Dutch Family Waterman

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The Waterman name has changed over the generations and was probably of German derivation. Emanuel Wascherman, born in 1701, is the direct antecedent of Levie/Levy Abraham Waterman; and Levie/Levy Abraham Waterman is the direct antecedent of me, Joseph Richard Waterman. It isn’t until we see Emanuel’s grandson, Emanuel Mendele Hartog Hirts Waterman (born in Amsterdam in 1764) that we see the Waterman name change appear for the first time.

A city register for Jews living in Amsterdam in 1851-1853 shows a married Levie Abraham Waterman living in the Rode Leeuwengang (Red Lion Walk). This was one of the slums of the Valkenburgerstraat, and one of the most notorious. The single room dwellings were extremely primitive with no plumbing and only a bucket for their ablutions! As one walked through the Red Lion alley, you would have come to a courtyard. A dozen or so families lived there in poverty. They had no curtains and if they had a toilet, it was shared. There were no streetlights and no proper road, only beaten earth or sand. Between 1851 and 1853 it would appear that they also lived in the Verversstraat and Waterlooplien.

In 1852 Levie and his wife Betsy were living in Amsterdam with their son Abraham, who was born on the 5th of July 1852 but died in 1857 aged 4 or 5 years old. Also living with them were his mother-in-law, Daatje Koekoek and a brother-in-law, Isaac Koekoek.

The name Koekoek, sometimes spelt Koekkoek, in Dutch means ‘cuckoo’, and comes from the Napoleonic invasion of the Low Countries around 1811. Napoleon Bonaparte decreed that every person must have a surname. Prior to the invasion, most people in Holland were named after their trades, which could change during their lifetime, necessitating a change of name. They could also be named after the farm where they worked or lived nearby, so if they changed their place of work then they changed their surname. Napoleon’s decree put an end to this, but many Dutch objected to it and so some gave themselves silly names like ‘Cuckoo’ in protest!

Levie Abraham Waterman’s occupation at this time was brushmaker. He married at about 26 years of age on the 10th March 1852 to the 19 year-old Betsy, who was born on 19th November 1833. Most Jews at this time were unskilled workers doing menial jobs such as brush-maker, peddler, porter, sweeper and shoeshiner.

The Waterman family that arrived from Rotterdam, Holland in September 1869 were basically economic migrants, poor and probably to some degree, illiterate and this is attested to on Levie’s and Betje’s marriage certificate that none of the women could sign the document. Also on a daughter’s birth certificate, Mary Ann, born in Spitalfields, London, on the 26th of October 1867 there is the mark of the father, Louis Waterman (Note that this information comes from the 1871 census, in which Levie’s first name has changed). The conditions that they found when they arrived in Spitalfields, London, were little better than what they had left in Amsterdam in the Waterlooplien area of the city.

Levie Abraham Waterman and his wife, Betsy Koekoek, arrived in the Spitalfields area of London sometime in early September 1869, although there is a ship’s certificate showing a 14 year old Levie Abraham Waterman sailing from the port of Rotterdam to the port of London on the ’SS Batavia’ arriving on the 6th of March 1839. Also on the certificate is a ‘nephew’, Sander Koekoek, sailing with him. It is quite possible that he could have met Betsy in London and then travelled back to her home town or village to get married, as was the custom at that time; or indeed that they met and married in Amsterdam through an arrangement, which was also a custom which is still prevalent to this day among orthodox Jews.

In the 1871 British census, Levie and Betsy and their children are all living at 17 Freeman Street, which was one of the streets that formed the Tenterground area of Spitalfields. The name Tenterground derives from the area where woven fabric that was stretched out to dry on tenter hooks. This area was settled firstly by French Protestant Huguenots exiled because of their faith prior to the Jews arriving in the middle of the 19th century. At the time of Levie’s death in 1901 they were still living at 17 Freeman St. although their children had mostly moved on.

The Jews from Holland were Ashkenazi Jews with their own traditions and Sandy’s Row synagogue, Spitalfields, was a Dutch Ashkenazi place of worship. Already living in the Spitalfields and East London areas were the Sephardim Jews, mostly from North Africa, Spain and Portugal, who had been expelled during the Spanish Inquisition. They tended to be wealthier than the Ashkenazim, and had been in the UK for several hundred years already. They somewhat looked down on the newcomers from Holland.

Levie was born on the 21st June 1825 and on his birth certificate it says he was born at No.1 Veveresstraat, Amsterdam. His parents were Abraham Emanuel Waterman and Betje Abraham Gobets, and living at that address.

Levie’s wife, Betje Koekkoek was born on the 19th November 1833 and on her birth certificate it says she was born at 7 o’clock in the morning at 11 Wagenstraat, Amsterdam. Her mother is listed as Daatje Koekkoek but no father is mentioned.

Levie was conscripted into the National Militia, No 2582 and subsequently incorporated into the 5th Infantry Regiment where after serving 6 years was properly discharged. He received a year’s dispensation to see if he would grow, as he was too short when first conscripted.

There is an article in the Jewish Chronicle dated 17/12/1880 that states:

 ‘An earnest Appeal is hereby made to the Jewish public in behalf of the following distressing case. On Sunday the 12th of December, a DISASTROUS FIRE broke out at No17 Freeman Street, Spitalfields, occupied by Mr L. Waterman, his wife and seven children, and by Mrs Grysaard, a widow with two orphan grandchildren, who have been rendered homeless and entirely destitute. One of the orphans referred to was about to be married, and had, unfortunately, her outfit utterly destroyed. None of the sufferers had their property insured, and are therefore in a most deplorable condition. Donations which will be acknowledged in this paper will be thankfully received by the following gentlemen:’

There follows a list of donators and a list of persons accepting the donations on behalf of the sufferers.

Both Levie and Betje are buried in Plashet Jewish Cemetery, East Ham, London.

At the time of her death in 1912, Betje was living with her daughter Matilda and son-in-law Joseph Koningswinter at 168 Stepney Green, Mile End, London. Her death certificate says she died in Colney Hatch Asylum.

One of Levie’s sons was Joseph Waterman, my grandfather, who I am named after, and was a tailor by trade. During the First World War he had a contract to make flying jackets for the newly formed RFC (Royal Flying Corp). There were four other brothers as well as five sisters. Joseph was born 21.07.1875 at 17 Freeman Street, London and died on 29.10.1944 at 122 Sandringham Road, Dalston, London. He married Jeanette Dribbell in London on 10.09.1901 at the Great Synagogue, London. She was born in London on 24.07.1874. and died on 28.10.1959 in London.

My father, Louis Waterman, was born on 26.05.1911 at 122 Sandringham Road, Dalston, London. His trade was a gents clothing cutter and, later, dress cutter and after war service returned to his trade in 1945. He was originally conscripted into the home guard and then into the Royal Artillery on heavy anti-aircraft batteries.

From 1939 to 1945 the Watermans lived at No.7 Brenthouse Rd, Hackney and after the War they moved to a brand new prefab, No.13 Trederwen Rd, Hackney near London fields. A failed attempt at being his own boss in a factory in Highbury in the early 50s saw him work for Mary Harnes, a dress manufacturer in Osborne street, Aldgate, which was part of the Carnegie group. A chance to move to the Jewish area of Stamford hill was taken, again, to a brand new home, a flat at No.20 Priestly close in Ravensdale Rd, Stamford hill in 1956. I had my bar mitzvah at The New Synagogue, Egerton Rd – literally in the next street.

In 1964 the Watermans left for California to join their eldest son, Ian, who had preceded them the year before with his wife, Hazel Barnes, who was American by birth. On returning from California in 1985 where both he and my mother had lived since 1964, they bought a house in Brackla, Bridgend, Wales in 1985. He died in the Princess of Wales hospital, Bridgend on 09.05.2000. He married Frances DaCosta born 02.10.1915 at 11 Brunswick Buildings, Whitechapel, London, at Stoke Newington synagogue on 05.09.1939. She died on 21.03.2003 also at the Princes of Wales hospital, Bridgend, Wales. At the time she was living at the Ewenny Care home, Bridgend. Both my parents are buried at Oystermouth Jewish cemetery, Swansea.

I have carried on the family tradition of being a tailor and trained at Barrett Street technical college 1961 to 1963 (Now called the London School of fashion and in a new building on Oxford St, London.) Prior to retiring, I worked for 17 years in HM Prison Swansea teaching inmates to sew, amongst other things, and retired in 2009.

For a more in depth history of the Jewish immigration to the Spitalfields area, the Sassienie Worldwide website is an excellent starting point.


Levie Abraham Waterman b. 21.06.1825 Amsterdam d. 29.12.1901 London

Betsy Koekoek b. 19.11.1833 Amsterdam d. 03.12.1912 London

Married: 10.03.1852 Amsterdam

Children from this marriage:

  • Abraham b. 05.07.1852 Amsterdam d. 1857
  • Hijman (Henry) b. 07.11.1856 Amsterdam d. ?
  • Fijtje (Phoebe) b. 23.12.1859 Amsterdam d. 1931 London
  • Isaac b. 16.11.1861 Amsterdam d. ?
  • Matilda b. 1864 Spitalfields London d. 22.05.1935 London
  • Mary A b. 1868 Spitalfields London d. ?
  • Eve b. 1869 Spitalfields London d. 1953 London
  • Susan b. 1874 Spitalfields London d. 26.08.1957 London
  • Joseph b. 1875 Spitalfields London d. 1944
  • Joel b. 1878 Spitalfields London d. 15.02.1946  London


Abraham Waterman b. 05.07.1852 Amsterdam d. 21.01.1857 Amsterdam


Hijman (Henry) Waterman b. 07.11.1856 Amsterdam d ?


Phoebe Waterman b.  21.03.1859 Amsterdam d. 02.10.1931 married 31.10.1883 to Emanuel Rozelaar  b. 19.04.1859 Amsterdam d. 1935.

Children from this marriage:

  • Debra (Debbie) b.1885 d. 1971
  • Louis (Levy) b. 1887 d. 1970 married 1922 to Julia Davis b. 1889 d.?
  • Amelia (Millie) b. 1889 d. 1978
  • Elisabeth (Betsy) b. 1891 d. 1913
  • Phillip (Filly) b. 1895 d.? married 1921 to Mabel Baker b.? d.?
  • Joel (Yolie) b. 1893 d. 1973 married Nancy Maraney b. 1902 d. 1989
  • Frances (Fay) b. 1897 d. married Edward Rosenberg b.1886 d. 1955
  • Joseph (Dan) b. 1899 d. 1986 married Eileen Durrell b. 1906 d.
  • Isadore (George) b. 1904 d. 1996 married Marjorie Silver b.1907 d.2006


Isaac Waterman b. 16.11.1861 Amsterdam d. ?


Matilda Waterman b. 1864 d. 1935 Spitalfields married 12.05.1887 to Joseph Koningswinter b. 1862 Amsterdam d. 05.12.1950 London.

Children from this marriage:

  • Louis b. 1890 d. 1967  married 1913 to Rose Harris  b. 1888 d. 1977
  • Maurice b. 1892 marriage 1. 1921 to Jennie Victoria Franklin
  • Maurice b. 1892 marriage 2. 1947 to Deborah Caplovitch b. 1906 d.
  • Emanuel (Manny) b. 1895 d. 1975 married 1921 Clara Harris b. 1895 d. 1982
  • Elisabeth (Bessie) b. 1898 d. ? married 1942 to Sidney Bloom b. 1896 d. 1971
  • David b. 1901 d. 1948 married 1933 to Rebecca Valentine b. 1901 d. ?


Mary Ann Waterman b. 26.10.1867 Spitalfields, London


Eve Waterman b. 1869 Spitalfields d. 1953 married 1900 to Simon Berclou b. 1876 d. 1959

Children from this marriage:

  • Kate Berclou b. 22.10.1902  d. 21.02.2001 married Phillip Davis 04.09.1928  b. 02.10.1904 d. 14.02.1974


Susan Waterman b. 1874 London d. 26.08.1957 married 24.05.1898 to Abraham Boekbinder b. 1874 d. 13.04.1963

Children from this marriage:

  • Henry b. 1899 d. 1982 married 1945 to Eva Blerman b. 1919 d. 1997
  • Susannah b. 1900 d. ?
  • Elisabeth b. 1902 d. married 1990  Sydney Lewis b. 1903 d. 1990
  • Rica b. 1917 d. 2011 married 1938 Henry Rees


Joseph Waterman b. 21.07.1875 London d. 29.10.1944 London married 10.09.1901 to Jeannette Dribbell b. 24.07.1874 d. 28.10.1959

Children from this marriage:

  • Elisabeth b. 1903 d. 1974 married Walter Millstein 01.09.1929
  • Henry (Harry) b. 1909 d. 1990 married 15.03.1941  1. Edith Younger 1941 d.1968; married 21.03.1970  2. Delsa Fifield b. 25.11.1913 d. 00.04.2003
  • Louis b. 26.05.1911 d. 09.05.2000 married 05.09.1939 Frances DaCosta b. 02.10.1915 d. 21.03.2003


Joel (Jewel) Waterman b. 1878 Spitalfields, London d. 15.02.1946


Direct line of Genealogy

Emanuel Wascherman b. 1701? d. ?

Hartog Hirts Emanuel Mendele Wascherman b. 1727 d. 10.01.1785

Emanuel Mendele Hartog Hirts Waterman b. 18.12.1764 d. ?

Abraham Emanuel Waterman b. 12.07.1800 d.10.03.1852

Levie Abraham Waterman b. 21.06.1825 d. 29.12.1901

Joseph Waterman b. 21.07.1875 d. 1944

Louis Waterman b. 26.05.1911 d. 09.05.2000

Joseph Richard Waterman b. 02.02.1945 d.


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4 Responses to “Dutch Family Waterman”

  1. Anne Orchard. Says:

    I’m the granddaughter of Louis Koningswinter, son of Matilda Waterman and Joseph Koningswinter. Louis, the oldest son, not Maurice, married Rose Harris on September 17th 1913.

  2. Anne Orchard. Says:

    Sorry, meant to say, interesting reading.

  3. Hi Anne,
    Do you have any photo’s of the Waterman clan?

    • Anne Orchard Says:

      Hi, think there’s a photo of Matilda and another of her husband Joseph Koningswinter in the possession of my cousin, will email him and ask him to scan it and email it to me. Also have memoire my Aunt Tilly wrote and will go over it and send you pertinent parts. All best, Anne

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