Before you start...

A short book about my family and some other very interesting people who happened to pass by.

 All the stories can be found HERE on the complete blog.

It did not take me long, once I had started our family tree, to realise that a Genealogy tree is an inanimate object. It needs branches and leaves. It needs life.

As my brother-in-law, Nigel said, “A Family tree is just a family tree. Tell me something interesting that happened. What they said. What they did.” Well Nigel I hope this is OK?

This is NOT all about my Mum and Dad, Kay and Sidney. It's more about those family members where I have been able to find interesting details and interspersed that with the odd anecdote about other interesting people who crossed our lives.
Kay and Sidney just before their marriage

I always felt sorry that my parents or my dear Aunt Raie, never really told us enough about our family. So once I started to dig into the past, I very quickly discovered facts about the family that had vaguely been mentioned but never really well explained.

I gathered all the information available and with the aid of many of my relatives, some of which I stumbled across during this voyage, I pieced together a fascinating story of several Jewish families that arrived in England during the 19th century and one that had been here since the end of the 1600's.

What is written is based on facts from tales told me by my Parents and my Aunt, facts from other relatives that kindly took the time to talk or email me and facts that I have discovered trawling (or is it surfing) the Internet. A great contribution came from my cousin Lynne Silver. She let me have her story about her dad, Hugo and it contained much that I did not know. Hugo's story is included and many of the family facts dotted here and there come from Lynne. Thank you Lynne.

Another contribution came out of the blue from an unknown cousin living in Tasmania! Pat Shaw contacted me and sent me that wonderful photo of the Hobinstocks (Chapter 11)

If you know something that I can add to this then do tell. If you don’t you will understand why so much information disappears with time and that is sad and a reason why I am writing this. Obviously more is known of some family members than others but do not take that as meaning I have omitted anything.

A good example is my father’s first cousin (2x removed!) Jack Barnato, a prominent member of the Joel family. I always believed, as I had been told on many occasions, that he left South Africa because he hated the way the illicit diamond smuggling trade was carried out. That’s what I was told and retained! However I have now found out that in fact it was Jack who was charged in South Africa of illicit Diamond smuggling and jumped bail to return to England. That's a bit different from what was told to me.

What is the Joel family’s relationship to me? There are several ways of expressing it. We are related through my grandmother, Kate Joel. My great great grandfather was Coleman Joel. His brother, Joel Joel, married Catherine Isaacs who was Barney Barnato and Harry Banartos' sister. Joel Joel and Catherine's children were Jack, the diamond smuggler (!), Woolf, who was murdered and Solly who ended up with most of the money.

The family tree is published at Do go and look at it. There are over 300 people on our tree and they represent over 100 families all related to YOU!

So I start my tale with the Joel's story, mainly because they were my motivation.

What I have written is to the best of my knowledge the truth. As an example the facts about Barney Barnato’s suicide were taken from the transcripts of the inquest into his death as reported at the time AND from chapter 2 of his grand-daughter, Diana Barnato's auto biography: "Ace of Diamonds".

Want to read more?  All the stories can be found HERE on the complete blog.

My sources are listed at the end.

Henry Barnett

January 2010 (updated 2014) and a long time after this all started…


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