Sheerness & Blue Town
Marcus Roberts


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The dispersal of the Jews of the town can be traced across England and abroad, though London was a favoured location. Members of the Russell family went to both New York and South Africa. While this was very much the end of a distinct Jewish community, Jews did not disappear entirely from the town. Members of the Jacobs family continued to live in the town, one Henry Jacobs being memorialized as falling in the First World War. The old synagogue clung on as grimly as the relict Jews of the community, only succumbing to demolition in c.1935.

It is likely that the remaining Jews largely assimilated in absence of any organized Jewish life. It is also likely that their ties to the town and the area outweighed their ties to Judaism. Those who needed a continuing tie to a functioning Jewish community seem to have moved away, the rest stayed and got on with their lives. The church wedding of a Mr T.A. Russell in the era of the First World War may be indicative in this direction. Outside of Sheerness assimilation did occur, at an earlier date it is interesting to note that the Rev. Henry Lloyd Russell, Rector of the Church of the Annunciation, Chislehurst Kent, from 1870, was probably the son of Henry Russell the song-writer.

A search of the current telephone directory throws up the interesting fact that the names of the main Jewish families in Sheerness from c. 1841 are still to be found in the area. There are Jacobs in Sheerness, Halfway, and Minster; Russels in both Sheerness and Minster (though spelt with one 'l'); Levys in Minster and Abrahams in Warden Bay. The Jacobs are by far the most numerous by entry (8), followed by the Russels (4). The Jacobs are largely resident in Sheerness and the Russels in Minster and the rest mostly equally divided between the places. The significance of Minster is that it is an attractive (and very historic village) to live in with wide views of the area, some eight miles east of Sheerness.

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