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Sir Otto Jaffe (1846 - 1929):
Businessman and politician

Otto Jaffe was born in Hamburg 13 August 1846, the third son of Daniel Jaffe, who with his brother Isaac Joseph had established the successful linen business of Jaffe Brothers in Hamburg with offices in Dundee and elsewhere. He set up business and residence in Belfast in 1851. Otto was educated in Hamburg, Holywood and Switzerland. After carrying on business in New York from 1865 to 1877, he became chief director of the Belfast firm. 

Otto was elected a City Councillor in 1894 and became the city's Lord Mayor in 1899, being knighted in March of the following year. He served as High Sheriff and was re-elected Lord Mayor in 1904. 

Sir Otto was well known throughout his public life in Belfast for his generosity of both time and money. During his first term as Lord Mayor he and the Lady Mayoress raised £10,000 for the dependants of soldiers and sailors serving in the Boer War. He contributed £1,000 to the original building fund for the Royal Victoria Hospital where he was Governor. In 1905 Sir Otto gave £4,000 to the fund for better equipment for Queen's College (now university). He was an active member of the committee that got the Public Libraries Act extended to Belfast, leading to the first free library being established. 

As President of the Belfast Hebrew congregation he made a huge contribution to the consolidation of the province's Jewish population, providing most of the funds for the new synagogue in Annesley Street, Carlisle Circus, in 1904. He had a deep interest in education and founded the Jaffe Public Elementary School at the corner of Cliftonville and Antrim Road in 1907, which, by his stipulation, was not exclusively Jewish, either in its management, staffing or pupils. He was a justice of the peace, a member of the Harbour Board and the German Consul.

In 1916, after 25 years service in Belfast, and despite the service of Sir Otto's son Daniel in the British army, he was forced to move to England as a result of the intimidation of the family during the war due to their German roots. 

Sir Otto died  in London on 29 April 1929 and was cremated there.


Born: 13 August 1846
Died: 29 April 1929
Patrick Devlin