SALAMAN, Barley, Early 20th Century




Redcliffe Nathan Salaman

December, 2003



Jack Switzer (jsswitz @t of Calgary, Canada, writes:  I am the researcher/historian with the Jewish historical Society of Southern Alberta. Local records, news items, etc. note that "two Jews' (one source lists three names) - Cecil Cohen, A.H. Salaman, and R.N. Salaman,  "all of Homestall, Barley, Royston, Herts, England," for $100,000.  They left about 1915.  It was a sizeable and well-known ranch, raising draught horses and cattle. We know nothing about these men, and are anxious to find out more.  A Dr. Redcliffe Salaman, a scientist and Zionist notable, is listed in several jewish reference books, and a web site lists him as resident of the area in question. I suspect the Salamans are his relatives.

My starting point is Homestall, Barley. A search on a number of old and modern maps proved negative. In particular it is not listed in the index to Bryant's 1822 map, modern maps, The Placenames of Hertfordshire, or the Victoria County History.  I looked under Barley in the following Kelly's Hertfordshire Directories:

23  Barley - The Homestall
Robert H Clark's Real Photographic Series
Text: This is Dr Salamans house, late Mr Arthur Davis daughter is Mrs Salaman - Posted 22 October, 1906

1882 Kelly's Directory Kent Joseph, Homestall

1890 Kelly's Directory Forshall Rev Frederick Hale (curate), Homestall

1912 Kelly's Directory Salaman Redcliffe Nathan M,D,, J.P. Homestall

1937 Kelly's Directory Salaman Redcliffe Nathan M,D,, J.P. Homestall

All entries were under the "Private Resident" heading, and clearly Redcliffe Nathan Salaman was at Homestall.  The fact that it is not listed as a farm, and that the curate lived there in 1890, suggests it was a private house. No Salaman was listed anywhere in Hertfordshire as a Farmer or Horse Dealer. [Whatever they left would not have been "a ranch". This is a term relating to farms on the newly settled open countryside in the USA, America, and Australia. It is a totally inappropriate term for Hertfordshire, where the land was (and in many places still is) divided into comparatively tiny fields, in some cases separated with hedgerows a thousand years or more old.]

I then had a look in Two Ears of Barley - more in hope than expectation - as it is not indexed, and stumbled across a useful reference on pages 86/7. 

Two men who are still remembered by many had a big influence on the village in the first half of the century were Ellis Wilkerson and Dr. Salaman. They were both members of the Royston Magistrates bench for many years but they rarely allowed Barley squabbles to reach court. ... There is a tablet to the memory of Dr Salaman in the Town House, together with 50 invested to provide a prize for potatoes each year at the flower show. ...

Dr. Salaman, one of a family of fifteen, came to Barley in 1906 having obtained his M.D. two years earlier. He was interested in genetics and selected the potato as a medium of research, and it was the potato that was to lead him to world fame. He discovered resistance to potato blight in 1908, and in 1926 he persuaded the Ministry of Agriculture to found the Potato Virus Research Unit at Cambridge of which he became the first director until reaching the age of retirement in 1939. Dr Salaman also did valuable work as Chairman of the Potato Synonym Committee. He had over 30 publications to his credit but the culmination of his work was the book The History and Social Influence of the Potato, published in 1949. [The picture shows Martin Hayes and Dr. R N Salaman inspecting experimental plots of potatoes.]

Dr Salaman was the energetic commander of the Barley section of the Home Guard when it was formed in 1940 - although it was called the Local Defence Volunteers at the time; he was also active on many national and international committees for Jewish education and refugee relief.

You mention that two jews went to Alberta but give three names - Cecil Cohen, A.H. Salaman, and R.N. Salaman - and I am wondering whether the two that actually went were Cecil Cohen and A.H. Salaman, while the R N Salaman is the Redcliffe Nathan Salaman of the Homestall, Barley, described above, and he may have encouraged the others to go. There is one possible clue to who they might be as the account say he was one of 15 children - so they could easily have been a brother-in-law and a brother.

The 1881 census shows Redcliffe as a child with his parents and some siblings. Myer Salaman (45, born London, merchant) and his wife Sarah (36, born London) were living at 20 Pembridge Crescent, London. Their family at that date were Jennie (15), Isabelle (14), Isaac C (13), Ethel (11), Bessie (8), Redcliffe N (6), Louise (4), Henry B (3) and Michael H (2). Bearing in mind the relative ages it would seem that there were 6 still to be born. It might be possible to find more from the 1901 census.

However a search on the World Wide Web showed a far more valuable source. at  This shows that Dr Salaman's papers have been archived and include "Pedigrees, correspondence and papers regarding the genealogy of Salaman, Davis and other Anglo-Jewish families ..." and may well include details of his immediate relatives. The papers are held at the University of Cambridge.

March, 2006

The portrait of Dr Salaman, and the picture of Homestall were added from Barley, an English Village

May, 2006

Colin Cohen (colin @t is the great nephew of Redcliffe Salaman and is working on a family history. He draws attention to two biographies in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which begin:

Salaman,  Redcliffe Nathan  (1874-1955), geneticist and Jewish activist, was born Nathan Redcliffe Salaman, at 100 Redcliffe Gardens, Kensington, London, on 12 September 1874, the ninth of the fifteen children of Myer Salaman, a wealthy ostrich feather merchant, and his wife, Sarah Solomon, a relative of N. M. Adler, chief rabbi from 1844 to 1890. ...

Salaman,  Raphael Arthur  (1906-1993), collector and lexicographer of tradesmen's tools, was born on 24 April 1906 at Homestall, Barley, near Royston, Hertfordshire, the fourth of six children of Redcliffe Nathan Salaman  (1874-1955), physician and scientist, and his wife, Pauline Ruth (Nina), nee Davis (1876/7-1925), writer, poet, and Zionist. ...

He confirms that there is no evidence that either went to Canada.

July, 2006

An article "Passion for the Potato" appears in the August 2006 issue of the Hertfordshire Countryside.

August, 2006

24  Barley - The Homestall
Robert H Clark's Real Photographic Series

Dear R. I thought you would like the view of our house in the country. Its very pretty. The garden is looking quite a picture. ... Rose

Posted March 23, 1906

(shortly after Redcliffe moved into the house and possibly sent to notify new address)

Colin Cohen (colin @t provided the following information: Redcliffe would have been 22 when he bought the place. I don't know who the Rose was who wrote the PC: it does not ring a bell as a family name, so perhaps she was a servant?  Do you know if it was common at the period to print commercial PCs of private houses? 

I am sure that when someone moved in to one of the better houses in the area the local photographer would be round to ensure they had a supply of postcards, and Robert H. Clark was a prolific photographer and publisher  in the Royston area. 

Was there a privacy reason for not showing the addressee?

No - It was sent to Mrs Watts, 7 Deccon Street, Corporation Road, Ilkeston, Nr Nottingham.

I have learned a lot since we last corresponded - some of which is as follows:

First, I have to say I was quite wrong about there being no Canadian connection: my starting point is Prof Todd Endelman's article on Redcliffe - he was interested as as RNS was an FRS - 'Anglo-Jewish scientists and the science of race' in Jewish Social Studies, Sept 2004. He writes: 'Salaman would have attended the meeting [of The Universal Races Congress] but he was travelling in the United States and Canada at the time, attending to business matters and meeting on racial topics with American researchers--Maurice Fishberg, Franz Boas, and Joseph Jacobs, who had left London for New York in 1900 to work on the Jewish Encyclopaedia. He also would have been asked to address the Congress, a task that fell in his absence to Israel Zangwill.' This set me looking again and I found that Jack's article fitted exactly with this timing and I should not have doubted it. I have no idea who the Cecil Cohen was - probably not related to me. Apart from my Cohen grandfather two other lots of Cohens seem to have married on the Salamans at various points. he may have just been a friend.

You mention him as being one of 15 children - my copy of the tree only shows him and 13 others - but I understand there may also have been a still-birth. You also mention his book, The social history of the potato. Not only has this never been out of print, but I understand he was the first person to produce a virus-free spud! I am also pointing this out to the ODNB.

The URL you give - - to CUL does include lots of biographical detail. Box six includes a 120 pp tss family history and auto-biography written c1950. It is described in detail by Professor Jane Miller in Relations [Jonathan Cape, 2003]. I don't know if it would be of interest to you, though. I have not seen it myself as I did not know of it when my daughter was there.

More recently still I discovered a later set of autobiographical notes covering his period at the London Hospital - - called 'The Helmsman takes charge'. It is 69 pages long and apparently gives details of Salaman's time at College and during his training at The London Hospital. It also describes details of his time in Switzerland and the role of medical officer that he undertook during the First World War. I have not had a chance to see it yet.

I must also correct the DNB entry - his wife was SolomOn, not SolomAn

Thanks again, sorry to come back with so much stuff...

Colin also mentioned a couple of errors which have been corrected above.

March 2013

Susan drew my attention to a detailed biography of Redcliffe Nathan Salaman. 1874-1955 in Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society Vol. 1, (Nov., 1955), pp. 238-245 (Online)

There are web pages for Barley and The Homestall

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page updated March 2013