Three Lousadas owned Peak House. Some significance of Peak House is attached to the fact that when Emanuel Baruh Lousada (#87) purchased the land on which Peak House was built, there was doubt as to whether or not Jews were officially debarred from owning land in England (see ref 65 according to which, by the end of the 1700s, success and wealth led to a migration from the crowded Jewish quarter of London around Duke's Place particularly to the west along the Thames Valley). Emanuel Baruh Lousada, doubtless inheriting the certainty of his kinsmen that they merited a high and respected place in whatever society they dwelt within, was a wealthy London financier who wished to establish his position in English society. He took a risk in buying in 1793 an initial 125 acres on the lower slopes of Peak Hill in the then remote and unfashionable Sidmouth, thereby becoming an early Jewish landholder in England. He also took steps to acquire the trappings of nobility, registering a coat of arms with the College of Heralds in 1777. Later the Lousada Dukes used an unofficial and hybrid form of the coat of arms. Sidmouth became fashionable over time. Some of us visited Sidmouth in 2011 and images from this are contained in John Bury's pictorial diary.

Panorama of Sidmouth - a framed copy of the original watercolour in Sidmouth Museum

 Perhaps it is not hard to understand Emanuel's motives. As Robert Sackville-West wrote in 2010 (ref 22), land lay at the heart of the aristocrats' power and credibility, and their belief in the right to govern. The Sackvilles, therefore, like hundreds of other aristocratic families, regarded their estates as a trust to be passed from generation to generation. Landownership was, according to the political theorist Edmund Burke, 'a sacred partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born. This partnership contributed to the stability of the state itself'. And we know from Kaplan's account of the Jewish community in Amsterdam (ref 19) that the Portuguese Sephardim were socially aware and for example keen to minimise their possible social detriment from the influx of poor Ashkenazi refugees from the Thirty Years War. These poor Jews congregated around the Jewish part of Amsterdam looking for support from their co-religionists, and were seen to lower the social standing of the existing community of financiers, merchants and businessmen. In the mid-1600s, Kaplan records that assistance given by the community to Sephardic Jews wishing to emigrate was 60-70 guilders which would have been enough to help start a business; but to help poor Ashkenazim return from whence they came 4 guilders and a requirement to not go West of Italy or Poland!

High social aspiration arose in wealthy Sephardim who for a period were New Christians in Spain, Portugal and other places where they lived indistinguishably from others of their class. Such habits persisted even when they reverted to Judaism. And curiously, where they settled in England, the Netherlands and France their desire to revert to Judaism was enhanced by the combination of official encouragement of Jewish merchants and the strictures against lapsing Christians - it was far easier to become Jewish than to flirt with accusations of heresy.

The Lousada family remained almost 100 years at Peak House, the estate however not passing from father to son due to both Emanuels (#87 and #142) being childless. John Baruh Lousada (#25) inherited it in 1854. He and his wife Tryphena Barrow (#26) were there at the time of the 1861 and 1871 censuses (extracts have been uploaded to key documents) but Peak House was sold in 1877 (see sale authorisation) when John was 72 and Tryphena was 69. John's sister Mary (#69) married John Bacon (#78), and the Bacon family has had a long association with Sidmouth (see the sketches and portraits by John Bacon's father #271). Sidmouth became for a while a social centre for the wider family; ref 122 records that Sidmouth was a favoured spot for Sir Moris and Lady Ximenes, as well as for Mr and Mrs David Lousada (a son of this David Lousada became a convert to Christianity and, as the Reverend Percy Martindale Lousada, married in 1848 Mary Eliza, the daughter of M. Gutteres of Sidmouth). There is a record on of a Lousada/Ximenes business partnership 1751-1775, based at New Broad Street in 1765. The eldest son Isaac (aged 17 at the time of the death of his father) of Moses Baruh Lousada married Sarah a daughter of Isaac the first Lousada Duke and they lived at Sidmouth for a period.

In this way, Peak House represents in small measure the achievement of Jews in gaining an increasing measure of acceptance in the West. Harry Ezratty (ref 25) recounts the achievement of the Jews in the Caribbean in attaining civil rights there. He notes the importance of the events of 1588; the defeat of the Spanish Armada by the English, and the Dutch decision to extend diplomatic and military recognition to all Jews. The Spanish Empire was now vulnerable to Dutch and English maritime strength, and opened the possibility of significant commercial gain (especially at the expense of Spanish fortune) which the Portuguese Jews were well equipped to facilitate. 'At a time when Jews had no European citizenship, pirates and privateers could take Jews and their property for ransom without any official protest. The Dutch, then were the first European power to cloak Jews with this important government protection. The adventurous Sephardim understood the opportunities and the chance for freedom that could be forged in the New Lands. This dream impelled them to begin the first open migration of Jews to the New World...(to)....Dutch territories beginning with Recife in 1630....Spanish and Portuguese Jews were so widely known, their religion was no longer a secret in most places to which they traveled. Among international traders, they were called the "Portuguese Nation". Indeed in a sense they were a nation. They created and maintained an extensive network among themselves, which ran from Spain, Portugal and Europe to the Ottoman Empire and later to the Americas. They kept, through familial connections and business ties, their common Hispanic background, Marrano experience and of course their religion'. This commercial resource was attractive to the Dutch, as noted, and later to the English under Cromwell and then Charles 2, though in the case of the English a lack of a voting franchise and increasing special taxes were inequalities which lasted for a long period until the mid 1800s, the era when Peak House was built. From ref 47 p27, we learn that English Jews in the 1800s regarded as important a 1723 Act of Parliament which recognised them as British subjects, but the general public continued to regard them as aliens long after that date. 

There were other costs of pursuing social status. Moses Baruh Lousada #32 appeared to feel a devastating blow to his status from his eldest daughter eloping with a clerk from his firm in 1825 - and accounts of the day attribute his taking his own life in part to this. Polly Lyon de Symons was caricatured by James Gillray. Some pursued 'doubtful' titles - the great-great-granddaughter of Isaac #92 the first English Lousada Duke reports that Buckingham Palace barred use of the title for official functions (ref 34). And some no doubt felt that frivolous pursuit of aristocratic ways did them no credit. A inkling of the riotous life led by the Ximenes family at Bear Place can be found in ref 65 p32.