The Waterman name has changed over the generations and was probably of German derivation. Emanuel Wascherman, born in 1701, is the direct antecedent of Levie/Levy Abraham Waterman and he is a direct ancestor of me, Joseph Waterman. It isn't until we see Emanuel's grandson, Emanuel Mendele Hartog Hirts Waterman, born in Amsterdam in 1764, that we see the Waterman name change appear for the first time.
A city register for Jews living in Amsterdam in 1851 to 1853 shows a married Levy Abraham Waterman living in the Rode Leeuwengang (Red Lion walk). This was one of the most notorious slums of the Valkenburgstrasse with single room dwellings extremely primitive with no plumbing and only a bucket for their ablutions! As one walked through Red Lion walk, you would have come to a courtyard where a dozen or so families lived in poverty. They had no curtains and if they had a toilet, it was shared. There were no street lights and no road only beaten earth or sand.
In 1852 Levy and his wife,Betsy, were living in Amsterdam with their son Abraham, who was born on the 5th July 1852 but died in 1857 aged 4 or 5 years old. Also living with them were Betsy's mother, Daatje Koekoek and Betsy's brother, Isaac Koekoek.
The name Koekoek in Dutch means 'Cuckoo' and comes derives frrom the Napolionic invasion of the Netherlands around 1811. Napoleon Bonaparte decreed that every person must have a surname. Prior to the invasion, most people in Holland were either named after their trades or where they worked. These could change during their lifetime, necessitating a change of surname. Napoleon's decree put an end to this but many Dutch objected to this and so many gave themselves silly names like cuckoo in protest.
Levy Waterman's occupation at this time was brushmaker. He was born on 21st June 1825 and married on the 10th March 1852 to the 19 year old Betsy who was born on 19th November 1833. Most Jews at this time were unskilled workers doing menial jobs such as Brushmaker, peddlar, porter, sweeper and shoeshine.
The Waterman family that arrived in the UK from Holland in early September 1869 were basically economic migrants, poor and to some degree, illiterate. The conditions that they found when they arrived in Spitalfields, London, were little better than what they had left in Amsterdam. However, there is a ship's certificate showing a 14 year old Levy Waterman sailing from the port of Rotterdam to London on the 'SS Batavia' arriving in the port of London on 6th March 1839. It is quite possible that he could have met Betsy in London and then travelled back to her home town or village to get married as was the customat that time, or indeed that they met and married in Amsterdam through an arrangement, which was also a custom which is still prevalent to this day amongst orthodox Jews.
In the 1871 census, Levy and Betsy and their chidren are all living at 17 Freeman Street, which was one of the streets that formed the Tenterground area of Spitalfields. The name 'Tenterground' derives from the area where woven fabric that was stretched out to dry on tenter hooks. This area was first settled by French Protestant Huguenots exiled because of their faith prior to the Jews arring in the middle of the 19th century. At the time of Levy's death in 1901, they were still living at 17 Freeman street, although their children had mostly moved on.