I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

My Anglo-Jewish Roots: The Hidden Jews



I came from an assimilated Australian family of Anglo-Jewish and Anglo-Celtic ancestry. I am one of seven children. My grandparents were not religious but my parents became devout Evangelical Anglicans and Hebrew Christians. I became a practicing orthodox Jew before becoming a Hebrew Catholic in 1987. One of my Jewish ancestors who has played and continues to play a great role in my spirituality is Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and his teachings. My crypto-Jewish, Hebrew Christian, Frankist and Marrano ancestry has also made a deep spiritual impact on me and drew me to the books of Cecil Roth when I was a teenager. 


My father's great-great-great great uncle Sir Moses Montefiore

There was an oral tradition that my mother's ancestress Hannah Mayer (Maher) a Frankist belonged to the Rothschild family and was the daughter of the famous Amschel Mayer Rothschild founder of the great Jewish Banking dynasty. Instead she turned out to be a paternal granddaughter of Hannah Rothschild a rather poorer first cousin to Amschel Mayer Rothschild! Imagined riches found and then lost due to further genealogical research. Oy vey! Both my parents descend also from the famous Sephardi Jewish family called Montefiore. Their common ancestor was Moses Vita (Chaim) Montefiore. He was an Italian born Jewish merchant who moved to London in the 1740's and was the grandfather of the wealthy Sir Moses Montefiore (my ancestral uncle on my father's side). 

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My great great great grandfather Thomas Williams grandfather of Henry Bartram. His father Solomon was an artist and his grandfather also Solomon was a Jewish glazier and goldsmith. He traveled with the Hebrew Christian evangelist Joseph Wolff to Palestine in the 1820's where he met and married his wife whose family were converted to Hebrew Christians by Joseph Wolff.

My great great great grandmother Eliza wife of Thomas Williams. She was the daughter of a Jewish Rabbi from Safed in Palestine. They left Palestine after the huge earthquake of 1837 to join her husband's family in Wicklow Ireland. Her family used the surnames of Segal, Pollard and Leason. Her grandmother Lea Segal was a daughter of Rabbi Leibush Segal who married Moses Pollard an American merchant who converted to orthodox Judaism in Palestine. Her father Rabbi Pinchus Segal (aka William Pollard/ Leason) married Miriam a daughter of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. She and her brother were removed from the Breslov family tree.

My more immediate ancestors left their homes in the British Isles in the 19th century so that I was born in Subiaco (a suburb of Perth) in Western Australia in 1963. When I was a baby my family moved to a small north-eastern wheat-belt town of Morowa where my parents took up wheat and sheep farming for a couple of years. Both my parents were from another small south-eastern wheat belt town in Western Australia called Dumbleyung. Dumbleyung was first settled by the Kersley, Cronin and Bartram families. For many years George Kersley and Henry Bartram (both my maternal ancestors) drove their sheep from Beverley to Lake Dumbleyung. The Kersley and the Irish Catholic family of the Cronins settled there permanently in the mid 1870's. My great aunt Essie who I was very close to and loved dearly married one of the Cronin boys even though she was very bigoted against Catholics. However her husband John Cronin was my grandfather Hillyer Bartram's best friend who he went shooting with on many weekends. Hillyer's grandfather James Bartram was also friendly with the Catholic Presentation nuns in Beverley. When I was in Thailand I became friends with a Presentation nun and while staying with her I found a book on the history of the Presentation nuns which mentioned James Bartram as well as the Williams family of his wife Jane.


My great great grandfather James Bartram father of Henry with his relatives on a visit back to England in 1858 (aged 31). His paternal grandmother Lady Bartram (on the far right) was born an Italian Jewess. 

Dumbleyung had been home to my mother's paternal Bartram family since 1886 when they arrived from another farming town called Beverley. My mother's paternal great grandfather James Bartram had arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1843 as a 16 year old from the village of Aylmerton in Norfolk. James' grandfather Robert was a Jacobite supporter and involved with James' father in the Albury Park movement of Sir Henry Drummond and his grandmother Lady Bartram was born an Italian Jewess and she attended secretly the Jewish synagogue in Norwick. These Bartram grandparents were fascinated with the search for the Lost Tribes of Israel and went to America for a visit around 1800 in search for the Lost Tribes of Israel among the American Indians of the Ojibwa in Wisconsin.They treked in to the wilds of Wisconsin with two of their children with Captain Anderson as their guide. I wonder if I inherited my interest in the lost Tribes partly from these intrepid ancestors. In 2006 I attended the Bartram family reunion in Dumbleyung where we celebrated the 120th anniversary of the Bartram's permanent settlement in Dumbleyung and the 163rd anniversary of their arrival in Western Australia and the launching of a new Family history book at which my Aunty Faye was honoured for her research into the family history.


My grandfather Hillyer Bartram. His father Henry was of Spanish Jewish and Scottish ancestry and his mother Elizabeth (Bessie) Kersley of English and rumoured Aboriginal ancestry

My mother's maternal family had arrived in Dumbleyung around 1908 when they left Corowa in New South Wales via Melbourne. Many of my mother's direct maternal ancestresses had been teachers and midwives for many generations. My mother's maternal grandmother Hannah (b. 1874) had been both a teacher and a midwife as had her mother Anne (b.1849) before her. Anne had established a school in Echuca in Victoria and then a maternity nursing home in West Melbourne and then another maternity nursing home in Wagin (a town near Dumbleyung). Anne's direct maternal ancestors originally came to Liverpool and then Ireland from the Dutch Jewish community in Holland. Recent dna testing demonstrated that this maternal lineage had a mt-dna Ashkenazi Jewish marker. Her daughter Hannah (Johanna was her birth name but she was always known as Hannah) in later life was a midwife to the group settler' families in the Northcliffe area among the huge Karri trees. Hannah's paternal ancestors were from the Syrian Jewish family of Kassan that were merchants and rabbis in Aleppo. My father's family moved to Wagin and then Dumbleyung during the Second World War when my father was a little boy.



My great-great grandmother Anne Ennis at 19 years of age. She belonged to a Frankist (Catholic Jewish) family descended from Jacob Frank via her grandmother Helena Moran.

My father's paternal ancestors arrived in Fremantle in 1865 on the "Racehorse". My father's direct paternal great-grandfather Edward Bloomer had been a soldier ( a bombardier) and came as an enrolled pensioner guard to the convicts on the ship. He must have been a terrific horseman as was my grandfather, my uncles and father. Edward as a bombardier rode on horseback with three other riders dragging a cannon with them, then they would jump off their horses, fire the cannon at the enemy, then leap back on their horses and charge to the next position. Edward spent 20 years in the Army in British India.  Edward's ancestors were also soldiers and his direct paternal great grandfather James Alexander Bloomer (b.1754) was a Loyalist soldier in the American Revolution (he fought under the name of Captain James Alexander). James' Irish born father James (O'Reilly) Alexander (of Scots ancestry) had come from Spain (where he grew up) to America where he died in the Indian Wars in 1756. He married Abigail Bloomer an American Jewess from whence the Bloomer surname entered my family's male line.


My grandfather George Bloomer (standing) with his father Christopher Edward Bloomer. He was a non-practicing Catholic of Hasidic Jewish ancestry. Many of his ancestors were followers and descendants of Reb Moshe ben Zalman the Son of the Alter Rebbe who became a Catholic with many other Hasidic Jews (mainly Chabad and Breslovers) in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was also descended from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and from Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov. They joined with and intermarried with the Papal Frankists in Ireland.

 James Alexander Bloomer himself married a London born Jewess - Judith Cohen of Savannah in Georgia. They settled in Cavan Ireland as soldier-settlers after 1783 but in 1795 James went to Russia (Tartu, Estonia) with his son John to fight in the Czarist armies under the Russian General Orurk. John's son Edward (the father of Edward the Bombardier) married General Orurk's daughter Henrietta Maria as his first wife. Most of the family returned from Russia to Cavan after 1815 and settled in the Rooskey area of Knockbride parish in Cavan. In Russia the family had become Frankists and John's son Edward (snr) (aka Efraim Zvi Barzel)) who was born in Russia in 1798 later went with his second wife and his children to live in Palestine after 1827 where they reverted to orthodox Judaism using the surname Barzel. After the huge earthquake of 1837 Edward and his wife re-embraced belief in Jesus as Hebrew Christians and fled Palestine with some of their children and leaving some with their relatives. He was the father of my great great grandfather Edward (who came to Western Australia) by his first wife.

My paternal grandfather was also a soldier in World War One and two of my father's brothers were soldiers in World War Two and my father was a soldier in the Korean War. My grandfather George and my uncle Colin featured in a episode of  "Who do you think you are?" as my uncle Colin's granddaughter is a famous Australian actress Lisa McCune. It is through George's mother that I descend from Schneur Zalman of Liadi, Rebbe Nachman and Reb Nosan (Nathan) of Nemirov as well as the Katzenellenbogen (anglicised to Kellington) family. Many of my father's ancestors on both sides were soldiers and some of his ancestors fought in the Battle of Waterloo. One of my mother's ancestral uncles John Pollard of the Royal Navy had written on his grave stone "the man who shot the man who shot Nelson" according to the tradition handed down in Australia and told to me as a young boy by my mother and Aunty Faye. We used to visit a very old relative Mr Pollard who had retired to Kelmscott who told me many stories about our ancestors.

My maternal grandmother Linda Lewis aged 15. Daughter of Leonard of Anglo-Jewish ancestry and Hannah Lewis of Irish Frankist and Jewish ancestry 

I also used to visit my great uncle Charlie (Leonard Charles Lewis) and quiz him about our family history which I would write down in a notebook when I was a teenager. He was a mine of information and very proud of his Jewish ancestry and told me stories about his Jewish West ancestors such as his great uncle Simeon Levi West Jnr (Uncle Levi) whose horse "Tradition" had come second in the 1888 Melbourne Cup and was a secret crypto-Jewish Rabbi or Hazzan. My aunty Faye and I went on many journeys together to visit relatives in search of the family history and I spent hours in libraries researching in the days before the internet. We also were in contact with a relative called Wesley West in New South Wales who was also researching our family history. I also wrote to many distant relatives who also sent me much fascinating information. I had been inspired to begin the search into my family tree when I was 13 or 14 in Year 9 Social Studies when we had to do an assignment on our family tree. 

In 1980 when I was in my last year of High School our family attended a huge Whittington family reunion celebration of the 150th anniversary of our ancestor Daniel Whittington's arrival in the Swan River Colony on the "Wanstead" ship from England to the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. My mother was descended from his daughter Eliza Whittington who was born in 1834 at Upper Swan (a name which caused much amusement to us). This was during the first very difficult years of the new colony when many children died due to starvation as all the crops failed due to the poor soil on the coastal strip. They established a farm at Guildford (where Eliza married her husband George Kersley in 1851) but later moved to the more fertile lands of the Avon-dale region discovered by the early explorers. However there is some question whether Eliza (and later siblings) was the daughter of  Daniel's Sussex-born wife or of a Aboriginal second 'wife'.

My father's maternal family came from Victoria in the 1890's to the Western Australian goldfields and then Perth where they were brick-makers, like they had been in Victoria. Some of both my mother and father's maternal ancestors had been publicans back in England among the crypto-Jewish families. An inn or pub was a good place where the publican doubled as a crypto Rabbi or Hazzan (worship leader) and the minyan could meet without drawing much attention. The publicans also were often farmers as well so they could provide kosher products to their crypto-Jewish flock.


 My ancestor Rebbe Nachman of Breslov who had strawberry blonde hair

According to Orthodox Jewish belief one is a Jew if one's mother is Jewish or of Jewish maternal ancestry or through conversion. Thus Halachically many Western Australians and indeed Australians are Halachically Jewish without even realising it even though they may also be nominally or practicing Catholics, Anglicans and Protestants. Thus these are also hidden or lost Jews that need to be restored to their Jewish identity and people. They also need to be restored to Torah and mitzvot.

2 comments:

Kim PĂ©rez said...

I am a descendant of Ildefonso Perez, a Secret Jew in Spain or Marrano, father of Antonio Perez, died in 1874, father of Alfonso, my great father, born in 1871 and educated in the Catholic Church. My family comes in the 16th Century from the sister of an ancestor, Maria de Corpas, a victim of the Inquisition.

Alfonso married Amalia, Catholic, but descendant of many forgotten Converso families, especially the Enriquez, coming from Paloma or Yonati de Guadalcanal, daughter of Gedalyah ibn Yahya, descendant of the Exilarchs, and then Son of David; this line goes also to Ferdinand the Catholic, King of Aragon, King of Jerusalem, then a Davidic King.

It's time for remember all these forgotten genealogies.

Davina Dodds said...

Hello I am also a descendant of Daniel Whittington and Jane Bishop. Their Daughter Louisa married my great great grandfather Edgar Bisdee (Convict). Louisa and Edgar's son George John is my grandmother Merlves father.
I love how there was a Wittington celebration, sad that I no longer live in Perth or new of it. I was wondering about the aboriginal Jane story, wondering how true it is, if you have any information you could share, it would be greatly appreciated. The family had always said there was aboriginal but no one could say where. I have just sent of for my DNA with ancestry.com.au and waiting impatiently to see if the results come back with aboriginal history. Would be lovely to hear from you.

Davina Dodds ( email: vampiressa06@live.com.au )