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With special thanks to John O'Brien, wife of Elizabeth (Noar) O'Brien for his generous donation of $50.  This allowed the 1st step of research on the English Noar's.  The first step is meant to determine what records are available and provide direction.  Further work can be done, as detailed at the bottom of the report, as funds are made available.  This work was mainly carried out at the Russian State Archives in St. Petersburg, Russia.

A. What Name? - There are 2 pieces of information that point to the origin of the English Noar's as Nor/Norr.
1.  Of 3 brothers who left Russia, 2 went to America and 1 to England.  The brothers who came to America (Joshua and Jacob) used the spelling Nor/Norr.  In fact, if you search the Ellis Island site ( you can see the record for Jacob Nor and his family.
   The brother (Joseph) who went to England used the spelling Noar.

2.  The Noar/Nor's were living in the St. Petersburg area when they immigrated.  However, the family's native shtetl was Vabolinsk (also know as Vabolniki, Vobolnik) in Lithuania (90 miles NNW of Vilnius) in the Ponevezh District of Lithuania.  "Nor" is an uncommon name and is found only in the Ponevezh and Rossieny districts in the early 1900's.  As you can see below, the person in the Rossieny district actually moved there from the Ponevezh district.  The name Noar was found only in towns of Oshmiany and Vilnius.  According to the Dictionary of Jewish  Surnames in the Russian Empire, the 2 names may be related.

B. Research in St. Petersburg
1. The Russian State Historic Archives has several trade-industrial reference books:
a. "All St. Petersburg" directory  for 1892-1917,
b. "Index of Living Quarters and Buildings of St. Petersburg" for 1823,
c. "The Address Book of St. Petersburg" for 1837,
d. "Memorandum Book of St. Petersburg Province" for the year 1873,
e. "Register of Houses in St. Petersburg" for 1891
The only reference to Noar or Nor was Sophia Noar in 1917 that I have mentioned previously as probably being of the Vilna Noar's.

2. Also checked were the 1906 and 1912 Voter's Lists for participation in the election of the State Duma for St. Petersburg province.  Such lists, which were published as an attachment to the local newspapers, are a very good source of information since they included people of different social classes and provided various data on them (occupation, education, tax-paying, property).  However the surname Noar/Nor is missing there.

3. The Russian State Historic Archives has a card index on Change of Citizenship.  This was checked as well.  However there is no mention of the Noar or Nor family either

C. Research in Panevezhis district (Vobolniki is in the district):
1. Voters Lists of 1906 contained:
Nor, Israel ben Hirsch - resident of Vobolniki
Nor, David-Yankel ben Hirsch - renter of an apartment in Vobolniki.
Nor, Chaim - resident of Vobolniki.
Nor, Hirsch - resident of the borough of Zheimeli (Panevezhis district)
Nor, Chaim - resident of the borough of Zheimeli (Panevezhis district)
Nor, Moisha ben Yankel - renter of an apartment (Georgievskaia street) in the
        city of Panevezhis.
Nor, Nison ben Isaac - trade (Remigolskaia street)in the city of the
Nor, Isaac ben Hirsch - trade (Bazarnaia street) in the city of Panevezhis

2. Voters lists of 1912
Nor, Israel ben Hirsch - owner of a house in Vobolniki
Nor, David-Yankel ben Hirsch - owner of a house in Vobolniki
Nor, Chaim - resident of Vobolniki.
Nor, Zelman ben Isaac - trade (Remigolskaia street)in the city of the
Nor, Nison ben Isaac - trade (Remigolskaia street)in the city of the
Nor, Isaac ben Ovsey - homeowner in city of Panevezhis (Remigolskaia street).
Nor, Isaac ben Hirsch - owner of house in the borough of Skavdvili (Rossieny
       district).  He originated from the Panevezhis district since he is in the
       Panevezhes list.

3. Other info from the site:
a. Revision List of 1834
Nor, Hirsch ben Abram in Vabolniki

b. Box Tax List - 1892
Nor, Isaac ben Ovsey, hat maker, 7 people in family, from city of Panevizhis
Nor, Moisha ben Yankel, trader, 4 people in family, from city of Panevizhis
Nor, Nison ben Isaac, hat maker, 5 people in family, from city of Panevizhis
Nor, Shemer, small proprietor, poor, 3 males, 4 females in family,
        from city of Vabolninki.
Nor, Mortchel ben Hirch, small proprietor, well-to-do, 5 males, 4 females in
        family, from city of Vabolninki.
Nor, Israel ben Moishe, cabman, poor, 2 males, 2 females in family, from city
        of Vabolninki.
Nor, Mortkhel, tailor, poor 4 males, 4 females in family, from city of

c. Rabbi Electors List - 1899
Nor, David Yankel ben Hirsch, from city of Vabolninki.
Nor, Israel ben Hirsch, from city of Vabolninki.

d. Box Tax List - 1906
Nor, Isaak, hat maker, 4 in family, from city of Panevizhes

D. Information from the Kovno and Vilno provinces.
The following issues of the Memorandum Books were studied -
The province of Kovno - years 1848-1849, 1851-1855, 1859-1867, 1869-1915.
The province of Vilno - years 1850-1863, 1866-1895, 1898-1915.
The Memorandum Books are pre-revolutionary reference books.  They were published in each province and included lists of residents in the province.  Also they provided information about civil officials and those who had  some business, owners of some property, etc.  Common peasants were not listed.

E. How did they get from Vabolinsk to St. Petersburg?
From the researcher: "Perhaps they came to St. Petersburg from the Baltic Region.  This was rather a widespread phenomena.  Townsmen (people who were registered in some town or settlement, that is those who pay taxes where they were born or in place of their constant residing) could go out with a certificate of the bourgeois administration.  These documents confirmed that the townsmen are from a particular place and are registered in the
bourgeois community.  It was a proof of their reliability.  They paid for the handicraft certificate in the town where they came continuing to pay the necessary taxes where they were registered."

F. WHERE they lived?
   It was very difficult for Jews to get a special permission to live outside the Jewish Pale.  Moreover the strict regulations for providing resident permission were established for capital cities.  For example, St. Petersburg was a residence of the Imperial family.
   Jews could not reside in St. Petersburg and the suburb towns which were the Tsar's residences without a special permission. Such a permission could be issued to the handicraftsmen which had some profession useful for other population. For example a large number of Jewish tailors, shoemakers, peak-cap makers resided in the town Tsarskoe Selo in the suburb of Petersburg in spite of the fact that the Tsar's summer palace was there. But a special decision regarding each person (family) had to be made.
   The family story is that Joseph Noar (who went to England) was a tailor to the Tsar.  Chances are that he was not a personal tailor to the Tsar, but likely to the army. This profession was in need, and many tailors who were engaged in making army
uniforms could easily reside in St. Petersburg, or its suburbs.
   It was said, by the original immigrants to England and America that they were from St. Petersburg and from "Neva."  Neva is the river in the North-West of  Russia.  The city of St. Petersburg was founded on the banks of  this river.  There were a number of settlements whose names were formed from the name of the river (such as Nevskii, Nevskaia, etc.), but there is no settlement called in the same way as the river, that is Neva.  Perhaps the early Noar/Nor's meant that they lived not far from the Neva river, that is in the St. Petersburg region, when they said that they were from Neva.  It was quite  difficult for Jews to live in the very St. Petersburg, because a special permission was necessary.

1. The most promising is to apply to another archives - Central State Historic  Archives of St.
    Petersburg (The documents in this archives cover the period  from the 18th till the 20th
    century).  Though the problem is that the  archives was closed for repairs for a long time and
    a number of archival  collections were passed for storage to another depository.  Some of
    them have been accessible by now, the others are not yet.  To establish if the
    necessary files (collections) are accessible will take $42 (3 hours x $14 = $42).

2. Collection of documents of the St.  Petersburg Handicraft Administration.   This institution
    was responsible for issuing handicraft certificates and  provided permissions for residing in
    St. Petersburg because of business affairs.  Material of this collection contain biographical
    information on  handicraftsmen who were officially registered in St. Petersburg, sometimes
   members of their families are also mentioned. Some documents, of course, concern the very
   business. To establish if the necessary files are accessible will take $42 (3 hours x $14).
   After this  they will inform us about the availability of sources for studying, their number
   and estimation the full work with them.

3. Collection of documents of the St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue including
   birth/marriage/death  certificates, family lists, etc. (22 HR X $14 = $308)

4. Vilnius Archives
     a.  Vital records (birth/death/marriage) of the Vabolnik Jewish Community for the years
           1872 - 1914: $70
     b.  Vital records of the Panevizhes Jewish Community for 1844 - 1915: $70.

5. Kaunas Archives
    a. Records for Panevizhes and Vabolnik: Tax payer or elector lists (head of households only)
        for 1884, 1855, 1892, 1910, 1912:  $70

If anyone has interest in pursuing any of these resources, please let me know.  Scott Noar at

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