Do you know Mr Burns?

A US resident wonders whether a photograph on an East End blog might be of someone to whom she is related. The subject of the photograph, a Mr Ralph Burns, bears a striking resemblance to the writer’s grandfather, who went to the US as a child. She thinks they might be relatives. Can you help her contact Mr Burns?

This plea has been forwarded to us by The Gentle Author, that indefatigable writer about East End life past and present. The blog posting referred to is at http://spitalfieldslife.com/

I'm writing from Washington, DC to ask if you could help put me in touch with Mr Ralph Burns of Bow or a member of his family. Mr Burns' photo appeared in your blog posting of March 18, 2013 when you visited with congregants of the Settlement Synagogue in Stepney. I wonder if we are possibly related and would like to share some family details with him.

As a member of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain (JGSGB), I received a link to the 2013 posting when it published. Yesterday, as I was going through old emails more thoroughly, I was stunned by Mr Burns' photo. He bears a striking resemblance to my grandfather, born in London in 1871.

I joined the JGSGB specifically to find out about my grandfather. He was born to Jewish parents from Germany. Despite extensive searches of public records, I have no information about where in London he was born. Nor have I been able to figure out why his mother was in Great Britain. Family stories say his family was associated with the silk industry, thus my special interest in Spitalfields. For most of his life my grandfather was known as William Meyerhoff. This last name was his adopted father's, so below I provide additional details to ask if any names or places are familiar to Mr Burns or his family. I've also included a photo of a portrait of my grandfather painted from life along with the 2013 photo of Mr Burns (see below).

If you have contact with Mr Burns or a member of his family, please feel free to forward this email to them. Thanks for any help you can give.

With best wishes,

Andrea Meyerhoff

Washington, DC

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Names, places, and dates:

  • My grandfather was the child of a Jewish man named Silberberg from Germany, who I was told might have been in shipping, and a Jewish woman named Johanna Meier, the daughter of a cloth merchant in Offenbach am Main, near Frankfurt.
  • I was told that Silberberg died at sea, before my grandfather was born in London on June 10, 1871.
  • Some time after the birth of my grandfather, his mother Johanna emigrated to the US, where in 1875 she married a Jewish man named Meyerhoff, a dyer who had emigrated to the US a few years earlier and worked in the silk industry in New Jersey. He came from a family of dyers in a small German town in northern Hessen called Volkmarsen. Interestingly, there was also a Silberberg family in this small town of Volkmarsen during the same period.
  • As a young child, my grandfather, the biological child of Silberberg, was adopted by his stepfather, and for the rest of his life was known as William Meyerhoff.
  • William Meyerhoff died in 1937. The only other information I have about his background is that on his Hebrew marriage certificate in 1904 he was called Zev Wolf, son of Reb Avraham HaLevi. Whether this was information about his biological father or simply a nice way of calling him a son of Abraham I don't know.

                                      The photograph that intrigued the writer

                                    William Meyerhoff, the writer's grandfather

Latest news

  • Rosenberg centenary visit

    We are looking at the possibility of a visit to Isaac Rosenberg's grave at Arras next April, the centenary of the great East End poet and artist's disappearance on the Western Front in France, and are keen to gauge interest. Read More
  • Jewish philanthropist to be commemorated in new Aldgate square

    The City of London Corporation is creating a new square next to St Botolph's, Aldgate. The drinking fountain in memory of Frederick Mocatta, the notable Jewish financier and philanthropist, has now been fully restored and put in the square. Read More
  • World War One project needs you

    JEECS is going to be at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, 28 St John’s Wood Road, London, NW8 7HA, from 2.30 to 4.30 on Sunday March 5 as part of a fascinating project to research the role of London Jews in the First World War. Read More
  • JEECS co-operates on Mendoza film

    JEECS is working with an American film company making a feature film on the life of Daniel Mendoza, known as the father of scientific boxing. Read More
  • Campaign saves East End pub

    The historic Still and Star public house in Aldgate has been saved from demolition and site redevelopment after a campaign by the Victorian Society, supported by JEECS.  Read More
  • Walks, plus Cable editorship plea

    Nelson Street synagogue   Below are details below of two forthcoming walks that we hope will attract planty of people, plus a call for new blood at the helm of the JEECS magazine, The Cable. Read More
  • Brady Street cemetery through the seasons

    Can you send the author your Brady Street recollections? Many members of JEECS will know of the United Synagogue owned cemetery in Brady Street, a few hundred yards from the street’s junction with Whitechapel Road. . In 2011 the cemetery celebrated its 250th anniversary – having been founded in 1761 – with a ceremony attended by the then Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks. Read More
  • A London gathering to honour an acclaimed Yiddish writer. Can you name any of the people in these pictures?

    The celebrated Yiddish writer Chava Rosenfarb visited London in 1949. And, thanks to the Yiddish cultural historian David Mazower and to Goldie Morgentaler, Chava’s daughter, we have photographs of a gathering of London-based Yiddish writers and journalists assembled in what is possibly a café, in March 1949 to hear her give a reading of her poetry. Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

For the old Jeecs site, visit www.jeecs.org.uk/archive