England Additional Jewish Records (National Institute)
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Non-Anglican Church Records by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Other Jewish Records
- Death Notices and Obituaries
Death notices occur in newspapers as with Christians, and the more important families left obituaries in regular or Jewish newspapers, locally or nationally. Abstracts of the Jewish ones from the Gentleman’s Magazine 1731-1868 have been published by the Jewish Historical Society of England.
- Jewish Friendly Societies
There were a number of Jewish Friendly Societies, Benefit Societies, Burial Societies (chevra kadisha) and Loan Societies and the PRO has several FS classes of records dealing with their rules and activities. From 1770 Jews were eligible to become freemasons and three lodges had a high proportion of Jewish members—Tranquility, Joppa and the Lodge of Israel. Lewis (My Ancestor Was A Freemason. Society of Genealogists, 1999) gives details on how to trace their records.
- Jewish Newspapers
The Jewish Chronicle has been published regularly since the 1840s and has a wealth of genealogical information in the form of birth, bar mitzvah, marriage (especially those which took place abroad), death announcements, and obituaries including the origin of the deceased. Partial indexes are available, and a good descriptive article is that by Berger (The Jewish Victorian and the Victorian Jews in The Genealogical Services Directory. Family and Local History Handbook. Genealogical Services Directory 5th edition, 2001). The Jewish Chronicle Library has back issues and can be accessed through their website.
- Jewish Schools
The Jews set great store by education, especially study of the Torah, and really made an effort to see that their children learned to read and write. This was difficult as so many were poor, but more affluent Jews founded the Jews Free School in East London in 1817 to assist their fellows. There have been some private Jewish schools since the early 19th century. Entry to regular public and private schools was limited to a few schools such as St. Paul’s Hammersmith, Merchant Taylor’s, City of London, and Clifton College. The first university to admit Jews was Durham in 1832 and London did so in 1836, with many more from the late 19th century, including Oxford and Cambridge from 1871.
- Jewish Shops and Businesses
Licensing for Sunday trading by Jewish traders who did not work on Saturdays as it was their Sabbath, can be found in series HO 239 at the PRO.
- Membership and Seat Holders Lists
Each synagogue had these lists which may cover several generations of families.
- Offering Books
These recorded donations by male members of the synagogue, usually all but the very poorest.
Since they were not affiliated with the Christian hierarchy Jewish wills before 1858 were not probated in the lower ecclesiastical courts but only in the PCC (Prerogative Court of Canterbury). It is particularly important to find the wills of the original immigrants in the family, since they often mention their relatives in their homeland. Arnold (Anglo-Jewish Wills and Letters of Administration in Anglo-Jewish Notabilities, their arms and testamentary dispositions. Jewish Historical Society. FHL film 0990054) published a list of PCC wills of those with Jewish names from 1383-1848 which is on FHL film 0990054. Since 1858 Jewish wills have been in the single national probate registry index. Instructions for finding the indexes, wills, administrations and other probate documents for the PCC and the Probate Registry are given in the National Institute for Genealogical Studies course English: Probate Records.
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