This is Goodmayes Library at Ilford in Essex, taken in 1913.

The adjacent billboard advertising The Empire Theatre in nearby Stratford, east London, tells us what Beatie & Babs were doing on at least one night of that year. This image came from a Facebook page and was kindly sent to us by Jeffrey Kenny.

goodmayes b&b


After my last post, David Kahn came across the following letter which appeared in “Wireless World” of 18 May 1932:

Lesley Kahn Rein letter to Wireless World 1932

His signature is interesting. He’s dropped the name ‘Kahn’ for some reason and chosen to display the initial instead, as if it were for a forename rather than part of the surname. Fiddling with names seems to be trait of our lot and we can only speculate on Leslie’s motives – to reinforce the Rein connection, perhaps.

And we wonder to whom he referred as a ‘showman.’ As usual, every tiny step we take throws up more questions than answers.

An image of second cousin Leslie V. Kahn-Rein from about 1936, taken from the book:

A Survey of Modern Development in Acoustical Engineering by N.W. McLachlan, published in 1936 by Oxford University Press.


Image kindly provided by H. Dominic W. Stiles, Issue Desk Head at UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries.

One family legend maintains that the three brothers (sons of Victor Kahn) were involved in a transatlantic gold rush, hoping to make their fortunes. If true, they must have shipped out from Liverpool to the 1896/8 Klondike in Canada, because the former more famous Californian rush took place in middle 19th century, much too early for them.

The story tells of two brothers (Arthur and Gaston Victor) travelling across the Atlantic, leaving Charles at home to hold the family fort and to act as cashier. Money was sent back to Liverpool for safekeeping, but when the two pioneering brothers returned, coffers were empty (allegedly), causing a schism in the family.

After all our researches, little is really known about the brothers’ lives. Bare bones need fleshing out with motivations and aspirations; too many questions remain. So is the story mere speculative hearsay or can we find supporting evidence?

Charles was undoubtedly the wealthiest of the brothers, but perhaps he was also the most entrepreneurial. The Kahns is not the most close-knit of extended families, but even today traces of links between Arthur’s and Gaston’s families seem firmer than with Charles’s. Perhaps this hints that division was real.

We know from passenger lists that all brothers made trips across the Atlantic during the relevant time, but solely to the USA. According to Wiki, the majority of British prospectors favoured landing in Canada for patriotic reasons and to avoid USA border controls, so would Arthur and Gaston have chosen a USA port as the first leg of what must have been an arduous journey across the continent to the Pacific coast and Yukon Territory?

Arthur was a licentiate of the Chicago Ophthalmic College which suggests he qualified as an optician in the USA, so would he have been able to split his time between his studies and panning for gold in a distant remote part of the frozen north? Doubtful, I’d suggest. They were all opticians, which hardly ties in with mining, but then gold rushes attracted hopefuls from all walks of life and occupations.

All three brothers married relatively late in life, suggesting they had other early ambitions (or activities) – and their ages:  Gaston for example would have been about 40 when gold fever set in. So for one reason or another they focussed on matters other than marriage.

Perhaps that clarity of vision was prospecting for gold. But then maybe those rich seams of glittery stuff were more allegories for a golden future to be found in ophthalmics. Probably we’ll never know.

more links


As far as I’m aware, the Kahn line has modern-historical origins primarily in Ashkenazim Jews (those settling in northern Europe, especially Germany, Poland and Russia) but we also have a link through marriage with Sephardim Jews (those who settled in the Iberian Peninsula).

Moses Gomes Silva (1786-1858) married in 1824 Elizabeth Bathsheba Mesquitta (1805-1875) both of whom have their roots in Portugal although their ancestors appear to have migrated to Jamaica to escape persecution, perhaps as early as the 17th century.

Moses and Elizabeth had several children, including Esther Gomes Silva who became the second wife of Isaac Moses Marsden, bearing him quite a bunch of children, including Madeline Moses Marsden (1846-1880) – and she was married in 1867 to Salomon Fallek (1838-1893).

Salomon and Madeline had several children, including Eugenie Fallek and she married Arthur Kahn, one of the sons of Victor, or Great Uncle Arthur as we are wont to call him.

A few years ago I ordered from the USA a difficult-to-find book on Jewish European history, but the seller sent the wrong one and in the meantime sold the one I wanted to another customer. The book they sent (and allowed me to keep while giving a full refund – very generous) was “A History of the Marranos” written by Cecil Roth and published in 1932. Marranos was the name ascribed to those Spanish Jews professing to convert to Christianity to escape the terrors of the Inquisition while in secret continuing to practise their true faith. Many went from Spain to Portugal and then emigrated to the New World. The book settled dustily on my bookshelf unread until I became aware we have connections to Spain and Portugal. The deckled pages have taken on a new lease of life as I turn them slowly, hoping to find a reference pertinent to our extended and growing family, so far without success. However, it does help to put into perspective (or present a different viewpoint on) even today’s religious imbroglio. If I find anything of special scientific interest to our family’s concerns, I shall of course post them here.

In the process of trying to resolve genealogical mysteries I stumbled a little off piste and found myself reviewing information relating to the forebears of Arthur Kahn’s wife, Eugenie. As usual nothing is straight forward, but slowly a few snippets of information dropped into my notepad, not necessarily new but certainly forgotten by me. Because they came together from a number of sources, I’ll need to spend time to collate the details, but I came across the following website which seemed oddly familiar:


Even if you’ve visited that blog before, the information it contains makes it worth reading again. For a start, it helps to verify the number of children produced by Algernon’s parents. In one source on ancestry I read that his mother, Esther, had produced “11 sons and 27 daughters.” On examination I found that many offspring had been recorded  more than once. Even so, the total appears to be an impressive 11 daughters and 4 sons, plus 5 children born to Algernon’ father by a previous marriage. That makes 20 children and possibly more could come to light. Fortunately, the family had up to 11 servants (1881 census), so Algernon’s father, Isaac Moses (he seems to have changed his name to Marsden between the 1851 and 1861 census reports) had it easier than first glances would suggest. Not that Esther ever had it too easy, of course.

More much later.



As an unfamiliar exercise in method and organisation, I’ve started to trawl through old files. The first unresolved issue I’ve encountered is the birth and subsequent prenuptial life of Blanche Rachel Gordon.  Who was she?

In the 1901 census she’s shown as Charles Kahn’s wife born in Brighton, yet no registration of her birth can be found. Nor a marriage record. Her known or assumed history is given under biographies so no need to repeat those details here (click to the right if interested) but I have the sense that her early life is shrouded in shadows and only in later life does she step into the sun. If my instinct is right, what catalyst prompted her to emerge with fluttering wings? We don’t know.

It’s useless to speculate. She and Charles had their reasons. Or the problem could simply be one of transcription of contemporary records and she’s there, somewhere, under an unexpected name. If anyone can shed light, we’d like to hear.

Aside: in the 1923 electoral role, Blanche and Charles are living at 2 Baronsmead Road, Barnes, W13 in the Covent Garden Ward (B) of the City of Westminster. On the same page, a couple of streets away at Burleigh Mansions, is listed Eliot, Thomas Stearns (Tom to his friends; T.S. to you and me) he of “The Wasteland” and “Murder in the Cathedral” fame. Perhaps it’s an omen. I’m reading his biography at the moment. Maybe I’ll turn the next leaf and find a reference to his old mates, Charlie and Blanche. Unlikely, though.