The Jews of Hackney before 1840

One November day in the late 1820s, Mrs Nathan Mayer Rothschild took up her pen to send a few lines to an acquaintance, an American-born lady of title. ‘We are still’, she wrote, ‘at Stamford Hill. We find this situation more agreeable than in the streets of London. We do not have any of the benefit from our national friend the fog, and I must say that I am unkind enough to do all I can to avoid this boast of Old England.'((Rothschild Archives, London (hereafter RAL), 109/10/3-7, Hannah Rothschild to the Marchioness of Carmarthen, 24 November [dated 1828 from internal evidence].))

Had the portmanteau word ‘smog’ been current in Hannah Rothschild’s time, that would surely have been the term she would have used. Beneath her wry comment on the weather lies one of the most potent reasons for what is often called ‘the flight from the city’. Ever since

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