The fascinating story of Abraham Isaac, died 1733

Whilst searching on the National Archives website I came across the mention of a petition regarding an Abraham Isaac dated 1733. It didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to know more so I ordered a copy the next day.

The petition briefly tells us the story of what became of Abraham in mid May 1733, sadly there isn’t a great deal of detail, leaving a lot to the imagination or, better still, further research!

Abraham was travelling to, or from, his home in Dukes Place in the City of London when on, or about the 16th May 1733, he died from a fall from a wagon on Barham Down.

Did this take place on what is today the A2 trunk road? Was this his wagon or possibly the mail coach? What caused him to fall? Was he attacked by a local highwayman such as the notorious ‘Black Robin’ known for shooting down coachmen? did the horse take fright, or the wagon hit a rock causing him to lose his balance? We will probably never know as there doesn’t seem to have been an inquest.

However, we can learn a little about his family. He had at least one daughter. Her name was Eve and she was married to Jacob Isaac, a baker in St Mary Axe, London. Unfortunately no ages are mentioned, but just to add a little to the story, we could suppose that Eve was at least 20 years old given that she was married, she may of course have been older, and that perhaps Abraham was 20 when she was born, so it would place his birth in the late 1600’s.

Abraham was probably travelling alone, at least not with friends or family or any one that knew him or his background. Presumably he wasn’t carrying any papers either and therefore the village was unable to easily contact his family or, if they were able to, it took several months for the notice of Abraham’s death to reach them.

In view of the situation the decision was made to bury him and on the 16th of May 1733, Abraham Isaac was buried in the Church Yard of Barham. The local church would be St John’s Church, noted for its magnificent beech trees, an ancient church going back to the 9th Century and mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

Sometime between May and Nov 1733 Abraham’s family hears of his death and place of burial. His daughter Eve then petitions the Archdeacon of Canterbury, humbly praying for permission to remove the corpse of her father, Abraham Isaac, of the Jewish nation, from the Church Yard at Barham to be interred in the Jewish Burying Ground at Mile End, London. The decree is granted in court on the 8th Nov 1733.

There is nothing to say when exactly the body was moved or to which burial ground although the grounds in Alderney Road seem the most likely.

This contemporary record of a Jewish burial takes us to within 70 years of the Readmission of the Jews to the United Kingdom. It occurred only 35 years after the final purchase of the Alderney Road Burial Ground and over a decade before the acquisition of the Three Colt Yard extension. But Abraham and his pack, lying on the dusty Kentish road while, back in London his daughter anxiously waits for his return, is as vivid to me as if his story had just featured on the late evening TV News

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