The Nathans - English Jewellers


My great grand-mother (Gerald's father's mother) was Susan Levenston (née Nathan) (1856-1913). Susan's father Benjamin Nathan and his father Samuel Nathan wrote letters home to their families as they travelled through the towns of England selling their wares in the 1800's. We are fortunate to be able to present two of these letters - transcribed by our relative Godfrey Simmons, one of the authors of the book The Lost Jews of Cornwall. We also present letters, which are in our possession, written to Susan Nathan from her father Benjamin.

Michael Levenston (me) 1951-
Gerald Levenston (dad) 1914-
Frederick Levenston (Grandfather) 1885-1931
Solomon Alexander Levenston (Great Grandfather) 1858-1897
Susan Nathan (His wife, my Great Grandmother) 1856-1913
Benjamin Yates Nathan (Susan's Father, my Great-Great Grandfather) 1824-1877, married in 1846, to Fanny Joel 1820-1879
Samuel Nathan (Benjamin's father, my Great-Great-Great Grandfather) 1790-1859, married 1819, to Polly Yates 1787-1873
Benjamin Yates (Polly's father, my Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather) died in 1798
Eliakim Goetz of Strelitz (Bejamin's Father, my Great-Great-Great-Great-Great Grandfather)

Alex and Sue  Levenston
Photo Left: Solomon Alexander Levenston (1858-1897) and wife Susan Levenston (née Nathan) (1856-1913). Solomon was a medical herbalist.
A brief history of the Nathan family can be found in Birmingham Jewry 1749-1949 editted by Zoë Josephs, published by the Birmingham Jewish History Research Group, 1980. See excerpt here:

Samuel Nathan, born in the 18th century, a Liverpool Jeweller, was the common forbear of two important jewellery families still functioning in the city. His wife, Polly Yates, was an ancestor of Viscount Herbert Samuel, British High Commissioner for Palestine during the years of the Mandate from 1920 - 1925.

Samuel's son, Benjamin, was apprenticed in Liverpool as a "watch motioner and joiner". Unfortunately, his master fell on hard times so the indentures had to be cancelled. In 1842 Benjamin took to the road, travelling presumably in jewellery. Arriving in Birmingham about 1860, he started a retail jewellery firm in Union Passage with his younger brother Ellis (Elias). This partnership was shortly dissolved, Ellis remaining with the shop, while Benjamin set up as a manufacturing jeweller in Vyse Street. The Census of 1871 shows him comfortably established there with a large family and three servants.

Benjamin died comparatively young, though his grandson, Reuben, as a young traveller still met people who remembered doing business with him. His widow carried on single-handed until her elder son, Frederick, left school at the age of 12. Eventually, he and his brother, Maurice, wemaded the firm into Nathan Brothers. In their turn, Frederick's sons, Reuben and Leonard, took over, and today Leonard's daughter, Sheila is a director (now deceased).

Both Nathan firms catered for the "top of the trade". Nathan Brothers' early books show delicate spray brooches, pendants and bracelets in every kind of stone. Elegant drop-earrings in topaz and aquamarine, necklaces of amethyst and pearl, cameos from Italy all testify to fine craftsmanship. Mourning jewellery and large clusters of diamonds in the heavy Victorian style were fashionable in the early days. In the nineteen thirties, Nathan Brothers were still innovators, being the first Birmingham firm to introduce modern marcasite jewellery.

Ellis Nathan remained in Union Passage selling jewellery retail, much of it supplied by Nathan Brothers and other Jewish jewellery manufacturers such as the Blanckensees. They specialised in every form of gold chain, guard chains, Alberts, Double Alberts and muff chains. Their lengthy advertisements in the local press, included diamond rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and brooches, new and secondhand, Whitby jet for fashionable mourners, silver and electro-plated tea sets and cutlery, gold and silver pencil cases, watches and clocks. Their music boxes included a model with "Celestial Voices, Harmoniphoni (sic), Drums and Bells". Customers were mainly iron and steel masters from the Black Country, such as the Stevens of Stourbridge, who often remained loyal to their "family jeweller" over generations. Old bill books show that cash rarely passed, 30 or 90-day bills, even for quite small amounts, being handed over and discounted by the Bank.

With the cutting of Corporation Street in 1878 Ellis moved to No.31 where the firm remains. His advertisements could still locate the Shop "under the clock" for he took it with him to hang above the front door. By 1871 Ellis was living in Duchess Road, Edgbaston, his home a lively centre of Jewish social life. He was a prominent Free Mason, while his wife, Susan, ran the typically Victorian Dorcas Society, a circle of ladies sewing for the needy. His son, George, was something of an actor, and the first Jewish Amateur Dramatic Society in Birmingham came into being in this home.

George did not follow in the family business, but became a silversmith, one of the first exponents of the limited edition. He specialised in very fine reproductions, each piece being sold with its history. With his partner, R. Hayes, his Assay Mark was registered at Chester. The Nathan family firm passed, through the Moses family, to yet another branch of the West Country Josephs, the present director, Mr.Rex Joseph, being a direct descendant.


Nathan Bible
Front pages of family Bible (4 volumes) listing births and deaths of Nathans (Levenston archive).





Transcibed Letter by Godfrey Simmons (Punctuation has been left as it was in the letters. Some words are very difficult to make out so there are possible errors.)

Letter dated 1841 from Samuel Nathan to his wife Kate (Polly)

14 Miles from Sunderland, 14 from Newcastle on Tyne, 18, ram Darlington. 7 O'clock Sunday Night Durham 26/Dec. 1841.

As my dear Kate is desirous to know how I spend my time and as she was so pleasing in her last letter and I may say that this is almost the first opportunity I have had of being alone and sitting in a very large old-fashioned Room and before a good fire and I can hear nothing but the ticking of an old fashioned Clock, as all is a piece in that way in this old Bishoprick. Now of the way of passtimes and to grattifie all parties if it will afford any amusement, particularly the old Dame who I know to be fond of a bit of Reading yet. I fancy I see you smile at all this! I can see smile at the end of the Yates (nose) I wish I was near it I would give a good (kiss) to all of you!

Samuel Nathan
Photo Left: Samuel Nathan (1790-1859)

I must now be like to Irishman, I must retrograde, as I must go backwards to get forwards. As I shall begin from the first (day) of my journey which was on Wednesday the 27th October just 2 months. I got to Manchester at 9, shaved dressed and got out a little after 1O, done a little business, sent home cash and so forth was there about 1O or 12 days. Lodged with a Mrs. Jones paid 1/- per night, very comfortable indeed all the time.

From the following course I called several times where Henry used to lodge played a game of cards now and then with the Ladies hush and patience. Sometimes a game of france a Foss with him and won his money, smoked a cigar now and then and about this time I met a very respectable young man by the name of Barnett a watch maker with whom I spent many evenings at playing cribbage for a trifle mostly at my lodgings and sometimes at his. As he used to lodge at a Polish Jew's it was mostly on Sundays I visited him.

There is a little Polish girl in this house next door to where Henry lived in Manchester. She made many enquiries about him, as well as the Miss Nathans in fact he appears to have been a great favourite. The first Friday night I was in Manchester I was sent for to tea. I spent the evening, but having received such a good supply of fried fish from my dear wife I did not goe there till after and Sat about an hour and partook of some porter apples with Zocker Peas at least their was all these to ammuse and refresh with. Modest as usual I believe. I took a few peas and then took myself to Mrs. Abrahams. Where I found Mr. Isaacs the lecturer and a few other young people. Then I took some cake of Miss 'as making and a glass of whiskey too, mixed by the hostess who was very pressing for my taking the same.

I went home with Mr. I to his inn, I took a glass as with him and it was 12 before I got home to bed talked a deal about our Joe with him who wishes me very much to follow his Hebrew Education etc. I went to Shool to hear him lecture, saw the Franklins did not want to speak to any of them, but could not escape the doctor who is a friendly little fellow.

Very fine Sunday morning when I left Manchester paid 1/3 for a Cab to the Leeds Railway, got to Halifax the same afternoon, dined on coffee and cheese quite satisfied smoked my pipe and chatted with some travellers whom I found there in the evening. Retired about 10, paid my usual visit to my friends the next day, but am sorry to say found few with a disposition to lay out much money trade being in a deplorable state. Got to Leeds the same evening about 5, was driven through the town in a Buss who takes passengers from the Station for 6d and put them and their luggage down at their houses and my being the last I was kept a long time before I got to my Lodgings. Got tea and soon put myself in the way for Henry's shop. Where I found him quite well T.G. he seemed much pleased to see me. We did not part till after 10. Mr. Perania behaved very polite, showing me all over the premises, dined with him the Sunday before I left Leeds. He is a mean looking little Portuguese fellow and I believe in a bad state of health.

Was with Henry as much as possible during my stay he took tea with me Friday night. I got some fried fish for him and fruit. He left in good time, but did not see him till late in the afternoon then at night, but he is very busy at the time always. Being detained some time for a parcel kept me their a day or two longer than I intended staying. Saw him just before I left and took the Cape and my journey to Hull where I arrived afters a 3 hour Ride in a 3rd Class Carriage for 4/6 very cold. Then this used to be a days journey, before the Rail. before it used to be done by water, so much for Railway invention.

At Hull I am glad to say I found a little Change in business for the better and I was inabled to send the Rent etc. etc. Was there a considerable time waiting for parcels. Very often my Capital being small. What between sending home for goods and I found it took some time before I got sufficient to leave Hull. I had a comfortable lodging plenty of meat killed here. This being a Killa and plenty of fried fish which is very cheap here.

My stay being compleated here I left for (York by Rail deleted) No I am before my storey. A place called ?Ferriby? at 5 in the morning by steam boat and there put ashore in a little boat. I must begin to tell you that I left in company with a young man who carried my goods. He was to show me out of the way calling that no traveller goes to who Ride and he being acquainted and my being willing we got over the water about 9. Called on a Lawyer very soon and only took 5/6 from him. Then had to walk 6 or 8 miles to Goal through thick and thin the Roads being very dirty. I had my Mackingtosh on and splashed up to the shoulder (which he as cleaned since) got to Goal about 12 took coffee. I more than half regretted having to walk the roads in such a bad state, but my Regrets was soon appeesed as I done very well here, Thank God.

Several travellers being in, the evening passed off very nicely with a pipe and whist. I got the best of 1/10 won on the next day we had to walk 4 miles and cross a ferry to Howden 2 miles more dirt. Got in refreshed and went out done tolerable walked a few more miles to the station and got to York at 8 that night. Was soon before a good fire and plenty of tea and toast. Played a rubber or two at whist and retired for the night. Plenty of Travellers in here.

A tea party. In the day I was honered with plenty of wine and cakes all gratis and in the evening I was obliged to sit and see them play at 3 Card loo, which according to the dialect here it is called "U" landed where any one of the players were lood. I could not help laughing when they trumped a card this was called Shinding it, and when it was a "must" this was called a Buck up. These were all gents who played. I had many invites but declined till about 11. Some said they would make a whist table for me I got 5/6 of their money came off with great ecla plenty of Brandy and Cakes at near 1 I left for Bed, and the regret of many although so late. Came down at 1/2 past this morning, all right and out a little after 10 and the result of my labour of this day I have already told you.

As I intend like most authors to make the most out of nothing, and you desire me to be minute I leave off one chapter to begin with another - till the whole may be made one. The Town I left last was Darlington which I left Sunday at 10, by 4 horse mail quite a treat to get on the outside of the Coach our days. It was very fine but cold a short ride got in a little past 12 (18 miles) coach guard driver and Porter 6/6 enough for such a short trip, but my anger was soon appeased as I soon found that I had got in to very cheep and comfortable quarters at the last mentioned place I was at 9 nights a very nice private house and always plenty of travellers in every night. lots of whist coffee and pipes.

Friday night being Christmas we were presented with plenty of spice and curren cake in the evening the same with a good glass of liquor, do for Breakfast till I was tired of it and had I been the wizard of the North I would soon have turned it in to fried fish - When I came away from Darlington I left my man there and Bid him adieu . Their is to much time lost in 'walking' to a few solitary callings at this time of the year instead of taking a large town of many callings, only some of those By-places pay well some-times as they are not over-run and hard work to me is a Pleasure, I gain fresh vigor and health from it. The County round here for miles have a very great Colliery Offices, so I think I shall spend most of this week about here if it will answer, then I goe to Sunderland.

I shall now my dear Kate take you Back again to Where I left of on the other side at Whitby and will conclude this journal with giving you the promised adventures of a day which I hinted at in a former letter.

Me and my man left Whitby on a monday morning a little before daylight their is 2 Roads to goe to the place of Gisboro we were bound for the high and the low Road we Choose the latter, being along the Sea Coast and to meet a Coach that would soon over take us as we first intended to call on some gentlemens Stewarts on the Road, we proceeded through the town and by the time it began to be Broad light we reached the Sands we had to goe over 4 miles on the Right lay Whitby with the light-house and pier forming one point of a Cresent over to the point we were going to the other point being a large high Rock this Cresent formed the Bay and the full german ocen before us. The Bay was strewed over with Craft of all sizes which had anchored their the night for safety all was silent no one appeared to be stiring except me and my man, even the lamps of the night kept their places in the sky which soon broke out into dark clouds and pouring out now and then a nice shower of rain and making the sands already soft by the Receding of the tide so that we could not get on very fast as we found it heavy at times. fancy me going on in.

I have just took up my pipe and I think whilst I am puffing that the mind and the memory will guide my pen and whilst I puff the Tobacco it will puff knowledge into me for I find I have taken on a more important task than I have ability to complete. but what an encouragement to go on with this puny attempt at description of adventure on travel or whatever you are pleased to call it is a certain approval by my dear wife and daughter so on I goe again.

The man I engaged to goe with me is about 6 foot high and very strong. he come from Sunderland I knew his parents who are both long since ded they were grand old from Yedden. This man is of a most excellent temper, very quiet and will fetch and carry anything like a water-spaniel he as cost me about 30/- a week. Since he as been with me I have benefited by him a little I believe but it is hard work walking. I had nothing to carry and he always knew where to put up in cheap and comfortable houses at night. His name is Cohen and he is a Cawan (a Levite) but sorry I am to say owing to being jilted by a very fine Yedesa girl from Lincoln at who's wedding I danced at at Sheffield he married a Christian woman and lives at York he has 2 children and very poor.

We left York me by coach and he walked on I took him up on the Road in a shower of Rain and paid 1/6 for his Ride got to Yalton 18 miles from York and lodged at a Milliners shop who has 8 children and a few apprentice girls this is a small town did not do much left the next morning for Pickering I Rode and he walked he got their as soon as me having left before me 3 hours done very little. but managed to send you a P.O. for £3. From there I had to wait till 12 the next day before I could leave for Whitby 24 miles by Railway drawn by horses very slow and did not get in till 6 at night very rough Road and most of the way was through a valley of very Rich Iron mines and Black Jet that is manufactured in Whitby and made up into necklaces and other ornaments.

Soon refreshed with plenty good tea and worst that I had from London. Slept well that night. A Strange thing to me as I am a very-bad sleeper got to here, this is a seaport Town in the East Riding of York with a very dangerous but fine harbour a lighthouse and most beautiful pier to walk on but the weather being Rough and cold, I did not enjoy much of it. Plenty of cheap fish to my meal boiled. Done very well here. Staid over Sabbeth and Sunday, as my pipe is out and my candle nearly so I must close this for the present and I wish you what I wish myself. A good nights rest God bless you all Amen S. Nathan.

(Durham) Tuesday night 7 o'clock 28th Dec. 1841.

Now my dear Kate this as been a very fine day, and I have done a little business T.G. and I have posted to the old lady another £3 P.O. and as I have got into the large Room again and with same difficulty left to myself, I will endeavour to get on with this, which I could not do yesterday for the following cause. In the first place this being holiday time, everyone appears desirous to enjoy some of its benefits indeed it pervades in every class of Society. More so particularly here so many of the Clergy and a Bishop living here the shops shutting up for the next 12 days soon after 1 oclock.

A Dinner took place at the inn. I am staying at the Black Swan, I believe the party consisted of about 25 men and in the evening there was a Ladys Club and a fine noise they made sometimes much more tremendous than at other, and if poor old Solley had been alive and their he would have pronounced it nothing but the village and the dog not being accustumed to see 2 ilustrous strangers passing very often that way, sent us very loudly into Barkshire and with much time and trouble that day we got in to Gisboro' at night very tired I assure you had to goe a long way threw the town to the lodgings and when we got there it was full so we had to Return and when on the way my man Remembered a Mr. Solomon married to a Christian woman living here of whome he would enquire of some quarters for the night. Mr. S was from home and Mrs. S could accommodate us very well in the absence of Mr. S. so in we went put on a pair of slippers, sat before a good fire, lots of tea toast onions and cheese. This being a dangerous place as no one could escaps the officer here, we had to leave it as we entered in the dark. excuse more now good night and Bless you all.

When I say we had to leave it, as no person can hawk without a license, but before I leave I will give you a small sketch of Mrs. Solomon. She is a very feminine little lady, stands about 6 foot in her stockinged feet with a very broad featured face a very pleasing horse voice, dresses quite a la mode to suit Gisboro. When Mr. Solomon took her for better or worse, she had a little money, a cow and a first husband who by the way I believe is still alive, but she being a stout hearted lady feared neither the rights of her church or the interference of the Law Courts but lives in Clover here with Mr. S. who I have never seen, but he must be a very happy man, no doubt for when he travels he can afford to leave a large pair of boots hanging on a hook and a glazed hat which he always adorns himself on his return, as it would not do to take to be so extravagent to travel in such good things.

They have 2 clocks in the house one is made to strike just a quarter before the other, no doubt for some wise purpose but give the D- his due I must tell you that Mr. S is a very useful man here, sometimes, as many poor foreign Jews are taken up for a licence, the magistrate on these occasions sends for him to tell him what these poor men say as he is the only one able to translate and this gives him importance here, and on these occasions where he has to go before his betters. Here is the time Mr. Solomon is dressed in his Boots and his cap a pie and very often he gets these poor fellows clear, takes them home and gives them tea and sends them away out of Town.

Mrs. S who as been brought up to the dairey often milks her neighbours cowes as she is very clever in the head. She is also very usefull to her Landlord who is a widower and lives close by them. She is often called in to rub his gouty legs for which they live in his house for 2.10 a year that no one had before for less than 5.00. Besides Solomon often goes himself when he comes home and takes his pipe and glass with him. No doubt Solomon thinks this privelege very neighbourly as well as very cheap, but to do Mrs. S. justice had she been dark as she is fair I should have taken her.for a sister of one of our late pugilistic heroes of the Ring, known by the name of Molineux the Black for she certainly matches him in size if not in the heart of boxing, I believe Solomon could tell this best if all be true which I heard.

Sunderland thursday morning 30th Dec. /1841.

Very wet day cant goe out after business - I left Durham at 3 P.M. yesterday 19 miles by Rails that goes part of the way by Ropes by horses and not by steam, but for about 5 miles it goes down an incline without anything save its own Velocity and it runs this distance in about 4 minutes all right thank God got safe in about 5 it rained but had not far to goe.

Sent my porter for your letter and need I tell you my love and all my loves how pleased I was to know that our dear cousin will once more be with us to enjoy the Society of his beloved Mother and family as well as knowing you are all well in health and enjoying yourselves, thank God for his Blessing and may they last many years Omein (Amen). Well here I am, I beg pardon for digressing so much. That must indeed have been a delightful family picture to have seen Nelson kissed under the Bush and had Ann been drawn under at the same time, I am thinking what a Bushy pair of pictures they would have made and no doubt would have sold well to one of the institutions as rare specimens.

Polly Nathan
Photo Left: Polly Nathan (née Yates) (1787-1873)

I am sitting before a good fire alone by myself and will now take the opportunity of bringing this to a close as soon as possible as it possesses little interest in change of scene. You will be heartily tired before you get half through it for it is a greet difficulty to get a good pen and ink, but you have brought it on yourself as well as on me to execute it, but I wish my genius was as good in the writing as yours in the reeding, but you must not mind the spelling or the writer as you know very well that the master of the academical grove wherein I was educated was a very little man, so did not care a greet deel for the advancement of his pupils. So you must take the will for the deed.

The evening went over in the usual way, a call or two from different travellers heering Mr. N from L'pool was here, for downstairs lives Mrs. Abrahams and I was induced to goe down to play cards and hid a few pence in the poor womans pocket, she being a widow. Roasted apples being sold in pen'norths being all the goe. For the evening I also had a lot to the same amount and soon tumbled into bed upon them after losing 9d at cards. I lay in a very nice room with a good fire in it when I went to sleep, but could not catch the Drowzy God till near 2 although I retired for the night a little after ten. Got up with a good appetite this morning and managed about 1/4lb of Worst to my coffee and bread.

I have since gone down to Mrs. Abrahams and told her to get me some fish ready. So you see I mind the main things after all. The person I lodge with is named Johnson and I told her the story of Mrs. Johnson I hope my dear Kate that you will allow me to appologise for all this foolishness, if it will bring forth one smile I am recompensed for all the trouble, and as it is not meant for the eye of a stranger I hope you will destroy it after it has been read, as it is nothing but nonsense. I shall therefore now conclude with wishing your sister and brother every Blessing from Heaven and believe me your affectionate father

Samuel Nathan. . I hope your dear Mother as got this morning Thursday the post order £3 I sent you from Durham.

This way my man behind me. The wind from the see blowing the rain to one side of my face. I took care to button close up to my ears my 15/- Blue without a tail, on we went and the first of the animated species that we met crossing the sand was a waggon and 4 horses and a driver. We had just left the village which we were going to, which lay quite on a hill on or behind the Rock before mentioned. We entered Bold fellows and the first man we met was a very old say 80 at least, but quite hale and harty. He saluted us in the usual way passed on and then had to cross a narrow dangerous bridge that was over a creek that ran up from the see.

At last we got on Terra Firma and then had to go 2 miles up a hill to call on the Stewart of Lord Dundass. I just got in to his parlour before the gent would show himself, the parathanalia laying on the table already for the operation of Business.. however I succeeded a little and just got out in time to be taken up by the Coach bot a ride both for 3/. Road about 8 or 9 miles and then had to call on another steward. Saw him in the fields as I was going, sold him a few goods, but Bad luck to him as Paddy would say he kicked and would not buy them at all at all, so had to bag them again and on we went up hill again for 4 or 5 miles as it was early in the day we got to a place called Lofthouses where lived a stewart belonging to the Earl of Zetland. I had done a little with him, then dame Nature began to enquire for something. We had breakfasted very early that morning, so in my man takes me to a house he had often stopped in having gone by the way many times before. We consulted what to have and what do you think it was Coffee Toast Cheese. My man was the very devil for Coffee 3 or 4 times a day would hardly satisfy him. The house contained an old woman rocking a cradle and seeing a pair of spectables with glasses as large as a Sundial, one of those close round linen night caps on a black Ribbon going all round and a long striped cotton Bed gown down to the heels, very narrow sleeves, not very modern either in pattern or make. You may be sure a little boy at her side. Tommy soon got friendly with our good fare as well as our half penny's. The daughter, the Mother of this sweet Baby was s straw Bonnet maker and she had one of these out and out spirits that leaves nothing but a very bappy Blue White, when she was speaking to you, you might fancy she was speaking to one of the horses for her eyes always looked to the east if she was in the west and very but very civil withall that being well acquainted with the names of many travellers I satisfied her for the trouble given, and she hoped I would call again whenever I should be fortunate enough to goe that way.

Off we started and a mile out of the way we could call on another Stewart, not making anything of this we got their, but the gent was out. We then had to pass a most awful Bad Road before we could get in to the main Road again through going to this last place. The place of destination Gisboro which lay at a distance of 9 miles in going on and in descending a hill we got down into a dell in which is a village called Skinners Grove it is inhabited by a few fishermen it has been a greet place for smuggling but Her Majesty's Cutters prevents this now. The main area lays right before it so it opens from the sea through the Rock that looks like the mouth of a Cave. Their is one Public House kept by Job Stonehouse, most ancient name this. We had to go over a little bridge again to get through.



Benjamin Nathan
Benjamin Nathan (1825-1877)



Letter from Benjamin Nathan to his daughter Susan, June 15, 1874 (Transcribed by Michael Levenston)

Redline Hotel, Falkirke, June 15, 1874
Monday night, 10 o'clock.

My dear Daughter Susan,

I am quite sure your natural good sense and contented temper will be quite sufficient to keep you quite happy under the trying ordeal of my point blank refusal to part with you for any excursion to Edinburgh or elsewhere at present. I am sure, without flattering myself that I am always ready and willing to do anything to afford happiness to others, more especially to my only Daughter. I should be delighted, under circumstances, that would be favourable, to let you have any congenial or suitable pleasure, and such an opportunity may arise any day. There is no telling, but not at present Sue. Besides several reasons that I don't care to write, private reasons that only can be known to myself and also that you would not feel happy yourself when you had got away because your conscience would sting you with the reflection that you had left your poor, delicate Mother alone and that she also would miss you far far more than you can even imagine. Irritability of temper through constant suffering or petulance of temper at being controlled does not alter or stifle the real love and affection that exists between your dear Mother and yourself and when you go from home you must go together. Don't dispair you shall not have less than your share of pleasure. I give you my promise and I will keep it and now enough on that subject.

When I get a letter from you it does me good because there is style in your writing that stands out from amidst the utmost carelessness and negligence on your part that is quite refreshing and sparkling and which you cannot hide because it is natural to you I am happy to say and I am equally sorry to say you are very thoughtless and careless or why select such a time and place to write to me as Sunday fore noon in the parlor when everyone is calling, interrupting and distracting your attention from what you are engaged in. You should select a proper time and place and write me a proper letter when you know it gives me pleasure and depend upon it. I will speak of your faults as well as give you credit when you deserve it. Give my love to dear Mother and try and comfort her. Think of her weak state and long suffering. Give my love to dear Hinda and kiss my darling Sophie. I miss her dear little face very much and her funny, happy smile. I suppose you get a nurse every other day for a bit. I would like to jog her up a bit everyday myself.

You no doubt go over to the garden every day. I should think it is very pleasant indeed now as the weather, if the same as here, is most delightful. I have only seen one slight shower since I left home and that was in the evening at Edinburgh. Every day since has been sunshine and fine. I have come through a grand country today, past Perth and Cork, see the fisherman dragging their salmon nets in the river Tay from the carriage window as the train went along past Sterling, a lovely place, past Dunblaine, famous in song and as a contrast I am now sitting alone in one of the most dirty and dismal place in Scotland. I don't mind that as I leave it in the morning and as for other beauties of the travelling I am sorry about the great anxieties and cares of nursing. I have at present, does not allow me to drink in the pleasure and the light it would afford with an easy mind but please god some day I shall give you an outing with dear Mother and I hope we shall all have great pleasure and happiness together before the summer is over. If I have a good finish up to my journey we will plan something when I come home.

I daresay you have had enough of this humdrum letter but if everMr. Right sends you one thrice as long and full of perfectly empty twaddle you will think it a very elegant composition no doubt, especially in the penny novel style. I hope you don't strain your eyes over this so much as you did. I shall look in your room when I come home and see the state of your bouduoir!! Hope I shall find the drawers and contents in order and the mending done. With fond love and kisses, remaining your affectionate father, B. Nathan-no more room


Undated Letter from Benjamin Nathan to his daughter Susan (humourously signed "Your affectionate Brother".

Susan Nathan

From: Mrs. Ellis Nathan of Birmingham
Postmark: Birmingham

No. 1 Brighton Terrace
New Brighton Cheshire

Birmingham Sunday

Dear Susan,

Fanny not being so good a penman or "penwoman" as yourself is only glad to accept my offer to write to you and I am equally pleased. I read your nice sisterly and refreshing letter with much pleasure and hope you will derive health and pleasant remembrances of your visit to New Brighton.


Photo Left: Susan Nathan

I can endorse all you say of amiability of and pleasure in the society of your friends there and dear Nelly especially will be quite delighted to have you with her. Give our very dearest love to her Kate and all the Issacs Family.

Ellis looks very well and it has no doubt done him good. I hear from him how much George enjoys himself on the Sands. Your mother was here to tea last Evening. There is just the quiet routine here all well T. G. and a little quieter perhaps than usual with you and Berthe both away. Dr. Blake has just been to see Fanny. She complains of weakness in her back ... and there is nothing for her but quietness and all the rest she can get. He tells her to lay as much as she can on the sofa.

Frank Dons has just gone. He looks very fat and jolly. It is a dull day here, looks like rain. Hope you all fast well this being (Tilabeuf). Frank says Birmingham is deuced dull, no doubt it is, I don't know what we should do if it was not for having such a house full continually. It keeps us alive and we get a laugh now and then with our new friends, Hinda, Rachael ...

Ephron is coming home on Tuesday so someone will be made happy and Berthe is expected on Monday. Fan and I will likely go to Wales for a few days during September. Not that I want, but if Fan is strong enough to travel for a day, it would do her good.

Now as I am struggling very hard to try and interest you and feel that I don't succeed, I "must" finish up with love and hope to see you home safe and well. Fanny joins me in kind love to all and remains

Your affectionate Brother

B Nathan

PS. Fan has just read this and says she has read better letters of mine but what can I say more. You don't want to buy a parcel and I have only one idea at present.

Ben ...


  


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Revised Sept 16, 2013

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture

cityfarmer@gmail.com