Jeff Knisbacher <jknisbac@...>
The first day of my trip to London that began a few weeks ago was
devoted to finding a naturalization form for a presumed ancestral
cousin, Benjamin TISINBOM. Information at the Public Record Office (near
the Kew Gardens underground station, not all that far >from Heathrow
airport), indicated that most aliens never bothered with either
naturalization (full rights of citizenship) or "denization" (which
allowed one to own property but not inherit it) because it was a very
expensive process. In fact the information document said specifically
that only the rich ever attempted it. Since I knew that this likely
cousin had been a successful business man in Bedford (some 50 miles
north of London in the Midlands section of England) running an ice cream
parlor and several confectionery establishments, I was still hopeful,
but by no means confident. Luckily he was, in fact, rich and did apply
for and receive his naturalization in 1913, the year of my father's
birth and the year that my maternal grandfather (whose mother was a
TISSENBAUM, where the presumed connection comes in) arrived in the U.S.
The process was, indeed, complicated. It required five native born
Englishmen to swear to the good character of the applicant and the fact
that he had lived in England for 5 of the last 8 years as required by
English law. It also required a police report, certifying the accuracy
of the application form itself and the truthfulness of all the
witnesses, as well as various other documents and a 2 pound fee
(possibly equal to $100 in today's money?) submitted by a professional
"solicitor". Most of these original documents were located, in a neatly
tied bundle, which the PRO will copy for you for about 50 pence (75
cents a page, if I remember correctly).
I will only reproduce here the text of the application itself
(referred to in this document as a "memorial", where the applicant is
referred to as the "memorialist"):
"The humble Memorial of Benjamin Tisinbom at Number 5 Prebend Street,
Bedford in the County of Bedford an Alien.
1. That your Memorialist is a Natural-born Subject of the Kingdon of
Roumania, that he was born at Botosani, Roumania and his parents names
were Benjamin Tisinbom and Zinae Tisinbom both of whom were Roumanians.
Benjamin Tisinbom the Father died in Roumania in 1866. The mother
re-married in London one [sic] an Englisman called Sinfield who is dead,
she lives at 67 Erie Street, Mile End Road, London.
2. That your Memorialist's name is Benjamin Tisinbom, that he resides at
Number 5 Prebend Street, Bedford aforesaid, that he is of the age of
forty six years, having been born on the seventh day of August 1866 and
that he is by trade a confectioner.
3. That your Memorialist is married and has four children only, all of
whom are under age and live with their parents. Their names and ages are
Pauline Tisinbom born 21st December 1897 age 15
Marx [known subsequently as John] Tisinbom born 24th August 1899 age 13
John Herman [known as Herman] Tisinbom born 16th Augst 1904 age 8
Doris Tisinbom born 11th February 1908 age 5.
4. That during the period of eight years immediately preceding this
Application your Memorialist has for five years resided within the
United Kingdom namely
from 1st June 1908 to 1st June 1913 at Number 5 Prebend Street Bedfordaforesaid
5. That you Memorialist intends to continue to reside permanently within
the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
Because he has lived in the United Kingdom since 1887. That he has
married an English speaking wife his children speak English only and he
has been comforatable and happy during his continous residence of twenty
six years in the United Kingdom.
6. That the grounds on which your Memorialist seeks to obtain the rights
and capacities of a Natural-born British Subject are as follows--
Because he is determined to remain in the United Kingdom for the
rest of his life and he desires his children to have all the privileges
of a natural born British subject. He is desirous of adopting the
nationality of the nation which received him and gave him shelter when
persecuted for his Religion by the Roumanians.
Your Memorialist therefore humbly prays that a Certificate of
Naturalization under the provisions of the Statute 33 Victoria Cap. 134
intituled "An Act to amend the Law realting to the Legal Condition of
Aliens and British Subjects" may be granted to him.
And your Memorialist will ever pray &c.
A couple of quick comments. First, much of this document was in
Benjamin's own hand, very clearly, almost elegantly written. Second, we
still have no idea why he came to the UK in the first place and whether
he came before his mother, or vice versa. We also have no information on
the unnamed "Sinfield" that his mother remarried, or whether any
children resulted >from that union, although I did find a cleaning
establishment run by a Sinfield family in the Mile End area of London in
a 1913 city directory. Third, I still do not know the exact connection
with the TISSENBAUMs of Kamenetz Podolsk but am more convinced than ever
that there is one since Botosani (Jewish pop. of nearly 12,000 in 1920
as per Where Once We Walked) is in the northeast corner of Romania, not
very far >from Kamenetz, in the SW corner of Ukraine that borders
Romania. In a visit with my cousin Michael Henman, grandson of Benjamin
TISINBOM (who hosted us most graciously), I was given a copy of the
Ketubah (wedding certificate) for Benjamin and his wife Esther Cohen
(>from 1896, in the Great Synagogue in London, which was destroyed by
Nazi bombing raids during the war). I was also given a magnificent
tooled ivory and velvel covered Siddur (prayer book), printed in
Budapest in 1893 and giving the prayers in Hebrew and an English
translation, with occasional readers' notes in Yiddish. Where or how
either Benjamin or Esther came by this book is open to speculation.
Since Benjamin was in England >from 1887, he may have purchased the book
in England (which may have been produced for sale to the Jewish market
in England). Alternatively, maybe Esther was Hungarian and brought the
book with her. Any information that others can supply on these or
related matters will be most appreciated.
Owings Mills, MD