The Yates/Samuel Family
by Saul Marks
The Yates/Samuel family was one of the two wealthiest and most influential in the Liverpool Jewish community from the late 18th century, throughout the 19th century and even into the 20th century. It was also probably the largest.
Ralph Samuel (1738-1809) and Samuel Yates (1757-1825) founded two huge families beginning in the 1770s and they were to become inextricably connected when three of Ralph Samuel’s sons married three of Samuel Yates’ daughters! Furthermore, Samuel Yates’ brother, Rabbi Benjamin Yates (c.1752-98) also settled with his family in Liverpool, so the Yates and Samuel dynasty became interwoven not only with itself but also with several other notable families, such as Nathan, Hess and Keyser. The Yates/Samuel family was the subject of a detailed book by Lucien Wolf in 1901.
There are over 40 members of the dynasty buried at Deane Road, of which these are a few of the more prominent:
Ellis Samuel Yates (1805-1849)
Born Ellis Samuel, the eldest son of silversmith and watchmaker Lewis Samuel (1783-1854) and Kate Yates (1785-1858), he changed his surname to Yates before marrying his first cousin, Kate Samuel (1803-80) in 1833. They lived their entire married life at numbers 18 and 34 Huskisson Street, in the smart area of late-Georgian housing that was home to Liverpool’s most successful businessmen.
Ellis ran his own watch manufacturing business from premises in Lord Street and was also heavily involved in the running of Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation. He served as Senior Treasurer in 1838-39 and Senior Warden 1840-41 and again 1848-49.
He died at 34 Huskisson Street in June 1849 at the early age of 45.
George Samuel Yates (1834-1887)
George Samuel Yates (1834-1887)
George was Ellis and Kate’s eldest child but did not follow his father and grandfather into the watch-making business. Instead, he sold leaf tobacco and achieved a similar degree of success, building up a thriving business. He was also a leading member of the Liverpool Literary & Philosophical Society.
In 1864, he married Hannah Keyser (1840-1936), daughter of an extremely wealthy London family, and they set up home first in Falkner Square – at the top of Huskisson Street – then in an enormous house on the corner of Upper Warwick Street and Princes Road, just a few yards from where the new synagogue building was completed in 1874.
George had already served as Junior Treasurer 1861-62, Senior Treasurer 1862-63 and Senior Warden 1865-66 when the congregation worshipped at Seel Street. He served a second term as Senior Warden 1882-84 at Princes Road. In 1882, he travelled to the United States to raise funds for the victims of Jewish persecution in Russia and returned to great acclaim.
Sadly, George’s life was plagued by ill-health (possibly peritonitis or undiagnosed chronic appendicitis) and he died aged 53 in 1887. The Jewish Chronicle, in its affectionate obituary, described him as “a man of the highest refinement and of exceptional intelligence and culture.”
George’s estate was worth over £14,000 (today worth over £800,000) and his will provided, amongst other bequests, £1,000 per annum for his widow Hannah. Today, this would be a bequest of nearly £60,000 per year!
Despite such wealth, George has a very simple tombstone with a minimal inscription. This trend was continued on the tombstones of his daughter Marian (1873-1931) and wife Hannah, both buried at Deane Road’s successor, Broad Green Cemetery.
Ralph Henry Samuel (1809-1886)
Ralph was Kate Samuel’s brother, so Ellis Samuel Yates’ brother-in-law and first cousin. He was one of the most eminent people in the whole of Liverpool society, having established himself as a merchant, with strong business connections in Brazil. He and his wife (his first cousin, Rosa Samuel) lived in Brazil for much of the 1830s and 1840s and had their children there. Sadly, Rosa died just days after giving birth to their ninth child in 1849.
When Ralph and the family returned to Liverpool in the 1850s, they settled in the largest house on Liverpool’s then-equivalent of Millionaire’s Row: Canning Street. At the family’s height, in the early 1860s, seven servants were employed to run the household, including a butler, cook, ladies’ maids, housemaids and a groom.
In his communal work, Ralph was, at various times, President of the Hebrew Schools and President of the Philanthropic Society, as well as having founded the Boys’ Clothing Fund, which provided winter clothes for pauper boys in the city.
He was also the chairman of the Building Committee that worked tirelessly in the early 1870s to organise the building of the new synagogue on Princes Road. This was a committee of 17 men, of whom five were members of the Yates/Samuel family, including Ralph’s nephew, George Samuel Yates (above). Ralph donated £900 of his own money to the building fund – an equivalent of over £40,000 today. In his capacity as chairman, he was asked to lay the foundation stone of the new building on 23 December 1872, and the congregation presented him with a solid silver commemorative trowel to mark the occasion. This trowel remains in the congregation’s possession today.
As well as his pioneering work on the Building Committee, Ralph had previously served the congregation as Senior Treasurer 1854-55 and Senior Warden 1859-61 and 1864-65. He had earlier been instrumental in the formation of the congregation’s choir, at a time when very few synagogues had choirs. This choir went on to gain a national reputation for excellence under the leadership of Abraham Saqui.
In the final few years of his life, Ralph’s health declined and he spent winters in Torquay. He died at the Langham Hotel in London, having been taken ill on a visit to the south of England.
- Census returns.
- Jewish Chronicle, 29 October 1886, page 7 (available via JC Archive (subscription required) at http://www.thejc.com/).
- ibid, 1 July 1887, page 12.
- Kamm, ED, unpublished family history.
- Wolf, L (1901) “History and Genealogy of the Jewish Families of Yates and Samuel of Liverpool”, London. No ISBN.
Lewis Samuel (1783-1854): A 03.35
Kate Samuel (née Yates, his wife; 1785-1858) A 04.32
Gaby Samuel (née Yates, 1787-1870): A 09.06
Flora Samuel (née Yates, 1781-1851): A 03.15
Ellis Samuel Yates (né Samuel, 1805-49): A 02.32
Kate Yates (née Samuel, his wife; 1803-80): A 14.13
Lewis Henry Samuel (1812-54): A 03.34
Caroline Samuel (née Samuel, his wife; 1811-87): A 04.31
Ralph Henry Samuel (1809-86): A 18.19
Henry Solomon Samuel (1817-73): A 10.13
Samuel Yates Hess (1821-81): A 15.11
Julia Hess (née Samuel, his wife; 1824-97): A 15.12
George Samuel Yates (1834-87): B 04.02
(and many others)