Alphonse Louis Reis (Liverpool 1860 – Aberdeen 1940)

Alphonse Louis Reis (Liverpool 1860 – . Aberdeen 1940)Like other members of his family, Alphonse was a jeweller, watchmaker and optician. He owned shops in Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. By 1894 his businesses in Edinburgh are listed at 8 and 10 Leith Street and 36 South Bridge, the latter address enabling Reis to target a wealthier clientele compared to the Leith businesses. Reis was one of a number of Jews with well-established and successful businesses in Edinburgh, at a time when the city was absorbing significant numbers of migrants, leaving their home countries in response to the recurrent pogroms which began in Russia in 1882. His prosperity can be traced on the map, which reveals the locations of his businesses and homes. In Edinburgh, Reis was a Justice of the Peace. On relocating to London, he became a Freeman of the City of London. He also volunteered as Treasurer for the Edinburgh branch of the Orphan Aid Society, established due to the increasing number of Jewish orphans in the city. In 1860, sixty children were registered, rising by 1911 to over 400 in number.Marian Dugan, Reis’s first wife, converted to Judaism on marriage and had seven children. None followed their father into the family business. Instead they all gained professional qualifications in Edinburgh before leaving the city. This family demonstrates the dramatic change achieved in both education and social status in one generation: from trader to professional, from working in a typically “Jewish business” in locations surrounded by other Jewish-owned businesses to practicing diverse occupations across the world. (Image courtesy of the family of A. Louis Reis.)