Joseph Leopold Rosenheim (1835-1889)

by Evelyn Wilcock

Joseph Leopold Rosenheim was born on 25 February 1835 in Heidingsfeld, Bavaria, home to the many Jews who were excluded from the neighbouring Bishopric city of Würzburg. It is said that Joseph wanted to be a doctor but was prevented by anti-Semitic laws. The family believed he had instead worked as a bookseller in Prague. 

Joseph was a younger son of a wine merchant and cigar manufacturer and it was to expand this business selling the then fashionable wine from Franconia that he came to London in 1857 when he was 22. Though Joseph was the first of his family to arrive in the UK, he was soon followed by his more businesslike younger brother Hermann. Together they founded L. Rosenheim and Sons, Wine Merchants. Joseph was naturalised on 1 Jan 1863 and the following year he married Johanna Heim, daughter of Felix Heim a notable banker in Würzburg.

Joseph moved to Liverpool in 1872 or 1873. The family story is that he was dispatched there to expand the wine business in the north of England. Another cousin who lived in Britain moved to Bordeaux. However, once in Liverpool, Joseph became a founder of Lehman, Neugass, Rosenheim & Sons, Cotton Brokers, a change of direction probably spurred by the Rosenheim connection to Lehmann Brothers who had built their fortune trading cotton in Alabama.

The Rosenheims were comfortably off. The 1881 census shows the family at 1 Croxteth Road. They had 4 British servants and a German nurse. Their ten children regularly exchanged visits with their German relatives in Würzburg and Frankfurt, and some married children of wealthy Liverpool congregants. Many of his Rosenheim cousins pursued successful professional careers in Britain. But Joseph seems to have remained an outsider. His family appear to have been Reform Jews in Germany and Hermann was associated with the West London Reform Synagogue in London. In Liverpool there was no alternative to the orthodox synagogues in which Joseph was ill at ease. He died of cancer on 19 January 1889 in his early fifties and the cotton business was continued by Johanna and her sons after her husband died.

Grave Reference
Joseph Leopold Rosenheim (1835-1889): B 12.03