Hyman Marks: Picturing Canterbury

Hyman Marks by Jane R is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. CCL-DW-83061.

Contributor's note: "This memorial bust stands in the foyer of the main entrance to Christchurch Hospital. Inscription reads: Hyman Marks a generous benefactor of the poor of Canterbury. Born at Warsaw, Poland 1834. Died at Christchurch, New Zealand, 22nd May 1895. Inscribed on base W. Trethewey 1925."

Photograph taken 29 April 2019.

Hyman Marks was a Polish Jew, born in Warsaw, which at the time, was a part of the Russian Empire. With the Jewish population forced to live in defined areas known as the 'Pale of Settlement', many chose to leave for a better life elsewhere. After arriving in New Zealand in 1861, Marks established a mercantile business with another Jewish immigrant, Hyam Edward Nathan. Later that year he became a British subject when he was granted a Colonial Certificate of Naturalisation. 

In 1862, in company with B. Simpson, he established Simpson and Marks, a tobacconist shop on High Street. As well as stocking tobacco, cigars and pipes, the shop also sold imported musical instruments. In 1865 they parted company and Marks purchased the business of S. Hooper at the corner of High Street and Colombo Street. This became H. Marks and Co, wholesale and retail tobacconists. His next venture was the Northampton Boot Shop which, in 1868, was situated next door to the White Hart Hotel on High Street. In 1876 he became the manager of the Victorian Loan and Discount agency on the corner of Lichfield Street and High Street. 

Marks was a founding member of the Canterbury Hebrew Congregation, which was established in 1864 for the purpose of building a synagogue.

He died at his residence, 53 Hereford Street, on 22nd May 1895 and was buried in the Jewish section of the Linwood Cemetery. Despite being married he had no children. Prior to his death, he had bequeathed money to various charitable organisations. £5,000 was left to the Christchurch Hospital for the establishment of a new ward, which became the Hyman Marks Ward. The Hyman Marks Trust continues to offer assistance to those in need.

The bust, which is now located in the foyer of the Christchurch Hospital, was carved by William Trethewey in 1925.

Do you have any photographs related to Hyman Marks? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

The Discovery Wall is a large interactive exhibition which allows several people to simultaneously explore images and stories of the history of the people and places of Christchurch. It is viewable on the ground floor of Tūranga, 60 Cathedral Square, Christchurch, New Zealand or on the Mobile Discovery Wall. Images displayed on the Wall can also be found on the Discovery Wall website.

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