The United Kingdom

Any decent historical research should really open with the period from 1066 up to the expulsion of 1290, - York, Lincoln and so forth, - starting therefore with the Norman Conquest.

In the meantime, all that we have is the Article brought under the heading : The Family in Wartime Britain which I hope is of some interest to you. Marlene and I have recently been corresponding with another Professor in the USA who is writing about the Oriental Carpet Trade in London at the beginning of the 20th century and we are still supplying as much information as we can for its inclusion.

Going back to olden days however, all sources seem to agree that there were no Jews in England before 1066 but that they definitely did first arrive in the UK with Our Beloved William setting out from Rouen, - and might not a Benardout or two have been amongst them ? Is that such an absurd idea ? I don't suppose that anyone has looked into it. As a subject for truly fascinating research it is not on the top of the List however since after the expulsion of 1290 it is fact that only a very, very few Jews remained in England anyway.

From another aspect, no Benardouts seem to have reached England from Holland during the later, Cromwellian period despite the strong Sephardi community of the Netherlands. We had, in the main, seemingly preferred a southern exodus towards Spain and Portugal, not one leading to the colder North.

Records of the original Jewish Community in England are of course available, - See for example this Article : The Jews of England in the Thirteenth Century by J. M. Rigg - The Jewish Quarterly Review. Vol. 15, No. 1 (Oct., 1902), pp. 5-22 Published by:
University of Pennsylvania Press.

This Article, - although written one hundred years ago, - does seem to be pretty definitive although the Author himself expresses a belief that much more is there waiting to be discovered.....perhaps in York Minster Library or Lincoln Cathedral like those documents found in Tarazona Cathedral ?

I have just read a long history of Edward III - (post-expulsion period), - and eagerly searched the list of his doctors for a Benardout from Spain.....and why not ? His own children almost married into Aragon and Castille and reliance in England upon Spanish - i.e. Muslim or Jewish - doctors was almost it still was in the days of Elizabeth I. But no luck so far, nor under any known converso name.

When Aaron of Lincoln and his colleagues had financed the Crown for so long with so much, the accountants would have no doubt been accurate in their recordings of lenders in particular, so maybe a Family member is amongst them ? Amongst the lenders, that is, for all material on the Jews in England pre-1290 seems to relate to only two things, - financing the Crown voluntarily or involuntarily, - and ritual murder. Maybe under that second heading since our family is Cohen and thus particularly vulnerable to blood libels ? But this is all light-hearted theory with not a whiff of evidence to support it.

Henry IV, that miserable and sickly man, did have a doctor by the name of Elia, from Huesca the seat of the Benardout medical dynasty, but he was not apparently one of ours, - only a colleague and competitor.

One negative point has to be noted, - that records refer to Jews, in the main, as Abraham of this or that town, and not by any other kind of surname. Sometimes a second Hebrew name is given, - Abraham fils Joseph, - but that wouldn't help us here either. The regular use of surnames was not yet common outside the nobility.

That was then, - this is now, - and it is left to refer briefly to the arrival of the Family in the UK, several generations ago, whilst appreciating that there is Family elsewhere in the world which probably knows little of the UK part of our History. As mentioned above, an Article is being researched about the Persian Carpet Trade in London from our grandparents' time and that should produce quite a deal of information about us which has laid fallow for one hundred years.

Marlene Sternbach is the best address for your offers of modern-era information, tit-bits, memories, documents maybe - juicy stories ? - as she is herself concentrating on the Family in the UK during our own lifetimes, - from the beginning of the 20th century to date.

It is still a little difficult to determine who were the first 20th century Benardouts to tread upon the soil of that green and pleasant land, - somewhere in the depths of Stepney's slums probably. Whilst we know of Aharon de Cohen Benardout
and of his brother Azriel and their immediate families, we do not know much more. Detail from that time seems to have been lost, - which is one of the main reasons for writing these lines of course, - Lest all be lost.

Whether Aharon and Azriel arrived in England with their own parents and all their siblings, another brother and three sisters, is not known to your collator but it seems to be the case. For myself, I cannot recall any mention ever of great-grandparents in the UK but would happily admit to being ignorant. This section of the Family's first arrival is well-dated however - 1901.


From that item one might surmise, logically enough, that there may well have been decendants of Benardouts who moved to England from Revolutionary France, at the time of the Terror, - from just before the Napoleonic Wars. There certainly were some by the 1850's......but all this still requires research. For the name again crops up in West Yorkshire Parish records, for example :

John Benardout
PARISH: Buslingthorpe, St Michael
BAPTISM DATE: 31 Jan 1894
FATHER: William Henry Benardout
MOTHER: Margaret Benardout.

and again -

Eliza Ann Benardout
Death Age: 56
Birth Year: abt 1882
Burial Date: 25 Mar 1938
Parish: Kirkstall, St Stephen, Yorkshire, England
Search Photos: Search for 'Kirkstall, St Stephen' in the UK City, Town and Village Photos collection

Kindly note that these are Parish records, - i.e. of the Anglican Church in effect, - and of Parishes not that far from each other either. And that the only dates given there are of baptism, - (possibly implying a conversion or perhaps just a regular baby baptism to an existing Anglican family), - or burial, but again, clearly as Anglicans. But we have no more than this for the moment.

On the Ancestry co. UK web-site you can find a short record of 868 Benardout entries taken from UK Census records ranging from 1853 to 1980 which can be seen as only relatively reliable - i.e. not very !! Sometimes addresses are a little garbled. For example, I personally appear as having taken part in the census of 1965 although I was already well settled in Israel at that interesting point ! Alas, - in order to look into each one in detail subscriptions have to be taken out and this I must leave to others.

But two items can be picked up straight away. Right at the end is a short list of Benardouts who completed the census although already living in Australia, and this might be useful for some family members as "anchor lights ", shall we say. The new Australians shown there are : Maurice Joseph Azriel Benardout and Maureen Hilda Maud Benardout, recorded in 1977 as living in the Maylands district of Perth, and later in 1980 at Thornlie, Tangney, also in Western Australia. Wayne Benardout is shown as living in Thornlie in 1980. In the Australian chapter above there is reference to what would appear to be Maurice Joseph's burial there but he died pre-WWII, so like all other Census information this requires clarification - and caution.

The second is an item from an 1853 census, but I am told that the web-site has erred by 100 should be 1953, - so that currently this particular piece of evidence is not acceptable, However, the items already brought - from France, - stand unchallenged for the time being.


If you were to look at the reference on the Family Tree to great-grandfather Joseph you will find
stated that he was a maker of carpets in 1909, but it seems more likely that he picked up that profession in the UK than that it was his occupation whilst still in Salonika. For it is quite definitely a fact that the most popular field of family work in Salonika was the tobacco trade, as our own grand-parents themselves still practised it during the period up to and immediately after their arrival in the UK in 1901, and a few of them for a long time thereafter.

A second Family group arrived from Salonika in the early 1920's but your collator again cannot say when exactly nor who they were. He has absolutely no personal knowledge of that and only a vague memory from family folklore.

For reasons way beyond Man's understanding, - and this appears elsewhere, - that first generation in England and those immediately following it went out of their way to almost wipe out memories of our past. If there are amongst us those who have knowledge, - then
PLEASE share it, - for otherwise it will die with you.

Most if not all of the surnames from the UK are spelt
Benardout as one word, sometimes with and sometimes without HaCohen. The use of HaCohen seems to have been a very personal choice in the UK, not too often used by the middle of the 20th Century.

For example, Jack HaCohen Benardout (of Wimbledon, married to Minnie), always insisted upon its use. His elder brother, - my Father, Joseph HaCohen Benardout, (married to Leah Arditi), dropped the HaCohen altogether in 1912,
at the age of 14, but reinstated it and dropped the Benardout for a few years when he was a young man, using only Cohen, - not even HaCohen. This was learnt somewhat surprisingly from the Special Branch Report filed with the Home Office concerning his application for naturalization in 1930. This fad lasted for only a few short years - (he was also a Freemason), - and he returned to being a simple Benardout.

At this stage therefore, there would seem to be little point in going overboard with the ins and outs of the Family in the UK beyond touching upon totally incidental items which may or may not be particularly well known. The Family Tree available to some of us gives most of the detail one needs as to bare relationships even though that information is somewhat lacking in historical colour and surely requires updating.

My strongly held view has always been that the Family in the UK is still sufficiently compact to maintain and write its own local History for it is only 100 years old and, in fact, this is what Marlene has begun to do employing the medium of the Facebook and it's flexible, wide-open availability, encouraging participation, - rather than this stricter, more historically based and rather heavy, if not pompous, format !!

The home-base is still at the Holland Park Synagogue but the challenge would be to review all the documentation at Bevis Marks and Lauderdale Road as well, not to mention material at the newer communities at Wembley and elsewhere
and in the National Archives of course. To draw up a full Family Tale from what is made available would surely not be an impossible labour.

Some miscellany therefore -

G. F. Benardout
- in 2010 was employed as a Bluecoat, - a form of Proctor/Security Officer at Westminster School, London, a full member of Staff in fact.

Bob Peters
- I came across this name on the London SE1 Community web-site. In 2008 he enquired as to the fate of Benardouts who had lived in the same tenement at Lee House, Queens Buildings, Collinson Street off Southwark Bridge Road where he had himself lived in the old days.

All Londoners in the Family know that the arrivals from Salonika settled first in the East End but also that they moved to West London pdq. But that family had remained in SE1 was unknown to the undersigned.

Bob mentions that his own mother,
Pearl, was born a Benardout as she indeed was. I have not - alas - received any further information although since received two further enquiries as to "The Buildings " as they were known in London, - proving that there is both interest and information out there just begging to be brought into play.

Shoreditch -
You will have noticed that Saul Leslie is writing-up or editing the memoirs of Mack Benardout, in which the East End days seem to be central. If one may say so, this is a perfect example of how the web-site can broaden and improve. I hope that Saul will let me have a resume or a section which can be integrated here and if there's enough we can open a full chapter on the East End on its own, with a link to Saul's own book and so forth.

Yom-Tov Aziz
, - (an Honorary Family Member in my humble opinion). The late Professor Aziz was at one time Reverend at Holland Park and until his passing last year a very high-powered scholar of Sephardic Jewry, the author of many weighty volumes and a definite Authority on part of our subject, both in Israel and elsewhere.

Here and there one has been able to draw on his work concerning the Community in more ancient times and when our ducks are in order, it will be possible to approach his Daughter who has very kindly agreed to assist where she can, being herself au fait with his work and an historian in her own right.

: So far as we have been able to determine, the number of Benardouts who actually left the United Kingdom in order to live permanently in Israel is altogether - five. To these should be added an encouraging tribe of Sabra children and grandchildren of course. But there are also more that arrived here from Salonika itself, both before and after WW II, and even one who came here possibly via Switzerland, but has not yet been traced.

Investments in Spanish Apartments :
During the 1960's there was something of an outflow of family capital from the UK in the general direction of Spain (and Palmas de Majorcas in particular). How many properties were bought there, and how many family members may have even gone to live there would be guesswork. But it indicated a feeling for that Country, prompted no doubt by language and instinct, but since at that time the subject was taboo for foreign currency reasons and, so far as I know, has never been backed-up by enquiry, research or the recording of history, there is at present now't to offer. A pity.

These investments were actively encouraged by General Franco's government in those days, - a point which seems to have been deliberately overlooked in the Spanish Government's current efforts to encourage us to renew our erstwhile Spanish Citizenship.

More British than the British
: There's no need to go on too much about this item, for it was more than accepted by the vast majority to be correct Family Strategy. But it is still fact that the founding fathers in the UK went totally overboard in ensuring that our generation, (those born just before and during the Second World War), would indeed be of that ilk and left totally ignorant of their immediate, not to mention their more distant past. It seemed to have been more than enough for them that we, their children, knew how to make boreccas and enjoy bamya.

To such a degree was this sort of self-denial practised that the Reverend Nissim Levy, that most respected and honoured leader of the Holland Park Congregation from its founding and up through the 1960's, once broke from all tradition by giving a sermon in his heavily accented English, (which was hard for him), taking strong issue with those like my Father who had sent their children to foreign (i.e. English) schools to learn foreign (i.e. English) ways. So one must ask :
How many from the Community had escaped out of range of the family radar altogether by then and no doubt later, never to be heard from again ?

As a piece of clear evidence of the More British than the British social tenet it should be noted that the Community was originally called "The Sephardi Congregation of Levantine Jews London ", but after two years (in 1926), changed to the more North European, Dutch-sounding, aristocratically-supported "
Spanish and Portuguese Congregation Holland Park "......gone, gone, is any reference to the Levant.....and in comes a name already accepted by the English, - and sweeter-sounding, no doubt, in our own ears too.

I have no criticsm here, - I am myself a product of that strategy and happily so, but that is no excuse for hiding our history from ourselves and from our grandchildren.
Feel free - I will always relate to what you say