Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal

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This Section of the Web Site is devoted to Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal.  There are extra area linked off of this page adding some further information concerning Antonio and Samuel Pepys.  I have also added a section about the Petition to Oliver Cromwell.  In addition I have added links to The Canary Islands and Fundão in the following text these links contain photographs, maps and extra biographical detail.

We may never be certain that Antonio was the founding ancestor of the Ferdinand and Ferdinando family in the United Kingdom however, from a purely historical point of view, Antonio is a very important character in the Resettlement of the Jews in the United Kingdom and this area will grow as I collate the information I have about him.

Antonio was born about 1590 in either Fundão (Portugal) or Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands.  Little is known of his early life until the earliest records of his trading as a Merchant come to light through various documents from notaries and courts in Amsterdam and London as well as extensive work undertaken by the Jewish Historical Society of England.  

We know that Antonio resided for a while in Rouen (France).  He was a Merchant of some note and features prominently during Cromwell's days as one of the principal grain contractors for Cromwell's armies.  Most of the records available to date feature around his trading activities and so we have little insight as to the man himself aside from a few small extracts which we must thank The Jewish Historical Society of England for bringing to light in various articles.  His Tombstone inscription (see Inscription section) details some of his attributes and an article by Lucien Wolf describes Him as a handy swordsman, who rode a horse and had a full beard.  

As these articles progress, I hope that you will see that he was quite a character and an extremely important person in 17th Century History especially featuring in the re-admission of the Jews to the United Kingdom.

One day we may, with certainty say, that he was our ancestor.  Until then, we will have to content ourselves with the possibility that he may be our ancestor.

A brief outline is below which I hope to add to as time and more facts come to light:

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Antonio Ferdinando or Fernandez or Fernandes Carvajal

(~1590 - 1659) - A Biography (eventually)


By David Ferdinando

November 2001 

Antonio Ferdinando or Fernandes Carvajal was born in either Fundão Portugal or the Canary Islands in about 1590 of Spanish or Portuguese Parents.  It is recorded that Antonio spent much of his life in The Canary Islands before moving to Rouen in France.  When the Marrano community was broken up in 1632, he moved to London where more information is known about him. 

The spelling of Fernandes is interchangeable in many of the books i.e. Fernandes and Fernandez as well as Ferdinando.  He is also known by his Jewish (or synagogue?) name, Abraham Israel Fernandez Carvajal.  Other texts have him named as Moses Carvajal, Anthony Fernandez, Antonio Ferdinando etc.

Abraham Israel Fernandez Carvajal married Marie Rodrigues Nunez in about 1639 in London (IGI reference Film #1903754)  Not verified although we know that Maria is his wife.  The name Maria and Marie are interchangeable throughout the documents I have seen.  Maria is also known as Esther.

They had two sons:

George Fernandez Carvajal was born about 1640 (IGI reference Film # 1903893) and 

Joseph Ferdinando Carvajal was born about 1642 (IGI reference Film 1903923)  

Again both of these are unverified although we know they are his sons from his will.  None of these records has been viewed in person.  These have been obtained from custom IGI search.

 We can be certain that his wife was Maria (Esther on the Tomb) and that his sons were Alonso Jorge (George) a.k.a. Isaac (Ishac), and Joseph a.k.a. Jacob.  All four are buried at the  “Velho” cemetery in Mile End, London, United Kingdom.  See Memorial Area for more details.

 Fundão is in the province of Beira Baixa in the distrito de Castelo Branco and the cidade de Castelo Branco, Portugal.

The following information is gleaned from a number of books in the possession of the author and acknowledgement of their author and copyright is made in reproducing their information below.

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 In the book "The Portuguese Jewish Community in London (1656 - 1830)" by Edgar Samuel the following is recorded:

 "In 1635, Antonio Fernandes Carvajal (or Carvalhal) settled in London. He was born in Fundão in Portugal, lived for a long time in the Canary Islands and then settled in Rouen, until he was obliged to leave.  He lived in London as a Catholic13 and built up a considerable business as the London agent of Jorge de Paz, Baron de Silveira of Madrid,14 who was the largest contractor for shipping bullion to the Spanish army in the Netherlands.15  He was also a major importer of Canary Wine.16  In 1654, when war was declared with Spain, Carvajal renounced his Spanish nationality.  He and his sons took English nationality and at the same time converted openly to Judaism.17  He was to be the founder of the first post-expulsion London Synagogue in 1656."

 The Resettlement

"The Leaders of the Independent party, which seized power after Pride's Purge in 1648, were keen to build up English trade by copying successful Dutch methods.  They were also opposed to State-enforced religious uniformity.  When their Ambassadors visited the Netherlands in 1651, they went to the Portuguese Synagogue and made contact with its Lisbon-born junior Haham, Menasseh ben Israel (alias Manoel Dias Soeiro), and eventually, in 1655, he was invited to come to England to petition publicly for the readmission of the Jews.  The measure was pretty unpopular, as was made clear at a public debate at Whitehall Palace, but since the judges ruled that there was no law against Jews living in England, Cromwell allowed the Portuguese merchants to open a synagogue, lease a cemetery and openly practice Judaism, but immigration was tightly limited.18  Several of the founders of the Jewish community in England, including Carvajal, were Portuguese Jews from Spain.  His successor as its President, Manuel Martines Dormido had been born in Spain of Portuguese parents and had then settled in Amsterdam and in Dutch Brazil, before coming to England.19  It is this background which explains why, although the community always described itself as Portuguese, its early records are largely Spanish, including its first Acuerdos, or regulations."

The Merchants

"The trade of London's Portuguese Jewish Merchants was concentrated in areas where the had special advantage of language, Kinship or personal experience.  Antonio Fernandes Carvajal had been a wine importer and his business was continued by the Francia family,46 who were Portuguese Jews from Malaga.47  Before long they opened a house in Bordeaux and imported Claret as well as Canary Wine.48  In general, even after the Methuen Treaty of 1703 gave Portuguese wines an advantage over the French, the Portuguese wine trade was dominated by the merchants of the English factories in Lisbon and Oporto and Jewish merchants in London trading to Portugal tended to specialise in the export of English cloth and the import of colonial produce and bullion.49"

 "The second trade, in which the Sephardi Jews specialised, was that with their relatives in the English Caribbean colonies of Jamaica, Barbados, Surinam and Nevis.  Even in 1688, there were two synagogues in Barbados and one in Jamaica.50"

 The Clergy

"The London Sephardi community was too small to sustain a Yeshiba to train its own Rabbis, so they had to be imported, usually along the customary trade routes.  They were also exported from London to the English colonies in the Caribbean.  The job of Haham was, to preach and teach and to rule on matters of Jewish Law, but the Government of the community was in the hands of the merchants and brokers who staffed the Mahamad and the Elders.  A good example of the relationship was the decision by a majority of the Elders, on appointing Moses Cohen de Azevedo as Haham, that he should not wear a beard."71

 "We do not know why exactly Menasseh ben Israel was not offered the job of Haham, but his independence, high profile and political activism, would not have commended itself to those who wished to rule their own community.  In the event, Carvajal appointed Moseh Athias of Hamburg as first Hazan (Cantor). He died in the Great Plague of 1665, and their first Haham Jacob Saspotas, a native of Oran, moved to Amsterdam to avoid it."72 

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From the book "A History of the Jews in England" by Cecil Roth (second edition 1949).§ii


Chapter VII - Readmission

 "A primary factor in the foreign policy of the Commonwealth was the protection and encouragement of English commerce.  This was the cause of the war with Holland, and it played its part in that with Spain.  But negative steps to protect trade were not sufficient.  It was patent that the Jewish merchants had been very largely responsible for the growth and prosperity of Leghorn, of Hamburg, and especially Amsterdam.  Were they persuaded to settle in London, they might do as much there as well.  Fugitives from Spain and Portugal would transfer their capital thither, instead of to the Low Countries, and perhaps some of the Amsterdam colony might be persuaded to follow them.  With them they would bring, not only their wealth and their ability, but also their worldwide commercial connections, which must inevitably enrich their country of residence.  In the West Indian trade also Jewish influence was strong, and their introduction might prove no less useful than naval and military action in making English commerce supreme in the Spanish Main.  The whole question of the readmission of the Jews was, from one point of view, simply an episode in the Anglo-Dutch and Anglo-Spanish rivalry.  It is impossible to fathom the entire complex of reasons that drove Cromwell himself in this direction, but the intensity of his personal interest in the question of the readmission of the Jews is certain.1"


"The ordinary Englishman realised only imperfectly what the Protector knew very well, that infiltration had already begun on a small scale.  The recovery in English commerce under the Commonwealth had resulted in the formation in London once more of a settlement of Spanish and Portuguese merchants, many of whom were New Christians - especially so after 1630, when the recrudescence of persecution in Portugal drove hundreds of that category into exile.  Moreover, the formation of open communities in the other great commercial centres of Northern Europe made it natural for agents, correspondents, or rivals to settle beyond the North Sea.  An impetus was given to the process in 1632, when in consequence of internal dissension; the crypto-Jewish congregation, which had sprung up, at Rouen was denounced to the authorities and temporarily broken up.1  One of its principal members had been Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal, a native of Fundão in Portugal, but long resident in the Canary Islands.  He, with perhaps one or two others, had settled in London. Notwithstanding at least one prosecution for recusancy owing to his failure to attend Church,2 it did not take him long to establish his position in his new home.  Before many years had passed, he was amongst the most prominent merchants in the City.  He possessed his own ships, trading with the East and West Indies, as well as the Levant, in a large variety of commodities.  He imported gunpowder and munitions on an extensive scale, brought large quantities of bullion from abroad, and during the Civil War was grain contractor for Parliament.  When in 1650 informal hostilities began with Spain his goods were expressly exempted from seizure by the Council of State, and he was given facilities for continuing his commercial operations.3"


 "Matters were at this stage when the little group of London Marranos was alarmed by a new development in foreign affairs.  In the autumn of 1655, war had broken out between England and Spain.  Early in the following March, the Council of State issued a proclamation declaring that all Spanish moneys, merchandise, and shipping to be lawful prize.  The possible repercussions on the nascent community were obvious.  Its members had been born, almost without exception, In Spain, or else in Portugal when that country had been under the Spanish yoke.  They had indeed fled, for the most part, from the rigours of the Inquisition, and had no thought of returning.  Nevertheless, they were Spanish subjects in the eyes of the Law.  One of the most affluent among them after Carvajal (recently endenizened and therefore safe from molestation) was Antonio Rodrigues Robles, a wealthy merchant of Duke's Place.  A jealous compatriot, incited by a scrivener named Francis Knevett, denounced him to the authorities; and orders were immediately issued for the seizure and sequestration of all his property, including two ships lying in the Thames.

The entire group was thrown into consternation.  If Robles' property was confiscated, few could consider themselves safe.  It was agreed even by those who had previously been satisfied with their anomalous status that the best course was to throw themselves upon Cromwell's mercy declaring themselves openly as Jews, and requesting his protection.  On March 24th - only ten days after the first steps had been taken against Robles - a petition was presented to him, requesting written permission to meet for private devotion according to Jewish rites in their houses without fear of molestation, as they had hitherto done, and to have a burial place for their dead.  Cromwell immediately referred the request to the Council for a decision.  Even at this, his third attempt, he could not have his way - it is an interesting sidelight on his imagined omnipotence.  Only on June 24th did the Council consider the question on which the Lord Protector had set his heart, and even then it refused to take action.  Nevertheless the lead given by his associates indicated to Robles what was the wisest course to follow.  On the same day that they presented their petition he submitted a request for the restitution of his property on the grounds that he was not a Spaniard, but a Portuguese 'of the Hebrew Nation'.  On April 15th he followed this up by a fresh memorandum in which he recounted his life-story - how he was a Jew, born in Portugal; how his family had been driven from place to place by reason of the Inquisition; how his father had lost his life, his mother had been maimed, and many of his kindred burned alive, in consequence of its persecutions; how he himself had come after many vicissitudes to England, hoping to find peace and security at last.  The whole document was admirably calculated to arouse the sympathy of the pope-hating, inquisition fearing Englishmen of the period.  In the following weeks affidavits confirming his statement that he was 'of the Hebrew nation and religion' were sent by a number of his Marrano associates, who thus ranged themselves at his side.  In the subsequent investigations it transpired that there were in London over twenty such families, some of whom had resided there for a considerable time.  Consideration of the case did not take long.  The Council of State sent the papers to the Admiralty Commissioners, requesting a prompt decision.  The latter after summoning the witnesses, reported that they were unable to give any definite opinion of the question of nationality.  The affair thus had to be decided from the other angle - that of religion.  On May 16th the Council of State ordered all the warrants to be discharged, and reinstated Robles in the possession of his property.  As a Spanish Catholic his position had been open to question.  As a refugee Jew he was safe.

Thus by a typical test case, the legality of the residence of Jews in England was recognised.  The forecast which foreign observers had made after the Whitehall conference turned out to be correct.  Unwilling on the one hand to put himself in opposition to the obvious desire of his country, or on the other to deprive it of the advantages for which he hoped, Cromwell determined to follow an oblique policy: to 'connive' at the settlement of the Jews without formally authorising it.  It appears, however, that he must have intimated informally to the leading members of the London community that there was no objection to their acting as though their petition of March 24th had been granted.  In any case, in December 1656 a house in Cree Church Lane was rented for use as a synagogue1.  A couple of months later a piece of ground at Mile End was leased by Carvajal and (Simão) de Caceres as a cemetery.  Not very long after, a son of Manuel Martinez Dormido was admitted to the Exchange as a licensed broker without having to take the prescribed Christological oath; and a Jerusalem Rabbi, Nathan Spira, came to England by invitation to collect funds among gentile sympathisers for the distressed Jews of the Holy Land.2  The settlement of the Jews in the country may not have been authorised3; but it was a fact, and not even one which had to be kept secret.

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From the book "Essays and Portraits in Anglo Jewish History" by Cecil Roth

 The Mystery of the Resettlement

 "Oliver Cromwell, now Lord Protector (to whom in this capacity the two petitions were addressed), was obviously inclined to regard them favourably.  It was not only a question of his native tolerance, but also of his perhaps exaggerated appreciation of the economic importance of the Jews and his hope that they might serve as an additional means to oust Dutch trade from its them predominant position.  Moreover, he was personally acquainted as it seems with some members of the crypto-jewish colony established in London - such as the merchant-magnate Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, formerly of Rouen - whose close foreign contacts made them useful to him as "intelligencers".  He accordingly referred to Dormido's application to the Council of State, which in turn appointed a small committee to consider the matter"

 "Meanwhile, the London group continued their gradual, unostentatious preparations for the organisation of their religious life, in terms of realities and not messianic dreams.  They may have been surprised at the degree of sympathy, which they found among their neighbours, the ordinary citizens, as distinct from the jealous merchant-princes or the argumentative theologians.  The purpose of the work that was being done in the newly acquired house in Creechurch Lane was generally known, and was even mentioned in a casual fashion in the parish records, but no attempt to disturb it.  And when Antonio Fernandez Carvajal died in November 1659 and was laid to rest in the cemetery he acquired.  The great bell of the parish church was tolled, and Samuel Pepys inquisitively visited the synagogue for the memorial service a month later."

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From the book "A Life of Menasseh Ben Israel Rabbi, Printer and Diplomat" by Cecil Roth 1934

 Chapter IX - The Hope of Israel

 "The interruption was only temporary.  Any colony of Spanish and Portuguese traders must necessarily have comprised in the seventeenth century a considerable proportion of New Christians, of greater or lesser sincerity.  Many were transitory, but others became permanent settlers.  Thus, as the century advanced, a little Marrano community was formed in London once again.  An impetus was given in 1632, when, in consequence of internal dissension, the crypto-jewish congregation at Rouen was denounced to the authorities and temporarily broken up.  One of its principal members had been Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, a native of Fundão in Portugal, but long resident in the Canary Islands.  He, with perhaps one or two others, had settled in London.  It had not taken him long to establish his position in his new home.  Before many years had passed, he had made himself a name as one of the most prominent merchants in the City.  He possessed his own ships, trading with the East and West Indies, as well as the Levant, in a large variety of commodities.  He imported gunpowder on an extensive scale, brought large quantities of bullion from abroad, and during the Civil War was grain contractor for the Parliament.  When in 1648 war had broken out with Portugal, his goods were expressly exempted from seizure by the Council of State, and he was given facilities for continuing his commercial operations.  Other members of the Marrano colony included Domingo Vaez de Brito, Domingo Rodrigues Francia, Antonio Rodrigues Robles, and Duarte Henriques Alvares (who almost contemporaneously, was burned in effigy as a Judaizer by the Inquisition at Funchal (Madeira?)).  After Carvajal himself, the most interesting character was Simão de Caceres, a fiery intriguer who supplied Cromwell with invaluable information and was anxious to be avenged on the Spaniards for their cruelty towards his people.  At the time when the question of the readmission was in the air, he laid before the Lord Protector a scheme for the fortification of Jamaica (which he apparently knew at first hand) and another for an expedition against Chile, in which a Jewish contingent was to take part42.  All were living nominally as Catholics, attending Mass regularly in the Chapel of the French or Savoy Ambassador.  It was notorious, however, that their sympathies with any form of Christianity were lukewarm.  "Touching Judaism", James Howell had written in 1653 to a friend in Amsterdam, "Some corners of our City smell as rank of it as doth yours there"."

 Chapter X - The Mission to England

Pg 227.  "It was, probably, in the middle of September that Menasseh arrived in London.  His first proceeding was no doubt to communicate with Dormido (Menasseh's Brother in Law who went in place of Menasseh due to potential problems with his safety - my note!), who put him in touch with the little group of Marrano merchants settled in the City.  Their collaboration was necessary for one matter of the utmost importance.  The Jewish New Year 5416 was to begin on September 22nd4.  It is inconceivable that Menasseh should have been willing to forgo any of the observances customary on this solemn occasion.  The religious rites hitherto performed by the little London colony had no doubt been sporadic and incomplete.  It was necessary for them henceforth to comply with tradition in every detail.  On the High Festivals that autumn, Jewish services were held with all due formality in London.  Samuel ben Israel (Menasseh's son) , perhaps read the service; and, for the first time since the Jews had been driven out by Edward I, 365 years before, four walls in the City of London re-echoed to the long wail of the ceremonial ram's horn.  There can be little doubt that a millenary exhortation was delivered by the distinguished visitor from Amsterdam5. 

Immediately after the Holy days, Menasseh set to work, he considered it beneath his dignity to live in the crowded, sordid, City, where the Marrano merchants, almost without exception, were congregated.  He took up lodgings accordingly in the fashionable Strand, "over against the New Exchange".  Hence, he could walk over to the City if he desired to confer with Carvajal or Dormido, or to attend service at one of their houses; while, on the other hand, he was within easy reach of the Government offices in Whitehall.  Here lay the essential part of his work."

Chapter XI - Disappointment

Pg 250.  Menasseh, meanwhile, continued in London, anxiously awaiting the result.  There was much to observe in the life of the great City; especially in its religious life, so bizarre, yet in some respects so sottebraic.  He passed much time over his books.  There is evidence that he had with him his unpublished works, which he seized the opportunity of revising.  He perfected himself in the English language.  On the Sabbath, he would walk to the City, to attend service in a back room of Carvajal's house.  The latter with his two sons, had just become endenizened.  Others of the little group, too, were making their way in English commercial life.  (It was known in the City that Augustin Coronel Chacon of Rouen, "the little Jue", was prepared to insure cargoes to Lisbon at 2 ½ and to Barbados at 3 ½ %.)  Moreover, in response to Menasseh's communications with the Jewish communities abroad, a few other declared Jews had come to join him and watch the progress of events - mostly from Italy and the South of France.  The most interesting amongst them was a certain Raphael Supino, member of an old Italian family established at Leghorn, a wealthy merchant and patron of letters.  He had seized the opportunity of coming to London to settle a lawsuit about some merchandise captured on a French boat.  It was an open secret, however, that his real objective was very different, and that he was "not least among those co-operating with Menasseh ben Israel in his labours".  It was rumoured, too, that he was a "minister of circumcision", having no doubt initiated some of the local Marranos into the covenant of Abraham.  He made no mystery of his religion.  He became known as a Jew to the most considerable persons of London and the Universities; called on the Tuscan Envoy to explain the reason of his presence in London; and even arranged to carry on a religious disputation in the latter's presence with his domestic chaplain, Father Gilles Chaissy3".

 Pg 257. "The little group of London Marranos was meanwhile thrown into confusion by a new development in foreign affairs.  In the previous autumn, war had been declared by Spain.  Hostilities had as yet barely commenced.  However early in March the Privy Council issued a proclamation declaring all Spanish moneys, merchandise and shipping to be lawful prize.  The possible repercussions upon the members of the tiny London community were obvious.  They had been born, almost without exception, either in Spain or else in Portugal at the time that country had been under the Spanish yoke.  They had indeed fled, for the most part, from the rigours of the Inquisition, and had no thought of returning.  Nevertheless, they were Spanish subjects in the eyes of the Law.  Carvajal's recent endenization had secured his personal position, and he was at that moment engaged in endeavouring to salvage his property from the Canary Islands on a neutral bottom.  The next of the little community in prominence was Antonio Rodrigues Robles, a wealthy merchant of Duke's Place.  Incited by a scrivener named Francis Knevett, a jealous compatriot denounced him to the authorities; and orders were immediately issued for the seizure and sequestration of all his property, including two ships lying in the Thames.  This was March 14th.  By this stroke, the whole of the group was thrown into consternation.  If Robles' property were confiscated, few could consider themselves safe; as a matter of fact the malicious Knevett was already preparing a further onslaught.  There was another consideration.  Once action had begun, on whatever ground, it was impossible to tell where it would end.  The next stage might very well be their denunciation as Jews.  This would now be all the more dangerous by reason of the withdrawal of the protection of the Spanish Ambassador, whose patronage they had sometimes flaunted when at loggerheads with any English authority, and in whose chapel many had until recently been in the habit of attending Mass.

We may imagine hurried meetings and excited debates at Carvajal's house in the City.  It was decided that the best course was for those concerned to throw themselves upon Cromwell's mercy, declaring themselves openly as Jews and requesting his protection.  On March 24th - only ten days after the first steps had been taken against Robles - a petition was presented to the Lord Protector requesting permission in writing to meet for private devotion in their houses without fear of molestation, as they had hitherto done under his protection and to have a burial place for their dead "in such place out of the Cittye as wee shall thinck conuenient".  The signatures on the petition are headed by that of Menasseh ben Israel.  After his come those of six outstanding members of the little community.  Most significantly, all called themselves by their Jewish names (probably adopted under Menasseh's ægis during the past few months), instead of the high sounding Gothic appellations by which they had hitherto been known.  Manoel Martinez Dormido signed himself David Abrabanel; the merchant-prince Antonio Fernandez Carvajal became Abraham Israel Carvajal; the hot-blooded Simon de Caceres styled himself Jacob.  The other signatories were Abraham Cohen Gonzales, Abraham Israel de Brito (alias Domingo Vaez de Brito), and Isaac Lopes Chillon".

 Pg 266 " It appears however, that he (Oliver Cromwell) must have intimated informally to the leading members of the London community that there was no objection to their acting as though their petition of March 24th had been granted13.  In any case, in December 1656, a house in Cree Church Lane was rented for use as a synagogue.  A couple of months later, a piece of ground at Mile End was acquired by Carvajal and de Caceres as a burial ground.  Not long after Solomon Dormido (alias Luis da Silva), a son of David Abrabanel Dormido, was admitted to the Exchange as a licensed broker without having to take the prescribed Christological oath.  Already in the previous summer, a relative of Carvajal's named Moses Athias had been brought over from Hamburg to act as Reader and Communal Factotum of the incipient congregation14.  The settlement of the Jews in the country may not have been authorised; but it was a fact, and not even one which had to be kept a secret.  It was just about this time that a prying priest (who was afterwards to report all to the inquisitional tribunal in the Canaries) saw Carvajal in a back room in his house, and elicited from him the admission that he had been a Jew from the time that the Protector had broken the peace with Spain.  This, however, did not shock him so much as the heretical utterances of the Marrano merchant, who on more than one occasion took his hand and said "Don Mathias, although I am a Jew, we shall all meet in heaven"15.

 Chapter XII

P268  "Worn out by waiting and disappointment, he (Menasseh) had a recurrence of the illness from which he had suffered before leaving home.  Still he would not give up hope.  His little stock of money was exhausted.  Carvajal and his associates would not help him.  He was forced to pocket his pride, and to apply to the Lord Protector himself for assistance".

 Pg 278  "The little group was thrown into perturbation.  The principal members came together in the house of the widow of Antonio Fernandez Carvajal (Who had died in October 1659) to prepare a counter petition.  As matters turned out, their anxiety was needless.  While the rival documents were being discussed, a Royal message was presented to the House of Commons (from Charles II) desiring it to take into consideration measures for the protection of the Jews."

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 Miscellaneous Sources - Internet (link no longer active)

 Under the section persecution and consequences:

"Being forcibly baptised, they were forced to adopt a new name as well.

……. Or from the names of trees  (Carvalho),  or even the most common Portuguese names (Fernandes, Nunes, Mendes, Rodrigues)

 Author Mariana-Sande e Castro

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5th August Ana Ghia-Pereira

The name Rodrigues actually means son of Rodrigo

In the same way Fernandes means son of Fernan

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The Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain lists the following in their History and collected genealogies section:-

Simon de Caceres 518

Antonio Fernandes Carvajal 518

 These are holdings in their Library - I now have copies of these documents which present similar facts to those already known.

Back to Top (Harry Stein's excellent Sephardim Web Site)

 The surnames are mentioned alongside various source books: 

Fernandez Carvajal


Rodrigues Nunes

Rodrigues Nunez

Back to Top (author unknown) and Link now inactive.

"Nevertheless, when in 1632 the Marrano community of Rouen was temporarily broken up, some fugitives, the most important being Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, found a home in London.  Other Marrano settlers went directly from Spain and Portugal.  Thus, when Menasseh ben Israel went to England in 1655, there was already established a secret community numbering several families.  A petition was presented to Cromwell asking for protection (March 1656).  A house was rented and adapted for use as a synagogue in the following December. A few months later, a piece of ground was acquired for use as a cemetery.  After Cromwell's death various attempts were made to procure the suppression of the community.  Charles II however, intervened in its favour, and it henceforth enjoyed de facto recognition.  The original synagogue, in Creechurch Lane was enlarged and remodelled in 1674, and in 1701 a new place of worship in Bevis Marks - still one of the architectural monuments of the City - was erected.

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 www, (link now inactive)

"Menasseh ben Israel" by David E. Bertaa

--- "Among those arriving (in Holland) in the period around 1610 was a destitute and perhaps crippled man, his wife and three young children in tow.  His name was probably Gaspar Rodrigues Nunes and the story he had to tell was all too familiar to the swelling numbers of Jewish refugees from Portugal and Spain".  This goes on to say one of the children was Menasseh.  This differs from Roth's description.  However I have entered this in here because Antonio married Marie Rodrigues Nunez and there may be a connection although not proved.

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The Bevis Marks Web Site

 "Between the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, and their formal return in 1655, there is no official traces of Jews on English soil, except in connection with the Domus Conversorum, which kept a considerable number of Jews (who had converted to Christianity) within its precincts, until 1551.  An attempt was made to revoke the edict of expulsion as early as 1310, but in vain.  However, Jews did return, for complaints were made to the King in 1376, that some of those trading as Lombards in London, were actually Jews.

After the expulsion from Spain, a number of Jews arrived in London.  From the mid 1600's a large number of Marranos settled in London, practising as merchants.  They appear to have formed a secret congregation, headed by Antonio Fernandez Carvajal. They did business with the East and West Indies, and above all, with Holland, Spain and Portugal.  Their position enabled them to be of use to Cromwell regarding the plans of the exiled King, Charles Stuart, and also of the Spaniards in the New World.  Relations between England and Spain were hostile at this time.  These Jews outwardly passed as Catholics but they held services at Cree Church Lane (Just around the corner from the present synagogue), and they were known to the Government as being Jews by faith."

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 "Mile End "Velho"

(Old) Sephardi

Three old cemeteries: two Sephardi and one Ashkenazi.  Behind 253, Mile End Road, where the Sephardi Home for the Aged (Beth Holim) was located before moving to Wembley.  Is the first resettlement cemetery, the oldest existing Anglo-Saxon cemetery opened 1657.  Abraham Fernandez Carvajal, regarded as the father of modern Anglo Jewish community, is buried here, and also Haman David Nieto, one of the great Sephardi spiritual leaders.

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"The Jewish Connection"  by Philip Warren

 "At first the Jewish Community lived in a kind of half way stage, in which it was generally accepted that they were to be eventually, though the right of unrestricted residence was given by Cromwell in May 1656.  Among the first of those residents were the great names of those early Jewish Settlers in England, da Costa, de la Cerda, Mensed, de Caceres and Carvajal, who lived and traded under Cromwell's patronage."

 Part 3

 "The Jews replied with their own petition which was presented to Whitehall on August 22nd 1664, on behalf of Emanuel Martinez Dormido and two others who are unknown.  One of them may possibly have been Senora Carvajal, the widow of Antonio Carvajal, who seven years previously had been granted a lease for the Jewish Cemetery at Mile End, and in whose house in Leadenhall Street, the petition had been drawn up."

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 Author's Notes:


The extracts above only highlight those areas of the books that mention Carvajal or his associates.  The books contain more detailed analysis of that period in history when they took place and much of the background to the re-admission of the Jews to England.  The notes therefore gloss over some of the political and religious arguments that happened at the time especially with regard to Menasseh ben Israel's visit, its background and the other petitions delivered to Oliver Cromwell.  The petition to Oliver Cromwell of the 24th March 1656 can be seen by following the link underlined petition.  A copy appears in Cecil Roth's book "Essays and Portraits in Anglo Jewish History" and clearly shows Antonio's signature along with those of his colleagues.  Antonio signs himself Abraham Israel Carvajal.

 I should acknowledge the work of Dr. Peter Ferdinando who has undertaken a great deal of the historical research into Antonio Fernandez Carvajal and who continues to be the driving force behind the Ferdinando family history.  Without his lead to the Carvajal link, I would not have become involved in this fascinating research. 

Future research will be directed at Carvajal's background in the Canary Islands and Rouen which I have some details of as  well as his role as a merchant. i.e. What ships he owned, where he traded etc.

 I am currently reviewing "Radical Assimilation in English Jewish History 1656 - 1945" by Todd M. Endlelman looking at why the Jewish practice appears to have died out within two or three generations of arrival in the UK. I also have a number of new articles and books to follow up these leads.  You can see my holdings at the Family History Resources section of this web site.

David Ferdinando

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13   Lucien Wolf - "The first English Jew" JHSETrans.ii (London 1895)

14 Carvajal was the London agent of Francisco Lopes y Feio (see Lucien Wolf - ibid. 25)

15 James C Boyajian - "Portuguese Bankers at the Court of Spain 1620-1650"

16 Maurice Woolf - "Foreign Trade of the London Jews of the Seventeenth Century"

17 Lucien Wolf - "Jews in the Canary Islands"

18 See Edgar Samuel - "The readmission of the Jews to England in the context of English economic policy".

19 British Library Egerton MSS 1049 folio 6 et seq.

46 See note 16

47 See note 17

48 Francis Francia was born in Bordeaux in 1675, being the son of George Francia and Mary Gonsales, who had previously lived in London.  The trial of Francis Francia for high treason at the Session House in the Old Bailey; on Tuesday Jan 22 1716

49 Joseph Salvador analyses the Jewish merchant's foreign trade in his Philo Patriae pamphlets of 1753, but it is notable that, although he was himself an active trader to Portugal, he says nothing about the wine trade.  Because there are no surviving Customs' port books, for 18th Century London, there is much less evidence for the detailed nature of the trade of London's Jewish merchants in the 18th than in the 17th Century.

50 Daniel Levy de Barrios - "História Real de Gran Britaña (Amsterdam, 1688)

71 James Picciotto, "Sketches of Anglo Jewish History 2nd edition"

72 A. M. Hyamson

The Author of the book "The Portuguese Jewish Community in London (1656 - 1830)" is  by Edgar Samuel - Published by the Jewish Museum of London.


1 Recent writers (e.g. M. P. Ashley, "The Commercial and Financial Policy of the Cromwellian Protectorate, Oxford, 1934), tend to minimise Cromwell's economic, and especially his commercial interests.  His friendly attitude towards the Jews has to be reinterpreted in view of this; but the importance of the economic factor is shown by the interest taken in the question by the Dutch government:  Roth, Menasseh ben Israel, p 237.

1 §iii "Les Marranes à Rouen"  Cecil Roth

2 J. C. Jeaffreson, Middlesex County Records, ii 147 (1640)

3 See High Court of Admiralty examinations, ed. D. O. Shelton and R. Holworthy, 1932, §435; and E. Sainsbury, Court minutes of the East India Company, March 10th , 1640, for further illustrations of his commercial activities (shipping goods to Madeira and importing Musk into England)

1 According to the Parish accounts, the workmen engaged in adapting the house for its new use were 'warned' before the court of Aldermen, but nothing came of it.

2 Life and Death of Mr. Henry Jessey (London 1671)  The collection (for which Jessey and John Dury were responsible) realised some £300.  (The Rabbi came to England from Holland)

3 This may be stated unequivocally.  Notwithstanding the accepted view, Cromwell did not authorise the resettlement of the Jews in England, however much he desired to do so.  The general impression that he did is due to the cumulative effect of eighteenth century vituperation and nineteenth century quasi-beautification, both of which laid especial stress, in accordance with the fashion of the day, on his treatment of the Jews.

42 According to an inquisitional denunciation of 1659, Caceres had been born a Jew, but was taken (in infancy?) to Castile, where he had been baptised.

4 According to the Julian Calendar ("Old style"), which still prevailed in England.  Menasseh's encyclical was dated, of course, according to Gregorian reckoning ("New style"), introduced on the continent some time before.  According to this, the solemnity fell on October 2nd.

5 According to a contemporary account, "One year in Oliver's time they (the Jews) did build booths on the other side of the Thames, and kept the Feast of Tabernacles in them".  This may refer to the ensuing occasion, two weeks after the New Year.  In subsequent years, greater circumspection is likely to have been shown.

3   For the identity if this personage, unknown to me when I first discovered Supino and his interest in Anglo Jewish History (Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, XI, 118-126) see the note in Revue des Etudes Juives, LXXXVIII, 112

13 On the basis of this, it long remained the official belief in the London community that six Jewish families (who were thought to include that of Alvaro da Costa) were permitted to settle in London by Cromwell; cf. The case of the Jews stated, 1689; "A gentleman of Lincoln's Inn" (P.C. Webb) in question whether…..Jew….was…capable….to…hold…lands, 1753, p36.  However, the community at the close of the protectorate was probably more numerous than this.

14 For his departure from Hamburg, in the month of Elul, 1657, see Cassu in Jahrbuch der Jüdisch - Literarischen Gesellschaft, Frankfurt-on-main, VII, 184

15 The discoveries of Mr. Wilfred Samuel ("The First London Synagogue of the Resettlement" in the transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Vol. X).  Disprove finally the contention of H. S. Q. Henriques (The Return of the Jews to England, London 1905) that the public practice of Judaism remained utterly proscribed until after the Restoration.  It is now perfectly certain that, as so often, fact outstripped theory.


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