The Groskop Family of Stockton.

The Groskop Family of Stockton. Back row left to right – Isaac William/Robert/? Front row left to right – ?/Gershon (George Groskop)/?Photgraph and information courtesy of Bob Groskop, Alberta, Canada.

23 thoughts on “The Groskop Family of Stockton.

  1. With regard to the earliest days of the Groskop family in the UK, the following notice appeared in various forms in several newpapers during November 1862. ‘The partnership lately existing between Emanuel Groskop and Gerson Groskop (seen as Gershon or George Groskop the old man in the above PS photo), formerly carrying on business at 55 Laurence Street, Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, and recently carrying on business at 21 Laurence Street, Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, as dealers in gold and silver watches, gold and silver chains, clocks and all kinds of hardware under the style and firm of Emanuel Groskop and Brothers, was on 1 November 1862, dissolved by mutual consent. The business will in future be carried on by Emanuel Groskop alone, by whom all debts due and owing from the said co-partnership will be received and paid. Dated 3 November 1862, signed by Emanuel Groskop and the mark of Gerson Groskop.’ Lawrence Street is the correct spelling. This notice strongly suggests that Emanuel and Gershon were brothers. Emanuel was the older brother by about six years. They arrived in Bishopwearmouth around 1859, residing with (and later close to) their uncle Emanuel Fryde (1828-1908) the well-known Sunderland jeweller, goldsmith, moneylender, watch dealer and assembler, who was born in Lask near Lodz in Poland. Unfortunately, Emanuel Groskop died of T.B. in July 1863 at the house next to Fryde’s, and was buried at the then, new, First Bishopwearmouth Jewish Cemetery, close to the Hylton Road/Bancroft Terrace corner. Nothing remains at his gravesite now. The debts explain why Emanuel Groskop’s death was reported in the Sunderland newspaper. In 1863 the deaths of ordinary folk were rarely recorded in Sunderland newsprint. Gershon moved his young family to Ryan Street, Stockton, in 1867 and continued as a hawking jeweller, but he was later more successful as a clothes dealer with shops in and around Thistle Green, including one in Bishop Street next to another Polish Jew, Michael Marks (with Spencer). For years rumours existed within the Stockton Groskop family that Gershon had lost all of his money in Sunderland, along with speculation as to the causes of the loss, but no written evidence emerged. The above offers an explanation for his move to Stockton, a new start close to his wife’s family (called Robinson).

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  2. Russophile journalist Viv Groskop started a discussion about the origins of Stockton clothes dealer George (Gershon) Groskop (above) in the Observer newspaper and its comments section on 27/3/2011. She is best equipped to establish if the UK Groskop family had any Russian background. Her view of him as an ‘International Man of Mystery’ maybe premature since some descendants have retained knowledge about where George came from, namely Warsaw, Poland, before he appeared in Sunderland (1861 census), and Stockton (1867-1908 trade indexes). This does not necessarily mean that George was born in Warsaw, but he could have been since his surname can be found in Warsaw suburbs and surrounds. The 1911 census entry for George Groskop, incorrectly indexed as Groshop, gave new information about where he was born and details of his supposed naturalisation. In the census column for his birthplace is the phrase ‘Poland. (Lodge)’. This is possibly the enumerator’s spelling of Lodz, pronounced Woodge, the Manchester of Poland. It is unlikely to be the word ‘Lodger’ as George was head of the family and er’s are well defined all over this census page in words such as ‘Widower, Boilermaker, Worker, Rivetter’. The same handwriting with good er’s can be seen on son Levi Groskop plus family’s census page, eg ‘Daughter’. The 1911 census encouraged the use of the word ‘Boarder’ rather than ‘Lodger’. Searching for Groskop’s in 19th century Poland gave a big cluster in and around Lodz, statistically bigger than elsewhere in Poland. Lodz was under Russian control from 1815 and by 1850 had become a booming textile manufacturing centre attracting workers from southern Germany, Bohemia and elsewhere in Poland. Its population doubled every ten years between 1823 and 1873. Past UK census entries gave George’s birth country as Russia(1861), Prussia with Russia crossed out(1871), and more conclusively Poland(1881-1911). These early anomalies possibly reflect the changing political landscape, borders, and migration pattern in Poland that young George (Gershon) and his parents experienced. None of this explains why George left booming Lodz, but his escape from politically edgy Warsaw by 1861 would have been desirable as a violent uprising against Russian rule erupted in early 1863. The circumstances of George’s arrival in Sunderland remain vague, but the busy shipping port was on routes from the Baltic and received migrations from the Russian Empire escaping the pogroms and poverty. However other North East ports were similarly positioned, and relatives often used the same route into the UK that earlier relatives had successfully used, here possibly the Fryde’s and another Groskop. The Polish (Vine Street) and Israelite (Moor Street) branches of the Sunderland Jewish community merged in 1862, and the Groskop name can be found with the latter in 1863. Although there was some Russian influence in Jewish Sunderland at this time, it is difficult to separate those of true Russian birth from those described as Russian but actually originate from the Russian Empire, mainly Poland on detailed inspection. In the 1860’s this Sunderland community was mainly formed from Polish, Dutch and German immigrants. I could be wrong, but George’s other name ‘Augustus’ seems to be Polish/ German related. Poland had numerous German descended rulers called ‘Augustus’ and some taxed the Jews heavily, but they needed them to flourish to create taxable wealth, while oppressing them in other areas of life. The name of George’s father was Ash likely Ashkel, and the Hebrew name for Germany is Ashkenaz. The Groskop(f) surname is said to be Germanic, thus George’s parent’s origin is likely west of Poland rather than to the Russian east.

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  3. Seen as a young man above, Mr Isaac Groskop late of 16 Rokeby is actually back row left, but many of the brothers looked similar when aged. Isaac was the youngest brother.

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  4. The person far right at back in the photograph I am almost certain is Mr Groskop, my Grandmother’s neighbour who lived with his daughter Mary at 16 Rokeby Street, Stockton. This dignified and wise gentleman used to captivate us with his stories of old Stockton. In 1960 he was probably at least 80 and we children used to be taken in to marvel at his incredible memory and enjoy his stories. The fact that he had lived so long with links to so much of the past, seemed such an achievement to everyone at a time when most men rarely reached 70.

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    • The chap right of the photo is Joseph Groskop, I have a photo of him. I worked at 16 Rokerby around 1979, Amy and Mary lived there. Joe was my g/grandfathers brother, my grandmother was Mabel Groskop.

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  5. May I elaborate on comments in the Observer newspaper (27/3/2011, page 38) and its web page (comment is free) following the article ‘Let little girls be in the pink’ by writer and journalist Viv Groskop, which latterly includes a discussion about the origins of her g-g-grandfather Gershon Groskop, the Stockton clothes dealer shown above. Recent enquires about his fate have appeared on Picture Stockton and the Middlesbrough Jewish web-site. His family flourished and declined mainly in Stockton, and Barry, Wales. My Stockton Groskop family often told me Gershon came to England from Warsaw, Poland, as claimed by other relatives. This does not mean he was born in Warsaw, but he could have been. A geographical analysis of the Groskop surname in Poland would suggest he was born around Lodz. Maybe Gershon migrated or was forced to Warsaw to seek work or a trade, or had other relatives or contacts in this capital city, maybe not that different from his descendants living around London today, or in the past, like me. According to his 2/5/1914 death certificate Gershon was also named Augustus, probably after King Augustus of Poland, who gave the Jews certain rights and freedoms. The Groskop name is likely Germanic, although it can be found in old Scandinavia, even pre-Gershon England. Books on Jewish history indicate that German Jews migrated eastwards into Poland and Eastern Europe, and later moved from Eastern to Western Europe and the New World, in both cases to escape poverty, persecution, conscription, war, etc. Thus young Gershon ended up in Sunderland (c. 1861) then Stockton (c.1867), but I suspect he was not alone, as older Emanuel Groskop (died 1863) was living in the street next to him in 1861 with an aunt and uncle. Although I am no language expert, I doubt whether early Victorian census administrators would have understood or correctly recorded the origin of heavily accented Gershon, Prussian or Russian, since they also messed up his name. Later he claimed to be from Russian Poland, and a British citizen, but no official documents have been found to prove the latter. However, not all naturalization documents have survived, even some survivors do not appear on the TNA Kew database. Gershon died at a family home in Barry Island on 29 April 1914. The family could not get him quickly to Stockton for burial, since his body went for an inquest on 30/4/1914. Gershon married outside the Jewish faith, and his children seem to have been brought up outside the Jewish faith, both suggest a lapsed Jewish connection. Stockton Oxbridge records show that his English C of E wife pre-deceased him (1904) and the burial plot was bought beforehand, possibly for both of them. Hence he simply rests with his wife in the Edwardian part of the graveyard, near but outside the Jewish burial ground. Since two plot numbers were issued (U4 and U16) they may have been some initial uncertainty over burial intentions. Gershon’s funeral cortege left Annie Groskop’s Shakespeare Arms pub in Smithfield on Sunday 3 May 1914 for Oxbridge, via the High Street, and the largest gathering of UK family members seen, hence a printed programme (by James Jones and Co., Undertakers, Barry Dock) and seemingly a non-Jewish burial service at the graveside by Ernest W. Martin, for St. Thomas Church. The short printed programme, more a leaflet with poetry, made no mention of Gershons’s age suggesting uncertainty about it, unlike the printed leaflet for his wife with her age. The family later increased Gershon’s official death age of 74 years to unofficial 84 years. This suggests further knowledge was gleaned about Gershon’s life by 1929, when son Godfrey was buried with his parents. Viv Groskop is right, its too late to know with certainty Gershon’s exact origin, but we know something about him from past generations.

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    • Gershon was my Great Great Grandfather. His daughter Leah was my Great Grandmother and her daughter Ethel was my Grandmother whose daughter Olga was my Mother.

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  6. Anne Hitchen: Gershon (George) Groskop is buried in Oxbridge Lane cemetery, Stockton-on-Tees, along with his wife (Martha), and son Godfrey. The headstone details are – Martha Groskop 29 August 1904, aged 54 years. George Groskop 29 April 1914, aged 84 years. Godfrey Groskop 22 May 1929 1929, aged 55 years. The grave number is U4P (old).

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  7. I would like to thank Sarah from the Picture Stockton Team for helping to put me in touch with those who have commented on this page, especially Vivienne Fleet (nee Fryde) and Alan B, who have both provided excellent information. With their help, I have now confirmed that Eva Fryde, who married Benjamin Fryde, was my third aunt. My communications and research with Vivienne Fleet and Alan B are ongoing.

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  8. Thank you for that information, who has the funeral programme you mention and how could I access a copy? Someone has posted elsewhere something about Gershon’s grave, do you know if Martha was buried with him? and is it possible that anyone has taken a photo of it?
    Sorry to be so full of questions but I live in Cheshire!

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  9. Gershon Groskop (above) was the first or second census recorded male of Polish origin in Stockton (depending on the exact arrival dates of the two candidates). I have never seen a photo of his wife Martha, nee Robinson, maybe one exists somewhere, as she was a member of two large families. Gershon and Martha’s printed funeral programmes have survived, thanks to one strand of the Stockton Groskop family (not my part). The early Groskop family comprised of Jewish Gershon marrying (C of E) Martha at Stockton Register Office in 1866 with their kids schooled and mainly married C of E, and then a few converted to Catholicism. Some of the third generation Stockton Groskop’s preferred more independent churches. Such behaviour was not necessarily due to marriage, just their chosen religious convictions. I remember a third generation Groskop (Annie Archer) who had been baptised as a baby at St. James’s C of E, and some time later at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. I don’t think many of Gershon and Martha’s children were baptised due to the religious uncertainty within that generation of the family, hence their eldest were married at Stockton Register Office. I think a few Robinson’s were connected with Sunderland (or its shipyards), where it is likely they met Gershon. I suspect the above photo shows Isaac (definite top left) with all the male members of the family that had left Stockton to settle in Barry Island, Wales by 1911. That’s why the photo was taken; however I could be proved wrong in the future.

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  10. I am interested in the Groskop connection to my family, my gt gt gt grandmother was Eliza Isley Robinson who I believe was Garshon Groskop’s mother in law, he having married her daughter Martha. I am intrigued as to how they could have met and married, he being jewish and she being C of E. I would love to know if there are any photos of Martha? and also how I could access the photograph of Garshon’s grave on Oxbridge cemetery.

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  11. I am a descendant of Abele Fryde who left Kalisz, Poland for Sunderland soon after his marriage in 1884. For various reasons my family has always believed he was related to Emmanuel Fryde and Benjamin Fryde referenced above, not least the prevalence in all 3 families for the use of the Hebrew names Chananel and Isaac (Emmanual Fryde’s Hebrew name was Chananel). On his emigration to the UK Abele Fryde anglicised his first name to Adolph, then at the turn of the twentieth century he emigrated with his young family to Cape Town, South Africa. He was a founder member of the Garden Synagogue which later became the Great Synagogue of Cape Town and died in 1932 aged 70. Throughout his life he retained his connection with Kalisz, Poland but not with Sunderland so our family lost contact with the other 2 Fryde families. I would be keen to hear more from Alan B and AF about Emmanuel Fryde, his relationship to other families such as the Gloskops, and the sources for his origins in Lask, Poland. The Picture Stockton team can provide my email address.

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  12. Dr Bill Davies – I was glad to hear your sister worked in Joseph’s shop. The time scale I refer to was 1932-1940. Sawdust then was a way of keeping floors clean. My Father liked to get his Canadian Red Cheddar cheese from Mr Joseph’s shop and, like your family, every penny counted. Remember the old saying “many mickels mak a muckle” (Scottish). Canada is a great country and we owe a lot to the Canadians. My Mum nursed many of them in the 1914-18 war and my Dad served in both the world wars. Today I wonder why. We have not learned one thing and insulted their memories. We did have a ligitimate cause in the second war. I am glad to hear you have prospered in Canada and I know they also have employment difficuties there and that, like here, fishing is in a bad way.

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  13. Mr.Kidd, I remember Joseph’s quite well. My sister Jennie worked there around 1948-1951. Don’t remember the sawdust! At the time that was the only income for our struggling family. Emigration to Canada certainly changed things.

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  14. Just a further recollection, Mr & Mrs Joseph staffed the grocery shop which, I seem to recall, had sawdust on the floor which would be swept up at night. It was also I understand, used in the public houses, hence the saying “spit and sawdust”

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  15. Interesting pieces on the Jewish families of Stockton. Who remembers Joseph’s known as “the Cheap Shop” in Dovecote Street oppersite corner to the Hippodrome. I understand later Pacittos?

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  16. I Would be interested to contact directly regarding this topic, Alan B, as I am also exploring these same families and their connections, if you can contact me by the Picture Stockton team! I am a relative of Jacob Joseph mentioned above and my family is documented in Arnold Levy’s book of which I have a copy, I have also viewed the Corder Manuscripts, but sadly don’t have any family artifacts like you do for this Groskop family. I have a pic of George Groskp’s headstone at Oxbridge Lane and was very intrigued with its positioning!! Have you seen this?

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  17. Re; AF comment. I am exploring the connections between the few Jewish families from Eastern Europe that settled in Stockton from the 1860’s onwards. The various families mainly lived close to each other in the same poor areas of Stockton, around Thistle Green, Skinner and Lawson Streets, so they would have been aware of each other. They were generally self-employed jewellers, clothes dealers, general dealers, commercial travellers, and glaziers. They came from various places to Stockton. The 1861 census shows how Emanuel Groskop, Emanuel Fryde and Sarah Joseph (of Dutch descent) are related. The highly influential Jacob Joseph married Emanuel Fryde and Sarah Joseph at Moor Terrace, Sunderland on 1 July 1857. A photo of Emanuel Fryde and his associates appears on the Seligman/Gillis family tree internet site. Fryde wrote he was born at Lask, Poland in 1828. Significantly both the Fryde and Groskop surnames appear on the JRI-Poland indexing database for Lask. The Sunderland burial record of Emanuel Groskop (died 1863) survives. He was probably the only UK Groskop to receive a Jewish burial (First Bishopwearmouth Cemetery). Arnold Levy missed Emanuel Groskop from the burial appendix of his book on Sunderland Jews, which is surprising given that Emanuel Groskop was related to the highly respected Emanuel Fryde (from 1857 to 1908 an established Sunderland jeweller; a long term president of the Sunderland Jewish Community, one of the earliest members of the Sunderland Liberal Club, and a prominent freemason and charity worker). It is not uncommon for Fryde pocket watches (early examples possibly assembled by Sunderland Groskops) to be auctioned (even in the USA), recent prices ranging from sixty pounds to a few hundred pounds/dollars, depending on quality and condition. It is surprising that Fryde has not got better recognition from the watchmaking community and collectors as some of his pocketwatches are of high quality and workmanship. The Corder Manuscripts at Sunderland Library give useful first hand accounts of old Sunderland jewellers from the original families involved, such as the Josephs. Sunderland University has studied the same topic. My mothers aunt kept various Jewish artefacts thought to have been associated with her grandfather Gershon (above), who settled in Stockton from Sunderland in 1867. Another aunt is thought to have worked for the Goldston family in Stockton. The Stockton born Groskop family did not take up their old religion, as Gershon married outside the faith in Stockton during 1866.

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  18. I read all this with a curiosity because my family of Jewish origins from Sunderland (the Samuel’s) came to Stockton in the 1860’s too and often wondered if there was a connection. They were jewellers and tailors in Sunderland and lived in the same vicinity as the Gloskop’s both in Sunderland and again when Gershon came to Stockton (in Silver St/Cross St/Quayside). Emmanuel Groskop’s ‘aunt’ in the census was, I believe, the niece of the rabbi Jacob Joseph.

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  19. Gershon(George) Groskop, said to be a keen fiddle player, is likely front centre in the above photograph. There is uncertainty over his age, origin and port of arrival. My late Stockton relatives (Henries line) wrote “Gershon Groskop was born in 1830 and came to England aged 19 years old from Warsaw, Poland, he worked in a London jewellers before settling in the North-East. He was mainly a shopkeeper and self- employed clothes dealer in Stockton, but continued to dabble in old second-hand jewellery and low-grade antiques. He was well connected in Stockton and Middlesbrough. His fathers name was Ash and his mothers name was Zeta.” Since his age varies on documentation he could have been born closer to 1840. London was the main centre for UK jewellery apprenticeships in this era. Gershon probably came to England to escape army conscription and avoid the harsh economic conditions with limited opportunities of Russian Poland. Gershon named his first son Ashkel (also called Henry) after his father. Henry seems to have repaid the compliment by naming his first daughter Zeta (born at Gershon”s house in Stockton) after his foreign grandmother. My relatives inherited at least one Groskop family letter (now lost) from Warsaw, but they could not understand its contents as it was written in a foreign language. Other theories of how Gershon arrived in England exist, possibly on returning colliers bringing timber for pit props to the North-East from the Baltic ports, or on regular shipping services from German ports. Such theories coincide with the first census appearance of Emanuel Fryde as the uncle of Emanuel Groskop. Both are jewellers living in the same Sunderland house in 1861 with Gershon living virtually opposite in the next main street (20 Cousin and 21 Lawrence). Emanuel Fryde was born in Lask, Poland on 25 July 1828 and came to England about 1849, residing initially for three years in Hull and thereafter in Sunderland (HO1/100/3561, TNA Kew). This links both Emanuel”s with families having the same or similar surnames that flourished in the Lodz and Kalisz regions of Poland from the 19th century to world war two. Lask is 148km W to SW of Warsaw, and 30km SW of Lodz. Fryde may have arrived at Hull or Grimsby via the “short-sea route” from Hamburg or Bremen, both crossings popular with immigrants of this era. According to old newspapers, Fryde was well- known in Sunderland. Two other Fryde families living in Victorian Sunderland also originate from Kalisz (ditto Leeds Fryde family). Various Groskop descendants (above and elswhere) have previously quoted Warsaw as a family source, and for Gershon this may still be true. Whether anyone can verify, or add more to, any part of these theories remains to be seen.

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  20. The first mention of the Groskop surname on a British census is in 1861(but slightly mis-spelt), with two young men(Gershon and Emanuel)living on almost adjacent streets(Lawrence and Cousin) in the Bishopwearmouth district of Sunderland. Emanuel Groskop is the nephew of Emanuel Fryde(1828-1908), a successful jeweller, watchdealer or watchmaker. Fryde married Sarah Joseph, from a local jewellery and watchmaking family, in Sunderland during 1857. Fryde, who also used the surname Frydel on his pocket watches, was employing three men in his business by 1871. Emanuel Groskop was living with, and probably working for the Fryde family in 1861, but he died of T.B. in Sunderland during 1863, aged twenty eight. Gershon Groskop(c.1840-1914), aged 20 in 1861, had moved to Stockton by 1868 with the birth of his son Emanuel, so all these men could be related. They are described on various documents as dealers/jewellers, born Russian occupied Poland. Another Fryde family, maybe relatives of E.F., that moved into nearby Wear Street/Bishopwearmouth in the 1870″s list Karlish(Kalisz), Poland as their origin. Gershon was successful enough from 1879 to be mentioned as a general dealer in the various Stockton Trades Directories. Biographical details about Gershon are known, but there is uncertainty over his year of birth, and port of arrival. For many years the family lived at Thistle Green opposite the current police station, next to the pub. In the above photograph Gershon(sometimes Garshon)also known as George is surrounded by some of his sons.

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  21. This is the only known picture of George Groskop. George Groskop is believed to have arrived around 1850, orginally from Warsaw, Poland, although other theories do exist. He was believed to have had 21 children although only 16 have been found in documentation. There is a strong history of girls being produced by George”s branch of the family. From all of these children today, I do not know of any male Groskop that will carry on the branch.

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