Finding that elusive Jewish connection


The joys of the chase! I’ve cracked a conundrum on the family’s Jewish connection.

I’d at one time thought that granddad’s first name of Levi (which he hated) had a  Jewish connection. While both his grandfather and a cousin had the same name (if sometimes spelt differently, most often Levy), there is no other hint of such a link.

What has been more certain is great great aunt Lily Osborne married Jonny Brookstone, of Jewish origin and probably from Poland. I found no trace of him coming into the country but did find a Jacob Brookstone of the right age and background, born in Leeds 1880 and in the Norwood Jewish Hospital and Orphanage at 1891 with two likely siblings.

Until today I’d only found his parents Isaac and Mary in the 1881 census (both with Polish origin). It was clear from the records that they had all  been busy anglicising their names – Jacob became Jack became John/Jonny for instance. Brookstone had lost its ‘e’ in 1881, and I guessed it might be Brookstein before then but hadn’t had any joy.

Checking back, to put a short mention on this site, I realised I hadn’t looked at the second page of the 1881 census record very closely. This showed two half siblings by the name of Gladstone – a chance to find  a re-marriage of the mother perhaps? Eventually, yes. I tried some obvious surname variations, assuming Gladstone was another anglicisation. No luck. Then I put br*kst* into FreeBMD’s Name Search facility and tried a few of the names which came up in the marriage search.Working backwards from the end, as I like to do, it wasn’t a long exercise. Bruckston!

Now the only problem was that there appeared to be three males to one female (most marriage registration searches throw up two pairs). Could Toby Gluckstein/Gluckston in anyway be Mary Gladstone?? Seemed a bit of a stretch. Having also found a Moses Gladstone as a likely first husband, lo and behold, a Toby Lazarus appeared to be one of the three males to one female in the search results. Hm, interesting. And a search for Moses Gladstone on Ancestry threw up 1861 census with wife Toba Gladstone.

That’s a result I reckon. Our wonderful Yorkshire registrar couldn’t handle Toba as a name, creating Toby. And Toba herself found Mary easier to use day to day, so it appeared on the census.

Good detective work, and no one got hurt. Welcome Toba Lazarus into the family tree as mother-in-law to great great aunt Lily. I hope you found a good life in this country, or least better than the repression in Poland. Sad that you only lived to about 45, leaving a  seven year old Jacob/Jonny Brookstone behind.

A couple of reference notes

History of Norwood care.

From WDYTYA magazine July 2010: “many Jewish immigrants from Russian-controlled areas settled in Leeds as this was en route from Hull to Liverpool where people hoped to find a ship to cross the Atlantic to the USA.” Implied – they ran out of money to make the journey or otherwise ran out of steam. Jonny’s presumed little sister Eva is recorded as travelling to the USA in 1920, going to join a cousin (Mrs Annie Stein) in Buffalo, NY.

Also see

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