Gabriel Pincus Gabrielsen (c.1831-1911)
by Saul Marks
Gabriel Gabrielsen was born in the town of Altona around 1831. Today, Altona is part of central northern Germany, close to Hamburg, but, from 1640-1864, it was under Danish rule, so Gabriel would have thought of himself as Danish. The town had a thriving Jewish community.
It is not known why or exactly when Gabriel came to Liverpool, but it seems to have been in the early 1850s. He appears as a merchant’s clerk on a ship manifest bound for New York from Hamburg in November 1851, but appears never to have made the voyage. By 1854, he had settled in Liverpool and, that year, he married an Irish girl named Elizabeth Caroline Shannon. It appears that Elizabeth was in the process of converting to Judaism because, in 1860, the couple married again in a second ceremony at Liverpool New Hebrew Congregation (i.e. Hope Place synagogue). By this time, they had three children and Gabriel had taken British citizenship the year before. The couple went on to have 12 children in total, although only eight survived to adulthood.
The 1861 census shows the family living at 139 Crown Street and Gabriel describes himself as a “commercial traveller”. In 1871, they were living at 36 Great Orford Street and Gabriel’s profession is “commercial traveller in fancy goods”.
In 1877, Gabriel’s eldest son David Gabrielsen married Rose Hammerstein at Hope Place synagogue. David was a customs agent and a prominent freemason. At some point before 1890, the Gabrielsen family must have discontuned their membership of the New Hebrew Congregation and taken up membership of the Old. David was elected as Junior Treasurer in 1892-93 and Senior Treasurer 1893-95. He then became Senior Warden and served an unprecedented 12 consecutive years in office from 1895-1907, which makes him still today both the longest serving Honorary Officer and longest-serving warden in the history of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation.
The name Gabrielsen is still mentioned regularly within the congregation in the context of those who lost their lives in the world wars, because David’s son Morris fought in World War I as a corporal in the 1st King Edward’s Horse (a cavalry regiment in special reserve). He saw active service in France (in two stints) and Italy from 1915-18, before contracting pulmonary tuberculosis, which ultimately claimed his life on 10 December 1918. He is buried next to his parents on the front row of Broad Green Cemetery.
In 1881, the Gabrielsen family were living at 67 Grove Street, although Gabriel must have been travelling on business for he is not listed with them. Elizabeth died on 29 August 1892 aged 58 and was buried at Deane Road two days later. Her tombstone gives her Hebrew name as Sara bat Avraham Avinu, denoting that she was a convert to Judaism. Their address at the time was 7 Oxford Street and Gabriel remained at this address for some years with several of his unmarried children although, by 1911, they had moved to 2 Wilfred Place and then to 35 Kelvin Grove. Gabriel died on 21 November that same year, aged about 80, and was buried next to his wife in the plot which he had reserved. By this time, regular burials had ceased to take place at Deane Road and only those with reserved plot could be buried there.
- England and Wales census returns 1851-1911.
- New York passenger lists.
- Marks, S (2009), “Members of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice (2009 edition)”.
Gabriel Pincus Gabrielsen (c.1831-1911): A 21.02
Elizabeth Caroline Gabrielsen (née Shannon, his wife; c.1835-92): A 21.01