When I was informed by Mr. Hyamson that your Society had done me the honour of inviting me to become its President for the ensuing year I greatly appre? ciated the compliment you paid me, but when he added that the first and most important duty of the President was to deliver a presidential address of some length, I must confess that I felt some qualms about accepting the office. I had read history at Oxford, but I had not pursued my studies of history when I came down from the University. I had read Mr. Roth's interesting book, but I had never dug deep into Jewish history and must confess that I had found Gratz's great work too indigestible for my taste. The one subject on which I had some qualifications to speak, Jews and the English Law, had so recently been largely covered by Professor Goodhart that I wondered into what field I could usefully stray. I then remembered that there was one great English lawyer of the Jewish faith to whom Professor Goodhart had not referred, the late Right Hon. Arthur Cohen, Q,.C. ; a record of his life is to be found in his daughter's memoir which had always seemed to me a delightful portrait of a really great man, but that memoir had been printed for private circulation among members of his family and friends and I thought I might properly devote part of my address to the salient features of his life.
From Arthur Cohen my mind naturally turned to other members of our family and I thought that I might take as the subject of my address " Levi Barent Cohen and some of his Descendants."
Levi Barent Cohen was born in 1747, not 1740 as stated in the pedigree in Miss Lucy Cohen's memoir of her father. The correct date is established by two pieces of evidence unearthed by Mr. Ernest Cohen ; first a memorial ring which contains the inscription " Obit March 1808, Act 61 " ; and second his will, the original of which was in Hebrew but which according to the translation at Somerset House was a will made in 1807 " in the 60th year of my life ". He was born in Amsterdam. His family had been prominent for several generations in the life of the Netherlands. His cousin Benjamin Cohen was a prosperous tobacco merchant in Amersfoort where the provincial States of Utrecht then met. Benjamin Cohen placed his house at the disposal of the States as a residence for the Stadtholder William V while he attended a meeting of the States in 1787. The Stadtholder's next visit to Benjamin Cohen was in less happy circumstances. The Stadtholder was staying at Soestdijk when a plot to capture him was discovered. It all but succeeded but the Stadtholder escaped to Amersfoort and took refuge for five days in Benjamin Cohen's house. To commemorate this visit the Stadtholder presented Benjamin Cohen with his life-sized portrait which Benjamin Cohen gave