Seligman Update, II: James Seligman, Vintner and Hotelier

My second Seligmann update is about James Seligman, who was born Jakob Seligmann in Gau-Algesheim, Germany in about 1853; he died in Birmingham, England on March 11, 1930.1

Birmingham Daily Gazette, March 14, 1930, p. 3

James Seligman was the son of Moritz Seligmann and Babette Schoenfeld and the younger brother of my great-great-grandfather Bernard and Wolfgang’s great-grandfather August. I wrote a post about James and his life back on December 8, 2017, describing his life and business in England and Scotland. James went to England as a young man to represent Seligman Brothers, the wine business that he was in with his brothers August and Hieronymous. In 1890, the partnership with his brothers was dissolved, and James continued the wine business on his own in England and then Scotland as Seligman & Co. He also became involved in the hotel business in both Scotland and England. A good portion of the information and images in that earlier post came from Wolfgang.

London Gazette, March 20, 1891

In looking through old emails recently, I realized that I had never posted some of the photographs that Wolfgang later sent me of one of James Seligman’s hotels, the George Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. I also had forgotten to post some of the photographs my cousin-by-marriage Shirley had sent me of the Grand Hotel in Birmingham, England, where James had been the managing director.  My apologies to Wolfgang, Shirley, and my three-times great-uncle James Seligman for somehow letting these wonderful images slip through the cracks.

Here are the photographs and other images that Wolfgang sent of the George Hotel in Edinburgh and some stationery letterhead that Wolfgang found on the internet showing the hotels owned in 1911 by James Seligman and August Mackay.

It looks like a gracious old hotel with a beautiful lobby. It is still in business and just had extensive renovations done. If I ever get to Edinburgh, this is where I will stay.

Shirley’s photographs are of the Grand Hotel in Birmingham where James was the managing director. It also is a grand and gracious old hotel:

I was able to learn a lot more about this hotel from its website:

The Grand Hotel first occupied part of the building constructed by Isaac Horton, on Colmore Row and Church Street between 1877 and 1879, with 100 bedrooms and a first floor reception. It was let to Arthur Field, a hotel operator from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and opened on 1st February 1879…. For the next 74 years the hotel was operated by Hortons. During this time it played host to royalty, politicians and film stars as well as staging many dinners, concerts and dances in the Grosvenor Suite. The room had many admirers including Sir John Betjeman who described it as “a unique, simply stunning, masterpiece.” The list of those attending functions at or staying in the hotel included King George VI, the Duke of Windsor, Winston Churchill, Neville Chamberlain, Charlie Chaplin, James Cagney and Joe Louis to name but a few.

Maybe some of those people stayed in the hotel while James Seligman was the managing director.  According to its website, the Grand Hotel is currently in the process of substantial renovations. Maybe someday I will get to stay there also.

As for the wine business, Seligman & Co stayed in business long after James’ death. In fact, Wolfgang found an obituary for a man named David Smith who was also in the wine business and who had been a director of Seligman & Co. in Birmingham as late as 1989. Shirley took a photograph of the location that once housed the Seligman & Co. wine business in Birmingham.

Thank you to Wolfgang and Shirley for their help in telling the story of James Seligman.

 


  1.  General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 6d; Page: 198, Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007