My great-grandfather Aaron Ottolangui was born in 1861 to Israel Ottolangui a general dealer, and his second wife Leah de Souza. In the 1861 census they are living at 118 Middlesex Street (Petticoat Lane), There is some indication that their firstborn son, Israel, may have died in early infancy before Aaron was born, but no record of that can be found.
Aaron’s father Israel died in 1869 and in the 1871 census his widowed mother Leah is residing as an inmate at the Spanish & Portuguese Buildings at no. 3 Heneage Lane, apparently a Poor House, next to the Bevis Marks synagogue where she resided until her death from breast cancer in 1890 – there is no mention of Aaron so we don’t know where he grew up, perhaps with relatives or may be in the orphanage.
Aaron lived in a number of different places around Spitalfields
In 1879 when he got married his address was given as 2, Bell Lane, Spitalfields and his bride’s address is given as “Same Place”.
In the 1891 census the family was living at 157 Wentworth St., Aaron & Mary with their children, Judah, Alexander (Alec), Abraham (Abie) Leah (Lily) and David – their firstborn Israel was no longer with them, having been committed to the workhouse by the local magistrates one year earlier. ( See “Israel Ottolangui….also known as….” Here https://wordpress.com/post/ottolenghifamily.org/1368)
In 1899 when their first daughter Leah (Lily) started school, their address was 55 Leman Street
In 1907 when their youngest child George started school, the family lived at 23 Tilley Street, Spitalfields.
In the 1911 census s the family, Aaron & Mary, their children – Abie, David, Katie, Monty, George and their youngest daughter Annie, still lived at 23 Tilley Street.
Note: Although Judah is crossed out on the microfiche image above, in the transcript record Judah and his wife Annie (née Harkman) are listed as living with the family.
In the 1930’s Aaron & Mary lived at 17 Laleham Buildings, on the boundary Estate in Bethnal Green until Mary’s death in 1934, after which Aaron lived until his death in 1936 at 47 Cookham Buildings
According to my father, Aaron was a small man who had worked in a number of trades, a boot finisher on his marriage certificate. A boot finisher is described as a Victorian occupation “putting the finishing touches to boots”. Exactly what those “finishing touches” might be is not described except to say “readying the product for the market” which could mean anything from putting in the laces to polishing the uppers……….
My father remembered when visiting his grandparents’ flat in Laleham Buildings, the kitchen table was covered with an oil cloth on which there were always a number of watch movements under upturned drinking glasses. Indeed, Aaron in the 1911 census describes his occupation as Watch Jobbing Clerk. A jobber was kind of a “freelancer” who worked for one or more different people without actually being in their employ.
Aaron always had a connection to the Bevis Marks synagogue which he called the ‘snoga, from the Portuguese for synagogue “esnoga”. He encouraged my father to join the choir at the synagogue in around the age of 8 or 9 in 1921 and I remember my father still used his grandfather’s “gavetta” the box under the seat where he kept his tallit (prayer shawl) tefillin (phylacteries) and prayer books whilst still singing in the choir until well into his nineties.
I still have great grandfather Aaron’s phylacteries which I used at my own first call to read from the Torah.