Bishop’s Close, 129 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SG
We begin here in the Old Town, the heart of the medieval city, at Bishop’s Close, off the High Street between the Mitre and Royal Mile Tavern. In the early 19th century the Old Town was overcrowded and insanitary. The New Town, north of Princes Street, was built with open spaces and large windows. The first synagogue was founded by 20 families in 1817. In the 1841 census we can identify 50 Jewish households in Edinburgh. Of those, only eight households lived in the fashionable New Town area. The others settled in the Old Town or in the St Leonards district to the south. In 1841 the Emmanuel Family, having moved from England, lived here in Bishop’s Close: Ezekiel, Rachel, and three sons. There is no trace of them in later records. From 1880 until 1914, as the economic and social conditions in Eastern Europe worsened, many others took their place.
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