Richmond & South West London
© Marcus Roberts


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During the 19th century there seem to have been fewer Jews in Richmond, and only a few names clearly stand out. One is that of Benjamin Cohen.

In 1838 Cohen brought the lease of Asgill House, built in 1760 for Sir Charles Asgill a former mayor of London, the site of which had in fact been owned earlier still by Moses Hart. Cohen was a man of substance - as banker he went on to hold offices as a J.P. and Deputy-Lieutenant for Surrey. He was also married to a sister of Sir Moses Montefiore. He had also lived in Grosvenor Gate, Park Lane and also had a property at Marine Parade in Brighton. Cohen substantially improved his house and it stands today much as he left it in an imposing position by the Thames.

His son, Arthur Cohen K.C., also lived at the house in his youth, rising to the office of Privy Councillor and judge of the Cinque Ports. Another of his three sons died by drowning while boating on the Thames not far from his house - the Thames is always a treacherous river.

Mr. Neumegen (1787-1875) of Gloucester House, Kew, is of considerable interest. In 1840 Mr. Leopold Neumegen (1787-1875) and his wife acquired the house and removed their school, that had to that point been operating successfully at Highgate, and moved it to Gloucester House. Neumegens' school was for upper class Jews and his establishment was to run as a family concern, with considerable success into the early 20th century. His school was significant as it educated many prominent Jews and it was in its foundation an early response to perceived need for more education for Jews.

A review of the trades directories in the latter part of the 19th century does reveal one significant new trend in Richmond Jewish history - the establishment of a few Jewish run shops in the town. With this it seems a new class of Jewish resident had made it into the town - non-aristocratic, Jewish traders. This was to set the pattern for the twentieth century, when Richmond would no longer be the preserve of a few exceptionally wealthy Jews, but would have a wider social makeup.

Trade directories list several Jewish businesses. In 1856 there is a Henry Magnus, a clothier of Brewer lane and also a Jacob Wolff, a jeweler of George Street. In 1865 William Pyke, a green grocer of Marshgate appears. It may be noted that Magnus and Pyke were established Jewish names in Chatham and Kent. Among the residential names of 1865 appear Benjamin Cohen J.P. and an E. Levi, the latter of 5 Park Villas West.

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