Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner

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Haim Bolaffey dedicated his 'Easy grammar' of 1820 to Dr Joseph Hart Myers, whose daughter's and father's fortunes I have now traced to serve as the background to reviewing Dr Myers's career in the broad context of the assimilation of Jews in Britain during the late Enlightenment.11 have taken the family of Maria Hart Myers (1794-1868), 'the lady of Longueville Clarke', down to 1929.2 Here I shall concentrate on the earlier generation of Naphtali Hart Myers and his success as an American in London in the late eighteenth century. I acknowledge again the assistance of a New Zealand genealogist, Daryl Coup, himself a descendant of Naphtali's son Simeon Hart Myers (1765-1803), who has both encouraged and followed some of my findings about Naphtali 'cheek by jowl'. For the Anglo-Jewish history of the 1760s I also acknowledge references in Raphael Langham's account of the early history of the Board of Deputies of British Jews on the occasion of the Board's 250th anniversary.3 Against the fact that Naphtali does not appear in this history of the Board, and because the entry for him in the forthcoming Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History subordinates him to his son Joseph,41 offer these traces of his career, presenting him rather as a one-man Board of Deputies in his own right, or, along with the American-born Naphtali Franks, a two-man team. The key factor, I suggest, is that he had become an American as far as his place in London is concerned, so I intro? duce him with a brief survey of his American career.

I have been able to update the Myers family tree5 in further correction of Malcolm Stern's genealogical tables at the American Jewish Archive.

This article is an expanded version of a paper presented to the Society on 17 December 2009.

1 S. W. Massil, 'Two Hebrew grammars and the Enlightenment', Trans JHSE XLI (2007) 99 143

2 S. W. Massil, "'The Lady of Longueville Clarke": Maria Hart Myers (1794-1868) and her Family', TransJHSE XLII (2009) 53-73.

3 R. Langham, 250 Years of Convention and Contention: a history of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1J60-2010 (London 2010).

4 W. D. Rubinstein, M. Jolles and H. L. Rubinstein (eds) The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History (Basingstoke 2010).

5 S. W. Massil (see n. 2) 72-3.

Naphtali's dates are usually introduced with a question mark, '1711?'. If, however, the Gentleman's Magazine's brief obituary notice of October 1788 is taken as correct in giving his age as 77,6 then, with the statement of Naphtali's Will7 that he wished the Synagogue to memorialize him annually at Rosh Chodesh Adar, it can be presumed that he was born on Friday 20 February 1711.

What remains uncorroborated is the 'American Adolphus connection' posited by both Stern and Cecil Roth concerning Myers's ancestral connec? tions in New York.8 Intensive investigation fails to trace any substantial Adolphus presence in New York at this period, except for Isaac Adolphus (1725-74) and his wife Charity Hays (1722-73), the sister of Judah Hays (1703-64), who will appear in my account later.

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