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Myer Davis 1830-1912

Myer Davis, known in later life as Myer David Davis, the son of David Davis (1801-1870) and Jane Myers (1797-1874), was born in Adgate on 19th November 1830. As a boy Myer attended the Talmud Torah section of the Jews' Free School in Bell Lane. His interest in Hebrew must have been stimulated by his grandfather, Jacob Myers, who was the principal assistant at a school in Mansell Street and also dabbled in authorship. The 1841 Census records Myer, then aged 10 years, staying with his 70 year old grandfather at 1 Moses Buildings [Moses Almshouses], Devonshire Street, Mile End Old Town.1

The J.F.S. Education Committee Minutes 2 record that Myer was presented as one of six candidates for the office of Hebrew master on 6th October 1847 and at the age of 18 he was appointed as master of the Talmud Torah class, which had been merged into the general institution, he also taught Hebrew in other classes of the school. While still at the Free School, Myer had begun to take an interest in Anglo-Jewish history, in the modern study of which he may be said to have been the pioneer Myer Davis married Frances Wolfson, head mistress of the Westminster Jews' School and a niece of Moses Ansell, Secretary of the Great Synagogue, on 20th July 1853.3

Myer and Frances had at least three children:
  • David Lionel Davis, born about 1854
  • Hannah Davis, born about 1857, married Paul Mansseviz on 13 Sep 1880 at the Central Synagogue, London 4
  • Rose Davis, born about 1863
In 1871 when he was first Hebrew master of the Jew's Free School, Myer was appointed examiner for Hebrew and religious subjects of pupils of Borough Jewish School.4 After many years' service at the Free School, he became Head Master of the Shaare Tikvah (Gates of Hope) Schools. Myer, Frances and family lived in Church Street, Spitalfields from 1871 5 or earlier until at least 1881.6

In 1900 Myer Davis' friends, pupils and admirers made a presentation to him to mark his 70th birthday, the gift included a house, number 106 Brondesbury Villas. He died at his home on Friday 12th January 1912 and is buried in Willesden Cemetery. Many articles have been written about him; his life and work are most concisely summarised by the following:

  1. 1841 Census for Mile End Old Town (HO 107/713/5, folio 14)
  2. J.F.S. Education Committee Minutes (LMA/4046/A/03 001)
  3. Marriage certificate
  4. Entries in 'The Jewish Victorian' (Doreen Berger, 1999)
  5. 1871 Census for Christ Church, Spitalfields (RG 10/507 folio 5R)
  6. 1881 Spitalfields (RG 11/435 folio 6V)
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This document is © Chris Newall 2003 and is freely available to fellow researchers.
It is not for sale or general publication.

Author : Chris Newall
Page created on : 1st July 2000
Last modified : 26th July 2003