Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: August 01, 2017.
Webpage updated: August 01, 2017




Mr Jacob Nathan is unknown and unheard of in modern Plymouth: you will not find a road or street that recalls his name.  Yet he gave a large sum of money to the deserving causes of Plymouth and ensured that they included not just those of a Jewish/Hebrew character but any organisation that offered help to others, including animals.  The following can but tell only a part of the full story.

By his will dated January 15th 1864, proved at Exeter on June 3rd 1867, Mr Jacob Nathan bequeathed the following sums, all free of duty, to the organisations and charities indicated:

  • 3,000 for the maintenance of the Jacob Nathan Hebrew School;
  • 1,000 to the Hebrew Congregation for the maintenance of public worship;
  • 600 for the establishment of the Jacob Nathan Hebrew School;
  • 500 to the trustees of the Jewish Burial Ground;
  • 400 to the poor of the Hebrew Congregation (see below);
  • 300 for clothing any poor children attending the Jacob Nathan Hebrew School;
  • 200 to the South Devon & East Cornwall Hospital;
  • 200 to the Plymouth Public Dispensary;
  • 150 to the Plymouth Blanket Society;
  • 150 to the Plymouth Eye Infirmary;
  • 100 to the Ladies' Hebrew Benevolent Society;
  • 100 to the Jewish poor for the supply of coals in three winter months;
  • 70 to the Plymouth Female Home;
  • 60 to the Plymouth Lying-in Charity;
  • 50 to the Plymouth Branch of the National Life Boat Association;
  • 50 to the Plymouth Humane Society;
  • 50 to the Plymouth Sailors' Home;
  • 50 to the Plymouth Female Penitentiary;
  • 50 to the Plymouth Industrial Society;
  • 50 to the Plymouth Ragged School;
  • 30 to the Plymouth Benevolent Society;
  • 19 19s to the Plymouth Branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; and
  • 19 19s to the Plymouth Soup Kitchen.

The 400 given to the Hebrew Congregation was to be distributed annually as follows:

  • 2 on the first day of the Jewish Year;
  • 2 on the eve of the Day of Atonement;
  • 2 on the eve of the Day of Tabernacles;
  • 4 on the eve of the Days of Passover;
  • and 2 on the eve of the Day of Pentecost.

Mr Abraham Ralph, Mr Eleazer Emdon and Mr Asher Levy were trustees.

Unfortunately the course of righteousness does not run smoothly and the bequest was the subject of some legal actions.  One queried whether the 200 should be paid direct to the South Devon & East Cornwall Hospital or if it should be retained by the trustees and the income paid to the Hospital; another action queried if the 50 for the Plymouth Humane Society should be paid to the Port of Plymouth Swimming Association and Humane Society instead.  Other actions questioned the legacies for the female homes and yet another whether the 50 should have continued to go to the Plymouth Ragged School when it ceased to be a day school in January 1897.  Most of these actions were resolved amicably by an Order of the Court of Chancery dated November 1st 1907 but the Plymouth Industrial Society and the Plymouth Benevolent Society had ceased to exist by that time.

Mr Nathan also left a house in Hoe Street, then in the occupation of a Mr Congdon, to Mr Abraham Ralph only on condition that he should allow the master of the School to occupy two rooms as his residence and another property in Well Street to be fitted out as the School itself.

This gives a flavour of the Mr Jacob Nathan's Charities but more details will be added in due course.