Judith Montefiore


Judith, Lady Montefiore (née Barent Cohen; 20 February 1784 – 24 September 1862) was a British
linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing ...
, musician,
travel writer The genre of travel literature encompasses outdoor literature, guide books, nature writing, and travel memoirs. One early travel memoirist in Western literature was Pausanias (geographer), Pausanias, a Greek geographer of the 2nd century AD. In th ...
, and philanthropist. She was the wife of Sir
Moses Montefiore Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet, (24 October 1784 – 28 July 1885) was a British financier and banker A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are co ...

Moses Montefiore
. She authored the first Jewish cook book written in English.

Early years

Judith Barent Cohen, fourth daughter of
Levy Barent Cohen Levy Barent Cohen (1747 – 1808) was a Dutch-born British financier and community worker. Early life Levy Barent Cohen was born in Amsterdam in 1747. He was the son of Barent Cohen, a wealthy merchant. The Jewish Encyclopedia, Funk & Wagnalls, ...
and his wife, Lydia Diamantschleifer, was born in London on 20 February 1784. The father, of
Angel Court
Angel Court
Throgmorton Street Throgmorton Street is a minor road in the City of London The City of London is a City status in the United Kingdom, city, Ceremonial counties of England, ceremonial county and local government district that contains the historic centre and t ...

Throgmorton Street
, was a wealthy
Ashkenazi Ashkenazi Jews ( are a Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are members of an ethnoreligious group and a nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The ...
or German Jew.


She married Sir
Moses Montefiore Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet, (24 October 1784 – 28 July 1885) was a British financier and banker A bank is a financial institution Financial institutions, otherwise known as banking institutions, are co ...

Moses Montefiore
on 10 June 1812. Marriages between
Sephardim Sephardi Jews, also known as Sephardic Jews, ''Sephardim'',, Modern Hebrew: ''Sefaraddim'', Tiberian: Səp̄āraddîm, also , ''Ye'hude Sepharad'', lit. "The Jews of Spain", es, Judíos sefardíes (or ), pt, Judeus sefarditas or Hispanic Jews ...
and Ashkenazim were not approved by the Portuguese Synagogue; but Moses believed that this caste prejudice was hurtful to the best interests of
Judaism Judaism is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of Semitic-originated religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of de ...
, and was desirous of abolishing it. There is little doubt that that marriage did more than anything else to pave the way for the present union of English Jews. They were married on 10 June 1812, and took a house in New Court, St. Swithin's Lane, next door to one Nathan Maier Rothschild, living there for 13 years. This was likely
Nathan Mayer Rothschild Nathan Mayer Rothschild (16 September 1777 – 28 July 1836) was a German Jewish banker, businessman and financier. Born in Frankfurt am Main Frankfurt, officially Frankfurt am Main (; Hessian: ''Frangford am Maa'', " Frank ford ...

Nathan Mayer Rothschild
, founder of the
Rothschild banking family of England The Rothschild banking family of England was founded in (1798) by Nathan Mayer Rothschild, Nathan Mayer von Rothschild (1777–1836) who first settled in Manchester but then moved to London (at the time in the Kingdom of Great Britain). Nathan w ...
, whom one of her sisters, Hannah (1783–1850), had married in 1806. A keen traveller, she noted the distress and suffering around her, more particularly in the "Jewish Quarters" of the towns through which she passed, and was ever ready with some plan of alleviation. Her privately printed journals, threw light upon her character, and showed her to be cultured, imbued with a strong religious spirit, true to the teachings and observances of the Jewish faith, yet exhibiting the widest acceptance of those espousing other beliefs. She was quick to resent any indignity or insult that might be offered to her religion or her people. Her prudence and intelligence influenced all her husband's undertakings, and when he retired from business, the administration of his fortune in philanthropic endeavours was largely directed by her. Lady Montefiore accompanied her husband in all his foreign missions up to 1859, and was the beneficent genius of his memorable expeditions to the
Holy Land The Holy Land (Hebrew language, Hebrew: , la, Terra Sancta; Arabic language, Arabic: or ) is an area roughly located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the bibli ...

Holy Land
Damascus )), is an adjective which means "spacious". , motto = , image_flag = Flag of Damascus.svg , image_seal = Emblem of Damascus.svg , seal_type = Seal , m ...

Saint Petersburg Saint Petersburg ( rus, links=no, Санкт-Петербург, a=Ru-Sankt Peterburg Leningrad Petrograd Piter.ogg, r=Sankt-Peterburg, p=ˈsankt pʲɪtʲɪrˈburk), formerly known as Petrograd (1914–1924) and later Leningrad (1924–1991), ...

Saint Petersburg
, and
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus Romulus was the legendary founder and first king of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , fo ...

. By her linguistic abilities, she was enabled to materially assist her husband in his self-imposed tasks. During the journey to Russia, in 1846, she was indefatigable in her efforts to alleviate the misery she saw everywhere around her. The wife and daughter of the Russian governor paid her a ceremonious visit and expressed the admiration she had inspired among all classes. Her sympathies were greatly widened by travel; two journals of some of these travels were published anonymously by her. It was also during this period that Montefiore authored and had published the first English language Jewish cookbook, ''The Jewish Manual''.

Later years, death and legacy

For some years her health had been so bad that they had spent much of their time in Europe in the hope of improving it, but she had at last become too weak to undertake the journeys, and her last years of her life were spent alternately in London and
Ramsgate Ramsgate is a seaside town A seaside resort is a resort town ski resort, Slovakia Image:Nusa dua beach.jpg, Nusa Dua in Bali, Indonesia A resort town, often called a resort city or resort destination, is an urban area where tourism or vaca ...
. Only a few months prior to her decease, the couple had celebrated their golden wedding anniversary, and this period was marked by what seemed a partial restoration of her health. On 24 September 1862, after exchanging blessings with her husband, she died. After her death, Sir Moses founded in her memory the Judith Lady Montefiore College at Ramsgate.



* * * * *


*''Jew. Chron''. 3 October 1863 * Kayserling, ''Die Judischen Frauen'', pp. 272–275, 1308 * Louis Loewe, Loewe, L. ''Diaries of Sir Muses and Lady Montefiore'', 1890. * Morals, ''Eminent Israelites'', pp. 240–312 * Wolf, Lucien. ''Life (of Sir Moses Montefiore)'', pp. 189–212

External links

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Montefiore, Judith 1784 births 1862 deaths Linguists from England Musicians from London English travel writers British women travel writers Women linguists English Jews Sebag-Montefiore family, Judith Women cookbook writers Wives of baronets 19th-century British women writers Jewish women writers Jewish linguists English food writers Jewish women philanthropists British Ashkenazi Jews British people of Dutch-Jewish descent