Ketuba mystery – solved!

When it comes to requests for help with family trees, we at are a pretty hard-hearted bunch.   We have to be: if we weren’t, we’d finish up spending all our time on other people’s genealogies,  leaving none for our core work of finding, transcribing and publishing Jewish community records and, with our other hats on, recording cemeteries for our sister site, So, mostly,  we refer  such queries to organisations and individuals more dedicated to this kind of work. However, we couldn’t resist  a cri-de-coeur from a researcher concerning an unidentified Ketuba, passed to him by his grandmother.

A Ketuba (marriage Contract) is handed to the Bride during the Marriage Ceremony and would remain in her possession throughout her lifetime and be passed to her children on her decease and, thus, remain rather private documents

The Ketuba in question was quite plain and, fortunately, the personal details were easy to decipher.  As was to be expected, there were no English Family names on the document and the Hebrew patronymics, Moshe b. Meir and Hannah bat Uri (Aryeh), meant nothing to our correspondent.   That is until he looked at the dates on some civil marriage certificates that had, quite fortuitously, arrived by post that very day and, suddenly, the light dawned; the Ketuba belonged to his Great Great Grandmother’s sister, Hannah Emanuel, who married Morris Myers on 17 February 1864.

The matter might have rested there but, in writing to thank us, our correspondent gave us some details of  the parents of the Hannah Myers (nee Emanuel), whose Ketuba we had translated, and her sister Sarah, his own Great Great grandmother. They were Philip Emanuel and Abigail Simmons: two names which chimed with some records we had recently been studying.

The couple had married at the Great Synagogue on 1st September 1841

Abigail’s antecedents, Levy Simmon(d)s and Sarah Cohen had been relatively easy to trace. Philip, however, had proved impossibly elusive.   And elusive he remains. But something our correspondent spotted concerning the father’s name on Philip’s civil marriage certificate, sent us scurrying back to our SynagogueScribes database [] and over the next week or two we will see if this new line of enquiry leads us out of this genealogical maze, or if we continue to go round in circles, following one false trail after another.

ALS 6 September 2010

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