Sources for Jewish history

Jewish Communities in Surrey

Photographic portraits of Leopold and Annie Salomons, c.1912 (SHC ref. 6529/19) Despite its proximity to London, Surrey was home to relatively few Jews until the 20th century. However, there is some evidence of Jewish communities in Guildford and Kingston-upon-Thames before the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 by Edward I.

Following the re-admission of Jews into England by Oliver Cromwell in 1656, Jewish communities were re-established in London, and the Surrey Quarter Sessions records of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, held at Surrey History Centre, contain a number of references to Jews living in the areas of Bermondsey, Newington and Southwark. During the 19th century, Surrey was home to a number of prominent Jewish families, including the Sassoons of Ashley Park and the De Worms family who lived in Pirbright and Egham.

Other notables included Sir Moses Haim Montefiore (1784 to 1885) who was Captain of the Surrey Militia from 1810 to 1814. In February 1885, the first successful labour registry in England was established at Egham by Nathaniel Louis Cohen (1847 to 1913), philanthropist and resident of Englefield Green. In 1914, Leopold Salomons (circa 1841 to 1915), JP, of Norbury Park, Mickleham, gifted Box Hill to the nation.

The Second World War saw the development of Jewish communities in towns such as Staines, Dorking, Woking, Epsom and Addlestone, as the result of evacuation from London. Many of these communities are still in existence although numbers have fallen. Then, as now, those Jews living in Surrey belonged for the most part to institutions such as the United Synagogue (founded in 1870), and the Federation of Synagogues (founded in 1890), whose administrative centres and cemeteries were, and are still, located north of the Thames.

Today, there are the following active communities in Surrey: Guildford (Orthodox – independent); Kingston (Liberal Judaism); Kingston, Surbiton and District (United Synagogue); Richmond (United Synagogue); Staines (United Synagogue); Sutton and District (United Synagogue); and Weybridge, North West Surrey Synagogue (Movement for Reform Judaism).

Sources at Surrey History Centre

Surrey History Centre does not hold any synagogue records (see researching Jewish family history below), so finding references to Jewish families and individuals living in Surrey may require some strenuous detective work! However, records of Jews living in Surrey can be found in census returns, in the General Register Office (GRO) indexes of births, marriage and deaths, and in electoral registers. Surrey History Centre holds Surrey census returns from 1841 to 1901; GRO indexes from 1880 to 1930, and electoral registers from 1832. The 1841 to 1911 censuses, 1939 Register, GRO indexes and Surrey electoral registers, 1832 to 1962, can also be searched on Ancestry and Findmypast which are available free of charge on our searchroom computers.

New synagogue of the Jews in Walworth Road, Borough' print (from the 'Illustrated London News', 4 May 1867In addition, Quarter Sessions papers (dating back to 1659) and Poor Law records contain many thousands of references to individual Jewish inhabitants of the county. For example, the Quarter Sessions process book, 1826 to 1832 (reference QS3/5/14) includes a case of riot and assault against Solomon Moses by Israel Israel, labourer, late of Newington, and others, 23 October 1826.

The International Genealogical Index (IGI) contains some Jewish vital records (for example, from the Great and New Synagogues in London). The IGI for England and Wales is available on microfiche at Surrey History Centre or can be searched online on FamilySearch.

Amongst our archive holdings are records relating to specific Jewish families and communities in Surrey. These include the papers of Leopold Salomons of Norbury Park, and material relating to the Sassoon family of Ashley Park.

In the 1930s and 1940s, a number of schools and homes in Surrey were opened to accommodate Jewish children escaping Nazi oppression. Stoatley Rough in Haslemere was founded by Dr Hilde Lion in 1934, and whilst the school's main archive is held at the London School of Economics, we do hold some records relating to the closure of the school and to reunions of former 'Stoatley Roughians'. Several published reminiscences of the school can also be found in our local studies library.

The website of Stoatley Rough School Historical Trust is now hosted on our Exploring Surrey's Past website. It includes photographs of former pupils, biographies of staff members, a history of the development of the school and description of courses taught, together with archive film footage from 1938.

Rowledge House near Farnham served as a Jewish Bachad hostel for evacuee, refugee, and Kindertransport children from 1942 to 1945. Our archives include film footage and papers relating to the hostel's history and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in 2012. The story of Rowledge House Hostel is told in a YouTube video.

After the war, Weir Courtney in Lingfield (the home of Sir Benjamin and Lady Drage) served as a hostel for a number of young Holocaust survivors who were cared for by Alice Goldberger and her staff. We have digital copies of the Alice Goldberger papers held at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Details of Jewish children at Weir Courtney in 1947 appear in the Dormansland school registers in our archive, and our library contains published recollections of the hostel and of some of its occupants.

See below for a full list of archive material and published sources held at Surrey History Centre.

Jewish records held elsewhere

University of Southampton

Extensive Anglo-Jewish archive collections held at the University of Southampton include the administrative records of the Norwood Jewish Children's Society and the papers of Sir Moses Haim Montefiore.

Additionally, the Parkes Library (on level 4 of the Hartley Library) is a major resource for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations across the ages.

Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ
Telephone: 02380 592721 Email:

University College London (UCL)

UCL's Hebrew and Jewish Studies collection contains holds printed, manuscript and archival collections of Hebraica and Judaica which are of national and international importance.

UCL Main Library, Wilkins Building, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT
Telephone: 020 7679 7792, Email:

Wiener Holocaust Library

The Wiener Holocaust Library is one of the world's leading and most extensive archives on the Holocaust and Nazi era.

The Wiener Holocaust Library, 29 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DP
Telephone: 020 7636 7247, Email:

Archives of the Jewish Orphanage, Norwood

Norwood, Broadway House, 80-82 The Broadway, Stanmore, Middlesex, HA7 4HB.
Contact: Records Manager
Telephone: 020 8809 8809, Email:

Researching Jewish family history

Births, marriages and deaths

For the family historian, the important records held by Jewish communities are marriage authorisations and burial records. Jews do not keep separate records of births, so such information will be found in civil birth registers (GRO indexes), from 1837 onwards.

To discover more about your Jewish ancestors in Surrey from the latter part of the 19th century onwards, it is important to know to which group of synagogues they belonged as this will determine where the marriage authorisations and burial registers are held. Records of the United Synagogue are held by the London Beth Din, and the indexes of burials and marriage authorisation records, 1880 to 1922, can be searched online.

There is a consecrated Jewish section in Guildford Stoke new cemetery and the burial registers are held by Guildford Borough Council; contact Bereavement Services.

The Jewish Chronicle, which was first published in 1841, contains announcements of births, marriages, deaths, and tombstone settings, as well as returns of thanks. Digitised archive copies of the Jewish Chronicle can be viewed online (registration required).


Denization and naturalisation papers are held at The National Archives in Kew. A denizen paid for Letters Patent to become an English subject, protected by the Crown and English law but still subject to alien rates of tax, unable to vote, hold civil or military office or inherit land. Until 1844, naturalisation could only be granted by the expensive process of a private Act of Parliament, which granted the individual all the rights of natural-born British subjects. In 1844, the procedure for naturalisation was simplified, with power being extended to the Secretary of State, and the Home Office began granting certificates. Further information about naturalisation records can be found online.

Aliens Entry Books, 1794 to 1921, and Alien Arrivals, 1810 to 1811 and 1826 to 1869, which are held at The National Archives, can also be searched on Ancestry.

The London Gazette also published notices of naturalisations in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century.

Local congregations

The Jewish Year Book was first published by the Jewish Chronicle in 1900 and contains statistical data and contact details for local congregations, as well as a list of prominent Jewish people. Copies of The Jewish Year Book, 1947 to 1998, are held at Surrey History Centre.

The Jewish Chronicle also contains a provincial congregation section with news of local community events.

The Jewish Communities and Records website contains historical information about Jewish provincial communities, including congregations in Surrey.

First World War

The British Jewry Book Of Honour, 1914 to 1920, which honours the 50,000 Jews who served in the British and colonial forces during the First World War, can be searched on Findmypast.

We Were There Too documents and commemorates the contribution British Jews made during the First World War.

Surrey In The Great War includes information on the Jewish community in Surrey during the war.

Second World War

Alien registration cards, including details of internments in the UK, can be searched and browsed on Ancestry and Findmypast. Learn more about the internment of Jewish refugees in Britain.

Kempton Park and Lingfield internment camps, and the experiences of individuals who were held at these camps, feature in British Internment and the Internment of Britons: Second World War Camps, History and Heritage, ed. Gilly Carr and Rachel Pistol (2023). The chapter by Dr Pistol is available to read online.

Useful addresses and websites for Jewish historical research

Archive holdings at Surrey History Centre

Orphaned Jewish children in the garden at Weir Courtney, c.1946. Reproduced courtesy of Hazel Hawkes. (SHC ref. Z/448/1a) The following are some of the records at Surrey History Centre that contain references to Jews and Jewish communities in Surrey. Some records may be subject to access restrictions:


Hospitals, schools and institutions




Custom and practice

Information on other relevant records can be found by searching our online Collections Catalogue.

Published sources at Surrey History Centre

  • Library reference 296p: Alexander, Mary, John Boas and Kevin Fryer, A Medieval synagogue in Guildford? (Guildford Museum, 2001).
  • Library reference 942.2LIN: Bateson, Janet H, Around Lingfield at war (Amberley, 2010). Contains chapter on Weir Courtney.
  • Library reference 942.2LIN: Bateson, Janet H, The Holocaust survivors at Weir Courtney, Lingfield (RH7 History Group, 2002).
  • Library reference 942.2: Campling, P J, 'Nathaniel Cohen and the Beginnings of the Labour Exchange Movement in Great Britain,' in Surrey Archaeological Collections Vol LXIX, pages 155 to 167.
  • Library reference 920COH: Cohen, Roger, The girl from Human Street: ghosts of memory in a Jewish family (Bloomsbury, 2015).
  • Library reference 920SAS: Dane, Michael, The Sassoons of Ashley Park (Michael Dane, 1999).
  • Library reference 920: Gaskell, Ernest, Surrey leaders: social and political (Queenhithe, nd). Contains biography and photograph of Nathaniel Louis Cohen.
  • Library reference 940.53: Gilbert, Martin, The boys: the untold story of 732 young concentration camp survivors (Henry Holt, 1997).
  • Library reference 940.5318 WAR: Gold, Michele M, Memories that won't go away: a tribute to the children of the Kindertransport. (Kotrim, 2014).
  • Library reference 920: Grant J, ed., Surrey Historical Biographical and Pictorial (London and Provincial, nd). Contains a chapter on George, Baron de Worms, and his residence, Milton Park, in Egham, pages 347 to 350.
  • Library reference 920WOR: Grimshaw, James, An intelligent tory. The rags-to-riches story of influential politician Henry de Worms, 1840 to 1903. (Book Guild, 2014).
  • Library reference 296p: Guildford Museum Excavation Unit, Discovered. A Mediaeval Synagogue in Guildford? (Guildford Museum, 1996).
  • Library reference 920HER: Herzbaum, Edward H, Lost between worlds. (Matador, 2010).
  • Library reference 920: Hitchin, W E, Surrey at the opening of the twentieth century (Pike, 1907). Contains biographies and photographs of Leopold Salomons, Joseph Sassoon Sassoon and Alfred Joseph Waley of Stone House, Reigate.
  • Library reference 929.3: Joseph, Anthony, My ancestors were Jewish (Society of Genealogists, 2008).
  • Library reference 913GUIp: Keys, David, 'Has England's oldest synagogue been discovered in Guildford' (article translated from Die Welt).
  • Library reference 940.5318: Leverton, Bertha and Lowensohn, Shmuel, I came alone: the stories of the Kindertransports (Book Guild, 1990).
  • Library reference 920LOE: Loeser, Hans F, Hans's story (iUniverse, 2007).
  • Library reference 940.5318: Moskovitz, Sarah, Love despite hate: child survivors of the Holocaust and their adult lives (Schocken Books, 1983).
  • Library reference 296: Rich, John, The South London story: a brief history of the South London Liberal Synagogue (South London Liberal Synagogue, 1989).
  • Library reference 296.09: Rubinstein, W. D., The Palgrave dictionary of Anglo-Jewish history (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
  • Library reference 940.53: Schellenberg, Walter, The Black book: Sonderfahndungsliste G.B. [Special search list G.B.] (Imperial War Museum, 1989). Contains the names of 2,820 persons, British Subjects and European exiles, who were to be arrested in the event of a successful German invasion.
  • Library reference 920SEG: Segal, Lore, Other people's houses: a novel (Sort Of Books, 2018). Includes a fictionalised account of Lore Segal's time in Guildford during the Second World War.
  • Library reference 929.1: Wenzerul, Rosemary, A guide to Jewish genealogy in the United Kingdom (JGSGB, 2006).
  • Library reference 929.1: Wenzerul, Rosemary, Guide to reading Hebrew inscriptions and documents (JGSGB, 2005)
  • Library reference 929.1089: Wenzerul, Rosemary, Tracing your Jewish ancestors: a guide for family historians (Pen and Sword Family History, 2008).
  • Library reference 371STO: Wolfenden, Barbara, Little Holocaust Survivors; and the English school that saved them (Greenwood World, 2008).
  • Library reference 346.054p: The will of Charles George Maurice de Worms (1969).
  • Library reference 296.65p: Hadashot, newsletter of the Kingston, Surbiton and District Synagogue, December 1965.

For Jewish refugees in Surrey, including Kindertransport, see the Exploring Surrey's Past website.


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