Baroness Miriam de Menasce (1851-1890)

by Saul Marks

Baroness Miriam de Menasce (1851-1890)

Baroness Miriam de Menasce was born Miriam Gollin in Liverpool on 9 February 1851, the second of ten children of Bearman Gollin and Mary Marks. Bearman and Mary were both born in London but married in Liverpool in 1848, under the auspices of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation. The Gollins were prominent in the local community: Bearman served as Junior Treasurer of LOHC in 1855-56 and Junior Warden 1862-63. Bearman gave 60 guineas to the fund for the building of Princes Road synagogue in the mid-1870s and Mary gave 2 guineas. Their sons donated in their memory an impressive set of silverware to adorn a Scroll of the Law at Princes Road, which is still displayed there today.

On 28 July 1869, aged 18, Miriam married Baron Joseph Levi de Menasce. The Menasce family was a Sephardi family of Moroccan descent based in Alexandria, Egypt, and one of the most powerful in the Egyptian Jewish community. They funded the establishment of schools, hospitals, synagogues and an art gallery and Joseph’s father was created Baron by the Emperor Franz-Jozef of Austro-Hungary in 1875. Joseph worked in branches of his father’s merchant banking business in London and Liverpool, which is how he came to meet Miriam.

They had one daughter, Céline de Menasce, in Liverpool in 1870. Joseph’s business in Liverpool closed and the family moved to London, only to have to close that and return to Egypt. They settled in Cairo, where Joseph died of tuberculosis in 1877, at the tragically young age of 32. The de Menasce family ties were strong and Céline married her first cousin, Félix de Menasce, on 30 December 1889 in Alexandria.

Miriam had settled in Paris and expressed the wish that, despite all her travelling, she wanted to be buried in Liverpool when she died. Her wish was to be granted far sooner than her family would have thought, when she died on 30 October 1890, aged 39. Her body was returned to Liverpool and she was buried at Deane Road in an enormous domed structure in granite, with triple pillars at each of its four corners, adorned with Egyptian styles of carving. Today, the de Menasce tomb is the first object that catches the eye on entering the cemetery, despite the fact that it is not centrally located, nor is it in the first few rows of graves.

Bearman and Mary reserved plots next to Miriam and were buried there in 1895 and 1906 respectively. A sad epilogue to Miriam’s life is another death at an early age: that of Céline on 20 July 1900, aged just 29.


Grave References
Baroness Miriam de Menasce (née Gollin; 1851-1890): A 19.05
Bearman Gollin (her father; c.1819-1895): A 19.06
Mary Gollin (née Marks, her mother; 1830-1906): A 19.07
Marcus Gollin (her brother; 1856-1874): A 11.04
Edgar Gollin (her brother; 1862-1865): 162C