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Jonas is believed to have been born ca. 1820 in Alsace Lorraine, then Germany, the son of Maurice and Emilie (Picard) Reis of Paris.
He married Marian Samuel the daughter of Harriet (Israel) and Moses Samuel, on 13 August 1848 at Pilgrim Street Synagogue, Liverpool.
Jonas and Marian belong to Reis Generation One; their children belong to Reis Generation Two and are:
- Charles Lionel Reis (1849 – 1927)
- Harriet (1850 – 1915)
- Theresa (1852 – 1933)
- Arthur Montagu (1857 – 1941)
- Alphonse Louis (1860 – 1940)
Jonas Reis is the first member of the Reis family to have settled in England, as far as we can tell. He set up as a banker in partnership with Adam Spielmann.
Jonas committed suicide on the 25 March 1877 at the London and North Western Hotel, Liverpool, as a result of an overdose of laudanum, an opium based painkiller. The hotel used to be near Liverpool main railway station.
There was an inquest and the certificate attributes his suicide to ‘temporary mental derangement’. His death was reported by The Liverpool Mercury
SUICIDE OF A LIVERPOOL BANKER
LOSSES ON THE STOCK EXCHANGE
(Extracted from the Liverpool Mercury 28 March 1877 by Saul Marks)
An inquest was held yesterday, by Mr. Clarke Aspinall, touching the death of Jonas Reis, 56 years of age, bullion dealer and banker, Lord-street, who resided at 24, Newbie-terrace, Belmont-road, and who died at the North-western Hotel on Sunday.
Arthur Montagu Reis, the son of the deceased, said that his father did not return home on Saturday night last, and on Sunday morning they received through the post a pencil note. It stated, ‘My Room is in the North-western, No. 144.’ A friend of the family, on the receipt of this, went down to the hotel. Lately witness had noticed that his father did not talk, and was rather curious in his manner. He had recently had large losses on the Stock Exchange. The deceased was never in the habit of taking laudanum, and had had good health. Deceased’s losses had been going on for the last few months. He had been very much put out of the way, and constantly had his difficulties on his mind, but his family never thought of his doing such a thing as he had done.
Evidence was given as to the deceased going to the North-western Hotel on Saturday and engaging his bed, and being found in a dying condition after the sending of the note.
Dr. Gee, who was called in to the deceased on Sunday morning about 9.15, said he found him lying in his clothes in bed in a comatose condition. He had the symptoms of poisoning by opium. At his side witness saw three bottles, which had all contained laudanum. The contents of the bottles had evidently been poured into a tumbler, from which the deceased had drank. Every means were used to save the deceased’s life, but he died a little before twelve o’clock.
The verdict was that the deceased had committed suicide while labouring under temporary insanity. (For more on the inquest see below).
Jonas’s marriage certificate describes him as a ‘bullion dealer’. The certificate can be HERE (<— in PDF). The ceremony was witnessed by Saul Samuel and Edwin Louis Samuel, cousins of the bride. The latter was father of Viscount Herbert Samuel (see the Samuel Family page for more details). Below Marian (Samuel) Reis.
Jonas’s death certificate can be viewed HERE (<– in PDF).. Jonas’s will has been digitized and can be viewed HERE(<— in PDF). Jonas and family have been found on the following censuses: 1851(<— PDF), 1861 (<— PDF), and 1871 (<— PDF). Marian’s death certificate can be viewed HERE (<— in PDF). Marian’s will has been transcribed and can be read HERE (<– in PDF) Her marriage certificate to Phillip Schoeppler can be viewed HERE (<— in PDF).
Jonas was a banker / bullion dealer and went into partnership with Adam Spielmann. His probate indicates that he left 500 pounds. In the book ‘The Early History of the Spielmann Family …’ written for private circulation in 1951 by Adam’s grandson (Percy Edwin Spielmann), the following reference is made to Jonas Reis:
‘The only partner of the Firm [Adam Spielmann & Co.] of whom there is any trace was Jonas Reis, of French origin; his father was Maurice Reis (1784 -1855) and his mother Emilie Picard, of Paris (1784 -1860). He had been a judge in Alsace-Lorraine, and is remembered as having forfeited a legacy by refusing to return there. He married Marian Samuel, whose father was Moses, the brother of Louis Samuel the father of the Marian who had married Adam Spielmann. [In other words Jonas Reis and Adam Spielmann had married first cousins with the same name (Marian Samuel)]. It is thus clear how these two men became acquainted and how opportunity arose for a connection in business. When Adam started in Liverpool in 1845, he was 31 years old and Jonas was 22, so there is nothing intrinsically impossible for such an association, but there is most unfortunately no record of it. Jonas Reis died on 25th March 1877 at 24 Newly Terrace, Belmont Road, Liverpool, at the age of 57, and was buried at Dean Road Cemetery (see photo below). His life was passed in Liverpool as banker, starting at Stanley Buildings, 12 Bath Street in 1851; and the esteem in which he was held is shown in the eulogy spoken on the occasion of the setting of his tomb-stone in December of the year of his death.’ pp. 16-17.
Further Notes on the inquest on Jonas Reis:
SUICIDE OF A LIVERPOOL BANKER
HEAVY LOSSES ON THE STOCK EXCHANGE
(Extracted from a supplement to the Liverpool Journal 31 March 1877 by Saul Marks)
On Saturday night, Mr, Jonas Reis, a banker and money-changer, of Lord-street, Liverpool, and residing in Newbie-terrace, Everton, went to the North-Western Hotel, Liverpool, and engaged a bedroom. The next morning Mr. Reis’s family received a note from him, stating that in consequence of heavy losses on the Stock Exchange he had resolved to destroy himself. Several members of the family at once proceeded to the hotel, where they were horrified to find that the unfortunate gentleman had fulfilled his intention, having taken a quantity of laudanum. He was found in bed in an insensible state, and did not recover consciousness. He died about noon on Sunday, in spite of the efforts of Dr. Long and Dr. Gee, who were summoned as soon as the painful fact was made known. The deceased gentleman was a German, and of the Jewish religion, and was highly respected and widely known.
Mr. C. Aspinall, the borough coroner, held an inquest yesterday afternoon on the body of Jonas Reis, fifty-six years of age, bullion dealer and banker, Lord-street, who resided at 24, Newbie-terrace, Belmont-road.
Arthur M. Reis, the son of the deceased, said that his father did not return home on Saturday night last, and on Sunday morning they received through the post a pencil note. It stated ‘My room is in the North-Western. No. 144.’ On the receipt of the note, a friend of the family went down to the hotel. Lately the witness noticed that his father did not talk, and was rather curious. He had recently had large losses on the Stock Exchange. The deceased was never in the habit of taking laudanum ; and had had good health. The deceased’s losses had been going on for the last few months. He had been very much put out of the way, and constantly had his difficulties on his mind, but his family never thought of his doing a thing as he had done.
Mr. Adolphe Breslauer, shipping and insurance agent, a friend of the deceased, said that he was at the house of Mr. Reis on Sunday morning when the note arrived, and he at once went to the hotel. He found the deceased in bed, insensible. He lived three hours, and expired in the presence of witness. He was never able to speak during that time. Witness had remarked that during the past six months he had been unusually quiet. He had frequently complained of the dulness of business, and witness supposed the change in his condition was due to his having incurred some very great losses of the Stock Exchange.
Mr. A. M. Reis said that it was very likely that the heavy losses he had sustained had made him distressed.
Miss Annie Langler, bookkeeper at the hotel, said deceased went there about a quarter-past eleven on Saturday night, and asked for a bed. A few words of ordinary conversation passed between them, but the deceased seemed disinclined to talk. He remarked that he was very cold, and she advised him to have a fire in his room. He replied emphatically, ‘No’ but afterwards he returned and asked that a fire should be lit in the room.
Catherine Evans, chambermaid, said that she thought the deceased looked rather queer. She might not have thought so had it not been for the subsequent fatal occurrence. Deceased asked for a key for his room door, as the keys in the doors were fixed ones, only to be used from the inside. She told him he might get an independent key at the bar, but he said nothing more about it.
Mary Ann Robertson, another chambermaid, stated that she found the deceased lying on his bed at about half-past eight in the morning, with all his clothes on except the boots, evidently very ill. The door was not locked. There were bottles and a glass beside the bed.
Dr. Gee gave evidence to the effect that he was called to attend the deceased, in conjunction with Drs. Long and Irwin. They found him in a perfectly comatose state, from which they were unable to rouse him. It was evident that he had died from the effects of laudanum.
The Coroner summed up. He said that if the jury were of opinion that the deceased died from poison administered by his own hand, it would be for them to consider his state of mind. It was argued by some people that all acts of self- destruction indicated mental derangement ; but he did not subscribe to that doctrine, nor did the law recognise such a theory. The law distinctly recognised that there was such a thing as wilful self-murder, and it provided consequences for murders of that sort. The mere fact that a man took his own life, intended to take it, was not proof, by any manner of means, that he had reason enough to deliberate in a really sane way what he was about, because, of course, the intention to take life might be clear enough, and yet there might be present a large amount of mental irresponsibility which marked the act of a person in unsound mind. Minds were subject to temporary derangements. He could not give the jury any very defined or accurate reason why it should be so in this case or in any other case, and why one man should be affected in one way and one in another ; but, still, minds were, as it were, deranged from time to time by a variety of causes, and one man’s mind would be overbalanced by small things, another not without very great pressure. It was very difficult to tell what kind of pressure a man had been subject to. Reticence might indicate a large amount of suffering, and anxiety and trouble might be all the more acute because of such reticence. The more you kept a real trouble, or even an imaginary trouble, to yourself, the more it acted upon your system and led to evil results. So that we really could not tell what this poor gentleman had suffered, or what led to his suffering, although they were told that transactions in business, he not having been at all successful, were preying upon him a good deal ; and it might be that it was not so much an avaricious love of money that disturbed him as a thoroughly honourable and upright dislike to being put into a position not to act by his friends as he would wish to do in engagements that he had entered into them with. He could quite understand that a man of great integrity of purpose would be more disturbed in his mind if he understood he was going to involve other people in losses than he would be by any amount of loss which he would suffer for alone. Was it a case of mental derangement ? The jury were quite aware that the amount of mental derangement which ought to be betrayed at an assize trial in order to save a person in whose behalf a plea of insanity was put forth, should be very definitely considered, but in a court of this kind they naturally felt that if they had any definite, tangible, clear proof, though there might not be an excess of it, that the mind had been unduly strained or disturbed, the feeling would be to give an open verdict, and so not to grieve, but rather to mitigate, if they justly and honourably could, the painful consideration of persons interested in what they had to do.
The jury, after a few minutes’ consideration, found that the deceased had committed suicide while labouring under temporary insanity.
Jonas Reis’s tombstone is shown below. In 2007 the Reis family, assisted by Saul Marks, launched an appeal to have the obelisk restored to its original position on top of the gravestone along with a general clean up around the grave. This was completed on March 27th almost 130 years to the day of Jonas’s death. Deane Road Cemetery where Jonas is buried has established a presence on the web which can be viewed here. It includes a biography of Jonas Reis by Richard Hudson
Sacred to the memory of Jonas Reis
who departed this life March 25th 1877
a devotedly attached kind & loving husband
an affectionate indulgent father
a sincere & true friend
charitable & noble hearted to all who needed
renowned for his talents highly cultivated mind
refined soul in the midst of health & happiness
snatched from the home & hearts of his
sorrowing wife and children may his soul rest in peace
Below Marian’s grave at the Jewish cemetery, Willesden, London. She was interred there on 18th June 1900.
Sacred to the Memory MARIAN SCHOEPPLER, BELOVED WIFE OF PHILIP SCHOEPPLER, WIDOW OF JONAS REIS, AND DAUGHTER OF THE LATE MOSES SAMUEL, BOTH OF LIVERPOOL. WHO DEPARTED THIS LIFE 16TH JUNE 1900. 19TH SIVAN 5660 SHE WAS A WOMAN OF CHOICE GIFTS
AN EXEMPLARY WIFE A TENDER HEARTED AND AFFECTIONATE MOTHER AND BELOVED BY ALL WHO KNEW HER. THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED BY HER SORROWING HUSBAND
AND HER CHILDREN. MAY HER SOUL REST IN PEACE —Hebrew inscription-.
Below, Harriet and Theresa the two daughters of Jonas and Marian.
[To return to Reis Family Introduction and a list of the entire Reis family click here]