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ADOLPHUS , English family, known in the synagogue as Bira. Its members included jacob adolphus, stockholder in the Bank of England (late 17th century), founder member of the London Ashkenazi Synagogue. Among his sons were: simon, a physician, who was admitted to the University of Halle at the request of Frederick William i of Prussia on condition that he did not practice there, and moses (b. c. 1690), who married Abigail, daughter of Benjamin *Levy, founder of the London Ashkenazi community. In his 56th year he matriculated at the University of Leiden, Holland, in philosophy and literature, along with his son simhah (Joy, 1714–1760), who graduated in medicine and subsequently practiced in Cleves, Germany (1748–56) where he headed the Jewish community. Joy Adolphus published Histoire des Diables Modernes (London, 1763; Cleves, 1770, 1771), satirizing the political and social scene, and dedicated the book to Frederick the Great, whom he is said to have served as personal physician. Another son of Moses was michael or meir (died 1785), prominent in London communal life, and as warden of the Great Synagogue, one of the original members of the *Board of Deputies of British Jews. john (1768–1845), historian and lawyer, grandson of Joy, was author of History of England from the Accession of King George iii to the Conclusion of Peace in 1783 (3 vols., London, 1802). His mother was Christian and he was out of touch with the Jewish community. However, he was caricatured by Cruikshank as a Jew. Originally a solicitor, he became a barrister in 1807 and achieved notable success at the bar. His son, john leycester adolphus (1794–1862), educated at Oxford, was a barrister and literary critic. He became a close friend of Sir Walter Scott. There was also an Adolphus family in America in the colonial period, founded by isaac (died 1774) who came to New York from Bonn, Germany, about 1750. Another family of this name was established in Jamaica not later than 1733, its most eminent member being Major General Sir jacob adolphus (1775–1845), inspector general of army hospitals.


P. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943), 62; C. Roth, History of the Great Synagogue (1950), 160–3; Roth, Mag Bibl, index; E. Henderson, Recollections of John Adolphus (1871); F. Baer, Protokollbuch der Land udenschaft des Herzogtums Kleve (1922), 63, 122; Stern, Americans, 5; J.P. Andrade, Record of Jews in Jamaica (1941), 148–9, 207–8; Rubens, in: jhset, 19 (1955–59), 25; Roth, in: jhsem, 4 (1942), 106–7; A. Rubens, Anglo-Jewish Portraits (1935), 2–4. add. bibliography: odnb online.

[Cecil Roth]