“Brothers and Sisters in England and in Germany” and My Lost Inheritance

When Bernard Seligman died in 1903, his obituary listed among his survivors not only his brother Adolph, but also “other brothers and sisters in England and in Germany.”  Thus far, I have only found one other definite sibling, a brother named James, and one possible sibling, a brother named August.  I am still working on locating records from Gau-Algesheim to see if I can locate any other siblings or other relatives of my great-great-grandfather.

My belief that August may be a sibling is based on two records I found on ancestry.com.  One is a birth record for August Seligmann, born on December 10, 1841, in Algesheim, Rheinhessen, Germany, to Maritz Seligmann and Barbara Schonfeld.  The second is a marriage record for August Seligmann to Rosa Bergmann on March 5, 1875, in Frankfort-Main.  I know that this record is for the same August Seligmann as the birth record because the birth date and the parents’ names match those on the birth record.  Why do I think that August Seligmann was Bernard’s brother? Because Adolph’s death certificate said his father’s name was Morris and because other sources state that Bernard’s parents’ names were Moritz and Babette.  The place of birth and the date of birth also make it likely that August was my great-great-great-uncle and that Maritz Seligmann and Barbara Schonfeld were my three-times great-grandparents.  Now if I could only get access to Gau-Algesheim records, I might find the other missing family members.  If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.  Meanwhile, I will continue to scour the resources I have to see if I can find them.

Gau-Algesheim. Langgasse.

Gau-Algesheim. Langgasse. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The one other brother I know of for certain I only know about because of my cousin Pete.  Pete informed me about James Seligman, our English relative, and he himself only had known about James because of an estate settlement back in the 1980s involving James’ estate.  (I do not know whether my father or my aunt Eva or my cousin Marjorie ever were contacted about this inheritance, but given the amount at stake and how much time has passed, it’s not worth the trouble of finding out.  Pete said his share was a little more than $100, and it took years before he received payment.)

James Seligman was born in about 1853 in Germany, and by 1881 he had settled in Kilpin, Yorkshire, England and was living as a “visitor” in Kilpin Lodge, according to the 1881 England and Wales census. (England and Wales Census, 1881,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/X3FK-ZVF : accessed 30 Sep 2014), James Seligmare in household of George H Anderton, Kilpin, Yorkshire (East Riding), England; citing “1881 England, Scotland and Wales census,” index and images, findmypast.co.uk (www.findmypast.co.uk : Brightsolid, n.d.); PRO RG 11/, p. , The National Archives of the UK, Public Record Office, Kew, Surrey)  The census listed his occupation as a wine merchant.  On May 21, 1886, James became a naturalized British citizen.  He was residing in Lewisham, Kent County, England at that time, unmarried, and employed as wine merchant.

James Seligman naturalization UK

James Seligman naturalization p 2

The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Duplicate Certificates of Naturalisation, Declarations of British Nationality, and Declarations of Alienage; Class: HO 334; Piece: 13.

James married Henrietta Walker Templeton in 1887 in the Marylebone district of London.  In 1901 they were living on Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Scotland, where James was now employed as a “hotel keeper,” according to the 1901 Scotland census.  From the census record it appears that there were about thirty people residing in this hotel.  James and Henrietta did not have any children listed as living with them, and according to Pete, they never did have any children, and I did not find any children listed on the BMD index who might have been their children.

Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland.

Buchanan Street, Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t have another record for James after 1901 until 1922 when he and Henrietta are listed as residing at 11 Woodbourne Road in Birmingham, England, on the Midlands, England, Electoral Register for that year.  They also appear at the same address on the 1925 and 1927 electoral registers.


Henrietta died on October 4, 1928, and is buried in Harborne, Stafford, England.  About a year later, James married Clara Elizabeth Parry.  He was seventy-six at that time, and his new bride was thirty years old, so like his brother Adolph in Santa Fe, James also married a much younger woman in this second marriage.  He died less than six months later on March 31, 1930, in Birmingham, and, like his first wife Henrietta, was buried in Harborne.

Clara, his young widow, did not die until about 1977.  It was after then that a search was made for James’ heirs, as Clara and James had not had any children, and James had died intestate.  Here is a copy of the letter that Pete’s sister received in January, 1980, regarding the estate of James Seligman.

Jan 22 1980 bank to joan

An investigation was done to find James’ heirs, and a family tree was created that included my father, his sister, and his cousin Marjorie as well as the other grandchildren of Bernard Seligman and the descendants of Adolph Seligman as the potential heirs to this estate. There are  several errors and omissions on this tree, which makes me wonder about the thoroughness of the search. I would post the tree except that there are references to living people with their birth dates and other identifying information and so out of concern for their privacy, I am not posting it.

That, unfortunately, is all I know about James Seligman and about August Seligman.  I have nothing specific to tie James to Bernard aside from this estate settlement and only those two German records to connect August with Bernard.  I remain hopeful that I will at some point find more records for the other Seligman(n)s who were my great-great-grandfather’s siblings and parents and other relatives.


10 thoughts on ““Brothers and Sisters in England and in Germany” and My Lost Inheritance

  1. Fascinating stuff, Amy. Have you found that your family would use English or German first names that had the same letter as their Hebrew names or did your family not have Hebrew names or were the names unrelated? And did your ancestors name their children after deceased family members? And would they have named after the same family member in the same family? What set me off on this tangent is that Adolf and August both have names that start with A. Hahaha, is that convoluted thinking or what?


    • LOL! The answer to all those questions is….it depends! My mother’s side had Hebrew names and did name their children after relatives who had died. My father’s family seemed to have had Hebrew names early on, but they assimilated pretty early and headstones after about 1880 seem not to have any Hebrew on them, and many of them intermarried and even converted. Also, as I’ve learned fairly recently, the tradition of not naming a child for a living relative is not universal. Sephardic Jews and some Western European Jews like my father’s Cohen relatives often had juniors in the family. My father is a junior, and his sister Eva shared her first name with her mother Eva. As for Adolf and August, they could have been named for different relatives or for nobody at all. I doubt they were named for the same relative. If I can ever find their birth records, maybe I will know. Adolf was not buried in a Jewish cemetery or practicing Judaism so I have no clue as to his Hebrew name.

      In my family today, we only named our children for relatives who were no longer living, and we did give them Hebrew names with the same first letter as their English names. My parents did as well even though my father’s family followed a different tradition. I find the Eastern European tradition of honoring someone who has passed away very meaningful.


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  8. From Alan McGowan
    Historian, Chess Scotland
    I have included a brief biography of a William Seligmann at https://www.chessscotland.com/documents/history/biographies/seligmann.htm
    There were many Seligmanns living in Scotland in the 19th century, some into the 20th. Some were stockbrokers, some were music teachers, and a few were involved in chess. I have various lists; let me know if you want this information.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Alan! I will take a look. As far as I now know, my only Seligman relative in Scotland was James Seligman (born Jakob Seligmann in Gau Algesheim, Germany). He did not have any children. The rest of his family either stayed in Germany or went to the US.


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