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Book Notes: The Lindo Legacy, Jackie Ranston

Edgar Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Lindo Legacy, Jackie Ranston (Toucan Books Ltd, London, 2000) ISBN 1-903435-00-5, 144 pp. The Jamaican branch of the Lindo family descends from Alexander (Elisha de Isaac) Lindo, who was born in Venice in 1666 and became one of the first sworn brokers on London's Royal Exchange in 1683. He left London at some date between 1700 and 1702 and settled in Amsterdam, where he married in 1706. His grandson Alexandre (Elisha de Abraham) Lindo settled in Jamaica and his descendants in Jamaica commissioned this book, which is thoroughly researched, richly illustrated and interesting to read. The first historical problem the author has to solve is the relationship between Alexander (Elisha de Isaac) Lindo, the ancestor of this Jamaican Lindo family, and Elias (Eliau de Isaac) Lindo, the ancestor of the London Lindo family, some of whose descendants also settled in Jamaica as well as Barbados. The first Lindo to arrive in England was Elias's father, Isaac Lindo, whom Lucien Wolf identified sometimes with Lourenco Rodrigues Lindo,1 and at other times with his brother Ant?o.2 This confusion led the Index to JfHSE Transactions I-XXV to merge the two brothers. Jackie Ranston con? cludes that Alexander and Elias were almost certainly members of the same family and that they were probably cousins, one being the son of Lourenco and the other of Ant?o. The trouble with this theory is that it presupposes that Isaac was the Hebrew name of both brothers, which is absurd. Yet the circumstantial evidence gives a very clear answer. Elias and Alexander (Elisha) were not cousins but brothers, and indeed the fact that they were named after two major prophets hints as much. The 1684 census of London's Portuguese Jewish community states that Isaac Lindo's London family consisted of his mother, his wife, two sons and three daughters.3 The daughters all married at Bevis Marks.4 But only one son turns up in the 1702 Bevis Marks Imposta list, and that is Elias.5 The reason that there is no trace of Isaac's other son 1 Lucien Wolf, 'Crypto-Jews in the Canaries', Trans JfHSE VII (1915) in. 2 Lucien Wolf, The Disraeli Family', Trans JfHSE V (1908) 216. 3 Lionel D. Barnett (ed.) Bevis Marks Records, Being Contributions to the History of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation of London, Part I: The Early History of the Congregation from the Beginning Until 1800 (Oxford 1940) 18. 4 See Lionel D. Barnett (ed.) Bevis Marks Records... Part II: Abstracts of the Ketubot or Marriage-Contracts (Oxford 1949). 5 Moses Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews . . . (London 1901) 95-6. 174</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes is clearly that he must have been Alexander, who was in Amsterdam. Both men named their eldest sons Isaac after their father and had daughters named Leah after their mother. One problem is that a note was added to the registra? tion of Alexander's marriage certificate that his parents were dead, whereas although his father was dead, his mother was alive and living in London. Yet to cite a recent author, in Amsterdam, 'Persons who came from other coun? tries often declared that their parents were no longer alive, since otherwise they would have to provide written parental permission, which might obvi? ously be difficult to obtain.'6 The probability is that when Isaac became a Royal Exchange broker in 1691, it was in succession to Alexander, just as when Elias was admitted as a Sworn Broker in 1697, his father had ceased to be one. Elias's descendants continued as Sworn Brokers until the Royal Exchange ceased to function. Alexander's eldest son, Abraham Lindo, migrated to Bordeaux in 1746 where he was joined by his cousin David de Eliau Lindo. In the mid-eighteenth century two of Abraham's sons, Alexan? dre (Elisha) and Joseph, settled in Jamaica. Joseph died there in 1765 and Alexandre went on to become a very successful merchant. One of the strengths of this book is that the business activities of each generation of the family are set out in great detail. Alexandre dealt in prize ships and slaves. He made a great fortune which he invested in sugar planta? tions, ships and urban properties in Jamaica. He married twice and had twenty-two legitimate children, as well as others by his slaves. In 1803 he moved to London and bought a house in Finsbury Square, and in 1805 was elected a parnas of the Bevis Marks synagogue, but he lost nearly everything when Napoleon's government defaulted on its debt to him of ?500,000, for supplies advanced to their forces in Haiti. He died in 1812. His son, Abraham Alexander, had to sell off many of Alexandre's holdings. Like all West Indies plantation owners the family lost money when the abolition of slavery was followed by a slump in sugar prices and by destructive hurricanes. Abraham Alexander's son Frederick recouped the family fortunes by investing in banana plantations in Costa Rica, but his descendants all abandoned Judaism. When his son Percival married his cousin Hilda Violet Lindo in 1910, the marriage took place in a Protestant church. Their daughter Blanche and grandson Christopher Blackwell commissioned this book about their ancestors. Blanche Lindo's marriage to Joseph Blackwell, an Irish Guards officer, did not survive the long wartime separation. The book tells of her friendships with Ian Fleming, Errol Flynn and Noel Coward, who all held nearby proper? ties in Jamaica. Christopher BlackwelPs remarkable successes were in a very 6 D. Verdooner and H. J. W. Snel, Trouwen in Mokum; Jewish Marriage in Amsterdam, 1598 1811 (The Hague 2000) 11. 175</page><page sequence="3">Book Notes different area from farming. He created Island Records Ltd, which specialized in Jamaican music, and after much success sold it to Polygram for ?200 m. This is a well-written, well-researched and most interesting book, but it is marred by some curious mistakes. One can understand a non-Jewish author being tripped up by Hebrew words, so that Kahal Kadosh comes out reversed and le jiemmejour de chanouque is mistranslated as 'the third day of the week'. This does not matter much, but it is amazing to read that David Lindo and Mathilde Prager who were married at Bevis Marks in 1805 were married 'at the South London Liberal Synagogue ... by a woman Rabbi, Julia Nenbeyer [sic]\ It is not at all clear from which Lindo wedding conducted by Julia Neuberger this sentence was cut and pasted. The reader is left to wonder whether it was possibly Christopher BlackwelPs own? Edgar Samuel</page></plain_text>