Monday, 23 April 2012

David Jacobs (1862-1899)

David Jacobs, my grandfather, was born on 6th October 1862 in Brighton, Sussex. His parents were Henry Jacobs and Ellen Silverstone and his birth was recorded in the Birth Register of the Great Synagogue in London but I have not been able to find a Civil Registration Birth Certificate for him.

Some time in 1871 or 1872 the family moved back to London (where both Henry and Ellen had been born) and in 1881 David is managing his brother's coffee shop at 197 City Road. However, for some inexplicable reason David is using the surname Morris, as is his brother.

Two years later, in 1883, David, still using the surname Morris, emigrated to Canada and he took up a job as a cook in the Queen's Hotel, Portage, Winnipeg. (See: Manitoba Historical Society: Queen's Hotel, Winnipeg) It is here that he meets and marries Emma Brown, who had emigrated to Winnipeg with her brother, Frederick, his wife and son. David and Emma's first child, Phillip Morris Jacobs, is born in Winnipeg in 1888 but the family had returned to London by 1891.

Back in London David, who had now reverted to the surname of Jacobs, ran a coffee shop and restaurant at 190 High Holborn. David and Emma have three more children in London: Maurice Arthur Jacobs (1890), David Albert Jacobs (1892) - my father, and Ellen Dorothy Jacobs (1893). Sadly, David succumbs to a bout of pneumonia and dies on 14th January 1899 at the age of only 36.

Although raised in the Jewish faith, he seems to have drifted away from Judaism as he gave his religion as Church of England when he married in Canada. However, on his return to London he appears to have embraced Judaism again as he sent his three sons to the Westminster Jews Free School; the informant on his death certificate was Isidore Abrahams, who seems to have been an official at the Barnsbury Synagogue and David was laid to rest in the Jewish Cemetery at Plashet.

Despite extensive searches I have been unable to locate a photograph of the coffee shop at 190 High Holborn. The shop no longer exists as the area was redeveloped post-WW2. If anyone has access to a photograph of the shop I would be most grateful if they would contact me.


  1. An intriguing story, full of puzzles. Good luck with your new blog.

  2. Have you found any connection of the Jacob Jacobs (1829-1926) and his son Abraham (1867-1943) to your family? This Jacob was born in Russia and moved to London prior to 1861. Eventually the family settled in NY. Jacob was a boot maker and lived in the Spittelfield area of London.

    1. Hi Lisa. I don't think there is any connection to my Jacobs ancestors, who were already living in London from before 1770. Good luck with your search. Gerry.