Why Walford?


It was common in former times for Jewish families to change their names. There are many reasons for that,

My own Jewish family was originally Moses, but during the nineteenth century different branches of the family changed their name, some to Moss, some to Morse, some to Beddington, and my own family changed to Walford.

Samuel Jacob Eliezer Zessel Moses, also with the name Wintzenheimer attached somewhere, was born in London in about 1808; his parents were Jacob ben Eliezer Wintzenheimer, and Clara bat Lazi Jonas who was Jacob’s first wife. Samuel had at least two sisters and four brothers, who changed their names to Moss. Samuel stayed as Moses and his thirteen children by his wife Rosetta were born with that name. Rosetta was another Moses, Samuel’s cousin and her brothers changed their names to Beddington.

Mr Moses, Samuel or maybe his father Jacob

Samuel’s son Louis was born in 1845 in Tasmania where the family had travelled to, five years before, to begin a new life as traders and merchants. At some point during his years in Tasmania  Louis, my great-grandfather, and his brothers, Edward, Ernest, Lionel and Howard changed their name to Walford.

Why Walford? I guess I will never know. The only clue is that one of the first Jewish settlers to Tasmania then known as Van Dieman’s Land, was a convict called Barnard Walford. Barnard had been born in Vienna and moved to London where he lived a precarious life and was eventually arrested in 1791 for stealing a petticoat and transported to the colonies, the usual punishment at that time. Barnard eventually became a free man in Tasmania and he and his wife ran a number of pubs. He was dead by the time my Moses family arrived, but his children were prominent members of the Jewish community in Hobart.

There was a family rumour that a Mr Walford was a member of the same Masonic Lodge as Samuel which was why Samuel chose that name for his children, but that sounds a little far-fetched.

So why Walford? Why did my great-grandfather change from being Louis Frederick Moses to Louis Frederick Walford? I guess I’ll never know!


  1. Mike

    Interesting stuff. I too am Jewish and the family name of Fiveson was no doubt changed when my ancestors left Lithuania. There are many variations of my name, and Fiveson appears to be the simplest.
    I believe you are my sister, Lois, and that makes me happy.


    1. Lois

      Thank you! He definitely was Walford but we don’t know why he and his brothers used that name – it is very likely he was in a Lodge so maybe that’s where he got the name from! Thank you!! brilliant idea!!


  2. Jeremy Nathan

    Lois, The man in your portrait is Louis Frederick Moses (1843-1895), perhaps the eldest brother to change his name to Walford. Howard Walford, one of the youngest sons married Lucy Straus who was the sister of my great-grandmother Mary Florence Sington (born Straus). But Howard (and Frederick) were both descendants of Hyam Nathan (1743-1824) as am I. Alfred, the first son of Samuel Zessel and Blanche Retzel (<Rachel) Moses, kept the name Moses. I don't know exactly when the family changed their surname to Moses, but would very much like to know. Retzel Moses's mother Esther Moses (wife of Henry Tsebi Moses) was the sister of my g-g-g-grandmother Sarah H Nathan (1787-1837), the wife of Nathan Lion Nathan (1783-1850). Regards, Jeremy Nathan

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Hello Jeremy, Louis Frederick was my great-grandfather! We must be distant cousins. Hyam Nathan, I think was also my ancestor, through Rosetta Blanche Moses who was married to Samuel Moses; her grandfather was Hyam.
      I am intrigued to know why some of the Moses brothers changed their name to Walford – while they were in Tasmania. I know there was a family of Walfords descended from Barnard Walford a man originally from Austria who was transported to Van Dieman’s Land but whether there was any connection with him and our family I have no idea.


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