Book on Jewish Convicts transported to Australia and The London Bet Din

The recent Bank Holiday gave me the opportunity to catch up on some reading, one particular book stands out as being of great interest to visitors of

We receive numerous enquiries from genealogists in Australia looking for their ancestors’ burial places in the UK. This book sheds another light on the lives of those transported to Australia and what provisions were made for the families they were forced to leave behind.

‘From one end of the earth to the other’ The London Bet Din, 1805 – 1855, and the Jewish convicts transported to Australia by Jeremy I. Pfeffer ISBN: 9781845193669 (p/b) 9781845192938 (h/b) click here for more info.

The Jews has been specifically exempted from the provisions of the 1753 Marriage Act. The effect of this exemption was to put the matrimonial causes of the Jews of England exclusively in the hands of their Rabbis and Dayanim for the next hundred years. No Bet Din (Jewish ecclesiastical court) anywhere in the world has left such a complete record of its transactions – matrimonial and proselytical – as that contained in the extant Pinkas (minute – book) of the London Bet Din from 1805 to 1855.

In all other matters, including the offences punishable by transportation, Jews were subject to the civil courts. Of the estimated 150,000 convict transportees shipped to the Australian penal colonies, some seven hundred were Jews. Matrimonial and related matters involving twenty of these miscreants are recorded in the Pinkas. Jeremy Pfeffer recounts the history of the London Bet Din during these years as revealed in the Pinkas record and relates the previously untold stories of this group of Jewish convict transportees and their families.

Jeremy Pfeffer writes in the preface ‘I set out to discover eveything I could about convict transportees whose names appeared in the Bet Din records, the circumstances that led to their trials and convictions and the stories of their first years in their new Australian home’. He has succeeded in producing an account that is both scholarly and accessible and which brings the past to life through the true stories of ordinary people.


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