Jewish Converts Institution in London / Conversion records #unitedkingdom #records

Orit Lavi

Dear friends,

A person I research was found at the Jewish Converts Institution of Rev. Henry Oliver Allbrook in London, in the early 1920s. The institution was then located at 58 Bodney Road, Hackney E8.
Where can I find records for Jews who converted to Christians at that time in London?
And specifically, is it possible to find records on those who were related to the above mentioned institution?

Many thanks and Shabbath Shalom!

Orit Lavi
Tsukey Yam, Israel

Caroline Gurney <research@...>

Dear Orit,

The Operative Jewish Converts' Institution (OCJI) was founded by the London Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews (LSPCJ) in 1829. Originally located at Palestine Place, Bethnal Green, the OCJI moved to Bodney Road, Hackney, after Palestine Place was sold in 1895. See:

I suspect that any records which still exist will be in the archives of the Church's Ministry Among Jewish People (CMJ) which is the successor body to the LSPCJ. You can contact them to find out: I'm about to do so myself as, in the course of my research into Bristol's Jewish community, I have discovered two people with links to Bristol who were converted and baptised at Palestine Place in 1835 and went on to become missionaries in Jerusalem and North Africa, ultimately being ordained as Christian ministers.

The baptism records for the Jew's Chapel at Palestine Place can be found in the registers of St Matthew's, Bethnal Green, which are available on Ancestry. The records are faded and poorly indexed, so I had to use the browse function to find the entries I was interested in. It was worth the effort as, for adult converts, the town of birth and names of parents were recorded. In both the cases in which I am interested the men subsequently used their father's given name as a patronymic surname, despite a different surname being recorded in one case (the other had the surname left blank).

In the same way, you should be able to find the baptism of the person you are researching in Ancestry's dataset 'London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1920':, assuming they were baptised before the end of 1920. I hope the Hackney baptism registers will be as informative as the Bethnal Green ones, in regards to birth town and parentage.

Caroline Gurney
Portishead, UK

Ittai Hershman

Further to Caroline's more direct response to your query, the whole history of the LSPCJ has in recent years been written about by the historian David Ruderman.  I highly recommend his 2020 book "Missionaries, Converts, and Rabbis" and you can find lectures by him on the topic (I attended an early such lecture in 2015, but I see that a 2020 version was sponsored by the National Library of Israel and is on their YouTube channel).

Around the time I became aware of this history, In London, I stumbled on the memorial plaques for those involved in the LSPCJ at the restored Christ Church Spitalfields that had been relocated from Palestine Place.  Spitalfields was part of the Jewish East End of London.  If anyone is interested, I photographed these memorial plaques which can be seen here:

Finally, Orit, as you are in Israel, if you are not aware, literally across the street from the entrance to Migdal David in the old city of Jerusalem, is the oldest Anglican church in the Middle East.  It was built expressly for the purpose of proselytizing Jews, and was headed by a Jew who converted in London, Bishop Michael Solomon Alexander.  מאוד כדאי לבקר.  Here is a photograph of the alter that I took when I visited over Chanukka a month ago.

Ittai Hershman
New York City


I second Ittai's recommendation to visit the church - certainly not your typical Anglican church. :)  There is usually someone around who will be able to tell you a bit about it, if you like.  Also there is a museum and good sit-down pastry shop with cakes, coffee and the like.

Steve Goldberg
Jerusalem, Israel
Sagan/Shagan family from Veliuona (Velon), Lithuania
Goldberg family from Vidukle, Lithuania
Susselovitch/Zuselovitch family from Raseiniai (Rassein), Lithuania

David Mendoza

I emailed CMJ asking about archives, but never heard back. Best wishes, David Mendoza