Most of the early Jewish arrivals, in the late-18th century in Manchester came from Germany, and had settled in London or the south coast ports before moving on to Manchester.
Typically they would make their living initially as pedlars and hawkers dealing in easily carried commodities like second-hand clothing, optical lenses and cheap jewellery. Later they might become small shopkeepers, selling a similar range of goods in the oldest streets of the town. In the early 19th century, the first generation of Jewish immigrants were now joined by cotton merchants from Germany and Holland, exporting cotton goods to their home countries. By 1851 there were around 1,500 Jews in Manchester. Most were shopkeepers and merchants of German or Sephardi origin, some of whom had begun to find homes in Manchester's semi-rural suburbs, particularly in Cheetham Hill. Although a synagogue had been opened in Haliwell Street in 1825, it was in Cheetham Hill in 1858, that the first of Manchester's major purpose-built synagogues were opened: the orthodox Great Synagogue and just a few hundred yards away, the Manchester Reform Synagogue, founded by members of the city's new Jewish Reform Movement. From spring 2014 you can visit Archives+ to find out more about later waves of Jewish immigrants into Manchester. In the meantime you can keep up to date with Archives+ events, collections and news via our website, Facebook and Twitter.
This is our earliest record of Jews in Manchester. It is a licence of residence for Jacob Nathan, shopkeeper, to live “in Manchester and its Neighbourhood”, 1798.