Basil Henriques

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Sir Basil Lucas Quixano Henriques CBE JP (1890–1961)[1] was a British philanthropist of Portuguese Jewish origins,[2] concentrating his work in the East End of London during the first half of the 20th century.[3]

From a prominent Jewish family, Henriques was educated at Harrow School and University College, Oxford.[1]

Henriques served with distinction in the Tank Corps during World War I, taking part in the Battle of Flers where his tank, C22, was ordered to clear the Quadrilateral to the north east of Ginchy. During this operation his tank mistakenly engaged soldiers from The Norfolk Regiment, resulting in several fatalities.[4]

He married Rose Loewe in 1916, and they worked together throughout their marriage.[3] In addition to writing reforms to religious Jewish ceremonies[2], Henriques set up boys' clubs for deprived Jewish children.[3] The boys received education, vocational training, recreation and holidays in the country. Henrinques's attitude to the care of less fortunate children was one of understanding through love and kindness. In this way he anticipated today's attitude to the social welfare of children. From 1923 until 1950, he would frequently send deprived, sick or merely tired children to his country home at Linslade in Buckinghamshire for rest and recuperation.

Basil Henriques was the author of several books, mostly concerned with the care of youth, including:

  • (1945) What is Judaism.
  • (1950) The indiscretions of a magistrate.
  • (1951) Fratres: club boys in uniform, an anthology.
  • (1955) The home-menders: the prevention of unhappiness in children.

He later became a magistrate,[3] and was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1948 Birthday Honours.[5] He was knighted in 1955.[3] During her widowhood in 1966, Lady Henriques published Years in Stepney, a biography of her husband.

In his role as a children's court magistrate, he also wrote the Foreword to Enid Blyton's novel The Six Bad Boys (1951), which relates the bad consequences of family breakdown for six boys, culminating in their appearing in a children's court for theft. Henriques, in his Foreword, praises Blyton for her treatment of this subject, and stresses the negative effects of broken homes on children – one of the major themes of this novel.

The former Berner Street in Whitechapel was renamed Henriques Street in his honour.

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  1. ^ a b The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History - Springer. p. 415. doi:10.1057/9780230304666. 
  2. ^ a b McCabe, Sarah (2004). "Henriques, Sir Basil Lucas Quixano (1890–1961)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Obituary: Sir Basil Henriques". The Jewish Chronicle: 31. December 8, 1961. 
  4. ^ The First Tank Crews
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 38311. p. 3374. 10 June 1948.

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