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The Disraeli Family

Lucien Wolf

<plain_text><page sequence="1">THE DISRAELI FAMILY.1 By LUCIEN WOLF? "The resources of political invective seem to become poorer every day," said Lord Beaconsfield to Lord Rowton one day in the library at Hughenden, as he laid aside a Radical newspaper he had been reading. " Fifty years ago they called me an adventurer, and now, when they are very angry, they cannot think of anything more scathing to say of me." Then, after a pause, a merry twinkle came into his eyes, and he added: " Just fancy calling a fellow an adventurer when his ancestors were probably on intimate terms with the Queen of Sheba! " Lord Rowton used to tell this story in illustration of his chiefs insensibility to criticism. " He didn't care a d?n what people said of him," was the private secretary's breezy overture to the anecdote. It has, however, another value, w^hich relieves it of some of its apparent irrelevancy. It shows how much Lord Beaconsfield's mind dwelt on his Hebrew ancestry even in old age, when he was gorged with honours of his own making. This ancestry was to him more a matter of race than of family. He had very little precise knowledge of his own direct forbears. His grandfather, a practical man of business, never tried to pierce the obscurity of his origin. His father could have told him a good deal about his maternal ancestors and other distinguished connections of the family, but he does not appear to have done so. The truth, no doubt, is that Judaism was one of the many questions upon which father and son differed, in spite of the deep personal affection which subsisted between them. Isaac D'Israeli, though he 1 The Society tenders its thanks to the proprietors of the Times for per? mission to reproduce the text of this paper, which was read before the Society on December 20, 1904, and printed in the Times of that and the following days, in connection with the centenary of the birth of Lord Beaconsfield. 202</page><page sequence="2">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 203 never became a Christian, and always remained warmly attached to his co-religionists, was a pessimist in Jewish history, and utterly incapable of understanding the race idea. His son, though a Christian, was an enthusiast for his people's past, and, by his imaginative grasp of its mystic and grandiose spirit, actually became a pioneer of that revival of Jewish race consciousness to which the exact science of the new historical school has of late years given so strong an impulse. The different standpoints of the two men are strikingly illustrated by a comparison of Isaac's " Genius of Judaism" with Benjamin's " Alroy"?both written in the same year under the influence of sympathies strongly stirred in each by the struggle for Jewish emancipation. "While in the one we find a somewhat peddling advocacy of ceremonial reforms and social assimilation, in the other we are confronted by a glowing picture of unbending Judaism, laughing triumphant derision at the Gentile, even in the moment of blackest disaster. In this diversity of view there was obviously little room for genealogical confidences of the kind that the son would have liked. Moreover, owing to the feuds which had followed the secession of the D'Israelis and Basevis from the Synagogue, Isaac was probably not disposed to dwell with much garrulousness on the traditions of his Jewish relatives. Benjamin had consequently to rest satisfied with the knowledge that he was of the blood of Moses and Jesus, of David and Solomon, and that in the Dispersion his forefathers had belonged to the Sephardi section of Jewry, whose culture and learning irradiated the shores of the Mediterranean during the age of Saracen conquest, and whose subsequent duel of three centuries with the Inquisition forms by far the most romantic chapter of European history. It was upon a rough deduction from this vague knowledge, together with a casual mention in the domestic circle of some connection with the Lara family, that the whole story of the Disraelis, as set forth in his Memoir of his father, was founded. The story is brief and in general terms, but only a very super? ficial examination of it is needed to show that it is largely an effort of fancy. It relates how the original Disraelis were forced by the Inquisition to emigrate from Spain at the end of the fifteenth century, and sought a " refuge in the more tolerant territories of the</page><page sequence="3">204 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. Venetian Republic." There they " dropped their Gothic surname, and, grateful to the God of Jacob, who had sustained them through unprecedented trials and guarded them through unheard-of perils, they assumed the name of Disraeli, a name never borne before or since by any other family, in order that their race might be for ever recognised." Passing over the very questionable tribute, to the toleration of Venice at this period, let us see what justification there is for the account of the origin of the family name. It is perfectly true that the Marranos or Crypto-Jews, on their escape from the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisition, frequently exchanged their " Gothic surnames " for that of Israel as a token of gratitude and fidelity to " the God of Jacob." In the Synagogue archives of Amsterdam and London, and among the early Jewish wills in Somerset House, many records of these changes may be found, as, for example, " Eliahu Israel, alias Bento Lopes," and " David Israel, alias Prospero Dias." This, however, happened long after the expulsion of 1492, for at that time the Iberian Jews had not resorted to any Gothic disguises as such. It is also true that a good many Israels are found in Venice, though not before 1631, and even then without any indications of Gothic aliases. But Israel is not Disraeli, and there is no documentary trace of this latter name anywhere previously to the first marriage of Lord Beacons field's grandfather in 1756, when it was still spelt with a I)'. The truth is that the name was originally Israeli, which is not Italian but Arabic. It means " Israelite," and, as a coined Hebraism, occurs once in the Bible (2 Sam. xvii. 25), where, however, it is believed to be an incorrect reading for " Ishmaeli" = " Ishmaelite." As a surname it was used by the Moors in Spain and the Levant to distinguish Jews holding public office, or otherwise coming into frequent contact with the non-Jewish population. Thus the famous Vizier to the Caliphs Abderrahman III. and El Hakem II. of Cordova, Chasdai Ibn-Shaprut, was frequently called El Israeli. Sometimes the designation became a permanent surname, as in the cases of the distinguished literary families of Israeli, which flourished in Kairouan and Toledo in the tenth and fourteenth centuries, and both of which were originally El Israeli. Now it is very unlikely that a Spanish Jew, escaping from the Inquisition to Venice, would</page><page sequence="4">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 205 seek to afficher his Hebrew origin by adopting an Arabic name. He would most probably have expressed himself in Italian or Spanish, which, in his case, would have been all the more natural, since in both languages the equivalent for " Israelite" is the same, viz. " Israelita." But this is not the only reason for suspecting the accuracy of Lord Beaconsfield's story. The statement that the name Disraeli had " never been borne before or since by any other family" is only true of Lord Beaconsfield himself, for he was the first Disraeli. His father to the end of his days spelt his name DTsraeli, and his grandfather, who first adopted the nobiliary particle?which is really not nobiliary at all, but only the Aramic di used by the Sephardim in their Synagogal names in lieu of the Hebrew ben (son of)?was known in his young days, like his father before him, as simple Israeli. Nor is it quite true to say that the name stands absolutely alone in the world's onomasticon. Throughout the eighteenth century a Huguenot family, named Disraeli, was resident in London. It was related to the Lefevres, Chaigneaus, and Colvilles, and it seems to have become extinct with one Benjamin Disraeli, of Beechey Park, Carlow, a rich money-lender and notary of Dublin, who died in 1814. There is also to-day, in Vienna, a family named Disraeli, but they confirm Lord Beaconsfield's hypothesis, since they have only recently adopted the name. They are a Bukarest family, utterly unconnected with the real Disraelis, and, previously to their emigration into Austria, bore the simple cognomen of Israel. Even in its most authentic form of Israeli the name wras, as we have already seen, not un? precedented in the fifteenth century, for it had been borne with con? siderable distinction by Jews five hundred years before, and it was still current at the time of the Spanish exodus. But if all these flaws in Lord Beaconsfield's story could be explained awTay or admitted to modify it in unessential details, there would still remain one objection which would prove fatal to it as a whole. This is that there is absolutely no trace in the public records of Venice, either municipal or Synagogal, of any family named Disraeli or Israeli previously to 1821. Had such a family "flourished as merchants for more than two centuries under the protection of the Lion of St. Mark"?as Lord Beaconsfield tells us?there must have been</page><page sequence="5">206 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. some record of its existence; but even the local Jewish registers of births, deaths, and marriages, and the still legible tombstones on the Lido are silent with regard to it. No one who has any experience of the investigation of oral family traditions would dream of impugning Lord Beaconsfield's good faith in publishing this story. Such traditions are almost invariably a sort of spurious cocoons spun round small nuclei of truth. Their formation is a mental process, which, in course of time, unconsciously transmutes the hypotheses, by which it is sought to explain im? perfectly remembered facts, into unquestioned history. Their spuriousness varies according to the amount of authentic material available at the time of their composition, and it was Lord Beacons field's misfortune to speculate on the fragmentary facts transmitted to him, at a time when the scientific study of Jewish post-Biblical history and sociology was still almost a blank. It is, nevertheless, strange that neither he nor his sister?for it was Sarah Disraeli who supplied him with the material for the Memoir of his father?should have taken the trouble of making inquiries of the Synagogue autho? rities in Yenice, or even of examining the legal papers of their grandfather before giving their vague recollections to the world. Had they taken this elementary precaution, they would have found that even Benjamin DTsraeli himself did not come from Venice, but from Cento in Ferrara, and that his only connections with Yenice were through his sisters, who settled there midway in life, and the relations of his second wife. This Benjamin D'Israeli was the son of Isaac Israeli, and was born in 1730. He was the eldest of three children. The other two were daughters, Rachel, born in 1741, and Venturina, born in 1745. It is in connection with Venturina's death in 1821 that the name of Israeli first appears in the archives of the Venetian Ghetto. The only other reference is the register of the death of Rachel in 1837. Lord Beaconsfield, in the Memoir of his father, speaks of an elder brother of Benjamin, who was a banker in Venice and a friend of Sir Horace Mann, but this must be a mistake, for, apart from the absence of any record of this brother, and of any mention of him in the minute and copious correspondence of Mann, the fact that Rachel and Venturina Israeli kept a girls' school in the Ghetto</page><page sequence="6">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 207 renders their possession of a banker brother very doubtful. Of Isaac Israeli nothing is known, but it is noteworthy that he bore a name honoured in Jewry, and that he married into a family of great antiquity and of considerable renown in Ferrara. He or his ancestors probably came from the Levant, where the name-form " Israeli" would find an environment more favourable to its survival than in Western Europe, where the Israelis of Toledo had long before assimilated themselves to the native Israels. It is not unlikely, in view of the rarity of his patronymic, that he was of the family of the famous philosopher and court physician, Ishac Ibn Sulaiman El Israeli of Kairouan, who flourished in the tenth century, but this can only be conjectured. His wife, Rica or Eurichetta Rossi, was, however, unquestionably of the ancient family of Min-Haadumin, which traced its origin to one of the Jews led into captivity after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus and Vespasian, and, at a later date, translated its Hebrew name into its literal Italian equivalent of Dei Rossi. The Min-Haadumin were numerous in Ferrara, where Isaac Israeli spent his life, and it was in the capital of the former duchy that the most illustrious of the clan, Azaria dei Rossi, practised as a physician and wrote his remarkable Cyclopaedia of Bible Criticism, Meor Enayim, in the latter half of the sixteenth century. As we shall presently see, this was not the last alliance of the Israelis with the famous Red House. After a short apprenticeship in Modena, Isaac Israeli's son, Ben? jamin, emigrated to England in his eighteenth year. A strong impulse had been given to Anglo-Italian trade through the establishment, in 1740, of a branch of the great Venetian and Levantine banking house of Treves in London, and consequently Italians, chiefly Jews, were flocking into the country. From letters still preserved by one of Benjamin Israeli's great-grandchildren, it is clear that the attraction which brought him to these shores had much less to do with the stability of the dynasty in Great Britain, by which Lord Beaconsfield has characteristically accounted for his migration, than with a hum? drum, but entirely creditable, desire to find the best market for his knowledge of the straw bonnet trade. To a precisely similar ambition was due the almost contemporaneous establishment of the first</page><page sequence="7">208 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. Montefiore in this country. In both cases the prescience of the emigrants was justified, for a few years later, owing to the patronage of the beautiful Misses Gunning, everybody was wearing Leghorn chip. At first Benjamin was employed at a moderate salary in the counting house of Messrs. Joseph and Pellegrin Treves in Fenchurch Street. Here he made the acquaintance of Mr. Aaron Lara, a friend of his principals, and a prosperous City broker, who thought sufficiently well of him to introduce him to his family. In 1756 he married Aaron Lara's sister-in-law, Rebecca Mendez Furtado. This marriage explains a passage in Lord Beaconsfield's Memoir of his father, which has given rise to a very wide-spread misapprehension. In the course of an enumeration of the leading Sephardi families " flourishing in this country when my grandfather settled in England," he mentions the Laras, " who," he adds, " were our kinsmen." From this it has been conjectured that Lara was the Gothic surname" of the Disraelis spoken of in an earlier passage of the Memoir. This suggestion has received the countenance of Mr. Froude, and?so quickly does hypothesis grow into history?a recent French biog? rapher of Lord Beaconsfield, M. Courcelle, declares roundly that " ses ancetres, fixes d'abord en Espagne, faisaient remonter leur origine ? la maison de Lara." As a matter of fact these Laras had nothing whatever to do with the great Spanish House of Lara, nor with the Spanish Marrano family of the same name. They were Portuguese Marranos long settled at Guarda and Sabugal, which were notorious hotbeds of Crypto-Judaism. Their " Gothic surname" was, no doubt, derived from the baptismal sponsorship of some member of the noble Portu? guese family of Lara. In 1720 Clara Henriques de Lara, a daughter of a farmer of the tobacco revenue of Guarda, married Caspar Mendez Furtado, son of Joao Francisco Orobio, formerly of Fundao, but then a rich merchant of Belmonte. Five years later, both husband and wife were denounced as Judaisers, and, on a warrant issued by the Lisbon Inquisition, were arrested at Covilha. Gaspar was tortured and Clara threatened, and both consented publicly to abjure their heresy, which was done in the presence of the King at the Lisbon auto-da-fe, on October 13, 1726. They were then released, and some scores of their relatives, who were implicated in the charge against</page><page sequence="8">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 209 them, were pardoned. Gaspar, crippled in body and reduced to beggary, did not long survive his sufferings. In 1730 his widow, with her six children and the seven children of her uncle, Jose Nunes de Lara, a bookseller of Sabugal, managed to escape to Eng? land, where she made public profession of Judaism, changed her name to Abigail, and gave Hebrew names to all her children. The syna? gogue came generously to her assistance, handing over the young Laras to the care of the Orphan Society, and providing dowries for her daughters. Some of the Laras prospered exceedingly. The eldest, Francisco or Aaron, married his cousin Ignes, alias Rachel, Mendes Furtado, the eldest daughter of Gaspar, and his youngest brother Jose, alias Benjamin, married into the rich Jessurun Alvares family. A nephew, Moses, married Sarah Mendez da Costa, name? sake and cousin of the mysterious widow, Mrs. Brydges Willyams of Torquay, who, in 1863, bequeathed ?40,000 to Lord Beaconsfield, coupled with the " wish and desire that he should obtain the per? mission of her Majesty to use and adopt the names and arms of the families of Lara and Mendez da Costa in addition or precedent to that of Disraeli." This was the family from which Benjamin Israeli or, as he now called himself, D'Israeli, took his first wife. She was the second daughter and fourth child of Gaspar and Clara Mendez Furtado, and was three years older than her husband. The offspring of this marriage was one daughter, who, in 1771, when she was only fourteen years old, married her cousin, Aaron Nunes Lara, one of the sons of Aaron Lara and Rachel Furtado. Left a widow at an early age, she married in 1793 Angiolo, alias Mordecai, Tedesco, by whom she had four daughters. Widowed again in 1798, she settled in Leghorn with her children, and died there in 1807. Her eldest daughter, Hannah, married her cousin, Samuel Tedesco, of Leghorn, and had three children, all of whom died in infancy. Her second daughter, Rebecca, married Flaminio de Rossi, also a merchant of Leghorn, and died without issue. The third daughter, Sarah, became the second wife of Flaminio de Rossi, by whom she had one son, Vittorio. The youngest daughter, Maria, never married. There is consequently to-day only one descendant of Benjamin D'Israeli's first marriage, Vittorio de Rossi, son of Flaminio. He is one of the most distinguished lawyers and economists in Italy, VOL. V. 0</page><page sequence="9">210 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. and the leading authority on commercial law in the kingdom. In this capacity he was commissioned by the Government in 1893, together with the Marquis Luigi Ridolfo, to carry out the fusion of the Tuscan and Sardinian National Banks, and reorganise them as the Bank of Italy. Signor de Rossi, who is legitimately proud of his double descent from the Min-Haadumim and the Disraelis, was appointed the first President of the new bank, and was made a Commander of the Crown of Italy and a Chevalier of the Order of SS. Maurice and Lazarus. The other descendants of Gaspar and Clara Mendez Furtado have chiefly distinguished themselves in music and the drama. They include Abraham da Sylva, better known as Anthony Grove; John Furtado, who, one hundred years ago, was a well-known writer on the theory of music; Charles Furtado, the popular pianist, and his daughter Teresa Furtado, still remembered as a charming actress ; Selina Dolaro, one of the brighest stars of opera bouffe, and?Mr. Pinero. On his marriage with Rebecca Mendez Furtado, Benjamin DTsraeli left the Messrs. Treves and established himself in New Broad Street as an Italian merchant, importing straw hats, marble, alum, currants, and similar merchandise. He soon found this occupation pall upon what his grandson calls his " ardent tempera? ment," and in 1759 he obtained for himself an address at Sam's Coffee House, and devoted a large portion of his time to the more exciting operations of 'Change Alley. With capital, credit, and experience alike limited, it was not difficult to tell whither this was likely to lead. Within a few months he found himself in serious difficulties and beset with litigation. He resumed business, however, but with indifferent success, and, after struggling on for five more years, he suffered a further affliction in the loss of his wife. His fortunes were repaired by his second marriage, which took place in May 1765. The bride was Sarah Shiprut de Gabay Villareal, younger daughter of a prosperous city merchant, Isaac Syprut, wThose mother had been a Villareal, and whose wife, Esther, was sister-in law to Simon Calimani, then Chief Rabbi of Venice. Of Isaac Syprut's origin nothing has been ascertained with certainty, but, in view of the rarity of his surname, it is probable that he was descended from the Spanish family of Ibn Xaprut, or Shaprut, a</page><page sequence="10">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 211 member of which, the famous Abou Joussuf Chasdai Ibn Shaprut, served two of the most illustrious Caliphs of Cordova as Yizier in the tenth century. It is a curious coincidence that this Shaprut is often referred to by the Arab historians as "El Israeli." Isaac Syprut's connection with the Villareals is more authentic, though not abso? lutely clear. His maternal grandfather seems to have been Jonas Gabbai de Villa Real, a scion of one of the wealthiest Mariano families in Portugal, who, together with a brother, Abraham da Costa Villa Real?if, indeed, the two were not identical?visited England in the time of Charles II. Jonas was admitted a broker on the Royal Exchange as early as 1673, but a few years later the whole family returned to Portugal. There Abraham's son, Jose da Costa Villareal, amassed a fresh fortune as Providetore General of the Armies of the King. In 1726 a charge of Judaism was brought against him, and the Inquisition was moved to order his arrest. Profiting by a great fire, which opportunely broke out in Lisbon, Jose collected all his movable property, and, together with his father and mother and fifteen other members of his family, embarked on one of his owrn ships and escaped to England. The London newspapers of the time report that the value of the property thus brought by the Villa Reals to this country exceeded ?300,000. Immediately on their arrival in London the family made public profession of Judaism. The males, including Jose's father, who was then seventy-three years old, underwent the Abrahamic rite. Those who had wives had their marriages resolemnised in the synagogue, and all exchanged their Portuguese baptismal names for Hebrew. Large sums were given by them to the Jewish poor as thank-offerings for their escape, and Jose endowed a school for twenty Jewish girls, which still flourishes under his name. Lord Beaconsfield is, however, mistaken in stating that the Villareals were among the leading Jewish families in this country when his grandfather settled here. The family had, indeed, already become extinct in the male line so far as the Jewish com? munity were concerned. Jose, soon after his arrival in London, had contracted a brilliant marriage. His bride was Kitty da Costa, the pretty and coquettish daughter of Joseph da Costa of Totteridge, banker and landowner, and the leading English Jew of his time. Kitty's mother was a Mendez, daughter of Dr. Fernando Mendez,</page><page sequence="11">212 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. F.R.S., Physician in Ordinary to Charles II. Among her uncles were the great Jewish bankers, Jacob Salvador and Francisco Lopes Suasso, Baron d'Avernes le Gras, who had financed the English Revolution of 1688. One of her sisters was the wife of Joseph Treves, head of the firm in which Benjamin D'Israeli had first served, and a collateral of the present Barons Treves de Bonfili of Yenice. In 1731 Kitty, who was only twenty-two years old, was left a widow with two children?a son, Abraham, and a daughter, Sarah. After fighting a sensational action for breach of promise of marriage, brought against her in the Arches Court of Canterbury by her cousin, Jacob Mendez da Costa, she became a Christian, had her children baptized and renamed respectively William and Elizabeth, and married one of the magnates of the Lisbon trade, William Mellish of Blythe, in Not? tingham. Hence in Benjamin DTsraeli's time the only Villareal in England was Mr. Mellish's stepson, William. Nevertheless, the connection proved of considerable value to him. We have a sug? gestive glimpse of its intimacy in the fact that, when D'Israeli first went to live at Enfield, it was as a tenant of Juglands Lodge, on the Middlesex property of the Mellish's, and later on he farmed some wheat land on their Essex estates. The relationship must also have proved very useful to him in the City. At any rate, he soon became a man of substance. For ten years he prudently devoted himself to his import business, which he carried on at No. 5 Great St. Helens. There also he established his private abode, until in 1783 he leased a large house in Baker Street, Enfield. The Stock Market, however, never ceased to attract him, and in 1776 he rented an office in Hamlin's Alley, Cornhill, and recommenced business there as an unlicensed broker. Three years later he took to himself two partners, and the firm became known as Messrs. D'Israeli, Stoke &amp; Parkins. At the same time he continued his business at Great St. Helens, which was afterwards transferred to Little Winchester Street, and, in 1792, to Old Broad Street. His success in 'Change Alley is attested by the fact that the more respect? able of the brokers, who had already organised the beginnings of the present Stock Exchange at New Jonathan's Coffee House, admitted him to their body, and afterwards elected him a member of their Committee for General Purposes. When, in 1801, it was resolved to</page><page sequence="12">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 213 build tbe present Stock Exchange, Mr. D'Israeli was appointed a member of the committee entrusted with the plan of conversion. He remained a member of the Stock Exchange until 1803, when he retired from business; but to the day of his death he retained an address at Tom's Coffee House, and was often seen in Cornhill, dab? bling in stocks and shares. One of the most notable enterprises with which he was associated was an attempt to substitute English straw plaiting for the finer Italian straws then used for the best hats and bonnets. He patented a process by which " a wTood which is the growth of this kingdom " was to be so treated as to yield a plait in every way equal to the Leghorn straws. The enterprise does not seem to have proved successful. D'Israeli died in November 1816 at his house in Charles Street, Stoke Newington, and was attended on his deathbed by the famous Dr. Aikin, who happened to be his neighbour. He left a fortune valued at ?35,000. By Sarah Syprut, Benjamin D'Israeli had one son, Isaac, the father of Lord Beaconsfield. He was born, not at Enfield as most of his biographers state, but in Great St. Helens, on May 11, 1766?the date is now published for the first time?and was duly initiated into the Abrahamic covenant eight days later by Isaac Carriao de Payba, an uncle of Mrs. Pellegrin Treves. The theory which has fascinated Radical biographers of Lord Beaconsfield, that Benjamin Disraeli, the money-lender of Dublin, was a brother or half-brother of Isaac, is doubtful. As we have already seen, this Benjamin Disraeli was not a Jew either by faith or race, but a Protestant of apparently Huguenot extraction. It is certain that he wras not a son of either of Benjamin D'Israeli's wives. Isaac D'Israeli was the idol of his maternal grand? mother's old age. Esther Syprut had been a widow since 1762 ; she lost her only son in 1771, and with her daughters, Reyna and Sarah, she did not find herself always in agreement. Sarah's social ambitions and consequent alienation from her people could not but be frowned upon by her mother, who, besides being a sister-in-law of a " Rabbino Maggiore," was herself a pillar of the Synagogue. As for Reyna, both she and her husband, Abraham Namias de Crasto, gave deep offence to the old lady by their want of " filial duty and regard," and consequently she cut each of them both off with 11 the sum of one shilling only." It is pleasant to note that their brother-in-law,</page><page sequence="13">214 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. Benjamin DTsraeli, remained their good friend, and provided for their daughter, Kachel de Crasto, in his will. Isaac thus became the heir to the whole of his grandmother's property, and from his twenty fifth year, when he entered upon his inheritance, found himself in easy circumstances and independent of his father. It was, no doubt, this windfall, rather than the intercession of Mr. Pye, which induced the elder D'Israeli to waive his objections to Isaac's literary career, and thus rendered possible the compilation of his popular " Curiosities of Literature " and many other genial essays in history and criticism. In February 1802 Isaac married Miriam, or Maria, Basevi, one of the daughters of Naphtali Basevi, a wealthy Italian merchant and a prominent member of the Synagogue. The Basevis are a Verona family, and it is claimed by them that Jacob Batsheba Schmieles, the wealthy Court Jew of Prague, who was ennobled by the Emperor Ferdinand in 1622 under the style and title of Baron Basevi von Treuenburg, was of their house. This, however, is doubtful, although the Baron's tomb is to-day shown to English visitors to Prague as that of one of Lord Beaconsfield's ancestors. Naphtali was the son of Solomon Basevi of Verona, and he settled in England in 1762 " to establish,'7 as his alien certificate states, " a house of trade." Here he married in 1767 Rebecca Rieti, the English-born daughter of a compatriot, Abraham Vita Rieti. The Rietis, who originally came from Mantua, had since the fourteenth century been prominent in the Rabbinates of Rome, Perugia, Bologna, Siena, and Venice; but in England they devoted themselves to more commonplace occu? pations, and an uncle of Mrs. Basevi, one Solomon Rietti, was one of the founders of Ranelagh Gardens. Through Maria Basevi, the children of Isaac DTsraeli?including, of course, Lord Beaconsfield? acquired a line of ancestry which, from two points of view, is excep? tionally interesting. In the first place, it gave them four generations of English-born forbears?instead of one as is generally alleged?for Maria herself, her mother, Rebecca Rieti, her maternal grandmother, Sarah Cardoso, and this lady's father, Jacob Aboab Cardoso, were all of English birth. In the next place, the ancestry through Jacob Cardoso is of the utmost distinction in Jewish history, for Jacob's father, David Aboab Cardoso, was an Aboab, and the genealogy of his family is on record reaching back without a break to the famous</page><page sequence="14">THE DISKAELI FAMILY. 215 Isaac Aboab, the last Gaon of Castile, who, at the time of Torquemada's expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, led a contingent of twenty thousand of his brethren into Portugal, and obtained from King John II. permission to remain in that country for a limited period. Thus Lord Beaconsfield's efforts to trace his ancestry to a victim of the colossal exodus of 1492 were founded on a truer instinct than he knew, for it is not in a nameless participant in that drama that his most interesting progenitor is really found, but in one of its chief actors. Lord Beaconsfield's ancestry, though comprising such dis? tinguished names as Aboab, Yillareal, and Ibn Shaprut, is still inferior to that of his nephew and heir, Mr. Coningsby Disraeli, the present head of the House of Israeli. When Isaac D'Israeli married Maria Basevi, he became related, through his brother-in-law, Joshua Basevi, and his sister-in-law, Sarah Basevi, to all the leading Jewish families of the day?the Lindos, the Lumbrozo de Mattos Mocattas, the Mendez da Costas, the Ximenes, the Montefiores, the Lousadas, and the Goldsmids. At a later date he acquired through the Montefiores a remote connection with the Rothschilds. Of all these connections the most interesting is that of the Lindos. Joshua and Sarah Basevi both married Lindos, who consequently claimed Lord Beaconsfield and his brothers as their nephews. Eventually the two families became more closely associated by the marriage of Lord Beaconsfield's brother, Ralph, with his cousin, Katherine Trevor, a daughter of Charles Trevor of the Stamp Office, by his wife Olivia, nee Lindo, and a grand-daughter of Ephraim Lindo by his wife Sarah, nee Basevi. Of this marriage Mr. Coningsby Disraeli is the only male issue. He is consequently on his mother's side a Lindo, and through that family he claims an ancestry of unrivalled antiquity and distinction. In the first place, the Lindos themselves cover the whole modern history of the Anglo-Je wish community. The first of their name in this country, Antonio Rodrigues Lindo, was a fugitive from the Lisbon Inquisition. His father, Joao Lindo, was a merchant of Campomaior, and his mother, Constanza Nunes, was of Guarda. Both were of the most obstinate sect of the Marranos. One of Antonio's maternal uncles was prose? cuted by the Inquisition in Mexico for Judaism. Another was the</page><page sequence="15">216 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. great London merchant and financier, Don Antonio Fernandez de Carvajal, who assisted Menasseh ben Israel in his negotiations with Oliver Cromwell for the resettlement of the Jews in England in 1655. After his release by the Inquisition in 1662, Antonio Lindo lived for some years in France, but eventually settled in England with his wife and son. He was now known as Isaac Lindo, and he became the founder of a very numerous and widely-ramified family, which for eight generations has been honourably distinguished in all branches of Jewish public work. Ephraim Lindo, who figures genially in the pages of Mr. Smiles's "Life of John Murray" as one of the great publisher's friends, stands midway in the Lindo gene? alogy between Antonio Rodrigues Lindo and Mr. Coningsby Disraeli, for he was one of the great-great-grandsons of the one and great? grandfather of the other. But it is through the marriages of the Lindos that Mr. Disraeli obtains his most distinguished ancestors. Isaac Lindo's son Elias? Ephraim's great-grandfather?married in 1708 Rachel Lopes Pereira, a cousin of Diego Lopes Pereira, first Baron d'Aguilar, who, in his day, was a banker and merchant of European reputation. Diego first became known by the signal success with which he farmed the tobacco revenue in Portugal, an occupation in which his father had preceded him. He amassed great wealth and established banking businesses in London and Amsterdam. In 1725 the Austrian Government, which had always experienced considerable difficulty with the remunerative exploitation of its Tobacco Regie, offered him the post of Chief Administrator. He accepted the offer on condition that the fullest religious freedom was secured to himself, his family, and his dependants. Once in Vienna, he professed Judaism, and founded the present Sephardi Synagogue in that city. He acquired great influence at Court, was created Baron d'Aguilar by the Emperor Charles VI., and, according to a passage in Pinto's Reflexions Critiques, held the post of State Treasurer to the Empress Maria Theresa. He afterwards settled in London with his fourteen children and a large retinue of servants and slaves, and died in Bishopsgate in 1759. Still more brilliant from the genealogical point of view was the marriage of Elias Lindo's son Isaac?Ephraim's grandfather?to Bathsheba, daughter of Ephraim Abarbanel, The Abarbanels are the premier</page><page sequence="16">THE DISRAELI FAMILY. 217 family in Jewry, and their pedigree in many prolific branches is well established. Their most illustrious ancestor is Don Isaac Abarbanel, the son and grandson of Spanish statesmen and himself Minister of Finance to three European Sovereigns?Alfonso Y. of Portugal, Ferdinand and Isabella of Castile, and Ferdinand I. of Naples. It was during Abarbanel's tenure of the Castilian Exchequer that Torquemada prevailed on the King and Queen to order the gigantic Jewish Diaspora of 1492. The Jewish Minister toiled in vain to procure the withdrawal of the edict, and finally left Spain with a large number of his fellow-exiles for Sicily, while, as we have already seen, another ancestor of the Disraelis, Isaac Aboab, headed the Western exodus to Portugal. Whether Don Isaac was actually a lineal ancestor of the Abarbanels who intermarried with the Lindos is doubtful, for these Abarbanels belonged to the Marrano section of the family which remained in Andalusia under " Gothic surnames" until the seventeenth century. They preserved, however, the tradition of their descent, and, on escaping to Amsterdam and London, resumed their ancient name. Menasseh ben Israel married a daughter of one of these Abarbanels, and his brother-in-law, Manuel Martinez Dormido, alias David Abarbanel, preceded the famous Dutch Rabbi in the negotiations of 1655 with Oliver Cromwell, which resulted in the re? settlement of the Jews in England. It was from another brother in-law of Menasseh that the English Abarbanels were descended. But that these Abarbanels were of the posterity of Don Isaac's grand? father, Samuel Abarbanel, alias Juan de Sevilla, is unquestionable. Tradition, indeed, assigns an even more illustrious extraction to the family. Isaac Abarbanel claimed to be descended in the direct line from King David, and, on more than one occasion, signed himself " of the posterity of Jesse the Bethlehemite." So firmly was this tradi? tion credited that Menasseh ben Israel cherished a hope of seeing the Messiah issue from his alliance with a daughter of this Davidic House. Lord Beaconsfield's genealogical instinct was evidently not very much at fault when he hazarded to Lord Rowton his joke about u ancestors w7ho were on intimate terms with the Queen of Sheba." His nephew might, however, repeat it with more exact appropriateness. There is one aspect of the history of the Disraeli family upon</page><page sequence="17">213 THE DISRAELI FAMILY. which a great deal might be written, but which can only be very briefly referred to here. Lord Beaconsfield was frequently reproached by the more personal of his critics and antagonists as being an alien, without connection of blood with any English family. It is perfectly true that on his father's side his was only the second generation of his family which was English-born, but maternally he came of a family, the Aboab Cardosos, which had been settled in this country since the closing decade of the seventeenth century. In this respect the Disraelis were not more alien than many English families of Huguenot extraction. As for his want of blood relationship with families of English race, that also is an error. It is true that no Anglo-Saxon blood coursed in his veins, but not a little of the blood of his own ascertained forefathers was in his time and is still mingled with that of the English landed gentry and peerage. Thus, through the Villareals, he might have claimed his friend, Lord Houghton, as a not very distant cousin, for Kitty VillareaPs daughter, Elizabeth, became Viscountess Galway, and was consequently Lord Houghton's great-grandmother. The Da Costas, the Mendez', the Aguilars, the Treves, and the Lindos, to all of whom the Disraelis were related, have in the same way become ancestors of scores of the great families which figure in Debrett. From Pellegrin Treves, indeed, most of the leading Roman Catholic families in Great Britain are descended, and even the late Duchess of Norfolk was one of his great-grandchildren. This point is, however, of no very great importance, for physiological science has not yet succeeded in establishing any exact relationship between the moral character of a man and his often very complex ethnical extraction. All that can be said with certainty is that in Lord Beaconsfield some of the best blood in Jewry?the blood of men and women inured to hardship, athirst for freedom, and invincibly attached to high ideals?was touched by the sympathetic genius of British traditions and forthwith produced a great Englishman. [Note.?Documents illustrative of this article will be published in a later volume of the Society's Transactions.]</page></plain_text>

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