Bernard Cohen 1836- 1904
Born in Altona, Holstein in Germany in 1836, Bernard Cohen was the son of Mathilde. In 1850, he began to work at Dehn and Meilchior, Hamburg, later moving to their Manchester office, where he became a merchant dealer in cloth. In 1860 he moved over the Pennines and set himself up as Bradford based merchant, in the city which was ever expanding due to international trade in textiles and associated products.
In 1868, he became a senior partner in the firm Charles Semon and Co. He started working for them in 1860 as manager of the Bradford Branch, dealing in yarns, stuffs, worsted and woollens on a large scale. Whilst living in Bradford, he lived in Boothroyd, Manningham.
After the death of Charles Semon in 1877 (of which he was the informant), he became the sole surviving partner of the company, and made it his duty to carry on the far reaching and extraordinary work of his predecessor.
He too like Semon became a member of he Council of the Chamber Of Commerce in Bradford. He also had links to the Technical College, which lead the academic foundations for both Bradford College and the University of Bradford of today.
Bernard Cohen died on December 1st 1904, aged 68.
On 10th March 1900, Jacob and Florence Moser celebrated 25 years of marriage. Bernard Cohen along with 21 other signatories wished them well on their anniversary, and presented the couple with a splendidly illustrated manuscript. Other notable people out of the 22 male synagogue members and friends were Moritz Rothenstein, who was the father of the great artists William Rothenstein and Albert Rutherston, the Jeweller Louis Arensberg, Jacob Moser’s brother, Emile, Berthold Reif and the Rabbi himself Joseph Strauss.
On the left hand section, below a small portrait which is a photograph of Jacob Moser, the full text of the manuscript document transcribed below reads as follows:
Mr. & Mrs. Moser 10th March 1875 – 10th March 1900
We the undersigned, on behalf of the Bradford Congregation of British and Foreign Jews, desire to convey to you our heartfelt congratulations on the Twentyfifth anniversary of your wedding day.
Our hearts overflow with deepest gratitude for the noble endeavours and good works with which you have graced our city and congregation.
It is our fervent prayer that you may be spared by benign Providence for many more years to come within our midst and that the silver thread may be lengthened and strengthened into the golden cord.
The right hand section is transcribed below. The beautifully decorated manuscript of the original shows a photographic portrait of Florence Moser, above the elaborately calligraphed text, which reads:
Your good and noble deeds will live in the memory of all, never to be forgotten, and with the words of the Psalmist we say of you Mr. Moser:
BLESSED IS HE THAT CONSIDERETH THE POOR, and with the words of the Proverbs we say to you Mrs. Moser: MANY DAUGHTERS HAVE DONE VIRUOUSLY, BUT THOU EXCELLEST THEM ALL.
We ask you to accept this address as a small token of our high esteem and gratitude.
M (Morris) Gottheil
M (Moritz) Rothenstein
Charles (Von) Halle
Ability Walheimer? (By the now the signatures are becoming increasingly illegible)
M (Morris) Furstenheim (Honourable Secretary)
A biography from the series “Men of the Period, The Records of a Great Country: Portraits and Pen Pictures of Leading Men”, 1897 from a page in the book “Bradford Portaits”. (The Biographical Publishing Company, London).
Mr Bernard Cohen, the senior partner in the old established and prosperous firm of Charles Semon & Co., was born in Altona (Holstein), and was educated at a private school there. He commenced his business life in 1850, with Messrs. B.A. Dehn & Melchior, in Hamburg, and four years later joined the Manchester office of this house; but in 1860 he became connected with Charles Semon & Co., entering the firm as Manager of the Bradford branch. In 1868 he became a partner. The firm deals very extensively in yarns, stuffs, worsted and woollens, occupying very large premises. It was founded by Messrs. Charles Semon and John Siltzer, under the title of Semon, Siltzer & Co.; the former, however, temporally retired, embarking in banking business in London. A few years later, however (in 1858), witnessed his return to Bradford, when he inaugurated the business. He was soon afterwards, joined by Mr. Cohen, and Mr. Sonnenthal joined them in 1872. Mr Semon’s death occurred in 1877, after which Mr. Cohen and Mr Sonnenthal continued in partnership. In 1894 Mr. Sonnenthal died, when Mr. Cohen became sole surviving partner. The death of Mr. Semon was a great loss to Bradford. He was elected twice to the Mayoral chair, and was a ruty Lieutenant of the County. His generosity to Bradford gained him the respect and kindly feelings of all the inhabitants. He presented the corporation with the Semon Convalescent Home at Ilkley, which he built himself. Taking an extract from “Ardworth’s Historical Notes of the Bradford Corporation, 1881” it was there stated that “Mr. Semon, who had been unanimously elected to the Mayoral office, an honour much appreciated by the foreign merchants of Bradford, although a German by birth, he became a naturalized Englishman while in early manhood, and came to England while the worsted trade was still in its infancy. From that period until shortly before his death he was once of the most active commercial men in Bradford. As a member of the Town Council he threw himself heartily into the work, and was for some time Chairman of the Watch Committee. Upon his election as Mayor in 1854, he was the only gentleman not an Englishman who had been honoured with that distinction, and during his tenure of office the Mayoral dignity was sustained in a manner not surpassed by any of his predecessors. He was also a Justice of the Peace for both the borough and the county, and a Deputy Lieutenant of the Riding.” The trade carried on by the house is enormous. They deal in yarn, stuffs, worsted, and woollens: each of these is sufficient to form a trade in itself. The firm supply these goods to all the principal markets all over the country, and they are also exporters on a huge scale to Australia, the United States, and to the continent of Europe. Over 200 hands are employed at 25, Bolton Road, and a number of agents are in connection with the firm in London and abroad. He present premises were erected in 1877, the former ones in Church Bank having been destroyed by fire. The entire buildings are lighted by electricity. Mr Cohen is a member of the Council at the Chamber of Commerce and of the Technical College, Treasurer of the Eye and Ear Hospital and Director of the Bradford Old Bank. In the political world he is known as a Liberal Unionist, and in private life is fond of literature. Th the business he brings marked busienss ability and large organizing powers, heaps of energy, and sound principles. He is liked by all the employees, and has gained a host of friends in Bradford.