Sunday, 22 January 2017

From sinking ship to hope

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing family history

Week 5 e-tivity - A whole new world
Write a narrative based on a moment when one of your ancestors arrived in a new place. What has brought them to this whole new world? What are they hoping to achieve and how did they feel?
Word limit 250 words.

From sinking ship to hope

As the Dubuc, laden with whale oil, sailed down the Derwent River to return to England the ship began to leak. Returning to Hobart Town, the precious cargo was off-loaded until another ship could be found to take the whale oil to England.

Thomas William Birch, the ship’s surgeon, had visited ports in many countries but had never seen one quite like this. The small settlement of roughly built huts haphazardly occupied land around the cove. The dock area where a few vessels were moored was noisy, smelly and dirty but the same could be said for other ports.

Looking around him, the landscape was very different from the landscape of England. The trees, in particular, were the wrong green and the general vegetation was far from lush. Hobart Town, settled four years previously, was a convict settlement. However there were some free settlers and attempts were being made to grow crops on small parcels of land.

Thomas knew that this settlement was on a large island waiting to be explored. Already whaling, fishing and sealing ships docked at Hobart Town. The new colony relied on trade with Sydney and the outside world for its supplies.  Timber was required to make a proper town with laid out streets and shops.

There was so much potential.

It was time to settle down.

This was the place to make a new life and, in time, possibly a fortune. Thomas William Birch therefore decided to make a new life in Hobart Town.

Monday, 16 January 2017

No. 11 Ainslie Place

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing family history

Week four e-tivity - Googling places past
Using Google Maps and or Google Street View, and cross-referencing with our own research into local and family history, we were asked to write a description of a place where one of our ancestors lived or may have visited.

11 Ainslie Place

Arriving in Edinburgh on a cold, wet August day our first destination was Ainslie Place in New Town. This block of Georgian stone townhouses was built towards the end of the 1820s on part of the old Moray Estate. 

Before leaving Melbourne I found the location on Google Maps so we knew how to find the street. Google Earth had shown that the two semi-circles of townhouses were still there and that the communal park for residents in the middle still existed.

When standing near the park we ignored the few cars parked in the street and were transported to another time.

It was easy to imagine a horse and carriage pulling up in front of number 11. George, Jean and their children alight from the carriage and climb the short flight of steps to the front door of their home which is opened by a servant. The carriage then travels to the stables at the back of the property.

Tall windows frame either side of the front door. Similar sized sets of three windows are on the two other floors. Decorative black ironwork features on the first floor windows while iron fencing protects the stairs leading to rooms below the main living area. 

There have been changes over time. Another storey has been added to the building and some of the townhouses have been subdivided into flats. However, from the street, it is easy to imagine the Ainslie Place of the 1830s where my great, great grandmother was born. 

 Once again, 250 words was the limit for this writing exercise.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Trial of Uriah Moses (part 3)

 London hospitals in the eighteenth century

The website, London Lives 1690 - 1800, contains an article on hospitals in the eighteenth century.

There is also a detailed article on Guys Hospital in British History Online.

Guy's Hospital was founded by Thomas Guy who in 1721 purchased land for the building in St Thomas Street opposite St Thomas' Hospital. The hospital opened in 1726 with 100 beds and 51 staff. In 1735 one staff member received an annual salary of £20 for killing bed bugs. In 1738-9 an east wing was added to the building. Many alterations occurred over the years, some necessitated after bombing during World War II. In 1993 Guy's Hospital and St Thomas' Hospital amalgamated. (The London Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. 2008 p366)
Engraving from British Library collection
Reading the description of eighteenth century London hospitals in the eighteenth century they generally sound like places to avoid.

Uriah's accident
On 8 December 1797 Uriah Moses, who was seventeen or eighteen, was involved in robbing the premises of a linen draper and mercer in Whitechapel. It was approximately 6 o'clock on a Friday evening in winter so not only would it be dark there would not be many people around in this predominantly Jewish area. The trial notes from the Old Bailey Proceedings suggest that Uriah may have been one of three boys taking part in the robbery.

The robbery did not go to plan. As a lad Uriah had worked for three years for Henry Jacobs, the owner of a glass business in Petticoat Lane, so he was able to cut glass using a diamond. To gain access to the merchandise in the shop Uriah cut an opening in the glass. Unfortunately when he reached through the glass to retrieve some of the merchandise he cut the back of his hand resulting in considerable loss of blood.

During the trial William Holmes, the owner of the shop stated that a piece of diamond was left by the window frame and 'some of the glass remained in the inside of the window, and some out'. Mr Homes said that he did not hear the window being broken.

Items stolen according to William Holmes included 'four or five cards of black lace, some is what is called British lace, two pieces of silk handkerchiefs, and two pieces of calimanco, one was brown, the other drab colour; the whole of them were worth, I suppose, seven or eight pounds'.

Uriah raced to the nearby lodging house of Ann Benjamin and her husband where he hid most of the items, except for one card of lace, under a mattress in an upstairs room. He then looked for Ann Benjamin. She was out of the house during the robbery but returned shortly after to discover Uriah and his badly cut hand. She wrapped a shawl around the hand and told him to go to Guy's Hospital which was not far away.

Uriah had been in bed in the hospital for only a short time when he was arrested. According to the man arresting Uriah, the back part of Uriah's was cut in several places and the shawl which he found in the bed was 'very, very bloody'. There were a great number of other people in the room when Uriah was arrested. I hope that he had received some treatment for the cut hand. After Uriah was taken from the hospital a nurse found a card of lace in his bed.

The rest of the items retrieved from Ann Benjamin's house had blood on them.

The Old Bailey

The Old Bailey Online proceedings of court cases from 1674 to 1913. This is a great resource for family history research. I have found it particularly useful as three of the convicts in my family were tried at this court before being transported to Australia.

A brief history of the Old Bailey courthouse can be found on the Old Bailey Online website.

The Central Criminal Court is also known as the Old Bailey or the Justice House as it has been located on a street named Old Bailey since 1673. The street follows the path of the fortified wall of the old city of London, This wall was known as a bailey.
Portico of the Old Bailey (2011)
The inscription above the pillars reads Defend the Children of the Poor. Punish the Wrongdoer.

The building has been remodelled and rebuilt many times but the basic design of the court rooms remain the same.

In 1666 the courthouse was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. When it was rebuilt in 1673 one side of the building was left without a wall in an attempt to prevent the prisoners infecting other people with gaol fever (typhus) in the court.

In 1773 the wall was enclosed  to limit the effects of weather and probably also to deter spectators.

In 1774 the building was rebuilt by George Dance, the same person who was responsible for the rebuilding of Newgate Prison. In this rebuild a wall was built around the prison to prevent communication between the prisoners and the public. The passage between the Old Bailey and Newgate was enclosed by brick walls. A detailed description of this court room is provided in the Old Bailey history page. Damage caused by the Gordon Riots in 1780 was soon repaired though much of the furniture was destroyed.
View inside the court room c1809 - London Lives 1690-1800
This was the court room in which Mary, Uriah and Richard would have been tried. The court room and its furnishings were lavish, a sharp contrast to the accommodation for the prisoners in the basement when waiting to be escorted to the court. When the prisoner was in the dock a mirror was positioned reflecting daylight on to the face of the accused. There was limited seating for spectators in the court for those prepared to pay to watch the proceedings. It must have been a daunting experience for the prisoners in the dock as to most of them this would have been an alien environment which was very different from the cells in which they had been kept before the trial and to which many would return.

A second court room was built in 1824 followed by two additional court rooms over the next twenty years.

In 1877 there was a fire in the building forcing the City of London to start making plans to replace the courthouse. The decision was made to demolish the courthouse and the prison in order to build a new courthouse on the site. The new courthouse was opened in 1907. This building was damaged during bombing raids in 1941 requiring rebuilding. An extension was added in 1972.

London Lives 1690-1800 also has a detailed article about the Old Bailey Proceedings
This website also has articles on the courts,
the criminal trial in the eighteenth century,
and punishment in Criminal Justice section of the website.

Old Bailey Online also has a section on Crime, Justice and Punishment with a variety of useful articles.

Trial of Uriah Moses (part 2)

 On the surface the record of the trial of Uriah Moses and Ann Benjamin is just an account of the many trials heard at the Old Baily at the end of the eighteenth century. However when you carefully read the trial notes and investigate, where possible, some of the people mentioned in the trial it is possible to gain a better understanding of Uriah and his life so far.

We knew that Uriah Moses was Jewish and a closer look at the Old Bailey Online trial notes indicate that the area around Whitechapel, where Uriah appears to be living, had a large Jewish population at the end of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

Reading the trail notes shows a number of contradictions, however there may be some clues providing information about Uriah and his family.

Kitty Jacobs
In a previous post I wrote about the possible connection between Uriah and Kitty Jacobs, one of Uriah's character witnesses. A major reason for the assumption that this Kitty Moses might be Uriah's sister is that her husband, Henry Jacobs, had a glass shop and she stated that Uriah had worked with her husband for three years. Uriah would have been about twelve when he started working for Henry Jacobs. Kitty stated that Uriah worked worked with Henry for three years. Uriah's ability to cut glass windows was probably the reason he was involved in the robbery. Unfortunately for Uriah his skills let him down on this occasion.

There are many references online, including forums, to the Jacob family and the glass business. British Genealogy and Family History Forums has a section Jacob's family, china and glass merchants.

Kitty married Henry Jacobs in June 1793 at the Great Synagogue. The marriage record (GSM 011/7) in Synagogue Scribes shows Kitty's Hebrew name as Keila and that her father's Hebrew name was Moshe Cohen.  Moshe is another form of Moses.

Family Search wiki provides information on Hebrew names in England at this time. The Ashkenazim Jews initially used a patriarchal system of names where a child was the son or daughter of the first name of the father. In this case Moses.

The actual transcription for the marriage of Kitty and Henry Jacobs reads:
Source: S2996 Title: Marriage: Henry Jacobs & Kitty Moses, London 1793 Type: Marriage Record Publication: Transcript in Marriage Records of the Great Synagogue, London 1791-1885, Lewin, H and M, (privately published, 2004)
Text:
Husband: Jacobs, Henry. Hebrew Name: Hirsch b. David Litsim (or Letson)
Father's Hebrew Name: David Litsim (or Letson)
Wife: Moses, Kitty. Hebrew Name: Kelia b. Moshe Cohen (daughter of Moshe Cohen)
Father's Hebrew Name: Moshe Cohen
Date of Marriage: 19th June 1793 NB: Other transcripts give the date as 5th June 1793.
Ref 94666/77/G115 Repository: #R75 Data Changed: Date: 21 JUN 2011 Time: 11:12:05

At the turn of the eighteenth century the Jews in England were forced to accept a more uniform naming pattern. Consequently tribal names were often used. Cohen was a form of Kohanin, a priestly tribe. Another common Jewish name, Levi, was chosen for similar reasons. Suffice to say researching Jewish names at the end of the eighteenth century for family history research is next to impossible.

Suffice to say researching Jewish names at the end of the eighteenth century for family history research is next to impossible.

Uriah's parents
During the trial the constable who had arrested Uriah reported that on asking Uriah how he had cut his hand he answered that he had been at his father's in Petticoat Lane and had cut his hand when he tripped, carrying a teapot, on London Bridge. Needless to say this information was not accepted as the truth by the judge but the mention of his father in Petticoat Lane may be true.

There is also mention of Uriah's mother during the trial. A character witness, Elizabeth Hicks said that she did not know Uriah but she knew his mother as ' a very honest hard working woman'.

This suggests that Uriah's parents were living in London by the time of his arrest and that they probably lived in Petticoat Lane. Petticoat Lane has been Middlesex Street since 1830. Prior to the early 1600s it was called Hogs Lane. This blog post in Londonist provides some information on the history of the street.
1720 map showing Petticoat Lane at the top
Middlesex Street (on left) and Whitechapel High Street (Google Maps)
Earlier today I located the Hambro Synagogue Register in the Susser Archive.

The Hambro Synagogue was an independent synagogue founded as an offshoot of  the Great Synagogue in the early 1700s. The Synagogue building, opened in 1725 in Magpie Alley, was demolished in 1892-3 and then rebuilt in another location in Whitechapel in 1899. It closed in 1936 when it merged once more with the Great Synagogue.

The register includes the following entry:
274 The widow of Moses COHEN THIRD FEMALE STRANGER buried on Wednesday 19 Iyar '570 [= 23 May 1810] Petticoat Lane

Could this be Uriah's mother? The name of her husband and the street where they probably had lived are the same. If so, Uriah's father died prior to May 1810.

The 'third female stranger' refers to the class of the person in the record. At this time Anglo-Jewish cemeteries ordered their seating and congregations into classes. Third class referred to strangers or guests and were usually poorer people who would sit at the back of the synagogue and have no regular seat. Jewish burials were also arranged in classes. The woman in this record was therefore buried in the poorer section of the cemetery.

Ann Benjamin
Another mystery in the trial notes is Ann Benjamin who was accused of being the receiver of the stolen goods.

Ann lived with her husband in a house where they let out rooms. The trial notes suggest that the boarders were women though Uriah appears to have known his way around the house. There is no suggestion in the trial notes that he actually lived there. Hannah Smith. Mrs Benjamin's servant, saw Uriah enter the house and race upstairs. She later said that Uriah wanted to speak to Mr and Mrs Benjamin who were not home at the time. Mrs Benjamin then arrived back home.

It is probable that Ann Benjamin was the organiser of the robberies. Once again, from the trial notes, it is suggested that Uriah was not the only boy involved in the robbery. Three boys are mentioned but Uriah appears to have been the only one to go to the Benjamin house.

Ann, when questioned, knew where the stolen items were hidden though initially she said she was unable to accompany the peace officer upstairs as she was observing the sabbath. Ann also admitted to wrapping Uriah's cut hand in a shawl and sending him to the hospital. At the trial Ann Benjamin was found guilty of stealing goods but she was not guilty of breaking and entering. She was sentenced to fourteen years transportation to New South Wales but stayed in England.

Uriah
During the trial Uriah's defence was 'I know nothing at all of it'. Although his three character witnesses were all positive it is not a surprise that he was found guilty of stealing the goods and breaking and entering the premises of Mr Holmes. As a large number of items were stolen the sentence was the death penalty.

Fortunately, possibly because of his young age, this was commuted to transportation to New South Wales for the rest of his life.

Friday, 6 January 2017

Ken Moses' wallet

University of Tasmania course - Image, Place, Object

As part of the Place, Image, Object unit we were asked to write about an object important to our family. The object that I chose was a leather wallet that was one of the possessions of my father during the Second World War. This is a link to the post about the wallet in my Exploring Military History blog.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Todmorden

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing Family History

Week 2 e-tivity - Painting a picture
In this exercise we were asked to write 'evocative description' and to particularly pay attention to different senses. I chose to write about a settlement near Todmorden on the Yorkshire / Lancashire border around 1780. E-tivities are restricted to no more than 250 words.

Todmorden

The occasional bleating of sheep resounds through the quiet English countryside.

On top of one of the many green hills surrounding the small village of Todmorden, four stone cottages house the families who own and look after the sheep grazing on this hill. The green of the lush grass is the predominant colour though grey stone fences, forming enclosures near the cottages and sheds, also weave a pattern on the hill slopes. From the top of the hill rivers can be seen flowing through the valleys below.

It is 1780 and nine year old Simeon lives with his parents and four brothers and two sisters in one of the cottages. The cottages don’t just provide shelter for the families living in them. They also provide a workspace for the spinning and weaving of yarn, a cottage industry essential to the livelihood of people in this region.

The sound of laughter can be heard as Simeon’s older sister, Mary, looks after the younger children who are playing with a lamb in a small field near the cottage.

Inside the cottage a number of women, assisted by some of the children, weave woollen or the new cotton cloth. Next day a packhorse will carry the finished cloth along the narrow path winding through the fields to the market town.

The smell of soup and freshly cooked bread comes from the cottage stove. Shortly Simeon’s father and older brother will join the family for dinner after spending the day tending the sheep.

Useful references:
Todmorden and Walsden website
 Also posts mentioning Todmorden on this blog
The Fielden Trail: a ramble through Todmorden's past by Jim Jarratt, 1988
Fieldens of Todmorden: a nineteenth century business dynasty by Brian R Law, 1995

Horse racing connections

University of Tasmania Family History course - Writing Family History

Week 3 e-tivity - The past interrupted
In this exercise we were asked to write about one moment in the lives of our ancestors. I chose to write about the first race meeting held in New South Wales in 1810. A great (x3) grandfather and a great (x4) grandfather, who probably did not know each other, both had horses taking part in the the three day racing carnival. E-tivities are restricted to no more than 250 words.

Horse racing connections

As we know, family history research can produce unexpected connections. What are the odds of having a third great grandfather and a fourth great grandfather both entering horses in the first race meeting in New South Wales? 

The race meeting at the new racecourse at Hyde Park was a great success attracting large, enthusiastic crowds who gathered to watch three days of racing. Governor Macquarie’s belief that horse racing would provide a place for all colonists to meet may therefore have indirectly impacted upon my family.

Among this crowd was Simeon Lord, a subscriber to the racecourse, who not only attended the races but also entered his horse, Tipsey, in the Ladies’ Cup. No doubt Simeon would have enjoyed watching his horse win the first two mile heat and being placed in the other two, though this effort was not sufficient to win the Cup. 

At the races Simeon may have met another race goer, George Guest, a resident of Van Diemen’s Land who frequently made prolonged trips to New South Wales. George had entered a horse to run on day three of the race meeting and I am sure would have attended the races on other days.

Simeon and George had different business interests and I doubt that their paths would have crossed prior to the race meeting but they certainly could have met at the races. We do know, however, that twenty years later the two families were permanently connected when Simeon’s son married George’s grand-daughter in Hobart.

References:
Posts on horse racing in this blog

NB Horse racing has continued to be an interest in many lines of the family story.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Newgate Prison

Three of my ancestors, Uriah Moses (1780-1847), Richard Holland (1783-1867) and Mary Bateman (1773-1829) spent time in Newgate Prison in London before being transported to Australia.

When we visited London in 2011 we explored the area where Newgate Prison once stood. The prison buildings were closed in 1902 and demolished to enable the rebuilding of the new Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey).
Part of Google map showing Newgate Street- Old Bailey
Corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey,  former site of  Newgate Prison
Newgate Prison is where the convicts waited to be tried at the Old Bailey and were then kept, often for months or in some cases years, before being taken to the ship that would carry them from England to Australia.

Mary was arrested on 19 April 1788 and tried at the Old Bailey 7 May 1788. She then returned to Newgate until 12 March 1789 when 108 female prisoners were transferred to the transport ship, Lady Juliana.

Uriah waited in Newgate from 8 December 1787 until his trial on 10 January 1788. He then returned to Newgate until 14 February 1799 when he was removed to a prison hulk, Lion, in Portsmouth.

Richard was arrested on 24 May 1806 and was tried at the Old Bailey on 2 July 1806. On 2 January 1807 he was transferred to the prison hulk, Captivity, at Portsmouth.

 Newgate Prison building was situated on corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey. The original prison was built in the Newgate, the fifth gate built into the wall around London. The prison was rebuilt and extended many times from the end of the twelfth century.
Old Newgate - Wikimedia Commons
In 1666 the prison was destroyed in the Great Fire of London. It was rebuilt and extended in 1672 but the conditions for the prisoners remained appalling. The water supply to the prison was poor, there was inadequate ventilation and there were frequent outbreaks of disease within the prison. New prisoners were put in chains where the weight of the chains depended on what the prisoner could pay the jail keeper. The conditions in which the prisoners lived depended on what they could pay for bedding and food.

Between 1770 and 1778 a new, larger prison designed by George Dance the Younger was built. However, during the Gordon Riots in June 1780, the rioters stoned and set fire to the new prison allowing prisoners to escape. The prison was rebuilt between 1780 and 1783.
Newgate Prison end of nineteenth century - Historic Prisons
The new prison was therefore only a few years old when Uriah was imprisoned there in December 1787 and Mary in April 1788.

During the later years of the 1770s there was a movement to improve conditions in prisons. John Howard (1726-1790) worked for prison reform. He visited prisons throughout England and was not impressed with the conditions. In 1774 he gave evidence to a select committee in the House of Commons before the Gaol Act was passed. The Act was to abolish the payment of fees by prisoners to jailers as well as improve sanitary conditions in jails.

Conditions within English prisons improved but were still not good. Although Newgate Prison was designed to look impressive on the outside conditions inside were basic as prisons were still designed primarily as a detriment to crime.  It was not long before Newgate Prison once again became overcrowded.

The new prison was divided into sections and had three exercise yards. Common prisoners were housed in a different area from those who could afford to pay for better food and conditions. Female convicts were housed in a separate area.
Plan of Newgate Prison - Wikimedia Commons
Within the prison was the chapel. There was also a passage that led to the courtroom where prisoners were tried at the Old Bailey. Another passage led to the place of execution. There was also a burial ground for executed prisoners. The prison structure was altered again in the 1850s.

Elizabeth Fry (1780-1845) worked to improve conditions for female prisoners.

During the nineteenth century authors such as Charles Dickens wrote about conditions at Newgate as well as including descriptions of the prison in some of their books.

A quick search in Google provides a number of sites providing information about Newgate Prison. A sample appears below.

Wikipedia article on Newgate Prison

There is also a short article in Wikipedia on the Newgate.

Last Mile Tours - Newgate Prison

While many of the prisoners were in the prison awaiting trial, others were waiting to be executed. Many prisoners were hanged at Newgate.

Images of Newgate Prison in the 1890s.

Historic UK has an article on Newgate Prison including images of part of the remaining wall.

Knowledge of London includes a photo of the only part of a prison wall that remains. The wall can be viewed in Amen Court at the back of the current Old Bailey building. 

London Lives 1690-1800 has an article about prisons including Newgate Prison.

British History online includes pages from the book, Old and New London (volume 2 published in 1878) about Newgate Prison.

The State Library of Victoria also has a number of titles on Newgate Prison which I will check.
The English Bastille: a history of Newgate Gaol and prison conditions in Britain. 1188-1902 by Anthony Babington 1971.
The gaol: the story of Newgate - London's most notorious prison by Kelly Grovier 2008.
Newgate: London's prototype of hell by Stephen Halliday 2006.
The Old Bailey and Newgate by Charles Gordon 1902.

The London Journal: a review of Metropolitan Society Past & Present vol. 9 (1) 1983 has an article 'Reconstruction of London's Prisons 1770-1799 an aspect of growth of Georgian London.This is also available in the State Library of Victoria.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Challenge: researching Jewish family in England

Uriah Moses (1780-1847) was transported from England to Australia in 1800. Fortunately his trial for theft was at The Old Bailey and the detailed trial notes are available online. Uriah's life, initially as a convict and then as an emancipist in Australia, is relatively easy to trace however searching for information about his life and that of his family in England is more of a challenge.

A good place to start is FamilySearch which provides a detailed section in their wiki on researching English Jewish Records. This includes a useful summary on the history of Jews in England.

The Jewish section of Cyndi's List also has links that may be useful. Searching by location (England) within this list leads to the British Jewry website.

In the trial notes Kitty Jacobs is called as a character witness for Uriah. Online searching suggests that Kitty Jacobs was Kitty Moses before her marriage. A general Google search for Kitty Moses and Henry Jacobs provides links to a variety of sources which may, or may not, be helpful. One link is to a section of a book, Wealth and Notoriety: the extraordinary families of Lawrence Levy and Charles Levy,  by Robert Ward which includes information about Rebecca, a daughter of Kitty and Henry, marrying Lawrence Levy. Searching for information on other children may also be useful. An entry in WikiTree provides some information about Kitty and her family.

The website, Synagogue Scribes, provides a database of London Ashkenazi Synagogue records, with the emphasis on pre-UK civil registration. In this database is a record of the marriage of Kitty Moses to Henry Jacobs at the Great Synagogue in 1793.

British Genealogy and Family History Forums has a section on queries about the name Moses Cohen / Moshe Cohen. There is also discussion on this family on this forum page (towards the bottom of the page). References in these notes are made to Jacobs Tree website.

Another British Genealogy forum with relevant posts.

Cemetery Scribes could also be a useful resource.

What was it like to be Jewish in London at the end of the eighteenth century?

The Great Synagogue was the place of worship for Ashkenazi Jews in London. Synagogue Scribes has some brief information plus an image of the Great Synagogue. Further information about the synagogue can be found in Family Search. There is also information about the Great Synagogue in the Susser Archive.

The Great Synagogue was founded by Ashkenazi Jews. Recent research using DNA suggest that these were largely from European families who had converted to Jewish religion (Live Science 8 October 2013). Many were from Germany and other Western European countries. Additional information can be located in another article in The Scientist 8 October 2013.

There are a number of online sites which may provide useful background information about the Jewish community in London at the end of the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.
The Jewish Virtual Library has an article on Ashkenazim and another on Jews in the UK.
Old Bailey Online has an article on Jewish communities and also on London from 1760-1815.

As it is believed that Uriah was born in Exeter in Devon it is necessary to look at the Jewish community in that region.  

Wikipedia has an article about the history of the synagogue in Exeter which was consecrated in 1764. The synagogue is located in Synagogue Place, Exeter.

A book by Helen Fry - The Jews of Exeter - has been written about the history of the synagogue and was published in 2013.

A paper on Multi-Cultural Exeter 1500-1800 is also available online. It also includes a reference to the book - The Jews of Devon and Cornwall published in 2000. Lists of the names of Jewish families from Exeter appearing in the 1841 and 1851 census are included.

Exeter Memories has a page on the Jewish Cemetery in Exeter. There is also a page on the Exeter Synagogue.

Rabbi Bernard Susser wrote a thesis on Jews of South West England (1977) which is available online on the JCR-UK website.

As I work through these resources no doubt other useful links will also be located. It is unlikely that the links will provide answers to all the questions that will arise but at least they should help in providing a better understanding of the life that Uriah may have had as a Jew living in England.