JewishGen Discussion Group #JewishGen Re: Kew (UK) - free offer #general

Nick Landau <nick@...>

I have also just been to Kew to look at naturalisation papers. My
experience is totally different to that of David Kravitz. The staff
couldn't have been more helpful. It is true that the presumption is that
you are doing personal research so that the embarassment of the staff was
caused by him doing this volume of requests.

I ordered the naturalisation paper at 4pm (I was helped in doing so by a
member of staff as requests had to be in by 4pm for 5pm closure) and I had
the file by 4.25. They supply you with a pager so that you can continue
with other research and they then call you when your request is ready.

When the papers for my ggf arrived it was as though I had turned up the
crown jewels. Besides seeing material written in his own hand in 1870, the
application listed his children and with the simple note against four of
them (Born in Russia) contradicted a presumption that they were all born in
England. (I should add that the children were >from my ggf's marriage to his
first wife who died - they were a generation older than my grandfather).
This means that we need to revise the date when my ggf and his family
arrived in England.

It also gives the family's various addresses for 8 years before the
application for naturalisation.

Finally the application is supported by 4 British citizens who all have
Jewish names. In due course, I will list them as there might be readers of
this group who are connected with them.

In half an hour, I obtained more concrete evidence about my great
grandfather than the family have had since he died in 1903.

My father had thought along with the rest of the family that he and his
wife escaped Russia when he was 18 in about 1850. He was supposed (family
lore - no written confirmation) to have changed his name >from Fredkin to
Landau in order to do so.

What were they doing between 1850 and 1860? How could they have escaped
Russia with 4 children? If he had escaped when 18, how could they have been
travelling round Europe with 4 children?

It has answered some questions - it has raised some others.

Nick Landau

MARCUS ISRAEL LANDAU/FREDKIN(?) (Gomel,Russia/Belarus;London)

For those who took up my free offer of research at Kew, results will be
sent shortly. For some the news is good, for others a blank.

Whilst I will respond directly to those whose families I researched, I
would like to draw to the attention of all genners who want data >from from
Kew Public Record Office a problem of access. In the UK there is no freedom
of information act and as a general rule, there is a 100 year bar on
naturalisation papers. In certain circumstances this is reduced to 70 years
by the UK government Home Office. There appears to be no logic. Last
Friday, I located a (possible) ancestor Solomon Cravitz, who lived in
Ilford, east London. He naturalised in 1911 and may well have been my ggf's
brother. Whilst access to details about spies such as Mata Hari and Rudolf
Hess have just been released, poor old "uncle" Sol remains a state secret
until 2012. Perhaps he was convicted of switching on a light late Friday
night? Of the various possible relatives I located, I was allowed access to
one set of documents only and having spent some five hours selecting and
visiting the collection counter, the staff eventually became highly
embarrassed, but sympathetic. It could be that only those naturalised in
the nineteenth century are guaranteed free access. In other cases, you must
first prove direct lineage.

On a second matter, the PRO is slowly computerising but thought that
naturalisation papers were the lowest priority (We're only foreigners?). I
intend to discuss this with them and will keep you posted.

David Kravitz
Bournemouth, UK

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