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Carvajal and Pepys

Wilfred S. Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">24 MISCELLANIES. 3 Carvajal and Pepys It was hardly to be expected that the two names, Carvajal and Pepys, would ever find themselves conjoined. For Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal, friend of Oliver Cromwell, belongs essentially to the period of the Commonwealth and the Protectorates through which he flourished, and during which he died, whilst Samuel Pepys has come to be regarded as a great Restoration figure. The famous diary was kept from 1660 to 1669, and students of Anglo-Jewish history well know the passage which records how "after dinner my wife and I by Mr. Rawlinson's conduct" visited the Sephardi Synagogue in Creechurch Lane. That was on the 14th October, 1663, at an afternoon Service for the Rejoic? ing of the Law, and in his journal the great diarist reviles the worshippers for their sad lack of decorum, concluding:?"and indeed I never did see so much, or could have imagined there could have been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this." I now have to communicate to the Jewish Historical Society of England the recently discovered record of a yet earlier visit to "The First London Synagogue of the Resettlement," of which I had no suspicion when my lecture was published under this title in the Tenth Volume of the Society's Transactions. Notwithstanding the passage just quoted from the journal for 1663, Pepys can now be shewn to have attended a Sabbath service at the Creechurch Lane Esnoga nearly four years earlier. It was on the Sabbath which fell on the 3rd December, 1659, when Richard Cromwell's Protectorate had virtually drawn to a close, and it was, incidentally, just four weeks to a day before Pepys began the writing of his diary. The occasion was no ordinary one, since it happened to be the end of the Sheloshim, the thirty days of mourning, for Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal, founder (and owner) of the synagogue?and, in a wider sense, founder of our present-day Anglo Jewish community.1 It seems safe to assume that the House of Prayer 1 Transactions, i, 55; Crypto-Jews under the Commonwealth, by Lucien Wolf.</page><page sequence="2">CARVAJAL AND PEPYS. 25 was crowded. This first-floor meeting-house could only hold just over one hundred persons, and there are not likely to have been many absentees from the little congregation, so many of whom?including even the Minister?had been either related to or employed by the dead magnate. Carvajal had many non-Jewish associates, too, in his mercantile and political activities, and on that day there was conceiv? ably a fair sprinkling of Gentiles besides Mr. Pepys among the worshippers. At the back of the Theba or reading desk, behind the Cantor, would be sitting the Abelim, the mourners; in this case Alonzo Jorge and Joseph Ferdinando Carvajal, the dead man's young sons?freshly shaved (on the previous afternoon) after one whole month's abstention. At their right hand, behind the latticed window, would be the women? folk, including their mother, the widow Ferdinando; and the Parnasim, the wardens of the congregation, would have quitted their special pew, the Banca, at the back of the Synagogue, to bear company to the Abelim, as enjoined by Ascama 39.2 Since the Sabbath is a day of rejoicing, the ordinary ceremonial of the Sheloshim must be abated. There will be no lighting on the Theba of the two special groups of lights, three candles in each. Nor can a Hesped, or funeral address, be delivered. But the mourners and others dear to the deceased are called to the Reading of the Law, and the Honras3 are celebrated (i.e., honours are paid), and Hashcabot are recited for the repose of Carvajal's soul, and money-gifts are offered up in his honour, not only by the congregants called to the Sepher (the Scroll), but also by many others. There would be a buzz of excited talk at the mention of each name (and of each amount!), to be continued, no doubt, at the close of the Service. There was doubtless loud weeping from behind the women's lattice, and perhaps in the body of the Synagogue as well. For English restraint was not yet characteristic even of the English, and still less of recent immigrants from the Peninsular. The visitor 2 I quote that of 1664, the earliest Ascamoth that have been preserved, but doubtless the original laws of the congregation had a counterpart to this rule. 3 Menasseh ben Israel, "Tesoro dos Dinim" (Amst., 1647), Part 1, p. 49. b. (It seems safe to assume that this famous work was one of the handbooks which in 1659 governed the ritual of the London congregation.) C</page><page sequence="3">26 MISCELLANIES. was, therefore, impressed by the "many lamentacions" which he heard. This first time, too, the talkativeness escaped the censure of Pepys' pen, doubtless because he felt sympathetic, as well as interested. For there was an odd bond of interest to link Pepys with Carvajal. It may conceivably have led to his seeking out the Synagogue on this particular day, although he is rather more likely to have sought it out as being one of the sights of the town, and thus to have chanced on the Sheloshim for Carvajal?ascertaining on the spot by hard questioning exactly what all the pother was about. I was able to point out in my earlier paper that Carvajal died under an operation ("eutt of ye stone").4 He signed his will on Friday, 21st October, 1659, and expired, being well on in years, on Wednesday, 2nd November, 1659,5 which was twelve days later. Pepys had under? gone the identical operation but nineteen months previously (on the 26th March, 1658), and only a few weeks after his 25th birthday. The diarist never ceased to rejoice at having successfully withstood the operation; his journal contains many expressions of thankfulness and elation, as well as accounts of the festivities which he regularly held on the anniversaries of "my cutting for the stone." Naturally, Pepys' gratitude was extended to the successful operator, and he retained the liveliest friendship for Dr. James Pearse, who afterwards became, 4 See entry in Smythe's Obituaries, cited in Transactions, x, 25, n. 61. 5 This corresponds to the date given, 26th Heshvan, in the Hebrew epitaph and in the Jewish burial register. It is borne out by Smythe's Obituaries ("Nov. 1 . . . died about this time"), and by the new Pepys reference. The 28th October, 1659, must now be discarded as a possible date of Carvajal's death, although (as recorded in Transactions, x. 24 and 76) an entry in the parish accounts of St. Katherine Creechurch suggests that the Great Bell, rung normally for funerals only, was tolled on that date. I have re-examined this entry and the neighbouring ones, and, from the more detailed abstract here furnished, it will be seen that there is some ground to suspect a jumble:?? Receipts for Buryalls 1659. 20th October. Susan Waine the knell of the third Bell and the Cloth - 2 - 14th Matthew Andrewes the knell of the great Bell and the ground in ye Vault . . . . 1 19 0 28th Edward Allen.- - - ditto Antonio fferdinando the knell of the great Bell. . 5 - 17th Novembr. Johanna Sare an Infant the knell of the fowerth bell and the ground . . . . . .-74 (MS. 1198. Vol. I, Guildhall Library?Churchwardens' Account Book of the Parish of St. Katherine Creechurch, 1650-1691.)</page><page sequence="4">CARVAJAL AND PEPYS. 27 perhaps by his interest, Chirugeon-General to the Navy. It is now revealed that Carvajal also was operated on, but without success, by the selfsame Dr. Pearse, and not, as I would have supposed, by a Sephardi practitioner, such as Dr. Joseph Mendes Bravo, who must already have been in London. The full passage forms the postscript to an unpublished letter of the 3rd December, 1659, written by Samuel Pepys, to his patron, Edward Montagu (afterwards Lord Sandwich), who had retired to his country seat, leaving Pepys to act as his London factotum. (See Appendix). This is one of the latest in point of date of a series of about a dozen unpublished letters from Pepys to Montagu which are to be found among the Carte MSS. (73/75) in the Bodleian Library. Sir Charles Firth, an honorary member of this Society, and a valued contributor to its Transactions, described these letters in an article, "The Early Life of Pepys," which he published in Macmillan's Magazine in November, 1893, but without mentioning the postscript I have just quoted. Apparently its significance escaped him, for it does not appear to have been communicated until now to this Society, to whom it is of considerable interest. Indeed, it would seem to be the only con? temporary reference in English letters to the Synagogue during the Interregnum.6 The building of the Synagogue is heralded in Menasseh ben Israel's petition to Cromwell (1656), and in an account-book entry (1657) which I discovered regarding "workemen . . . Imployed in building the Jewes Synagogue"; in an Inquisition document, too, Carvajal and his coterie are denounced for attending the Synagogue, (1658) , but the postscript by Pepys appears to be the earliest, and apparently the only pre-Restoration account of a visit to the Synagogue by a non-Jew. 6 A similar claim is made by H. S. Q. Henriques in The Jews and the English Law (London, 1908), p. 122, with regard to the account of a visit alleged to have been paid to a Rabbi in the synagogue building in the Spring of 1659 by that notorious Jew-baiter and pamphleteer, Thomas Violet. This is printed in an anonymous pamphlet ("The Great Trappaner of England Discovered"), which seems scarcely fit to be considered as a serious historical document, and which, anyhow, was not published until well on in 1660.</page><page sequence="5">28 miscellanies. Mr. John Drinkwater, who last year published a popular work entitled Pepys, His Life and Character, appears to have made some study of original documents, including these Carte MSS. The curious postscript to the letter of the 3rd December, 1659, is printed by him at p. 35 of his book, where it chanced to catch an eye, my own, which perceived its full significance. So that credit is due to Mr. Drinkwater (and I hope that the Society will express to him its thanks) for having retrieved this interesting scrap of information. My share is limited to having discovered the passage in a so-called "popular" biographical work, the author of which would scarcely be credited by the critics with consulting or using original sources. One final point. It would seem that Pepys, sound Churchman that he was, took a precaution against appearing heterodox in the eyes of his correspondent. He explains that he was at the Jews' synagogue "for observacion sake," it being notorious at the time that numbers of Puritanical fanatics had founded strange Judaic sects, whilst Carvajal and others had attracted some normal London citizens as proselytes to the established Jewish faith. Wilfred S. Samuel. Read before the Society, June 30, 1931. APPENDIX fol. 325) [MS. Carte 73] My Ld, I wrott to yor Lhp by ye Carrier, and since that recd yor Lps of ye 29 of Nov. wth one to Mr. Andrews. I recd a while since y9 remainder of ye Dollars, wch I was to have of Mr. Creed viz. 118 Rix Dollars, and the next day delivered them to Mr. Sheply. Concerning ye forrest Lands I had advised (by yor Lps commands) wth Mr. Walker servant to my Ld Lambert, but ye pari*1 being soe suddainly broake up, before ye act for ye Forrests was finished, there is a stopp at present to all the businesse concerning them; and for the bonds yor Lhp remanded them from my Cos. Tho. Pepys and to my best remembrance delivered them to Majr Hart, in whose hands I believe they are now. I expect to heare from Capt. Gofle ye next</page><page sequence="6">was there a domus conversorum in oxford ? 29 weeke about ye Reg* arrears. Nothing more yet from ye North. Yesterday there was a generali Alarme to our Souldiery from London, soe y* ye City was strictly guarded all night, occasioned by ye apprentices peticion delivered to ye Lord Major of that import, y* a Riseing was expected last night, and many indeed have beene ye affronts offered from ye apprentices to ye Red-eoates of late. Late last night was likewise a proclamacion made up and downe the towne, to prohibite ye contriving or Subscribing any such peticions or papers for ye future. The Quaker, I mencioned in my letter this weeke, was arrested in an action of 40001 by some of ye Kings servants to whom ye Statues were formerly assigned for 20001 debts, and was bayled by his Fellow quaker my Ld Pembrooke. My Ld Yor LPS dutif1 Serv* S. Pepys. Dec. 3, 1659. Being this morning (for observacion sake) at the Jewish synagogue in London I heared many lamentacions made by Portugall Jewes for ye death of Ferdinando ye Merchant, who was lately cutt (by the same hand wth my selfe) of ye Stone. {Addressed] For ye right Honoble Generali Mountagu at Hinchingbrooke, Huntington, post pd 2. [Endorsed] Sam: Pepys Decemb* 3. 1659. [Black seal-qf-arms]</page></plain_text>