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Sir Jacob Adolphus, Knt., M.D., (c.1775-1845) was one of the most interesting examples of these Jews who were often on the fringes of the Jewish community in Cheltenham.

Sir Jacob was born of one of the number of old Sephardic families on the Island of Jamaica who contributed so much to the island's administration and trade. He joined the army in 1798, in a medical capacity, rising eventually to the high rank of Major-General in 1832. During his career he served in the Medical Department of the army in many parts of the world becoming Inspector-General of Army Hospitals and Physician-General to the Militia Forces of Jamaica. His contribution was such that he was knighted at St James' Palace on 4 July, 1840. This Knighthood was thus conferred before Jewish disabilities were removed in Great Britain itself.

Other than his military career, Sir Jacob was a member of the Jamaican Board of Health and of the Council of the Jamaican Society for the encouragement of Agriculture and other arts and sciences.

Like so many other former Army members and civil servants Adolphus chose to spend his retirement in the fashionable and salubrious environs of Cheltenham. It is highly unlikely that he had any involvement with the Jewish community at all. He lived at No. 17 Lansdowne Terrace where he died on January 1, 1845, aged 70 years. It is noted that, "It is doubtful if he was buried with Jewish rites."

Cheltenham is an interesting example of the fact that even in the first half of the 19th century a larger proportion of Jews than many would prefer to think, were disaffiliated from their community and largely assimilated, or even converted to Christianity. In many cases this may have reflected the ambition to get on in English society (especially among the Sephardim) set against the frustrations in the progress of Jewish emancipation in this period. There was also the factor of the decline of the perceived authority of the synagogue and the community over the lives of individual Jews. The large numbers of communal fracas in the early 19th century and individuals feeling confident enough to resign contact with their official communities is indicative in this direction.

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