The Jews of Gravesend before 1915*

At first sight, Gravesend is an improbable choice as a topic for a paper. The place, generally now known only as the headquarters pilot station of the Port of London Authority, appears neither in the index to the Encyclopaedia Judaica nor in that to our own Transactions. A point of arrival for many immigrants and a centre for crimping during the Napoleonic wars, Gravesend had much in common with the Medway towns, the principal productions of which (or so it seemed to Mr Pickwick) were ‘soldiers, sailors, Jews, chalk, shrimps, officers and dockyard men’. ‘The humbler sort of Jews’, wrote a Chatham authority recalling conditions in the first half of the nineteenth century, ‘dealt in civil habiliments shed by recruits when they assumed the military or naval uniforms; and the richer . . . purchase the furniture of officers leaving the garrison, to sell to officers joining; as well as

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