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Rebecca Bergman

Rebecca Bergman and her family


Rebecca was born on 13 August 1844 at 1 Cambridge Circus near the Hackney Road in Bethnal Green. Her father Abraham had been born in Germany but moved to Norwich where he married Sarah Crowfoot some time before 1832. Their first three children, Morris, David, and Hannah Elizabeth were born in Norwich. The family then moved to Bethnal Green where Agatha, Rebecca, and Sarah were born.


The 1851 Census shows the family living in Felix Street, Bethnal Green.  Four members of the household are in employment: Abraham is a Marine Store Dealer, his wife Sarah is a  Lint Manufacturer, and her brother Henry is a Cabinet Maker. Of the children, Morris (aged 18) is a Clock Case Maker and living with his parents, David (14) is not at home but is a boarder at the nearby Hebrew Boys’ School, Hannah Elizabeth (11) is also away and boarding at the Hebrew Girls’ School, Agatha (9) is ‘at home’, but Rebecca (7) is a ‘scholar’ though it is not clear which school she was attending, and Sarah (3) must have been at home.  


Ten years later the 1861 Census shows Rebecca (16) at the Hebrew Girls’ School - presumably as a  boarder since she is enumerated there rather than at her home. Her father is now a Clock Maker and Sarah is a machinist making shirts. Hannah - now enumerated as Anna (19) and Agatha (14) are both working as mantle makers.


In 1871 Rebecca (25) is living on her own in the Suffolk village of Middleton and working as a School Mistress. It was probably from there that she moved to Nash Mills to become its Head Mistress in 1877. 

Record of Rebecca moving to Nash Mills


The 1881 Census shows her visiting her sister Sarah and her family in Lewisham. Otto Seiffert, her brother-in-law is said to be a ‘Foreign Clerk to Wool Merchant’. Percy, his son, had been born on 9 May 1879 so was almost two years old when the Census was taken on 3 April. 

Kelly household with Rebecca Bergman, Lou Ellis, and Percy Seiffert in 1891. The entry wrongly lists Rebecca as a cook


In the 1901 Census Rebecca and her nephew are still together – she is described as a School Mistress in Nash Mills but we know from the school history that she was still Head Mistress there. Percy, now aged 21, is working as a Book Keeper – perhaps at the local mills.


In 1911, as already noted, Rebecca retired and the Census of that year shows her living with her two sisters at 139 Balham Hill in Wandsworth.  Hannah (71) and Agatha (69) were both retired nurses and Rebecca (66) is described as a retired School Mistress.  The recently-released 1921 Census shows that on 19 June the three sisters, now 81, 79 and 76, were still living in the same house.


Hannah died on 18 January 1923, Agatha on 30 November 1924, and Rebecca on 17 December 1926. The Probate Index shows that Rebecca (with her surname now again spelled Bergmann) named Percy Seiffert (Engineer) as her executor. Her effects were valued at £1366-8s-10d.


David Skidmore

St Albans

17 August 2022


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