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Lipman, Lewis (1823–1894)

by Colin Choat

Lewis Lipman, who died on 8 July 1894, aged 71 years, was a prominent member of Sydney's Jewish Community in the second half of the nineteenth century.

He was the son of Joseph and Rachel (nee Joseph) Lipman, and was born in London in 1823. He came to Australia from England as a free immigrant in the William Turner, which arrived in Sydney in October 1841. As a sponsored immigrant, he was required to assist his sponsor as a "farm labourer" at Patrick Plains, near Muswellbrook.

Lipman's contributions to the Jewish community included serving as president of the Hebrew Mutual Benefit Society and secretary of the Jewish Denominational School in Sussex Street. He performed various roles at both the York Street and Macquarie Street Synagogues, prior to the establishment of the Great synagogue. When a breakaway group headed by Samuel Cohen, a member of one of the key families of Sydney Jewry, formed the Macquarie Street Synagogue in 1859, Lipman was the Honorary Secretary.

Lewis Lipman wrote Hebrew and was often called upon to prepare the wording, in both English and Hebrew, for epitaphs to appear on the headstones of members of the Jewish community. His contribution to that community recognised when, in 1862, soon after the death of Samuel Cohen, Cohen's wife presented Lipman with a gold watch and chain valued at about £30, "as a token of esteem."

In commerce, Lipman was a merchant and importer and, for some years, represented his uncle's firm, Joshua Joseph and Sons, as an import agent. He became temporarily insolvent in 1862 and always had trouble "making ends meet." At age 68 he was still working as a pawnbroker.

In 1847, while living at Muswellbrook, Lewis Lipman married Sarah Moses, daughter of Abraham and Rebecca (nee Davis) Moses. Sarah had arrived from England with her family in March 1840 on the Alfred. By 1853 the family were living in Sydney.

Sarah Lipman died in 1865 and, in 1866, Lipman married Sarah Rosetta Levy, daughter of Abraham Joseph and Catherine (nee Phillips). Levy was, like Lipman, a prominent member of the Jewish community and arrived in Australia about 1830. Catherine Phillips arrived in Australia in 1833 on the Palambam and was the brother of Solomon Phillips, who held the position of minister at the Bridge Street Synagogue when it was established in 1859. Phillips was the grandfather of Emanuel Phillip Fox, a prominent Australian artist.

When Lewis Lipman retired as secretary of the Macquarie Street Synagogue in 1872, the committee paid tribute to him "not only for his years of work as a paid official, but for past services performed for the congregation for years previous to his receipt of the salary now drawn by him and extra services performed by him beyond his duty as secretary."

Lipman never returned to England, however he maintained a correspondence with his sister, Martha, in London.

Lewis Lipman fathered more than 20 children with his two wives. His life in Australia was punctuated by the death of his children and other members of his family. He was survived by his second wife and only six of his children.

Original Publication

  • People Australia, 2011

Additional Resources

Citation details

Colin Choat, 'Lipman, Lewis (1823–1894)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/lipman-lewis-13918/text31670, accessed 6 December 2019.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012