Charles Jasmine Kahn was the son of Victor and Mathilde Kahn. He was born in Liverpool in 1856 and makes an appearance in the 1861 census at 78 Elizabeth Street Liverpool.
In the 1871 census, the family name is mis-spelt as Calin. In those days, official census enumerators knocked on doors and took down what they were told, or rather what they thought they’d heard. Even today I frequently spell out my name and watch as C-H-A-N is carefully scribed onto a form. In 1881 Charles is back to Kahn and living at 15 Crown Street, Liverpool. The 1891 census is silent about Charles. Was he in the USA?
Here the story becomes complicated. On 27th December 1891, a Blanche Rachel Gordon (probably from Brighton in Sussex) married a Charles Wigdor at the East London Synagogue in Mile End Old Town, London. On the wedding certificate, this Charles described his occupation as ‘travelling optician.” Our Great Uncle Charles Jasmine Kahn married a woman named Blanche Gordon. He was an optician. His age matches that of Mr Wigdor. And we could find no record of a Kahn marrying a Gordon.
Furthermore, on 22nd May 1894, Harold Wigdor Kahn was born to Charles and Blanche Kahn, at that time living at 421 Fulham Road, Chelsea. Unfortunately, Harold died in infancy. We have no doubt that this Charles and Blanche were our ancestors. And the evidence is almost irrefutable that Charles Wigdor was certainly Charles Jasmine Kahn. As another ‘clincher’ a witness at the Wigdor/Gordon marriage was one John N Grouse of Fulham, the district where Charles and Blanche lived, many miles from the east end of London where the marriage took place. Finally, pronounce Wigdor with a Germanic accent – what do you get to Anglicised ears? Victor. Too many coincidences!
Charles was a respectable man. But why did he feel the necessity to marry under an assumed name? We can but speculate. Religious intolerance, perhaps? We have no reason to believe the Kahns were especially orthodox or strict, but we can assume that Blanche was not a Jew. In short, though, we’ve no idea as to their motivation for the apparent subterfuge.
Charles and Blanche went on to produce other children. In 1896, Leslie was born, although he later changed his name to Kahn-Rein, we assume for business reasons – the family bought out the famous F. C. Rein aural aids business. Then in 1899 came Aubrey Vivian, born at 108, The Strand, London. Early in 1901, Victor Gordon Kahn was born.
Charles and Blanche do well. In 1901 they live at The Strand and Charles is an optician and hearing aid specialist. They’re reputed to enjoy fast cars and fine living. We know little about subsequent history, other than Charles’ death in 1925 when he was residing at Baronsmead Road, Barnes, London W8. Blanche died a year later.
We would like to know what happened. Other information is in our possession but we have no proof and we see no reason to calumniate the man’s good name. Family legend and rumour often bear a lot of truth, yet we must be selective and circumspect about what we choose to believe- fairy story or ripping yarn? We’d like to hear from descendants of Great-Uncle Charles. So firstname.lastname@example.org.