Nathan Cohen

Nathan Cohen (1842–1910) was a grand-son of Henry Cohen, a son of Henry’s daughter Sophia and Abraham Cohen, born at Port Macquarie on 10 July 1842.

The following is extracted from the notes of the Tamworth Historical Society (1996):

“On the evening of Friday 27 August 1858 a two-wheeled cart drawn by two sweating horses jolted over the stony Peel River ford near Jewry Street, ascended the north bank and then lumbered eastward down Peel Street. On board was a youth of 16, Nathan Cohen, who had come from Newcastle on John Gill’s modern passenger transport vehicle. The 180 mile journey had taken three days. The vehicle was halted in front of Cohen & Levy’s store, site of Kensell’s, the passengers alighted and the mails were delivered to the store for sorting. Many of Tamworth’s population of 500 were there to welcome the cart and to collect their mail, and there was a good sprinkling of people from outlying properties for the arrival of the mail was an event of great importance.

“Nathan Cohen had come to Tamworth to join his uncle William Cohen, who conducted a store in Ebsworth Street, West Tamworth. Nathan and his uncle were unrelated to the Abraham Cohen of Cohen & Levy. The new arrival had been born at Port Macquarie, received his formal education in Goulburn under the care of the Rev. Mr Patterson and had received business experience in Sydney. He remained with his uncle William for ten years and after the latter’s death [in 1871] he managed the business on behalf of William’s widow. . . .

“In 1868 [sic] he started his own business as an auctioneer and estate agent, his office being on the site of the shoe store at 335 Peel Street. By 1870 he had established a soap works, had coal mining interests, was foundation director of the Tamworth Permanent Mutual Benefit Building Society and was an active worker and office bearer for the Tamworth Hospital. During his lifetime he was associated with every organisation which worked for the benefit of Tamworth and its citizens.

“In 1872 he erected the Exchange Buildings which were subsequently enlarged. 1875 saw the beginning of his partnership with Mr David Nathan[1] who married[2] Abraham Cohen’s daughter, Siela [Sierlah]. This partnership was dissolved in 1885 and Mr M. C. Solomons joined the firm, an arrangement which lasted until 1895. Nathan Cohen then operated the business himself until 1908 when it was converted to a limited-liability company.

“The dairying industry in the Peel Valley was founded by Nathan Cohen. At his farm, “Percydale”, on the Armidale Road, he established a dairy, installed a small butter factory and employed his own butter maker. To improve his dairy herd he purchased the best stock available and his Jersey bull “Sir Patrick” was the first of that breed to be brought into the Peel Valley. Later when the Tamworth Co-Operative Dairy Society was formed, he became a foundation director. . . .

“In 1866 Nathan married[3] Esther Solomon and lived next door to his uncle at what is now 39 Church Street, West Tamworth. On account of his wife’s association with the NSW south coast, their home was called “Eden Cottage”. About 1875 he built a new two-storey brick residence in Carthage Street and in honour of his father’s home town he named it “Brighton”. At the time it was the first home built in the area and many people wondered why he built “up in the bush”. “Brighton” became 98 Carthage Street. His wife died in 1880 leaving him with six young children. He married his wife’s sister, Deborah, a couple of years later. There was one son, Eliot, from his second marriage. . . .

“Shortly before going overseas [in 1908] Nathan had been gored by a bull and from this he never fully recovered. His death came in August 1910. His demise had such an impact that on the day of his funeral “life stopped in Tamworth and all shops closed in his honour”. He was described as being one of exemplary benevolence, a source of great moral, commercial and social strength, and one of the main pillars of Tamworth.”

The following is extracted from “The Jews of Tamworth” by Rabbi Dr. Israel Porush which appeared in AJHS, Vol. 3, Pt 4, December 1950.

“The most prominent Jewish resident of Tamworth and the Northern District was undoubtedly Nathan Cohen, who belonged to an old Anglo-Jewish family. His father was Abraham Cohen of Port Macquarie, where Nathan was born in 1842. He came to Tamworth at the age of sixteen, and resided there for upwards of fifty years. He was first employed by an uncle [on his mother’s side], William Cohen, who carried on business as a general merchant. After the death of his uncle, he managed the business for a time on behalf of the widow, but in 1872 he established his own business as auctioneer and agent, for a while together with partners, then entirely on his own.

“Already as a young man he took a keen interest in the public life of the town, and furthered its welfare throughout his life. There was scarcely a movement for the advancement of the welfare of Tamworth with which Nathan Cohen was not connected. He played an important part in building up the district. He was married to two sisters in succession, the daughters of Solomon Solomon of Eden: Esther and Deborah.

“The Municipal Council of Tamworth was formed in 1876, and Nathan Cohen was a member of the first Council, and then for a number of years afterwards, twice occupying the position of Mayor—in 1882 and 1883.

“In the commercial world he was prominent. He founded, or helped to found, a number of companies which have flourished to this day [1950], and which have contributed much to the well-being of the population. The Building Society and the Dairy Company should be mentioned in particular. He was also Chairman of the Tamworth Gas and Coke Co., was closely associated with Centenary Coal and Coke Co. and the Green Mount Land and Quarry Co. The core of his commercial activities was the firm of Nathan Cohen & Co. Ltd., auctioneers and stock and station agents. After Nathan Cohen’s death the firm changed into Victor Cohen & Co. Ltd., Victor being Nathan’s nephew and son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Ida.

“Also in the charitable field he was very active. He was largely instrumental in the building of the Tamworth Hospital, and belonged to its Committee for many years, occupying on several occasions the offices of Treasurer, President and Trustee.

“Nathan Cohen took a leading part in every philanthropic movement of the town. Also in the sporting world he occupied a prominent position. He was President of the Cricket Club and a Trustee of the Jockey Club.

“His personal qualities were acknowledged by his fellow-citizens, who saw in him a friend ready to help and to advise. He was compared to “one of the old Patriarchs of his own noble race.” He enjoyed high esteem in the city, which was publicly manifested on the occasion of his departure for Europe in 1908. The tributes paid him then, and two years later at his funeral, are evidence of the warm place he occupied in the hearts of the Tamworth citizenry. He died on 15 August 1910, leaving a widow and seven children. He was buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, next to his first wife.

“Nathan Cohen was the youngest brother of the Hon. Henry Emanuel Cohen, mla, and Judge of the Supreme Court, and of Lady Benjamin of Melbourne. Several members of the family have continued their association with Tamworth to this day. Mention may be made of his daughters, Mrs. Victor I. (Ida) Cohen, jp, [mbe,] and Miss Alice Cohen, who have been active over many years in the charitable endeavours of Tamworth. The former was President of the Ladies’ Benevolent Society for some thirty years, the latter Hon. Secretary of the Red Cross for over twenty-five years.

“. . . In the 1859 Committee of the Tamworth Benevolent Society we find the names of three Jews—William Cohen as Treasurer, and Abraham Cohen and L. W. Levy.”

Nathan married[4] two sisters, the daughters of Solomon Solomon of Eden. Esther (1846–1880), died at Tamworth aged 34 on 16 December 1880, in childbirth having their seventh child. Deborah (1842–1942) died aged 99 on 20 February 1942. Nathan died at Tamworth aged 68 on 16 August 1910. All are buried (as are their children Alice, Percy, Cora and Eliot) in the Jewish Old Section at Rookwood.

By his first wife Esther, Nathan had four daughters and two sons:

Ida (1867–1970), married her first cousin Victor Isaac. Cohen (____–____), the son of George Cohen and Elizabeth (née Davis). Ida apparently never left Tamworth, not even to go to Sydney, and died there in 1970 aged 102. (See bio below.)

Alice (1869–1955), died, unmarried, at Tamworth aged 86 on 30 May 1955. 

Percy Brighton (1870–1954) died aged 83 on 16 March 1954.

Cora Rose (1873–1957). In 1895, at the Great Synagogue Sydney, married Henry (Harry) David Cohen (1860–1938), son of David Cohen and Julia (née Nathan).[5] Their children were Nell, Nina Debb[6] and Noel. Cora died at Sydney aged 83 on 13 May 1957 and is buried in the Jewish Old Section at Rookwood. Harry died in London aged 78 on 30 December 1938.

Eden (____–____); married Bernard Cohen of New Zealand. 

Aubrey A. (____–____); married Vera Hyman, the daughter of Lewis Hyman and Sarah née Levey of Tamworth.

By his second wife Deborah, Nathan had one son:

Eliot Tamworth (1883–1971), died, unmarried, at Tamworth aged 88 on 6 October 1971.


Extensive bio in “The Jews of Tamworth” (+pic), AJHS, Vol 3, Pt 4, 1950, p.193f. and “The Jews of Tamworth—Supplemental Notes”, AJHS, Vol 3, Pt 7, 1952, p.350f.

These articles also contain bio material on Abraham Cohen and Louis Levy, and early days of L. W. Levy, and Albert Joseph.

Jane (Jenny) Matilda Marks

Jenny Marks (1849–____) was born Jane Matilda Cohen, the daughter of Abraham Cohen and Sophia (née Cohen). In ________ she married her first cousin Benjamin Francis Marks, the son of Solomon Marks and Hannah (née Cohen).

For many years Mrs B. F. Marks acted as President of the Jewish Girls’ Guild, and her daughter Enid (Mrs R. W. Solomon) now [1945] continues the good work.[7]

Bio . . .


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[1].       This David Nathan could be Nathan’s cousin David, the son of Arthur Isaac Nathan and Caroline née Cohen, born at Launceston on 15 May 1849.

[2].       NSW Marriage: 1880 #948.

[3].       NSW Marriage: 1866 vol. 135 #245.

[4].       Esther: at Sydney, NSW Marriage: 1866 vol. 135 #243; Deborah: at Eden, NSW Marriage: 1882 #4319.

[5].       Brunel Cohen, Pamela, The Cohen and Levy Families . . ., p.20.

[6].       Nina Debb Cohen was born on 14 September 1899 at Brisbane while her father Henry David Cohen was manager of Elliot Brothers. She married Albert Edward Saalfeld (1896–1978); had children Sally (b.1929), Allene (b.1933) and John (b.1938); and died at Sydney 20 September 1984, and is buried nearby her mother, Cora Rose Cohen (née Cohen), in the Jewish Old Section at Rookwood. Reference: headstone, etc.

[7].       AJHS Vol. 2, Pt. 3, June 1945, p.127.