Moses Samuel (1764/5-1839)

by Arnold Lewis

Moses Samuel (1764/5-1839)

Moses Samuel – not to be confused with the unrelated watchmaker/scholar Moses Samuel (1795-1860) – was a wealthy man, a noted philanthropist and founder of the Liverpool Hebrew Philanthropic Society in 1811. This Society was the first Jewish charity of its kind established in the provinces and provided stipends of between two and four shillings a week to needy widows, orphans, the aged and the infirm during the winter months. The annual fund raising dinner of the Society eventually developed via a special synagogue service known as “Philanthropic Sunday” into today’s annual Civic Service operated under the auspices of the Merseyside Jewish Representative Council.

Moses Samuel was born in Germany and according to B.L.Benas’ “Records of the Jews in Liverpool” he married “a woman of Lancashire descent and Christian birth who was of remarkably fine presence”. Mary Rachel Samuel together with her husband Moses devoted themselves to works of kindness and charity. The Samuels did not have children. 

Moses was often known as “Rother Moses” because of his red hair and also to distinguish him from his younger namesake. He was a member of Liverpool’s prestigious Athenaeum from 1820-30 and bequeathed to it a curious miniature Sepher Torah (parchment scroll of the Pentateuch) plus an illustrated scroll of the Book of Esther, both of which still survive today.

A portrait in oils of Moses Samuel hung for some years in the Shifrin House offices of Merseyside Jewish Community Care, which administers the Liverpool Hebrew Philanthropic Society charity. It is now displayed in the historical exhibition at Princes Road synagogue.

Grave References
Moses Samuel (1764/5-1839): A 01.09
Mary Rachel Samuel (his wife; 1774/5-1843): A 01.28