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Diamonds and coral
Caribbean Families+

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 1

Abraham 1710-1763

He is described as a merchant of Bury Street St Mary Axe London. This if you look at your map of London St Mary Axe joins Bevis Marks Street where the Bevis Marks Synagogue is sited. There are other mentions of other Jewish families living in this area at this time so it must have been a Portuguese Jewish enclave. It is also recorded that he was a merchant at 2 Walbrook this is a street near Bury St and runs up to Threadneedle St and is very near Mansion House. The huge bomb the IRA set off in England in 1992 was in St Mary Axe.

It is recorded that the minutes of Bevis Marks Synagogue during Abraham's term of Secretaryship were taken in Portuguese. In 1747 it is recorded that Abraham was corresponding with the Jews of Dublin respecting the purchase of the Dublin Jewish Cemetery.

In the marriage records of Bevis Marks there is recorded the marriage of Abraham de Solomon de Castro and Rachel de Jacob Adoad Cardoso 1750. It is further recorded on one of the trees that these two had two children Solomon and Hannah. Another tree just states Abraham had sons but adds he died in 1763 and his wife Rachel ?? died in 1774.

Of Abraham's children there is no further mention of Solomon. Hannah it is said on one tree married Jacob Levi Bensusan and had a daughter Hannah. In the Bevis Marks marriage record it reports Hanah de Abraham de Castro married Abraham Hain Bendahan in 1777

There again is a notation on one tree that Abraham also married a "Netto" and a 'de Costa" but these are not mentioned any where else. If this is true and his wife is said to have died in1774 and he in 1763 then one must asume these could have been earlier marriages and that Rachel was his last wife.

It is posible, considering the spelling of some of the names in the registers, that one is the phonetic and one is English. For the main record the marriage record spelling has been used.

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 2

Isaack 1710-1767

He on the various trees is said to be of Leghorn and London.

In the Bevis Marks marriage records is the record of Isac de Castro being wed to Rachel de Nattos this took place in 1749 On one tree it is recorded he had 4 children, an unnamed daughter, Ester, Solomon and Abraham. On the Leo tree it is recorded that in addition to the above children his unnamed daughter was called Rachel.

In the marriage register from the Bevis Marks synagogue there is the record of the marriage of a Sarah de Isac de Castro to Daniel de Samuel Cardoso, this took place in 1772. This Sarah is not mentioned on any tree so it is not known if she is another daughter of Isac or if the Rachel mentioned was in fact Sarah.

On the Keith tree there is a comment to the effect that Isac died on his way home from India at Leghorn some time after 1767. It states that:

He left his property to Jacob's and Moses' families who were merchants in Amsterdam, Holland expresly excluding his London brothers from any benefits under his will because they were rich and did not require anything.

This suggests at some time his will has been located. However what is strange from this comment is that he left anything to any brothers as he had children and it seems strange that he did not leave his estate to his children!

Abraham, one son of Isac is mentioned of being of 2 Walbrook and there is reference to the 13th edition of New Complete Guide to London This is the same addres as his uncle Abraham.

Abraham (Son of Isaac)is quoted in Gedalia Yogev's book on pp104 as being a Jewish coral merchant of Leghorn where the London Jewish Diamond merchants obtained their coral for export to India where it was traded for Diamonds The comments are undated but are a direct quote from him where he describes the activity.

"..it is common for the coral fisheries to bring from the islands adjacent to Leghorn from six to eight thousand pounds weight of coral each boat…about three hundred of such boats are employed in collecting in each coral fishing season for the market of Leghorn, besides which great quantities of coral are from time to time imported at Leghorn from France..."

The source is later referenced on page 291:-

De Castro was also buying coral from Neapolitan sellers; P.R.O C12/2150.1 (1781) reply ibid., schedule, Abraham de Castro to Mark Gregory, Leghorn, 22 Oct 1779

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 3

Jacob 1715-1779

Jacob is described as being of Amsterdam, Holland. This suggests his end of the business was the cutting of the raw diamonds the family got from the coral shipments. This tends to confirm the information in his brothers will about him living in Amsterdam.

In the Bevis Marks marriage record is the marriage of Jacob de Solomon de Castro and Rachel de David Uziel Tamuz this was in 1741.

In the same register as the marriage of Jacob is the marriage in 1774 of Ester de Jacob de Castro to Moses de Jacob Fernandeux and later Daniel de Jacob de Castro to Rachel de Solomon Cohen Delmonte in 1779. So while there are no children on any tree we can from these records work out there were at least two.

On the Keith tree it is reported he died after 1779. Members of his family have lived in Amsterdam until recent times according to Paul de Castro.(before WW2)

Paul de Castro notes on one tree that the last male descendant Mr Henrigues de Castro died in Amsterdam round 1920's In his notes he states

Of the family of Jacob, there are direct descendants in Amsterdam but the name has died out in that family. I have met the son-in-law of the last male (M Henriques de Castro whose only daughter he married, they are a leading family of the Portuguese and Spanish Synagogue there, but as strict Jews, consider that we died out of the family when we became Christian. however the Gentleman in question hardly knew as much of the family history as I did and was much interested and wanted to see some of our old deeds etc., but that was in 1907.

In Roth's book there is reference to a Dr Jacob de Castro (1704-89) He is mentioned twice his full name was given as Dr Jacob de Castro Sacramento.

In Steels book he states:

The Spanish and Portuguese Jews used regular family surnames, though they sometimes followed the Iberian system of adding a metronymic or taking over the surnames as well as the forename of a godfather

In this case this Dr Jacob de Castro's mother could have been a person with the name of Sacramento? so there is a posibility that there were two de Castro families in the Jewish community in London at the start.?

The more the early record is studied the more this becomes a posibility but I have no proof of this at this time.

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 4

Moses 1719-1790

Moses is recorded as being born round 1719.

He is said to have been of Curacao in the Dutch West Indies.

Moses married on 10th March 1785 in Curacao in the Dutch West Indies.

None of the family trees I received had any data about Moses other than he was of Curacao and that there was reference to two sons. There was also information that he travelled to Madras.

As already stated the original information that Moses was in Madras is incorrect as it is clear from his brothers letter dealing with the sending out of Moses to Madras that the person in question was not his brother. Information also quoted states that the Moses who went out was a nephew. All the trees are consistent that Moses went to Curacao.

Paul de Castro in his notes states he had no further record of this branch and there are many of the same name in the West Indies especially in those islands which were at one time Portuguese Colonies.

The wonders of the Internet have however provided much more information about this branch when I connected with a descendant who had been researching her family and supplied me with a very detailed family tree.

What Moses was doing in Curacao is not known but presumably he was sent out or took off under his own steam to that place. Reading the history of the place it seems that there was a growing Jewish community there and they were for the most part merchants. Trade involved sugar, tobacco slaves and brewing among other items. I would suggest that there is a good possibility that there was a family connection involved in his going out there and it probably involved the export of items to either Holland or to London (the wars of the time suggest the former).

The listings contain details of his considerable number of descendants.

Hopefully in time we may learn more.

Here is a link through to a report on the first 4 generations of this family as supplied from America.

Descendants of Moses de Castro

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 5

David 1720-1761

Said to have been born about 1720.

There is reference in the London Chronicle or Universal Evening Post dated Thursday Dec 20th 1759 vol. VI no 464 which states:

Tuesday died in Bury Street St Mary Axe Mrs Da Castro wife of W David da Castro an eminent merchant

This extract is interesting on three counts. The first is the spelling of the name as da Castro not de Castro which warns us that in the family research of the period we should keep our eyes open for both spellings. The other point is that David was referred to as W. David. We have no record of a first name so what does the "W" relate to?. The third point which could suggest this record with its two previous questionable entries is that if woman is the wife of David then it is said that she was the widow of David and the evidence we have is that David married a second time in 1761 and it would appear died in the same year. Thus it is posible/probable that the record in fact belongs to the other family we stumble over.

Is said to have been a Merchant of Bury St Mary Axe London. Is referred to in the London Chronicle of 18th December 1760 posibly in relationship to his 2nd marriage or his death.

There is also reference to David and the shipment of Coral to India in the Minutes of the East India Coy Vol. 61 page 120 preserved in the Office of the East India Co. There is another reference on a tree posibly about his death, this reference given as "1761 vol. 31 page 538"

Married twice. First to Judith the daughter of David Bravo in 1746.(One wonders if she was related to his mother Rachel?).

The second marriage was to Rebecca daughter of Daniel Mendes da Costa this in 1761

There was only one child. This from the first marriage. This was Sarah Judith born in 1752. We shall catch up with her again in her Uncle Daniel's story

He is recorded as having died on 7th July 1760, which is interesting if he in fact married his second wife a year later!.

There could be a mixture of two different David's here and this could be looked at some time.

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 6

Samuel 1725-1779

This is our ancestor. From the trees we find as follows.

Born in Dublin in the Parish of St Mary's on 17th June 1725 (If we use the date conversion already mentioned the date would be 21st June!!) This birth was registered in the first register set up by the Royal College of Heralds in 1747. The question that could be asked is why were only Samuel and Daniel were registered. Were the other children registered in some local parish register?

In 1749 aged 24 he is said to have arrived at Fort St George (Madras) India having arrived in July on the BRITANNIA as a Free Merchant to look after the sale of coral. It is reported Daniel returned to England in 1759. Aged 34.

If one reads early histories of the East India Coy and of India the fact he survived out there for 10 years is surprising to say the least. There is a need to record here at some time a little about what was going on in Fort St George at this time as all was not peaceful

He married in 1761 to Sarah Judith daughter of Aaron Nunes Lara.

The Lara/Lopes story is to be covered separately in a later chapter.

As said much earlier in the potted Spanish history there was great family feuds between the Spanish house of Lara and that of de Castro as each tried to dominate the affairs of Castile and the Royal house. While one can find some mention of the de Castro family that of the Lara family is far more documented and commented on. Again like the de Castro family there is nothing to suggest any direct link between the Jewish and Catholic branches but here again is an example of two sides to the same family. What is interesting about the Lara family is that while in the case of the de Castro family one can posibly point to a town from which the name derived. With the Lara family I can find no such town. The link between these families suggests that in researching the travels of the de Castro's one should also keep an eye on the Lara's as they probably followed the same journey.

The important thing at this stage is to know that among Sarah's brothers and sisters was Joshua Lara who married a Sarah Ximenes. They later changed their name to Lopez and among their children was a daughter born in 1774 called Rebecca. This is mentioned as Rebecca married her first cousin Daniel the son of Samuel de Castro and Sarah Lara. In one tree there is a suggestion that Samuel married twice but there are no details and this is considered suspect.

In 1772 according to the 13th edition of The Complete Guide to London he was at 36 Prescott St and was described as a "Family of Madras"

From the details of his voyage to Madras it is apparent that Paul or his father Percival located these references in the papers of the East India Coy. There is mention of the fact that Samuel arrived in India as a free merchant. At this time, I have read, there were only 30 English persons in Madras out of the several hundred employed there so the community was small Madras was at the time called Fort St George.

I suspect there is more to the life of Samuel still to be uncovered in the India Coy records.

He was said to be a London merchant residing at Highbury Place Islington when he died " suddenly in Islington High Street". This is recorded as having occurred on 18th May 1779.

Among his posesions that were held by Herman de Castro was his miniature. Later we find on some versions of the tree the note that many of the relics held by Herman were given to the Jewish Museum in London, so if his descendants do not hold these then they probably are in that museum.

Sarah died in 1824.

Samuel and Sarah had at least 2 children Solomon born 1763 and Daniel born 1775. There is posibly a third Sarah Mary. We shall meet up with them soon.

  De Castro Story - The Principal Family Lines - The seven adventurers - 7

Daniel 1733-1790

Daniel was the last of Solomon's children. He was born in 1733.

Daniel was reported to have been a merchant of Cornhill London. As he was only 10 when his father Solomon died he had a guardian and he is recorded as being Benjamin Mendes Da Costa described as a philanthropist. It is very probable he was related to Daniel Mendes da Costa the father of brother David's second wife. This gentleman is often mentioned in the various books on the early London Jewish community and there is a complete book written about this family, although it deals more with its Dutch side.

Daniel went to India on the BOSCAWEN and took over from brother Samuel and he in turn returned to England when nephew Moses arrived from London on the LIONESS in 1766.

It is reported in Gedalia Yogev's book on page 154 that in 1765 both Moses and his brother Daniel were in Madras and were acting as agents for shipments of coral from other London families in this case the brothers Aaron and Soloman Norden. The letter referenced to in the book seems to have been dated 10th December 1765 so given the length of the voyage it would have been received in 1766 which is the year Daniel is said to have returned.

He arrived back in 1766 and on 6th August of that year he married Sarah Judith the daughter of his brother David. She was 14 years old he 33. It is reported that the marriage was probably arranged to keep the money, settled in the marriage contract, from pasing from the family. The settlement was 12,000 pounds on David's part and 8,000 pounds on Sarah's part

Samuel our ancestor was one of Sarah's guardians. As said earlier the marriages were for commercial reasons, this is a good example. The marriage contract would contain some very interesting reading.

Probably for obvious reasons there were no children so both Daniel's and David's lines finished.

In a copy of a page from a magazine given to me from England is the reproduction of two portraits of Daniel and his wife Sarah. The letter that comments on these portraits states:

Sir, Mr James D Milner, in an article for the Walpole Society (vol. XV) first drew attention to the rarity of the works by Tilly Kettle. Now two further paintings by this skilful 18th century artist have been discovered and have been acquired by the Jewish Museum in London. These paintings of which I enclose photographs were executed about 1780 and are portraits of Daniel de Castro (c 1730-1790) East India Merchant and Sarah Judith de Castro (1752-1824) his wife. She was a noted for her flower paintings and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1777 and 1778. Perhaps some of your readers can tell me where examples of her work are to be found.

Sarah died at Stoke Newington on 23rd May 1824 surviving her husband by 34 years. There is the interesting comment:

From her will she was evidently on friendly terms with the Lounsada and the David Mendes da Costa Families. There are portraits of both Daniel and Sarah by Tilly Kettle in the Jewish museum, these having been in the posesion of Herman de Castro.

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