© Marcus Roberts (2004 & 2008 & 2012)


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Montefiori then settled to a long period as a widower, during which he gave to a huge variety of causes and continued to travel and intervene in matters for the Jewish good. His works included the founding of a Jewish Colony, Yemin Moshe in Jerusalem. He was lionised and virtually became a living Jewish monument. In his later years Montefiori spent much more of his time in Ramsgate and became more infirm. He was obliged to be carried to synagogue by sedan chair, from nearby East Cliffe Lodge, when he was able to attend.

On reaching his centenary, in 1883, the day was declared a public holiday in Ramsgate and all businesses closed. At the close of the day there was a banquet in the Granville Hotel, there were illuminations in the town and a firework display was given at East Cliff. On his 101st birthday there were even more extravagant celebrations and accolades. Sir Moses also gave a gift of a golden chain of office (its links in the shape of a letter 'mem') to the Mayor of Ramsgate.

When he finally passed away in the ninth month of his one-hundred and first year, on the 28 July 1885, there was wide spread public grief across the world and he then went to rest by his wife's side in the mausoleum. On the day of his burial tens of thousands lined the road from East Cliff to the synagogue and there was public mourning.

His nephew, Joseph Sebag, inherited the estate at the age of 63 and the Montefiori mantle in Ramsgate. Sir Moses was his maternal uncle and closest to the Baronet in his family. Joseph worked with his uncle in his earlier missions on behalf of Jews and was an official at various times in all the offices of Bevis Marks Synagogue in London. He had married Adelaide, daughter of Louis Cohen, which firmly made him part of the 'Cousin-hood' and of the Montefiori circle. He was also the founder of the bank, Joseph Sebag & Co.

In 1885 Queen Victoria gave him a royal licence to use his uncle's name and coat of Arms, so now Joseph Sebag was Joseph Sebag-Montefiori. In 1896 Joseph Sebag-Montefiori was created a knight for his work for the Jewish community. He was also made Consul-General for Italy in 1896 (until 1901). In his later years in Ramsgate, he was widely involved in public life and held numerous positions and honours. These included a Lieutenant of the City of London, a J.P. for London, Kent and the Cinque Ports as well as High Sheriff for Kent. He also continued Jewish work - he largely ran the Holy Land Trust set up by Sir Moses and in the last years of the century he was Vice-President of the Chovevi Zion Association for the Promotion of Jewish colonisation. Sir Joseph also took the Presidency of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in 1895.

Sir Joseph Sebag Montefiori died in 1903. His grandson reported that, 'he died of Bridge'. Apparently Sir Joseph enjoyed his (by then) old fashioned game of Whist. One day he found that death had finally thinned the already dwindled ranks of his fellow Whist-Players at his club in Ramsgate and had effectively put an end to his daily game. Being unwilling or too old to learn Bridge, he went to London, caught a chill and promptly died!

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