*Migration Histories > Jewish > Working Lives
* The Early Life of Sir Montague Burton 
Burton was born on 13 August 1885 in Kurkel, Kovno province, in Lithuanian Russia. The son of Hyman Jehuda and Rachel Elky Osinsky, his name was originally Meshe David Osinsky.

Kovno Map
From a map of the Baltic states, showing Kovno province.
Burton was not a man to dwell on his origins, and would not talk about his early life. What is known about his background has come from indirect sources and is best summed up in the biography by Eric M Sigsworth.

His father is said to have been a bookseller, who died at the age of 60, soon after his son's birth. His widow then married a man called Abraham Rusef, and Meshe went to live with his uncle, Soliman Osinsky, a community leader in Kovno and proprietor of saw- and flour-mills.

As a youngster, Meshe attended the Slobodka *Yeshiva, where he would receive intensive instruction in the *talmud. He left Russia when he was just 15, with the aim of setting up in business in Britain - taking with him the equivalent of 100 to get him started. But he remained attracted to intellectual pursuits throughout his life: in an autograph book dating from 1919, he observed, 'I emptied my life to fill my purse. Now I can't reverse the deal'.

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Creators: Brett Harrison