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  • Five colour photographs of the counterpart lease for a plot of land in Townhill, Swansea, signed by David Michael on 28 November 1768

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Description

This item is made up of five colour photographs of the counterpart lease for a plot of land in Townhill, Swansea that was signed by David Michael on 28 November 1768. The first photograph is of the entire counterpart lease; the second shows the part of the lease bearing David Michael's signature; the third shows the part of the lease that contains an official stamp or seal; the fourth shows the part of the lease that was signed by a witness (the signature is difficult to read); and the fifth shows the part of the lease which has the date written on it and confirms that David Michael signed. The counterpart lease for the plot of land at Townhill is a valuable piece of Swansea’s Jewish history. While there is evidence of a Jewish community in Swansea dating back to the 1730s, the Townhill burial ground was the first formal Jewish institution to be established in Swansea. It was kept for 99 years by Swansea’s Jewish community – this making its historical significance even greater. The signature of David Michael appears on the lease as he initially paid the annual rent for the plot. Michael emerges as a key early figure in the history of the community. Born in Germany in 1727, he probably came to Swansea in 1749 along with Samuel Levi and his brother Moses. The back of his sitting room in Wind Street served as the first synagogue for the Jewish community until around 1789. He had two sons with his wife, Rachel: Levi and Jacob who would go on to become leaders of the small but growing community. Townhill Cemetery remained in use until the mid 1970s, until a new cemetery, Oystermouth, was acquired. Although a few burials were carried out at Townhill Cemetery following this new acquisition, the majority took place at Oystermouth. By the beginning of the 21st Century, Townhill cemetery had fallen into disrepair and been vandalised. In 2009, Michael Howard – whose father was buried in the cemetery – contributed to the payments needed for the restoration of the historic site. Sources: Saunders, N. H. The Swansea Jewish Community: Beginning and Becomings, (Swansea: Unpublished, 1980). Swansea Council, Origins, (2020), [accessed 10 May 2021] Robyn Rosen, Michael Howard pays to restore Swansea cemetery, (2009), [accessed 10 May 2021] jewishgen.org, Townhill & Oystermouth Cemeteries, (2019) [accessed 10 May 2021] Deposited at: West Glamorgan Archives.

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