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Abrahams, Abraham (1813–1892)

from South Australian Register

Abraham Abrahams, n.d.

Abraham Abrahams, n.d.

from Australian Jewish Historical Society Journal, vol 1, part 6, 1941, p 195

Mr. Abraham Abrahams died on Sunday night, April 3, at Menzies' Hotel, while he was on a visit to Melbourne. The late Mr. Abrahams was born seventy nine years ago in Sheerness, in Kent, and came of an old Jewish family who had resided in England for close upon 150 years. The only surviving member of the family now is a brother, who resides in London, carrying on the business of an exporter of fancy goods. Mr. Abrahams received a good education at a leading school in Colchester, and after finishing his scholastic work he entered the firm of Messrs. Hyams & Co., clothiers, of London. Shortly after he was promoted to be commercial traveller, a position he occupied until 1850, when he became imbued with the idea of seeking his fortune in a fresh field. He fixed on South Australia, and came out to start business as an importer. He fulfilled his intention, and a few years later took Mr. Thompson, previously of Messrs. Acraman & Co., into partnership. The firm continued operations for many years, but it was dissolved early in the sixties, and in 1864 Mr. Abrahams accepted the dual positions of Secretary to the Equitable Fire Insurance Company and Secretary to the Imperial Permanent Building Society. However, he found that the two offices taxed his strength severely, and he resigned his connection with the Building Society, but retained the management of the Insurance Company until 1889, when it was wound up. Prior to that he, in conjunction with Miss C. H. Spence, the late Mr. William Kay, Mr James Smith, and others, conceived the idea of forming an Executor, Trustee, and Agency Company in South Australia on the lines of Dutch Companies in operation in South Africa. Their efforts proved successful. Later on some changes were made in the organization of the Company, which now carries on business under authority of a special Act. Mr. Abrahams on the initiation of the Society took the position of Manager, which he held conjointly with that of Secretary to the Insurance Company. He continued to act in the capacity of Secretary to the Society until September 30 of last year, when his failing eyesight compelled him to retire from active business. Although Mr. Abrahams never took a prominent part in politics or in municipal affairs he was one of the best known men in Adelaide. For twenty years he resided at the York Hotel, and so closely was he allied to that place that he was known as the father of the hotel. After his arrival in the colony he never went outside South Australia until he paid the visit to Tasmania and Melbourne, from which he was not to return alive. Few men had such a reputation for straightforwardness and honourable dealing as he enjoyed. Though rather reserved in matters regarding his own affairs, he held pronounced views on many questions, and never hesitated to give expression to them. In matters philanthropic and for the general welfare of humanity Mr. Abrahams always lent able assistance. In charitable affairs he took great interest. He was Treasurer of the Assyrian Fund, the Indian Relief Fund, and many others. He was a member of the Committee of the Home for Incurables, and filled the office of Secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, an organization which was practically founded by him. In fact he has been identified with many principal philanthropic movements for a generation past. He was a consistent Jew, and years ago was at different periods Treasurer and President of the Adelaide Hebrew congregation. He was one of the oldest members of the Synagogue, but had not taken such an active interest in the Jewish Church during the last decade as when first he arrived here. In matters pertaining to art the citizens of Adelaide are under great obligations to the late Mr. Abrahams. He was one of the original members of the Society of Arts, and when the Public Library was separated from the Circulating Library Mr. Abrahams was elected by the South Australian Society of Arts to be a member of the Board of Governors of the Public Library, Art Gallery, and Museum, to which office he was gazetted in July, 1884. He occupied the Chairmanship of the Board from November, 1888, to November, 1889, Mr. J. Medway Day succeeding him. Mr. Abrahams was also Chairman of the Finance Committee, and his knowledge of finance was invaluable. The Board recognising his great acquaintance with art practically gave him charge of the Art Gallery, in which he took an absorbing interest. He took a prominent part in the arrangement of the pictures in connection with the Jubilee Exhibition, and when the Art Gallery was first established his knowledge of the old masters proved to be of the greatest service. Mr. Abrahams occupied a leading place on the committee of the Zoological Gardens, and was also a Justice of the Peace. In Masonic affairs he took more than ordinary interest, and he was one of the oldest Freemasons in the colony; in fact, until some years ago he took a prominent part in what are known as the higher degrees. He was a Past First Principal in the South Australian Royal Arch Chapter, and was also a Knight of the United Military and Religious Order of the Temple. Mr. Abrahams presided at a meeting of the finance meeting of the Board of Governors of the Public Library on December 30, 1891, at which he was granted leave of absence. During late years he had suffered from the hot weather, and had not been in good health; therefore on January 27 he left Adelaide for Hobart to escape the heat and recruit his strength. In writing to Adelaide from Hobart he mentioned that he was improving, and the news of his death in Melbourne came as a great shock. The body was brought from Melbourne by train and interred in the Jewish Cemetery on Wednesday, April 6, in the presence of a large concourse of people. The Rabbi, the Rev. A. T. Boaz, gave a very feeling address.

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'Abrahams, Abraham (1813–1892)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/abrahams-abraham-14020/text24959, accessed 24 November 2017.

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