The story of Henry and Julia Jacobs

By Rabbi Roderick Young

This was written some years ago for my immediate family. It tells the story, I researched it, of Henry Jacobs (the one born around 1813) and his daughter Julia. It is part of a much larger piece about the Siegenberg family, which is why it begins and ends abruptly! I only knew Henry’s father as John, and knew nothing of earlier Jacobs – until this week! If you see things that you know to be wrong below, don’t hesitate to tell me! Roderick

On 25th August 1875, at the age of 22, Michael Siegenberg married Julia Jacobs. They were married by the Chief Rabbi at the New Synagogue (just off Bishopsgate, in the City). [Michael Siegenberg was the son of Jacob Siegenberg (born Whitechapel around 1817, died Hackney 1876) and Julia Abrahams (born Whitechapel around 1820, died Hackney 1885). Jacob was a furniture maker]

Julia Jacobs was born in 1854. She was the daughter of Henry Jacobs and Rebecca Isaacs. Henry Jacobs was born in Whitechapel around 1813. He was a butcher and he had a shop for 37 years, from 1841 until 1878, at 27 ½ Duke Street, Houndsditch. Henry married Rebecca on 28th November 1841. Rebecca was one of at least nine children born to Judah and Sarah Isaacs. Judah and Sarah Isaacs were Dutch Jews. Sarah had been born in Amsterdam about 1790. Rebecca was born in Holland around 1823 and her family came to London in about 1825. Judah Isaacs was a boot-maker and Sarah Isaacs was a boot and shoe dealer. Their daughter Rebecca was a tailoress.

By the time of Rebecca’s marriage in 1841 Judah Isaacs was dead, leaving his widow Sarah to look after the large family at 13, Harrow Alley, Houndsditch. Rebecca and Henry were married at Sarah’s home in Harrow Alley – Henry signed his name, but Rebecca was unable to. Henry was a member of the Great Synagogue, which stood in Dukes Place, Aldgate. From the synagogue marriage records we find that Henry’s Hebrew name was Tsvi ben Yaacov and that Rebecca’s was Rivka bat Yehudah.

Henry and Rebecca lived all of their married life at 27 ½ Duke Street. According to the census of 1851, Henry’s father, John Jacobs, also lived with the family. He was a retired butcher and had been born in London around 1769. This makes the Jacobs family quite unusual, for the majority of Jews did not arrive in Britain until the nineteenth century.

Henry and Rebecca Jacobs had eight children of whom the sixth, Julia, was born in 1854. Rebecca Jacobs died, when Julia was nine, on May 29th 1863. Some time after her mother’s death, Julia went to live with Sarah Isaacs, her grandmother, and two of Sarah’s unmarried daughters, in Watney Street, off the Commercial Road. Sarah Isaacs died in December 1871, but Julia stayed on in Watney Street, presumably looked after by her aunts, until her marriage to Michael Siegenberg in 1875.

Henry Jacobs sold his butcher’s shop in 1878 and went to live with his eldest daughter Sarah (who was also a butcher!) at 34 Duke Street. There he died on May 10th 1888.

After the death of Jacob Siegenberg in 1876 his youngest child, Michael, carried on the furniture business at 362 Commercial Road until 1878. Michael and Julia’s first child, Rebecca Florence (Becca), was born in 1878, followed a year later by their first son Jacob (Jack). Then in 1880 Michael Siegenberg moved his family and his business to 81, Graham Road, Dalston. Here their third child, Beatrice, was born on 4th August 1881, but she only survived 22 days.

Shortly after Beatrice’s death, the family moved fives houses up the road to Claremont House, 93 Graham Road and here their next child Julia [my grandmother] was born on 20th October 1882. A second son, Henry (Harry) followed in 1883 and a third son, Alfred Jonas, was born in 1884 – but he only survived six months.

Shortly after the death of Alfred Jonas the family moved to High Elms, 265 Mare Street, Hackney. This move was presumably made so that Michael Siegenberg could be nearer to his work, for around 1885 he leased 1 Town Hall Buildings, Mare Street, Hackney as the premises for his furniture company, now called The Hackney Furnishing Company. Michael and Julia’s seventh child, Dorothy Sarah (Dolly) was born at High Elms on July 13th 1890 and their last child, Lewis, was born there on 8th September 1892.

The Hackney Furnishing Company expanded until it took over most of Town Hall Buildings as its headquarters and the family remained a few doors down at High Elms until 1897, when they moved to 6 King Edward Road, Hackney.

In 1904 Michael and Julia Siegenberg made their first of several moves to an hotel and went to live at the Hotel Cecil, in the Strand. At the same time the decision was made to drop the name Siegenberg and instead to adopt the name Stewart. The following announcement appeared in The Times and The Jewish Chronicle: “I, Michael Siegenberg, of Town-Hall-Buildings, Mare-Street, Hackney, in the county of London, and of Hotel Cecil, Strand, in the said county, Managing Director of the Hackney Furnishing Company, Limited, do hereby give notice that I have ASSUMED and intend henceforth upon all occasions and at all times to sign and use, and be called and known by the NAME of ALFRED MICHAEL STEWART, in lieu of and in substitution for my present name of Michael Siegenberg, and that such intended change or assumption of name is formally declared and evidenced by Deed Poll, under my hand and seal, dated this day, and intended to be forthwith enrolled in the Central Office of the Supreme Court of Judicature. In testimony whereof I do hereby sign and subscribe myself by such my future name. Dated this 5th day of January 1904. Alf. M. Stewart.”

In the following year, 1905, Michael and Julia moved to 39 Belsize Avenue, Belsize Park. Sometime after this they moved into The Hotel Great Central, Marylebone and it was here that Michael died on 4th August 1915, after being involved in an unfortunate accident. His death certificate records that death resulted from: “Collision of taxi cab in which he was riding with obelisk at Great Central Station approach, Melcombe Place, such collision due to reduced lighting.” The First World War had started a year before and the lighting was reduced for fear of air raids. The obelisk still stands today.

Michael’s widow Julia moved into the Hotel Russell, Russell Square, and died there on 14th February 1925.

They are buried in the cemetery of the United Synagogues, Willesden Green. Their monument is a large sculpted stone tree that has been suddenly cut in half, on either side of which are two stone books recording the names of the children who put up the monument. The Hebrew on the grave reads: “Here lies Michael son of Jacob, died 24th of Av 5675 and Gitel daughter of Reb Tsvi who died in the morning of 21st of Shevat 5685.” The English reads: “In loving memory of Alfred M. Stewart, died August 4th 1915, aged 62. And Julia, his widow, died February 14th 1925, aged 70.

We think of them in silence
No eye can see us weep
But ever deep within our hearts
Their memory will we keep