The Manham Family

  Samuel MANHAM & Rachel FRIEDMAN

The following has appeared in various issues of the British Jewry Newsletter and are reproduced here with kind permission of Theresa Stewart.


My mother was a saver. She said, " I can’t bear to throw things away!" so it took time to go through all her papers. Last year, seven years after she died, I was clearing out a box-file, full of old papers. There were recipes cut from magazines, birthday cards, photographs and a yellowing sheet from a newspaper, which I gave a quick glance before putting it in the throw-away pile. It was a copy of the Yorkshire Evening Post dated 1967, open at an article about the end of tailoring in Belgrave Street. " Where a stitch has run out of time…" was the headline. Belgrave Street had been a centre of tailors’ workshops in Leeds for nearly a hundred years and the last workshop was moving out to give way to a new inner ring road. Skimming the story, I saw that my mother had drawn two lines by one paragraph.

" In 1918 Samuel Manham, who left Russia in 1852, described how the Jews saved money to bring their families over, in an interview with the Evening Post."

Samuel MANHAM was my mother’s grandfather, my great grandfather. I knew he was one of the earlier Jewish settlers in Leeds, but I did not know much more. Could I track down this article?

My daughter, Selina, e-mailed the Yorkshire Evening Post. Did they keep copies of the newspaper? They replied that they were held at the British Newspaper Library in Colindale, London, and on microfilm at Leeds Central Library; helpfully, they gave the phone numbers.

Selina and I live in Birmingham, so last October at half-term we had a day out in Leeds. The library staff were very helpful and handed us the reels of film for the whole of 1918. They showed us how to use the viewers and left us to it. I took January to May, Selina took June to October. It was quite a task. Newspapers then had fewer pages because of paper economies in World War I but the large sheets meant shifting the viewer across the pages as we went through. Every day there were photos of young men killed in the War. Stories of the battlefields were frequent and there were occasional pieces on the Russian Revolution. We identified that the most likely spot for an article of general interest would be near the leading article, next to “Gossip of the Day”, so we concentrated on that. After two hours we were both depressed and decided that this wasn’t going to work. And then I found it! Friday, March 8, 1918, had an article headed “The Coming of the Jews to Leeds and Their Influence on a Big Trade.” There in the piece was Samuel MANHAM, under a sub-heading “An Elder’s Story”. It was a thrilling moment!


One of the oldest members of that early brotherhood today is Mr. Samuel Manham, who, at the age of 84, is a real elder of the people, and amongst the most orthodox. He tells me that he came to Leeds from Russia in 1852 - a fugitive from Russian militarism. He was on his way to America, via Hull and Liverpool, when someone at Hull persuaded him to go to Leeds.

" I took my chance here" he says, " and I have never regretted it. There were not more than a score Jews in Leeds when I came and most of them lived in a lodging house at the bottom of Templar Street kept by a woman known as " Blind Mary". Those who did not stay there called in for their meals, so it was a regular thing for men to go there to make up a " Minyan" I travelled in jewellery, but we were all pedlars, either in jewellery, sponges, wash leathers or drapery. We had a place of worship in Back Rockingham Street and I was married there.

" All of those I remember of my early days in Leeds came here as single men. Later on men came with their wives from Russia, but the early ones were single who either made wives of Jewesses in this country or who sent to Russia for them. In my own case I had a friend who sent to Russia for his sister and I married her. It was a usual thing for young fellows when they had settled here to send to Russia for their parents and brothers and sisters and that is how the Jewish people made a home in Leeds.

" But they did not come in large numbers until Mr. Herman Friend began to find employment for them as tailors. His workshop was in the old workhouse yard, at the top of Lady Lane where all the sewing was at first done by hand. It was there that one of the first sewing machines in Leeds was introduced, somewhere in the late 50’s, and I remember what a wonderful thing it was considered and how lots of people used to go see it."

There were three articles; we found the other two in the following day’s paper, Saturday, March 9, and in Monday’s paper, March 11. Again the library staff were helpful and showed us how to copy the pages.

Back home, I transcribed the first and third articles as closely as I could to the originals, because the photocopy was difficult to read in places; the second article was very badly copied and I decided to find the original in the British Newspaper Library in London. There, they have kept the original newspapers. I telephoned the day before and gave the name and date of the newspaper I wanted. I checked in at the desk, showing my passport as proof of identity, and was given a reader’s ticket. I chose a desk and wrote the number on the request form. The newspapers were in a massive file. They were wheeled along in a cart and placed on a huge reading desk. I was able to write down the whole of the second article and check for follow-up letters on subsequent days. In fact there were two more letters, both about the location of tailoring workshops in the early days. The articles give a fascinating account of life for the early Jewish settlers in Leeds, but for me they were much more than that. I could actually read old Sam MANHAM’s words as he spoke of his past.

My great grandmother, Rachel FRIEDMAN, married Samuel MANHAM in May, 1860. From the newspaper account I learned that her brother, Jacob FRIEDMAN, was living in Leeds in the 1850s and he sent for her to come and marry his friend. So now I was looking for her brother. After we found the newspaper articles in Leeds Library, we looked at their copy of the 1861 census. There it records a family called FRIEDMAN at 10 Lower Templar Street, Rachel's address when she married. There was Sarah, wife, head of household and three children. Sarah was born in Warsaw, Poland, as was her oldest son, Harris, aged 8. The two younger children, Morris aged 3 and Nathan aged 1 were born in Leeds. I found their birth records – Morris born in July 1857; Nathan born in January 1860. Where was Jacob FRIEDMAN on census night? His name had been written into the census and then crossed out. He came to Leeds with his wife and son and found work (as a teacher on Morris’ birth certificate and as a dealer in jewellery on Nathan’s birth certificate). They had a home, so he brought his sister over to marry his friend. Their father must have died between Morris’ birth and Nathan’s birth in January 1860.

The wedding in May cannot have been a very happy occasion. In 1861 Rachel and Samuel had their first child, a boy called Nathan after Rachel’s father. But the child died when he was eight months old. Poor Rachel: Her father had died around the time she arrived in her new country, in Leeds, and now her first-born had died as a baby. She went on to have three more boys, who did survive, then three girls and then another boy. She died in 1900. One of her grandsons remembered her as “a bad tempered old lady” who swept him, aged four, off the front doorstep.

Samuel was remembered as a gentle, sweet-tempered old man who continued to peddle jewellery round the villages near Leeds until he was in his 80s. He had a strong Yorkshire accent. His older daughter, Amelia, my grandmother, moved in with her family to keep house for him after Rachel died. He died on December 3, 1919, aged 86. He had seen the Jewish community in Leeds grow from less than 50 to over 20,000.

References (transcribed by Theresa Stewart from the originals):
1. Yorkshire Evening Post, Friday December 1, 1967. “Where a Stitch has run out of Time”
2. Evening Post, Friday March 8, 1918. “The Coming of the Jews to Leeds” First Article
3. Evening Post, Saturday March 9, 1918. “Cheaper Suits through the Jews of Leeds” Second Article
4. Evening Post, Monday, March 11, 1918. “A Short History of the Leeds Jews” Third Article
And with many thanks to Sherry Landa for enlightening me to many facts about my family in her research into “One Manham Family” which she put on the Internet

VISITING LEEDS UHC CEMETERY: Theresa Stewart recounts her visit to UHC in Leeds to pay her respects to members of her family.

We really enjoyed our visit to Gildersome. David Rogers was most helpful; he spent two hours with us, helping us find the family graves. My daughters, Selina and Lindsey, accompanied me on the train and Naomi (Lindsey's youngest, a student at Leeds University), met us at the station.

We took the bus to the cemetery gates, where David met us. I had rung ahead and spoken to his wife, who was very helpful. David found my mother's grave easily: it looked fresh and clear, though he hadn't found the others, but together we found my grandfather, Israel BAKER, and then my grandmother, Millie. I tried to read the headstone but my Hebrew is pretty rusty. However, I took photos which came out well, so I will work on them.

We then found Rachel MANHAM and next to her, Jacob LYONS. I wanted to find my mother's brother, Harry N. BAKER, who I knew was in the cemetery up the hill [Hilltop. Ed]. David took us up there and helped us in our search. Finally, Lindsey found it, fallen over face up. It was a most satisfactory morning.

As we were leaving, we chanced to see the gravestone of Freda RAISMAN buried in 1894. Freda was Geoffrey's and my, great-great-grandmother, Hoshy and Moshy's mother. See our RAISMAN page.


Samuel Manham, my mother’s grandfather, was born in 1833 and came to England in 1852. His intended destination was the USA but on landing at Hull, he was advised that Leeds was a good place to make a living and he took that advice. "I never regretted it", he told the Yorkshire Evening Post in a 1918 interview.

He never spoke of his birthplace and gave only Poland or Russia as his country of origin in the various censuses.

His sister Ellie, who joined Samuel in Leeds in 1868 when she was 20, married Hyman Lipman in 1869. They didn't appear in the 1871 census, but I eventually found them in 1881: a Victorian L can be mistaken for S, and the Mormons had transcribed the census entry as Sipman. Ellie's birthplace was registered as Ninestoto Poland, and her husband's as Vishtructiny Poland; their children, Julius Simon aged 10 and Rebecca aged 8, were born in Edinburgh.

I couldn’t find Ninestoto anywhere. Perhaps this was another mistake, which I might correct from the original census record. So I visited the Family Records Centre in London and viewed the microfilm. There was no joy there – Victorian handwriting, but clearly Ninestoto.

Might the family appear in the Edinburgh census in 1871? Next time I was in Edinburgh, I would check on it. Although a visit to the Record Centre in Edinburgh costs £17.00 each per day, my husband and I went ahead - and there they were: Hyman Lypman from Russian Poland and Etty his wife aged 22, also from Russian Poland, but no specific town.

Last year, on the Internet, I discovered the Suwalk-Lomza Interest Group, based in Washington DC, and ordered some back copies of their publication Landsmen. There I found birth and marriage records of various relations. I wrote to tell the editor of my successes and asked if she could identify Ninestoto, given that it was in Russian Poland, and my grandparents described themselves as Litvacks as opposed to Polacks. She suggested the town might be Wladyslawow which, on the face of it, seemed unlikely. However, it was known under several names: in Yiddish it was Naishtat, in German it was Neustadt or Neustadt-Scherwindt, and now, in Lithuania, it is called Kudirkos Naumiestis.

It was a long shot, but I ordered the two volumes of Landsmen that featured Wladyslawow. These gave a history of the Jewish life of the town and a description of Syracuse, New York in the 1880s, which is where many Jews from Wladyslawow lived at that time. There was also a table listing Wladyslawow births for 1833 - and there was my great grandfather: Szmoyl Manheym! It was one of those moments of utter astonishment and sheer delight.

On his marriage certificate, Samuel had given his father’s name as Judah; in the birth record he is Judel, aged 30, so probably born in 1803. I also learnt that his mother was Freyma, aged 20, and his paternal grandfather was Jankiel.

In the same volume there is the record of the death of a Chana Manheym, aged 22, in 1825. Her father was Jankiel, her grandfather Szmel; this is clearly the same family. Chana was probably born in 1803, perhaps the twin sister of Samuel's father.

There are echoes of the same names passing down the family. My grandmother was called Annie Amelia, Chana in Hebrew; my cousin’s granddaughter, born two hundred years after Chana Manheym, in 2003, is called Hannah.

Looking back at the article on Jews in Syracuse, I found a reference to Yutkie Manheim’s fish market. Julius Lipman was always called Yutkie, a Yiddish diminutive of Judah; I like to think this may be another family connection…

The Scottish Census for 1871 is now available on the Internet.
The Suwalk-Lomza website is here.
The information on Wladyslawow, extracted from the Jewish civil records at the Lithuanian State Historical Archives, is in Landsmen, Volume 13 Numbers 1-2 of July 2003 and in Volume 13 Numbers 3-4 of December 2003.


MORE   About the Database.
Background on how it all began and how it turned out.

MANHAM   The Manham Family.
Theresa Stewart shares some of her research stories on this fascinating family.

RAISMAN   The Raisman Family.
John Raisman writes about his family history, plus a book review by Naomi Barnett.

LANDA   The Landa Family.
Sherry Landa has written numerous pieces about her own family history research which was the precursor of the Leeds Database .

IMMIGRATION   To Leeds from Lithuania & Latvia.
Angie Elfassi shares a momentous trip.

MORE   On Engagements, Betrothals & Forthcoming Marriage Announcements.
How many announcements in the press, were actually followed up with a marriage? Not as many as you might think according to this article by Sherry Landa.

JOSEPH   Jewish Genealogy in Leeds-from Abroad.
The story of Jonny Joseph's research journey.


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