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Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-88): New Yorker and Londoner

Stephen Massil

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 43, 2011 Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner* STEPHEN MASSIL Haim Bolaffey dedicated his 'Easy grammar' of 1820 to Dr Joseph Hart Myers, whose daughter's and father's fortunes I have now traced to serve as the background to reviewing Dr Myers's career in the broad context of the assimilation of Jews in Britain during the late Enlightenment.11 have taken the family of Maria Hart Myers (1794-1868), 'the lady of Longueville Clarke', down to 1929.2 Here I shall concentrate on the earlier generation of Naphtali Hart Myers and his success as an American in London in the late eighteenth century. I acknowledge again the assistance of a New Zealand genealogist, Daryl Coup, himself a descendant of Naphtali's son Simeon Hart Myers (1765-1803), who has both encouraged and followed some of my findings about Naphtali 'cheek by jowl'. For the Anglo-Jewish history of the 1760s I also acknowledge references in Raphael Langham's account of the early history of the Board of Deputies of British Jews on the occasion of the Board's 250th anniversary.3 Against the fact that Naphtali does not appear in this history of the Board, and because the entry for him in the forthcoming Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History subordinates him to his son Joseph,41 offer these traces of his career, presenting him rather as a one-man Board of Deputies in his own right, or, along with the American-born Naphtali Franks, a two-man team. The key factor, I suggest, is that he had become an American as far as his place in London is concerned, so I intro? duce him with a brief survey of his American career. I have been able to update the Myers family tree5 in further correction of Malcolm Stern's genealogical tables at the American Jewish Archive. * This article is an expanded version of a paper presented to the Society on 17 December 2009. 1 S. W. Massil, 'Two Hebrew grammars and the Enlightenment', Trans JHSE XLI (2007) 99 143 2 S. W. Massil, "'The Lady of Longueville Clarke": Maria Hart Myers (1794-1868) and her Family', TransJHSE XLII (2009) 53-73. 3 R. Langham, 250 Years of Convention and Contention: a history of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, 1J60-2010 (London 2010). 4 W. D. Rubinstein, M. Jolles and H. L. Rubinstein (eds) The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History (Basingstoke 2010). 5 S. W. Massil (see n. 2) 72-3. 97</page><page sequence="2">Stephen Massil Naphtali's dates are usually introduced with a question mark, '1711?'. If, however, the Gentleman's Magazine's brief obituary notice of October 1788 is taken as correct in giving his age as 77,6 then, with the statement of Naphtali's Will7 that he wished the Synagogue to memorialize him annually at Rosh Chodesh Adar, it can be presumed that he was born on Friday 20 February 1711. What remains uncorroborated is the 'American Adolphus connection' posited by both Stern and Cecil Roth concerning Myers's ancestral connec? tions in New York.8 Intensive investigation fails to trace any substantial Adolphus presence in New York at this period, except for Isaac Adolphus (1725-74) and his wife Charity Hays (1722-73), the sister of Judah Hays (1703-64), who will appear in my account later. The Adolphus family of London could be investigated and might better give a link back to the German origin of both lines, but I have not pursued these. These legal and literary Adolphuses of the Regency certainly offer facets for my general enquiry, which is the social and intellectual connections between Jews and their contemporaries in England at this time. Naphtali's parents, and where he was born, remain untraced. It may have been in Bonn (whence, apparently, Isaac Adolphus of New York) or, if related to the Adolphus family of London, in Kassel; or in Breslau (making some point to Myers's associations with Baruch Judah and his family in New York, and Myers's intermarriage with Hester Moses, the granddaughter of Chief Rabbi Aaron Hart, ne Uri Phaibusch [or Phoebus; 1670-1756], whose father came earlier from Hamburg). That these matters do not figure in current writing is a disappointment, for this family carries descent from the Chief Rabbi through his daughter Rebecca, the mother of Bilhah and Hester Moses (by the naming of Hart's elder granddaughter one might presume that his wife's name was Bilhah). Hart is a substantial figure in a recent account of the Chief Rabbis but no detail of his family is given.9 I refer later to Naphtali's Will, but draw on it here since he stated his wish to be buried next to his mother's grave in what Daniel Lysons in his Environs of London called the 'Dutch Jews cemetery' at Stepney.10 Lysons cited Myers among the notables buried there, including 'Jacob Hart, Gent, of New York, 1785 . . . and Michael Adolphus, Esq, 1785'. This is the only tangible refer 6 Gentleman 's Magazine LVIII pt 2 (1788) 938. 7 PROB 11/1172 (PCC). 8 M. Stern, First American Jewish Families: 600 genealogies, 1654-19// (Waltham, MA, 1978); C. Roth, The Great Synagogue, London, 1690-1940 (London 1950) 160. 9 D. Taylor, The Chief Rabbis (London 2008) 100-14. 10 D. Lysons, The Environs of London: being an historical account of the towns, villages, and hamlets, within twelve miles of that capital; interspersed with biographical anecdotes (London 1792-6) III 482. See also B. S?sser (ed.) Alderney Road Jewish Cemetery, London Ei, 1697-1853: Anglo Jewry's oldest Ashkenazi cemetery (London 1997). 98</page><page sequence="3">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner ence to his parents, suggesting that his father (who, given the naming of Naphtali's first son, must have died before 1758) is buried elsewhere. Naphtali himself surfaces in colonial American records only from 1741 in New York, and in Easton, Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and in New York substantively, with connections over the years in Connecticut and at Newport, Rhode Island. The first New York references are in the letters that Abigail Franks addressed to her son Naphtali Franks (1715-96) after he had settled among his uncles in London in 1733, where she noted that he, well acquainted with Myers in London, had sent letters of recommendation about him.11 This means that there is no scope for any immediate interaction with the' Adolphus of New York' and that the family had rather come from Germany to London. Myers's visit to London in 1753-4 was perhaps occasioned by news of his father's recent death, but any burial of his father would have been arranged without Naphtali's involvement, whereas, since his Will referred to his own burial alongside his mother, I assume he did organize that, including the reservation of the adjacent plot for his own eventual interment. Since Abigail Franks does not mention his parents it is clear that they did not go to New York with him. His mother may of course have travelled with Naphtali and his bride when he brought her to New York in 1754. In America References to Myers's career in America cover mercantile dealings, business associations, court executorship and administrations, synagogue member? ship and wardenships, benefactions - in New York and to the Touro Synagogue along with gifts of books to the Redwood Society - and corre? spondence between London and New York. I shall cite and speculate on some of them. Myers enjoyed a lucrative and successful business career in America, as noted by J. R. Marcus: Myers was 'a distinguished, successful, and philan? thropic merchant who must have come to New York in the early 1740s for by 1746 he was an officer at Shearith Israel... and in 1747 the sixth highest tax? payer of the synagogue (alongside Judah Hays . . . and Isaac Seixas); its President in 1756; his merchandise comprised European and East India 11 A. Franks, The letters of Abigaill Levy Franks, 1/33-1/48, ed. and intro. E. B. Gelles (New Haven, CT, 2004); L. Hershkowitz and I. S. Meyer (eds) Lee Max Friedman collection of American Jewish colonial correspondence: letters of the Franks family, 1/33-1/48 (Waltham, MA, 1968) remains unsuperseded. The letters mentioning N. H. Myers are those of 21 June, 6 Sept., 18 Oct. and 20 Dec. 1741 and 7 June and 22 Nov. 1743 (from Jacob Franks). 12 J. R. Marcus, 'Light on early Connecticut Jewry', American Jewish Archives I 2 (1949); repub lished in Jacob R. Marcus (ed.) Critical Studies in American Jewish History: selected articles . . . (Cincinnati 1971). 99</page><page sequence="4">Stephen Massil goods, textiles and jewellery.'12 He had paid for the honour of laying one of the foundation stones of the Touro Synagogue and gave a chandelier to it in 1760 (still in situ)13 and five to Shearith Israel, four of which were eventually transported to the first synagogue in Cincinnati (in 1835).14 His final address in New York was 'opposite the Golden-Key, Hanover Square' from at least 1755,15 so the family's later transposition to America Square in London can bear some weight of city topography if not of architectural appreciation. Marcus refers to the presentation of candelabra; I am impressed by Marcus's reference to a gift of books to the newly founded Redwood Library in Newport in 1750: the books were Rabbi David Nieto's Matteh Dan of 171316 (Israel Solomons appears not to have been aware of this copy of Nieto's work, discussed in a paper before the Society in 1915)17 and Silvain Regis's Cours Entier, ou Systeme General Selon Les Principes de M. Descartes of 1691;18 other early Jewish members and donors were Abraham Hart, Moses Lopez, Joseph Jacob (the first Treasurer) and Jacob Rivera. Regarding Myers's Will and his estates in the 'colony of Connecticut', Marcus refers to the case brought in 1780 by a certain Boghragh concerning his property at Salisbury, Connecticut (Litchfield County). From another source indicated by the New York Historical Society service, Myers received ownership of a bankrupt's holdings in Fairfield County in 1763, like Salisbury, on the New York borders; he apparently also had estates in Litchfield County.19 It is possible to trace some details of the documenta? tion that Joseph Hart Myers presented to the courts in Connecticut as late as 1794-5, claiming rights and debts. So it appears that in the earlier hearings when Boghrah complained against N. H. Myers as being a 'loyalist', this had not held water in the dispute (and despite Myers's long-since departure from the colonial and pre-Independence context of the case).20 From what appears to be the outset of Naphtali Hart Myers's career in America, he bore a good character from Naphtali Franks, which made a good 13 E. Stiles [1727-95], Ezra Stiles and the Jews: selected passages from his literary diary concerning Jews and Judaism (New York 1902) 61. 14 J. R. Marcus (see n. 12) 16-17. 15 New York Gazette &amp; Weekly Post Boy, 5 May 1755, advertisement quoted in The Arts and Crafts in New York, 1726-1776, compiled by R. S. Gottesman (New York Historical Society Publications, LXIX, 1936) 266-7. 16 I am grateful to Holly Snyder for the Nieto and Silvain details. Rabbi D. Nieto, Matteh Dan (London: Thomas Hive, 1713). 17 I. Solomons, 'David Nieto and some of his contemporaries' Trans JHSE XXII (1931) 26-7. 18 R. Silvain, Cours Entier, ou Systeme General Selon Les Principes des [de?] M. Descartes, Contenant La Logique, La Metaphysique, La Physique et La Morale 3 vols (Amsterdam: aux depens des Huguetan, 1691). 19 J. R. Marcus (see n. 12) 16-17. 20 Ibid. p. 16, citing Public Records of the Colony of Connecticut, X (1877) 268-9, as a source of the dispute between Boghragh and Myers. 100</page><page sequence="5">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner impression on Abigail Franks, writing on 21 June 1741: 'Mr. Naphtali Myers I bleive will doe very well here &amp; if he answer the charecter you give him he may be assured of any friendly office in the family he lodges with at Judah Hays who lives in Mrs Sims's house ... Mr Myers speaks of all the family [in London] with great regard but in particular gives miss a charming charecter [Miss Franks].' Mrs 'Sims' was the widow of James Simmes of Pearl Street; Judah Hays was the brother of Mrs Charity Adolphus (1722-73) who in 1743 married Isaac Adolphus (1721-74), originally from Bonn. In the postscript to the letter of 18 October 1741, Abigail states: 'Mr Naphtali Myers expresses much love and regard to you he is a very good body &amp; deserves the good will you have for him'. Then in the letter of 20 December she finds: '[He] makes himself very agreeable and usefull in the family I don't att all doubt of his doeing well here, for he is very frugall &amp; carefull'. Some eighteen months later, in the letter of 7 June 1743 she notes how Naphtali put himself out for her nephew Moses Salomons, who was unwell and under business duress in the Carolinas. Myers clearly soon entered into business with the Franks family, as also with Abigail's brother Nathan Levy and later with her nephew Benjamin Levy. He was engaged in powers of attorney among the Franks and the Levys with documents signed and witnessed early in 1744.21 Naphtali also appears in the Lancaster County records.22 He appears in the Flatbush town records in 1747, but not necessarily as a resident himself.23 Myers seems to have made several trips back to London, one being announced in 1748: 'intending shortly for England. Desires all persons indebted to him to balance their accounts, and prevent further trouble.'24 Similarly on 30 March 1752: 'All persons indebted to Nap. Hart Myers, are desired to balance their accounts, and prevent farther trouble; he is intend? ing shortly for London'. A sample of Myers's New York trade and connections is shown by an advertisement presumably on his return from the 1748-9 trip to London: 'To be Sold by Naphtali H. Myers, at the House of Mr. Pontus Stille [sic], late Stephen Bayard's, Esq: A Large Assortment of European and East-India Goods, very Cheap for ready Money or short Credit'.25 Stephen Bayard had 21 Details referred to me by Mark Abbott Stern; see M. A. Stern, David Franks: colonial merchant (University Park, PA, 2010). 22 Irwin S. Rhodes, 'Early legal records of Jews of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania' American Jewish Archives XII 1 (i960) 97, citing 'Deed Records, Office of the Recorder of Deeds . . . Record Book B., 29 April 1745, pp. 181-2, and 10 March 1747, pp. 339-40. See also D. A. Brener, The Jews of Lancaster, Pennsylvania: a story with two beginnings (Lancaster, PA, 1979) 4. 23 A. F. Landesman, Brownsville: the birth, development and passing of a Jewish community in New York (1971) 20-1. 24 New York Gazette, 11 July 1748 (repeated over several weeks). 25 New York Gazette, 8 Jan. 1750. 101</page><page sequence="6">Stephen Massil been the Mayor of New York in 1744-7, residing in Dock Street next to Jacob and Abigail Franks on the East River; 'their immediate neighbours were Adolphe Philipse, Frederick and Jacobus van Courtlandt, Robert Livingstone, Abraham de Peyster and Stephen Bayard'.26 Bayard's father lived at Stone Street, near Hanover Square. Pontius Stelle (1707-70), like Bayard of a Huguenot family, had extensive connections in New Jersey. On his return from the more important visit to London in 1753-4, Myers availed himself'in the snow the Charming-Helena (Capt. Livingstone ...)', having 'brought with him great variety of European, India, and China goods, which he proposes to sell for ready money, or short credit, at almost the London prices, at his store, on the premises of the late Capt. Burges, in Princes's-Street',27 an address close by Hanover Square. Pennsylvania There are references to Myers being active in the Lehigh Valley at Easton and as far as Lancaster in trans-Appalachia, as also Philadelphia in the 1740s and 1750s, arising it appears from contacts established by David Franks (if not Jacob Franks himself), but not, I think, on any engaged local basis. Myers's business life in Philadelphia was circumscribed between 1753, when he was 'preparing to enter business with Benjamin Levy', and the dissolution of their partnership when Naphtali set off again for London in 1758.28 The newspapers refer to their warehouse in Water-Street, Philadelphia, 'between Mr. Joseph Saunders's and the Queen's Head'. Water-Street was a prime address between 1740 and 1798: 'all the best and richest merchants dwelt under the same roofs with their stores, situated then in Water or Front Street;... a place of residence and genteel business'.29 An example of the workings of Myers's partnership with Levy, and the opportunity offered for local mercantile exchange (showing an Easton mer? chant purchasing his stock from a New York-Philadelphia combination), comes from Easton. This indicates how business relations between New York and Philadelphia were also close enough to warrant 'a joint action by citizens of these two cities in the Easton courts. On March 20,1755, William Parsons, the Clerk of the Court,.. . ordered the sheriff of the county to take 26 J. S. Gurock, American Jewish history: the colonial and early national periods, 1654-1840 (London 1998) 376; New York Gazette &amp; Weekly Post Boy, 20 Sept. 1751. 27 New York Mercury, 7 Aug. 1754. 28 Pennsylvania Gazette,_2i Dec. 1758. 29 J. F. Watson, Annals of Philadelphia . . . to which is added an appendix, containing olden time researches and reminiscences of New York City (Philadelphia: E. L. Carey &amp; A. Hart, 1830) 203, 205. 102</page><page sequence="7">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner into custody one Andrew McFarlan, a shopkeeper of Easton, on the behest of Naphtaly Hart Myers and Benjamin Levi, through their attorney, Lewis Gordon. This was, in fact, civil arrest for debt.'30 Another action arising in Pennsylvania and after, concerns a case brought by Myers against Gideon Casey, of Warwick, silversmith, in 1762.31 Casey, originally of Exeter, Rhode Island, is well known as a leading silversmith of the day, but was also on record as a counterfeiter as early as 1752 in Philadelphia, and in 1763 in Rhode Island. Myers's detection of the man anticipates later events described by Scott32. Myers was quick to act in respect of defaulting debtors (the terms of his 'departure advertisements': 'to balance their accounts, and prevent farther trouble', as noted earlier, take on particular force), so that Mann, in a recent work on 'bankruptcy' in the colonies, can cite disinterestedly Myers's involvement in the courts in a particular case: To give just one example: James McEvers, a merchant in New York, was content not to press a Connecticut debtor, one DeForest, too hard for payment. He instructed his lawyer, William Samuel Johnson, not to arrest DeForest but rather to try to negotiate security for the debt. However, when Johnson learned that another creditor, Naphtali Hart Myers, had given an officer writs of attach? ment to serve on DeForest, he felt he had no choice but to ignore McEvers's instructions and give his own writs against DeForest to the same officer to serve with the others so that McEvers would 'be on the same footing with' Myers rather than suffering while 'a less favourable creditor is secured'.33 The fact that the case can be cited in a general work of this nature gives a sense of ubiquity and frequency to Myers's appearance in the records as I have traced him. Details of Naphtali's visit to London of 1758-9 and its duration are lacking. It is clear that Myers never 'settled' with his family in Pennsylvania, and I stress this to confute a false lead from a book by R. D. Thornton rele? vant to Joseph Hart Myers's medical schooling in Edinburgh, where the author refers to 'Joseph Hart Myers from Pennsylvania' as one of his subject's colleagues.34 Thornton raises also the question of the students' 'American' sympathies during the War of Independence, and the matter has a bearing when considering Naphtali's status as a (proto-) 'Loyalist' - or not. 30 J. Trachtenberg, Consider the Years: The Story of the Jewish Community ofEaston, i/^2-ig^2 (Easton, PA, 1944) 34-5, using sources at the Historical Society of Philadelphia. 31 Rhode Island Jewish Historical Notes I (1954) 9. 32 K. Scott, Counterfeiting in colonial America (New York 1957) 226-7. 33 B. Mann, Republic ofdebtors: bankruptcy in the age of American independence (Cambridge, Mass., 2002)48. 34 R. D. Thornton, T^m^s Currie, the entire stranger and Robert Burns (Edinburgh 1963) 78. 103</page><page sequence="8">Stephen Massil Shearith Israel Shearith Israel was a Sephardi synagogue but the Ashkenazi membership was large, and positions of authority were shared by the joint membership. Naphtali was elected Hatan Bereshit in 1746, a member of the adjunto, Warden, in 1755, and one of the managers of the Mikveh in 1759. Following his departure for England in 1764, the Parnassim agreed (26 September 1764) that 'the Hazan shall make an acknowledgement every Kipur night to Mr Naphtaly Hart Myers for the five menoroth presented by him to the Synagogue, and on the day of Kipur he shall make Ascabot as directed by the said Mr. Myers, the same to be done every Second day of Rosh Chodesh Adar' (his birthday, as confirmed by his Will and final bequests in London to the Great Synagogue). Newport I find Myers's interests in Newport to have been extensive, and yet Stiles refers to him only once, as noted above,35 which may confirm that he was not a resident for any lengthy period, or the owner of any vessel based there, since Stiles, the pastor of the Congregational Church in Newport at the period, the librarian at the Redwood Library and later the President of Yale, otherwise lists the Jews active in these ways. Aside from Myers's mercantile associations with Rhode Island and the social and intellectual life focused on the Redwood Society, it is perhaps his congregational association as from New York to the Touro Synagogue that is most important. The new synagogue was dedicated on 2 December 1763 and Naphtali would surely have been present among the contingent of New Yorkers given timely notice of the dedication day: 'that those gentlemen who please to favour us with their company may not be disappointed', addressed by Moses Lopez, Parnas, to Samuel Judah, Parnas at Shearith Israel. Naturalization In the transatlantic Jewish context, a significant date at this period is 1740, the year of the colonial Naturalization Act,36 of which Naphtali took advan? tage to secure naturalization in April 1764,37 just prior to the family's depar 35 Stiles (see n. 13). 36 Formally, the Plantation Act of 1740: An Act for naturalizing such foreign Protestants, and others therein mentioned, as are settled, or shall settle in any of his Majesty 's colonies in America ...13 Geo. II.c.7. 37 M. S. Giuseppi (ed.) Naturalizations of foreign protestants in the American and West Indian colonies 104</page><page sequence="9">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner ture for England. That departure seems to have been precipitated by the death in February 1764 of his father-in-law, Simon Jacobus Moses. The Jewish Museum retains Naphtali's certificate of Naturalization, another example of his prominence in the surviving records.38 The War of the Austrian Succession was concluded in 1748 and the Seven Years War ran from 1756 to 1763, but was not significant, I think, in respect of travel arrangements that a colonial merchant might have wanted to pursue; but details of Naphtali's ventures do mostly fit into the periods of peace before and after these wars. Some of Myers's administrations surface in the New York Wills,39 and these date from late in his time in the colony. The law-court references in Connecticut continue, as I have indicated, long after his departure for England and indeed figure also in respect of his son Joseph's attempt after 1789 to claim monies due under Naphtali's will from long-held and disputed estates. This was finally settled in 1795 with the sale of the estates through Benjamin S. Judah, acting as Joseph's attorney. The last trace of Naphtali's American connections surfaces as late as 1805 in a Vermont newspaper, when Jessy Judah, the widow of Samuel Judah, and her son Benjamin seem to be calling in accounts in respect of Judah's estate, on which Naphtali Hart Myers, 'deceased', and others, apparently held former power of attorney.40 In the chronology of Naphtali's life the most important date so far must be his visit to London in 1753-4, from which he returned to New York with his bride, Hester Moses (1730-1812). He was thus in London at the time of the furore over the 'Jew Bill' of 1753, but in his surviving correspondence he does not refer to this. In a letter written to Aaron Lopez of Newport, Rhode Island, on the day after the Act was repealed, 16 November 1753, he makes no mention of this fact, only '[per Mr. Solomon Hart]... [that] your [prayer] books I shall have the pleasure of conveying to you on returning to America with her I'm to be united with next February. My respects to your lady, the old gentleman Mr. [Jacob] Rivera and his consort, and all friends.'41 The Gentleman s Magazine records Naphtali's marriage on 27 February 1754, as also the weekly press: 'Last Wednesday Mr. Naphtali Hart Myers, of New York, Merchant, was married to Miss Hetty Moses, daughter of (pursuant to Statute ij Geo. ll.c.j) (London 1921) 38: 'Naphtali Hart Meyers, Merchant, 27 April 1764'. 38 Jewish Museum, ref: 660A. 39 Abstracts of Wills, Vol. V: 1754-1760, New York Historical Society XXIX (1896) 96 and 434. 40 Middlebury Mercury, 24 July 1805. 41 American Jewry: documents: eighteenth century: primarily hitherto unpublished manuscripts, ed. J. Rader Marcus (Cincinnati 1959) 6. 42 London Evening Post, 7 March 1754. io5</page><page sequence="10">Stephen Massil Mr Simon Jacobus Moses, of Bury Street, Merchant; a young lady of genteel fortune'.42 His social connections at the time therefore brought him to St Mary Ax at the heart of London's Jewry and where he would return in 1764. Between times returning to New York, he settled there in Hanover Square in 1755. Hanover Square Hanover Square, the centre of New York's business district, was just a block inland from the waterfront. Three or four storey buildings of red and yellow brick crowded into the busy intersection where Queen Street and the upper end of Dock Street. . . met South Street. . . Expensive shops and the offices of wealthy merchants collided with tradesmen, street vendors, and pickpock? ets. Here at the commercial crossroads of the city ... colourful signboards 'The Golden Key', 'The Dial', 'The Bible and Crown' competed with displays of fine fabrics, watches, and books for the attention of shoppers with a keen eye for quality and fashion.43 Myers lived opposite the Golden Key, itself the sign of Peter Goelet (i727-1811), an ironmonger and a Provincial Grand Master of the Freemasons of New York; the Square by this date was also the location of New York publishing houses.44 Aaron Lopez appears to have congratulated him on his return when notifying him of payment through 'Mr. Levy' for the books delivered by Mr De Payba and in thanking him for them, as referred to in the second letter in Naphtali's hand of 18 August 1754, writing from New York, and in turn congratulating Lopez on the birth of a son: 'May every event of your life prove as propitious as the gift indulgent heaven lately bestowd in adding a son to your family and Mrs Lopez happily so soon on the recovery Mrs Myers &amp; I truly share in the joy this circumstance affords you in which Mr Franks &amp; family also join their felicitations. If at any time my endeavours to serve you here can be acceptable you may at all times command'.45 In 1757, a reward of 5 pistoles was offered for 'Lost... [in the streets] between Mr. Jacob Francks's and Mr Naphtaly Hart Myers, a hoop ring, set 43 T. M. Truxes, Defying empire: trading with the enemy in colonial New York (New Haven 2008) 23-4. The footnotes consolidate various sources. 44 E.g. A catalogue of book: sold by [James] Rivington and Brown, booksellers and stationers from London, at their stores, over against the Golden Key, in Hanover-Square, New- York: and over against the London Coffee-House, in Philadelphia, 1760, 'At both which places will be found, a constant supply of books'. 45 Transcription furnished by Daryl Coup from the original at Newport Historical Society. 46 New York Mercury, 31 Jan. 1757. io6</page><page sequence="11">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner round with diamonds'.46 Then, in 1760, Myers was appointed one of the trustees for the 'creditors of Uriah Hill, late of Duchess County', signed by Myers and two others on 26 July 1760.47 In 1761, he acquired land near Mill Pond in New London, Connecticut, from John Hawkins, and later sold this on to Ichabod Powers, with Samuel Judah acting as his agent in this respect in 1769, not for the only time (see below).48 Naphtali's own house was used by the merchants William Mavor in October and William Alexander in December 1761, 'importing their goods in the last vessels from Europe'.49 What does not emerge from these casual details of Myers's mercantile career is any sense of particular engagement in the networks and layered associations of different sorts of business. The fol? lowing paragraph from Business enterprise in early New York (1979) can serve as a paradigm showing long-standing interactions of families, firms and part? nerships: The members of the new London syndicate were Sir James Colebrooke, George Colebrooke, Arnold Nesbitt, Sir Samuel Fludyer, Adam Drummond, and - most important for the New York story - Naphtali Franks . . . who had earlier helped victual Ogelthorpe's Florida campaign. One of his brothers was David Franks, a Philadelphia merchant, while his brother-in-law was Oliver DeLancey. Thus when the new London syndicate sought local agents in the colonies, it naturally picked Naphtali Franks's two relatives David Franks and Oliver DeLancey, and they brought into the group John Watts of New York and Charles Apthorpe of Boston, the latter in partnership with William Bayard of New York. Thus the shift of the contract in England from Baker, Kilby and Baker to Colebrooke and Nesbitt had no impact upon the local contractors, who had connections with both camps.50 This brings together the names of those with whom Naphtali was certainly familiar, but not further engaged. A document in the correspondence of Sir Jeffrey Amherst refers to the hire of a vessel in August 1762 by Myers and the writer, David Pryce, of the Headquarters of the Agent for Transports. One specific question Pryce deals with is the tonnage51 of vessels and the certification of this by 'Governor Murray', the British governor over captured French Canada. I cannot place 47 Ibid. 28 July 1760. 48 E. Sulman, A goodly heritage: the story of the Jewish community in New London, 1860-1955, by Esther Sulman with the collaboration of Leonard J. Goldstein (New London, Conn., 1957) 3. 49 New York Gazette, Oct. and 21 Dec. 1761. 50 L. H. Leder, 'Military victualing in colonial New York' inj. R. Frese and J. Judd (eds) Business enterprise in early New York (Tarrytown, NY 1979) 42. 51 J. J. McCusker, 'The tonnage of ship engaged in British colonial trade during the eighteenth century', Essays in the economic history of the Atlantic world (London 1997) 43-75. 52 National Archives, Amherst Papers, W.O. 34, vol. LXIII, Correspondence between the 107</page><page sequence="12">Stephen Massil Myers in the context of the presumably military engagement in Canada, and it is not clear from the one-off letter whether his wish to hire a vessel is for his own trading purposes or for some participation in the transports to do with Canada. It reads: [Headquarters, New York, 19 August 1762] The warrant granted for the hire of the Hound, schooner, Bryan Stapleton master, is agreeable to her tonnage as certified by Governor Murray which is more than she is really entitled to, as her dimensions were taken as if she had been a double-decker; which no schooners or sloops are even allowed to be when taken into the King's service, as the reason for paying 13/6 ton for double decked vessels, is because they are double, found in ground tackle and sails, but schooners and sloops cannot be so without being half loaded with materials. If Mr Myers chuses to take the warrant as made out, he may: if not the certifi? cate shall be returned to him. Signed by Dav. Pryce To Mr Naphtali Hart Myers.52 I have referred to the 'Jew Bill' of 1753, when in London the Lord Mayor and the city merchants were active in their opposition to the Bill. Their next concerted action concerned the Stamp Act of 1765, under which the American colonial reaction was proving so injurious to Britain's trade that its repeal in 1766 benefited both the North American merchants and the colonies, except that the Repeal carried the Declaratory Act and was followed by other taxation, which brought on the greater disaffection of the Colonies and the onset of the Revolution. Yet Naphtali's return to London does not appear to have been in anticipation of the financial and representational struggle ahead. Following the death of Simon Moses and his own application for natural? ization, Myers made ready to bring his family to England, and the newspa? pers carry announcements of household sales: 'To be sold by Auction all the plate, china, looking-glasses, particularly a pair of the largest size sconces, in carved and gilt frames; variety of carved and plain mahogany furniture, car? peting and kitchen utensils; black and white prints, engraved by some of the best hands; a small collection of books of the politest authors both English and French. The whole belonging to Naphtali Hart Myers, 25 April 1764 and two following days.'53 It is not possible to particularize these items, but it is worth noting that Commander-in-Chief and (1) the Agents for Transports, April 1757-November 1763, Letter, p. 228. 53 New York Gazette, 24 April 1764, '25 April 1764 and two following days'. 54 Watson (see n. 11) Appendix 52. io8</page><page sequence="13">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner 'mahogany was not in general use' in New York at this date,54 though Myers's departure coincided with the establishment of several firms promi? nent in the business following the designs of Chippendale.55 At Easton's Point, in Newport, Rhode Island, the firms of John Townsend (i 733-1809) and John Goddard (1723/4-85) were leaders in the use of mahogany for fine furniture, which from their time began to supersede (American) black walnut in popularity. In other words, either Myers was a pioneer in commissioning such furniture from American workshops or he had brought it with him with his bride from England. He also disposed of land holdings: 'TO BE SOLD BY Nap. Ht. Myers, or by his Attorney, Samuel Judah merchant at New York: A tract of Land in Stonington well known by the name of the Auguilla [sic] Farm, containing sixty nine Acres and a Half, being well Watered and fit for any Improvement.'56 A late trade reference offering jewellery for sale also apparently dates from his last weeks in New York: 'a sett of jewels, consisting of a pair of three drop diamond earrings, Egrat, Salatair, Hoop and other Rings'.57 Myers had arrived in New York in 1741 bearing the commendations of Naphtali Franks. On the sailing of the York on 5 July 1764, when he brought his family to London under Captain Berton, he was commended as: 'This gentleman having resided here upwards of twenty-three years, as a Merchant, with an unblemished character'.58 As the only named passenger in the record, Myers must have had some notability and also some contacts as a go-between, bearing a letter from John Watts to General Monckton (the former Governor of New York, retired to England and later sympathetic to the colonial cause).59 He would have known Watts by his Franks connec? tions: John Watts (1716-50) was married to Ann de Lancey, whose brother Oliver had married Phila Franks, the sister of Naphtali Franks. (Captain Peter Berton appears later as a 'Loyalist', and after the conflict over Independence was active in Canada on behalf of the Loyalists.) Here is the point to discuss whether Myers should be regarded as a 'Loyalist and a Tory', as Boghragh accused him in the Connecticut court in 1780. Myers was certainly happy to end his days in England and to ensure a career for his heir in London with a strong association with the Great 55 See Chippendale's Gentlemans and Cabinet-Maker's Directory (London 1762). 56 New London Gazette, 11 May 1764, quoted in R. B. Marrin, Abstracts from the New London Gazette covering southeastern Connecticut, 1763-1769 (Westminster, MD 2008) 37. 57 E. Singleton, Social New York under the Georges, 1714-1776: houses, streets, and country homes, with chapters on fashions, furniture, china, plate, and manners (New York 1902) 254. 58 New York Gazette, 9 July 1764. 59 'Letterbook of John Watts' (see n. 52) 269. The sailing is confirmed in the New York Mercury of 9 July and the York arrived at Dover at the beginning of August. 60 'Letterbook of John Watts'. iog</page><page sequence="14">Stephen Massil Synagogue. Yet in the dispute with Boghragh the court appears not to have been impressed by such matters, even in absentia. The Judahs were recog? nized as upstanding 'Patriots' in the critical phase - when New York was under English occupation during the War of Independence - but at a later date Samuel's son Benjamin was happy to act for Myers in Connecticut and to rely on him (in America Square) during his own time in London in 1798 - long after the events of the 1770s. For want of substantive evidence, cor? respondence and discussion of the political concerns of the time, I find in the few traces of Myers's career and business nothing indicative of his politics. The association with Captain Berton arose in 1764,1 presume on personal and family grounds, before events in America and disputes between the gov? ernment and the colonies had reached any pitch. The groundswell towards independence can of course be detected in various quarters as early as the 1740s, but 1764 was too early for 'Loyalism'. The letters being conveyed to General Monckton appear not to have had any political content, only financial business: New York 30th June 1764 The Honourable General Monckton Dear Sir I wrote you every thing I could recollect nth Instant by the Hallifax Packet. With this you will receive the third Bills for ?500 Sterling drawn by Parker on Nesbitt, the Chance is great they will not be wanted, but 'tis a Merchantman carrys them &amp; the Expence small, to Mr: Myers who goes with his family Home by the same Opportunity I shall recommend your Papers, the Packet I told you could carry none.60 That Myers figures also as a postal intermediary the following year in the correspondence of Dr Thomas Moffat, a Scotsman of Newport, is perhaps more to the point. Dr Moffat was writing to the Quaker Joseph Harrison (1709-87), a former Collector of HM Customs in Boston, having made a judicious escape to London from Rhode Island during the outbursts over the Stamp Duty and following the Newport Riot of 29 August 1765. On his arrival in London Moffat requested Harrison to 'write me under cover of. . . Myers'.61 That Moffat named Myers as a contact at this juncture suggests he would have been sympathetic to the plight of those who viewed American colonial unrest with apprehension, but I can go no further on the matter. Myers would have known these men in social and community terms, as also Dr William Hunter of Newport, like Moffatt a graduate of the medical school of Edinburgh, as a cousin of Dr William Hunter of London and the Royal 61 Chalmers Papers, New York Public Library. 62 Lectures derived from Alexander Munro of Edinburgh, discussed by J. W. Bell, 'History of no</page><page sequence="15">Naphtali Hart Myers (1711-1788): New Yorker and Londoner Academy, and a Jacobite (having served in the Pretender's forces at Culloden), who apparently gave in Newport in 1754-6 the first lectures on anatomy to be delivered in New England.62 The lecture was delivered in the Council Room of the 'Old Colony House', one of the buildings designed by Harrison's brother Peter Harrison (1716-75), the designer of the Redwood Library and the Touro Synagogue. In London I find one last American connection that so far lacks explanation. It concerns a payment of ?124 made by Myers to Mary Bradstreet nee Aldridge (d. 1782) in London on 1 December 1769, and its repayment at the hands of her (estranged) husband Major-General John Bradstreet (1714-74) in Albany, New York, in June 1772 through Myers's attorney Samuel Judah. The docu? ment, signed by both Mrs Bradstreet and Myers, featured in an auction in 2005 (purchaser as yet unknown).63 Bradstreet's career is recorded, but it is not clear at what point Myers may have become acquainted with him, or with his wife who left Boston for London with her two daughters in 1765, reliant on pay? ments from her husband transmitted by his friend Charles Gould at annual intervals in December;64 she also appears in the records of the Loyalists.65 In London, Myers lived first at 11 Bury Street, his wife's family home, and later in Mark Lane where his second son Simeon, on gaining admission to Clement's Inn, was also resident as a bachelor in 1794.66 Myers settled in John Street, America Square, in 1770, as indicated by the letting of'the remainder of a lease of which there are nine years unexpired. A commodi? ous house fit for a merchant, in the centre of business, being No. 11, in St. Mary-Axe. For further particulars, enquiry of. . . Mr. Nap. Hart Myers, in John Street, Crutched-Friars.'67 I have recently published an account of the naming of America Square, and its first American residents, for the London Topographical Society.68 I Anatomical Instruction in New England in a Letter of Benjamin Waterhouse . . .^Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences XXXIII 2 (1978) 215-17. 63 'Early American' (California) Auction House, Sale of February 2005, lot 12: Mary Bradstreet Payment to Jewish Merchant Napthale Hart Meyers [sic] 1769. 64 W. G. Godfrey, Pursuit of profit and preferment in colonial North America: John Bradstreefs quest (Waterloo, Ont., 1982) 252. 65 E. A. Jones, The loyalists of Massachusetts: their memorials, petitions and claims (London, Saint Catherine Press 1930) 51: Mrs Bradstreet's petition (accepted): Audit Office ref. 13/43. 66 C. Carr, 'The Pension Book of Clifford's Inn', Seiden Society LXXVIII (i960) 300. 67 Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser (London) Wednesday 24 Jan. 1770. 68 S. W. Massil, 'America Square: a question without an answer and a review', London Topographical Record XXX (2010) 88-94. 69 Massil (seen. 1) 123. III</page><page sequence="16">Stephen Massil mentioned the America Square development in my first paper69 and included a picture of the 'fluted' obelisk, as Pevsner described it in his first work on the district in 1957,70 which would have been the Myerses morning vista for the next sixty years. America Square, with Crescent, Circus and a series of side streets and interconnections, was notable in its time for the introduction of developments already underway in Bath, and was the City's answer to the Portman Estate developments and the slightly earlier Great George Street development in Westminster (where Naphtali Franks moved in 1761), and can be said to be London's own recognition of its place as 'capital of America'. Myers, by taking up occupancy of premises in the new 'John-Street, America Square' was the first 'American' of America Square, closely fol? lowed by at least four others who were more specifically engaged in the American mercantile scene, whether as Americans in London or as agents for and associates of the British North American Merchants, consolidated as a body under the pressures of the struggle over the Stamp Duty, its Repeal and the various consequences of'taxation without representation', of the period from 1765 until the Declaration of Independence and after. I have traced the associations of the chief personages involved: Alderman Barlow Trecothick, Chairman of the 'Committee of Merchants Trading to North America', Lord Mayor in 1770; Sir Stephen Theodore Janssen, Chamberlain for London and thus the chief officer in charge of the Surveyor's department, a