Friday 17 March 2023

Emperor of the United States

Hi All

My name is John Lumea. I live in Boston and am the founder of a nonprofit, THE EMPEROR NORTON TRUST, that since 2013 has been working on a variety of fronts — research, education, advocacy — to advance the legacy of a San Francisco eccentric and sometime visionary that declared himself "Emperor of the United States" in 1859 and went on to become a folk hero and patron saint of his adopted city.

He was born Joshua Abraham Norton in Deptford — the best evidence points to a birth date of 4 February 1818. Joshua was born to Jewish parents — John Norton and Sarah Norden — and, it appears that he was circumcised in Deptford on 13 February 1818. 

I recognize this is a long shot. But, I wonder if you or anyone else associated with the Old Deptford History project know anything about where in Deptford Joshua and his family lived? A street? An address? Was there a known "Jewish district" in Deptford at this time?

Joshua's family remained in Deptford for only another two years. They were among the "1820 Settlers" who emigrated to South Africa that year as part of a well-documented British colonization scheme. They boarded the ship Belle Alliance in Deptford in late December 1819. After being delayed by ice on the Thames for more than a month, the ship finally was able to sail on 12 February 1820.

Many thanks for any light you can shed on the Nortons' place of residence in Deptford.

John Lumea