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De Castro Story - Sources of Information
De Castro Story - Sources of Information - Trees
In deciding to try and trace some details of Charles Daniel de Castro and his family and ancestors I started with a copy of a family tree that had an incomplete list of Charles family and a family line back to 1641.
This tree I shall call the "Leo" tree, was given to Leopold de Castro in the 1920's when he was in the United Kingdom at University. June Mc Hardy (de Castro - Carr-Smith) told me that she understood two maiden aunts living in Edinburgh had given the tree to him. As he did not have de Castro maiden aunts living in Edinburgh, one could work out that these people were possibly two daughters of Mary Ransford Willis (nee de Castro) the sister of Charles Daniel or he may have been staying with Knox relations and been given the information when he made contact with the de Castro family. One could speculate for hours on the origin but in simple terms we do not know who gave the document to him.
I understand the original of this tree was burnt during the 1939 - 45 war as it linked the family to persons of Jewish origin. However Leopold's sisters Raye and June both made their own copies, they both contain differing amounts of information but the basic line is the same.
Leo was also given other items such as some miniatures containing the portraits of some early family members, possibly Charles Daniel's parents, some silver and other items, some of which he passed to his sisters, one of these is an engraving, copied from a portrait possibly of Charles's mother. There were also some snuff boxes and possibly other documents. It is to my regret that the person who could most help in identifying where this material originated from, and indeed stating even if still exists, has, in writing to some members of the family, made it clear he is not interested and will not assist in the quest for information about the family and indeed wants nothing to do with the family and even dislikes the family names he feels he has been saddled with.
The major difference between the Leo tree and the other trees that surfaced later is that it contained a lot of information tracing the LOPES and LARA family lines down to the 1900's. No other tree does this.
The second tree that I located was one Keith de Castro circulated around his branch of the family with a brief history of, in the main, his branch of the family. These notes unfortunately contain some errors such as the incorrect fact that there were only 13 children not 14 and that Charles the eldest died young when in fact he died in Huntley at a good age, as we shall see later. Keith's tree is a very large tree and has many references on it referring to other trees covering other connected families that joined into the de Castro tree. This tree contained information about the children of some of the earlier branches and dates that show on no other trees. This tree has a note written in its top left hand corner giving a little narrative about the family and is signed by a P. de Castro and is dated. By a process of elimination I believe this tree was the work of Percival or Paul de Castro.
Richard de Castro in England recounts how his father met Keith at the races in England in the late 1950's so it is possible that Keith came into possession of this tree at that time.
The one thing that the Keith tree and the Leo tree have in common is that both have the name of the earliest ancestor as Samuel, all the others that record Solomon's father have this name as David. I have no evidence to back up the statement but I feel that both the Leo and the Keith trees were sourced from the same document. Percival de Castro had a son called Paul who signed himself J Paul and who is on the Leo tree as John Paul. Most of the documentation in the Jewish Museum can be traced to work done by Paul. Paul died in 1944 and some of the trees in existence continue past the 1950's, but there is no doubt that they are based on Paul's work. It is logical to say that Paul carried on his father's interest and his later research accounts for some of the variations in the three trees. The latest information on any of the trees that originated in England is the fact that George Richard son of Bernard son of Percival had a son Robert Stephen born in 1968. Where this version originated and where the information on it came from I have not yet established.
Following a process of listing every de Castro in the English phone books and comparing their initials with those on the last version of the tree contact has been established with George Richard de Castro or as he refers to him self Richard. I wrote asking if they were the same and Richard in one of his subsequent letters said that he would gather up from the members of his family all the information he and they had regarding the de Castro family in England and copy this to me. Unfortunately I lost contact. As he was a reasonably elderly man it is possible he passed away before he could respond. However the fact remains a collection of papers exist there that one day may be able to be traced and examined and these will add to the story.
Robert de Castro of Blenheim gave me a copy of a letter between Paul and Arthur de Castro written in 1924 when Arthur was living in London. This records that Paul had given to Arthur a family tree.
Finally there is yet another tree which, from its content, was based on the Paul tree and this contains information of the Charles Daniel family as well as the English family. This tree seems to have been originated round 1925 and has been added to in places with information current till the 1970's. From the detail it contains of the Eames branch I suspect it originated from within this branch.
So by adding all this information together plus other documented facts about the family a very complete family tree emerges of the de Castro family.
De Castro Story - Sources of Information - Other sources and conflicts
Where conflict exists, in the main in dates and in one or two cases about names I have tended to follow that recorded by Paul de Castro, as his research seems to be more complete. In other cases other sources have given clues that have been used to assist. An example of this is that the order of Solomon de Castro's 7 sons differs from tree to tree. Some had birth dates, but 2 pairs had the same date. In D.J. Steel's book on Jewish Genealogy and Family History there is reference to the fact that some old records are filed in Patriarchal order of precedence and that traditional families often named their children in this sequence. The sequence was "Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Joseph, Benjamin, Samson, Samuel etc.
Now taking this little gem and working on the fact that Solomon was Jewish, and had named his children with most of these traditional names I concluded that he could have named his children in the traditional order so I re-sequence the family into this order and the result was that the dates did not clash and some of the later facts made a little more sense. Now I am not 100% certain that this sequence is correct but it will do until some information comes to hand to say otherwise D.J. Steel's book gives a lot of general information about the early Jewish families as well as various references to other books that could help. I have found reference to the fact that the Portuguese Jewish families tended to name their children based on their grand parents and parent's names. A set sequence was followed and in later times this became useful to the inquisition in seeking out Jewish families that had supposedly converted to the Christian faith but were in fact secretly still following their original beliefs.
Because it was possible to start with good family trees going back to the time the family arrived in England it was not necessary to do the research to establish the tree, why do it again if at least two people, possibly more, have already done the work?
So what has been done is to bring the New Zealand family up-to-date and to try and change a dry list of names and dates with a scramble of small bits of information into a story that may help people in their understanding of the family.
To do this will take time and involve the very expensive process of tracking down the various public documents such as wills and the old marriage contracts so as to be able to glean from them the information they contain. In addition it will be necessary to read any books that can be found on some of the family activities, E.g. the Jewish involvement in the early coral trade and the Diamond trade with India, the Jewish involvement in the British East India Coy. The early English settlement and trading activity in Madras, the history of Portugal and England in the 10th to 18th century and the Portuguese and Spanish history of the 9th to 15th centuries etc.
Thus, by expanding and extracting information from all these sources, a general story can emerge. The story cannot be a biography, as the facts to write such a document do not exist.
Where we do have information specific to the family or a member then it is possible to assume information about the person. For instance it is very obvious that if it stated that Samuel de Castro was registered in the Royal college of Heralds registers as being born in Dublin then one can say with a reasonable amount of certainty that at the time his parents were in Ireland! Equally so if Abraham de Castro was secretary of the Bevis Marks synagogue and wrote the minutes in Portuguese then it is possible to deduct that he was of the Jewish faith and that he had a working knowledge of Portuguese. We can research the Bevis Marks Synagogue and comment if it helps. So the story can expand.
I do know one member of the family who finds it offensive to report that prior to the 1700's the family followed the Jewish faith. Indeed I was accused of attacking our defenceless forbears for publishing this information. Just as it would be difficult and stupid to write Charles Daniel de Castro's story without mentioning he was ordained in the Anglican Church, then equally so it would be hard to omit the fact that Samuel de Castro was born in Dublin in 1725 and his birth was registered in the Royal College of Heralds register set up to register members of dissenting faiths (Catholic and Jewish to mention but two) and he was registered in the volume recording Jewish births. Or that the earliest documented de Castro we have traced is recorded in the Bevis Marks Synagogue in 1710.
So by reporting Charles was an Anglican or that Samuel was registered as a member of the Jewish faith does not suppose that this family history has taken particular care to dig out the religious affiliations of the family members, neither does it expound any religious faith, or put one before the other.
If there is found in the public record information that offends the person compiling a family history and because of that it is decided not to record and report the fact then the researcher is very much open to contempt and criticism. If however some person in reading the finished story finds that what is reported does not sit with their belief or understanding then that person should not expect the record to be changed to suit them. They can act as their own censor and put a black line through their copy of the history and continue to pretend it did not occur.
De Castro Story - Sources of Information - New information
There is no doubt that as time progresses new information will come to hand and that with time the version of history that is current will be reviewed in a different light and that some one else will put pen to paper and write a different and expanded version of this narrative. I very much hope this will occur, as the family did not come to a stop whenever this version was finished. People will have come and gone since then, marriages would have taken place and been dissolved. Imagine how much we would know if each generation in the past had been charged with recording the family events of that generation to be passed down to the next, we would not have to catch up many hundreds of years of family history.
That the early family was Jewish gives us an edge on those who try and track down their Christian ancestors. This is because there has been considerable research into the various Jewish communities around the world. Cecil Roth in his book "A HISTORY OF THE JEWS IN ENGLAND" published in England in 1941 starts with a Bibliographical note where he states
"A complete Bibliography of Anglo-Jewish history, containing upwards of 2000 entries, has been published under the editor of the present author (Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica, London, 1937)."
There is a book I have reference to written in Dutch or Portuguese by a de Castro in the 1700's, which I think is a history of the pre-Dutch history of the Dutch Jews. I am trying to find an English version but it examples that the people who left Portugal/Spain in the late 1500's have been trying to document their past and to trace their family lines for hundreds of years. That the family was involved in the Diamonds and Coral trade there is no doubt and a book by Gedalia Yogev Called "DIAMONDS AND CORAL, ANGLO-DUTCH JEWS AND 18TH CENTURY TRADE" " throws a good deal of light on this trade and if one sorts out the text you can see where the de Castro's fitted in this business. A simple look in the Bibliographies of books such as the Yogev book shows the extent of publications devoted to the Jewish families, their trade and the early days in England. This gives some clue as to the extent of the publications devoted to the subject in England and possibly elsewhere. Thus this, plus the records from the Bevis Marks Synagogue in London (and possibly the equivalent records in the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam) that were charged with recording the Jewish families makes the research into these families a reasonably simple matter, if indeed genealogy is ever simple.
De Castro Story - Sources of Information - The Internet
With the introduction of the internet it is possible to expand on ones knowledge of the overall family and their times by making connections to other people and branches in other parts of the world.
As an example of this I recently found a page where there were listed thousands of surnames and under each surname people could post notices advising who you were looking for.
On this particular page I found the name "Decastro" As I remember my Grandmother Gertrude de Castro drumming into me "it is a little de a space and a big D" this family knows the correct spelling and that is to spell the name "de Castro". The importance of this spelling business is that if you look up the former you will not find the latter. In simple terms Decastro falls in a different part of the telephone book to de Castro.
I added a note on that page on the Internet stating that any one looking under "Decastro" should also look under de Castro and Castro de. Within two days some one saw my note and posted a reply. I was asked if I knew any thing about a Moses de Castro who had settled in the West Indies in Curacao. Well, I knew one of the 7 original sons involved in the Coral trade was Moses and he had settled in Curacao so I suitably replied and advised what I knew which was not a lot as we only knew that Moses had married and possibly had two children but little else. Well one thing led to another and in the end we decided that the Moses on our tree was the Moses on their tree. As such we have been able to add into the general record held here all the details of this branch which in the main today resides in the USA and all this 250 or so years after the branches lost contact.
Another two examples have been making contact with a member of the Ransford family in England (Charles's mother was a Ransford) and making contact with the Wortley family connections (Charles Daniels youngest daughter married Charles Wortley and went to Australia where she died in child birth and contact was lost with the children. A researcher in Israel who is looking at the family is also in regular contact as are others.
Following this success it was decided to establish a Home Page on the Internet with all the information I hold. We will also load down into some of the major resource pages on the net our family tree details so that people generally can look up our records and as necessary make contact and as necessary add their records. What will possibly result will be a point where we will gather any information about any de Castro family any where and set up a central register. This could be a huge undertaking but by expanding in this way we will most certainly make contact with people who can add to our over all knowledge of the family.
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