A Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom

Posted By Ann Rabinowitz
One of the more interesting resources for scouting out information on your ancestor’s commercial activities in the United Kingdom and, particularly, in Ireland, is a book little known outside the United Kingdom.  It was published in 1894 and is entitled “A Commercial Directory of the Jews of the United Kingdom” by G. Eugene Harfield, London and Richmond, U.S.A.:  Hewlett & Pierce, 1894.  This book was brought to my attention by David Lentin who posts regularly on the Shalom Ireland digest and is researching his Irish roots.
When reaching the site, click on the image of the book and then click on the small image of a page above the book.  This will allow you to scroll through each page easily.  There is also a search engine to the right of the page.  Due to the OCR technology used to scan this directory, you may find difficulties in locating what you want as the technology is not perfect, but generally searches will return the correct item. 
The actual entries provide information such as the first and last name of the person, the street number, the description or name of the business the person is engaged in and sometimes the date the business was established. 

The directory provides a wonderful means of connecting its entries with those in the following on-line resources:
The directory, as in many other United Kingdom and colonial resources, only provides a first initial for the first name.  Therefore, these additional resources can be utilized to locate the actual first name of the directory’s entries.  The other resources can also provide further information on the families of those found in the directory.
This book has much to offer, especially for the Irish entries which are to be found encompassed on Pages 230 – 241.  Due to the fact that many Irish records were burned in a fire, the directory provides invaluable information for this period.  When combined with the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census records, much can be learned about the Irish Jews.  The towns listed with the particular streets covered are as follows:   
Belfast – Bedeque Street, Bedford Street, Berry Street, Cromac Street, Cullingtree Road, Divis Street, Donegall Pass, Donegall Square, Fountain Street, Gresham Street, Mill Street, New King Street, Old Lodge Road, Shankhill Road, Ventry Street, York Street. 
Cork – Albert Street (Monrea Terrace), Bridge Street and Candel Place, Douglas Street, Great George’s Street, Hibernian Buildings, Marina Terrace, North Main Street, Old George’s Street, Rockboro’s Road, University, Victoria Road, 
Dublin – Aston Quay, Aungier Street, Bray, Dame Street, Dawson Street, Fleet Street, Grafton Street, Great Brunswick Street, Kildare Street, Leeson Park, Lower Camdon Street, Lower Clanbrassel Street, Lower Gardiner Street, Lower Sackville Street, Mary Street, Merrion Square, Nassau Street, Parliament Street, Portobello Road, Rathmines, Raymond Street, St. Andrew Street, South Circular Road, South Frederick, Suffolk Street, Talbot Street, Trinity Street, Welington Quay, Wicklow Street.
Limerick – Colooney Street, Emmett Place, George Street, Mt. Pleasant Avenue, Westland Street, Windmill Street. 
Londonderry – Victoria Terrace 
Waterford – John Street, Johnstown, Manor Street,

The directory lists towns in both Northern Ireland and what later became the Irish Republic.  Several examples follow: 

BELFAST - Shankhill Road
  • Appleton, Jac., 23, Cumberland Street; Clothier, draper, and general house-furnisher.
  • Appleton, Ph., 19, Perth Street; Draper and general dealer.
  • Wolfson, S., 28, Crosbey Street; Draper and general dealer.
Note how all of the individuals listed on this street had similar occupations.  Another example from Cork includes the establishment date of the commercial enterprises:

CORK - Albert Street.
  • Clein, L.S. [Lawrence S.], 4, Monrea Terrace; Wholesale draper, furnisher, and boot dealer.  Est. 1882.
  • Elyan, Meyer, 9, Monrea Terrace; General draper and jeweler.  Est. 1881.
  • Sayers, G. [George], 8, Monrea Terrace; General dealer. Est. 1883.
The provision of dates for the establishment of a person’s business is very helpful indeed.  It can assist the researcher in measuring how long an ancestor may have been in a particular locality. The dates for Cork, for example, give 1881 as the earliest of the listed businesses. 
As an aside regarding Lawrence S. Clein, it can be determined from the above listing in the “Commercial Directory” that he was in Cork as early as 1882.  Further, he later moved to Dublin where he is found in the 1911 Census as a commercial traveler in furniture and hardware.  
In 1911, his family had now grown to twelve children (Benjamin, Simon, Esther, Annie, Moses, Rosie, Sarah, Arthur, David, Hymen, Bertha, and Gertie), who were all born in Cork except the last three.  The last child born in Cork, David, was born in 1905 and the first child born in Dublin, Hyman, was born in 1906 which means that somewhere between 1905-1906, the family pulled up stakes and moved.  By just using the directory and the census, one can get a clear snapshot of this family’s comings and goings.

A full list of all those who were listed in Cork, at the time, follows:
I. Abrahamson                             I. Jackson
D., Bremsen                                W. Jackson
L. Clein                                       J. Jalkinowitz
L.S. [Lawrence S.] Clein                 Lewis Glasser
Sol Clein                                      Sol Kriger
A.M. [Abraham M.] Edelstein          Aaron Levin
Meyer Elyan                                 Rev. J.E. Myers
S. Goldberg                                 I. Rosenthal
Prof. [Marcus] Hartog                    G. [George] Sayers
E.L. Jackson                                S. Sayers
Hy Jackson                                  S. [Simon] Spiro
If one were to check in the 1911 Irish Census, many of these Cork Jews would now be found in Dublin.  This move may have occurred due to better business or educational opportunities or because of family ties.
The reason for my interest in Cork was that I had been looking for my cousin Aubrey’s grandparents there.  I found that it was his grandmother Ellen Kopeliansky who was from Cork and her family is not found in the directory as can be seen from the listing above.  Ellen married Hoseas Weiner.  He came to Dublin from Riga, Latvia, in 1883, and was wed to Ellen at 22, Tuckey Street, Cork, by Rev. S.E. Levinson, on September 16, 1887.
Therefore, Hoseas can be found in the Dublin listing of the directory at:

DUBLIN – Talbot Street
H. Weiner & Co., 33, Talbot Street; complete house-furnishers.  Branch:  51, Thomas Street.
The couple lived to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary and played a vital and integral role in the life of the Dublin Jewish community.
A final example from Dublin is for a woman.  This is one of the few entries for a woman and the description below provides a rather encompassing description of her business in which she trades in quite a number of items: 
DUBLIN - Aston Quay
Marks, Mrs. Em. E., 1; Purchaser and dealer in Ladies’ and gentlemen’s clothing, and naval and military uniforms, jewelry, and antiques.  Est. 1859.
Quite the entrepreneur was Mrs. Marks with a variety of merchandise to be had.  It is just such a listing that provides a unique view of the person’s commercial life.
As can be seen, there were many well-established commercial interests in 1894 in the large towns.  However, there were many more unrecorded travelers, peddlers or tally men who roamed the roads and outlying villages in search of customers and a living wage.
The tally man was an individual who went door-to-door and provided credit for his customers.  He kept track of these dealings on a tally sheet and returned regularly to his customers to collect money from them.  The dream of every roaming tally man was to settle down in one place and rent a small niche and carry on a steady business.  Many finally did this as they saved money, learned the customs and language of the country a bit better and found just the right approach to earning a living.
In addition to the Irish entries, the entries for Wales are quite thought-provoking.  A surprisingly large amount of auctioneers and pawnbrokers are to be found throughout the country, if one looks closely enough.  The country was well-known for these professions and there were families where several generations followed in each other’s footsteps.
An example from Cardiff, Wales follows where nearly everyone on the street follows those professions: 
CARDIFF – Bute Street
  • Barnett, Louis, & Son, 19 and 49; and 6 and 7, Caroline Street; Pawnbrokers and jewelers.
  • Jacobs, Barnett, 41, 42; and 1, Herbert Street; Pawnbroker, jeweler, and outfitter.
  • Phillips, Israel, 13; Pawnbroker and jeweler.
  • Shapiro, S., 293; Picture-frame maker.
One of the most well-known Welsh Jewish families was the Wartski family.  However, you won’t find them in this directory as the town they lived in, Bangor, is not listed.  The Bangor Hebrew Congregation was only founded in 1894, the date the Commercial Directory was published, although by 1895, it had twelve seatholders according to “The Jewish Year Book 1896/97”.
It was Morris Wartski, who had first come to Wales in 1865 from Turek, Poland, and set up business in Bangor.  His son, Isidore (1879-1965), the most prominent Wartski family member, became the first Jewish Mayor in Wales (1939-1941).  Mayor Isidore Wartski is not to be confused with another Isidore Wartski (1890-1965) who came to England in 1911 from Kalisz, Poland, and was a well-known Hebraist who died in the same year.
Isador Wartski, Mayor of Bangor, Wales
(Courtesy of The National Trust)

A country which also has surprises for a researcher is that of Scotland.  As I was looking through the listings I came upon a familiar last name:
GLASGOW – Wellington Street, S.
MARGOLYES, S., 189:  Jeweller
As it turns out, S. [Simon] Margolyes was the great grandfather of Miriam Margolyes, well-known British character actress and genealogist.  Her family came to Glasgow in the 1870’s from Amdur now Indura, Belarus.  
Turning now to entries from England itself, a unique entry is from Liverpool, England which lists the following: 
LIVERPOOL – Hanover Street
Frece, Isaac de, 97; Lyceum chambers; Theatrical American lithographer
Isaac (Jack) de Frece was the brother of Henry (Harry) de Frece, a well-known theater entrepeneur.  Henry opened the Theatre Royal Palace of Varieties on August 21, 1871, in Liverpool.  Relative Maurice de Frece penned a farce which was performed there on February 24, 1873.
Subsequently, in 1874, Isaac de Frece took over as the lessee of the Theatre Royal as it was then known.  Other de Frece’s were Lauri de Frece, a great British comedian and son of Henry de Frece.  Another son of Henry de Frece was Sir Walter de Frece, a director of the De Frece Circuit.  He was one of the initial partners with Warner Brothers, was a creative song writer as well as husband of British music hall star Vesta Tilley. 
Sir Walter and Lady Tilley de Frece, 1917
(Courtesy National Library of Australia)

This entry was of particular note to me as my maternal grandfather, who lived in Manchester, had made clothing for Vesta Tilley.  It was not until I read the listing for the de Frece family in the Commercial Directory that I realized that Vesta’s husband was Jewish.
Another interesting Liverpool entry is: 
LIVERPOOL – Clarence Street

Nurick, H., 18; Wholesale and retail draper.
H. (Herman) Nurick, born in 1859, was the great grandfather of Peter Henry Goldsmith, Baron Goldsmith, who served as Her Majesty’s Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (2001-2007).
Lord Peter Henry Goldsmith, QC

Not to forget Manchester in this discussion of places of interest in this directory, there is found the following entry:

MANCHESTER – Nightingale Street
Ranbach, M. (Morris), 13, Nightingale street; and 25 and 43, Bury New road; Grocer and provision dealer.  Dealer in all kinds of tailors’ trimmings, Hebrew and English bookseller.  Silk and woolen talaisim.
This entry shows the diversity of things which one person could undertake to sell and in three different locales as well.  A branch of the family is later found in South Africa.
In London, there are so many fascinating and unique entries including a list of wholesale fruiterers in Spitalfields Market:

Carn, L.        Joel, S.            Nickolls, M.
Cohen, A.        Joseph, I.            Rothschild, D.
Costa, A. de        Levy, Hy.            Solomons, H.
Costo, D. de        Levy, I.            Solomons, R.
Isaacs, H.        Mordechai, Z.        Wehl & Tossell.
Israel, M.        Mordecai, Z. & Sons.    Wolf, G.
This is followed by a comparable listing for wholesale fruiterers in Covent Garden.  And, so, the directory is an excellent means of gathering information on particular professions in a certain location.

Another individual London entry is the following:

LONDON – Mile End East

Lewis Hanreck, 128; Hairdresser, perfumer, chiropodist, and surgical dentist.  He seems a quintessential renaissance man of diverse occupations.  His family also had a branch that went to South Africa. 

One of the more fascinating sections in the directory is called:  “Court Directory of the Jews of Gt. Britain” which is located on pages 123-133.  This pertains to many of the titled Jewish gentry such as: 

•    Sir Julian Goldsmid, Bart., M.P., F.R.G.S., M.R.S.L., D.L., J.P.
•    Sir Francis A. Montefiore, Bart.
•    Baron Alfred Chas. de Rothschild
•    Sir Saul Samuel, K.C.M.G., C.B.
•    Sir Albert Sassoon, Bart., C.S.I.
•    Baron De Worms, F.R.G.S., F.S.A., M.R.S.L., F.G.S., L.D., J.P.

The listing, for example, for Sir Saul Samuel, merchant and politician, reflects his birth in London in 1820, emigration to Australia and then return to London where he died in 1900.  At the time of his death, he was a Baronet and held several directorships and other offices in organizations in the United Kingdom and Australia. 
Sir Saul Samuel (1820-1900)
(Courtesy of State Library of New South Wales)

The listings in this directory further include a synagogal directory of Great Britain which includes the Ecclesiastical Court, Anglo-Jewish Association, Board of Deputies, and Council of the United Synagogue.  An example of a London listing under the Council of Synagogues is as follows:

GREAT SYNAGOGUE, James’ Place, Aldgate.
  • Wardens:  T.R.H. Lord Rothschild, and A. Rosenfeld, Esq.
  • Representatives:  Isaiah M. Marks, Esq., Finance Member; Messrs. M. Benjamin, A.L. Friedlander, H. Meyer, B. Van Staveren, I. Weber, and S. Wharman.
  • Local Committee:  Messrs. M. Benjamin, Ralph Lazarus, Hon. Walter Lionel Rothschild, L. Simmons, I. Webber and S. Wharman, Revs. M. Hast and A.E. Gordon, Readers.  Alfred Henry, Esq., Sec.  Mr. S. Levy, Beadle and Collector.
Great Synagogue in 1809
(Courtesy Ackerman’s “Microcosm of London”)

Sometime before 1692, the German or Ashkenazi Jews created a meeting place and the Great Synagogue on James’ Place is a lineal descendant of that first attempt of their religious commitment in London.  The synagogue built in 1772 was the result of bequests from Moses Hart and his family as well as a number of other prosperous German Jews according to “The Jewish Year Book”, 1907-8.  The synagogue was enlarged and a new building constructed with further enhancements before it was destroyed during World War II by Nazi bombing raids.
Additional synagogues are listed under the Federation of Synagogues and there are a number that are ethnically-based such as the synagogue which follows: 
POLISH SYNAGOGUE, Carter Street, Houndsditch.
J. Sternheim and H. Swalf, Esqs., Wardens.  J. Bronkhorst, Esq., Reader.  Mr. S. Bronkhorst, Sec.  Mr. S. Weil, Collector.

There is also a listing of Provincial Synagogues, Officials, &c., as well as a List of Colonial Congregations under the jurisdiction of the Rev., the Chief Rabbi.  Further listings involve charitable and benevolent societies, schools, colleges & literary societies, Jewish hospitals, asylums, &c., and a listing of metropolitan and provincial hotels among other things.


This directory is well-worth looking through if you have ancestors who:
  • lived in the United Kingdom 
  • lived for a while in the United Kingdom and went elsewhere
  • lived in the British colonies
It is quite possible that you will have unexpected luck in finding information that you can then connect to census and other records such as Jewish Year Books that are available both in libraries and on-line as well information to be had on the Jewish Communities and Records-UK (JCR-UK) web site or on the web site of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB) or the British-Jewry Mailing List web site at:http://www.british-jewry.org.uk. Note: The last site is presently experiencing technical difficulties and is not available, but will be in the near future.
Further, researchers can connect to information on Jewish Ireland at the following site: which will lead you to contact Stuart Rosenblatt at the Irish Jewish Genealogy Society & Family History Centre at the Irish Jewish Museum, Dublin. 
Or, if you are interested in Jewish Wales, you can find info on Dr. Nathan Abrams who has done research on the community by clicking here.


  1. This article really brings the directory to life!

  2. This Directory is searchable at the following website:

  3. This Directory is also searchable at the following website:


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