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Looking for advice/tips on researching family history (Australian Convict with German/Polish Jewish background)

I have been researching my ancestor for several years. He was sent to Australia in 1809 from Ireland.

I have found a great deal of information on him once he arrived in Australia. Things such as him being Jewish, donating money for the first Synagogue in Sydney to be built, his parents being Polish Jews.

Recently I found some info on his conviction in Ireland that sent him to Australia stating he was a German Jew. He ended up being found guilty and transported, in part because he was not granted a postponement “to call witnesses from his home town of Bedford to testify on his behalf. Furthermore, these witnesses would be of his religion and, due to observing certain Jewish rites, they would not be able to travel before 4 October.” (I looked up the dates for that year, it was Yom Kippur.)

Clearly he was a moderately observant Jew (despite being a criminal), enough to donate money to the Sydney Synagogue, be buried in the Jewish cemetery and have a headstone written in Hebrew.

I am stuck with finding any information earlier than this.

At the time of his birth (1785 approx) Poland had been partitioned by Prussia, Russia and Habsbergs.

This information could mean the part of Poland his parents were from was annexed by Prussia.

There are a number of things I’m stuck with. – How did people refer to Poland after partitioning? Was it refered to as part of Prussia/Russia etc or did people still refer to it as Poland? – Was Prussia refered to as Germany?

I’m also stuck because I cannot find any concrete information on him in the town he is alleged to live at the time of arrest (Bedford or London, UK)

As Jewish family history is an unfamiliar area of research for me, I’m not sure where to look.

I have tried Bedfordshire historical info, their Jewish history/resources are very limited.

I have also searched London records and have been in contact with someone at a London Jewish research centre and they said there aren’t any records matching his age and name.

I have spoken with the Sydney Jewish history research centre and they have mentioned he might be Sephardic due to the tradition of names (his son’s middle name is his first name). However being from Poland/Germany suggested Ashkenazi. But I really have no idea.

I am at the point where I am considering paying someone with more expertise in this area to see what they can find.

Does anyone have suggestions on: – avenues for finding information, tips on Jewish family history, etc? Basically anything that will help my search. – finding someone who specialises in this type of research and does so at request.

Having grown up being told my family were Irish Catholics, I am incredibly fascinated by this part of my family’s history that has been hidden for 150+ years.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and help.

submitted by /u/bonzzzz
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