Joe Fisher Family Story

Facets of a Diamond Geezer Joeph Fisher MBE

Following David’s last post when we discovered about Joe Fisher and the Lyktan shop on Gosforth High Street we are now delighted to share the fascinating family history of Joe Fisher! Joe was a third generation of the Fisher family in England. Still living in Gosforth at age 98 Joe now suffers from Post-Polio Syndrome, a hangover from the disease which causes of polio sufferer’s health to deteriorate in later life. His family story stretches well back in to the mid 1800’s


The very interesting history of Joe’s family

Jewish migrants to Britain had increased in the aftermath of two 19th-century uprisings (1831 and 1863) that forced much of Poland’s social and political elite into exile. Some of these wealthier migrants escaped with sufficient money and valuables to be able to start up in business in their new country. Common followings were pawn broking, moneylending, jewellers, glaziers, clothiers, and tailoring. Occupations which they may well have already been involved in in their home countries.

A local Jewish group was founded around 1846 in Tynemouth & North Shields,  but there was no synagogue and religious services were carried out in their own homes.  There were only a very few Jewish families with some of the earliest names being Cohen, Merkel, Marcus, Jackson, Saltman, Sheckman, and Lotinger.

Joseph Moses  FISHER (Fiszher or Fischer)   (Generation 1) 

Joseph Moses Fisher was probably the first of the Fisher family in North Shields – Originally arriving in North Shields somewhere between 1855 and 1865 he was born 1845/1849  in Russian controlled Poland possibly in Krakow . He also had an older brother, David Morris Fisher who was born about 1841 in Poland. David was first recorded in North Shields on the 1881 Census., aged 40, married, to  Mary (or Mina or Minnie). Their father was Moses Jacob Fisher.

Joseph Moses Fisher  was a  Jeweller (Gold) – Pawnbroker – and Dealer in Fancy Goods.  He was in North Shields before 1869 since he was installed as a Freemason that year having arrived some years prior to this probably after 1851 and perhaps with his parents, although it has not been possible to find references to him earlier than 1871, the year after his marriage.

Joseph Moses married  Barbara Cohen  who was born 1857 at Winschoten in Holland.  Barbara was a daughter of  Izak Meyer Cohen & Barbara Jonas Israel.  Izak , also from Winschoten,  was a pawnbroker, & ship’s chandler in North Shields . The marriage was in Tynemouth, North Shields in 1870.

Winschoten is a city with a population of 18,518 in the municipality of Oldambt in the northeast of the Netherlands. It is the largest city in the region of Oldambt in the province of Groningen which has 38,213 inhabitants. Winschoten received its city rights in 1825.

The Meyer Cohen & Co.  Pawnbrokers and Jewellers  Shop
55, Prudhoe Street, North Shields
Believed to be Joseph Moses Fisher and Barbara

Joseph Moses FISHER & Barbara  had 7 children two of which died either in childbirth or soon thereafter.

Moses (Monie)Joseph FISHER b.14/6/1872 Q3 (or 1873)   d.1965

Flora ( Florrie)             FISHER   1873–1973

Myer                            FISHER   1876 – died Dec 1876

Leah                            FISHER   1882–

Henrietta                     FISHER   1883–1970 

Jacques (Jack)             FISHER   1886–1965

Isaac Albert (Bertie)   FISHER   1891 Q3 – died Dec 1891

Forming A Synagogue

Joseph Moses Fisher was installed as a Freemason in North Shields at St. George’s Lodge in 1869. In 1870 a house was rented at 29, Linskill Street in North Shields for the purpose of forming a synagogue for their religious gatherings and services.

29 Linskill Street   –  News Guardian Friday,   16th Sep.2016
An early view of the building Looking back…at the synagogue | News Guardian

On the 1871 census  Joseph M FISHER,  wife Barbara & M. J. Fisher are now living at  14, Linskill Street, North Shields.  Joseph is shown as a jeweller an M. J. Fisher (female) aged just 13 is listed as a domestic servant. ?   It is not known who she was but almost surely a family member. Their home is close to the future synagogue, in the same street.


A single congregation was formed together with South Shields. Mr. Fisher was the treasurer .  A temporary school was held at South Shields with about 40 children attending.  The Linskill premises were reconstructed  to form a proper synagogue in 1876. The local Jewish community was never very large with around 100 people altogether.


The new synagogue at N.Shields was opened on the 23rd March 1876 by the Rev.Harris from Newcastle , with the Rev. Mr. Philippstein as officiating minister . A Dinner was held that evening at the Odd Fellows Hall, Saville St. West’ Present were Chairman Meyer Barczynski a ships chandler . Joseph Fisher & Herman Barczynski  both vice chairmen,  and Mr. Meyer Cohen was MC

Shields Daily News 23 March 1876 .
The celebratory dinner after the opening of the new Synagogue


            “The Synagogue is quite small,  holding a maximum of around 70 people being formed from two small rooms. There is no gallery but just a small rear part for ladies.  A school is on the ground floor with just 12 children attending from about 14 families. “

In 1881 we find Joseph Moses Fisher, a jeweller / tobacconist, with wife Barbara & their children  and  a visitor  Nina Eicholz, 40, who is a clothier/tailor from Holland. They are living at 71,Clive Street, North Shields which runs along the riverside just behind the waterfront buildings , well placed to service the needs of the mariner’s who come and go from the Quay.

Joseph seems to have succeeded well in business and gathers more shops to his business.

1883 Kelly´s Directory of Newcastle (North Shields)
Joseph Fisher Pawnbroker 59,North St.  also Minnie Eichholz at 18,Church Street.

In Kelly’s Directory of 1883 Joseph is shown as a pawnbroker at 59,North Street and Minnie Eichholz  also a pawnbroker at 18,Church Street and a relative of Joseph.

By  1891 census we learn that the Fisher family are still living at 71, Clive Street. 

Joseph M FISHER now 42 is living  with his wife – Barbara, 39 & their 5 children Moses Joseph 19, a Pawnbroker’s Manager, &  Flora 17,  Leah 8, Henrietta 7, and little brother Jacques, aged 4 . A nephew Lipman Hush  aged 19 and  a medical student is with them on census night.

A theft at Fisher’s Clive Street

Shields Daily News 14 December 1892

The news item above in 1892 shows a theft by Agnes Cummings from Joseph Moses Fisher Tobacconist & Watchmaker of Clive Street and also from Hermann Bagger, a hardwareman. Agnes had a string of 48 convictions for various offences.  She received two months on each count to run concurrently.

A Quote from     “Remembering the Past”

“ ………Father in Work    ………..nearly all the fishermen were heavy drinkers and my father was no exception.  When he went back to work on Monday his suit would go straight into the pawnshop until the next settling time  ”

Father in Work – Remembering the Past

A quote showing how the working people in Victorian times (and later) very much depended on their pawnbroker for their survival.

Money was very tight at that time . This is the probable root source of the nursery rhyme expression “pop goes the weasel”.    The weasel was the coat and popping was pawning.

[ ‘weasel & stoat’ is Cockney rhyming slang for coat ].

Shields Daily News 06 February 1893  
part of a hearing Moses Fisher had taken pledges of stolen property from three accused
Fisher’s advert in Shields Daily News 18 July 1893
An advert in Shields Daily News 21 March 1894   18,Church Way, N.Shields
Newcastle Evening Chronicle 02 June 1894
A seaman in trouble for pawning stolen property at Fishers Shop

Being involved in court cases was not uncommon for those in the pawn broking business since the criminal element attempted to off load their ill-gotten stolen goods at the pawnshops.

Shields Daily News 02 August 1894
Theft of gold rings at Fishers, Church Way
Shields Daily News 02 May 1898    

Joe Fisher lives at Alma Place, North Shields
A Fire at his Shop at 61,Howdon Rd.  –  Joseph Moses Fisher is luckily insured.

Joseph Moses Fisher  died  on 20th Aug 1898.

He had been treasurer for the North Shields Jewish congregation for many years and latterly was also Secretary for marriages.

Shields Daily News 22 August 1898 

A masonic funeral for Joseph Moses Fisher

“The Brethren sang the masonic hymn” As they commonly do, the Freemasons turned out in large numbers for Joseph Moses’ funeral, singing their masonic hymn at the close of the ceremony. The Masonic hymn text is a devotional prose-poem entitled “Hymn to the sun” Addresses were given by Rev. Mr. Scheff of North Shields and by the Rev. Mr. Rosenbaum of  Newcastle.

Photograph taken by Peter Gatoff. Indexed and uploaded to Flickr as part of the Lahav Jewish Heritage project (a project funded by a bequest to Newcastle City Council by the Lahav Marital Trust in memory of Ron and Kath Lahav).
Photograph shared with thanks to ‘Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’


Joseph M. Fisher

Died: 20th Aug 1898

Hebrew – Died: 2 Elul 5658

On the 1901 census Barbara Fisher, now a widow is head of the household and a pawnbroker, resident at Alma House, North Shields. She is living with her son Jacques, now aged 14 who is a  pawnbroker’s apprentice,  most likely in the family business, and daughters Leah, 18 and Henrietta 17. The two girls are not shown as employed. There is also one servant, Elizabeth Legg  who is 30 years old .

By  1911 Barbara is living with her son Jacques Fisher who is single aged 24.  Jacques is now a Secretary at the family Pawn broking Company. They have one general servant, Margaret Chambers, and they have now moved to 12, Otterburn Terrace, in Jesmond.

Barbara Fisher (neé Cohen)  died   18 Feb 1935

Moses (Monie) Joseph FISHER (Generation 2a )

Barbara’s eldest son,  Moses Joseph, was born in 1872 at North Shields . Moses was also known as ‘Monie’. Moses also worked within the  family business and was a Pawnbroker/ jeweller/ and general dealer in fancy goods.

The nickname “Monie” was found at various places on the internet and also on the householder return for the 1911 census. It is not a common nickname foe Moses.

1911 census showing the name “Monie”


Moses Joseph was appointed secretary for Jewish marriage registration (Registrar) at North Shields in place of his late father ( 28 Jul 1899).

Freemason’s – St.George’s Lodge, North Shields
Moses Joseph Fisher – Initiation 4th April 1899

Moses Joseph Fisher married Annie May Jacobs at the Synagogue in Glasgow  on 29th Nov 1899 .   Annie May Jacobs was daughter of Charles Jacobs, a clothier and Rika (Regina) Jacobs neé Alexander born  Burslem, Staffordshire about 1876.

Moses Joseph Fisher & Annie May Jacobs  had just one child , a daughter,  Mabel Barbara  Fisher,  who was born on  1st Oct 1900.

After the death of his father in 1899 Moses Joseph assumed  the reins of Fishers Company along with his mother Barbara. They lived in Alma Place in North Shields. On 1901 on the census Moses and Annie, married just 2 years ago, now have a 6 months old baby daughter Mabel B Fisher  & a single general servant , Jane Edwards . They are now at  at  31, Alma Place, North Shields, not far from Moses’s mother Barbara who is at Alma House, North Shields . Living with her are her son Jacques, now aged 14 and a  pawnbroker’s apprentice.

A pair of Fisher’s advertisements from 1904

Shields Daily News 25 November 1904

Fisher’s are at 18,Church Way & 61,Howdon Rd., North Shields


The Shields Daily News for 15 August 1906 reports:    “SHOP DOOR ROBBERY”.

At North Shields Police Court today John Scott and Henry Newstead two young men belonging to South Shields were charged with having stolen from the shop-door of Messrs. M.J. Fisher and Coy, Church Way, on the 14th inst., a silk handkerchief valued at 1/11.

Accused said they were out of employment and hungry. This was their 7th appearance and they were committed to prison for 14 days”.

John Scott Photograph credit Tyne and Wear Museums
Henry Newstead Photograph credit Tyne and Wear Museums


Fishers establish a Wholesale Jewellery Company in Newcastle  at 28, Nun Street.


Moses Joseph is now managing director of the pawnbroking/ jewellery business. He and wife Annie have now moved nearer the city living at 38,Queens Road, Jesmond, Newcastle.  Daughter Mabel, now 10 years old is still at school.. On census day they have a young visitor staying, Elsie Levy aged 7. Probably a relative.


Barbara Fisher meanwhile is living with her son Jacques 24, who is unmarried and is Secretary at the Pawn broking Company. There is one general servant. They are all now  living  at 12, Otterburn Terrace, Jesmond.

Newcastle Evening Chronicle 23 January 1913
Court case – theft from Fishers, Nun Street
Jacques Fisher a partner –  28 Nun Street

Another court case in 1913 reported in the Chronicle.  Alfred Oxendale , who had worked for Fishers as a traveller and salesman for a year at a wage of £2 a week with travelling expenses.  Thomas Trigg had worked for them as a door porter.  Oxendale was charged with theft of watches , cutlery and jewellery worth £15  9s  2d  and Trigg was charged for receiving stolen goods  worth £6  9s  6d knowing them to be stolen.  

Newcastle Journal 16 May 1917

This article in the Newcastle Journal in 1917 reports on a case where Fisher’s were summoned for serving customers after permitted hours . They were still open “ 10 minutes “ after the time allowed.    – fined 20 shillings

Shields Daily News 20 August 1921 various offers from:
Fisher Ltd.,  Pawnbroker’s & General Salesmen
This advert reveals that Fisher’s were now trading at
19,Saville St.,  18,Church Way   and 61, Howdon Rd., North Shields

“The Paa’n Shop”

Fishers Pawnshop Howdon Road,    1940
Suits are hung outside through the week and are ‘bought
back’ for the upcoming weekend

Fisher’s Pawnshop was at 61, Howdon Rd., on the corner of Thrift St. from 1901   The Ex-servicemen’s club was built here later and has for years been  known locally as “The Paa’n Shop” , a corruption of the word ‘pawnshop’ probably derived from the local pronunciation of the word.

Tynemouth Ex Serviceman’s Club   
aka “The Paa’n Shop”   in later years

Moses Joseph Fisher died  on 6th May 1965 where he was in the Holy Rood Nursing Home in Middlesborough. at the time of his death. He was buried in Newcastle at Heaton Cemetery, Jewish Section.

Jacques   FISHER (Generation2b ) 

The youngest son of Joseph Moses Fisher & Barbara Cohen Jacques was born in 1887 at Tynemouth, N.Shields . He too was  a Pawnbroker / jeweller and general dealer in fancy goods in the family business.

Jacques married Sybil Jacobs  (b.26/3/1888 ) at Glasgow on 6th Nov 1912 .

Sybill’s parents were Charles Jacobs, a retired clothier and his wife Regina (Rika) neé Alexander .  Sybil was also a younger sister of Annie May Jacobs who had married Jacques older brother Moses Joseph.. Sybil’s Mother, Regina Alexander was the daughter of Leopold Alexander & Sibilla Gutentag and was born in Dusseldorf 14th Feb.   about 1852. Her parents had married in 1875 at Chorlton in Lancashire..


The electoral roll for Newcastle of 1914 shows that Jacques has now moved to 8, Grosvenor Place, Jesmond   Sybil is not yet listed here as being a woman she can not yet vote.  Women’s suffrage did not end until 1918 when women were finally allowed to vote.

1920 Electoral roll Jacques and Sybil are at 8,Grosvenor Place, Jesmond

By 1920 with the wholesale business in Newcastle Jacques and Sybil are now residing in Jesmond at 8 Grosvenor Place.  Sybil, now able to vote, also appears on the roll. Jacques and Sybil had two children , a boy and a girl, Joseph Charles & Rike (Rica)


By the outbreak of World War 11 in 1939  as shown on the 1939 Register Jacques and Sybil are still at Grosvenor Place but Moses Joseph Fisher now 63 years old,  and Jacques older brother is also living with them listed as . A General Dealer (Fancy Goods)

1939 Register Jacques and Sybil are at 8 Grosvenor Place, Jesmond
The redacted entry beneath Jacques’ name is possibly for Joseph C Fisher or Rica

1942 – 46 

The Fisher company was still active throughout  the war and was now located at 17-18, Nun Street.

Ncle. Evening Chronicle 23 Oct 1942     
Sunday Sun (Newcastle) 25 August 1946

Company address now is 17-18, Nun Street, a few doors up the street.

Sybil Fisher, died 17th March 1961, aged 61 years …….and Jacques (Jack)  Fisher, died just 4 years later on 15th November 1965 aged 71 years

By 1948  Joseph Charles Fisher had returned from the war and was now working within the jewellery business. Joe Fisher now aged 98, still lives in Gosforth with his wife Christine . He spent much of his time during the Covid lockdown writing his personal story for his family and also penning a regular Blog. ©David Wardell

“Facets Of A Diamond Geezer” 
by Joseph C Fisher M.B.E

With grateful thanks for the assistance provided me by Joseph Fisher

Discovering Heritage Discovering, sharing and re-telling the stories of yesteryear!

More on Joe Fisher A Real Diamond Geezer

Discovering Heritage Joe Fisher header image and quote

2 thoughts on “Joe Fisher Family Story

Leave a Reply