Family tree update

I found the source of the article that I mentioned in my previous post about my great Grandfather Sidney Ambury, formerly Solomon Hamburg. I’ve pasted it below. 

I would really like to get in touch with the author Lesley Brown, if you are her or know her please do get in touch.


From Sidney Ambury to Solomon Hamburg

Author: Lesley Brown (Member 2905), Cockney Ancestor


MY GRANDFATHER, Sidney AMBURY appeared on the 15 December 1903. That is not the day he was born, but the day when he enlisted in the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers at Hounslow, Middlesex. He told the recruiting officer that he was born on 22 January 1885 in Liverpool. But he wasn’t. He gave his father’s address as 130 Bridge Street, Burdett Road, London. That address never existed. He gave his brother’s address as 66 Wiesbaden Road, Stoke Newington. But the occupant in 1903 was not Mr A Ambury, as Sidney had said, but Emil FRANC. Who? 


Sidney joined his regiment at Newcastle-on-Tyne on 19 December 1903. His army record was exemplary, serving King and Country at home and overseas in Egypt, the Mediterranean and Germany, where my father was born. But there was one omission from his Discharge Book: no Army records from 1903 to 1922 and the Employment Sheet was “in abeyance”. Why?


I grew up with the knowledge that my father came from Hartlepool. Although I knew he had been born in Cologne, the family returned to Hartlepool when my father was a few weeks old, and he spent his childhood there until the outbreak of the Second World War, when he, too, enlisted. One day at teatime my father said, “My father changed the surname from HAMBURY”. What?


Over the years I heard the family legends. Uncle Phil – he was well off; Auntie Dianna – you went to her if ever you were in trouble; she was housekeeper to Wally PROUT who lived in Milwall during the First World War, or was that Auntie Rachael? Brother Alfred – a very much younger brother who was knocked down by a horse and cart as a child and developed a club foot. Sidney’s father decided that each member of the family (there were said to be 21 children!) should thereafter put away ‘Ad per week for poor Alfred, who would never be able to make his own living. Poor Alfred began cobbling shoes in a shed at the bottom of the garden, and ended up with shoe factories in Hounslow, so the legend says. Where are they now?


Much later, when I began to take a serious interest in Sidney only five of his children were alive. I began questioning my father. “Mam was Ethel SUMBY of Sunderland. My parents were married in Hendon, Sunderland.” Yes and no. Mother was indeed Ethel Sumby of Sunderland; but the marriage certificate shows they were married in Dover! “Auntie Betty will tell you anything you want to know about the family”. I spoke to her, Sidney’s youngest daughter, and heard the story of Alfred, told to her when she received her 1d pocket money each week. “They were Orthodox Jews. Dad could speak fluent German”, she said. Fluent German? Come to think of it, when my father spoke any words in German, it was in the guttural northern accent of Hamburg.


Could Auntie Edie help? “No. She’s gone gaga”, I was told. She and her husband were in a parlous state, so there was no help there. At my father’s funeral in 1983, I briefly met Uncle Ron and later wrote to find out what he knew. I learned that Sidney’s father had a tobacconist’s shop in Sheffield. I spoke to another uncle, Ben, the oldest of Sidney’s children, who lived in Northamptonshire: “Dad and I didn’t see eye to eye”. He recalled conversations with his father which made him wonder what kind of “pull” Sidney had with the army and hinted at secret service work. Sidney had been in charge of a prisoner of war camp near Leicester in the Second World War, when he re-enlisted. He recalled visiting Auntie Dianna in Millwall in 1915 and had also heard of the change of surname story, but thought the original name was HANBURY, the brewers! He confirmed the tobacconist story.


It was time to check the records, starting with the obvious place – St Catherine’s House. Since I had Sidney’s name, exact date and place of birth, it would be simple. No. There was no Sidney Ambury, HAMBURY or Hanbury born anywhere in England either on or near to that date, or at any other time during that decade. Was he born abroad?


The next obvious step was to start at the other end – with his death certificate – but here was another mystery. His name was Sidney Benjamin Ambury when he died. The informant was Uncle Ben. What did he know that he wasn’t telling? Why such a conspiracy of silence in the family?

A man of Sidney’s education surely made a will. The Wills Register was searched, and a will, made in 1940, was found. What a pity he had left his worldly possessions to his wife, who died six weeks before him. (It’s said that he had been on his way to make a new will when he died of a heart attack – on New Year’s Day 1944).


In January 1993 I visited St Catherine’s House, the British Library, and the Greater London Record Office where I found the non-existence of 130 Bridge Street. Nos. 128 and 132 existed; but of number 130 there was no mention. A street plan showed nos. 128 and 132 on opposite corners of another street. Whoever Sidney Ambury was, he knew this area well enough to give a non-existent address.


It was time to start thinking laterally. My attention was drawn to the names Abraham ABRAHAMSON, tobacconist, and Benjamin BENJAMIN, tobacconist in Kelly’s Directory for 1903. Was one of these men his father? The 1903 electoral roll for Mile End showed the name Amburgh, in the lodgers’ lists. Was this one of Sidney’s relatives? A search of the 1891 census revealed nothing. There were no tobacconists living at either address then and the name Amburgh proved to be a red herring.


At St Catherine’s House, I noted long lists of Hamburys with their references, also two names, both the same: Solomon Hamburg. One was registered in the March 1880 quarter, the other in the March 1885 quarter. Don’t ask me why I sat on these for 18 months, but I did. Then I decided to send for both birth certificates, which revealed the following information:

Solomon Hamburg Born: 22 October 1879 Son of Henry Hamburg, Cigar Maker, and Caroline formerly LOPE Place of birth: 21 Brick Lane, Whitechapel. Solomon Hamburg Born: 23 January 1885 Son of Benjamin Hamburg, Cigar Maker, and Flora, formerly RAYNER. Place of birth: 17 George Street, Bethnal Green.


This is it, I thought. I acquired copies of the census entries for 1871, 1881 and 1891 for the Hamburg family into which Solomon born in 1885 (one day from the date which Sidney Ambury had given to the Army) and on each occasion they were at a different address in the area of Spitalfields, and then Bethnal Green. Both Benjamin and Flora were born in Amsterdam. Their marriage certificate showed them both living at 15 Goulstone Street, which was probably a lodging house. Flora’s correct name was Flora Salomon RINA, daughter of Salomon Rina. Benjamin’s father was Aron Hamburg, boot maker. Was he “Alfred the Cripple” of family legend?


Armed with this knowledge, I advertised in Family Tree Magazine for information. In 1993 I joined the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, and advertised in their magazine, Shemot. For the first time in all my searches of this branch of my family, both advertisements bore fruit. I heard from a doctor in Maidenhead, researching his De SMITT ancestors. He had two aunts, sisters Hannah and Rachel, who had married Hamburg brothers, one of whom he thought was named Morris.


In reply to my advertisement in Shemot, I heard from a lady of Dutch descent living in Canada who was researching the name Hamburg. She sent me a copy of an obituary notice in the Jewish Chronicle of Benjamin Hamburg, who died on 8 February 1919, listing the addresses of shiva (a period of mourning for the departed, and possibly a tradition of British Jews) at which friends and relatives could call to express their condolences. Benjamin’s obituary listed three addresses, as well as his own which was 39 Alfred Street, Bow. My next task was to discover the names of the residents at each address. At the first address, 40 Taplow Buildings, Shoreditch, lived George and Dinah S W A R T . Could Dinah be Auntie Diana to whom you could go with your problems? Obtaining their marriage certificate, I found that George Swart and Dinah, daughter of Benjamin Hamburg, married in 1900. So far so good.


At the second address, 66 Belgrade Road, Stoke Newington, there lived Alexander Eric Hamburg. His birth certificate showed that he was born in 1897, the son of Aaron Hamburg and Kate, née DELMONTE. I needed two more pieces of information to complete the picture: the name of the occupant of the third address, 329 Dersingham Avenue, Ilford, and, more important, whether Belgrade Road had ever been called Wiesbaden Road. Because of the distances involved, I had a researcher look into this. I wrote to him in February 1995. He usually replies within three weeks but the weeks dragged into four, five, and six. I was just about to write again, when his reply came. Belgrade Road was formerly Wiesbaden Road until 1916: Mr A Ambury of 66 Wiesbaden Road, mentioned on Sydney’s enlistment in 1903 was Solomon’s brother Aron. Furthermore the occupants of 329 Dersingham Avenue, Manor Park were Leah and Morris Hambury (not Hamburg)!


For me that was enough. I think I can now say with the most certainty I will ever have that Solomon Hamburg and Sidney Ambury are the same person. I was so happy, I could have cried. No, I have to be honest, I did.



  1. Morris Hambury & Leah Hambury are my grandparents. My dad, Dennis Hambury was their son. Dennis died in 1989. I was born at 43 Station Rd, Manor Park.I would like any information about Benjamen Hamburg from Amsterdam as I think he is my great great grandfather???

      1. Yes l am on Facebook
        I have lived in Milton Keynes for 40 years, having moved away from London
        I have recently found my two half brothers who also have Morris and Leah Hambury as their grandparent’s. Look forward to hearing from you. 😍

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