The great Irish travel writer and Cretan war-hero Patrick Leigh Fermor started his travel writing career in the Caribbean. After 'The Traveller's Tree: a Journey through the Caribbean Islands' was first published in 1950 he wrote  ‘The Violins of St Jacques’, a short novel also published by John Murray (Publishers) in 1953.

This latter book provides the following element in the makeup of a social gathering in the French Caribbean in the very early years of the 20th century: ‘a few prominent members of the Jewish community of Plessis – names like Spinoza, Leon, da Costa, Astrologo, and da Cordova – arrived together. These were the descendants of Sephardic families that had fled from Ferdinand and Isabella to the Brazilian town of Pernambuco; taking refuge, when the town was captured, in the hospitable Antilles. Most of the sugar- and rum- and molasses-broking in Saint Jacques was in their hands, and they had occupied for generations an honourable position in the island.’

Plessis and Saint Jacques did not and do not exist; but they and the eruption that destroyed them in the novel are perhaps modeled on the 1903 eruption that took place on Martinique which killed 30000 people. There is probably an element of truth in that little history; certainly the broad outline of the movement of Sephardic trading families, and the political forces which shaped it, is true (ref  8). In recent years historical literature has expanded rapidly on the role the Sephardim played in the 3-way Atlantic trade of the 1600s and 1700s. The unstable geology of the Caribbean also figures in the Barrow Lousada story - there was a major earthquake in Jamaica in 1692 which occasioned a petition to William and Mary by Jamaican Jewish businessmen.

The Sephardic family names listed by Fermor are a plausible set of names. Certainly the da Costa name appears in the Lousada family tree; and certainly the Barrow Lousada family tree has an explicit and major Dutch and Caribbean component. We think the great Enlightenment philosopher Baruch Spinoza was probably related to the Baruch Lousadas. Leon is a name related by intermarriage with the Montefiores, Mocattas, Lambrosos etc; the Baruch Lousadas also intermarried with the same families.

 The Caribbean was for a long time a foundation stone for the Sephardic Jews in their journey toward civil equality in the West.