Israel Ottolangui was my father’s Uncle Izzie, the first born of Aaron Ottolangui and Mary née Sharp/Schaap.His birth was registered in the parish of St. George’s (in the East) London, in the second quarter (April – June) 1880 as Ottolenghi Israel. This may be a spelling error when the records were transcribed.
Izzie was one of the prime reasons for the start of my family research, he was the elder of my father’s two “lost uncles”. My father never knew his Uncle Izzie who had “disappeared” long before my father was born in 1913, and the stories that my father had heard growing up, later were mostly revealed to be just stories.
Hardly anything is known of Izzie’s childhood but at the age of 10 in 1890, he was remanded by the Magistrates to the Mile End Workhouse at the request of the police……
We don’t know why he was remanded, but according to the version heard by his granddaughters, he was a “wild child” and had attacked and seriously injured (some say killed) a teacher by beating him with a schoolroom slate.
The old Mile End Workhouse was situated in Bancroft Road, Mile End. It was built in 1858-1859 to replace an earlier workhouse which was situated in Alderney Place just off Globe Road, adjoining the Jews’ Burying Ground – behind the Novo Beth Haim.
Mile End Old Town Workhouse was built between 1858 and 1859 at a total cost of £32,000. It could accommodate 600 adults and 300 children. The architect was William Dobson. All the buildings were of red brick, in a plain neo-Tudor style. It was a large site comprising an entrance block with a board room, offices and waiting room, casual wards with a stone breaking yard, a three-storey T-shaped workhouse block with a refectory and chapel, a psychiatric ward block and an infirmary block. There was a three-storey school with its own laundry, workshops and playgrounds, and a children’s infirmary. The site was set within attractive gardens. The main workhouse block was an imposing building with rendered bay-window projections and shaped gables, and some sculptural detailing on the rendered sections.
A larger infirmary designed by J.M. Knight was built between 1880 and 1883.
Several of the old workhouse buildings had been demolished however part of the main block was Grade II listed. The children’s school became a nurse’s home in 1910. After 1930, it became Mile End Hospital and several additions were built including an out-patients department, sun-balconies and a pathological laboratory. In 1991, the hospital was known as Mile End Accident and Emergency Hospital. In 2007, it was called The Royal London Hospital.
The workhouse admission is the last time Israel Ottolangui appears in the civil and public records. We don’t know when he was discharged or where he went afterwards but rumours are rife, including that he was conscripted into the British Army and served in Scotland and got married there, but this is not confirmed by any source.
Izzie next appears under the name of Albert Edward Dunnell, and in that name aged 30 on 12th April 1909 he married Lillian Ann Waters at St. James’ Church, Shoreditch
The groom does not appear anywhere previously under that name and we found no trace of the fathers cited in the marriage register, but later searches for Lilian Ann Waters revealed that a Lillian Ann Waters was born around 1887 and died in October 1924. In 1904 she was in and out of the Hackney Poor House aged 18 and described as a servant. Her father as named on her marriage certificate was William Herbert Waters a gas worker, and her witness was Ernest Spencer Waters, but we have found no further information about either.
St. James Church on Curtain Road, Shoreditch was founded in 1841 and existed until 1935 when it was reabsorbed into the parish of Shoreditch St. Leonards and was demolished in 1937.
During the Great War, in 1916 Albert Edward Dunnell said to be a Garage Hand aged 40, was enlisted for Short Service at Home
At that time Albert and Lillian had 4 children, Alfred David, Cecil Albert, Alexander and Lilian Olive and were living at No. 6, Hales Buildings, Jacobs Well Road, Bristol.
Albert Edward Dunnell appears on the electoral rolls for South Gloucestershire until 1954, and the rest of the life of great uncle Izzie, a.k.a. Albert Edward Dunnell remained a mystery.
Joining forces with Izzie’s granddaughters and great granddaughters we scoured all the records that we could find, and followed up on the family “folk stories” without much success until in the 1939 Population Register I found a George Dunnell living at 77 Coleford Road, Bristol, with a Frederick & Lily Langley. Frederick’s birthdate and occupation match those of Albert Edward Dunnell, but Lily Langley’s don’t because Lillian Ann Dunnell nee Waters had died some time after the birth of her youngest son Frank, in 1924.
This was all very exciting because we had apparently uncovered another of Izzie Ottolangui’s aliases and it was surprising (or maybe not) that he had reverted to the name Langley at some stage. It also confirms why we couldn’t find any records for Albert Edward Dunnell in later years……..
Izzie’s granddaughter confirmed “Fred & Lily’s” marriage saying after “………….Grandma Lillian died in the 1920s. Izzie went on to remarry – I don’t know when or who. My dad was living with an Italian family until his marriage to my mum in 1936. All the boys were totally estranged from Izzie by then. Uncle Frank was is the military. He was tall and slim and swarthy in colouring with very black curly hair, considered a bit of a rake and often compared to Izzie. So, who knows?”
So, our further research revealed that Izzie had abandoned the name Albert Edward Dunnell, assuming the name Frederick Langley, and died under that name on 12th June 1957 at the Snowdon Road Hospital in Bristol, aged 77 years. He was living at 77 Coleford Road, Southmead, Bristol at time of his death with his new wife Lily Langley née Holbrook. They had married in 1926. According to the 1939 Population Register, living at the same address in Coleford Road, were William Collier and his wife Florence born 20th May 1919.
According one of Izzie’s great-granddaughters, it was known that her great-grandfather had been buried at Canford Crematorium and her father was told that he died under his birth name which could never be traced, nor could any record of the death of Albert Edward Dunnell.
Bristol Crematorium eventually confirmed that a Frederick Langley who died in 1957 was buried there in a grave without a headstone but they provided the plot number.
On 3rd April 2020, Izzie’s unmarked grave was located and in that plot there was a small memorial vase with the names of Florence Collier and William Collier, but nothing with his name on.
So who were the Colliers and what was their relationship with Izzie Ottolangui, a.k.a. Albert Edward Dunnell, a.k.a. Frederick Langley?
Further research carried out mainly by Izzie’s great-grandchildren in Bristol, revealed that Lily Langley née Holbrook had given birth to a daughter, Florence Beatrice in 1919 and according to the Collier family tree, the father was Frederick Langley. Florence married William Collier and they were living with Frederick and Lily Langley in 1939.
Bristol Bereavement Services eventually confirmed that Frederick Langley, Florence and William Collier were all buried in the same grave.
Circumstantial? May be, or at least we thought so, until a letter was found addressed to Florence at the Coleford Road address. The letter was from the Cooperative Insurance Company advising that Florence was the beneficiary of an industrial life insurance policy owned by one Mordechai Ottolangui in the name of Florence’s father. Mordechai was Monty, Israel’s youngest sibling, born in 1901, although why he would have taken out an insurance policy on his eldest brother who had reportedly disappeared long before Monty would have been old enough to take out a policy, is a mystery. Industrial life policies which could also be endowment policies, were sold in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, by door-to-door salesmen or agents for a small weekly or monthly premium of a few pennies or shillings, and it is possible that the policies were initially taken out by Aaron and Mary Ottolangui in the names of their children. When Aaron and Mary died in the mid-1930’s the policies were inherited by their youngest son, Monty.
So, is this evidence that Florence was Izzie’s daughter, or did he adopt her after he married her mother, Lily Holbrook?
I guess we will never know, but it appears that it holds part of the answer to the many mysterious lives and the death of Israel Ottolangui, also known as…………