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Kitty Villareal, the Da Costas and Samson Gideon

M. J. Landa

<plain_text><page sequence="1">KITTY VILLABEAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 271 Kitty Villareal, the Da Costas and Samson Gideon1 By M. J. Landa. Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England. April 9, 1934. Anglo-Jewish territory of the early eighteenth century, rich though its historical product, is still heavily scarred by barren patches. Catherine (Kitty) Da Costa Villareal wanders over them, a lost soul in Israel, in ragged robes of conflicting records, her death unchronicled. She lives?a wealthy young widow, the victorious " heroine " of a sensational breach of promise action brought against her by her cousin, Jacob (Philip) Mendes Da Costa (brother of Emanuel, the naturalist), and the mother of the first Jewess to enter Debrett as Viscountess Galway, the ancestress of Viscount Galway and the Marquis of Crewe of to-day. Picciotto incorrectly records that she was the daughter of Moses (Anthony) Da Costa,2 who married Catherine Mendes, his cousin, daughter of Dr. Fernando Mendes,3 physician to king Charles II. This statement is repeated by Dr. Gaster4 and the Rev. Isidore Harris.5 1 This Paper, dealing mainly with the life of Kitty Villareal, is the historical background of the novel published by Gertrude and M. J. Landa in March, 1934. It also contains the interesting Samson Gideon correspondence concerning the title he sought to obtain. 2 Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, p. 103. Several writers, based upon a statement in the Gentleman's Magazine (1812), i. p. 21, have wrongly made Anthony a Director of the Bank of England. The only Jewish Director was Alfred Charles de Rothschild, 1868-1889. (See W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from Within. 1931.) 3 See Miscellanies ii, 79, in the list of the Ketuboth of Bevis Marks. No. 63, 4 History of the Ancient Synagogue of Bevis Marks, p. 99. 5 Jewish Encyclopedia, iv. p. 289.</page><page sequence="2">272 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. To some extent the relationship of the members of the Da Costa family is puzzling; they were amazingly intermarried. Lucien Wolf6 is right in showing that Kitty was the daughter of the wealthy Joseph Da Costa and of his wife Leonora, daughter of Dr. Mendes, and sister of Catherine?a case of two brothers marrying two sisters, their cousins. Kitty was born in 1709, and was of the third generation of the Jewish Resettlement in England. She was the eldest child of parents who were both born here ; her father's father was Alvaro Da Costa, the first Jew to be naturalised in this country.7 Of Alvaro's nine children Moses (Anthony) was the third; Joseph, Kitty's father, the fifth; between them was Esther (Johanna), the mother of Kitty's unfortunate lover. Alvaro lived in Budge Row, part of which still stands near Cannon Street Station. His children were born there; subsequently Joseph lived there and his children were also born in the house. Plans of some Budge Row houses in those days in the British Museum do not, unfortunately, include Da Costa's residence. Of the nature of Kitty's upbringing, and indeed of the Jewish social life of the period, there are few records. Little can be disinterred from the archaic legal jargon in which the evidence is set forth in the account of her famous breach of promise action.8 She and her cousin Jacob (Philip) were clearly intended for each other when young : and Da Costa daughters were married in their early teens. Philip appears to have been a young rake, and that was obviously the reason why there was never any engagement. Kitty was about seventeen when the Villareal family of Marannos, being accused of Judaism, fled from Portugal and arrived in London. The following?probably paid for, although it does not appear in the advertisement columns?was printed in the Daily Journal of Friday, August 26th, 1726 :? We are informed that Mr. John Da Costa Villareal, one of the rich Jews who, being threatened by the Inquisition, made his escape lately from 6 Transactions, J.H.S., v. 211. 7 The record is the first entry referring to Jews in the Journals of the House of Commons : " Jovis 24 Octobris 1667, Alvaro Da Costa did this day take the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy before the Speaker, at the Clerk's Table, in order to his naturalisation." 8 Mendes Da Costa: Proceedings in Arches Court (1734).</page><page sequence="3">KITTY VILLAErEAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 273 Lisbon with his family, consisting of about seventeen persons, and his effects, during a great conflagration in the city, hath, since his arrival here, given the sum of ?2,000 to be distributed among the poor Jews in the city and suburbs of London. He was Proveditor to the King of Portugal's armies, and acquitted himself in that and all other stations with good Reputation; and has brought over with him to the value of ?300,000 and upwards. Within nine months of that announcement, Kitty was married to Joseph Da Costa Villareal, son of John. Her dowry was ?5,000.9 There is no doubt that she was forced against her will into marriage with a man nearly old enough to be her grandfather.10 The influence of Rachel, the daughter of her mother's sister Catherine, who had married Baron Suasso,11 was brought to bear to obtain Kitty's reluctant consent to the marriage. Joseph Da Costa, possibly without his daughter's knowledge, entered into a definite contract with Villareal. Things were done that way, and not only among Jews. The wedding took place on May 24th, 1727, and although Dr. Gaster states he could not find the Ketubah in the Bevis Marks books,12 it was discovered when I made enquiries at the Synagogue?perhaps, because I knew the English date. The Hebrew date was Sivan 15th, 5487, and the Ketubah not only gives Kitty's Hebrew name as Rahel, but reveals Joseph's real name as Ishak. He is described as " Ishak, known as Joseph." It has hitherto been assumed that Ishak was his brother. It is Joseph Villareal who is buried as Ishak at the Mile End Cemetery,13 and it was Joseph himself, and not a brother, who carried out his intention of founding the Villareal School as a thank offering for being blessed with a son and daughter in this land that gave him freedom to be a Jew openly.14 The son is always mentioned first, and this is the case in VillareaPs Will, but the daughter was the elder child. The dates of their birth I discovered in the register of St. Anne's, Soho ; they are given in the entries of their baptism. Sarah was born June 10th, 1728, and Abraham May 15th, 1729. Kitty and 9 Proceedings, p. 394. 10 Ibid., 368. 11 Ibid., 217 ff. 12 he. cit. " Carera XXII., No. 50. 14 The funds are now applied to maintain religious classes at Redman's Road L.C.C. School under the official designation of the Villareal and National Infant Schools. The building, reconstructed in Thrawl Street, Spitalfields, is now the Tree of Life Yeshiba.</page><page sequence="4">274 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. her husband lived in College Hill, a street which still stands at the side of Cannon Street Station. There, Villareal died on Sunday, December 27th, 1730, and was buried two days later at Mile End. This agrees with the Hebrew date of burial, 2nd Shebat, 5491, given to me by Mr. Paul Goodman. His Will which is dated April 16th, 1730,15 was proved in July, 1731 : he left everything, a matter of ?100,000, to his wife and children. The sum was probably larger, for there is an unexplained reference to the King's Bench law case (which followed the breach action) that Kitty's uncle James, who was a son of Dr. Mendes, was security for her for ?180,00016 and unless this means that he was a trustee, it is inexplicable. Uncle James was married to his cousin Anne, Alvaro's youngest daughter and sister of Kitty's father. Moses Mendes, the banker-poet, was their son. At her husband's death, Kitty was only twenty-one, with two infant children. Her brief wedded life had been unhappy, and she was now in the hands of a domineering father and an assertive family of many relatives. She was herself most tactless. Only three weeks and a day after being widowed, she engaged herself to marry her cousin Philip, who had visited her during the Shiva (week of mourning), and whom she invited to breakfast on Monday, January 18th, 1731.17 The family was outraged. There were quarrels : she fell ill, being attended by the famous Dr. Meyer Low Schomburg, and was removed, when convalescent, to her father's country seat at Totteridge, where Philip tried in vain to secure entry. There was a pitiful chain of intrigue and clandestine correspondence by means of servants. Da Costa's Totteridge house, subsequently rebuilt and enlarged and the grounds extended, became Copped Hall, where Bulwer Lytton lived and Cardinal Manning was born. When the year of mourning ended, Philip bombastically claimed fulfilment of the contract of marriage by personally serving a notice to that effect, and then took action for the breach in the Arches Court of Canterbury at Doctors' Commons. It was the first occasion of Jewish resort to such a Court, an ecclesiastical tribunal. Kitty's aunt Catherine, the wife of Anthony, writing from Bath, June 21st? 15 Isham 184. 16 Lansdowne MSS. 588, p. 366. 17 Proceedings, p. 220.</page><page sequence="5">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 275 1731, to Philip's mother, says : "I cannot see there is any need of making a publick Business of it; especially by a way so indecent and till now, so unknown in our Nation."18 Process was served on Kitty on January 11th, 1732. Evidence was not heard in Court, but affidavits were sworn on different dates in the year. They were argued before the Judge in the spring of 1733, and sentence, as it was called, was delivered by Dr. Bettesworth, one of the Principals of the Court of Arches at Doctors' Commons, on Monday, June 25th, 1733. The long record of the proceedings, over 400 pages, is painful and difficult reading. It is a compilation of all the documents in abstruse technical phraseology, a veritable abraca? dabra, with letters and comments, distasteful, vulgar and venomous. It seems to me that the volume was issued by Philip, and in sheer malice. His whole conduct presents him as a vindictive fool, a ruthless fortune-hunter and evidently a libertine. The absence of the name of a publisher or printer on the book is some proof of his responsibility for its issue. Printers and publishers in those days were unscrupulous and without shame or delicacy. In this book the author hides himself under the nom-de-plume of " Philalethes " : his comments are all in favour of Philip, and a final remark, anent the judgment reads : " Numerous have been the repeals of Dr. B-'s sentences,"19? implying that the judgment declaring the contract null and void was wrong. This book and the subsequent action for ?100,000 damages in the King's Bench make comic the decree of ' perpetual silence' imposed on Philip.20 He cannot, however, be saddled with the whole of the obloquy. Neither side comes out of the affair with dignity. The three copies of the book known to me, one in the British Museum, one in the Mocatta Library,21 and one in the possession of Sir Thomas Colyer-Fergusson (with whom I have exchanged details, mutually corrective), are bound volumes. I should be glad to hear if there is in existence a copy with a colophon, or the original cover. But an interesting matter, brought to my notice by Mr. Alfred Rubens, leads me to conclude that the publisher was the notorious Edmund 18 Ibid., p. 177. 19 Ibid., p. 408. 20 Ibid., p. 342. 21 There are two copies in the Mocatta Library.</page><page sequence="6">276 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. Curll,22 who was blackguard enough to descend to any depths. There is in the book on the Da Costa case an engraving, no doubt a repro? duction of a miniature, of Kitty, and the same is printed again as frontispiece to a posthumous book, " Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, by the Hon. Lady Margaret Pennyman: London, E. Curll, at Pope's Head, in Rose Street, Covent Garden, 1740, price 35." I deduce that Curll was also the publisher of the book on the Da Costa case, and that he unhesitatingly used the plate he had in stock as the portrait of Lady Pennyman, who, if a real person, had died seven years earlier. There is a list of other of his books on the back page: these include various unpleasant cases of the period and one entitled, A Judicial Dissertation concerning the Scripture Doctrine of Marriage Contracts, and the marriage of Cousin Germans, occasioned by some late Proceedings in Doctors' Commons, by James Johnstoun, LL.D. This is a shilling pamphlet from which one conclusion only need be given:? It is my judgment that the marriage contract between the two Jews was as valid as this would be, "I will pay, for value received, twelve pounds sterling to-morrow morning at nine o'clock."23 The Da Costa book is prefaced by a letter to " the worshipful James Johnstoun, LL.D. at Edinburgh . . . according to your Desire, I herewith transmit you what is Published relating to the eminent Jewish Cause in the great family of Da Costa." This is signed " Da Logan " which may be a camouflage or misprint for Da Costa. Mention of lawyers brings me to the suggestion that this may have been one of the first occasions in Anglo-Jewish history in which a Jewish solicitor appeared. He was Alvaro Lopez Suasso, the brother of Baron Suasso. He is mentioned as " the solicitor " who demanded return of Kitty's letters from Philip, and the word seems to be used in its professional connotation,24 though this is not quite certain. The legal profession had abundant pickings in this case. In the MSS. Department of the British Museum there are a number of opinions 22 In The Unspeakable Curll, by Ralph Straus, 1927, the list of his publications shows that on several occasions use was made of " Philalethes," a common enough nom-de-plume. See pp. 279, 293, and 299. 23 p. 35. 24 Proceedings, p. 363.</page><page sequence="7">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 277 by eminent counsel. Drs. Strahan, Andrews and Paul beld that if Philip won the action, the marriage would have to be performed by Christian law. Dr. Henchman, while inclining to the same view, believed that the Court might exercise discretion.25 Henriques, in " Jewish Marriages and the English Law," refers to the possibility, without apparently knowing of these opinions.26 There is also a MS. record of the proceedings in the King's Bench to which Philip had recourse, after his failure in the Arches Court, with an impudent claim for ?100,000 to soothe his stricken heart.27 In this case he had very short shrift. Without allowing any witnesses to be called at the hearing in Westminster Hall on February 27th, 1734, Lord Chief Justice Hardwicke upheld the objection of Kitty's counsel that the Court of Arches had decided that there was no contract and no breach ; he refused to listen to the plea that Kitty had fraudulent intent, and it was brought out by her counsel that Philip had gone with " lewd women." Incidentally, Kitty's fortune was stated to be " at least ?150,000," and also ?200,000. The action was dismissed and Philip was mulcted in ?180 costs. Some time after midsummer the same year, the date appended to the comments in the book, the latter appeared.28 Although it pro? bably had no large circulation, it must have aroused the deepest indignation, and it was no doubt the final cause of Kitty's decision to sever herself from the Jewish community. How she met William Mellish, whom she later married, it is impossible to say with certainty, but it is a sound assumption that she did so at Blyth, Notts, or in connection with the property her husband had there. Perhaps she fled there for rest after the abominable hurly-burly of the law cases and the attendant pestering by servants which must have amounted to blackmail. The spiteful publication of the Proceedings must also have distressed her exceedingly. The Mellish family had been prominent for about two centuries; they were engaged in the Portugal and Turkish trades, and Villareal very 25 Lansdowne MSS. 558, pp. 37 and 38. 26 p. 20. 27 Lansdowne MSS., p. 565. 28 I have been unable to trace any advertisement of the book, either in the newspapers or in any other book of the time. Another copy has been discovered by Dr. Cecil Roth, dated 1735, suggesting that there was a second edition.</page><page sequence="8">278 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. probably bad dealings with them. Only in that way could he have known of Blyth, where the Mellish family had an estate since 1635. That he should take a house there, at a distance of 150 miles from London, a three or four days' coach journey, means that he wanted a quiet retreat. By this time the Mellishes had gone out of trade. The firm is in the first London Directory, a tiny volume, of 1670? " Robert Melish, Philpot Lane " ; " Alvaro da Costa, Budge Row," is also there. The next Directory was not issued until 1736, and there is no Mellish in it. Lucien Wolf is in error in saying that William Mellish was " one of the magnates of the Lisbon trade,"29 and Picciotto is at fault in declaring that he had fulfilled some high functions under the Government.30 When he married Kitty he was a younger brother without prospects. This is proved by his letter to the Duke of New? castle, dated November 22nd, 1733, five months after his father's death on June 19th, begging for a place as a clerk of the estreats in the Exchequer, vacant by the death of John Cook, worth " rather better than a hundred pounds per annum, and in the gift of Sir Robert Walpole as Chancellor of the Exchequer."31 He had been to Eton and Cambridge and had been admitted to Lincoln's Inn in December, 1725, and to the Inner Temple in February, 1733. His elder brother, Edward, the heir and now Squire, backed up his letter from St. Peter's College, Cambridge,32 but the Duke did not answer. There is no copy of such a reply in the Newcastle correspondence in the MSS. Depart? ment at the British Museum, and William Mellish was never a clerk of the estreats. Is it too much to assume that, with his legal training, he indicated to Kitty the path to freedom?the only way to emanci? pation for a Jewess in those days ? They were married, romantically enough, on February 27th, 1735, the anniversary of her final legal freedom from Philip, at a house in Great Russell Street. This information is given in a History of Blyih? by the Rev. John Raine, written in 1860, a remarkably fine piece of work, but tantalising in its failure to give the sources. Raine must have had access to Mellish documents, old account books, 29 Transactions, v. 211. 30 p. 104. 31 Ad. MSS. 32,689, p. 48. 32 Ibid., p. 75. 33 p. 84.</page><page sequence="9">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 279 diaries and letters, which have now disappeared.34 He states that it was Madame Villareal's house and that it was a Fleet marriage. I have spent some time at Somerset House looking through Fleet marriage registers but have not succeeded in tracing this wedding. The announce? ment, however, appears in the Historical Register and in the Gentleman's Magazine : " William Mellish, Esq., to Mrs. Villareal, widow, daughter to Mr. Da Costa, a rich Jew merchant, of this city, with a fortune of ?35,000."35 Baptism was apparently essential, and she was baptised in St. George's, Bloomsbury, then a new Church, by Dr. Edward Vernon, Rector, on March 28th, a month after the marriage. I have discovered the entry of the baptism : " Catherine, wife of William Mellish, Esq." in the register at St. George's. Kitty's first child which she bore to Mellish, is registered at the same Church?Joseph, baptised November 7th, 1735, and buried two days later. Her second son by Mellish, Charles, born July 16th, 1737, was baptised on the 18th at St. Anne's, Soho, where later her two Jewish children were embraced by the Christian faith. This indicates that she was then living in Lisle Street where, according to the Court Register of the period, Mellish resided for some years. St. George's, where her own baptism took place, is close to Great Russell Street; part only of that street was in the parish of St. George's, which was created in 1731. The north side of the St. George's portion of Great Russell Street was taken up by Montague House, now the British Museum, and Bedford or South? ampton House, facing Bloomsbury Square. There were about three houses in between; they are still there and constitute the present Zionist headquarters.36 If Kitty lived on the north side of the street, she was married in that building. Kitty fought and won an action in the Chancery Court against 34 I have been informed that the documents that do exist at Hodsock Priory, Notts, do not refer to William Mellish or Kitty. 35 Gentleman's Magazine, vol. v., p. 107. A reference to the Fleet Registers (Book 51, 1727-54) in an article on Copped Hall in the Barnet Press in August, 1935, by Frank Marcham proved incorrect. 36 I wrote to the Duke of Bedford's steward, but unfortunately their records do not go so far back. The information may be hidden in the old sewer rate books, now in possession of the Holborn Borough Council.</page><page sequence="10">280 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. her father for recovery of her children by her first husband. She had entrusted him with the guardianship of their education by deed of May 3rd, 1734, which she and Mellish ratified in March, 1735. It was agreed that if the children should die while infants, her father should share equally with her in their inheritance, said to be ?27,000 each, under their father's Will. Da Costa also signed a deed-poll permitting Kitty to see the children at his house. Nevertheless, and doubtless because of the death of her first Mellish child, she sought to regain them and succeeded on what seems a quibble, but one of extraordinary interest, throwing light on the Jewish legal status of the period. On March 17th, 1738, Lord Hardwicke, who was then Lord Chancellor, said he decided such a cause with reluctance. He non-suited Kitty, saying she had no power to assign guardianship, and that he could not set aside a deed entrusting the education of her children to her father, whose behaviour was not to be impugned. But he granted the petition of the children praying that proper directions be given for their education, observing that there was no reason to take the right of guardianship from Kitty because she was now of the religion of the country.37 Da Costa's advocates in the action included Sir John Welles, Attorney-General, and Nicholas Fazakerly, M.P., a leading counsel of the day. Kitty had the children Christianised within a month and announced in the Daily Advertiser, April 12th, 1738 : " Yesterday morning were publicly baptised at St. Anne's, Soho, by Rev. Dr. Pelling, the two children of the late Joseph Da Costa Villareal, by the names of William and Elizabeth." Save for another law case, in which a claimant against her husband's estate failed but was not cast in costs by Lord Hardwicke, Kitty, after gaining possession of her children, virtually vanishes from history and passes into legend. In the many letters in the Newcastle corres? pondence connected with the 1741 election at Retford, six miles from Blyth, in which her husband was returned to Parliament by a plentiful outlay of her money, she is not once mentioned. Perhaps in that scandalous orgy of corruption and bribery she deemed it wiser to keep out of public notice. 37 Swanston, vol. ii. p. 533.</page><page sequence="11">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 281 Mellish made no stir in Parliament. I can find no record of a speech by him, nor is there any portrait or engraving of him at West? minster. But he was an astute individual, and he ingratiated himself with the Duke so that he got rid of a petition against him, and was returned unopposed in June, 1747. By then Kitty was in her grave. No Jewish record has hitherto mentioned her death, which took place on Thursday, March 19th, 1747 ; the Mellish monument in the Church at Blyth where she is buried, gives her age as thirty-seven and the year as 1746, but the parish register gives it as 1747.38 The funeral did not take place until March 27th. She had made her Will in London on August 19th, 1746,39 leaving everything to her " dear and loving husband," and appointing him sole executor. The Will which was proved April 27th, 1747, does not mention the children. The two elections and her death, a few months before the second, created a stupid legend which Nottinghamshire chroniclers have transcribed one from the other without taking the least precaution to analyse its plausibility. I found it first in J. S. Piercy's History of Retford, 1828,40 reproduced in Thomas Bailey's Annals of Notts, 1852-5 :41 again in C. Brown's History of Notts, 1896,42 and appearing in an article in a Notts newspaper only a year ago. Here is the gem in all its original absurdity:? Mr. Mellish resided at Blyth, and in early life was betrothed to a Jewess of considerable property, but which, by a curious clause in the Will of her father, her husband could not inherit until chosen M.P. Accordingly he offered himself for Retford, and as a matter of course was anxious to succeed in his endeavour. On the morning the election took place he brought two different horses to Retford, the one grey, the other bay, by means of which he was to send information of the result. If chosen, the grey one ; if not, the other. There being no opposition, he was elected, and immediately despatched a messenger on the grey horse. His lady, anxious for the success of her lord, was keeping a sharp look-out for the signal, on discovering which she was so over-joyed that she fell into hysterics, and in the course of two or three days actually died from the effects. 38 Both are correct owing to the unreformed calendar which began the new year with March 25th. 39 Potter, 104. 40 p. 74. 41 Vol. hi. p. 1189. 42 p. 174.</page><page sequence="12">282 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. The dates confute the story, but, as in many legends, there may be some measure of truth in it, which I take to be this?that Kitty was in a state of hysteria about the election, and that in some way it was widely rumoured that her very life was dependent on the result. ?With regard to the mention in the story of a clause in a Will, it should be noted that Kitty's father lived until January 16th, 1753, and his Will, proved March 6th, 1753 (Searle 76), left * every thing to my dear and well-beloved wife.' Of Mellish it need only be said that in 1751 he retired from Parliament to become Com? missioner of Excise at ?1,000 a year, that nine years later he was promoted to be Receiver-General of Customs at ?1,500 a year, that he succeeded his brother as Squire in 1757, and married again in 1762, his second wife being his cousin, Anne Gore, an heiress. He retained his office until 1786 and died on December 16th, 1791, aged either 81 or 83. He was probably slightly younger than Kitty when they married.43 The Gore family was distinguished in trade and in public life, and the Mellishes had previously intermarried with it and had, as far as I can gather, merged their businesses. The Gores are the ancestors of Earl Winterton, the Earl of Arran and a present Cabinet Minister and true friend of the Jews, Mr. Ormsby Gore. Sir William Gore, William Mellish's grandfather, who was Lord Mayor of London in 1701, was one of the first Directors of the Bank of England. William Mellish's younger brother, Joseph, was also an M.P. ; he entered the firm of Gore's, also married a cousin ?the two brothers married two sisters?and left ?300,000. Of William Mellish's second family I may mention that his son, William, was also an M.P., and rose to be Governor of the Bank of England. To return to Kitty's children. Her daughter, Sarah renamed Elizabeth, was married on August 12th, 1747, to the heir of the first Viscount Galway. The latter succeeded to the title in 1751, and Kitty's daughter was thus the first person of Jewish birth to marry into the peerage; her descendants to-day are Viscount Galway, and, through her grand-daughter, who married a Mr. Milnes, the Marquis of Crewe. Galway was an Irish title in the eighteenth century, although the 43 Alum. Cantab, says he was admitted to Peterhouse, February 7th, 1725-6, aged 16.</page><page sequence="13">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 283 family was famous in Yorkshire. Of Kitty's son, Abraham, renamed William, nothing has yet appeared in Jewish records. He seems to have gone neither to the University nor to have been called to the bar, as did Kitty's son by Mellish. He is mentioned in a letter, in the Newcastle correspondence in the British Museum, written to the Duke by the latter's agent, Mr. Bristowe, on Christmas Day, 1751, referring to the by-election at Retford, caused by the resignation of William Mellish, his step-father. It states that among the gentlemen present at the unopposed return of Mr. John Shelley, was Mr. Villa Real.44 He went to live at Edwinstowe in Sherwood Forest, where he held an estate in copyhold from the Duke of Portland. The Edwinstowe parish register discloses his subsequent history. On November 17th, 1755, he was married by special licence to Elizabeth Hallifax, of Mans? field, sister of Samuel Hallifax, who was later Bishop of Gloucester and then of St. Asaph, and of Dr. Robert Hallifax, physician to the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV. On Monday, June 27th, 1757, a daughter was born to William Villareal " squire, and Lady Elizabeth, his wife"?a courtesy description obviously?and was baptised Elizabeth on October 4th. The third entry is as follows : " Dec. 8, 1759, William Villareal buried." A mural monument in Edwinstowe church bears the following inscription :? In memory of William Villa Real, Esq. who departed this life 27th Nov. 1759, In the 30th year of his age. He had great Humanity and Benevolence of Temper, Was a Sincere Friend, A Good Neighbour, An Agreeable Companion And much respected By All his Acquaintance. Actually he had turned thirty. I apprehend that he did not enjoy the best of health, but I suggest he died of a broken heart. The letters 44 Ad. MSS. 32,725, p. 536. The name is sometimes written as two words.</page><page sequence="14">284 KITTY VTLLAKEAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. of the Duke of Newcastle have given up the secret. Shortly after the birth of his daughter, he wrote to the Duke :45 My Lord, As I find that I am one of the Persons, to represent this County, as High Sheriff, for the Year ensuing, makes me write this to your Grace, as a particular favour to let some other Gentleman be appointed instead. Your Grace's Most Obedient and most humle Servt Willm Villa Real. 19 of Nov. 1757. Edwinstow near Tuxford. This is endorsed " an excuse for serving Sheriff." Whatever the cause ?diffidence, ill-health, sensitiveness that he might be deemed pre? sumptuous as a " Jew "?Villareal must have got over his feelings in the next year. He aimed much higher. This letter to the Duke is, I think, an important discovery in Anglo-Jewish history :46 My Lord, I am very sorry to write to your Grace, on so bad an Event, and that is as the Late Lord Howe being killed; for yt reason, makes me offer myself; as a member for the Town of Nottingham, in granting this request it will oblige Your Grace's most Obedit &amp; Most Hble Servt Wm Villa Real. Mansfield 25 August 1758. Viscount Howe, holder of an Irish title, was one of the Whig M.P.'s for Nottingham, and brother of the famous Admiral. A Brigadier-General, he was killed in a skirmish with the French at Trout Brook, near Fort Ticonderoga, America, on July 6th, 1758. Villareal, whose writing is effeminate with flourishes, was severely snubbed. The Duke replied :?47 45 Ad. MSS. 32,876, p. 35. 46 Ibid. 32,883, p. 98. 47 Ibid., p. 170.</page><page sequence="15">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 285 Newcastle House, Aug. 29, 1758. Dear Sie, I had the honour of your letter and cannot possibly say anything relating to the present vacancy at Nottingham, till I know the sentiments of the present Lord Howe and his family and of my other friends at Notting? ham ; neither can I advise you, as a Friend and Servant of yours to engage in it. I am with great Truth, &amp;c. Holles-Newcastle. This is endorsed " copy for Mr. V. Real." Another letter, written the day previously by the Duke to Mr. Job Charlton, M.P. for Newark, shows that his Grace was annoyed :?48 I have had application from Sir Robert Clifton, and Mr. Villa Real. Both talk of standing ; I have given my answer to the first and shall give the same to Villa Real?sure there never were two such men to think of standing for such a Town as Nottingham. Clifton had been imprisoned for debt and was involved in a scandal with his mother-in-law, Lady Lomb.49 Lady Howe, mother of the dead soldier, insisted that a younger son, Colonel Howe, who was subse? quently in command of the British troops at Bunker's Hill, should be chosen for the vacancy.50 He was returned on December 1st, and in just under a year William Villareal was dead. He was not destined to be the first man of Jewish birth to sit in the House of Commons. His widow married Captain William Hutchinson, of Eggleston, Durham, in 1763, and was widowed again four years later. From that time onwards, the life of Villareal's daughter, as written by her? self in a remarkably frank confession, reads like a horrible nightmare. She says she was tricked out of her inheritance by her husband, fell into debt, was arrested, and wrote her first confessions from the Fleet Prison in January, 1788. It was entitled, Appeal to the Public. Four years later she wrote a fuller Life, and she also wrote Poems, 1793, Wanderings of the Imagination, 1796, and some stories. She completed the novel, The Beggar Boy, written by Thomas Bellamy, and in the 48 Ibid., p. 141. 49 Egmont Diary (Hist. MSS. Com.), vol. i. p. 317. 50 Ad. MSS. 32,883, p. 308. u</page><page sequence="16">286 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. Biographical Dictionary of 1816 was mentioned as still living. Careful search has not yielded any notice of her death. She called herself Elizabeth Sarah Villareal Gooch " the last of the Villareals." To complete this amazing record?William Villareal had a natural daughter, whom he adopted but to whom he bequeathed nothing. She was apprenticed to a " mantua " maker and married a man named Dutton who became Mayor of Chesterfield.51 Kitty's son by Mellish had a happier destiny. Charles Mellish became Recorder of Newark and was an M.P. in 1774, the second of Jewish blood to sit at Westminster, the first being the son of Samson Gideon, who was elected for Cambridge at a by-election in 1770. Each was half a Jew. Kitty's descendants in the male line died out in the succeeding generation. Charles Mellish's son, Colonel Henry Francis Mellish, was a notable character, who died without issue in 1817, at the age of thirty-five. He was a sporting celebrity and lost nearly all his estates gambling with the Prince Regent, George IV., with the exception of Hodsock Priory, which was entailed on a sister, named Ann, the wife of William Chambers, who had two sons who pre-deceased her. Another sister, Eliza, was twice married but died childless. Colonel Mellish went through the Peninsular War as aide de-camp to Wellington. Is it possible that Wellington, who was a friend to Jewish emancipation, was influenced by Mellish, who was everybody's favourite, and whose grandmother was a Jewess ? I have mentioned Samson Gideon, one of the most outstanding personalities of the period.52 Actuated, it may be, by envy of the social advancement of some of Kitty's family, in the year 1756 he sought to achieve one of his dearest ambitions by obtaining a title. The correspondence upon the subject with the Dukes of Devonshire and Newcastle, is of considerable historical value, and, as far as I am aware, has not been previously printed. Gideon first solicited the good offices of the Duke of Devonshire, who was Prime Minister for less than half a year in 1756. On June 13th, 1758, the Duke put the claim before King George II., and wrote to Gideon :?53 51 Life, by Eliza V. Gooch, vol. iii. p. 85. 52 Jewish Encyclopedia, v. p. 662. He spelt his name without the letter 44 p." (See L. Wolf, Essays in Jewish History, p. 174). 53 Ad. MSS. 32,886, p. 243.</page><page sequence="17">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 287 This morning mentioned to His Majesty what you desired about the Baronetship. . . . The King seemed extremely well disposed, spoke very handsomely of you and said he should have no objection himself to oblige you, but as you was not bred up in the religion of the country he was afraid it woud make a noise and that in a time of Confusion and Public Distress as the present is, he was afeared they would make an Ill-use of it, and therefore desired that I would inform you in the civilest manner that it was not convenient with him to comply with your request. The Duke concluded by flattering himself he performed his task well. Gideon girded up his loins, and took advantage of the further service he was rendering in connexion with the Hanover loan to use the Duke of Newcastle, who was then Prime Minister. The Duke wrote him a charming letter of thanks about his advice, that the interest should be four?and not five per cent, saying:? I am sure I shall soon have the satisfaction to acquaint His Majesty that through your means and the rest of my friends, the business is done. I shall stay in town till Fryday and shall be glad to see you any morning. This is dated September 26th, 1758.54 There must have been an interview and Gideon submitted two memoranda in his own shaky handwriting. One sets forth his financial services to the country from 1742 to 1758 and ends :?55 N.B. Mr. Gideon never asked or had from the Government any gratuity fee or commission, nor would he accept of any pecuniary reward. The other memorandum is more piquant and is endorsed on the back, " Mr. Gideon's paper, Oct. 10," a peculiarly interesting date The statement reads :? Antonio Lopes Suasso, Native of Holland, professing the Jewish Religion was in a Catholick country created a Baron, by the King of Spain, and the Patent sets forth that the Title shall decend to Male or Female, notwith? standing their professing themselves to be Jews. The Emperor of Germany confirmed the above and granted him a new Patent by the Title of Antonio Lopes Suasso Baron de Avernes Le Grass. Mr. Diego Pereira de Aguilar, a Merchant and Native of Portugal and Free Denison in England Professing Ibid., 32,884, p. 160. Ibid., 33,055, p. 221.</page><page sequence="18">288 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. the Jewish Religion and educating all his Children, in the Faith he embraced some years Since, was made very lately a Baron of the Empire. Whereas Samson, the Son of Rowland Gideon (a West India Merchant and a free and Levery man of London) was Born in England, married an English Protestant, his Sons and Daughters were all Babtis'd by the Sub Dean of St. Paul's, few days after their birth, were strictly educated and so many of them that are Living continu to Profess Christianity.56 Only one conclusion is possible. Gideon was citing these two instances as precedents, and was seemingly hoping, as the result of his continued evidence of loyal devotion, to get more than a " baronet ship." He was throwing his son into the scales. Did he select October 10th, 1758, deliberately for the presentation of the document ? It was his son's thirteenth birthday ! This is proved by a letter of December 9th, 1758, when he sent to Newcastle the copy of Devon? shire's " kind letter " quoted and enclosed something which he says is " perhaps required upon the occasion."57 It is a slip of paper in another handwriting, which reads :?58 These are to certify that Sampson son of Sampson and Jane Gideon was born October the tenth and baptised November the sixth, 1745, as appears by Register belonging to the Parish of St. Gregory, near St. Paul's. Witness my Hand William Reyner, Dated 8th. Dec. 1758 Minister of St. Gregory. The birth certificate settles the date of birth of Samson's son? it has been variously given?and the name of his mother as Jane, not Elizabeth. It proves also that the boy was only thirteen when the baronetcy was conferred on him on May 21st, 1759, while he was yet at school at Tunbridge. Five days before sending a copy of Devon? shire's letter and the birth certificate, Gideon wrote as a postscript to a letter to Newcastle on business :?59 "Am glad to hear His Majesty's complaint is turn'd to the gout and pray to God it will produce health and Long Life." It is curious?and significant?that there is no letter of thanks from Gideon in the voluminous Newcastle papers, for the honour 56 Ibid., p. 219. Baron Suasso was a cousin by marriage to Kitty, his wife being the daughter of her mother's sister Catherine. 57 Ibid., 32,886, p. 241. 58 Ibid., p. 245. 59 Ibid., p. 151.</page><page sequence="19">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 289 conferred upon his son. His mortification must have been accentuated by the fact that Kitty's daughter had entered the peerage by becoming Viscountess Galway. Lucien Wolf describes Kitty as " pretty and coquettish,"60 Mesquita elaborates this to " beautiful."61 I am afraid she was petulant rather than coquettish, and I have seen her portrait, a painting at Hodsock Priory, where live the two old maiden ladies, the last of the Mellishes, the descendants of William Mellish by his second wife.62 A little while before I was there, last summer, all the pictures were cleaned; in the process, Kitty's portrait revealed the date and the name of the painter, " J. Ellys, 1732." She is shown, with her two children? plain and pensive. The name of the painter and the date sent me on a chain of inquiry which produced a disconcerting theory. Jack Ellys, or Ellis (1701-1751) was associated with Hogarth in directing an academy of art in St. Martin's Lane, for thirty years; and it is a natural thought that, through this connexion, Philip, Kitty's cousin, may be the original of the Jew in the second of Hogarth's famous series, " The Harlot's Progress "?the one in which the girl is shown as faithless to her wealthy paramour. The belief existed in Hogarth's time that he meant to depict a Jew. With Hogarth's knowledge, and perhaps connivance, the pictures were dramatised with a Jewish character, named Beau Mordecai, into a one-act pantomime, " The Harlot's Progress, or the Ridotto Al Fresco," by the disreputable Theophilus Cibber, son of the Poet Laureate, and produced at Drury Lane, March 31st, 1733. It is dedicated to Hogarth and contains a character named Kitty who sings in a duet with the Jew:? Farewell, good Mr. Jew : Now I hate your tawny face : I'll have no more to do With any of your race. It may be the merest coincidence, or an intentional reference to Kitty's overthrow of Philip, but to-day the third and fourth lines read like an uncanny prophecy. In any case, as I have shown in my 60 Transactions, v. 211. 61 Ibid., x. 249. 62 Both have since died.</page><page sequence="20">290 KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. book, The Jew in Drama,63 tbis little play through the famous actor Macklin, who played the Jew in it, heralded the appearance of the objectionable Jew in the eighteenth century drama. Macklin intro? duced a Jew, named Beau Mordecai, into his play, " Love ? la Mode." A ballad opera on the Hogarth pictures, entitled, " The Jew Decoy'd," printed in 1733, has never been performed : in this the Jew is named Menasseh ben Israel, a Portuguese, an elderly man with a daughter. Among the communications we have received since our novel64 appeared (including some from non-Jews who claim connexion with the Villareals) is a letter from Lord Galway, who has been most helpful throughout, suggesting identification of Villareal Farm with Castle Farm, close to Blyth Mill, a quarter of a mile from the village on the Retford road. It is built of the same brick as Serlby Hall, his residence in the district, which his ancestor enlarged when he married Kitty's daughter. The latter's portrait there shows her dignified, but hardly beautiful. His lordship, who invited me to Serlby, looked through papers in his possession and sent me the Will of the third Viscount, Elizabeth Villareal's son and Kitty's grandson, who died March 2nd, 1774, as the result, it is believed, of a duel. It is dated February 28th, 1774. The first bequest is an annuity of ?150 to " my cousin Benjamin Da Costa," and William and Charles Mellish, Kitty's husband and son, are the executors. This Benjamin must have been the son of Kitty's brother of the same name, who died March 4th, 1759, and the cousin actually of the Viscount's mother, Kitty's daughter. Benjamin Da Costa married out of the faith and he and his wife and son, who only enjoyed the annuity eight years, are buried in the churchyard of St. James's, Piccadilly. The father was in the postal service, the first civil servant of Jewish birth, and the son in the excise. There is little in the way of treasure trove concerning the Jewish social life of the period. There is some evidence that family affairs were reserved for discussion until Friday night, that they had " assemblies" on Saturday nights for cards, quarrels and scandal. They visited Bath for their health. The letters show that they were better educated than the majority of the people of the time ; they could ride ; they paid rather higher wages to servants than current 63 p. 111. 64 Kitty Villareal by Gertrude and M. J. Landa. 1934.</page><page sequence="21">KITTY VILLAREAL, THE DA COSTAS AND SAMSON GIDEON. 291 rates ; there was a Jewish footman, Levi Joseph, in the family, and there was an upholsterer, Benjamin Baron, who lived in Walbrook. Kitty was attended by the famous Dr. Meyer Low Sch?mberg, one of whose sons, Isaac, was a still more famous doctor ; another entered the Navy and became Sir Alexander Sch?mberg. There is also an interesting indication that Kitty would not write on the Sabbath, but asked her maid, Sarah Baxter, to write for her to Philip. In her affidavit she denied having written or dictated the epistle.65?I find also that Jews may have resorted to Fleet marriages. A Mrs. Levy kept a " marriage house," and acted as clerk. Whatever they may have bequeathed to memory, the testament of these eighteenth century families is a proof that the doctrine of Israel being preserved by persecution is cynical and provocative. Kitty and the rest of her kindred who followed her, Gideon and the tribe whom he directed below the horizon of Jewry, were the victims of intolerance. The name of Gideon has been obliterated, that of Villareal has vanished; it lingers but as a spot in Nottinghamshire, Villareal Corner, where hounds meet. Koheleth has written the epitaph :?" All is vanity." 65 Proceedings, pp. 31 and 55.</page></plain_text>