The Anonymous Widower

Did The Tailor Of Bexley Come From Koningsberg?

My paternal great-great-great grandfather; Robert, was a tailor from Bexley, who I wrote about in The Tailor Of Bexley. I said this in that post.

My father once told me, that his grandfather, who must have been William, once told him, of a first hand account of Robert the tailor of Bexley, who was his grandfather.

He said that he was German and that he didn’t speak any English. Because of my coeliac disease, which is quite common in East European Jews and his profession, we can probably assume that Robert; the tailor of Bexley was Jewish. My father also told me that the family name was Müller, which had been Anglicised.

 

I know little more of him and his place of birth is not known to me. All I know is that he had a son; Edward in 1816, so that would put his birth in the late eighteenth century.

My trip to North-East Poland got me thinking, as I saw the branches of the Prussian Eastern Railway and discussed the history of the area with Piotr; our excellent Polish guide from Gdansk.

I also searched the Internet for Koningsberg and learned more details of its history in the late eighteenth century, with the Napoleonic Wars and the various partitions of Poland. I also read how Koningsberg was a large and cultured city. Wikipedia says this.

A university city, home of the Albertina University (founded in 1544), Königsberg developed into an important German intellectual and cultural centre, being the residence of Simon Dach, Immanuel Kant, Käthe Kollwitz, E. T. A. Hoffmann, David Hilbert, Agnes Miegel, Hannah Arendt, Michael Wieck and others.

But with the Second World War, the elimination of Jews from the city by the Nazis and the eventual takeover of the area by the Russians, the recent history has been less than a happy one.

Knowing myself, it sounds like the sort of city that I like, as my three favourite cities are Hong Kong, Liverpool and of course London.

Hence the question that is the title of this post!

My family is very ambitious and opportunistic and as Koningsberg was a major port, exporting goods from the area all over Northern Europe, I can imagine Robert deciding in his twenties to get out of the city to avoid yet another war or partition and taking a ship to London to find fame and fortune. He might even just have finished his apprenticeship as a tailor.

From arriving in the London Docks, he didn’t need to go far to end up in Bexley. A few years later he moved to Shoreditch, just a mile or so from where I live now!

I think Robert could have given me two characteristics, other than the ambition and the coeliac disease.

  • His Jewish religion, but not its philosophy and values, seems to have been abandoned. I am very much a confirmed atheist with what I think, are fairly sound moral values, shared with most mainstream religions.
  • He also endowed me with genes that enable me to endure the cold.

It may not be a correct tale, but even so, isn’t it a reflection down the centuries of today’s streams of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other places.

Nothing changes!

Except the religion!

January 29, 2016 Posted by | World | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Plaque At Hull Station

Hull’s part in the emigration of Jews from Eastern Europe in the nineteenth centuries is told in this plaque  at the station now called Hull Paragon Interchange.

A Plaque At Hull Station

The emigrants actually used special platforms to the south of the main station, as the authorities were worried about infectious diseases. My coeliac disease probably came from Askenazi Jews from Eastern Europe, but I suspect they came by a shorter route more directly to London, where my German-speaking ancestors worked in the fur trade.

October 21, 2012 Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , | 2 Comments