Sheerness & Blue Town
Marcus Roberts


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In 1841 there were only five Jewish families left in Sheerness, the Abrahams, Levys, Jacobs and Benjamins. It is of interest that despite the decline the community had continued in its economic diversification and was despite its decay firmly entrenched in the local economy and community.

The 1841 professions include furriers, slopsellers, pawnbrokers and silversmiths, haberdashers, milliners, dressmakers, furniture-brokers. Obviously some individuals combined more than one trade.

The community restored the synagogue with some difficulty in 1841. In 1843 the community got a permanent lease on their cemetery in Hope Street. By 1853 there were only 15 seat-holders in the synagogue.

Despite the continuing twilight of the community, the process of social and economic integration into the town continued. A street, Russell Street is stated to have been named out of respect for Samuel Russell after a fatal accident in 1859. It is of note that one of the founding board members of Blue Town Elementary School in 1876-7 was a Henry Jacobs of the Jacobs' clan. Furthermore, towards the end of the century, Mrs Frances Jacobs, apart from being a respected and well-known resident of Sheerness, was involved in the tourist industry that had grown in Sheerness as she was a proprietor of a tea room.

The end of the Jewish community was signaled in 1887 when the Chief Rabbi advised that the synagogue should be dismantled. When Mrs. Frances Jacobs died in 1904 at Southend, the newspaper coverage indicates that her passing marked in many respects the end of an era, as she had been the living niece of the song-writer Henry Russell and had been born in a cottage, probably one of the Blue-Houses in Blue Town, in the early days of the Jewry.

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