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Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury and the Bloomsbury Project

Bloomsbury People

What is the Bloomsbury Project?

The Leverhulme-funded UCL Bloomsbury Project was established to investigate 19th-century Bloomsbury’s development from swampy rubbish-dump to centre of intellectual life

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, with Dr Deborah Colville as Researcher, the Project has traced the origins, Bloomsbury locations, and reforming significance of hundreds of progressive and innovative institutions

Many of the extensive archival resources relating to these institutions have also been identified and examined by the Project, and Bloomsbury’s developing streets and squares have been mapped and described

This website is a gateway to the information gathered and edited by Project members during the Project’s lifetime, 1 October 2007–30 April 2011, with the co-operation of Bloomsbury’s institutions, societies, and local residents

Isaac Lyon Goldsmid (1778–1859)

a summary of his Bloomsbury connections

He was a prominent member of a great banking family, and espoused liberal causes and reform in education and civil rights

In 1841 he became the first Jew to be made a baronet

With Benjamin Shaw and John Smith, he bought in 1825 the land on which the University of London (later University College London) was to be built when subscriptions reached the required amount

He was one of the most prominent founders and members of the first Council of the new University

As his friend Thomas Campbell had done two years earlier, he visited Berlin in 1827 to observe the organisation of the university there

He introduced Campbell to Henry Brougham, the most energetic and influential of the founders, and recommended Hyman Hurwitz for the first Chair of Hebrew in January 1828 (H. Hale Bellot, University College London 1826–1926, 1929)

He was the first Treasurer of the hospital established by the University in 1834, the North London Hospital (later University College Hospital), a position in which he was succeeded by his son Francis Henry Goldsmid in 1850 (‘A Short History of the Hospital’, The University College Gazette, vol. I, 1 October 1886, UCL Special Collections)

In 1830 he drafted a Jewish Disabilities Bill to be presented in Parliament by Sir Robert Grant; this failed, as did a second, which passed in the House of Commons in 1833, but not in the House of Lords

In petitioning for the Bill, he enlisted the support of several friends and colleagues connected to the University of London, including Campbell, William Tooke, and Joseph Hume (Goldsmid letterbooks, Mocatta MS 22, UCL Special Collections)

With his son Francis, he was the prime mover in the reform of British Judaism; they were among the 24 leading Jews who met in the Bedford Hotel, Southampton Row, on 15 April 1840 to found the West London Synagogue of British Jews, which was opened in Burton Street on 27 January 1842

He was a supporter of John Elliotson’s controversial Mesmeric Infirmary

He left University College London a legacy of £3,000 on his death in 1859, specifying that part of it be used to maintain Chairs of Hebrew and Geology; the Council at its meeting on 29 February 1860 expressed its acknowledgment of the gift and also of the “important services which the Baron rendered to the College at its foundation, and during the many years of his zealous and active cooperation as a Member of the Council and Committee of Management, and as Treasurer of the Hospital” (Annual Report 1860, UCL Records Office)

For more general information about Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, see the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

This page last modified 7 April, 2011 by Deborah Colville


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