Sarah Lyon (1703-1807), Jews Burial Ground, Salthouse Lane, Ipswich.
Sarah Lyon or Lyons was known for living to a great age and for being the subject of a John Constable painting.
Sarah was probably born in the German village of Ashich in 1703. ‘She went into service at Amsterdam, Holland, where she lived till past her 27th year, at which time she married to Jacob Abraham, by whom she had one child only' (Letter from J.A. to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, March 10 1808 stating the information was given by her son, Isaac Abraham). She came to England after the birth of her son and married Abraham Lyons soon after her arrival. She would have been one of the early settlers, when people of the Jewish faith were allowed into this country again (in 1290 Jewish people were expelled from England).
The Jewish Chronicle of 1896 wrote that Sarah had a son and a daughter, both also lived to be upwards of 90 years old and all lived in St Peter's Parish, possibly in St Peters Street. The reference to Sarah having a daughter is contested by information in the Monthly Magazine 1808, which indicates she had only one child.
Ipswich was one of the few towns outside London where Jews settled. By 1750 there was an established community. The plot for the Jewish burial ground within the parish of St Clements was purchased by the community in 1796 and was in use for around 55 years. Sarah Lyon's grave can be found in this burial ground.
There are two portraits of Sarah Lyon. A large oil painting said to be ‘painted by John Constable about the year 1804 when she was 101 years old' (Jewish chronicle 1896). The portrait hangs in Skirball Cultural Centre, Los Angeles. The second portrait is a print engraved from a lost miniature by W.S. Lethbridge.