Goldsmid, Francis Henry (DNB00)

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GOLDSMID, Sir FRANCIS HENRY (1808–1878), lawyer and politician, of Jewish race and religion, was born in London on 1 May 1808. His father was Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid [q. v.] Goldsmid received a very careful private education, and became a proficient classical scholar. While still quite a young man he was associated with his father in his labours for the removal of Jewish disabilities, and he wrote a number of pamphlets upon this question. They are written in clear and weighty English, and attracted considerable attention. He chose the bar for his profession, ‘for the purpose principally,’ as he afterwards said, ‘of opening a new career to his coreligionists.’ In January 1833 he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn, being thus the first Jewish barrister, as he was also the first Jewish queen's counsel (1858). He married in 1839 Louisa, daughter of Moses Goldsmid, his father's brother. After the Jewish Disabilities Bill was passed in 1859, Goldsmid (who upon the death of his father in the same year had succeeded to the baronetcy) was at length enabled to begin a parliamentary career, and he was elected in 1860 member for Reading, which borough he continued to represent till his death. In politics Goldsmid was a temperate liberal. He was the recognised spokesman of the Jewish community in parliament, and in many telling speeches called attention to the persecutions of the Jews in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. On general subjects Goldsmid was not a frequent speaker, but his opinion was respected upon both sides of the house, and he was well known as a patient and impartial chairman of committees. Like his father, Goldsmid took a deep interest in University College and the University College Hospital. He was treasurer of the hospital from 1857 till 1868, and a ward was named after him in 1870 in recognition of his services to the institution. Among his own religious community Goldsmid was very prominent. He took the leading part in the foundation of the Reform Synagogue in 1841 (now situated in Upper Berkeley Street), and he was the practical founder of the Anglo-Jewish Association in 1871. In 1841 he established the Jews' Infant School, one of the earliest schools of its kind, and now the largest infant school in England. He died through an accident at Waterloo station on 2 May 1878. His nephew Julian, son of his brother Frederick David (1812–1866), succeeded as third and last baronet, dying 7 Jan. 1896.

Goldsmid's writings include: 1. ‘Remarks on the Civil Disabilities of British Jews,’ 1830. 2. ‘Two Letters in Answer to the Objections urged against Mr. Grant's Bill for the Relief of the Jews,’ 1830. 3. ‘The Arguments advanced against the Enfranchisement of the Jews considered in a Series of Letters,’ 1831; 2nd edition, 1833. 4. ‘A Few Words respecting the Enfranchisement of British Jews addressed to the New Parliament,’ 1833. 5. ‘A Scheme of Peerage Reform, with Reasons for the Scheme, by the youngest of the Tomkinses,’ 1835. 6. ‘Reply to the Arguments advanced against the Removal of the remaining Disabilities of the Jews,’ 1848.

[Memoir of Sir F. H. Goldsmid, by the Rev. Professor Marks and the Rev. Albert Löwy, 2nd enlarged ed. 1882; Times, 4 May 1878.]

C. G. M.