Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: July 14, 2017
Webpage updated: April 07, 2021




The Hebrew School in Plymouth was founded and endowed by Mr Jacob Nathan, a pawnbroker and goldsmith in Ham Street, who died on Tuesday May 21st 1867 (the Jewish year 5627) at the age of 83 years.  He had lived all his life in Plymouth and had been in business in Treville Street originally.  Throughout his life he had made large donations to many worthy causes out of the income from his business and property.   He was the largest single benefactor to the Plymouth Hebrew Congregation but also gave generously to many other non-sectarian institutions in Plymouth, including the Ragged School.

Upon his death he left 20,000 to local charities, of which 13,000 was to found and maintain a Jewish school for the poor*.  By an indenture dated September 8th 1868 a piece of land in Well Street, Plymouth, containing 1,180 square feet, with a dwelling-house thereon, was purchased for 420 and conveyed to Mr Abraham Ralph and two other trustees, and their heirs.  There, at number 69 Well Street, the School was established in 1869.

His Will also arranged for a property in Hoe Street, then in the occupation of a Mr Congdon, to be transferred to Mr Abraham Ralph on the condition that 'he should permit the master ..... to occupy two rooms therein ...'

Mr Simon Friedlander was the master in 1890.

At the start of the last century there was an average attendance of fifteen scholars but there had been as many as 25 and as few as seven, apparently.  The master received an annual salary of 75 and a small sum was expended each year on boots and clothing for the boys.  Although the endowment was managed by the surviving trustee, Mr Asher Levy, the School did not receive any Government grants and the income was barely sufficient for the running of the School.

The School had ceased by 1937.

The premises were destroyed during the Second World War.

It might be added that Jacob had two brothers, Nathaniel, born in 1778, and Henry, born 1793.  Nathaniel died on August 27th 1865 and left some charitable bequests.  Their sister, Bila, had died in 1833.  None of the family ever married.


  * The School's entry in the Kelly's Directory of Devonshire" for 1914 states that: '600 was left for establishing the School, and the interest on 200 for clothing poor children'
and also that the School 'derives its income from 3,000 Consols left by Jacob Nathan'.
Those statements have not been confirmed.