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Time to revisit grandparents: Gaston Victor Kahn and Amy Dubber, an unlikely pairing. Granddad Kahn was born a Jew in 1858 in Liverpool; Grandma Amy Dubber (gentile) was born in 1874 in Pimlico, London. In 1902, roughly when they met, Gaston was 44 and Amy a mere 28. That early Edwardian date is a guess because we still can’t find any record of a marriage between the couple. Perhaps they were living together or possibly they married overseas. In the 1901 census, granddad was living at 1 Kempsford Gardens, London SW5 and Amy lived at 44 Ifield Road, the addresses being about ½ km apart adjacent to Brompton Cemetery. When their first son, Philip, was born in late 1903 at Isleworth, Amy recorded her surname as Brown, formerly Dubber, and the father was shown as Philip Brown. All details are correct except the names so we are confident this is our Amy. But why the phoney name?

 A few years earlier, Gaston’s brother Charles lived under a pseudonym for a while. He and his wife used the name Wigdor for an unknown reason. Name change is unlikely to be genetic, but the coincidence is compelling. Both Charles and his younger brother Gaston appear to have used pseudonyms at around the same time, probably following their migration from Liverpool to London. Incidentally, why did they move from the north-west to the capital? We don’t know.

If pseudonyms run in the family, one reason could be religious: both Granddad Gaston and Great Uncle Charles were Jews and both married non-Jews. But as far as we can trace, our lot were not orthodox or especially conformist to Jewish tradition, so, realistically, fear of family ostracism is an unsatisfactory conclusion to draw. It’s a mystery still.

Eventually Gaston and Amy gave birth to a second son, Gaston Bernard, born in Hammersmith, London on 20 November 1911, 7 months and 11 days after Gaston Victor died in a hospital in Beaumont Street, Marylebone. Within a few years, Amy moved the entire family to Cassiobury Road, Weymouth, where she died in 1960.

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We have posted a page for Emily Victor Kahn under biographies. Please take a look.

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At least three generations of Kahns embraced freemasonry.

As far as we’ve discovered so far, Victor Kahn was the first to join. He became a member of St. John’s Lodge No. 461 (Liverpool) in 1862. On the Grand Lodge certificate he signed his name as Kahnn and described himself as an interpreter, born in ‘Luxemberg, Germany.’ According to our researches, he remained a member until only 1868 when he apparently resigned.

Victor’s three surviving sons all followed in father’s initial footsteps.

Charles Jasmine Kahn was initiated into Willing Lodge No. 2893 (London) on 1st May 1902. He was passed on 17th July 1902 and raised on 11th September 1902. Then he gave his age as 44 and described himself as an optician residing at 108 The Strand, London. In 1911 he became Master of the lodge and he resigned freemasonry in 1924, a year before his death.

Arthur Kahn was initiated into Samson Lodge No. 1668 (London) on 11th February 1896, passed on 12th March and raised 12th May of the same year. Then his address address was given as 19 Ludgate Hill, London EC and his employment as optician. On 24th November 1902, Arthur joined also the Joppa Chapter No. 188 (London) and was ‘First Principal’ in 1907, 1908, 1913 and 1915, then ‘Scribe E’ from 1919 until his death in 1925. He was also awarded the LGCR, but we don’t know when or what it is. Perhaps some kind Freemason will enlighten us?

Gaston Victor Kahn joined the Egerton Lodge (Egremont, Liverpool) in 1898. Then he was describing himself as an oculist living in New Brighton, Lancashire. He resigned this lodge in September 1901, presumably when he moved to London. Like his brother Arthur, Gaston joined the Joppa Chapter  No. 188 on 24th November 1902 and in 1904 he joined the Samson Lodge 1668 (London) in 1904. Then his address was shown as 57 Oxford Street, London and his occupation as optician. We believe he remained a mason until he died in 1911.

The third generation freemason is represented by Leslie Kahn-Rein, the son of Charles. Leslie changed his name at some stage, we believe for business reasons (more about this in another blog). He joined his father’s lodge, Willing No. 2893 (London) on 6th November 1919. At the time he described himself as an artist with an address in Barnes and his age was given as 23. As far as we’ve discovered, he held no formal offices and resigned from freemasonry on 3rd April 1951, five years before he died.

This gives us the skeleton; we’d like to add some flesh. If you can help with any information at all we’d love to hear from you, so please: contactus@kahngene.org.uk

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A short history of the Dubber family has just been added to the ‘biographies’ tab. As all amateur genealogists will know, trying to confirm information, or verify hearsay, is difficult and immensely frustrating despite the wealth of collective knowledge available on line.

Chinese whispers bounce around the ether. Stories filtering down through generations are often misinterpreted or befuddled, so they are picked up in one form and passed on with variations just significant enough to send the researcher poking around in the wrong places.

The Dubber family genealogy is a case in point. Originally we thought Amy (today she would be a great-great-grandmother to our youngest generation) came from Bodmin. That’s what we were told. Now we’ve discovered she was born in Pimlico, but her brother James married a Bodmin girl. Amy’s youngest sister, Daisy Susan, at age 10, was in Bodmin for the 1901 census, staying with James’s wife Mary Grace. Thus Chinese whispers tried to lead us astray.

Amy’s father, another James, died in Weymouth. Apparently, Amy wanted to leave London for the sake of the health of her elder son, Philip. According to legend, she closed her eyes, stuck a pin into a map of England and discovered Weymouth. Whether she actually followed her father, or vice versa, we don’t know, but they both ended up in the same town, living within a few yards of each other.

Chinese whispers say Amy was there when he died. Yet copy of the certificate reveals his death was registered by his daughter “Mrs A. Allen.” As far as we know, James had two daughters with initials A, one being Amy and the other Alice Rose. Amy was Amy Kahn, wasn’t she? Yet we can’t find a trace of a marriage (or relationship) between Alice and an Allen. So who was Mrs A. Allen?

Perhaps we’re delving too deeply. If we could be satisfied with bare bones, we already have a substantial, if skeletal, family history in the form of dates of main events. But every morsel of data we uncover tends to throw up yet more questions. How can we resist seeking the answers?

Skeletons are fine for anatomical study, but we need flesh and muscle to see the personality beyond the nodes and joints.

That’s why we wonder about Amy – and Alice – and little Daisy Susan. Incidentally, we believe the youngest Dubber sister married Harold James Tarling in 1889, but we can’t be sure.

contactus@kahngene.org.uk if you have any ideas.

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