English officialdom became receptive to Jews after centuries of exclusion in the wake of the Civil War, when the English Commonwealth was struggling to establish itself both politically and economically. Portuguese businessmen trading discreetly in London as 'Spanish merchants' made an impact with their large and wealthy trading networks spanning across the Dutch and Spanish empires. Menasseh ben Israel, the leader of the Amsterdam Jewish community, had spent great effort inveigling a sympathetic Queen Christina of Sweden to open Scandinavia to wholesale Jewish settlement but her abdication had put paid to this and Menasseh’s attention was attracted by England (see note 13 below). He sent emissaries and a silver salver as a gift to Cromwell, but negotiations were disrupted by the breakout of war between Britain and Holland in 1652-4. As soon as hostilities abated, Menasseh renewed negotiations with a petition asking for the repeal the Expulsion Order of 1290. The petition was presented to Cromwell on 3 November 1654 by David Abravanel who had the ear of Cromwell having advised him earlier (ref 5). In 1655 Cromwell summoned a national conference of lawyers, ecclesiastics and merchants to Whitehall to consider the petition and the lawyers could find no reason to deny Jews re-entry; however the ecclesiastics and merchants baulked and Cromwell withdrew the petition to prevent any binding negative vote. War erupted again in 1656, this time with Spain, and the status of the already operating network of 'Spanish merchants' was in immediate jeopardy, as individual 'Spanish merchants' were arrested and their assets impounded (see note 4 below for a possible reason for disguising their true identities). Cromwell of course knew the Jews' inestimable value, particularly through their ability to both strengthen England and deplete her enemies by bringing Jewish interests in Dutch and Spanish sources of wealth with them. The Robles trial made the issue explicit. Cromwell responded positively to a petition by leading Jews on 24 March 1656, a few days after the trial started, for Robles was exonerated and his goods returned. The Jewish merchants had no choice but to disavow their Spanish (Catholic) masks and declare themselves to be (Portuguese) Jews outright. The resident crypto-Jewish merchants of London were allowed to purchase land for the Jewish Mile End cemetery in 1657 (among them was Antonio Fernadez Carvajal, a major dealer in cochineal, gunpowder and silver who had advanced large sums to Parliament and provided Oliver Cromwell with significant information against the Dutch during the 1652-4 war, and Simon de Caceres, another useful merchant with extensive interests in the West Indies and Spanish South America). Earlier in 1657, premises were leased in Creechurch Lane for use as a synagogue, prior to the establishment of a permanent synagogue in Bevis Marks in 1701.

Detailed accounts of the formation of the London Jewish community are readily found (see note 1 below). David Abravanel became the first head of the formally constituted community. He being Spanish explains (ref 11) why the nominally Portuguese community initially used Spanish as its main language. Moses Baruh Lousada was appointed Gabay on 18 November 1663 (see note 2 below for general comments on the Baruch Lousadas). Menasseh was disappointed that there was no formal welcome and acceptance of Jews to England; but in the long run he was successful because in the first place Cromwell made it clear that bans against the Jews would no longer be enforced and supported the Jews informally by asserting that they could practice their religion discreetly as long as they made no attempt to proselytize. This phrasing echoed that setting out religious freedom of protestant groups during the Commonwealth. Then Charles 2 (King of England from 1660 to 1685) continued the informal welcome of Sephardic Jews. Much of his exile was spent in the Low Countries – both the Catholic south and the Protestant north. He consulted widely and promised Jewish bankers in Amsterdam toleration in return for a loan, and he kept his promise. Charles’ need for funds was an ongoing theme; one pressing need was the Army and its backpay which were vital early in the Restoration to consolidate Royal power. In 1664, when the Conventicle Act was passed, forbidding religious meetings, some hostile merchants and nobles saw this as a way to eject the Jews, or at least extract money for arguing on their behalf. But the Jewish leaders (ref 96 gives them as David Abravanel, Moses Baruh Lousada and Elias de Lima) appealed directly to Charles, who, wrote Rabbi Jacob Sasportas (see note 14 below) ‘chuckled and spat on the business; and a written statement was issued from him, duly signed, affirming that no untoward measures had been or would be initiated against us’. Charles remained generous towards the Jewish community throughout his reign, granting naturalization (see note 6 below) to those who asked. After breaking from union with Spain in 1640, Portugal was concerned to make strategic alliances to guard against Spanish power (see note 7 below). Portuguese Jews suggested the marriage of Catherine of Braganza (whom Charles married in 1662) and then helped Charles by negotiating and arranging the payment of a magnificent dowry, which included the ports of Tangier (see note 8 below) and Bombay (see note 9 below) together with a great deal of money (see note 10 below).

 After Charles 2 died, and his brother James 2 failed to summon the same degree of wisdom as his brother, the Governments of England and Holland were in the same hands - those of William of Orange - from 1689 to 1703, and this further facilitated the flow of Sephardim to London. Indeed, the 1688 expedition of William of Orange was - as we learn from Cecil Roth (ref 58) - inspired by Englishmen and executed by Dutchmen but to a large extent financed by Portuguese Jews - especially Francisco Lopez Suasso of The Hague, subsequently made Baron d'Avernas le Gras (see also note 11 below). From its beginnings as an English colony in 1627 Barbados was very much part of the Dutch trading system. What seems even more paradoxical, is that after Holland and England both came under William of Orange in 1689, two parallel trading systems emerged - one Dutch (via Curacao) and one English (via Jamaica) - but (see note 15 below) there was an Iberian contributing factor to this divergence. The parallel trading systems were of course similar in that they each had sugar as a key component and they each feasted on bullion and other treasures from the Spanish colonies for the next century or more. London thereby benefited greatly not just from the original readmission of Jews by Cromwell and Charles 2 but from the strengthened presence of Jews after 1689. In recent years there has been much historical interest in the development of Atlantic trade (see for example ref 16). From this a better understanding can be had of the context of the resettlement of Jews in England. Our own (doubtless imperfect) summary of this historical context follows.

 Portugal was able to establish trading settlements in the Muslim African coast in the period after Vasco da Gama discovered the sea ('Cape') route to India in 1498. Portuguese New Christian traders were very early participants in the sugar trade after it began in early 16th century Morocco and it spread to Madeira, Sao Thomé and then Brazil. The Atlantic trade revolving around Iberia grew rapidly and Antwerp became an important northern centre for Portuguese New Christian merchants, while slowly in nearby Amsterdam it became possible for them to live as Jews. The independence struggle with Spain slowed this advance but after the 1579 Union of Utrecht by the United (northern) Provinces, the Dutch Republic in 1588 proclaimed its independence from Catholic Spain, and soon Amsterdam's Sephardic Jewish population grew rapidly as Jews were more openly tolerated (but see note 16 below). Once the English/Spanish war was over in 1604 Portuguese merchants in Amsterdam used English ships to continue their trade with Portugal, noting the 1580-1640 union of the Spanish and Portuguese crowns, but much of the trade with Spain was indirect via Lisbon or France. The 1609-21 Spanish truce with Holland was very beneficial for trade, but once it ended Amsterdam's Iberian trade suffered a reverse and internal Iberian tensions rose; the Portuguese felt the Spanish were not defending their Brazilian interests adequately against the Dutch (whose West India Company - WIC - had captured Olinda and Recife in 1630). Further, the success of Portuguese New Christian merchants generated resentment in Madrid and many fled with their wealth to Amsterdam once their protector d'Olivares fell in the wake of the 1640 secession of Portugal. The end of the Dutch war with Spain in 1648 further regenerated the fortunes of the Portuguese Jewish traders in Amsterdam. The wealth of the Portuguese Jews in Amsterdam became an important source of capital (see note 17 below). When the Dutch yielded their Brazilian colonies back to Portugal in 1654 those with sugar planting experience went to Caribbean destinations via London or Amsterdam or in some cases directly. Based on its acquisition of Barbados in 1627, England's Caribbean influence grew with its acquisition of Jamaica from Spain in 1655 and its attempted colonisation of Surinam around 1660. English/Dutch hostilities ended with the Treaty of Breda of 1667.

 

Notes:

1. Key historical detail on the period when Jews resettled in England can be found in ‘The Sephardim of England’ by Albert Montefiore Hyamson (ref 6). It contains the results of analysis of annual records of the Bevis Marks Synagogue, and particularly the annual election of leaders of the London Jewish community from the 1660s onwards. David Man of Columbia University suggested this as a good source of historical information on the Lousadas; he had discovered in the course of his work on the Man, Montagu, Samuel and other families many marriages with the Lousadas; he was seeking information about the Lousadas and I was able to provide him with a copy of an inherited family tree, errors and all. From Hyamson we learn fascinating details of the early days of the Synagogue, including family names of the newer members (Pereira, d’Oliveira, Barrow/Baruh Lousada, Rodriguez, Gomes, Gabay, Nunes); Jewish assistance in the marriage of Charles 2 and Catherine of Braganza, the petition associated with the Robles trial, and some of the older Sephardic names like da Costa and Mendes. Summarising the founding of the community, Hyamson says ‘the first founders of the Amsterdam Sephardic community, refugees from Portugal, tarried for a short time in England before they made their way to their final destination in the Netherlands…(to) ... return some two generations later ... to join with fellow Sephardim – some direct from Spain or Portugal, others after a temporary residence in France eg Bayonne – to establish a community in London. Thus the London Sephardic community may be considered a child of that of Amsterdam’. In turn this community found organizational precedents in Venice. See note 3 below for the significance of Amsterdam for the Baruch Lousadas. Bevis Marks served as a model and a support of Sephardic communities elsewhere – Dublin, Cork, New York, Canada, Barbados, Georgia (USA) etc. A more complete account of the history of readmission can be found in ref 160 and an account of the mindset of Menasseh ben Israel - including his reaction to the doomed messianism of Sabbatai Zevi and the discoveries of Antonio Montezinos in present-day Colombia - can be found in ref 161.

2. Hyamson (ref 6) says Moses Baruh Lousada was the first member in England of a family that flourished and multiplied in England and the West Indies and which has given ‘pillars to the Synagogue and distinguished men to English public life’. He was ‘known in the wider world as Antonio Louzada, which name he or his family bore in Portugal, and slightly modified to Moses Barrow for business purposes in the City....... In the middle of the 18th century, both Barrows and Baruch Lousadas, men of wealth, left the West Indies to settle in England, and for a century they and their descendants were prominent at Bevis Marks. Today, few Lousadas are in the Jewish community, but there are many non-Jewish Baruh Lousadas and Barrows; the Barrows provided a whole dynasty of British generals and other soldiers'. However there were questions here; not the least being how to link the Barbados Baruch Lousadas of Wilfred Samuel in ref 5 with the later English Baruh Lousadas who were clearly of Jamaican origin. There is a distinction between the Barrows and the Baruch Lousadas which is blurred in Hyamson's comments. There was also a possible link with the Spanish Duque de Losada to consider. These questions have been answered by our work.

3. Moses Baruh Lousada - after a preparatory decade during which he visited Amsterdam every year - came to England for trade reasons and ref 37 discusses the early Sephardic Jewish traders of London. For the Lousadas, Amsterdam appears to have remained a family base for decades after Moses Baruh Lousada reached England. In his 1693 will, his brother Aaron Baruh Lousada of Barbados writes of 1685 ‘I did not sign (a family balance-sheet from Amsterdam) owing to my then serving my 26 (years) slavery’ (quoted by Wilfred Samuel). A picture of the family's presence in Amsterdam comes from the regular payments family members made to the Amsterdam Sephardic community - an example of the data that can be found in Amsterdam, in this case by Ton Tielen. Until we had this data we had not realised that it was almost simultaneously around 1660 that his brothers went to Barbados, and his father and other family members went to Amsterdam. Later we realized that this was a common pattern - Amsterdam-based Jews pursuing trade with British colonies (especially Barbados) needed to have family members in London to camouflage their Dutch involvement. During 1660-80, the firm of Serra and Lousada was very active; Antonio Gomes Serra and Antonio Louzada were endenized in 1675 and 1679 respectively - testament to the benevolent attitude Charles 2 had to Jewish merchants. In ref 21 p214 there is a description of the techniques which helped the Jewish merchants to acquire a virtual monopoly on the Amsterdam/Barbados trade via England. Ref 35 p200 records how the Falmouth customs incident involving Moses Baruh Lousada illustrates how popular opinion started to follow the lead from London in terms of accepting the local economic benefits of Jewish trade. Ref 117 explains how it was that the favourable attitude to them in England enabled Jewish merchants in Barbados and Jamaica to survive the hostility of local merchants.

4. Perhaps the caution of the Portuguese merchants in revealing their true identity was due to the fact that until 1641, it was a capital offence for a baptized Christian to practice or convert to Judaism – see ref 11.

5. Jenny Uglow, in her book on Charles 2 (ref 12), agrees that the Jewish dealers arriving in the mid-1650s were protected by an agreement with Cromwell. However, although their Synagogue in Cree Church was now one of the sights of the town they still had no written permission to settle. She observed that the great speculators Duarte da Silva and Gomes Rodrigues used London as a base to trade in bullion, jewels, wines and sugar across the world. The turnover of Jewish wholesale merchants was reckoned to be a twelfth of the total commerce of all the three kingdoms (of England, Scotland and Ireland), paying thousands in customs dues each year.  

6. Usually this meant endenization; naturalization required approval of Parliament and was therefore more cumbersome and unable to be delegated to colonial Governors as endenization was for a period.

7. Spain secured closer trading relations with the Dutch still smarting from the loss of Dutch Brazil in 1654.

8. Which England failed to retain.

9. Which became England's foothold in India - that is, once it was worked out where it was! See ref 309 p22.

10. Which - it is not hard to guess - helped in repayment of Royal debts.

11. Our work has enabled us to add a little to this - for Jacob Israel Pereira of The Hague, son of a cousin of Moses Baruh Lousada - was a major army contractor to William of Orange both before and after he became King of England.

12. It is said that when the British bragged about this exchange, the Dutch response was to ask how long New York was kept (for Surinam stayed Dutch for centuries longer). 

13. From ref 11 which also refers to an earlier English mission to visit Menasseh in Amsterdam in 1651.

14. 1610-98; born in Oran, Morocco; briefly leader of the London community in 1666; later settled in Amsterdam to avoid The Plague. See here for his signature.

15. After the Dutch lost their part of Brazil back to Portugal in 1654, their subsequent trade alliance with Spain would have unsettled Portugal, still nervous that Spain might seek to reverse their 1640 secession, and perhaps concerned that the Dutch still had ambitions for Brazil (though this concern was settled by the 1661 Dutch/Portuguese Treaty of the Hague). An alliance with England would help, though at that stage England had not yet reached naval parity with the Dutch; England was concerned about Dutch ambitions as well and its Navigation Acts of the 1660s were an attempt to keep the Dutch out of English colonial trade. The Amsterdam and London Portuguese Jews combined to escape the restrictions of the Navigation Acts, to their own benefit but also to the benefit of both countries (though English rival merchants were less than happy). The English/Portuguese alliance was symbolised by the 1662 marriage of Charles 2 with Catherine of Braganza.

16. During the period of intense Dutch/Spanish hostility before their 12-year truce of 1609-21, Amsterdam's advance as a home for Sephardic Jews slowed and Hamburg's importance grew. Portuguese Jews of Hamburg origin (Mercado, de Lima) figure in our story.

17. They were active in the stock market, owning a quarter of the shares in the Dutch East India Company (see ref 9). They were also influential shareholders in the Dutch West Indies Company (WIC), a fact which forced Peter Stuyvesant in New Amsterdam to tolerate Jews fleeing Pernambuco after 1654. The WIC for a long period ran the trade of Curacao and Surinam. English/Dutch military conflict was ended by the Treaty of Breda of 1667. The English thereby gained New York but lost its anticipated sugar colony of Surinam (about this exchange see note 12).