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S02EP01: ‘The Tailor’ with Ruth Bramley

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Ruth Bramley - The Family Histories Podcast

In this, the first episode of Series Two, Andrew will be meeting family historian, friend, and former-colleague, Ruth Bramley. She’ll tell us how she got hooked on researching genealogy, and how she researches her Jewish ancestry. She’ll explain how Googling and using forums like have brought surprise results, and how she has tuned her research skills to even trace the ‘family history’ of an object known as ‘Alice’.

Listen to the episode

S02EP01 – 'The Tailor' with Ruth Bramley The Family Histories Podcast

Also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and others

The Life Story:
Woolf Bernstock

Ruth has chosen her Great Great Grandfather Woolf Bernstock for the Life Story, and it’s a story of immigration, and a new start in the Jewish community in the UK.

Woolf was born in about 1844, in Warsaw, Poland, where he married Sura Lewengrub in the summer of 1864. It is believed that Sura was his second wife, and the couple began their family with daughter Matla in 1865.

By 1876, the family have travelled from Poland to Portsea Island in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, and it is here that Woolf and Sura set up home.

Woolf worked as a tailor – a career that stays with him through his life. He was also very active member at his local synagogue, and is repeatedly elected to the committee, even becoming involved in a burial scandal.

The Brick Wall:
Milly Mattenburg

Ruth needs some help in breaking through the Brick Wall between her and her Great Grandmother Milly Mattenburg (later Milly Schneider)

Whilst Ruth knows what becomes of Milly and her husband Lipman Schneider from 10th June 1883 onwards (the birth date of their son Harry Schneider), it’s Milly’s earlier life is a mystery to her.

Milly and Lipman are at 40 Turner Street in Mile End in 1901, and they’re still there by the time of Milly’s last census in 1911. At this point, the census states Milly as being from Russia.

The census suggests they were married in 1882 – the year before Harry’s birth. Ruth suspects that they had been married in Białystok (now in Poland). In Lipman’s naturalisation record in 1903, he states that he is a Russian subject from ‘Brabstock’. Ruth has not been able to locate that place name in what was the then Russian Empire or Russia’s modern neighbours. She suspects that this was also Białystok.

Milly’s maiden name is often found to have some slight variants. Whilst she appears as Emilie at one point, her maiden name has been seen as Markenberg, Mattenburg, Mattenberg, Mettenberg, suggesting that those creating the records were not familiar with the name, or that she might have had an unfamiliar accent.

Milly died on 27th January 1915, aged 49yrs, and is buried in Edmonton, London. As is customary with Jewish headstones, it gives her Hebrew name of מלכה (Malka), and names her children and grandchildren too, but crucially also names her father as אביגדור (Awigdor /Avigdor).

If you think that you can help Ruth to solve her brick wall, then you can send her a message via our Contact Form, making sure you select her name.

Ruth jumps at Andrew’s offer of help, but he’s concerned that she might get a bit carried away…

Episode Credits:
Series Two, Episode One

  • Andrew Martin: Host and Producer
  • Ruth Bramley: Guest
  • John Spike: Sándor Petőfi

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