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The story of the Oppenheim family is one that is constantly evolving and uncovering itself down 130 years of undiscovered links and clues. It began with my search for some information to confirm or deny the family stories of Grandmother Eileenís father whose family had left Germany to escape persecution as they were Jewish.

This is in itself seemed fascinating to me as it seemed to be an opportunity to learn something of the social history of our English ancestors.  Indeed a history that was one including immigration, struggle, prejudice and triumph over adversity.

Initially, I had only the names of Grandmother Eileenís parents, Eugen (pronounced Oy-Genn) and Winifred Oppenheim, and when searching for their marriage discovered the names of Eugenís parents, Siegmund and Adele Oppenheim.

I believe Siegmund arrived in Manchester some time around 1860.  Naturalisation Papers for  Oppenheim, Siegmund, from Hamburg were issued on 17 June 1869. Here we get our first indications that he was involved in the textile trade (possibly cotton) as he  first appears as a boarder on the census for Cheshire in 1861 and ten years later in Lancashire:


Stamford Road, Bowden, Cheshire       RG09/2590 Pg 20






James Backhouse



Cotton Spinner


Mary Backhouse




Budgeworth? Yorks

Emma N Backhouse





Siegmund Oppenheim
+ 1 servant



African Merchant



 Acomb Street, Moss Side          RG10/4007/18/30







Susan Peace




Hull or Hale


Alice Clifford




Hull or Hale


Edward Beer?




Grand Dutchgoff??

Paper Merchant

Susan Maybury   





Dom. Servant

Siegmund Oppenheim 




Germany Naturalised B S

Commision Merchant

Leopold Schloss




Germany Naturalised B S


This is truly where one of the mysteries in this tale begins as we see he is unmarried.  Eugen only appears on the 1901 census (after he is married) and his birth date is given at approximately 1872 in Germany.  This suggests that Siegmund at some stage in the two or three years after this census, married and had a son in Germany as there are no listings for the marriage or the subsequent birth in England.

This seems perfectly reasonable in light of the following listings in the Slaterís directories indicating that he was a merchant and probably travelled as part of his trade:

Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1876. [Part 1: Alphabetical Directory]
Oppenheim S. merchant (S. Oppenheim & Co), Schwerin House, 23 York Place, Oxford St. C-O-M
Oppenheim S. & Co. merchants, 34 Queen St. Albert Square

Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1876. [Part 2: Trades, Institutions, Streets, etc.]
York House, 497 Oxford St. C on M [near Stockport] Oppenheim S. merchant

Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1877-8. [Part 2: Trades, Institutions, Streets, etc.]
York Place, 495 Oxford Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock 23 Oppenheim S. merchant, Schwerin House

Here is Siegmund ten years later on the census for 1881 showing details of his wife and children:

Folio 98, Page 19         15 East Beach          Lytham  

Siegmund Oppenheim abt 1839 Head Hamburg (B S) Foreign Merchnt
Adele Oppenheim abt 1851 Wife Schwerin Mecklenburg  
Frederick S Oppenheim abt 1873  Son Manchester   
Ernst F. Oppenheim abt 1876 Son Manchester   
Matilda A. Oppenheim  abt 1879  Daughter Manchester   
George Emil Oppenheim abt 1880  Son Manchester   
Charlotte Griffiths  abt 1843   Nurse Tenby, Wales  
Annie Williams abt 1862 Nurse Manchester   

There is no sign of Eugen, however, despite his approximate year of birth (1872) indicating that he is the eldest child.

I also did a census search for the property at 495/7 Oxford Street, Chorlton-on-Medlock and found this: 

497 Oxford Street         Chorlton On Medlock Lancashire
Ann Connolly                abt 1839              Head          Liverpool           Servant

From the Slaterís Directories for that decade we have:

Slater's Directory of Manchester & Salford, 1886. [Part 1: Alphabetical Directory]
Oppenheim Siegmund, merchant (Sigismund Cohen, Oppenheim & Co.), York House, 497 Oxford St. C on M [near Stockport]

Research into Sigismund Cohen established that he was the Vice Consul before Siegmund, was a Cotton Merchant also from Hamburg who died in Chapel Le Frith in Derbyshire in 1892.  His family were also very successful and his son Julius Barend Cohen  (b:06/05/1859 d: 1935) was a Professor at Leeds University and published many books including "Theoretical Organic Chemistry" (MacMillan and Co. Limited c1912).  Prior to Cohen, three generations of the Sichel family from Frankfurt-am Main, were Vice Consul in Manchester, all in the textile manufacturing industry in Manchester and Bradford.

Then we have the 1891 census: 

497 Oxford St.            York House      Chorlton on Medlock  Lancs

Oppenheim, Siegmund abt 1838  Nat. Germany  Head Chorlt.on Medlock  
Oppenheim, Adele abt 1851  Germany  Wife  Chorlt.on Medlock  
Oppenheim, Frederic S abt 1873 Manchester  Son Chorlt.on Medlock  
Oppenheim, Ernest F abt 1876 Manchester  Son Chorlt.on Medlock  
Oppenheim, Matilde A abt 1879  Manchester  Daughter Chorlt.on Medlock single
Oppenheim George E abt 1880  Manchester Son Chorlt.on Medlock  
Ann Connelly  age 53 Liverpool Cook    
Jane Roberts  age 49  Anglesea Waitress    single
Emma Roberts age 32 Staffordshire Housemaid    single
Leonie Ballein age 22   France  Governess    single

Still no sign of Eugen in England but we do see the same Ann Connelly as a member of the household staff.  And from the Slaterís Directories:

Slater's Manchester & Salford Directory, 1895. [Part 1: Alphabetical Directory]
Oppenheim, Siegmund, merchant (S.Oppenheim & Co.), and vice-consul for Austria-Hungary, 23 Cooper St; res. York House, 497 Oxford st. C on M.
Oppenheim Siegmund & Co. merchants, 23 Cooper st - payday, Friday, 11 to 12.

So now I began to get an even more detailed indication that Siegmund was gaining some social status in the wider community as he was holding the position of Vice Consul to Austria-Hungary.  The archives on the Consulate (in Bonn, Germany) state that he was appointed Honorary Vice Consul on 27 August 1892. However, a search of the London Gazettes online revealed an official notice of this appointment did not come until 1906: 

London Gazette 27 November 1906  Foreign Office, November 16, 1906
The KING has been pleased to approve of -Herr Sigmund Oppenheim as Consul of Austria-Hungary at Manchester

Finally, now the latest available census information in 1901: 

66 Leander Rd             Lambeth, Surrey       

Oppenheim Eugen 28 Head Married Brn GermanyGerman Subject Mercantile Clerk
Oppenheim Winnie 26 Wife Married Rotherhide  
Cassell Clara 54 Head Widow Paddington Living on own Means
Cassell Clara M 23 Daugh Unmarr Newcross Clerk
Cassell Lena F 22 Daugh Unmarr Newcross Clerk
Cassell Lawrence 9 Son Unmarr Unmarr  

Siegmundís son, Eugen, appears in London married to Winifred Adele Cassell (daughter of Frederick Cassell of Cassell & Co Tar Distillers and chemical Manufacturers back to 1841).  Clara is Winifredís mother and Clara M, Lena F and Lawrence are the siblings of Winifred.  It is possible here that Eugen and Winifred are living in the Cassell family home rather than the mother and siblings living with the young married couple.  (Eugen was naturalised as a British Subject in 1911). 

There is no sign on the 1901 census of Siegmund, Adele, Matildaor Ernest Ferdinand. Ernest does appear however, in the London Gazette in 1931 as follows:

London Gazette 29 December 1931.
Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood - St James's Palace SW1, 1st January 1932
The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following promotions in, and appointments to, the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire:
To be Companions of the said Most Eminent Order:
Ernest Ferdinand Oppenheim, Esq., Indian Civil Service, Commissioner, United Provinces

This is where the search for the children of Siegmund and Adele became a warmer and more 3 dimensional experience as I googled the internet for some trace of Frederic.  I came across the most interesting study of the economic and social mobility of the Jewish communities in Manchester  www.jmaine.com/jewishresearch.htm. Now I was captivated and learnt for the first time about the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities and also found a listing for Frederic which led me to contact the author, Julia Maine, who has been invaluable in finding links and information.

 This is what I found for Frederic on the 1901 census: 

217 Wilmslow Road, Withington, Chorlton-Ardwick,  Lancashire

Bury Judson S M 48 Head Salford Consultant Physician
Hannah L Bury 47 Wife Lancs  
Alice Bury 21 Daughter  Pendleton   
Gwyn FL Bury 15 Son Pendleton  
Mary H Davies    servant  Shropshire  Cook/Domestic
Florence Lorton? 24 servant  Styal Cheshire Waitress
Frederick S Oppenheim 28 Visitor Manchester Solictor Own acct

This entry turned out to be a great clue as I searched for the marriage of Frederick and found the following:

Marriages Jun 1902
Oppenheim      Frederic             Chorlton         8c        1484
Bury                Alice                 Chorlton         8c        1484

In the Slaterís Directories we have the following for the period up to 1915: 

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1903. [Part 1: Topography & Street Directory]
Oxford Street 497 Oppenheim Fred. S. solicitor, (York House)

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1903. [Part 2: Alphabetical Directory]
Oppenheim Fred. S., M.A. solicitor (Vaudrey, Oppenheim & Mellor); res. Porthgwarra, Elm Rd Didsbury
Vaudrey, Oppenheim & Mellor, solicitors, Winter's buildings. 30 St Ann street

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1909. [Part 4: Suburban Directory]
Parkfield Road, Blackburn Park, Palatine Road, Didsbury Elm Rd - Oppenheim Fredk. S. Porthgwarra, 11 Elm Rd.

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1911. [Part 1: Street Directory]
Elm Road, Didsbury - 48 Barlow Moor rad. West side - Oppenheim Fredk. S. solicitor

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1911. [Part 2: Alphabetical Directory]
Oppenheim Frederic S. M.A. solicitor and notary (Vaudrey, Oppenheim & Mellor) 11 Elm Road Didsbury

In relation to George Emil Oppenheim, I have the following from the 1901 census:

RG13/3697//137/38        Chorlton-upon-Medlock   

George E Oppenheim 21 Unmarried Head Manchester Clerk Shipper
George W Fox 27 Unmarried   Visitor Manchester  Solicitor
Esther Ashman  37 Servant   Staffordshire Waitress/Domestic
Johan Joanne Myles 40 Servant      Edinburgh Edinburgh
Mary Maddock  29 Servant   Shropshire  Maid/Domestic

The following appears to be the marriage of George: 

Marriages Jun 1911
Oppenheim     George E                Chorlton         8c              1599
Heywood        Adelaide M              Chorlton         8c              1599

Details for Adelaide M Heywood on the 1881 census state that she was the daughter of James H. Heywood, 38  who was born at  Denby Dale, York, England  and a  Printer Of Cotton Woollen Goods.  This seems to be yet another clue  that perhaps our Oppenheim family were textile merchants although there are family stories of mercantile trading in glass/crystal and possibly china.

I also found recently while googling a reference to a George E Oppenheim who  was a Master Mason at a lodge in Cheshire.  When contacting the author of the information he told me that his records indicate this was George Emil  Oppenheim and that he was a Buyer. he listed his address as 'Parkfield'  Didsbury Lane (the address of Siegmund) and that he joined on May 13 1903 and was promoted to Master Mason in September the same year.  He also noted  that George changed his name by deed poll in 1914 to George Osborne as it would seem the name Oppenheim may have caused him serious problems at the  outbreak of World War 1.  The records also indicate that he resigned from the lodge in October 1911 and that is the last they saw of him.

This was a clue to why the law firm of Vaudrey, Oppenheim and Mellor became Vaudrey, Osborne and Mellor.  A search of the London Gazette online shows that Frederick took on the surname of Bury Osborne during WWI:

 London Gazette 10 August 1917
I Frederic Bury Osborn, heretofore called and known by the name of Frederic Oppenheim or Frederic Sigismund Oppenheim..... so as to be at all times thereafter called, known and described by the name of Frederic Bury Osborne exclusively.

I have tried in vain to find some information regarding the lists of immigrants from Hamburg to Manchester and I believe that the LDS Church have a microfiche of the passenger lists from the period in question, which I may one day have a chance to look at.  Searches in German sources have so far proved insubstantial and a check with the Rothschild Bank seems to rule out a possible link with the Oppenheim family associated with their organisation.

The Slaterís Directories search for Siegmund did give me the following: 

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1903. [Part 1: Topography & Street Directory]
Oxford Street 497 Oppenheim Siegmund J.P. merchant (York House)
Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1903. [Part 2: Alphabetical Directory]
Hungarian and Austrian Vice-consulate, 5 marsden St. - S Oppenheim J.P. vice-consul
Oppenheim Siegmund J.P. merchant (S.Oppenheim & Co.), vice-consul for Austria-Hungary, Parkfield, Didsbury
Manchester Unionist Club, 2 Lime grove, Oxford St. C on M-S. Oppenheim, treasurer; J Howard Reed, Secretary

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1909. [Part 3: Trades & Official Directories, etc.]
Magistrates For the City of Manchester
Oppenheim Siegmund, Parkfield, Didsbury, Beustow William Henry, Bonchurch, Chestnut Avenue, Chorton-cum-Hardy
Vice Consul for Austria-Hungary, Siegmund Oppenheim, JP, 13 Auburn Street. Consus ad personam.

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1909. [Part 4: Suburban Directory]
Parkfield Road, Blackburn Park, Palatine Road, Didsbury Elm Rd
Oppenheim Seigmund, Parkfield. Parkfield road. Didsbury

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1911. [Part 1: Street Directory]
Parkfield Road, Didsbury. - Palatine road to wilmslow road. North Side Elm Road
Oppenheim Seigmund (Parkfield)

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1911. [Part 2: Alphabetical Directory]
Oppenheim Siegmund, J.P. director (Robert Sorensen & Co. Ltd.), consul for Austra-Hungary, Parkfield, Didsbury

Slater's Manchester, Salford & Suburban Directory, 1911. [Part 3: Trades, Ecclesiastical, etc.]
Official Directory - Austria-Hugary, Siegmund Oppenheim, J.P. 26 Major st. consul ad personum

So, it appears as if Siegmund was still conducting business and participating on quite a high level in the local community as a Vice-Consul, Justice of the Peace, Magistrate and Director for a company of textile merchants (Robert Sorensen & Co) right up to the period preceding the First World War. 

I have been unable to find any further information at this stage about Siegmund and his wife.  There appear to be no record of their deaths in England or how their son Eugen arrived in England and when he died.  These details will surely follow.  

If anyone reading this is aware of these people, their families and descendants I would love to hear from you.  Corrections, deletions and additions are gratefully appreciated.  Any information relating to the Manchester Unionist Club, Manchester Geographical Society, S Oppenheim & Co, Robert Sorensen & Co, Sigismund Cohen, Vaudrey, Oppenheim and Mellor, Cassell & Co of Poplar and Millwall and any details relating to the social and cultural history of the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Manchester would also be gratefully appreciated.  The law firm Vaudrey, Oppenheim and Mellor later became Vaudrey, Osborne and Mellor and in the late 1990ís changed its name completely and is still in operation in Manchester. 

It strikes me that the missing details of this story when found, will give a greater depth to what appears from the surface as an interesting and uniquely personal journey through an important stage not only in the Industrial history of Manchester but also the political and religious lives of the immigrants to Manchester from the continent. 

Interesting footnotes to this story include the change in religious practise of Eugen as he was married in a Christian church and to his son Neville Eugen Oppenheim (born: 1904) who changed his name to Neville Grant Martin and played with the Ambrose Orchestra in London before being tragically killed at home on Camden Road (by a german bomb) in 1940.  Eugenís first two children Violet Bertha born in 1901 and Cyril born in 1902 both died in the first couple of years of life.  Indeed it was Eugenís daughter Eileen Winifred Maude Oppenheim who was to become the only surviving child and my personal link to this fascinating family.


Kirsten Beach (for the Oppenheim/Cassell/Thompson family) Heemskerk Netherlands

Without prejudice


  Census information Crown Copyright (www.nationalarchives.gov.uk)


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Last updated 08 February 2021

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