Abraham Abraham was Britain’s first Jewish councillor, elected for St Michael’s ward in November 1838. He moved to Southampton from Frome in 1826 and set up as a jeweller, silversmith, goldsmith and watch and clock maker at 147 High Street. Amongst other business interests he was the first Southampton agent of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company and a licensed navy agent, authorized to collect prize money due to lower deck seamen. He was an active Conservative politician, serving three terms as town councillor for St Michael’s and elected sheriff in 1841. He was worshipful master of the Royal Gloucester Lodge of Freemasons in 1838 and Provincial Grand Junior Warden in the Province of Hampshire.

Abraham invested heavily in the railway mania of the mid-1840s. He was a provisional director of three railway companies floated in autumn 1845: the Direct London and Exeter Railway Company; the Kilrush, Kilkee and Belfast Railway Company; and the Southampton, Petersfield and London Direct Railway Company. All three speculations failed.

Abraham left his adopted town in the mid-1840s. 1846 is the date given in his obituary (Hampshire Independent, 6 April 1887). This is clearly a turning point in his life, the year in which he gave power of attorney to his eldest son (18 May) and in which he quit the jewellery business (8 June). But it is hard to reconcile with a last council attendance on 2 October 1847. Abraham spent the next forty years in exile on the continent – twice the length of time that he lived in Southampton. It is a period lost in obscurity. A corporation lease dated 8 March 1851 describes Abraham as “of Brussels in the Kingdom of Belgium” (Southampton City Archives SC 4/3/1737). This has to be set against the statement in his obituary that he “left Southampton with his family and since resided in Paris”. It is here that he died, on 31 March 1887, aged 88 years, at 7 Rue Blanche. He survived his eldest son by six years. Administration was granted 14 years later on 19 July 1901, his effects valued at £155.3s.9d.
Probate was granted to his daughter Julie Astruc (Anstrue as given in the probate document is presumably a mistranscription as a Moise Henri Astruc is recorded at 7 Rue Blanche in 1878.) Julia Abraham(1825-1911) was married to Nathan Astruc (1824-1899). Moise Henri Astruc was their son: Their other children included Evelyne (married to Wilhelm Enoch, music publisher), Georges (married to Gabrielle De Picciotto) and Mardochee Dorsan (married to Louise Abraham, the daughter of John Abraham and Aimee Rachel Delpuget, and Abraham's granddaughter). Nathan was the second oldest brother of Elie Aristide Astruc, the chief Rabbi of Belgium.

Newspaper clippings:

Further reading:

Anglo-Jewry since 1066, by Tony Kushner. (H/h)
'A Tale of Two Port Jewish Communities: Southampton and Portsmouth Compared', by Tony Kushner in Port Jews, by David Cesarani (ed), 87-110. (HS/h)
'Abraham Abraham: a forgotten politician of mid-nineteenth century Southampton', by Richard Preston in Southampton Local History Forum Journal, no. 22, Spring 2014, p3-10. (HS/h) Further information from a descendant of the Astruc family, Vincent Sanfuentes, establishing Julie Astruc as his daughter amends Dr Preston's text (see above)


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