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Mr Pepys' contacts with the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of London

Richard Barnett

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Mr Pepys' contacts with the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of London* R. D. BARNETT The first synagogue of the resettlement in Britain, that of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation, Sha'ar Hashamayim, was opened on 19 December 1656 in Cree Church Lane in the City of London.1 Its services were attended at various times by several Christian contemporaries who left written accounts. The first recorded visit was that of Thomas Violet, Jew-baiter and pamphleteer, in the spring of 1659.2 The next visit was that of Samuel Pepys, who attended the service on the Sabbath, 3 December 1659, when prayers were said in memory of Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, the founder and leading figure of the congregation, for whom Pepys certainly felt some fellow-feeling, for Carvajal had died of an operation for the stone on 2 November 1659, at the hand of the same surgeon-Thomas Hollier-who had in March 1658 operated success? fully on Pepys himself.3 Pepys, a much younger man than Carvajal-only twenty-five-was more fortunate, and survived. In March 1662 John Green halgh visited the Synagogue on a Sabbath, thanks to his friendship with Samuel Levy, Sopher and Shamash to the congregation, and described it in a letter addressed to his friend the Reverend Thomas 0. Crompton, dated 22 April.4 Then, on 14 October 1663, Pepys and Mrs Pepys, escorted by his friend Daniel Rawlinson, came again to Cree Church Lane Synagogue, this time to form a distinctly unsympathetic impression of the festive ceremonies on the eve of the Rejoicing of the Law.5 It seems that such visits of inspection by Gentile ladies and gentlemen were now becoming quite embarrassing, for on 17 Elul 5424 (8 September 1663), in their first supplementary Ascama, the Mahamad ruled that no Yahid (subscriber or member) should bring them and if they came, none was to rise or move to give them his seat; in other words, they should be ignored.6 But the new and complete edition of Pepys' Diary7 shows that Pepys also had a close and friendly connection, lasting some time,8 with a couple of members of this Jewish community which has hitherto been overlooked. This new edition of his Diary shows that on Monday 12 August 1667, on going after dinner to the King's Playhouse, he sat before his friends Mrs Pierce (wife of the Duke of York's surgeon) and Mrs Knepp, the actress. Afterwards he took them and another friend, Mrs Corbett...'by coach, it raining, to Mrs Manuell's the Jew's wife, formerly a player, who we heard sing with one of the Italians that was there; and indeed she sings mighty well and just after the Italian manner but yet doth not please me like one of Mrs Knepp's songs to a good English * This previously unpublished text was found among Dr Richard Barnett's papers on his death in 1986. 27</page><page sequence="2">R. D. Barnett tune.'9 But he soon softened and dropped his chauvinistic prejudices. On 23 March (Easter Monday) 1668 he recorded that 'at noon come Mr. Pierce10 and she11 and Mrs. Manuel, the Jew's wife, and Mrs Corbett and Mrs. Pierce's boy and girl...'. After dinner they took a barge from Tower Wharfe, 'and all the way sang; and Mrs. Manuel sings very finely and is a mighty discreet, sober-carriaged woman that both my wife and I are mightily taken with her; and sings well and without importunity or the contrary.'12 Three days later, on Friday 26 March 1668,13 Pepys went, after dining, in the afternoon to see a new play by William Davenant, at the Duke of York's House (Theatre) called The Man is the Maister. It was 'a translation, out of French and the plot Spanish', the scene being set in Madrid. Mrs Pepys and her servant Corbett, and a cousin, Betty Turner, and Mrs Pierce awaited him. 'Thence by agreement, we all of us to the Blue Balls14 hard by, whither Mr. Pierce also goes with us, who met us at the play; and anon comes Manuel and his wife and Knipp15 and Harris16 who brings with him Mr. Bannister, the great maister of Musique. And after much difficulty in getting of Musique, we to dancing and then to a supper of some French dishes (which yet did not please me) and then to dance and sing, and mighty merry we were till about 11 or 12 at night with might great content in all my company.' Pepys was very pleased and paid the whole bill, almost ?4-quite a large sum for a young man to find in those days. On Wednesday 22 April17 the Pierces' servant guided him to meet his friends with Knipp at 'Chatlin's18 the French house in Covent Garden; and there with music and good company, Manuel and his wife and one Swaddle, a clerk of Lord Arlington's, who dances and speaks French well but got drunk and was then troublesome.' Who paid the bill this time is not disclosed, but it seems likely that the hosts were the Manuels returning the compliment. On Sunday 31 May Mrs Manuel reappeared to join the Pepys and their friends once more; this time it was at Vauxhall Gardens, where they walked and supped in very high spirits.19 Who, then, was this 'Mr. Manuel the Jew' (clearly, 'Manuel' was only his first name), with a wife gifted with a voice trained in the Italian school, once a player, and with a great interest in the theatre, and enjoyment of the rather fast company of Pepys and his actor and actress friends Harris and Knipp? We shall most probably never know for certain, as the evidence is so slender; yet a suggestion, however bold, might be hazarded. It is in the first place based on the clue of meeting at Chatlin's, that is to say if the menu and choice had to do with Mr. Manuel and his tastes, for they were certainly not those of Mr Pepys; if so, perhaps 'Mr. Manuel' came from France; and this deduction seems borne out by the inclusion of Swaddle, Lord Arlington's clerk, who possessed some skill in speaking French, but with whom Pepys does not appear to be particularly close-nor wish to be. Unfortunately, the non-Jewish names of the early members of the community are very incompletely known and there were probably several persons called in Gentile circles 'Manuel' as their first name, while in the 28</page><page sequence="3">Mr Pepys' contacts with the Jews of London synagogue they bore other strictly Jewish names which in some cases is all that we know of them. Two persons are known who bore the name Immanuel, the biblical equivalent of Manuel, both of them (Manuel Dormido20 and Manuel Dionis Musafia21) died in late 1667 and could in neither case have been Pepys' friend. There were, too, at least six more London Jews outwardly bearing the Spanish name Manuel (in Portuguese, Manoel) who belonged to the congrega? tion at that time, but of most of them we know very little indeed. We have: i Carvajal's brother-in-law, Manuel Rodrigo, or Rodrigues Nunes, with a wife named Deborah,22 ii Carvajal's cousin, Manuel da Fonseca, or Fonseca Meza, endenizened in 1661, an importer, who inherited Carvajal's business.23 Both Manuels are mentioned in Carvajal's will at his death in 1659,24 but no mention is then made of any wife of da Fonseca Meza. This Manuel was also in the shipping trade. iii Manuel Alvares,25 iv Manuel (or Immanuel) Mocatta, with whom the Haham was lodged for several weeks in 1675,26 v Manuel Lopes Pereira (1633-1709), or as he was known in the synagogue, in full, Isaac Rephael Haim Lopes Pereira. About this person however, unlike the others, quite a lot is known. Manuel (or Isaac) Lopes Pereira came from a family originally resident at Almendra in Portugal; his father, David Lopes Pereira, may probably be identified with Duarte Lopes Pereira of Almendra,27 who with his wife Francisca was prosecuted by the Spanish Inquisition at Avila in 1629, but was 'reconciled' (i.e. 'confessed'). If so, he evidently escaped to join the secret Marrano congregation in Rouen with his wife, where Gaspar, their eldest son, was born.28 But from 1632 the Rouen community suffered increasing pressure and most families emigrated.29 David Lopes Pereira's second son, Isaac, was born in 1633 while his parents were still in Rouen, but Isaac's second 'Hebrew' name, Haim (which means 'life'), is one often given to a babe, one of whose parents or other close relative has recently died. In Isaac's case, this may have been his mother, Francisca, who perhaps died in childbirth. (It may, however, in combination with the name Raphael-the name being that of an angel and meaning 'God heals'-indicate that he himself had been very ill.) David and his family then moved to Antwerp and later to Bordeaux where David died. His second wife, now a widow, Abigail, survived him, to die in Middelburg in Holland in 1664. In the course of these wanderings Isaac Pereira acquired several aliases Jacques Vanderperre or Vandenver, and Manuel de Velasquez-and must have acquired a knowledge of French, being a French subject, as well as knowing Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish. In 1655 he turned up in London and in 1660 was living in Cree Church Lane. In 1662 he moved with his younger brother Francisco (Abraham?) to start a business in Dublin, whence they conducted an 29</page><page sequence="4">R. D. Barnett extensive trade with the Canaries; and in 1662 Manuel was endenizened as a foreign Protestant in Dublin.30 Their residence there marks the beginning of the Jewish community in Ireland. But he was soon denounced as a Jew to the Canary Inquisition by his own brother Gaspar in 1664, then by a Spanish sea-captain, Juan Ramon in 1665,31 who described his appearance in some detail. He was tall, rather brown-skinned and had decayed teeth; he was then unmarried, aged about thirty-two or thirty-three. (Evidently he was only recently married to 'Mrs. Manuel' when they met Pepys in 1667.) In 1669 he was elected Gabay (Treasurer) of the London Congregation32 and next year (5430) became Parnas (Warden)33 and was thus one of its leaders and well acquainted with their policies. To me he seems the most likely candidate to have been Pepys's friend, though he did not, doubtless for fear of the Inquisition and its spies, disclose to Pepys his true name or aliases. Isaac's wife's name is given as Leah both in the synagogue's records and in his will.34 In London he prospered, paying an imposta (tax on business transactions) to the synagogue rising from ?1.18.6 for the first six months of 5437 (1676-7) to ?3 in 5439 (1678-9).35 He became a member of the Honourable East India Company.36 He was also, after 1699, a substantial stockholder of the Bank of England.37 He was buried on 2 Adar 5469 (12 February 1705), she on 5 Adar 5490 (22 February 1730). Sabbath attendance at the theatre is rarer among Jews of the period than might be expected. Haham Joshua da Silva, third Haham of the Spanish and Portuguese Community, who held office from 1670 until his death in 1679, delivered a series of sermons in Portuguese in the synagogue, which were published in Amsterdam after his death by his widow Sara.38 In the second of the discourses, delivered (to judge from internal evidence) in about 1673, he fiercely castigates certain unnamed members of the congregation who, he has observed, desecrate the Sabbath after waiting all the week for the leisure that it provides, by going to the theatre (comedia) on that day (we know that 'Mr. Manuel' went there on Friday afternoon with Mr Pepys!); and what is worse, they desecrate the holy day still further by carrying money on them and paying openly for their entertainment!-to the scandal and contempt of the Gentiles who know very well that they should not be doing it! He says that they are protected by those who know them well, but fail to denounce them to the Mohamad so that they might be disciplined by ostracism and excommuni? cation39-a punishment which he is evidently itching to inflict. But his appeal fell on deaf ears; the Mahamad appear to have ignored his outburst; he leaves us still tantalized by the anonymity of the miscreants, but it seems most likely that this is a reference to the Manuels and others. I have increasingly the impression that in 1667-8 the tune to which Mr Pepys, Swaddle and his other friends (metaphorically speaking) danced or sang was Mr Manuel's tune, not that of young Mr Pepys. Pepys, though young, was known as a trusted government official, a faithful and intimate servant of the 30</page><page sequence="5">Mr Pepys' contacts with the Jews of London Lord High Admiral, James, Duke of York, heir to the throne, and was thus a person whom the discerning might well find worthwhile to cultivate, especially the members of the delicately placed and newly established Jewish community. Swaddle, too, as clerk to Lord Arlington, a prominent member of the government, was not without his importance. Arlington was the principal advocate of pro-French policies and contacts and it is likely that Swaddle, with his knowledge of French, helped here, finding in Isaac Pereira a useful source of information. The diplomatic line, in fact, followed by the cautious Sephardi leaders of the community can be recognized in a series of overtures to persons of consequence whom they particularly wished to win over. The connexion with Lord Arlington goes back to 1664 when, as Sir Henry Bennett, Secretary of State, he signed a letter from James IPs Council protecting the Jews.40 In 1674 a bill brought against them for riotous assembly was quashed by the Privy Council, and we may note that in 1675 the Duchess of Buckingham, wife of another leading figure of the government and colleague of Arlington in the 'Cabal',41 was entertained at a cost of ?10.17.6d at a banquet at the house of Isaac Alvares Nunes, court jeweller, who became Gabay (Treasurer)42 of the Congregation in 5425 (1664-5), and Parnas (Warden) in 5427 (1666-7). A similar banquet, costing ?9.5s, was given by the Mahamad-it is not said where-in 1678 to the daughter of 'Milor Arlington'-a piece of information which has hitherto escaped notice.43 In the next year (1679) the Congregation began the custom, not so unusual in those days, of making an annual present to the Lord Mayor-the City's Chief Magistrate-in his case a handsome silver dish or cup usually filled with sweetmeats.44 The custom was observed, with variations, for a century. Finally, in 1681, came the climax, as it were, to which this might appear to have been leading-the visij; during Passover 5441 (1681) of the young Princess Anne, the heir-apparent to the throne, twenty years later to be crowned as Queen Anne. She was entertained45 at a 'collation' of sweets, wine and fruit at the house of Francesco de Liz, the Treasurer, in Bury Street, after she had been to the synagogue in nearby Cree Church Lane. When in the autumn of 1685, shortly after the accession of James, Thomas and Carleton Beaumont launched a vicious attack on the congregation by taking out writs against forty-eight Jews for failure to attend church and had thirty-seven placed under arrest with threats of extorting large sums of money for the price of their freedom, the diplomatic tactics and preparations of the leaders of the congregation now stood them in good stead. The King in Council quashed the proceedings, admonished Carleton Beaumont and ruled that the Jews' harassment must cease, and that they were to enjoy the same privileges and rights as the king's other citizens, so long as they conducted themselves peacefully and in accordance with his majesty's laws. Here was a clear statement of toleration, well in line with, or even ahead of, the most advanced nations in Europe-by which the Anglo-Jewish community was at last made safe and has lived in security ever since. 31</page><page sequence="6">R. D. Barnett NOTES 1 This was first and finally established in a classic study by W. S. Samuel, 'The First London Synagogue of the Resettlement' Trans JHSEX (1924). 2 Anon, 'The Great Trapanner of England Discovered'. See W. S. Samuel, 'Carvajal and Pepys' Misc. JHSE 11/3(1935) 24-9. 3 W. S. Samuel (see n. 2) states, quoting a letter of Pepys, that both Carvajal and Pepys were operated on by the same surgeon, whom W. S. Samuel took to be Dr Pearse, but the new edition of the diary makes it clear that this was not so, but that Pepys' surgeon, and hence also Carvajal's, was Thomas Hollier. 4 Trans JHSE X (1924) App. I, where Greenhalgh's long and very valuable account is quoted in full. See also A. M. Hyamson, The Sephardim of England (London 1951)15-19. 5 R. C. Latham and W. Matthews, The Diary of Samuel Pepys IV (1971) 335; (hence? forth quoted as Diary). 6 L. D. Barnett, Ex libro de los Acuerdos (Oxford 1931) 15. 7 Diary, Vols I-X (1970-1983). 8 As Pepys' journal stops in May 1669. 9 Diary, VIII, 384. 10 Courtier and surgeon; otherwise spelt Pearse. 11 i.e. Mrs Pierce. 12 Diary, IX, 128. What Pepys exactly means here, I confess eludes me; perhaps by 'importunity etc' he means she sang only when invited to do so and without being pressed. 13 Diary, IX, 133-4. 14 An 'ordinary' or restaurant in Lincoln's Inn Fields. 15 Knepp, or Knipp, Elizabeth, actress in the king's company. 16 Harris, Henry, actor in the Duke's company. 17 Diary, IX, 172. 18 Chatelin's eating-house, kept by Henri Cateline. 19 Diary, DC, 219. 20 Hyamson (see n. 4) 21; M. Woolf, 'Foreign Trade of London Jews in Seventeenth Century', Trans JHSE XXIV, 46, 53, 55; and L. D. Barnett (see n. 6) 17. 21 L. D. Barnett, Bevis Marks Records I; The Early History of the Congregation (London 1940) 17. 22 Woolf (see n.20) 55; and L. D. Barnett (see n. 6) 17. 23 Woolf (seen. 20). 24 L. Wolf, 'Crypto-Jews under the Com? monwealth', Trans JHSE I (1894) 61, 70. 2 5 Woolf (see n. 20) 5 5. 26 L. D. Barnett (see n. 6) 84. 27 L. Wolf, 'Note on the Early History of the Dublin Hebrew Congregation', Trans JHSE XI (1928) 163. 28 L. Wolf, Jews in the Canary Islands (London 1926) 183. 29 C. Roth, 'Les Marranes ? Rouen: un chapitre ignore de l'histoire des Juifs de France', REJ vol. 88 (1929) 113-55. 30 L. Hyman, The Jews of Ireland (Shannon 1972) 14. 31 Wolf (seen. 28). 32 L. D. Barnett (see n. 6) 38 ff. 33 A. M. Hyamson (see n. 4) 426. 34 PRO Lane 92. He signs his will (dated 25 January 1708) 'Manuell Lopes Pereira, alias Isaac Raphael Pereira'. 35 Information from Miss M. R. Pereira, Hon. Archivist of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation. 36 Wolf (seen. 28). 37 J. Giuseppi, 'Early Jewish Holders of Bank of England Stock', Misc. JHSE II (1967) 161. 38 Yeosuah da Sylva, Discursos Predycoveys /Que o Docto Haham / YEOSUAH DA SYLVA / Pregou no. K.K. / SAHAR A SAMAYN em Londres. He 0 Assumpto delle, trater sobre os Treze Arti I -Culos, de nossa Sancta Ley. Amsterdam, 5448 (1688). The volume containing thirteen sermons on the subject of the Thirteen Articles of the Jewish Faith, was published by his widow, Sara, with a hascama from Haham Isaac Aboab of Amsterdam. The copy of this rare work, the first Anglo-Jewish sermons ever published, that I have used formerly belonged to Cecil Roth, and was acquired by the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. The fly-leaf is inscribed David de Avila he zircunzido Aho de 1722, en 15 de du? en esta Ciu? de Amsterdam [David de Avila circumcised in the year 1722 on 15 December in this city of Amsterdam]; and also 'Y agora Es De El Senor Daniel Pinedo guarde Dios munchos anos amen Ynda Amen 1730' [And now belongs to Sr. Daniel Pinedo whom may God preserve many years amen and again amen 1750]; and again 'Y agora de Aaron Robles en Bayonne que lo compro el 2 avril 1759 por 3fl. I2m' [and now (to) Aaron Robles in Bayonne, who bought it on the 2nd April 1759 for 3fl...i2m']. The book con? cludes with the funeral sermon delivered at the author's burial by Haham Aboab. 39 Ibid. 93. de quem nos podemos tambem queyxar, he dos que sabem quern sao, como tenha? ta? puco Zello que n?o o vem manifestar 32</page><page sequence="7">Mr Pepys' contacts with the Jews of London aos Senhores do Mahamad para os apartarem &amp; enhermarem ('we can also complain that there be these who know they are, but have so little zeal that they do not make it known to the Mahamad, that they may isolate them and excommunicate them'). The unusual word enhermar must be Judaeo-Portuguese, meaning to put under a herem or ban. Of course the learned Haham is not attacking theatre-going, only those so doing on Shabbat. 40 Barnett (see n. 21) 8-9. 41 Word made up from the initials of the king's closest counsellors, Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley, Lauderdale. 42 Barnett (see n. 6) 90. 43 Treasurer's Accounts 5438 'para o custo de comida q se deu ? filha de milor Arlington... ?9.5.0.' ('for the cost of the dinner which was given to Lord Arlington's daughter'). 44 Barnett (see n. 21) 11-12. A suitable but smaller douceur was also given to the Lord Mayor's Sword Bearer when he came to collect his master's present. 45 Barnett (see n.21) 11-12. A. M. Hyam son (see n. 4) 46-7. 33</page></plain_text>