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The Snapper Family
My great-great-great-grandfather Nathan Schnapper lived in the Posen / Poznan area of what was then Prussia (now Poland). His son Michael Snapper, born in 1827, emigrated to London in around 1852, where he lived at the heart of the Jewish East End on Church Street, Spitalfields (now Fournier Street) and worked in the textiles trade. He changed the family name to Snapper.
In 1853, he married Sarah Rebecca Leveson. (See Leveson page for further details). Michael and Sarah had 9 children - Isaac, Nathaniel, Fanny, Leah. Eva, Max (aka Marks), David, Solomon (aka Sol) and Emanuel (aka Manny).
My great-grandfather David Snapper (left) was born on Fournier St in 1866. Whilst most of his siblings remained in London, he (with his brother Sol Snapper) moved to Nottingham, where he married Minnie Karmel in 1896 (see 'The Karmels' below). David became wealthy in the textiles trade in Nottingham and eventually branched out into the cinema industry, owning some of the earliest picture-houses around the country, including the Brixton picture-house (now the Ritzy). He also began a long association between the Snappers and the Nottingham Hebrew Congregation, of which he, my grandfather (Max Snapper) and my father have all been Trustees (as well as my great-great-grandfather Lewis Karmel).
Of David Snapper's siblings, Sol Snapper married Ada Sejenberg, Nathaniel Snapper married Miriam Hart, Max (Marks) Snapper married Rebecca Solomon, Manny Snapper married Annie Jacobs, Eva Snapper married Mark Newman, Fanny Snapper married Henry Smith. Max was a furrier, and married his wife Rebecca in Australia, after which they returned to London. Most of these families remained in the London area, apart from Fanny and Henry Smith, whose descendants eventually settled in South Africa.
Perhaps the most extraordinary character in this family history is Michael Snapper (named after his grandfather), the son of Manny Snapper, who, in his youth, trained animals to perform and once lived over his antiques shop on the King's Road in Chelsea with a performing bear. In later years, he owned the hippy rock and jazz venue Eel Pie Island Hotel on the Thames at Twickenham, and built a bridge across to the island in 1957 known as 'Snapper's Bridge'. He established 'Snapper's Corner', an antique shop complex in Kingston Upon Thames, and owned a nearby house which became known as 'Snapper's Castle'.
In recent years, it has transpired that my great-great-grandfather Michael Snapper, who emigrated from Prussia in 1852, had a sister, Bertha Posner (born 1832), who also emigrated to London. One of her descendants is the actor Miriam Margolyes, also a keen genealogist. There are also some Snappers in New York who might well be related, though as yet I have been unable to find definitive evidence
It has also transpired that Egnatz Snapper, almost certainly a cousin or nephew of Michael Snapper, emigrated from Prussia to Bulawayo (now in Zimbabwe) in the 1890s, where he became a cattle trader and married a woman from a local tribe. There is therefore a branch of the Snapper family in this part of Africa, several still living in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Ronald Snapper was a leading figure in the coloured and Eurafrican labour movement in Rhodesia during the 1940s and 50s.
Snapper is not a common name, but there is another Snapper family originating in Amsterdam which does not seem to be related to ours. There is also a Schnapper family originating in Frankfurt. Gutle Schnapper married Mayer Amschel Rothschild in Frankfurt in 1770, and became the 'mother of all the Rothschilds'. However, it is unclear whether our Prussian Schnapper family is related to this Frankfurt family, although family legend claims that this is so.
From here onwards - UNDER CONSTRUCTION
The family of Michael Snapper -
Eva Snapper (Newman)
Fanny Snapper (Smith)
The family of Bertha Snapper (Posner)
The family of Egnatz Snapper