Engagements, Betrothals & Forthcoming Marriages

My Father's Engagement Announcement
The Jewish Chronicle 27 July 1945

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

ENGAGED? by Sherry Landa

It was not until 1967 that the law was reformed so that “No action shall be brought upon any cause arising after October 1, 1967 from alienation of affection or from breach of a promise to marry.” Until then, it was, technically, an offence in civil law to break an engagement. This breach of promise law was based on Roman law. Now, we know that Jewish law and Roman/Christian law don’t always agree, but we also know that the law of the land must always prevail. We have examples of British-based Jews travelling to Holland to marry because the law of the land prohibited the marriage, but Jewish law did no such thing. How then can we explain the spate that swept through the Jewish Chronicle between 1900 and 1909, of engagement announcements that did not result in the marriage of the parties concerned?

My father was once engaged to a first cousin once removed; it was announced in the Jewish Chronicle (27 July 1945). At some stage, for reasons I don’t know, it was broken off. When I first learned of this aborted engagement I just assumed it was a bit of a one-off, a fluke, a glitch. Given that my father left his family and his faith in the same decade as the engagement failed, I put the two together. Perhaps the engagement being broken had caused a huge family rift. Perhaps, when he left his family and his faith, his fiancée had decided marrying him was not for her! I took it quite seriously. In my belief - shared with countless others - that it was actually illegal, I was mildly shocked to think that my father had broken the law. It seemed quite daring. I considered it relatively out of the ordinary. That was until I started the most recent part of my ALD project.

As you’ll know by now, ad nauseam, I collect “all things Leeds”. I work from several sources and I cross-check entries against all my other sources, which makes it painfully slow at times. I do most of the work when I am on “holiday” between the painting and the gardening. My April holiday saw me, with the JC Project and five Excel spreadsheets, double-checking the JCP for any Leeds entries I might previously have failed to find. There are 521 records which contain Leeds in the address. Of these, 157 are engagements, and 110 marriages. Some are duplicates, as they appear under the bride’s name and again under the groom’s. At a rough guess, I would say I had found marriages to go with about half the engagements. Of course, there are a few factors to be taken into account: Firstly, some engagements in 1909 may have resulted in marriages outside the scope of the project. Secondly, just because the engagement made the paper didn’t necessarily mean the marriage would: I have quite a few such cases. Thirdly, the marriage may have happened outside Leeds, or even the UK, and so would not show up either on the JCP file - because of my limited search - or on my other databases which only cover Leeds. So, given three reasons why the marriages were not showing, how many of these engagements did result in marriage? More importantly, how many did not?

I started to analyse the small sample of engagement announcements I had gathered.

There were 132 announcements:
Seventeen were followed by marriage announcements.
A further 39 were followed by marriages which I found, although not announced in the JC (1900-1909).
I found a further 15 cases where either the bride and/or the groom married someone else. Included in these is the case of Pauline NEWMAN and Julian Levi NIMAN, who both announced intentions to marry other people, but ended up marrying each other.
There were five cases in which a marriage must have taken place, because there were subsequent announcements to the effect (mostly births of children, but one death of a sibling) giving married names, but no record of a marriage in my database.
Then there were two multiple engagements: one was for Israel RUDMAN who got engaged twice, but seemed not to have bothered marrying either fiancée. The other was Emilie WOOLF who got engaged three times (that we know of, heaven knows how many more broken hearts she may have left behind, unannounced) before finally tying the knot in 1910.
Interestingly, there was just one entry that was denied by the man, who said he was never engaged to the aspiring bride.
Finally, there were a few cases of people with very common names where I could not be sure if these were the same people of those names who appear in my database.
So, out of 132 engagements I had accounted for, some 65, fewer than half, and not all of those married their intended. I proceeded to search the GRO Index for marriages up to the end of 1920. Here I found a further 30 marriage registrations, 4 of which had only one of the parties listed. Further investigation was needed, especially for the marriages which were registered in Leeds. I wanted to know why I had not already got these entries in my database. For those who married outside Leeds I wanted to see if I could find further details of the precise place of marriage, rather than just the district, and even a precise date. I also wanted to be sure that the four “spouseless” marriages were of the right people. Using local BMD sites covering some northern counties, I managed to discount one possible match and confirm a further 19 marriages, including one which gave a precise date, although not a location. This left 11 marriages from Free BMD without any further details. Jewishgen UK databases provided further details of four marriages.

This leaves 20 announcements where I know that the marriage did not take place between the two parties, and a further 26 where I have no evidence that the marriage didn’t occur, but I can’t find proof that it did. So, in total, 46 of the 132 engagement announcements have no evidence that the marriage took place. This is just over one-third of the announcements. I have no reason to suspect that Leeds was any different from anywhere else. It is possible that this decade was particularly “heavy” in the “breach of promise” stakes, but even so, a third does seem very high.
So, I am left with the questions: Was this a particularly Jewish thing? Was it that a promise to marry in Jewish law was not that much of a promise and it could easily be called off without penalty? Was it a thing of the times, the turn of the century, new beginnings, and a more “reckless” way of life? Was it that the authorities were so strict in who they let marry that engagements fell through when the prospective bride and/or groom could not produce the necessary paperwork to get an authorisation to marry?
Almost two-thirds of announcements did result in a marriage, yet only seventeen had a corresponding marriage announcement. Why was this? What was the preoccupation with announcing intent and then failing to announce that you had actually “done it”?
We know that announcements in general were a bit of a status symbol. Only certain classes and social groups announced. It cost money which could often be better spent on feeding or clothing a family, rather than frivolously showing off to the world. However, of those who announced engagements there is nothing to suggest that they subsequently could not afford to announce the marriages.
For those with a particular interest a table follows which shows the 132 engagement announcements and their subsequent marriages - or absence thereof.
BRIDE GROOM Engagement Announced Marriage (* = not in JC) Comments
ABRAHAMSON Rose BENJIMAN P H 13 March 1903 Rose married Alexander STEINMARK 1 June 1904 Leeds
BAKER Annie NIMAN Aby 24 April 1903 30 August 1905 Leeds*
BENEDICT Fanny GOLDSTEIN Morris 16 January 1903 18 July 1906 Leeds*
FRIEZE Raie BENJAMIN Maurice 16 January 1903
BERNSTEIN Esther CAVANAGH Abram 17 June 1904 Esther married Sam STONEFIELD 3 June 1909 Leeds
BERSON Annie WEINSTOCK Samuel 2 June 1905 Samuel married Ray VARSHAFSTKY 12 November 1907 Manchester
Annie married Joseph Lewis COHEN 30 August 1910 Leeds
BICKLER Sara COPE Lu 3 January 1908 15 June 1909 Leeds*
PHILLIPS Annie BLACK Solomon 30 December 1904 Unable to ascertain which Annie PHILLIPS and Solomon BLACK these were
GOLDENBERG Deborah BLASEBALK David 13 December 1901 Deborah married David COTZIN 25 November 1903 Wolverhampton
BLASHKEY Ellen ADLER Maurice 18 July 1902 7 July 1903 Manchester
BLASHKEY Paulina NATHAN Sol 24 June 1904 14 June 1905 Leeds*
COHEN Annie BLASHKY Harry 23 May 1902
MYRON Sarah BLOOM Percy 4 September 1903 First qtr 1904 Birmingham*
BUDLENDER Polly FAIGA Harry 20 October 1905 25 April 1906 Bulawayo, Rhodesia
CALLEN Ella SPICEHANDLER Henry 2 January 1903 12 August 1903 Leeds*
CLEMENTS Frances SOLOMON Jack 19 April 1901 Second qtr 1901 Leeds* Registered Building marriage
MOSES Bertha COHEN Samuel 19 September 1902 Bertha married Solomon MOSELY 6 December 1903 Brighton
Samuel could be same as married Dinah LEWIN below
JACOBSON Ida COHEN Nathan 28 November 1902 25 March 1903 Newcastle
COHEN Beckie ISAAC Leonard 20 April 1900 26 December 1900 Leeds
COHEN Sarah BENJAMIN Sam 8 June 1900 22 January 1902 Leeds*
LEWIN Dinah COHEN Samuel 24 June 1904 Fourth qtr 1904 Scarborough* Before 27 December 1909 as given as Dinah COHEN at sister’s death
COHEN, Florrie HALPERN Edward 8 March 1907 28 August 1907 Leeds*
COHEN Pearl BALSAM Moe 24 July 1908 19 October 1909 Leeds
COHEN Mary GOLDMAN Isaac 9 October 1908 5 August 1909 Leeds*
SADOFSKY Emily COUSINS Israel 9 March 1900 Third qtr 1900 Hull Osborne Street
LANDAU Essie COWAN Walter Cecil 26 June 1903
KUCZYNSKI Sophie DA COSTA Michael (Mike) 21 April 1905 9 June 1907 Leeds*
DAVIDSON Leah DEVONS David I (Rev) 22 June 1906 Leah married Moses Elchonon BROWN 1 January 1908 Leeds
Rabbi DEVONS married Edith EDELSTEIN 10 November 1909 York
FARBER Florrie SISLING Joe 18 June 1909 19 June 1910 Leeds*
FINEBERG Edith SAMUELS Leon 16 February 1906
FORLEZER Lena COLLAR Herman 21 December 1900
FREEDMAN Rosy FREEDMAN Myer 4 March 1904
FREEDMAN Rose FRANKS Myer 18 June 1909 2 February 1910 Leeds*
JACOBS Annie FRIEDMAN Isaac 24 August 1900 28 May 1901 Sunderland
ROSENTHALL Mary FRIEDMAN Aaron 11 September 1903 Third qtr 1904 Leeds* BHH Birth of sons 23 August 1905 & 22 January 1908 announced in JC
FRIEZE Ettie LEWIS Harry 16 January 1903
POVEDLEY Annie FRIEZE Simon 23 December 1904 Third qtr 1905 Prestwich* North Manchester, formerly Brodyer
FRITZ Ray ABRAHAMS Hyman 15 January 1904 25 May 1904 Leeds*
GALFSKY Hettie VELINSKI Wilfred 5 March 1909 Hetty married Wolfe LUBIN 7 August 1911 (is this Wolfe VELINSKI?)
GOLDBERG Milly GOTTLIFFE Abraham 19 October 1906 26 December 1906 Leeds
HARRIS Kate GOLDBERG Sam 31 December 1909 Third qtr 1910 Leeds* Old Central
GOLDMAN Bessie GOLDBERG Michael 3 January 1902 4 August 1903 Leeds*
GOLDMAN Alice LEVI Nathan 7 October 1904
GOLDMAN Sarah MARKS Harry 12 June 1908 4 August 1909 Leeds*
MYERS Eva GOODMAN Nathan 1 May 1908 A Nathan GOODMAN who could be the same one married Hetty ALTMAN 24 November 1909 Leeds
GOODMAN Minnie MYERS Maurice 19 November 1909 6 April 1910 Leeds*
ROSENTHALL Bessie GOTLIFFE Lazarus 11 April 1902 21 August 1902 Leeds* Birth of daughter 30 May 1908 Leeds announced in JC
GOTTLIFFE Rebecca KEIDAN Simon 17 July 1903 7 January 1904 Leeds* Death of Rebecca KEIDAN 28 May 1907 announced in JC
GOULDBERG May BERIRO R M 29 November 1907 DID NOT MARRY Notice 6 December 1907 by RM BERIRO of Gibraltar denying engagement!
HYMAN Marie HARRIS Barney 12 January 1906 Third qtr 1906 Prestwich*
Manchester Central Death of son (Leslie, 17 months) 16 November 1908, Leeds and birth of son 15 June 1909, Leeds both announced in JC
HEAPS Rose EVANS Solomon (Sam) 2 December 1904 First qtr 1905 Leeds* Louis Street
HEAPS Violet HYMAN Harry 19 October 1906 23 May 1907 Leeds*
HERZOG Helena LEVENSON Zadoc 25 September 1908 30 September 1909 Leeds*
RUBENSTEIN Fanny HIPPS Paul 12 April 1907 Third qtr 1907 Mile End*
HYMAN Jennie GROSS Armin 11 March 1904 29 November 1904 Leeds
BLACK Annie HYMAN Joseph 2 December 1904 First qtr 1906 Sunderland* 6 February 1906 Moor St Synagogue
HYMAN Sara BERENBAUM Abe 13 January 1905 Third qtr 1907 Leeds* BHH Birth of daughter 15 June 1908 Leeds, announced in JC
ZIMMERMAN Leah HYMAN Jack 3 November 1905 9 August 1906 Hull
HYMAN Dora LEVINSTEIN Lionel 3 May 1907 12 August 1908 Leeds* Birth of daughter 20 June 1909 Leeds, announced in JC
MATZ Edith HYMAN Jack 3 May 1907
HYMAN Sarah LIPMAN Edward 17 January 1908 Third qtr 1908 Prestwich* North Manchester, formerly Brodyer
PYZER Rose HYMAN Abe 5 November 1909 Rose married Charles GOLDBERG 6 June 1911 Leeds
LINDENSHATT Fanny ISAAC Barnet 8 March 1907 16 June 1908 Birmingham
ISAACS Hilda GOODMAN Solomon 19 October 1906 2 January 1907 Leeds
JACOBS Minnie JACKSON Henry 8 June 1906 Third qtr 1907 South Shields* 6 August 1907 Victoria Hall
SCHULTZ Dora JACOBS David 16 April 1909 25 December 1910 Leeds*
GOLDENBERG Sally JOSEPH Jack 31 August 1900 26 December 1900 Wolverhampton
BROWN Ada JOSEPH Abe 12 June 1908
TROPP Sarah JOSEPH Maurice (Rev) 16 April 1909
WOLFE Cissie LANDAU Myer 21 December 1900 28 January 1903 Leeds*
JACKSON Mary LAWRENCE Charles 3 November 1905 First qtr 1906 South Shields* 27 March 1906 Victoria Hall
YULES Mary LEADA Maurice 2 October 1903 Mary married Joseph SHAW 28 December 1904 Leeds
NEWSTEAD Rebecca LEVEEN H 7 March 1902 17 June 1902 Leeds
EPSTEIN Jennie LEVI Ralph 29 March 1907 25 July 1907 Sheffield*
LEVI Etty LUDMAN Hyman 19 July 1907 4 March 1908 Leeds*
LEVI Dora MERSKEY Abraham 19 January 1909 Abraham married Fanny SAMUELS 22 June 1910 Liverpool
LEVIN Hilda STONE Phillip (Phil) 26 February 1909 Fourth qtr 1910 West Derby* Shaw Street, Everton
LEVINE Rebecca LISTFIELD Louis 8 June 1906
FRIEND Sarah LEVINSTEIN Phillip (Phil) 1 September 1905
ISAACS Leah LEVINSTEIN Israel 22 June 1906 Fourth qtr 1906 Grimsby* 12 December 1906 Heneage St
GOLDBERG Selina LIBERMAN Hyman 28 December 1900 Second qtr 1901 West Derby*
New Beth Hamedrash Birth of daughters 17 July 1903 (Estella) & 10 June 1907 both announced in JC
CASSELL Gertrude LIPMAN Harry Myer 3 June 1904 4 January 1905 West Hartlepool
COHEN Sarah LIPMAN Myer 5 June 1908 Third qtr 1909 Newcastle upon Tyne*
LISTFIELD Rebecca NELSON Paul 31 July 1903 1904 Leeds* Birth of daughters 12 May 1905 & 3 January 1907 Leeds, both announced in JC
BARNETT Dora LOVEDALE Charlie 12 April 1907 Second qtr 1908 Newcastle upon Tyne*
BEERE Lillie LOVEDALE Hymey L 26 November 1909
STERN Annie MILLER Morris 10 January 1902 Third qtr 1902 Toxteth Park* Old Hebrew Congregation
MILLER Doris HERMAN Alf 17 July 1903
ABRAHAMS Esther MOSES Maurice 20 February 1903 10 February 1904 Glasgow
LEVY Rose MOSES Simon 4 October 1907 26 August 1908 Leeds*
MYERS Mary STONE Charles 16 April 1909 Third qtr 1909 Leeds* Louis Street
JACOBS Dinah NATHAN Norman 26 June 1903 Dinah married Isaac WEINER 6 September 1906 Manchester
Norman married Fanny MARKS 31 January 1906 Manchester
NATHAN Rachel REUBEN Emmanuel 27 March 1903 Rachel married Hyman LEVY 5 April 1905 Leeds
NEWMAN Pauline NYMAN Philip 25 November 1904 Pauline married Julian Levi NIMAN 9 April 1913 Leeds (see below)
COHEN Lily NEWMAN Sammy 8 May 1908 7 May 1913 Leeds*
PERLMAN Dora NIMAN Julian Lee 18 October 1901 Julian married Paulina NEWMAN 9 April 1913 Leeds (see above)
WOOLF Emilie MYERS Sol 19 April 1901 DID NOT MARRY NOT married, see entry below
WOOLF Emilie NIMAN Jack 4 January 1907 DID NOT MARRY
WOOLF Emilie BARNETT Jack 17 December 1909 19 July 1910 Leeds*
NYMAN Paulina KALINSKY Samuel King 4 July 1902
STRAUS Beatrice PALESTRANT Paul 30 July 1909 4 November 1909 London
PHILLIPS Annie FINK Samuel 5 January 1906
BERMAN Esther PRESS Maurice 18 August 1905
PYZER Rose HYMAN Abe 5 November 1909 Rose married Charles GOLDBERG 6 June 1911 Leeds
DAVIS Ray ROSEMAN Louis 8 January 1909
GOLDSTEIN Miss ROSENBERG Sam 5 February 1904
ROSENBLUM Gertrude GLASSMAN Samuel 14 October 1904 14 December 1904 Leeds*
COHEN Florrie RUDMAN Israel 8 May 1903 DID NOT MARRY Same groom as below
COHEN Nellie RUDMAN Israel 11 March 1904 Third qtr 1904 Manchester* Holy Law Beth Aron
MARKSON Bessie SAFFER Hyman 21 July 1905 2 January 1906 Glasgow
SAIPE Annie SACKLIN Albert 5 April 1907 1907 Hull*
ROSENTHAL Sarah SCHNAPPS Morris 7 July 1905
SHIMBERG Annie COHEN Samuel 6 January 1905 19 June 1906 Leeds*
BLOOM Rebecca SILMAN Harris 7 August 1903 Third qtr 1904 Stoke on Trent*
SILMAN Sarah KEIDAN Samuel 29 April 1904 15 March 1905 Leeds*
SIMON Rose FRASER Sol 21 October 1904 1 March 1905 Leeds*
SINOFSKY Fanny GARDNER Abe 14 June 1907 24 June 1908 Leeds*
TAYLOR Leah SOLOMON Albert 3 August 1900
NABARRO Hannah SOLOMON Albert 31 May 1901 Fourth qtr 1902 London C*
STONE Miriam FREDMAN Israel 20 May 1904 24 August 1904 Leeds*
TAYLOR Leah GOLDSTON Edward Gabriel 27 May 1904 27 December 1904 Leeds*
DAVIES Fanny TAYLOR Abe 31 May 1907 Second qtr 1908 Liverpool* Hope Place
FENWICK Ray TAYLOR Lewis 6 August 1909
ROSENBERG Adilena (Adie) VELINSKI Abe 25 August 1905
VELINSKI Jennie GOTLIFFE Harry 5 March 1909
VELONSKY Millie GOLDBERG Sol M 13 November 1903 16 March 1904 Leeds*
WEINER Dora LINKS A H 2 November 1906 12 June 1907 Leeds*
WINE Dinah Leah YEWDALL Hyman 9 May 1902 Second qtr 1903 Leeds* BHH
KUTCHINSKY Annie WINE Harry 3 June 1904 Third qtr 1904 Whitechapel*
BRODIE Ray WOLFSON Isadore 2 October 1903 First qtr 1904 Prestwich* Beth Hamedrash
WOLFSON Minnie SCHOTTLANDER Marks S 26 April 1907 12 February 1908 Leeds*

Sherry Landa


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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