I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Jews, Convicts and Illegitimacy: A Tasmanian Jewish Story

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Joseph Solomon the President of the Hobart Synagogue and Member for the Huon in 1880 son of the convict Judah Solomon and his Jewish mistress Elizabeth Howell

The story of early Jewish settlement in Tasmania and on the Mainland of Australia is a fascinating area of study. Many Australian families are halakhically Jewish even though they are Christian by religion today. I have been researching a Tasmanian Catholic friend's genealogy and found out that she is descended from some interesting characters in the early days of Tasmania and Australia. 

 Edward Theodore Castle the father of Daisy Bell Castle

Her great-grandmother was the rather prettily named Daisy Bell Castle who was born in 1899 in the Glamorgan- Spring Bay area of coastal north eastern Tasmania near Little Swanport.  She was the daughter of Edward Castle of Green Hills and his wife Maria Radford. The Castle family were of convict ancestry and Edward's father Robert Castle was a womaniser who had 17 children with four different women. Edward was one of 9 children whom Robert had with his first wife Mary Jane Dyer who was a cousin of his from Somersetshire in England.

Temple House in Hobart around 1880 the home of the Solomon family

While the Castle family were Anglicans Edward's wife Maria Radford was of Jewish ancestry. Maria was born in the Spring Bay area in 1870. She was the illegitimate daughter of her mother Rachel Maria Radford (born 1850 in Spring Bay). Rachel at the age of 18 had an affair with a married leader in the Jewish community of Hobart Mr Joseph Solomon of Temple House in Argyle St, who would later be elected to Parliament for the Huon Valley area in 1880. He was also president of the Hobart Synagogue and came from a well-known family of Jewish convicts who became leaders in the Jewish community of Tasmania. He had married his Jewish cousin Miss Elizabeth Davis. Mr Solomon also had a son with Rachel Radford called Jacob Radford. After the affair ended after the birth of Maria, Rachel in 1871 married Matthew Poole and went on to have a large family with him. Joseph Solomon did not have any children with his legal wife.

Joseph Solomon's mother Elizabeth Howell was from an English Jewish family from Wiltshire. Her mother Mary Taylor was born in Holland as Maria Schneider and her father Joseph Howell was born as Joseph Horvilleur in Moselle in France. Joseph and his brother John Howell (Horvilleur) settled in Wiltshire taking English names. The Horvilleur family probably originally came from Horweiler (Ahrweiler) near Cologne in Germany to Moselle in France.


 Maria Frankel the mother of Rachel Maria Radford

However not only was Joseph Solomon Jewish as well as the illegitimate son of his father Judah Solomon's housekeeper but Rachel herself was Jewish and illegitimate. Her father George Radford who wasn't Jewish in religion but of Jewish ancestry through his mother was from a family that lived in Sorrell and at the age of 16 he got a young 14 year old Jewish girl pregnant. Maria Frankel lived at first with the Radford family after the death of her mother and she had a daughter with George Radford. Some time after the birth of her daughter Rachel, in 1850, Maria Frankel returned to her Jewish family into the care of her uncle David Moses of Sydney who then arranged a marriage for her in Sydney with a Jewish young man called Lewis or Louis Cohen. Maria's mother Miriam had previously died in Hobart in 1847 when Maria was about 11 years old. Her two younger siblings were taken by their uncle Elias Moses of Sydney and his wife Julia. After the death of his wife Mr Frankel had gone to America in 1847 and only returned to Australia in 1852. Maria Frankel went on to have a large family of 12 children with her Jewish husband Lewis Cohen and they for many years lived in Launceston in Tasmania (from 1855 until about 1872 when they moved to Sydney). Rachel was raised as a child of her grandparents in Sorrell and Hobart.

 Rachel Maria Radford (Mrs Rachel Poole)

Mary Ann Buxton who was the paternal grandmother of Rachel Radford (who reared her as her own daughter) was also on her mother's side Jewish. Mary Ann's mother Ellen Bott was the daughter of Jane Barlow (the daughter of  the Jew Isaac Barlow and his wife Sarah Solomon). Isaac Barlow's sister Sarah Barlow (b.1710) was married to Isaac Solomon. This Isaac Solomon (b.1710) was the grandfather of the convicts Judah and Joseph Solomon. Thus Ellen Bott and Judah Solomon were second cousins. Thus Joseph Solomon (Judah's son) and his mistress Rachel Maria Radford were third cousins twice removed. The Barlow surname originally was Bar Loeb or Loewe meaning "son of the lion".

Maria Frankel was the daughter of Louis Jacob Frankel a Polish born Jew of Breslau and his wife Miriam Sarah Moses of an English Jewish family from Bristol of whom many settled in Australia and Tasmania. The Moses family had originally come from Alsace in France in the early 18th century to Bristol and they intermarried with the Aaron family of Birmingham. Rabbi Moses Aaron was a Rabbi for the Jewish community in Birmingham in the late 18th century. The genealogies of the Moses and Nathan families are quite confusing to sort out and they would all almost seem to descend from different branches that originated in Alsace.

Louis and Miriam Frankel arrived to Tasmania on the "Calcutta" in 1842 and they settled in Hobart. Their daughter Maria or Mary Frankel was about 6 years old when they arrived from England. Maria had a brother Simeon and a sister Esther who were both younger than her. Her father himself remarried in 1857 to Miriam Mary Marks in Melbourne Victoria and they had about 5 children together. The Frankel or Fraenkel family of Breslau were devoutly orthodox Jewish and many of them Rabbinic scholars. Maria Frankel's brother Simeon Jacob Frankel was married in 1863 to Annie Cohen in Melbourne. They lived at different times in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne after their marriage. Maria's sister Esther Frankel married in 1860 in Sydney to Emanuel Jonas.

Miriam Sarah Moses' family were in business with and closely related to the Nathan family. Miriam was the daughter of Moses Moses (b.1765 Bristol) and Elizabeth Levy (b.1776 Bristol). Miriam's cousin Samuel Jacob Moses (son of John Moses brother of Moses Moses) had arrived in Australia with his wife Rosetta Blanche Moses (the daughter of Henry Tsebi Moses (half-brother of Moses Moses) and Esther Nathan). Rosetta was also a first cousin to Miriam. Samuel and Rosetta arrived in Hobart in 1841 a year before Louis and Miriam Frankel arrived in Hobart. It would seem that Miriam's older brother David Moses in 1827 was convicted of a crime and sent to Tasmania for 7 years where he arrived in a convict ship the "Marmion" in 1828. This David Moses should not be confused with David Lionel Moses who died in 1845 from falling off his horse. This David was younger and was the brother of Rosetta Blanche Moses and of Mrs Harriette Nathan the wife of Louis Nathan. His Jewish funeral in 1845 caused great interest in the colony.


 Julia Moses the wife of Elias Moses and daughter of Abraham Moses

Miriam Sarah Moses (Mrs Frankel)'s brother Elias Moses arrived in Sydney in 1833 and went into business with Samuel Benjamin his shipmate. Two years later in 1835 Samuel Benjamin married Miriam and Elias' sister Rachel Moses.  Elias Moses married Julia Moses the daughter of Abraham Moses. Another older sister of Miriam was Catherine Moses whose husband was Moses Benjamin a leading merchant in Melbourne and brother to Samuel Benjamin of Sydney. Moses went into business around 1838 with his brother David Benjamin and his half-brother Solomon Benjamin. Moses and Samuel Benjamin's mother was another Miriam Moses (b.1779) a daughter of Samuel Eleazar Moses. 

Miriam Sarah (nee Moses) Frankel also had a youngest brother called Moses Moses (Moss). Moses married Esther Nathan on 16 November 1842 in Sydney.  She was a daughter of Nathan Lyon Nathan (1784-1850) who was sent to Australia as 16 year old convict. He later returned to England and married there, many of his family went to Australia as free settlers. Nathan’s children and extended family were greatly involved in the establishment and growth of the Jewish communities in Australia and New Zealand. They were a prominent Jewish merchant family. Nathan's son Louis Nathan was married to Harriette Moses a sister of Rosetta Blanche Moses. The members of the extended Moses family were also great supporters of the Orthodox Jewish synagogue and communities throughout Australia.

There is much in the lives of the people here that I have touched on only very lightly and there is so much more to tell. The crimes they committed that led to their coming to Australia is also a fascinating story. The drama of Judah Solomon's wife coming from England and he refusing to give up his mistress and live with his legal wife is also an interesting story. The prettily named Anglican girl Daisy Bell Castle turned out to be of maternal Jewish ancestry and so are all her female line descendants. Daisy Bell Castle (b.1899) goes on her direct maternal line back to around 1720 and the birth of a Jewish woman called Judith Cohen who was the wife of Aaron Levy of Amsterdam and Hamburg. Judith Cohen is my friend's 8x great grandmother. 

By a strange coincidence another friend of ours who also attended our Passover Seder this year is also descended from these Jewish families of Bristol and Birmingham and I descend from Aaron and Judith too. Aaron Levy and Judith Cohen are her 6x great grandparents and they are my 7x great grandparents. Both my friends descend from their daughter Bertha (Batya) Levy who married Levy Moses of Birmingham and Bristol and I descend from her sister Rachel Levy of the Netherlands. They say there is only 6 degrees of cousinship separating most Jews and it would seem to be the case here. 

Let us redo the history of this line of women descended from Judith Cohen of Amsterdam via Miram Sarah Moses of Bristol and Hobart and their brokenness in illicit and/or difficult relationships in God's Divine Will so that healing will flow through the whole family. These stories also demonstrate that one can always come back from the disasters and problems in life and become a blessing to others. We all have an inner convict in us that is waiting for healing and freedom.

Judah Solomon and the Building of the Hobart Synagogue

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