JMcC and His Siblings

John McCaldin Loewenthal (known as “JMcC” by the family) was born on the 29th February 1864 (a leap year baby) in Belfast. He was the second child and first son of Jane Rea née McCully (or McCulla) and Julius Löwenthal (or Loewenthal). He was named John McCaldin after Jane’s maternal grandfather (b 1777, d 1858) and/or uncle (both John McCaldin). JMcC’s siblings were:

  • Minna (b 1863, d 1880) – named after Julius’ mother – died age 17 of heart valve disease
  • Ferdinand Adolphus (b 1865, d 1942) – named after Julius’ brother – known as “Addie”, and changed his surname to “Lowell” – the black sheep of the family – died in London
  • Anne Isabella (b 1867, d 1922) – named after Jane’s mother – known as “Annie”- never married and said to have committed suicide – died in London
  • Emma Flora (b 1869, d 1948) – named after Julius’ sister – never married – died in Edinburgh
  • Olga (b 1870, d 1955) – married Claude Hardy in 1900 – died in Cheshire
  • Julius (b 1872, d 1896) – known as “Julie” – died of yellow fever in Brazil at age 23
  • James Moore (b 1874, d 1919) – known as “Jim” – named after the senior partner in “Moore and Weinberg” (James Moore from Holywood, County Down, b 1811, d 1884) – Jim was JMcC’s trusted business partner (the only reliable surviving male sibling) – he died of the “Spanish Flu” and was unmarried.

His Parents

JMcC’s father, Julius Löwenthal, was born on the 7th December 1834 in Ludwigslust, in the Duchy of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (now Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany).  His father Israel (b 1804, d 1835) died at the age of 30 one year after Julius’ birth. Both his father (Israel) and grandfather (Meyer Israel, b 1771) were Jewish merchants, residing in Ludwigslust, where they were among a very small cohort of so-called “protected (court) Jews”. His mother Minna née Samson (b 1803, d 1887) was born in the then “territory” of Hanover. There was a longstanding connection of marriages between the Hanover Samson and Mecklenburg-Schwerin Löwenthal families (including Elsa Iklé’s maternal grandmother Louise Derenberg née Samson having been Minna’s sister).

Julius had a brother, Ferdinand Adolph (b 1833, d 1902), and a sister Emma (b 1831, d 1913). Ferdinand Adolph, later known as “Adolph”, was also a merchant (“commission merchant colonial produce”) and lived in London (at 205 Adelaide Road, Hampstead) with his wife Caroline née Goldschmidt, and their three children, Nanny (b 1871, d 1943), Edgar (b 1872, d 1957), and Clara (b 1873, d 1943). Emma was born and died in Ludwigslust, she never married.

Julius arrived in Belfast in 1856 to work as an assistant to Isaac Julius Weinberg in his business, Moore and Weinberg, founded only one year earlier. He had been recommended by Mr Weinberg’s uncle, Philip Simon, in whose company he had worked in Hamburg[1]. More recently Julius had been working with his maternal uncle, Leopold Samson (his mother Minna Samson’s brother), a merchant in Manchester.  On arrival in Belfast Julius stayed at the same “boarding house for gentlemen” as Mr Weinberg, which was run at 10 College Square East, by a Mrs McCulla. This is where he likely first came to know her younger daughter, Jane. Jane Rea McCulla was born 17th March 1836 in Belfast into a Presbyterian family. Her siblings were Isabella (m Hall) and James McCulla. Her father was William McCulla about whom we know little, except that he was no longer alive at the time of her wedding to Julius Löwenthal on 10 July 1861. Her mother, Ann Isabella McCulla, née McCaldin,  (b 1803, d 1892), lived out her life with Julius and Jane. Ann Isabella’s siblings were Andrew, Martha, James, Hugh, and John McCaldin. Jane and Julius were married in Malone Presbyterian Church in 1861.

His Marriage and Children

JMcC married his second cousin Elsa (Louise Helene) Iklé in Hamburg, on the 21st April 1903. Elsa had been born on the 15th August 1874. She was the granddaughter of Louise Derenberg (née Samson), the sister of JMcC’s grandmother Minna Löwenthal (née Samson). Elsa’s mother, Clara Iklé (née Derenberg) had always had a very warm relationship with JMcC, her cousin Julius Löwenthal’s son. Her father was Julius Iklé, the fourth of the 15 children of Sara née Jonas, and Moses. Both families came from Hamburg. Elsa’s siblings were:

  • Robert Max Julius (b 1873, d 1893 suicide)
  • Olga (Sara Olga) [m Jacoby], her twin sister (b 1874, d 1913)
  • Charles (Carl) Felix (b 1879, d 1963)
  • Amélie Marie [m Lewandowsky] (b 1882, d 1963)

JMcC and Elsa lived in Belfast where they had and raised four daughters:

  • Helen Olga Lowenthal (b 1904, d 1993)
  • Amélie Clara Boyd (b 1906, d 1998). Mother of:
    • John Dixon Iklé Boyd
    • Robert David Hugh Boyd
    • Stephen Andrew Colin Boyd
    • Richard (Charles Adam Richard) Boyd
  • Joan Elsa Day (b 1911, d 2004). Mother of:
    • Sarah Caroline Watkinson
    • Thomas Kevin Day
  • Peggy (Margaret Grace) Fink (b 1913, d 2013). Mother of:
    • (Anne) Michelle Fink

End of life

JMcC lived in the family home in Lennoxvale until his death on 20th January 1951. Elsa had a recurring mental illness since her young adult days, and despite the most attentive and loving care given by JMcC at home in Lennoxvale, Belfast, needed to move to residential care in Edinburgh in 1932. She was cared for at Vogrie House nursing home, where she died on the 7th November 1959.

  1. Simon May & Company: In 1842 in Hamburg, Simon May and Phillip Simon organized a small mercantile house specializing in textiles, concentrating on lace. Jacob Weinberg (I. J. Weinberg's brother) opened a branch in Nottingham, the principal source of lace, in 1849.


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John McCaldin Loewenthal: Letters Home from a Victorian Commercial Traveller, 1889 - 1895 Copyright © 2022 by Michelle Fink, Robert Boyd, Sarah Watkinson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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