Ezekiel, Ezekiel Abraham
- Anita McConnell
Ezekiel, Ezekiel Abraham (1757–1806), engraver and printmaker, was born at Exeter, the eldest of the six sons (there were also at least four daughters) of Abraham Ezekiel (d. 1799), silversmith and watchmaker, who with his brother Benjamin had come from the Rhineland about 1745, and who founded Exeter synagogue in 1763–4. His mother, whose name is unknown, died in June 1806.
Ezekiel was apprenticed at the age of fifteen to Alexander Jenkins, goldsmith, and published his first engraving, a view of Bideford, in 1779. Portraits, topographical prints, and maps for bookplates formed a considerable part of his output, but in the Flying Post of February 1784 he advertised that he executed perspective and ornamental copperplate engraving for various types of stationery, copperplate printing, and jewellery work in general with 'curious devices in hair'; by 1795 he claimed to have studied optical science, and to dispense spectacles, microscopes, and telescopes. He never married, and resided all his adult life with his unmarried siblings Henry, a watchmaker, Kitty, and Amelia at their shop in 179 Fore Street.
By 1805 Ezekiel was too ill with dropsy to be considered for military service in the war with France, and he died on 13 December 1806, leaving an estate of under £600 to be distributed between the synagogue and his family. He was buried in the Magdalen Street cemetery. Ezekiel had many friends in Exeter, within and outside the Jewish community of which he was a staunch member, and his obituarist in the December issue of the Flying Post referred to his skills as an engraver, unequalled outside London, and his portraits of several distinguished Exeter characters, admired for their faithful execution. His work survives in Exeter in the Royal Albert Museum and the Devon and Exeter Institution, and in London at the Jewish Museum, British Museum, and Victoria and Albert Museum.
- I. Landman and L. Rittenburg, eds., Universal Jewish encyclopedia, 10 vols. (New York, 1948)
- S. Wininger, Grosse jüdische National-Biographie, 2 (1927), 209
- J. Klatzkin, ed., Encyclopaedia Judaica: das Judentum in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 10 vols. (Berlin, 1928–34)
- G. Werlitz and B. Kirschner, eds., Jüdisches Lexikon, 4 vols. (1928), 2
- J. Jacobs and L. Wolf, Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica (1888)
- Engraved Brit. ports., 4.295; 6.608
- F. J. Gent, ‘Ezekiel Abraham Ezekiel’, www.eclipse.co.uk/exeshul/exeshul/ezekiel/ezekiel.htm, 22 Aug 2003
- B. N. Lee, ‘The bookplates of Ezekiel Abraham Ezekiel’, Bookplate Journal, 9/1 (1991), 16–35
- G. Clifton, Directory of British scientific instrument makers, 1550–1851, ed. G. L'E. Turner (1995)
- miniature, exh. 1887, repro. in J. Jacobs and L. Wolf, Catalogue of the Anglo-Jewish exhibition (1888), 53
Wealth at Death
under £600: administration, Jan 1807, archdeaconry court, Exeter