Marleta Childs
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     Widely known for his focus on locating Scottish ancestors in European records, David Dobson surprises genealogists with his latest work, THE JEWISH PRESENCE IN EARLY BRITISH RECORDS, 1650-1850. Maintaining his high standard of meticulous research, he attempts to identify Jewish references hidden in a variety of places in England and Scotland. He scoured such resources as Acts of the Privy Council, university records, burgess rolls, city directories, cemetery inscriptions, commissioners’ journals, Lord Mayor of London depositions, and Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England.

     In his introduction, Dobson points out that Jews have been in England since the days of William the Conqueror. In 1290, however, King Edward I of England banished them so no Jews “officially” remained in the country until the mid-1600s. Although Scotland did not expel Jews, few—if any—settled there during the medieval era.

     Activities of the Spanish Inquisition in the seventeenth century resulted in Jews from the Iberian Peninsula dispersing to areas as far apart as the Netherlands and Brazil. When Oliver Cromwell came to power, he recognized their skills and encouraged them to return to London in 1655. Many became merchants involved in trade with Europe and the Americas. A number of them eventually went to the British American colonies, including Barbados and Jamaica. From there, some later moved to mainland North America.

     An influx of Jews into England and Scotland from Germany, Poland, and Russia occurred in the eighteenth century. Many of them initially lived in British port cities, such as Dundee, before settling in industrial cities like Glasgow, Leeds, and Liverpool. Ultimately, some ventured to North America, South Africa, and Australasia.

     As Dobson discovered specific references to people identified as Jewish in an assortment of resources, he extracted the data for this new book, which covers a two-hundred-year period. In addition, he gleaned information about individuals whose Hebrew forenames coupled with surnames--sometimes in conjunction with an occupation or place of birth--indicated possible Jewish origin. Because some people with Biblical forenames were not Jews, he took great care in selecting those individuals. Approximately 2,000 men and women are identified through his use of those methods.

     Although details vary about each person, entries usually furnish the individual’s name, a date, a location, and the source of the material. Other facts may also appear, such as vocation, education, and names of relatives. Recurring surnames include ABRAHAM, COHEN, DA COSTA/DE COSTA, DAVIS, FRANKS, HENRIQUES, ISAACS, ISRAEL, JACOBS, LEVI, LEVY, LOUSADA, LYON, MENDES/MENDEZ, MOISES/MOSES, PHILIPS, SALOMON/SOLOMON, and WOLF/WOLFE.

     Dobson is to be commended for bringing attention to data that may have otherwise remained buried for years to come. THE JEWISH PRESENCE IN EARLY BRITISH RECORDS, 1650-1850 will make a fascinating addition to genealogical library shelves.

     The 123-page book has soft covers, an introduction, and a list of references along with their abbreviations Dobson used in the publication. Names of main entries are arranged alphabetically. To the price of $17.50, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one book and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx ground service, the cost is $7.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order 8106) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website at

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