The Nathans

Posted Feb. 28, 2011

The tree: Salomon Herz Hirschland (one of the three original brothers) >> Moses Hirschland >>Johanna Hirschland Nathan >> Edgar Nathan >> John Nathan

This letter was contributed by John Nathan, who carries on his family’s textile business of 121 years.

You asked me about the Nathan Connection. The Nathans came from Emmerich, near the Dutch border. I went there four years ago and found an old man who had who had worked in one of the big engineering companies connected with the Krupp group. Although he was of Christian faith, he had produced a major record of the Jews  of Emmerich. Among them, I traced the Nathans back to 1816.

Isaak Nathan was a garment maker. He had four daughters and four sons. Two of the sons, Karl, born in 1846, and Sigismund, born in 1858, came to London in 1877. Karl changed his name to Carl, and in 1879 set up C. Nathan and Co. as textile agents at 65 Bread St. in London. This business lasted for 121 years, through four generations. It is in a different form today, though I am still engaged in it.

Rear: Sydney Hirschland, later Harvey, and Herbert Hirschland. Front: Richard Hirschland, his daughter Katheleen and wife Annie, and Edward Hirschland. About 1920? Thanks to Peter Levitt, who found this in his Hirschland hat box.

Sigismund married Joanna Hirschland in 1892 and had two sons: Oscar (born 1894), my uncle, and Edgar (1896), my father, both born in London. In the 1914-1918 war, they were enlisted in the British Army. My uncle was sent to India and my father to the trenches, where we was wounded in 1916, but sent back to the front after treatment. Part of the tragedy of this war was that there were many cases of cousins and distant cousins fighting on opposing sides.

Joanna had a brother, Fritz, whom I remember as a man who smiled a lot. He lived in the Hague. (And we have reports of relatives of his moving to Argentina at some point. vhh) I have a copy of a letter delivered through the Red Cross. Either he or a cousin was interned on the Ilse of Man, as were many German Nationals at the outbreak of WWII, ether Jewish or not). My mother used to visit him until his release.

Sigismund died in 1913, so Edgar had to return from Neuchatel University to help his mother, to whom he was devoted before enlistment. The two brothers were born in Stroud Green, but the family moved to Brondesbury in London, which was a more prosperous area.

My father married Nina Redstone, the daughter of a scion of the Tobacco Trade, in January 1931, and I was born in December 1931. My sister Daphne followed in 1935. My mother was very fond of the Hirschland side of the family, and we saw many of them in my childhood, and through today.

We are descended from Salomon Herz Hirschland (born 1766) and Judel Abraham (who had several other last names associated with her)(1783). The branch of the family I knew best were the descendents of Edward Hirschland (born 1856, who moved to London and died in 1936.

Edward’s son Herbert ran the family fine wool Wholesale business on Savile Row. My father worked there for two years (1919-1921) while C. Nathan and Co. recovered after the war.

Helen Hirschland, about 1918. Another find in Peter's hat box.

Edward’s daughter Gladys has four children. Pamela, who died quite young. Jo  (born 1920) is still going strong and is very much interested in the family. He is a retired doctor, but still very active mentally. Another child, Michael, was involved in engineering, and Jennifer, was almost my twin. I keep in most regular contact with Jennifer, and she was a a guest of honour at the high table of the funeral lunch we gave for my daughter two years ago, who died prematurely of cancer and had been the fourth generation of the family business. My daughter, Fiona, was married to Martin Wakefield, and had two children: Sophie and Harry.

We are descended from Salomon Herz Hirschland (born 1766) and Judel Abraham (who had several other last names associated with her)(1783). The branch of the family I knew best were the descendents of Edward Hirschland (born 1856, who moved to London and died in 1936).

Edward’s son Herbert ran the family fine wool Wholesale business on Savile Row. My father worked there for two years (1919-1921) while C. Nathan and Co. recovered after the war.

Edward’s daughter Gladys has four children. Pamela, who died quite young. Jo About 1920? hn (born 1920) is still going strong and is very much interested in the family. He is a retired doctor, but still very active mentally. Another child, Michael, was involved in engineering, and Jennifer, was almost my twin. I keep in most regular contact with Jennifer, and she was a a guest of honor at the high table of the funeral lunch we gave for my daughter two years ago, who died prematurely of cancer and had been the fourth generation of the family business. My daughter, Fiona, was married to Martin Wakefield, and had two children: Sophie and Harry.

Edward’s third child was Doris, whom I remember very well. Her son, Peter Fleck, has a distinguished career in the food and related businesses.

Edward’s brother, Richard Hirschland (mentioned in Richard Harvey’s story), married a formidable lady of whom most of us were a little in awe. She sat ramrod straight, wore a velvet collar, and called all the young Ladies “Missy.” She had four children. Sidney, who changed his name to Harvey and became a stockbroker, Helen, who died young in South Africa, Violet, who was always called Molly, and Kathleen.

Molly married Percy Levitt, and her sister Kathleen married his brother, Lionel. Molly had one son, Bryan, who married Gerry, which whom my wife and I keep in regular contact. He had a very distinguished career at Imperial College, London. (Peter Levitt, mentioned above in the Harvey story, is descended from one of these matches. He lives in Toronto. He recently finished a book about his experiences with the sinking of the ZamZam.)

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