Verifying a Jewish heritage #general

Karin Duncan <karind@...>

My great-aunt died recently, and on her deathbed revealed a secret that she
had been harboring for almost 80 years - that her mother was Jewish. This
was rather astonishing to us, and we're attempting to get further information.

I had coincidentally been doing family research, and the name of her
mother's mother was almost an impossibility to research. I know that my
grandmother's family was English (and researched well back to the 1600s on
her father's father's and mother's line and her mother's father's line),
but ran into quite a block with her mother's mother who was listed on her
marriage cert in London as:

Esther DAVIES, daughter of Gryffith (labourer), birthplace Wales.

I hadn't been able to find any record of death for Esther Davies (even
looking under Davis/Davies/Norman surnames (she married Robert William
NORMAN at St Barnabas Church Kensington 16 October 1864), nor under

My father's cousin (to whom my great-aunt revealed this knowledge) wrote
from England that he remembers his mother referring to non-Jewish girls as
'schiksters', but that his mother, Rose ADCOCK, had also married 'a Jewish
guy in the jewellery business called Percy BANNISTER and had a son called
Freddie when she was seventeen...1924 or 1925', and she may have picked up
the term (it was evidently one among many) during this marriage (she ran
away, abandoning her son)

At this point, I don't know where to start. I have one cousin attempting
to find an Esther DAVIES listed on the civil birth registrations of 1842
and 1843 (where every second DAVIES girl child was apparently called
Esther/Hester or Estare), and the LDS IGI has no registration for an Esther
DAVIES born within that time frame who had a father named Gryffith DAVIES,
Gryffith DAVID, Gryffith DAVIS or any combination of those names. The
Welsh use of the patronymic is extremely frustrating, and I think the UK
registrations are my best bet.

I'm giving details on the off-chance that there is potentially some
awareness someone may have of Davies and Welsh/English Jews that may help
clear up the situation. If the background is Jewish, we'd like to know
(especially one cousin, who through matrilineal lines would be considered
Jewish if this was verified, and would not have to convert). As my
grandmother (whose mother's mother was Esther DAVIES) had 10 daughters and
2 sons, and the daughters have several daughters and grand-daughters, this
aspect of our heritage shouldn't be hidden. But - we can't tell given the
limited information we've had so far, and don't want to claim a heritage to
which we are not entitled.

Is there a central repository of records in London within the Jewish
community that would allow me to find marriage details between Rose ADCOCK
and Percy BANNISTER, where the lineage would be detailed? I only have a
cursory knowledge of Jewish traditions (enough to be polite, coming >from a
multi-ethnic community), and am not sure whether this information would
have been maintained within the Jewish community.

Any response would be helpful, negative or positive, and I would thank you
for any time you could spare to advise me.

Karin Duncan
Ottawa, Canada

MODERATOR NOTE: The best way to go >from here is to the resources
found in JewishGen. There is a wealth of information to help you
further your research. You can get a list of all the resources
available by accessing our home page at

Under the heading RESEARCH you will find : FamilyFinder where you
can search for other people researching the same surnames.

Under the heading LEARN you will find : FAQ (Frequently Asked
Questions) and InfoFiles.

MBernet@... writes:
<< Esther DAVIES, daughter of Gryffith (labourer), birthplace Wales.
=="Gryffith . . . labourer . . . Wales"-- While Davies is a fairly common
name among British Jews, the details you give about Esther suggest that her
father was not Jewish. If her mother was Jewish, she would be considered
Jewish under Jewish religious law and so would her daughters and their
daughters . . . . .

<< Is there a central repository of records in London within the Jewish
community that would allow me to find marriage details between Rose ADCOCK
and Percy BANNISTER, where the lineage would be detailed?
==If Rose wasn't Jewish, she could not have married within the Jewish
community and it is very unlikely that there will be any record in Jewish
registers. Percy Bannister does not suggest Jewish ancestry, but then,
British Jews have assumed many "British" name to "fit in better."--and it is
certainly possible that he was Jewish.

Michael Bernet
ALTMANN: Kattowitz, Breslau, Poznan, Beuthen--Upper Silesia/Poland
WOLF(F): Frankfurt, Wurzburg, Furth, Yugoslavia, Westchester
WOLF, Sali & Rachel, Rotterdam, murdered by Dr. Petiot, Paris ca 1942
WEIL[L], Albert, Fr. hon. consul in Nurnberg; returned to France 1936/7.