclude from the House a portion of his fellow-subjects."1 Raphael left at his death over a quarter of a million pounds in personalty and a still more valuable real estate. His only sister is said to have died six weeks after him, but this is incorrect?he was survived only by a brother?and the sole heir to his property was a nephew. I am indebted to the late Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson, Bart., for Alexander Raphael's family tree as far as it can be traced. He was born at Madras on the 5th June, 1775, the eldest son of Edward Raphael who was born at New Jufa, near Ispahan, Persia, and died on the 25th June, 1791, aged 52, on board ship on his way to England. Edward Raphael had married Mary, eldest daughter of Manuel Stephen of Bengal, possibly an Armenian, at Madras in 1772. She died on the 13th August, 1790, at Madras. They had four sons and two daughters. Alexander the eldest has been mentioned. Stephen, the third, died young, and Lewis, the youngest son (1785-1851), settled in England at Hendon. He was unmarried and was the last survivor of the family. The two daughters were Anne who married in Madras, and Anna Maria who married in London. John the second son was born like his brothers in Madras, in 1776, settled in London and married in 1810 Mary, daughter of Charles Calvert of Manchester. He committed suicide in November, 1838, and his widow died in Germany in 1873. They had four sons and three daughters, of whom the last to die was the youngest son Lewis, in 1907 in his 85th year. Only the youngest daughter, Agnes, had children. She married the fourth Earl of Mexborough and had two sons and two daughters. The present Earl, the seventh, is a grandson. Albert M. Hyamson. 1 Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 3rd Series, Vol. xcviii, 637 and 638.</page></plain_text>