Origins - The Portuguese Connection?

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Origins - Is There a Portuguese Connection?


Somewhere, we have to put a "stake in the ground" about our origins.  We may, of course, never know who our ancestors were but we have two potential candidates.  The first is Isaake Ferdomand and the second is  Alonso Jorge Fernandes (or Ferdinando) Carvajal also known George and as Isaac.

In order to make any assertion or to point in either direction, it is probably expedient here to ask why we do not know which one of these potential candidates is our ancestor?

Well, records really.  We do not have any conclusive proof that any (or either) of these are related.  We are getting into the "black hole" of records and also the gap during the Commonwealth period when records were scarce and very little survives.  We do have snippets of information and dates that are tantalisingly close to what we would expect to see.


We know (fact) that Isaac, the Blacksmith, our earliest recorded ancestor was apprenticed in 1693.  His Father's name was Isaac, Merchant, of the Liberties of London, deceased.  This means that Isaac's father had died before 1693 (obviously).  What else do we know?  Well, we know that Isaac was married at Saint Giles, Cripplegate on the 10th February 1701/2.  we also know that his children were baptised at Saint Peter, Paul's Wharf.  There is a slight mystery as to why these children should be baptised (especially the early children of the marriage) at so late an age - bear this in mind for later argument.  

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Our Two Candidates

Our two candidates are

Isaake Ferdomand, son of Edward Ferdomand and Mary (Possibly Miller - not proven) who was baptised on the 12th September 1641 at Saint Botolph, Bishopsgate.  There are details that Edward was born in 1616 and was married to a Mary Miller in 1640 although no paperwork exists to confirm this.

Alonso Jorge, or George or Isaac (Ishac).  Was born circa 1641 (see IGI records although we have no idea how this got in there or of its accuracy) and died 20 Kislev 5444 - 8th December 1683 although his grave shows 20 Kislev 5440 which would be about 4th December 1679.  

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Keeping it Simple

Alonso Jorge had a Brother and we do know about his Mother and Father but let me point you to the pages on Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal for the whole story (so far).  For the moment, I will concentrate on just these two candidates.  

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The Assertion

So far we have two candidates and one, known as Alonso Jorge or George, was also known for some purposes as Isaac.  His Father and Brother were merchants, so it is likely that he too would be a Merchant.  He died on or about the 4th December 1679.  The Apprenticeship binding on Isaac the blacksmith identifies his father as Isaac, A London Merchant, who had died by November 1693.  What is more, if Isaac was bound apprentice at about the age of 13 or 14 (as was the norm) Alonso/George/Isaac would have died around about the time when he was born.  In the absence of any worthwhile alternative candidates for Isaac the blacksmith's father seem to constitute a reasonable case for suggesting that Alonso Jorge/George/Isaac may have been the father.  The fact that Isaac the blacksmith would never have known him in person except as a baby might perhaps explain why he should have used his father's synagogue name, rather than his more generally used "public" name(s), on his apprenticeship binding, and may also go someway to explain why the link with the Sephardic community had weakened by 1693 (we believe that it was not possible in those days for someone professing the Jewish faith to gain Freedom of the City).

There is (isn't there always) a "fly in the ointment" at this point.  In the first English Jew by Lucien Wolf, page 22, Wolf casually states that "both (of Antonio's sons) died in middle age, apparently unmarried".  Wolf seems simply to have assumed this in the absence of any positive evidence of marriages, or presumably of offspring.

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What About Isaake?

Indeed, Isaake is our second candidate and fits the bill as far as age is concerned.  The only other thing we know about an Isaake Ferdomand is that there is one buried in Saint Peter, Paul's Wharf 22nd June 1718 (it is possible that this is our man although not proved).  What we are looking  for here is the death date as we know that Isaac's father was deceased by 1693.  However, we have no other supporting evidence for this candidate and we have no idea what his trade may have been or those of his parent(s).  In fact all we have is his baptism and a possible death date (see below).

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Where Does This Get Us?

Nowhere, I hear you say!  Well, I am not so sure.  I believe we can at least say we have the two candidates and we have a compelling case for leaning more to the case for Alonso Jorge rather than Isaake.  We do not have proof and there remains the matter of a marriage or some sort of records around Isaac's birth that we do not have.  As much as we would like to state that Alonso Jorge is our ancestor, it would still be good to get some further proof if it were available and so your vigilance in finding anything out around this period would be welcomed.  

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Isaac's Reticence to Have his Children Baptised?

Is it just possible that Isaac was still torn between bringing the children up as Jewish?  It is possible.  His children were up to the age of 4 when he finally took them to the church for baptism.  Maybe he had been told that to get his Freedom of the City of London (or of the Blacksmith's Company) he needed to appear not to be professing the Jewish faith.  Who knows?

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Anything Else?

What about family folklore?  Many of the different braches of our tree have carried through the story that we are from Sephardic stock.  I know that there are other stories too of Spanish Armada survivors and Huguenot descent but which one makes more sense?  After all, Ferdinando is a known Sephardic name.  It all comes down to the balance of probability and whether the romantic stories could be real.  Certainly, the majority of Armada survivors were handed over to the authorities and summarily executed and Ferdinando is not a French Surname.  What do you think?  I feel inclined towards the Alonso Jorge link and this may also explain the often Sephardic naming patterns of the first few generations of children (but is not conclusive).  I am certain too that we would love to be associated with Alonso Jorge's Father, Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal.  There is also a piece of family folklore linking us to Simon Ferdinando who accompanied Walter Raleigh on one of his journeys.  This is explored in a new section of this web site.

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Well, if I was a betting man, which I am not, I'd go, on the balance of probabilities, that Alonso Jorge is the father of Isaac the blacksmith.  The dates fit, the rationale that we can apply today, given the lack of tangible evidence, all points towards a Sephardic past and how come we ended up with a Portuguese name anyway?

We can only still say that this is a probable link though and so the tree will still show Isaac as our known ancestor even though I will expand on Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal and his family and life in this web site.  Once you have started to read about him and his contribution to the re-admission of the Jews to England, you will see why being related to Antonio would be highly desirable.

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One Final Pointer

Isaac, The Blacksmith named his first son, Joseph and his second son Isaac.  Would this be after his Uncle and his Father (or himself).  It is not quite a Sephardic naming pattern as I believe that he would have named his son after the Paternal Grandfather but, Joseph was still alive in 1701/2 so he may have named him after a living relative?  Just a thought.   I have added a section dealing with naming patterns.  Follow the link below to find out some more.

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Other Information

I have written some biographical notes on Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal and an introduction to Sephardic History.  There are also some photographs of Fundão and some historical background information.   You can view these by clicking on the links below:

Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal

Sephardic Past


Sephardic Naming Patterns


The Spanish Armada


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