A Genealogical Study


Goldberg (En)






Goldberg (Fr)






Ester Szajndl (aka Fanny) Frydman



Symcha Gutman is believed to have been born in the town of Ivangorod, in Lublin gubernia, probably in the 1850s, although this town has since been absorbed into the expanding conurbation of the city of Deblin. Symcha was notoriously unreliable in the information he gave to authorities in England, such as census enumerators and the authorities supervising his naturalisation as a British citizen in 1894. However, it has been established that he married Ester Szajndl Frydman in Radom in central-south-east Poland in 1871. The couple had four children there, before moving to Leeds in England in 1888, where they had a further 3 children. In 1894, Symcha naturalised, using his anglicised name, Simon.


Read transcriptions of Symcha's

naturalisation papers from 1894-5


Josef Gutman and

Sarah Rebecca Harris


Symcha’s eldest son, Josef married in 1895 and ran a very successful tailoring business, in which he employed various combinations of his children and siblings. He and his wife, Sarah Rebecca Harris, had a colourful family, including much-loved characters such as “Louis the Coal Man” and RSM Nat Goodman. Josef and Sarah Rebecca lost a daughter, Lily, in a road accident in 1929 – an event remembered from generation to generation.


See more photos of Josef, Sarah Rebecca and their family



Gerty Gutman and

Sam Debovitch


Josef’s sister, Gerty, lived in Sheffield with her husband Sam Debovitch and family. However, when her son, Louis, failed to secure a post at a Jewish medical practice on the grounds that the employer was racist towards Polish Jews (in favour of Lithuanian ones), he changed his surname to Debson, and reapplied. Needless to say, he was successful at the second attempt! Louis was not the only doctor in his family, as several of his brothers also worked in the medical profession.


See more photos of Gerty and Sam and their family


Aaron (aka Harry) Gutman

and Rachel Rose


Gerty’s brother, Aaron, hated his name and assumed the name Harry when he was a young man. In 1909, he married Rachel Rose, who was from a large family of very strong-willed women. Harry was a successful ladies’ tailor and, when World War I broke out and he was declared unfit to fight, he and Rachel set about taking maximum advantage of the economic opportunities the war offered. They moved with their young family to Manchester and Harry adapted his tailoring skills to making army uniforms. In 1925, the couple moved on again, to London, where they settled in the western suburbs and opened a chain of tobacconists’ kiosks, which were very successful.


Their eldest son, Simi, earned notoriety when he abandoned his wife and three young sons at the end of World War II, ostensibly because he could not cope with living with his mother-in-law. He worked, for a time, for the American Red Cross in London, and visited his family in an armoured vehicle of some kind on one occasion. He is thought to have lived in Hastings at some point, but a rumour remains that he emigrated to Germany, where he re-married, bigamously.


Simi’s brothers, Jack and Henry, were manufacturing chemists, with a factory just off Chiswick High Road in London. However, in 1946, Jack and his family moved to Hove, on the south coast, as did his parents and various other family members. Harry’s health had never been good, and he was advised to move somewhere where the air was cleaner. After a few years of comfortable living in Hove though, the Goodmans returned to west London, one by one.


See more photos of Harry and Rachel and their family


Unfortunately, the Goodman lifespan was often tragically short, with many family members dying suddenly in their 50s and 60s. One of these was Harry’s brother, Sam, who died while playing snooker or billiards in 1933, at the age of just 43.


Another Goodman trait was a love of gambling. Almost every Goodman male was a regular gambler and, in the case of my grandfather, it was his ruin, and the reason he returned to London from Hove in 1951. Thankfully, his fine business mind meant his next business, a tropical pet shop, was a great success. Jack’s uncle, Morris Goodman, continued the gambling theme and went into business as a bookmaker. While his brother Harry was in Manchester making World War I uniforms, Morris had been wearing them in the trenches of France and Flanders. He fought with the 1/4th Battalion of the West Riding Regiment from 1916-17, when he received a gunshot wound in the left thigh during an important battle. Having convalesced at home, he returned to home service with the regiment for another year from 1918-19.


Read a short summary of Morris’ participation in World War I


Read a detailed chronology of Morris’ period of service


Morris’ youngest brother, Louis, courted controversy in the late 1910s, when he married his niece, Jessie Goodman (Josef’s eldest daughter). Although this would be illegal today, the pair were only months apart in age, and there were no laws preventing such a marriage at that time. Louis had also been involved in World War I, in the Royal Army Medical Corps.


One feature of the Goodman family is their strong naming patterns. Although they were not a greatly religious family, they adhered to the Ashkenazi tradition of naming babies after deceased ancestors. However, in the early 20th century, every new Goodman parent appeared to want to call their children after the same ancestors, resulting in the bizarre situation where almost every branch contained a Simi, a Jack and a Lily!! This included my own. The name Simi came from the Gutman family and Jack from the Frydman family. The source of the name Lily has yet to been discovered.



Saul Marks

Rev 2 Mar 2005

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