Rev Michael Solomon Oppenheim (c.1791-1855)

by Pat Coppel

Michael Solomon Oppenheim was the son of Joseph Oppenheim and Esther Joseph. He was born c.1791 and died 5 February 1855. He was Reader at the Seel St Synagogue between 1819 and 1855.

His first wife was Esther Nathan. Of his second wife, Hannah, I know nothing. Michael and Hannah had two children, Rosetta Oppenheim, born in 1834 (she married Moss Joseph) and Joseph Ezekiel Oppenheim, born in 1835.

Michael’s third wife, Martha Israel (c.1792-1862), was the daughter of Isaiah Israel and Jane Cashmore. Martha’s brother, Cashmore Israel, was a well known convict sent out to Australia in 1819, having been prosecuted by his father for stealing from the family home and sentenced to death. Isaiah then put in a plea for mercy and the sentence was commuted to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land for life. He eventually received a pardon in 1841. Strangely, after all that, Cashmore still named his first born after his father.

I believe Michael was very likely a second or third cousin of Simeon Oppenheim (1798-1874), Secretary of the Great Synagogue in London. Simeon’s father (also a Michael) and grandfather Moses were glass manufacturers and merchants. I suspect Moses was a brother or son of Meir Oppenheim of whom Cecil Roth wrote this in “The Rise of Provincial Jewry”:

“I am informed by Mr. M. Frumkin that one of the last patents granted in France under the ancien regime was to a certain Meyer Oppenheim(er) ‘de Bermingham,’ in 1789, for an improved method of glass manufacture. This is clearly the Mayer Oppenheim otherwise Opnaim, late of Birmingham, glassmaker, who failed in 1777: he had taken out a patent in London in 1755 for the manufacture of red glass, and in or before 1760 set up the first known Birmingham glass-furnace.”

I think the original Meir Oppenheim of Birmingham was Michael Solomon Oppenheim’s grandfather or great-grandfather. Unfortunately, I cannot yet confirm that link, otherwise it would be possible to connect two Oppenheims who played significant roles in two major Jewish synagogues at around the same time. 

- Roth, C (1950) “The Rise of Provincial Jewry: the Early Histories of the Jewish Communities in the English Countryside, 1740-1840″, Jewish Monthly, London. No ISBN.
- Correspondence with Joe Wolfman.

Grave References
Rev Michael Solomon Oppenheim (c.1791-1855): A 04.09
Martha Oppenheim (née Israel, his third wife; c.1792-1862): A 05.09