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Elias Lapidus

Elias Lapidus (1818-) came to Fremantle as convict #107 on board the Hashemy, 25 October 1850.

It is thought that he was born in Germany and arrived in Hull 1 October 1844 on board the Transit from Hamburg. He was married 9 May 1842 in Ledbury Parish Church Herefordshire to Elinor Brace, his occupation given as jeweller.  His father is shown as Isaac Lapidus (the name transcribed to the register is 'Lapuds').  He and Elinor had three children: Samuel born 22 November 1843; Henry born 1845; and Adolphus born 1847.

The Hereford Times Saturday 1 April 1848 reports that in Monmouth, before presiding judge Sir John Patterson, Lapidus was charged with having feloniously aided and abetted Thomas Mayo, George Albert and Samuel Hayes to commit burglary at Usk 7 May 1847. He had an alias. The Prosecutor Mr Gray brought a Certificate of Conviction for a felony for one 'Phebus Carrow' at Gloucester.  He called as a witness Thomas Moore, Deputy Governor of Gloucester Gaol who attested that the prisoner at the bar was identical to the Phebus Carrow named on the certificate.  On 23 March 1848 Elias Lapidus was found guilty and sentenced to transportation for a term of 14 years.


He spent only ten months in Fremantle Prison where he made acquaintance with Edwin Gatehouse convict #737 and Isadore Theodore Krakouer convict #232.  When Lapidus obtained his ticket-of-leave 10 August 1851 he formed a partnership with Edwin Gatehouse in a drapery store.

To the Editor of the Independent Journal.
Sir—having observed a report in your journal of Friday last, calculated to throw a stigma upon our characters, and greatly injure our business, we feel it necessary to offer a few remarks, in order to remove any erroneous opinion which may have been formed, from such public report.
The report which we allude to states that, "at Fremantle on Wednesday, a t.l. [ticket-of-leave-holder] named Lapidus, in partnership as a storekeeper with another, and three others were apprehended, and on the premises occupied by Lapidus being searched, a large haul of stolen property was made."
To what such an avowal can be attributed one cannot say.  Not to ignorance, as the body of the police force was aware that no property found on the premises was identified as stolen property, and relative to the report saying three others being apprehended was equally untrue, and without the slightest foundation.
A further report was made relative to leather stolen from the Convict Establishment but, we are happy to state that although the strictest search was made amongst the property in the possession of Mr Gatehouse, nothing whatever was found to implicate his character, or justify the suspicion.
We sincerely trust that this public contradiction of a most cruel and unjust statement, may produce the desired effect, namely, to remove any injurious opinion from the public mind.
We are Sir, Your Obedient Servant, LAPIDUS & GATEHOUSE
Letter to the editor of The Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, Friday 8th April, 1853.

The partnership was dissolved 5 July 1853 (Inquirer, Perth 13 July 1853). Gatehouse murdered an aboriginal and because the only witness was another aboriginal, he was set free. He died in 1867 by losing his foot in a thrashing machine.

Lapidus then set up a livery stable with Theodore Krakouer and employed two sisters, Brina and Esther Israel.  Brina was born in 1833 and Esther 2 May 1836 and her birth registered in the New Synagogue London, daughters of Sampson Israel and Phoebe Magnus.  Phoebe died in Londin in 1847 from a complicated childbirth and an exhausting court case.  Esther found herself pregnant, and with Brina’s help they boarded the the brideship Travancore and arrived in Fremantle 13 January 1852.  Esther gave birth but the baby died.

Unemployed and alone they eagerly accepted work with Lapidus.  Elias and Esther ran a livery stable with Theodore and Brina helping them buying and selling horses.  Esther kept the books and ran the business. Esther found herself pregnant again, and Brina's relationship with Theodore Krakouer produced many children. Nathan Lapidus was born 28 March 1854, and Rachel in 1857 but she did not survive. Brina had given birth to Abraham Krakouer 16 December 1853 and it was noted that this birth was recorded as that of the first Jewish baby born in WA.

Lapidus received a conditional pardon 29 April 1854, and then fled to Singapore in December the next year, apparently to escape an another appearance in court.

News article:
Elias Lapidus was charged with feloniously receiving certain butter the property of T Brown Esq at Fremantle while knowing the same to have been stolen. The defendant having been at large on bail was called on his recognizance, and not appearing, his recognizance and those of his two sureties were extradited to be retained, these were himself in £50 and Messrs Harwood and Yelverton sureties also £50 each. We believe Lapidus made his exit from the colony in the Siren for Singapore, his point of departure being the Government Station of Rottnest Island.
Perth Gazette & Independent Journal of Politics & News, Friday 4 January 1856.

It was reported 10 July 1857 that Theodore and Brina lived with Esther Israel since a little after Elias Lapidus left.  Elias had previously conveyed his property to her.  About seven or eight months after he left she received a letter from him, in consequence she told Theodore that Lapidus thought if she could get any horses and bring them to India they would pay well.  Esther had told Theodore she intended going to India.  James Blackett was a servant to Mrs Lapidus and she had asked him if he would go to India to look after some horses on the voyage.  Unfortunately the trip was never taken and there were many court cases involving Esther/Hester Israel/Lapidus and Theodore Krakouer recorded in the newspapers of the day.  Esther never heard from Elias again.

LAPlDUS, Elias, b. 1818 (expiree), arr. 25.10.1850 per Hashemy, wife & 3 chd. in UK, de-facto wife Esther ISRAEL, she arr. 13.1.1853 per Travancore & m. 12.1.1860 James SARGENT. Chd. Emma Alice. They conducted a livery stables 1851- . Employed a T/L man 1851. He left for Singapore 12.1855 to avoid arrest, leaving Esther to manage his business & to send him horses for trading. Jew. (Erickson)

References and Links

Many thanks to Lapidus descendant Margaret Weston for most of the above information - personal communication.

See also Ari and Wendy Antonovsky's notes about the Krakouers in their Heritage Walk.

See also the page for Theodore Krakouer.

Fremantle Prison convict database.

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Garry Gillard | New: 3 September, 2017 | Now: 9 September, 2023