The origins of the Jewish Community in Cardiff

Early nineteenth century

3.15 Miles

LOCATION: 9 St Mary Street

The origins of the Jewish Community in Cardiff

The origins of an organised Jewish community in Cardiff are comparatively recent.  

Before 1800  

Prior to the early 1800s itinerant traders from the older communities at Bristol, Gloucester or Swansea would have passed through, and possibly stayed for a while before moving on.

1813  Cardiff Directory

An 1813 Cardiff directory lists Levi Marks, a slop [readymade garments] seller, and Michael Marks, a watchmaker. Levi had married Judith Solomon, from Portsmouth, and been an enrolled volunteer soldier at Neath after the French invasion of Fishguard in 1796. His children Michael, Rosetta, Mark and Solomon were from Neath and also came to Cardiff.
1813 directory Image
1813 Directory & Guide to Cardiff, Caerphilly & Llandaff; Publisher: pr. by Thomas Ridd. 
Image credit


By 1822 Levi was a pawnbroker in St. Mary Street; Michael was in Angel Street and Solomon in Broad Street. Levi formed a partnership with Solomon as watch-makers and jewellers. Following a theft from their premises in 1826 they had to sell up their remaining stock and Levi’s furniture. It was thought to be an inside job but both thieves later confessed. Levi died aged 74 in 1828.
The Cambrian 11 November 1826
Newspaper clipping advertising a reward for information about the burglary of the Marks shop. From The Cambrian, 11 November 1826.
Image credit The National Library of Wales.
The Cambrian 25 January 1827
Newspaper clipping about the auction of the Marks business. From The Cambrian, 27 January 1827.
Image credit The National Library of Wales.
The Cambrian 8 Sep 1827
Newspaper clipping about the burglars’ confession. From The Cambrian, 8 September 1827.
Image credit The National Library of Wales.

1825  Michael a watch-maker, silversmith, jeweller and pawnbroker

Michael was a watch-maker, silversmith, jeweller and pawnbroker. In 1825, after 16 years in Cardiff, he sold up his shop in Angel Street. The following January he moved to Swansea and married.
Map of Cardiff 1851
Cardiff 1851 map, originally drawn up by the Ordnance Survey in accordance with the Public Health Act.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Glamorgan Archives.
This map shows the location of Broad Street (leading to the castle), Angel Street and the Arcade (off Church Street).

1830  Rosetta was married in Cardiff, to Samuel Marks

In 1830 Rosetta was married in Cardiff to Samuel Marks, a dyer from Middlesex, with Rev Myers from Swansea officiating. By 1835 Samuel was in St Mary Street and in 1851 was at No 3 Arcade, Church Street (off St Mary Street).


By 1835 both Mark and a Samuel Marks are watch and clock makers in Angel Street. Mark is also a clothier in St Mary Street. Mark survived bankrupcy, became an auctioneer, and died in 1871, aged 73. Judith died in 1859, aged 90, and her address was 9 St Mary Street. Solomon died, aged 82, in 1883.

1841  A plaque on the cemetery wall

Plaque Highfield Cemetery 2018
Plaque outside Highfield Cemetery, March 2018.
Image credit JHASW.
A plaque on the cemetery wall announces that, in 1841, the second Marquess of Bute gave land at Highfield Road for a Jewish cemetery to Mark, Solomon, and Samuel Marks. Although this ground was formally made available later, this is seen as the date the Jewish community was firmly established in Cardiff.


The Chief Rabbi’s Statistical Survey for 1845 records only three “full subscribing members representing nine adult male Jews” but we can expect others who were not full members.

Sources (18) click to show