We are delighted to publish the following article written by Dr Phillip Kirby .
My interest in the Goldsmid, Prager Salomons families began when a researcher asked for help in identifying whether or not they were related to Jewish lines. The focus of their research was Louisa Salomons and her Goldsmid, Prager and Elliot relationships. A more detailed coverage of our discussion including records and data relating to the lines can be seen on the British Genealogy Forum Jewish Roots under the heading ‘ Israel Levien Salomons-Hester Prager’.
To put the relationships into context Louisa Salomons 1778-1811 (daughter of Israel Levien Salomons aka Yechiel Preger and his niece Ester Jacob Levie Preger-(see Dutch Jewry website online for data on this line) married George Elliot a gentile.
These relationships included several well-known Anglo Jewish families such as Goldsmid and Prager. Jesse Salomons sister of Louisa and daughter of Israel and Ester married Benjamin Goldsmid.
As will be described the involvement of George Elliot in the Salomons and Prager families was one of friendship, business and marriage.
As part of the research I identified that one of my own Hart relatives had married during the 1890s a descendant of Benjamin Goldsmid c1753-1808 (Cemetery Scribes ID 6943 Catherine Hart –Lionel Campbell Goldsmid ID F3077).Benjamin Goldsmid had married Jesse Salomons c1767 -1836 daughter of Israel Levien Salomons aka Yechiel Preger.
The close inter relationship between the families can be further seen in Synagogue Scribes Will Extracts NA2043 which has data on Israel Levin Salomons probate 1788. In his will he names his wife, children and siblings. See also NA 418 Lyon Prager 1795 Father Jacob Levien Salomons and siblings including Hester widow of Israel Levien Salomons (Lyon’s uncle). NA1273 Jessica Goldsmid 1837 widow of Benjamin Goldsmid NA 782 and Cemetery Scribes ID 7621 who died in 1808 – her nephew was Edward King Elliott.
Further family data can be seen on: Cemetery Scribes ID 7622 Jessy Salomons (married name Goldsmid) (Fradke b Yehiel Prager).
Synagogue Scribes Will extracts has probate for Benjamin Goldsmid NA 782 1808. In the full will bequests included £20 to Louisa Elliot wife of George Elliot and sister in law of Benjamin Goldsmid and a sum of £20 to Mary Elliot sister of George.
In her will dated 1816 and proved 1837 (Synagogue Scribes Will Extracts NA 1273) Jesse Goldsmid left a bequest to her nephew, a minor, Edward King Elliot the youngest child of Louisa and George Elliot.
When Israel Levien Salomons married the ceremony required a civil dispensation because it was a marriage of uncle and niece. This meant that the relationships between the Salomons and Preger aka Prager were extremely close.
The failure of the Salomons India trade business
There are significant letters and other communications relating to Israel Levien Salomons and his business dealings particularly in India. These communications refer to his transactions in India in coral, spices and diamonds (see National Archives). However, following his death the business got into serious financial difficulties and failed.
A more detailed description of the issues affecting the failure of the Prager business can be seen in the publications Diamonds and Coral –Anglo Dutch Jews and Eighteenth Century Trade, Gedalia Yogev (1978); United States Jewry, 1776-1..85 Jacob Radar Marcus,( 1985). In the late 1780s Lyon Prager (nephew of Israel) and his two nephews Mark and Simon arrived in Bengal to promote the company business. Lyon and Simon died in 1793.George Prager, son of Israel, arrived in 1798. However, the inability of Israel’s sons to run the business effectively further affected the eventual failure of the company.
Louisa Salomons and George Elliot-her children and her death
Research confirmed that Louisa Salomons had married George Elliot in a Church of England ceremony:
London, Church of England Marriages
Marriage 3 January 1795
St Mary Islington London
George Elliot bachelor
Louisa Salomons spinster Witnesses- John POWELL; Sarah Ann DIMOCKE
George Elliot in various publications has been described as a ship’s captain in the East India Company and a friend of Lieb Prager. George Elliot became involved in the Salomons business following the death of Israel. The business was in financial difficulty and Ester the widow of Israel sought help from Elliot who by that stage was a merchant
The relationship between George Eliot can be seen in the following extract from Harold Pollin, 1982 Economic History of the Jews in England P53. Referring to the death of Yehiel Prager aka Israel Levien Salomons and his business Pollins wrote…”None of the sons was capable of managing the London House and the job fell to George Elliot, who had been a ship’s captain on the East Indian route and who married a daughter of Yehiel Prager. But neither his efforts nor those of another son in law, the financier Benjamin Goldsmid proved fruitful. The firm came to an end in 1796″.
Another extract from Yogev, (1975) regarding Jews in eighteenth century trade refers to the failure of the Salomons firm…” For several years Esther tried to save what remained of the business assisted by George Eliot (an old friend of her brother Lieb) and supported by her son in law Benjamin Goldsmid and his brother Abraham…”
Following the marriage of George and Louisa in 1795 they had several children and at least one child died very young.
The Church of England Baptisms identify the children of Louisa and George.
Hester Maria Elliot b April 12 1797 Baptised 11 May 1797 St Luke Finsbury Islington
Louisa Elliot b 20 July 1798 baptised 5 Sept 1798 St Luke Old Street Finsbury
Benjamin Goldsmid Elliott b Nov 4 1799 baptised 6 Jan 1800 St. Luke Finsbury Islington
George Augustus Elliot born Jan 28 1801 baptised 4 May 1801
Nb Burial George Augustus Elliot 6 Sept 1801 St Laurence, Kent – The parents are named as George Elliot and Louisa Elliot. It appears that the first George Augustus child died and following family custom another sibling was named after him.
Caroline Elliot b July 25 1803 baptised 28 Nov 1803 St Luke Finsbury Islington Middx
Baptism St. Luke Finsbury Baptism Jesse Sarah Elliot 28 March 1805 born January 1 1805.
George Augustus Elliot baptised 15 Jan 1811 born 12 August 1810
Currently, missing from the baptism records is Edward King Elliot born 1811. His mother died October 11, 1811
Edward King Elliot (1811-1865) joined the British Army and served in India, at his death he was a Lt. Colonel. (Dictionary of Indian Biography P 135 C E Buckland, 1971).
Another of Edward’s siblings was Benjamin Goldsmid Elliott. His probate showed he was late of the City of Batavia the Island of Java 31 Dec 1828 translated from the Dutch. His wife was named as Catherine Elliott formerly FRASER.
The death and burial of Louisa Elliot nee Salomons
The research into Louisa and George Elliot revealed a rare example of an archaeological research project involving the identification and exhumation of many bodies and graves of individuals buried in St. Luke’s Old Church Finsbury cemetery including the crypt and vaults. Louisa Elliot nee Salomons was one of the bodies identified and recorded in the vaults as will be described.
In 2005 a detailed archaeological research paper containing pathology descriptions of various individuals removed from the burial ground St. Luke’s Old Church Finsbury was published. The excavations were part of the re-development of the land and church.
(The Archaeological Experience at St. Luke’s Church Old Street Islington. Angela Boyle, Ceridwen Boston and Annsofio Witkin Oxford Archaeology, 2005.)
The church records showed that Louisa died after giving birth.
Burial Record St. Luke Finsbury Islington 18th Oct 1811
Louisa Elliot wife of George Elliot Esq from the Parish of St. Mary the Virgin Aldermanbury London died Oct 11th…vault, age 33 child bed.
Louisa was buried in a vault in the crypt. Prior to 1810 wooden coffins had been buried in the crypt and these had rotted causing significant problems for health, disease and odour. Post 1810 only wealthy individuals could be buried in the vaults and no corpses were allowed to be buried unless in lead or metal coffins. In 1853 the vaults were sealed and filled in.
Louisa was buried in a lead coffin as the report identified. Page 117 of the research paper reads:
coffin material lead (intact) inscription “Mrs Louisa Elliot died 11/10/1811 aged 33 years”. Coffin plate rectangular.
Osteological age/sex coffin intact (skeleton not analysed). It also gives dimensions.
Importantly, the Church stipulated that no sealed
coffins were to be opened because of ‘decency and dignity’. These coffins,
including Louisa, were to be ‘sleeved on site and removed for burial’. However,
it is unclear as to where the coffins and bodies were removed to and re-buried.
The work comprised recording of funerary architecture, and the crypt structure along with exhumation of all burials in the northern and southern churchyards as well as clearance of all the burials in the crypt. A total of 1053 burials were recorded and removed including 712. Not all burials in the churchyard were removed.
There are no current records to confirm the death of George Elliot or whether he re-married. However, one record does indicate that he was dead by 1836 as was his son Benjamin Goldsmid Elliot. It is possible that George Elliot died in India where his son Edward and other relatives had settled.
When Louisa died she was given a Church of England burial and funeral and not a Jewish one. Those who attended the funeral are unknown but at that stage Jesse Goldsmid children had been baptised and at least three of Israel Levien Salomons children had married out of the Jewish faith. None of the Elliot line practiced Jewish customs or married Jews.
The research into the families is ongoing and likely to reveal more relationships.