Levi Barent Cohen

Joseph Jacobs, Goodman Lipkind


English financier and communal worker; born at Amsterdam 1740; died in England 1808; son of Barent Cohen, a wealthy merchant of Amsterdam.1 He removed to England with his brother, and by 1778 had developed a large business in London. He was naturalized in 1798, and became known eventually as one of the leading merchants of the city.

As a communal worker he labored with much public spirit in Jewish affairs; was one of the founders and the first president of the Bread, Meat, and Coal Charity, and of the Jews’ Hospital; and filled successively all the synagogal offices of the Duke’s Place congregation.

Cohen was twice married; and his chief claim to remembrance lies in having been the founder of the Cohen family in England. Through the distinguished marriages which his children contracted, nearly all the leading Jewish families in England are connected with him. His daughter Hannah became the wife of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the founder of the firm in New Court; the second daughter, Judith, married Sir Moses Montefiore; the third daughter, Jessie, married Myer Davidson; and by the alliances of his other children further marriages were made with the families of Goldsmid, Samuel, and Lucas.2

1Cohen’s first name is spelled “Levi” by The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History (2011) but not by The Jewish Encyclopedia (1901­–6), which spells it “Levy.” VJWP uses Palgrave’s spelling.

2This article was originally published in The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume II, in 1902.


Works Consulted

The Leisure Hour, Aug. 1886.

L. Wolf, Diary of Lady Montefiore, 1902, reprinted from Jew. Chron. June 13, 1902.

Cat. Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh. 1888, p. 69.