Chatham and Rochester
Marcus Roberts


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However Samuel was best known for his role as army contractor and outfitters in the Northampton based, Isaac, Campbell & Company. Here he was a major supporter of the South in the American Civil War and his company were the most audacious of the blockade-runners between 1861-5. They took military stores outward and returned with cotton. During the war he raised his own rifle volunteer regiment among his workers in Northampton and was made a major for his efforts. He also stood unsuccessfully as MP for Northampton in 1862.

In 1869, after the end of the war in 1865, he went bankrupt as his company were large holders of confederate stock, their 150,000 pounds worth of stock was allegedly the second largest holding. He also lost personally as well as financially as his eldest son Henry had died at Nassau while supervising the blockade running.

Issacs recovered from his insolvency and promoted and built the Mersey Tunnel from 1880-85. It was widely acknowledged that without Issacs as the driving force throughout, the venture would probably have failed. He died shortly after the completion of the project in 1886 but not before he had the honour and recognition of being invited to 10 Downing Street to meet Gladstone to represent the Mersey Railway Company in 1864.

At a more local level the Jewish community enjoyed prominence in Chatham during the last half of the 19th century. In 1860 and 1865 J.L.Levy was elected mayor, his family being described of Jewish origin. The family also provided another mayor in the guise of L.Levy in 1874, 1885, and 1886. Daniel Barnard was a colourful local figure, owning a music hall and becoming a prominent civic figure. He was High Constable of Chatham, Chairman of Chatham Court Leet, he was a member for the Board of Health as well being a founder and Captain of the local fire brigade. The brigade formed a guard of honour at his funeral in 1879, "following his remains to the grave".

The noted Jew, Sir Julian Goldsmid became MP for Rochester in 1870. The campaign was attended by blatant anti-Semitism by certain opponents. A poster is preserved in the museum which declares:


Is Mr. GOLDSMID the Right Man ?"

The poster went on to condemn Goldsmid and those who selected him for rejecting ten Christian candidates in favour of "...the only man among them who is professedly NOT A CHRISTIAN ?" It also claimed that Christian "instinct" would make it impossible for many Liberal electors to vote for an "UNBELIEVER", as well as claiming that electing a Jew was divisive and that Goldsmid needed Christian moral principles to decide properly on the issues of the day. It concluded with the ringing declaration,

"A BLUNDER HAS BEEN COMMITTED, maugre the unanimity said to prevail; but is it not a coerced unaminity, in which the voice of conscience is stifled and Christianity insulted ?


The elector and author was the Revd. Nobbs, a Congregationalist minister; his railing availed nothing! To add insult to injury Goldsmid was considered by electors worthy of a second term of office in 1874.

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