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Marks, Mark (1815–1888)

One more of the oldest members of the Melbourne Jewish community has just gone to rest in the person of Mr Mark Marks, he being a familiar figure in the city, at communal gatherings, as well as in private circles, his death, which took place on the 15th instant, came as a surprise to the community, and occasioned great regret amongst his numerous relatives and friends. Although he had for some weeks past been confined to his room by some infirmities incidental to old age, nothing serious was expected, when an attack of bronchitis, a malady from which he suffered with every recurring winter, supervened and hastened on his end.

Mr Marks was a native of London, where he was born just two months before the Battle of Waterloo. He often used to relate how his mother had told him that she took him in her arms when she went to view the illuminations in honour of the great event. At a very early age – he was only ten years old – he began life 0n his own account, and about ten years later he left London to reside at Liverpool. In 1837 he visited America, returning to England the same year. The following year he was married to Miss Hannah Harris, his being the first Jewish marriage under the new Registration Act. Mr D. W. Marks, now Professor Marks, of the West London Synagogue of British Jews, better known as the Reform Synagogue, was then secretary and registrar of marriages to the Liverpool congregation. To show the remoteness of the time it may be mentioned that in those days the railway between London and Liverpool was only finished to Denbigh Hall, so that the intended Mrs Marks had to travel the remainder of her journey from London by post chaise.

In 1853, at the invitation of his brother-in-law, the late Mr Samuel Harris, who carried on business in the premises now known as the London Tavern, Mr Marks made up his mind to come to Australia. He therefore bought a barque named the Atalanta, in which, besides his wife and six children, he brought out a few other passengers, amongst whom was the Hon. J. [Julian] E. Salomons, QC, now of Sydney, who acted as teacher to Mr Marks' children. In September '53, after a passage of four months and five days, the Atalanta landed safely in the Sydney Harbour. Mr Marks and his family remained in Sydney for the next five years, and then came to Melbourne, where he has resided ever since with the exception of eight months in 1884, during which he paid a short visit to England.

In Melbourne the late Mr Marks held several prominent positions. For a number of years he was connected with the management of the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation, of which he was at one time treasurer and then president. He took a warm interest in the Jewish Philanthropic Society, as in the welfare of the poor generally, being at all times ready to give of his means towards deserving objects. In fact, many years ago he contemplated founding a society, such as the newly established Jewish Aid Society. In 1877 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and up to the time of his death he had a seat on the Council of the Old Colonists' Association. While still in England, and ever since, he took a great interest in Freemasonry, being at one time Master of the Mariners' Lodge, Liverpool. Always willing to aid in a good cause, he was one of the promoters of the Jewish Herald, doing his best, by his advice and means, to help our paper over its early struggles.

The late Mr Marks' married life was blessed with 17 children, only nine of whom survive him, all grown up, most of them married and well provided for. He could gather round him 36 grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren, residing with their parents in various parts of Australia. It was with no small amount of pleasure that the family looked forward to August next when they hoped to celebrate Mr and Mrs Marks' golden wedding with that rejoicing which such a rare event deserves and naturally occasions amongst the members of an attached family. But, "man proposes, and God disposes," and so Mr Marks was called away almost within three months to what would have been to him and his children a happy day indeed.

The funeral took place on the second day of Shevuoth, a large number of mourners and friends following on foot to the grave. The Rev. Dr Abrahams officiated at the cemetery, and expressed in a few words the high esteem in which the deceased was held.

Original publication

Citation details

'Marks, Mark (1815–1888)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/marks-mark-20138/text31227, accessed 24 August 2019.

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