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Hannah Nonmus

The story of Hannah Nonmus

" 'I received an email from Gloria Grant in Australia researching an ancestor who had converted to Methodism in the late 18th century alerting me to the existence of a pamphlet about her ancestor, Hannah Nonmus who had converted to Methodism in the late 1700s. I was able to access the pamphlet from a subscription-only data base (Eighteenth Century Collections Online) and learned that Hannah Nonmus, her ancestor, had been born in Frankfort-am-Main like a number of other Jews who travelled to Bristol. She arrived in the city with her doctor husband and when they fell into poverty, he left to serve aboard a ship and she was left to hawk perfume in St. James's market. The pamphlet was published by the Methodists to raise money for her support and to publicise their success in converting a woman 'away from Jewish superstition.' "

" 'Though the account focuses mainly on her spiritual conversion to Christianity (in the form of Methodism) it makes much of her consequent rejection by the local Jewish community. Yet the pamphlet also affords us a glimpse too of sympathetic Jewish friends in Hotwells spa who prevent her attempting suicide and throws light on the marginal status of immigrant women in the city. Jews though tolerated were still stigmatised socially and excluded on religious grounds from political office and land ownership and would not achieve equal civil rights until 1858."

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Bristol: Ethnic Monorities and the City 1000-2001' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-477-5 ) for the England's Past for Everyone series

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