top of page
< Back

Solomon ben Joseph Buzaglo

Herbert M. J. Loewe

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Solomon ben Joseph Buzaglo1 By the late Herbert Loewe, M.A., Abrahams' MS. No. XII, now in the custody of the Spanish and Portuguese Community at Bevis Marks, is a volume of Collectanea, mostly North African and written in various Maghribine hands of the late eighteenth century. In this manu? script are various items relating to historical events, books, and persons in Morocco. There is a statement concerning certain Jews who were treasury officials and army contractors in the service of the Sultan of Morocco. Another piece describes a period of drought and the fasts and prayers that were organized in consequence. In examining folios 63 to 69 somewhat cursorily, I noticed the names India, which always arouses my attention, Isaac Nieto, and Buzaglo. These three were enough to induce me to undertake a more detailed investigation and this paper is the result. In April, 1913, Dr. Charles Duschinsky read to the Society an interesting paper 2 on Jacob Kimchi and Shalom Buzaglo. The main facts about Shalom Buzaglo there recorded were that he was a scholar of repute, the author of a number of Kabbalistic works. He was born in Morocco at the beginning of the eighteenth century and was a pupil of Abraham Azulai. He says, in the preface to his book KissT Melekh, that he was twice rescued from death by fire by the Sultan and his general?if this be the meaning of the words fcCSS IST) '"POO OTSJJBO ?KO ^SIQ I^TH?and he signs himself ^HDpH which possibly implies that he held rabbinical office. Dr. Duschinsky was of opinion that he was a Dayan. He is subsequently heard of in Amsterdam where the KissT Melekh was published in 1769 and in London, where three years previously, in 1766, he was a contemporary of a dispute about Shechitah. In another controversy of the day he was more actively concerned. He pronounced himself in favour of vaccination but disputed that Jenner discovered it. I deem it necessary to draw attention to the approbations which he received from Chief Rabbi Saul of Amsterdam and from Rabbi Israel Meshullam Zalman, of the Hambro Synagogue. In view of what I shall have to say later, it is desirable to note that in 1769 Shalom Buzaglo was on good terms with these authorities. He died, not in 1780 as stated in the Jewish Encyclopedia, but in 1777. His will was proved on 25th August of that year. According to the record of the graves in the Beth Ahaim Novo, he died on the same day, 22nd Ab, 5537. The incident that Dr. Duschinsky described was yet another controversy in which Buzaglo was involved and an account of this controversy was published by him in two now very rare pamphlets, which Dr. Duschinsky reprinted. In 1768 Rabbi Saul of Amsterdam sent to London a decree of divorce which his Rabbinical Court at Amsterdam had pronounced. The Get was to be delivered by the London Court to the divorced wife, Rebeccah, daughter of Judah. The Ashkenazi rabbi refused to perform the ceremony, on several grounds. No doubt he had genuine reasons for questioning the legality of the proceedings. The ceremony was then carried out privately. Rebeccah later formed an illicit union with a man to whom she bore two children. In 1774 she desired to legalize her position by marriage to this man, and the questions of the validity of the Get and Zalman's refusal to deliver it came into prominence. The Parnassim of the Ashkenazi Synagogue alleged that 1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on ioth December, 1934. 2 See Transactions, VII, pp. 272-290. 35</page><page sequence="2">36 SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO Zalman refused to act because no fee was forthcoming and/or because, being con? vinced that the Get was not valid, the first marriage was still binding and the children illegitimate. Buzaglo's pamphlets and speeches were full of abuse of Jacob Emden and the whole affair was extremely unedifying. It might well have been left alone, after the full and able treatment which it received at the hands of Dr. Duschinsky. I have referred to it again because it provides an admirable example of Middah ke-neged Middah, measure for measure. For you will soon hear that Shalom Buzaglo himself was involved in a very similar matrimonial complication. I am not pre? judging the issue. Either he will turn out to be an earnest upholder of the sanctity of the law, ready to defy those in office in his stand for principle, or you will consider him to be a dishonourable intriguer, subversive of constituted authority and not too scrupulous where his own interests are concerned. I will set the facts before you and leave the verdict in your hands. Of Shalom's private life neither Dr. Daschinsky nor any other source affords us any information. There is no Buzaglo in Dr. Barnett's Libro de los Acuerdos, nor in Dr. Gaster's History of Bevis Marks, nor in Picciotto, nor in any volume of the Jewish Historical Society's Transactions apart from that already mentioned. The Jewish Encyclopedia gives a summary of his career and tells us also of one William Buzaglo or Buzaglio, a contemporary of Shalom, whose claims to distinction are twofold.1 This Abraham introduced stoves made on a new plan for the heating of large public buildings and also claimed to practise medicine. He was in fact a " quack ". He professed to cure gout without drugs, by exercise alone, and he thus appears to have anticipated or used the modern method of massage. He wrote a treatise on the gout which was published in London and passed into at least three editions. He seems to have been a man about town, very different from his brother the Gabbalist, and he died in London in 17 78.2 1 The name William is an error on the part of the contributor to the encyclopaedia. The person referred to is Abraham Buzaglo, the brother and son-in-law of Shalom. 2 " Buzaglo was first distinguished by his introduction of stoves on a new construction, for the purpose of heating large public buildings. He afterwards commenced gout doctor, professing to cure that disease without medicine, by muscular exercise only. Whatever was the real efficacy of his method, the advertisements which he inserted in the newspapers abound with such absurd puffs, that he was generally considered as an empiric. His patients were to be free from pain, and out of danger in a few hours, perfectly cured within a week or ten days at farthest, to enjoy afterwards a better state of health than before, and to receive additional vigour both in body and mind. In the same bill he promises to rectify corpulency, want of appetite, and indigestion to any wished degree ; and adds, at the close of all, that his patients may agree for a perfect cure, or by the month, or by the year, or for life. All this was parodied with much humour by the late facetious Gapt. Grose, in a handbill, given with a caricature, entitled, ' Patent Exercise, or Les Caprices de la Goute, Ballet Arthritique '." (Daniel Lysons, " Environs of London ", 1795, III, 479.) The caricature was reproduced in Rubens, " Anglo Jewish Portraits" (1935). There are also obituary notices in the European Magazine for the year 1788, page 414, and the Gentleman's Magazine, page 562. The former is a bare announcement of the death. The latter runs " Aged 72, Mr. Abraham Buzaglo, of Dean Street, Soho, inventor of the stove called after his name, which he afterwards applied as a cure for the gout, and wherein he has been so much exceeded by the late Mr. Sharp ". Shalom Buzaglo had at least four brothers?Joseph (d. 1761). Of whom more later ; Jacob (d. between 1775 and July, 1777), who married Elisheba, a sister of the second wife of Joseph, by whom he had three daughters. Jacob was a merchant in Gravel Lane and became a bankrupt in 1774 ; Abraham (1716-1788) who has already been mentioned ; and Isaac who settled in Jerusalem and died there before 1762. The father of these five brothers was Moses Buzaglo and as everyone of the four of them who had daughters named one of them Esther we can assume that that was the name of the wife of Moses. The name Moses Buzaglo persisted in the London Sephardi Community until a couple of decades ago and that of Shalom until less than a century earlier. It is probable that these later Buzaglos were of the same family.</page><page sequence="3">solomon ben joseph buzaglo 37 The document with which I am now going to deal is a Responsum followed by various addenda. The question emanated from Rabbi Solomon Shalom, Haham of Amsterdam, and was addressed to the Rabbinical Court at Tetuan, whence the reply issued. The Respondents were Jacob ibn Malka, Ephraim Monsoniego, Judah Abudarham, and Judah Coriat ; the date was Rosh Hodesh Siwwan 5526 a.m. corre? sponding to Friday, gth May, 1766, according to the Gregorian calendar. Important as is this document, it is only one out of many that have to be considered. This evening I shall limit myself to the Responsum but what I have to say must be regarded as Act 1. I have discovered a mass of papers in the Public Record Office dealing with this case. I have come upon it in the middle of its course, somewhere about 1767 in the Court of Chancery, I have pursued it as far as 1793, when it was still active. Our story takes us to London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Tetuan, Jerusalem, India, New Guinea, and the West Indies. We shall encounter plagues and wars. We shall find romance and danger, the wronged widow, the missing heir, the conspiring sea-captain, capture by pirates, insolvent trustees, unclaimed fortunes, in fact all the constituents of the conventional Drury Lane melodrama. Shalom ben Moses Buzaglo had several brothers, of whom one, possibly older than himself, was Joseph, subsequently known as Joseph Buzaglo de Paz, a wealthy West Indian merchant. He owned ships to which he gave Jewish or at least biblical names. He was married three times and had at least one son, Solomon, who was born about 1733. Solomon was the son of either the first wife of Joseph, Esther, daughter of Abraham Lopez Pereira, or of the second, Leah, daughter of Jacob Salom Morenu, whom he married on 17th Adar, 1733. Solomon was of an adventurous disposition. According to the rabbis of Morocco he was a wild lad. He ran away and joined the army, preferring a life of adventure to one of ease in his father's counting house. Two relatives left him legacies. Each of these legacies is, at present, a source of mystery. The Question to the Tetuan Responsum (f. 63b, line 17) gives the following information :? " Now it appears that when Solomon was a minor a certain rich relative had left him money by will before his death and this money had come into the hands of the Christian guardian of orphans in the City of London who is called the ' My Lord Chancellor ', whose law it was to retain the money until the lad should grow up to the age of twenty-one years, when principal and interest were to be paid out. Also another relative left him money in the trust of the Wardens of the London Jewish Congregation on similar terms and to-day more than one and thirty years have passed without any inquiry being made for these sums." The first legacy was placed in the Court of Chancery and it is expressly stated that it was the Judge who protects orphans who had charge of it. Solomon's mother then must have been dead already, if the term was accurately applied, and in that event he was a child of Joseph's first wife. The Tetuan Responsum is dated in the year 1766 : we may assume that the question belongs to the same year. " Thirty-one years previously " would give us the date 1735 as the year of the legacies, assuming that both were roughly contemporary. But the Responsum states that the Tetuan Court had been concerned with this case three or four years earlier, i.e. somewhere about 1762, and the legacies might therefore have to be ante-dated to 1731 or 1732. This is unlikely, as they are mentioned in the Question, not in the Responsum. Solomon ran away to become a soldier in 1752 or 1753. Presumably he was not then of age,</page><page sequence="4">38 SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO or he would have claimed his two legacies, unless he was ignorant of his good fortune. At all events the conclusion may be adopted that when Solomon ran away he was under age. These legacies were, in fact, paid after Solomon's death, which occurred at Achor on the coast of Guinea before 1765, to his next of kin. Letters of administration were taken out by his uncle Abraham in January of that year. To take the Synagogue legacy first. Naturally I assumed that the Congregation concerned was Bevis Marks but Mr. Paul Goodman was kind enough to have two exhaustive searches made, without result. It is barely conceivable that a Congrega? tion would have received a fortune, administered it for thirty-one years and then paid it out with principal and interest after prolonged discussion as to who were the legal recipients, without some trace of these transactions appearing in the Congrega? tional records. When, moreover, the Notary Public concerned?at all events in the Chancery case and presumably in this too?was Isaac Nieto, the cause for suspicion becomes overwhelmingly strong. Isaac Nieto was Haham ha-shalem at Bevis Marks from 1733 to 1741, during which period the legacy must have reached the Congrega? tion. Then he resigned and went abroad for six years. In 1747 he returned to London and became a public notary ; in 1751 he became Ab Beth Din. He resigned this office in 1767 and he died in 1774. The legacies were paid between 1758 and 1766 : it is, I venture to think, impossible to believe that the Synagogue concerned was Bevis Marks.1 The trustees may have been the wardens of the Duke's Place or Hambro Syna? gogue. Their records have been carefully catalogued by Mr. Cecil Roth, who tells me that he is certain that no trace of this case is extant. Its magnitude and interest would have struck him. Either the legacy was not in the trust of any of these or, if it was, the records are no longer extant. I would, however, urge that further search be undertaken. Hitherto the date when the legacy was placed in trust has been conjectured : so, too, is the name of the legator. It is not mentioned in the Responsum. If this was one of Solomon's maternal relations, the name would not be Buzaglo? unless Joseph had married a cousin?and therefore the legacy may have been entered under another name. My search has been for records dealing with Solomon Buzaglo, the legatee. The other legacy must have been paid out by the Court of Chancery after 1764, for that was the date when a certain J. D. Cavallo, Notary Public, attested the copy of the Register giving Solomon's period of military service. Isaac Nieto suc? ceeded in satisfying the " My Lord Chancellor ", as the Question to the Responsum calls him, and the money was handed over. To this point I will revert later. It was to search for the proceedings in this Chancery case that I went to the Public Record Office and became overwhelmed by the mass of Buzaglo material that emerged. But I am not clear that the proceedings which I have found refer to this legacy. Now let us return to Solomon. Joseph's second wife had in the meanwhile died and he had married in Morocco a third, Esther ben Abraham ha-Levi Bentubo. He married her there according to the custom of the Congregation of exiles from Castile, whose matrimonial usages differed from those of their Moroccan co? religionists, with regard to the amount of the settlement. Subsequent events show that there was antagonism between Esther and her brothers-in-law. She bore Joseph 1 See note at end.</page><page sequence="5">SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO 39 a daughter, who died young, but no other children. Whether Esther and her stepson Solomon ever met or whether, if so, they were mutually congenial we cannot tell. The Tetuan Responsum, which stresses the unkind treatment to which it alleges that Esther was subjected by Joseph's brothers, says nothing of any ill-feeling between Esther and Solomon and this negative evidence may have some little value, though Esther was a Moroccan and the Tetuan Rabbis are on her side. Still, whatever be the cause, whether it was the lure of Joseph's Indian ships or unhappiness at home or sheer waywardness of disposition, Solomon finally ran away. In the words of the Question preceding the Responsum, he enlisted as one of the Garrison in a fortress of Guinea. Two years after doing so he wrote a piteous letter to his relations, entreating them to buy his discharge. This shows that he had no funds to do so and therefore had not drawn his legacies : it strengthens the idea that he was unaware of them for they were certainly if not mature on the point of becoming so and he could easily have found means of anticipating them. The part of the Question dealing with Solomon's letter is torn. The gap most provokingly deprives us of the name of the Fort in Guinea, only the beginning remains. This is either ^S) or IS and suggests the word Fort or Porto. Solomon wrote that he was nigh to death because of the climate and because, here the gap recurs, " they "?whoever " they " were?had threatened to kill him. From that time, continues the Question, nothing more was heard of Solomon. Then follows another short gap, after which we may continue to cite from the Question as follows :? " Ten years after he had dwelt in the land of Canaan, his father, the aforesaid Simeon (i.e. Joseph) came to inquire about his son from the officers in charge of that fortress, in case he could find anyone to tell him what had befallen him." Then the Question relates Joseph's third marriage and continues :? " After this, Joseph himself went to the cities of India that are nearest to that fortress, to make inquiries." The Hebrew is not clear : surely it does not mean that Joseph undertook two journeys. Nor, I think, does it imply that his marriage was contracted immediately before he set out. The vagueness is probably due to lack of precise knowledge on the part of the Amsterdam Rabbis who formulated the question sent to Tetuan. Further, what do we make of " ten years " ? Solomon's service began in 1753. Joseph died in 1761. If" ten years " is to be taken literally, Solomon must have run away from home before 1752 and must have knocked about the world before enlisting. The voyage to India in those days was a lengthy matter. Here a curious fact is to be noted. The Question states that no one in India could give Joseph any news of his son, for they said that the name of Solomon Buzaglo of Frankfurt was no longer found in the Fortress. Since Frankfurt was given as his permanent residence when he enlisted he presumably stated that he had come from that city. Now we must consider where Solomon was serving. Guinea would appear to be Dutch New Guinea. But it would seem that Solomon went first to India. There he entered the service of the Dutch East India Company and was later sent to Dutch New Guinea. Since his father went to make inquiries " to the Cities of India that are nearest to the fortress ", it may be presumed that Joseph knew only that Solomon was in India, not that he had gone to Guinea.</page><page sequence="6">4o SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO We left Joseph in search of a son. The Question tells us of much energetic, prolonged but fruitless inquiry, of rewards offered and of cities visited. No names, how? ever, are mentioned. This vagueness is exasperating but the Haham of Amsterdam was writing for the benefit of the Beth Din at Tetuan, not for ours. Finally, Joseph wrote to Shalom that the " gates of answer remained closed " and that in his opinion, Solomon's memory was lost from the world. This, I suggest, means that his traces were lost, not necessarily that he was dead. At that moment, continues the Question, Joseph himself died, " there, in one or other of the Cities of India." He left his wife in the status of a deserted wife unable to prove her husband's death, for, it continues, as regards Solomon, his name and memorial had been forgotten these many years. Now it happened that one day the roll of those who had been killed or who had died of disease in that fortress came before the officer in charge who was in that fortress, for he had to replace the casualties, and as one making an incidental statement in ignorance of its legal implications he happened to make mention of the names of the slain. Among them he mentioned the name of Solomon Buzaglo. Then that officer remembered and said " this is the man whose father wished to buy his discharge and behold he is dead ". He made further inquiries as to the date of Solomon's death. Then the (clearly a subordinate official), said to them ?what " them " means I do not know?" If you wish to know the whole matter clearly, send to the officers of the Fortress and ask them to make an extract, attested by notary public, from the great Register kept at Middleburg, wherein the garrison accounts are kept." I have a strong suspicion that the narrative is much abbreviated here and that the intrusive " they " who appear and reappear in the story are emissaries of Shalom and his brothers, sent to find Joseph and Solomon. The aforesaid officer did so and they sent him a transcript of the account in the Register containing the details of Solomon Buzaglo, as herein transcribed. The transcript is hereafter called the Declaration, both in the Question and the Responsum. It is in Spanish, written in Hebrew characters, and covers the years 1753 to 1757. So far as I can make the details out, they begin on 7th May, 1753, and include pay, maintenance, uniform, arms, equipment : the last entry is in 1757. In 1753 reference occurs to a sum received in Guinea. The Notary Public J. D. Cavallo testifies that the account agrees with the Register of soldiers' maintenance that is kept in the office of the Privileged Company ... of India of the Chamber at Middleburg, lettered to ... of Guinea. The attestation is dated 1764 and we may assume that J. D. Cavallo was a Notary at Middleburg. The Question continues " Now when this attested declaration came into the hands of the officer, the heirs of Solomon arose and took a copy of it, attested by Isaac Nieto. Here again we have vagueness : where were the heirs and what was their connection with the officers ? However, they went to the Lord Chancellor and claimed *pft73n which we must infer was Solomon's legacy. The Lord Chan? cellor required and obtained production of the original declaration and, in the end, declared himself satisfied and ordered full payment to be made. He definitely accepted the Declaration. So did the synagogue wardens. The heirs got both legacies and, in addition, the officer of the Fortress gave them Solomon's accrued back pay. Here the statement of the Question ends : the question proper now addressed to the Court at Tetuan is this. Is Esther, Joseph's widow, free to marry at will or must she contract a levirate marriage or must she undergo the ceremony of</page><page sequence="7">SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO 41 release ? If Joseph died before Solomon, Esther may not marry any of her brothers-in law, but she is free to marry anyone else. If Joseph died after Solomon, then Esther must marry a brother-in-law or be released by Halizah. Before coming to the answer, there are three objections to the validity of the Declaration. Unfortunately the MS. is torn and sentences are incomplete. (I) Solomon of Francfort. This Solomon was never in Frankfort. (II) Is the Solomon who is mentioned the son of Joseph Buzaglo ? Perhaps someone else took his name. (Ill) The Declaration is not in the category of an incidental statement made in ignorance. For when Joseph's brothers had definite news of his death and his estate being locked up in Chancery so that they were unable to divide the inheritance until they adduced proof of Solomon's death, they sent to India and offered a reward for such proof, so that they could obtain possession of the legacy, owing to their having become heirs, in Solomon's stead, to the estate of Joseph, his father. The Declaration therefore was made in response to a request and was not an incidental indirect statement. I regret to pass over the full abstract which I have made of the Tetuan response. It is a learned investigation of all the legal points at issue ; the Court begins by remarking that the case had already been before the members three or four years earlier, i.e. in 1762 or 1763. Then it was decided that the presumption held good that Joseph died before Solomon and the decision was that Esther could re-marry at will, except one of her brothers-in-law, and needed no Halizah. This decision was signed by all the Rabbis of Morocco as well as by a visiting authority from Jerusalem. The question now comes up for re-examination because of new facts. According to the rite of the Castilian exiles by which she was married, Esther was entitled, under her Ketubah, to half of Joseph's property. This property was in London and Amster? dam. Esther went to London (presumably from Morocco) to claim her due from her brothers-in-law who lived there. " There her eldest brother-in-law, the Tabam, on whom the duty of the Levirate marriage would devolve (i.e. Shalom), set his eyes on her money and her person. He circumvented her and craftily beguiled her, alleging that it was for her benefit that he wanted to marry her, so that the other brothers should abandon all hope of getting the money. The poor woman was deceived and married him, against Jewish Law and to the general scandal?even though he was a scholar in a recognized position he ignored our decision." The marriage with Shalom was invalid and Esther needs neither Get nor Halizah, of that there is no possible doubt. The property of the son and his two legacies do not become the property of the father since we assume the father's predecease and it is on this basis that we allow the widow to re-marry at will. Esther's original Ketubah was deposited at the Tetuan Court?from which we may infer that her marriage took place there. Esther, however, found it impossible to live at peace with Rabbi Shalom Buzaglo and the rest of her brothers, who were clamouring to devour her substance. Shalom treated her with brutal violence. She became poor and went to Amsterdam to claim her share of Joseph's property there. Therefore the original of the Ketubah was released from the Tetuan Court and was sent by the hand of Esther's brother Judah to Amsterdam. It is to be destroyed by the Chief Rabbi (i.e. Solomon Shalom of Amsterdam) after the conclusion of the case. Here ends the Responsum. It is followed by certain addenda, dealing with the egal points : they are dated from 1766 to 1769. Apart from the legal arguments, we earn that Esther's marriage to Shalom took place in London. Because of the scandal</page><page sequence="8">42 SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO aroused they both went to Amsterdam. Correspondence took place between the Courts of Amsterdam and Tetuan : various divergences of opinion are recorded. But the invalidity of Shalom's marriage is finally reiterated. The first thing that emerges from the Public Record Office papers is the surprising information, contained in a sworn affidavit and accepted by the Court of Chancery, that Joseph Buzaglo de Paz, as he is consistently called, died intestate in 1761 not in India at all, but in the Island of St. Eustatius in the Dutch West Indies. This flatly contradicts the informa? tion sent by R. Solomon Shalom of Amsterdam to the Tetuan Beth Din. From this it would appear that the term India employed by Rabbi Shalom indicates the West Indies and not the East Indies. After the death of Joseph his brother, Abraham, the inventor of patent stoves, who may have been searching for Joseph, returned to England. This was in 1762. He had visited Amsterdam, where Joseph had property, and he reported that Arend Rutger, Johannes La Irens, and Aaron Cohen de Lara, three highly respectable merchants of Amsterdam, " by virtue or pretence of an authority " from the States of Holland, collected and administered Joseph's personal estate in Amsterdam and obtained a transfer to their joint names of the sum of ?2,250 3 per cent annuity standing in the Bank of England in Joseph's name. These three trustees were protect? ing two interested parties, Joseph's brother and his widow. Their action prevented the brothers from obtaining sole control of Joseph's estate. Their endeavours seem to have failed by reason of the absence of the widow : neither the Trustees nor the Court of Chancery were willing to see her passed over. Esther, on the other hand, seems to have written in vain from Tetuan to her brothers, claiming her due share. There was a deadlock. Esther came to London and was inveigled into marrying Shalom, who seems to have " double-crossed " his brothers and Esther. He told Esther that if she would marry him he and she in combination could defeat the brothers and obtain Joseph's money and no doubt he told the brothers that once Esther was in his power he would force her to relinquish her claims. He married her to the general scandal, somewhere about 1763. Now on 14th February of that year Shalom had at least one adult chi)d, if not three others, and we must assume that their mother was dead when Shalom married his brother's widow. Having got Esther into his power, he drew up an agreement on 14th February, 1763, with his brother Abraham and his own daughter Esther. By this agreement Abraham was to marry his niece Esther, and Abraham was to receive from Shalom one quarter of his (Shalom's) share of Joseph's estate. The marriage did in fact take place. In all this business we have had no word of Solomon's legacies and no indication of the nature of Shalom's relations with the Amsterdam Court, which only a few years later, was to give complimentary approbations to his book. Meanwhile it would appear probable that Esther Bentubo, sickened by Shalom's ill-treatment, left him and went first to Holland and then back to her people in Morocco. The three trustees were acting for the following parties, Joseph's brothers, Shalom, Abraham and Jacob, and the three children of a deceased brother, Isaac. These were called Moses, Esther, and Yochebed. These children lived in Jerusalem where their parents had died. The Public Record Office document, C. 12/1684/30, states that in 1762, after Abraham's return, the other brothers, Solomon, otherwise Shalom, and Jacob, came to an agreement that Jacob should go to Holland to treat with the trustees. Solomon (sic) and Abraham executed a power of attorney in favour of Jacob for this purpose. In consequence, in 1764, an agreement was made between</page><page sequence="9">SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO 43 Jacob and the trustees, under which the ?2,520 resulting from Joseph's Dutch estate, was divided among the three surviving brothers and the children of the fourth who was dead. An inventory of the estate is preserved : it includes certain ships, one called " The Queen Esther ", another " The bearer of Good Tidings ". But the 3 per cent Bank of England Annuity of ?2,250 was retained by the trustees " as a safeguard against possible claims by Esther Levy Bentubo, widow of Joseph Buzaglo de Paz, her whereabouts being then unknown ". Not a word, you will observe, about Solomon and his legacies. Where was Esther all this while? In 1765 information was received by the Trustees " that she was imprisoned by the Emperor of Morocco and ?200 out of this fund was sent to ransom her out of such captivity and slavery, which was accom? plished ". It is curious that neither the Tetuan Responsum of 1766 nor the Amsterdam Question to it, refers to Esther's slavery, ransom, or parting from Shalom. It declares that her union with him was contrary to law and needed no divorce but it does not say whether, how or when Esther and Shalom separated. Meanwhile the efforts of the brothers to secure the Bank annuity were in vain. On 2nd February, 1767, they were thrown into consternation by a letter received by Jacob from Abraham Cohen de Lara and Joseph Cohen de Lara, of Amsterdam, informing him that Aaron Cohen de Lara, junior, who was the chief acting trustee, was dead and that another, Aron Rutger, had become insolvent. Rutger's creditors might therefore at any moment seize the annuity. Abraham Buzaglo at once applied to the Prerogative Court for letters of administration of the effects of Joseph. As before, his application was refused, on the ground that Esther Bentubo was missing and so were Isaac's children. In order to protect their interest?since they were not represented?the Court declined to grant letters of administration. Matters were desperate. On Saturday, 14th March, 1767, the following Chancery Case opened. The three brothers, Shalom, Jacob, and Abraham were plaintiffs, the defendants being the Bank of England, the two trustees Rutger and Irens, Esther Buzaglo de Paz, widow, and the three children of Isaac. Note that Esther is called Joseph's widow, not Shalom's wife. The Plaintiff's Counsel asked for and obtained an interim injunction against the sale of the annuity. On 27th March the suit continued. This time the plaintiffs included Isaac's three children. The Bank acknowledged that it had the money and merely asked the direction of the Court as to its disposal. By amending their case so as to include Isaac's children, who were in Jerusalem, the brothers now presented a united front against Esther Bentubo. They maintained that her claims had been satisfied by payments of the amount due to her on her Ketubah, a translation of which had been put in, and that she was thereby debarred from all further demands on her late husband's estate. Shalom does not claim her share as her present husband. They mention the danger from Rutger's creditors and they refer to Abraham's fruitless attempts to get letters of administration. They believe that Esther will be abroad till 20th May and that she is or has been resident in the Hague or elsewhere in Holland and that Isaac's children reside at or near Jerusalem. The Court granted an injunction against the Trustees and the Bank to prevent them from transferring or permitting the transfer of the annuity. Clearly Esther held trump cards. Shalom therefore went to Holland, found her and, on 9th December, 1767, concluded an agreement with Solomon Sarucco, Esther's representative, " continuing in Amsterdam for some time afterwards." Did he and Esther make friends ? No, litigation continued. There were further</page><page sequence="10">44 SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO cases in Chancery. In 1774 the three brothers preferred a petition against her. In 1775 Esther exhibited a bill against them and the Bank. In Michaelmas Term, 1777, a suit began, Buzaglo against the Rulers of the Synagogue of Amsterdam and this continued till Hilary term, 1779, after which date I have not traced it. On 20th February, 1777, Shalom Buzaglo made his will, in which he recalled the agreement made in 1763 with his brother Abraham and his daughter Esther, previous to their marriage. He resided at James Court, Bury Street, London, and he is described as a merchant. In spite of his matrimonial ventures, he could not have been a very successful merchant, for beyond his expectations from Joseph's estate, all that he bequeathed was ?30 $s. Of this amount, his sons Abraham and Jacob, his brother Abraham, and his daughter Esther each received ?5, his son Moses ?10, and " Esther, alias Esther Reyna Esther Levy Bentubo, now or late residing at the Hague, 5/- ". He was much concerned with the distribution of his expectations, of which the residue was to go to " my son, Jacob, he having many years contributed to my support, which my other sons, Moses and Abraham, have not ". There were accounts pending between him and his brother Abraham and his daughter Esther, whose honesty and whose benefits to him he acknowledged. The will was proved on 25th August, 1777. There is some doubt as to the date of Shalom's death. On 12th June Abraham describes himself (in C. 12/1684/30) as " A.B. of the Strand, Co. Middlesex, Merchant, only surviving brother of Joseph Buzaglo, petitioner". This would mean that Shalom was dead. But in the Bill itself it states that " Shalom B. was alive on ist July, 1777 ". This is probably correct. The former date on the membrane is probably an error, made on one of the subsequent occasions, nth November, 1783, or 29th January, 1784, when the Bill was amended. On ist July Shalom and Abraham obtained an injunction to prevent the sale of South Sea Stock by the executors of Abraham Cohen de Lara. This was the result of a Bill exhibited by Abraham and Shalom Buzaglo in Trinity term 1777 against Abraham Cohen de Lara and the South Sea Company. It adds that Shalom is now dead and that Jacob, his son, has proved his will. As the will was proved on 25th August, there is an error of date somewhere. According to the Bevis Marks burial records Shalom died on that day. There are, in addition, the following suits :? 1785-1793 Buzaglo v. Rutger (Trustee). 1778 ? v. Hows. 1800 ? v. Rucker (Governor of the Bank of England). 1793 ? v- South Sea Company. Finally, on ist February, 1793, Jacob Buzaglo of St. Mary Axe, Gent., and Esther Massias, of One Church Lane, City of London, widow, presented a petition. Who Esther Massias was and what she had to do with Jacob is not clear.1 The petition recites that Shalom Buzaglo, formerly of James Court, Bury Street, and late of the parish of St. Mary le Strand, Rabbin, and others, filed their bill against the Bank. Jacob and Esther now show that Shalom is dead and that Jacob is become his personal representative. It seems curious that sixteen years after Shalom's death Jacob's position as his executor should need confirmation. Possibly Esther Bentubo was giving trouble in her old age. At all events I must break off in mediis rebus. As I have remarked, it was only quite recently that I became aware of this mass of material and it has been impossible to deal with it in the time. 1 She was the daughter of Jacob, brother of Shalom Buzaglo, who married Moseh Massias in 1768, and cousin of the other Jacob, son of Shalom.</page><page sequence="11">SOLOMON BEN JOSEPH BUZAGLO 45 What was the purpose of the She'elah addressed by R. Solomon Shalom of Amsterdam, in 1766, to the Tetuan Beth Din ? What lies behind it ? In 1762 or 3 the Beth Din had decided that Esther must not marry Shalom. He had married her, presumably attracted by her money. The She'elah simply asks " What is Esther's position as regards the levirate marriage " ? It clearly disbelieves the information of the Declaration and suggests that she is liable to Tabmuth or Halizah : one does not gather that R. Solomon Shalom knew of the previous decision in Tetuan. But the Responsum upholds the Declaration in so far as it releases Esther from Halizah and prevents her from marrying Shalom. In 1762 Esther was told that she must not marry Solomon. In 1763?presumably before Shalom's brother Abraham married Shalom's daughter Esther?she had married Shalom. In 1764 she was a prisoner. In 1765 she was ransomed. In 1766 comes the She'elah. Was Shalom desirous of hoodwinking the Amsterdam Beth Din ? Why did he want his marriage to Esther recognized as valid ? Was it to outwit his brothers or did he honestly believe it to be valid ? In his will he left Esther 55-., but he avoids calling her either his wife or his sister-in-law. And did the receipt of the Tetuan Responsum, the negotiations between Shalom and Esther, the litigation with the trustees have no effect on his reputation, so that in 1769 Shalom was still able to obtain complimentary Haskamot from Amster? dam ? According to an addendum to the Responsum, Shalom had left Esther in the state ot'iggun, i.e. had deserted her : two letters from her father had been ignored. Or is our opinion wrong ? Was he a scholar and a gentleman, eager, in his poverty, to make what provision he could for his brother's widow and to settle his daughter comfortably ? For we know that there were two views about the desirability of marriages between uncle and niece and about the preference of Halizah to Tabmuth. We must leave this in the air. Note.?After writing the foregoing paper Mr. Loewe modified his conclusions in two respects. Having given further consideration to the suggestion that the Buzaglo family origi? nated in Turkey he finally accepted the view that it was of Moroccan origin. He was no longer satisfied that the name was Turkish. In the Responsa it sometimes appears as Abu-Zaglo which points to an Arabic, or at least an Arabized form. Secondly he abandoned the theory that the congregation concerned in the litigation was one of the London Ashkenazi ones. Despite the absence?so far as can be traced?of any reference to the trust in the records of Bevis Marks, he was satisfied that it was the Sephardi community that was concerned. In reaching this conclusion he was guided by the facts that the Buzaglo family was one of the London Sephardi community, that all the persons concerned in the litigation were Sephardim and that Isaac Nieto, the Ab Beth Din of the Sephardim was consulted by the Court as an expert. A few minor alterations have been made in the text of the paper which also has been reduced in length. In particular the alleged William Buzaglo has been identified with Abraham the brother of Shalom. The Esther Massias has also been identified. The footnotes are by another hand.</page></plain_text>

bottom of page