the former

Devonport Synagogue

Devonport, Plymouth, Devon




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congregations throughout the British Isles and Gibraltar, both past and present.

Town of Devonport

The town of Devonport, is now part of the present-day city of Plymouth, lying to the west of the old Plymouth town, on the southern coast of Devon, close to the boundary with Cornwall. It was previously a separate municipality, initially known as Plymouth Dock (or just Dock) and changed its name to Devonport in 1824, as the residents wished to emphasise that they were not merely an an adjunct of Plymouth, especially as its population during much of the nineteenth century was in excess of that of Plymouth.

Devonport was a county borough from 1889 until 1914, when Devonport, East Stonehouse and Plymouth (the "Three Towns") were merged into a single county borough to form what would become the City of Plymouth in 1928. In 1974, Plymouth lost its county borough status becoming a local government district within the county of Devon.  However, in 1974, Plymouth once again became a unitary authority, remaining within Devon for ceremonial purposes.

Devonport Jewish Community

The Jewish community developed in Devonport (then Plymouth Dock) in the beginning of the nineteenth century and a congregation was founded in 1803 (the Dock Minyan), as an offshoot to the Plymouth Hebrew Congregation, and functioned until the 1840s. A second congregation, the Devonport Synagogue (see below), also an offshoot of the main Plymouth congregation, was established at the end of the nineteenth century and was active until World War II.

The principal recent works covering the Devonport congregation is Chapter 3 (pp. 38-41) of The Jews of Plymouth - an Illustrated History (2015), by Helen Fry (which we refer to here as "Fry's Plymouth").

Congregation Data


Devonport Synagogue or Devonport Hebrew Congregation

Formation & Addresses:

The congregation was formed in about 1890 and initially used a room in St Aubyn Street, Devonport, as a makeshift synagogue.(iii)

In May 1907, the congregation moved to 66 Chapel Street, Devonport, Plymouth, when it officially opened as Devonport Synagogue. The premises had been converted from their previously use as a carpenters workshop.(iv)


The congregation was an offshoot and branch of the main Plymouth Hebrew Congregation.


The congregation closed in 1941 when the synagogue being destroyed in a German air raid.(v) In the 1950s, the site was taken inside the Royal Docks.


Ashkenazi Orthodox

(To view a short profile of a minister whose name appears in blue - hold the cursor over his name.)

Rev. J. Posner - minister from about 1893 until 1903(ix)

Rev. Joseph Goldston - elected minister in 1907(x)

Rev. Nathaniel Jacobs - elected minister in 1916(xi)

During the 1930s Mr. Marks, a retired chazan from London, who visited Devonport to conduct High Holy day services.(xii)

Lay Officers:(xv)

Founding Fathers(xvi)

Jacob Greenburgh, Harry Greenburgh (his son), Hugh Ralph Emden, Solomon Robins and Hyren Feodor (later Feather).


1907-1908 - Jacob Greenburgh

1908-1909 - M. Stein

1909-1912 - Solomon Robins

1912-1913 - Lewis Joseph

1913-1914 - M. Stein

1914-1920 - Solomon Robins

1920-1925 - Jacob Greenburgh

1925-1937 - Solomon Robins

from 1937 - Jacob Greenburgh


1907-1908 - J. Goldberg

1908-1909 - Solomon Robins

1909-1911 - Jacob Greenburgh(xvii)

1911-1912 - Lewis Joseph

1912-1917 - Samuel Woolfson

1917-1920 - Jacob Greenburgh(xviii)

1920-1925 - A. Erlich(xxi)

1925-1928 - Jacob Greenburgh

from 1928 - Samuel Woolfson

Hon. Secretaries

1907-1909 - Hugh Ralph Emden(xxii)

1909-1911 - Lewis Joseph

1911-1913 - Hugh Ralph Emden(xxii)

1913-1915 - H. Lawrence

1915-1920 - Simon Roseman

1920-1925 - Laurence Cainer (or Camel)(xxiii)

1925-1928 - Samuel Woolfson

1928-1932 - A. (or E.H.) Caplan(xxiv)

from 1932 - E.H. Caplan

Hebrew School:

By the 1890s, the congregation had its own Religious School, which held classes at 65 George Street, Devonport.(xxv)

Registration District:

Plymouth, since 1 July 1937(xxvi) - Link to Register Office website

Cemetery  Information:

Members of the congregation had use of Plymouth's Gifford Place Jewish Cemetery. See Cemetery Information on the Plymouth home page.

Notes & Sources ( returns to text above)

  • (i) and (ii) Reserved.

  • (iii) Fry's Plymouth, p.38.

  • (iv) Fry's Plymouth, p.38. This was also the address under which the congregation was listed in Jewish Year Books.

  • (v) Fry's Plymouth, p.38. The congregation's last listing was in the Jewish Year Book 1940.

  • (vi) to (viii) Reserved.

  • (ix) Fry's Plymouth, p.38.

  • (x) Fry's Plymouth, p.39.

  • (xi) Fry's Plymouth, p.39.

  • (xii) Fry's Plymouth, p.39.

  • (xiii) and (xiv) Reserved.

  • (xv) Unless otherwise stated, this data here has been extracted from Jewish Year Books 1907/8 through 1939, and the period of service given here runs from the year prior to the year book in which the officer was first listing and ends with the year of the year book in which the officer was last listed. Also, unless otherwise stated, those elected in the following years are confirmed in Fry's Plymouth, pp. 39/40: 1907, 1908, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1922 and 1928

  • (xvi) Fry's Plymouth, p.38.

  • (xvii) Listed in Jewish Year Books as J. Greenberg during this period, but is presumed to be Jacob Greenburgh.

  • (xvii) In the listing of treasurers in Jewish Year Books during this period, J. Greenburgh was sometimes listed as J. Greenburgh, Snr, and on one occasion (1918) without the final "h", but is is assumed that in all instances it is the same person. Fry's Plymouth, p.40, gives the treasurer during the war was J. Greenberg, although according to Jewish Year Books during the war and post war period, his first appearance as treasurer was in 1918, which would indicate he was first elected in 1917.

  • (xix) and (xx) Reserved.

  • (xxi) Fry's Plymouth, p.40, gives the treasurer elected in 1922 as Solomon Robins, whereas the Jewish Year Books 1921 through 1925 name the treasurer A. Erlich.

  • (xxii) Referred to as H.R. Emdon in Fry's Plymouth, p.37, but appears as H.R. Emden in Jewish Year Book listings.

  • (xxiii) Referred to as L. Cainer in Fry's Plymouth, p.40, but appears as L. Camel Jewish Year Book listings.

  • (xxiv) Fry's Plymouth, p.40, states that E.H. Caplan was elected hon. secretary in 1928, whereas in the Jewish Year Book A. Caplan is listed as hon. secretary in the editions from 1929 through 1932 and E.H. Caplan only from 1933.

  • (xxv) Fry's Plymouth, p.38.

  • (xxvi) Previous Registration Districts: Stoke Damerel or Plympton St. Mary (later renamed Plympton) from 1 July 1837 until 9 November 1898; and Devonport from 9 November 1898 until 1 July 1937. All records would now be held by the current office.

 Plymouth (& Devonport) Jewish Community home page

List of Synagogues destroyed by German air raids during World War II

Jewish Congregations in Devon

Jewish Communities of England home page

Page created: 5 May 2006
Data significantly expanded and notes added: 21 December 2023
Page most recently amended: 24 December 2023

Research and formatting by David Shulman

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