Several families of this name, of Anglo-Jewish origin, settled early in the English possessions in America, including Canada.Isaac Hart:
One of the earliest Jewish residents of Newport, R. I. He settled there as early as 1750, and soon became known as a successful merchant. On June 13, 1756, he was one of several who purchased the land for the first synagogue of Newport. During the War of Independence Isaac Hart favored the British cause, and it is related that he met his death in 1780 by being "inhumanely fired upon and bayoneted" by the American soldiers ("Rivington's Gazette," Dec. 2, 1780). In New York a Moses Hart acquired burgher rights as early as June 22, 1713 or 1714; a Solomon Hart, Jr., took the oath of allegiance under the Act of 1740.Ephraim Hart:
Merchant; born in Fürth, Bavaria, in 1747; died in New York July 16, 1825. The original name of his family was "Hirz." It is not known in what year he came to America, but in 1782 he was residing as a merchant in Philadelphia, and in that year he joined the Mickvé Israel congregation. He married in 1783 Frances Noah, a sister of Manuel Noah. Later he removed to New York and engaged in the commission and brokerage business. On April 2, 1787, he was registered as an elector of the Shearith Israel congregation. By 1792 he had become one of the most successful merchants in the city, and at this time he helped to organize the Board of Stock-Brokers, now known as the "New York Stock Exchange." His name occurs in 1799 in a "list of owners of houses and lots valued at £2,000 or more." He was one of the founders, in 1802, of the Ḥebra Hesed Veemet, a charitable organization connected with the Shearith Israel congregation. He was a state senator in 1810, and it is said that at the time of his death he was a partner of John Jacob Astor.Joel Hart:
Physician; the only son of the foregoing; born in Philadelphia in 1784; died in New York June 14, 1842. He received the degree of M.D. from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, London. He was one of the charter members of the Medical Society of the County of New York. He married, May 2, 1810, in London, Louisa Levien, and had issue. On Feb. 7, 1817, he was appointed by President Madison United States consul at Leith, Scotland, and remained there in that capacity until 1832, when he returned to New York and resumed the practise of medicine. He was well known in masonic circles in New York city.Myer Hart:
First merchant of Easton, Pa.; his original name was "Myer Hart de Shira." He went to America at an early age, and at once engaged in trade. He is classed among the founders of Easton (1750), and was the first shopkeeper there; his name occurs in a list (1752) of the eleven original families of Easton. From the tax-lists of Northampton county it is evident that he was one of its richest merchants. On April 3, 1764, Myer Hart took the oath of allegiance to the colonial government. During the Revolutionary war he was the agent at Easton of David Franks, for the "care of Prisoners in the British Service"; on March 19, 1778, he refuted a charge of cruelty and insult to the prisoners. In August, 1779, he petitioned the "Supreme Executive Council" in regard to the removal of a tenant. About 1782 he must have removed to Philadelphia, for in that year his name occurs among the original members of the Mickvé Israel congregation; in 1785 it occurs in the first Philadelphia directory. In September, 1786, owing to failure in business his estate was sold by the sheriff. The exact date of his death is unknown, although it has been stated that he lived to near the close of the century. He married a daughter of Abraham and Esther de Leon, and had issue.Michael Hart:
Another early resident of Easton; not related to the foregoing; born in 1738; died March 23, 1813. He removed to Pennsylvania early in life, soon becoming one of the wealthiest residents of Easton, according to the assessments on his property. He was (1782) one of the original members of the Mickvé Israel congregation, Philadelphia. He was a member of the first fire-company of Easton. His first wife, Leah, died July 4,1786, aged 32; his second wife, Esther, was a daughter of the Rev. Jacob Raphael Cohen. One of the children by the second marriage was Louisa B. Hart, well known in the Jewish community of Philadelphia.Abraham Hart:
American publisher; born in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 15, 1810; died at Long Branch, N. J., July 22, 1885. At an early age he secured a position in the firm of Carey & Lea, publishers, and continued in their employ until 1829, when he engaged in business with Edward L. Carey under the firm name of Carey & Hart. Many famous books were issued by them. Among the productions of their press were Griswold's "Poets and Poetry of America" (1842), and Longfellow's "Poets and Poetry of Europe" and his "Poems" (1845). They were the first to collect and publish separately the fugitive pieces of Macaulay, Jeffrey, and other well-known English essayists. The most celebrated book issued by Carey & Hart was the now very rare "Yellowplush Correspondence" (1838), the first book of Thackeray's ever published, preceding by several years the firṣt English edition of any of his works. In 1845 Carey withdrew from the firm, and Henry Carey Baird was associated with Abraham Hart under the name of Hart & Baird. Four years later Baird withdrew, and Hart continued the publishing business until 1854, when he retired. The firm had become one of the best-known publishing-houses in America.
Abraham Hart was greatly interested in the Jewish charitable and educational societies of Philadelphia. He was president of the board of managers of the Jewish Foster Home, the (first) Jewish Publication Society, the board of trustees of Maimonides College, and the Mickvé Israel congregation. He was for many years treasurer of the Hebrew Education Society (1848-75), and was interested in the establishment of the Jewish Hospital and the Young Men's Hebrew Association.Bernard Hart:
Merchant; born in England in 1764; died in New York in 1855. He went to Canada in 1777, and removed to New York in 1780, where he engaged in business, keeping up the trade connections he had formed in Canada. During the yellow-fever epidemic of 1795 he was unceasing in his devotion to the afflicted. In 1797 Hart was quartermaster of a brigade of state militia, of which James M. Hughes was brigadier-general. He married in 1806 Rebecca (b. 1783; died 1868), daughter of Benjamin Mendez Seixas, and by her had several children, one of whom was Emanuel Hart.
In 1802 he had associated himself with Leonard Lispenard under the firm name of Lispenard & Hart, and conducted a general commission business. Hart withdrew from the firm in 1813, and then continued in business alone. In 1831 he succeeded Jacob Isaacs as secretary of the New York Stock Exchange, and continued in office until 1853. Hart was interested in the formation of some of the earliest social organizations of New York city, and his name frequently occurs in the records of the Congregation Shearith Israel.Charles Henry Hart:
Son of Samuel Hart; born in Philadelphia Feb. 4, 1847; graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1869 (A.M., LL.B.); admitted to the bar Nov. 14, 1868. On Feb. 17, 1894, Hart met with a severe railroad accident, in consequence of which he gave up the practise of law. He then devoted himself to the study of the history of American art. He has been a director of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and was appointed chairman of the committee on retrospective American art at the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. He is a member of many learned societies, and has been corresponding secretary of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society. Hart is a recognized authority on early American painters and engravers, and is a constant contributor to the magazines on this subject. He has published: "Historical Sketch of National Medals," New York, 1866; "Turner, the Dream Painter," New York, 1879; "Memoir of William Hickling Prescott," 1868; "Bibliographia Lincolniana," Albany, 1870; "Browere's Life Masks of Great Americans," New York, 1899; "Gilbert Stuart's Portraits of Women," New York, 1902; "Hints on Portraits and How to Catalogue Them," Philadelphia; etc.
American dental surgeon; born in New York city Aug. 7, 1865; son of Benjamin I. Hart and grandson of John I. Hart. He was educated at the Columbia Grammar School (New York city) and at the New York College of Dentistry, graduating as doctor of dental surgery in 1886, in which year he began to practise. In 1895 he became professor of operative dentistry, dental pathology, and therapeutics at the New York Dental School, which position he still occupies (1903).
Hart has filled several important positions: in 1899 he was vice-president of the National Dental Association; in 1902 vice-president of the Odontological Society of New York; in 1900-02 president of the New York State Dental Society. He also takes an active interest in communal affairs.
Hart has contributed several essays to the dental journals, among them being "Minute Structure of Dentine," in "Dental Cosmos," 1891, and "The Care of the Teeth from the Second to the Twelfth Year," in "Information," 1900.
The following were among the representatives of the family in Canada:Aaron Hart:
Founder of the Hart family in Canada; born in London, England, in 1724; died at Three Rivers, province of Quebec, Canada, in 1800. He crossed the Atlantic with Sir Frederick Haldimand when that general went to take part in the war in which England wrested Canada from the grasp of France. After being a short time in New York, Hart was appointed commissary officer in Amherst's army, and he was one of those who rode with the staff of that general when he entered Montreal in 1760. Subsequently he was attached to Haldimand's command at Three Rivers. At the close of the war he took up his residence at the latter place, where he entered into extensive mercantile operations and acquired large estates. He became seignior of Becancourt and of Ste. Marguerite and owner of the Fief Marquisat Dusable. At his residence in Three Rivers he received a visit fromEdward, Duke of Kent, the father of Queen Victoria. He assisted in repelling Montgomery's invasion in the winter of 1775, and took an active part in the military operations of that period. He married Dorothea Judah, whose brother, Uriah Judah, was prothonotary of Three Rivers.
Aaron Hart left four sons, Moses, Ezekiel, Benjamin, and Alexander, and four daughters: Catharine married Dr. Bernard Samuel Judah of New York, whose son, Samuel Judah, became attorney-general of Indiana; Charlotte married Moses David of Montreal; Elizabeth remained unmarried; Sarah married Samuel David of Montreal. Moses Hart, the eldest son of Aaron Hart, received the seigniory of Ste. Marguerite and the Fief Marquisat Dusable from his father, and became also seignior of Courval. His descendants are still prominent in Jewish communal affairs in Montreal, notably Dr. David A. Hart, born at Three Rivers in 1844, and Lewis A. Hart, born at Three Rivers in 1847. The latter was president of the Spanish and Portuguese congregation of Montreal in 1891. He was for some years lecturer on notarial practise at McGill University, and was the author of "On Christian Attempts to Convert Jews" and "Some Questions Answered," two ably written works of a controversial character.Ezekiel Hart:
Second son of Aaron Hart; born at Three Rivers in 1767: died in 1843. He succeeded his father as seignior of Becancourt. He was the first Jew elected to the Canadian Parliament, and distinguished himself by the leading part he took in the struggle of 1807-09 to obtain full civil rights for his coreligionists in Canada (see Canada). During the War of 1812-14 he served with distinction as an officer of militia. He was survived by seven children, one of whom, Samuel Becancourt Hart, took a leading part in securing the passage of the Act of William IV. which conceded political equality to the Jews in Canada. Aaron E. Hart and Adolphus M. Hart, also sons of Ezekiel Hart, were prominent members of the legal profession. Adolphus M. Hart was the author of a history of the Mississippi Valley. He married Constance, a daughter of Benjamin Hart, and one of their sons, Gerald E. Hart, of Montreal, was the author of "The Fall of New France," recognized as one of the best works on one of the most important epochs in Canadian history.Benjamin Hart:
Third son of Aaron Hart; born in 1779 at Montreal; died in 1855. He resided with his parents at Three Rivers, removing some years after his father's death to Montreal. He took a leading part in Jewish communal work in the latter city during the earlier half of the last century (see Canada). He was also identified with many Montreal non-sectarian institutions, and was one of the founders of the Montreal General Hospital. He married Harriot Judith Hart, a daughter of Ephraim Hart of New York, who was one of the founders of the New York Stock Exchange. He left numerous off-spring.
Aaron Philip Hart, eldest son of Benjamin Hart, was distinguished as a learned member of the Montreal bar. He actively engaged in political life, and during the rebellion of 1837-38 raised a company of loyalist militia. Other members of the family were active in helping to preserve peace in the district of Three Rivers. Wellington Hart, the second son of Benjamin Hart, died in Montreal in 1891. He resided for a time in the United States, where he became colonel of a Michigan regiment. He was later attached to the War Department at Washington. Returning afterward to Canada, he became manager of the Metropolitan Bank at Coaticook. Frederick Hart, third son of Benjamin Hart, was adjutant-general of Louisiana.
- Publications Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. ii. 48; iv. 88-89, 215-218; vi. 101-103; viii. 127-133;
- H. P. Rosenbach, The Jews of Philadelphia Prior to 1800;
- Memorial History of New York City, iii. 151;
- Pennsylvania Archives;
- Appleton's Cyclopœdia of American Biog.;
- J. C. Derby, Fifty Years Among Authors, Books, and Publishers;
- Morais, The Jews of Philadelphia, pp. 54-58;
- Who's Who in America, 1901-02;
- Daly, The Settlement of the Jews in North America, pp. 55-56;
- Scoville, The Old Merchants of New York City, ii. 119-129.
- Records of the Hart Family;
- Minutes and Correspondence of the Corporation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Shearith Israel, Montreal;
- Joseph Tassé, Droits Politiques des Juifs en Canada, in La Revue Canadienne, Montreal, June, 1870;
- Catalogue Raisonné of Loan Exhibition of Canadian Historical Portraits, etc., of the Numismatic and Antiquarian Society of Montreal;
- C. I. de Sola, The History of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, in Borthwick's Gazetteer of Montreal, 1892;
- idem, in The Star (Montreal), Dec. 30, 1893;
- Occident, vol. i., No. 8, Philadelphia, 1843.