The Crook Family: From Poland to Brighton

Woolf Crook came from Poland to London’s East End around 1870 and he was a tailor.  Woolf’s parents were Joseph and Irel Dewohre Kruk from Russian Poland. The family surname may have originally been Kruk, but the family name changed to become Crook. Rebecca Laserson or Lazerson (later Crook) his later wife, was originally from Russia.

Woolf and Rebecca married and moved to London. In London, they resided in Whitechapel, where the first two children, Solomon (‘Sid’) and Abraham (‘Abe’), were born ( Goodman Fields, London).

The family later moved to Brighton in 1894 where five further children were born: Minnie (1894-1967), Elias (‘Eli’) (1897-1966), Charles (1898-), Irel ‘Dora’ Deborah (1905-1973) and David (1907-1989). In 1894, Woolf was listed as a master tailor residing at 131 Queens Park Road, Brighton. Woolf Crook and the family received British citizenship in 1905.

The 1911 census gives an idea of the Crook household at the time, which resided at 77 Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton. As previously mentioned, Wolf Crook was a tailor. This census shows other members of the household also took up this profession and most likely worked with Woolf. Abraham was aged 18 in 1911 and working as a tailor. Minnie, aged 16, was a tailoress.

The 1911 census also lists two boarders living in the Crook household. Balia Ellison and Sam Delovitz are both listed as Russian. Sam’s occupation is also tailor, likely working with the Crook family.

1911 Census courtesy of ancestry.co.uk

Solomon, Wolf’s son is not listed in the family home on the 1911 Census. Solomon married Jennie Parker in Brighton in November 1909. The couple had a son, Henry ‘Harry’ Jacob Crook in 1910. By that point, Solomon and Jennie lived with Jennie’s parents, Henry and Elizabeth Parker. Baby Henry Crook was 9 1/2 months at the date of 1911 census. Also registered at the same address Nellie Ford who was a service help. She was age 54.

Abraham married Annie, whose surname we cannot find, at The Great Synagogue in London on 29th December 1913. At that time, Annie lived at 262 Burdelet Road, London (Marriage Register. Oct-Dec 1913 vol.1 page 84). They had a second child Josephine in 1916 who was registered blind.

During the First World War, the three brothers Abraham, Solomon and Elias joined the Royal Flying Corps. The Royal Flying Corps was later renamed the Royal Airforce.

Abraham enlisted with the Royal Airforce in 1917. In the military, he was employed as a tailor with 46 squadron both in France and on the home front. He retained this role until the end of the war. Royal Airforce records list Abraham as a ‘traveller’ in 09/02/1917.

Soloman joined the Royal Flying Corps on 1 May 1916. This was just two months after the birth of his daughter Josephine who was born on 22 May 1916. Solomon served as a ‘Rigger (Aero).’ The RAF outline the role of a rigger, stating ‘Aeroplane riggers were mechanics who specialised in assembling, maintaining and repairing aeroplane structures. The trade Rigger (Aeroplane) was one of the most common trades in the RAF in 1918.They also give his service number as: 59565 AIR 79 UNIT 85St.

Elias enlisted for the Flying Corps on 8th February 1916. The details of Elias’ service are unclear as our research provided no further information. Though all three brothers served in the Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force, they each had different roles and experiences.

Abraham was shown post war as being located at a Dispersal Centre in Crystal Palace, London on 1/2/19, and then transferred to the RAF Reserve a month later on 02/03/19.

All three brothers survived the wall, and are named on the Brighton and Hove Hebrew Congregation WW1 Tablet, as shown below.

Image sourced from iwm.org.uk

In 1939, the Crook family house remained at 77 Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton, though the household was much smaller. Woolf and Rebecca remained at the house, along with Elias who is listed as a tailor and cutter. A note sits next to Elias’ name which seems to read ‘application form sent in 6 months ago for [unclear].’

1939 Census sourced from Ancestry

The Crook family were active in the local community, particularly with the Brighton Hebrew Congregation. Woolf Crook, was a regular attendee of the meetings of the Brighton Hebrew Congregation from 1896 onwards. Soloman was Vice President of the Congregation in the 1950s and 1960s until he died. Solomon’s wife Jennie died in 1955. Solomon later remarried. He was warden of the Middle Street Synagogue until his death in 1969. Abraham died in 1939.

Solomon and Jennie’s son Henry later possibly married Sarah Buscovitch who was born in 1918, on 30 October 1940. Solomon’s daughter Josephine died in March 1947 in Cookfield. She spent most of her life in a psychiatric hospital in Hayward Heath, West Sussex.

Woolf and Rebecca Crook are buried in Meadow View Jewish Cemetery,
Brighton and Rebecca’s parents (Raphael and Lena) are buried in Florence Place Jewish Cemetery, also in Brighton.