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Notes on Richard Gottheil's book 'The Belmont - Belmonte Family'
This book has been only in a very limited edition, probably for scholars or members of the Belmonte family of New York. One copy has been digitized and edited as a pdf-format document. This is the preferred way to work since old manuscripts, books and documents are fragile and prone to suffering all sorts of trouble, and special procedures apply, which make the task of studying them very time-consuming.
In those cases where hyperlinks appear, you should click there to see the sources in question. The main sources and reference index is available here. We have divided the whole sources and references into various sections and pages due to its length and extension.
- 24.1 P 1,2 : "It is quite obvious that because of the peculiar difficulties that beset the problem, however interesting a view may have been obtained of the fortunes of the family, such a view cannot be a continuous one. The family has played an important role in the various countries in which its members lived, but it has left very few records of their doings. We are, indeed, able to trace and suggest the general relationship of the individuals to each other. But often their special relationship escapes us, and it is impossible to establish the exact degree of consanguinity between them. Further investigations and the fairy hand of chance may at some future time disclose what is now hidden, or a happy inspiration may guide the hand to piece the various parts together in some other form." (sic).
- 24.2 P 128 "Dona Bienvenida Cohen Belmonte. Her contribution is as follows (I quote it from the rare volume in the Montezinos Library at Amsterdam)... ". Note: Sefardi women usued as a custom the title Cohen in the surname.
- 24.3 P 138 "The following is a list of the Belmontes buried in the Altona cemetery... 6. (No. ?) Rabbi Selomo Cohen Belmonte. Tishri 13, 5492 (1731)."
- 24.4 P 42 "The way had indeed been pointed out to them by the Spanish custom, still in vogue to-day, of having two family names, that of the father and that of the mother or grandmother. The Portuguese go even further than this and add to their own name another one borne in the past by some member of the family, with the evident intent to keep that name alive. We have met such cases in the early history of the Belmonte family. Many of the Maranos, however, had to go even still further than this. They lived under such continued fear of denunciation, arrest and sequestration of fortune, that they were forced to trade under many various and quite different names. Thus, during the period preceding the public resettlement of the Jews in England, the secret Maranos were forced to take double precaution. They had to hide the fact that they were in reality Jews and prevent their state of fortune from drawing attention upon them. A ship would come to a Marano in London from Amsterdam consigned to one name, another from the Barbadoes consigned to another, and a third from Mexico to a third. These were all assumed names, and the goods were the property of one and the same person. He did not even dare to have a dummy figure pose for him, and through the expenditure of considerable moneys the eyes of the custom-house were prevented from being open too wide. Thus Jacob Curiel was known also as Alexander Nunez da Costa (d. 1665), Abraham Aboab as Duarte Diaz, David Namias as Rodrigo de Castro. In the examination of the documents dealing with the Belmonte family, we encounter no difficulty in connection with the family-name. In the few cases in which a change has been made, that change is quite evident and can easily be attested. But it is different with the surnames. To the world at large and in busInéss relations the family bore the high sounding names of Bartholomew, Pedro, Francois, Elvira and Violante; but in the Synagogue and among their own they were content with the simple biblical ones borne by the patriarchs and the early ancestors : Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Rachel, Sarah and Rebecca. All the Synagogue documents, of birth, circumcision, marriage and death, are drawn up with these names. One is often quite bewildered to know "who's who," seeing that the same names recur with a frequency that is quite astonishing. Only a chance collocation of dates will show which plain Old Testament names, or even New Testament ones, hide the high-sounding hidalgo designations."
- 24.5 P 53.
- 24.6 P 82 "It will be seen from the above account that Francois de Schonenberg served the States-General of the Netherlands for thirty-nine years, from 1678 to 1 71 7, and that for over twenty years he was also in the service of the British crown. Koenen affirms that in 1709, because of his services against France, the Archduke, later Emperor Charles VI, made him marquis of a seignory in Brabant, 'according to a letter still in possession of his family.'".
- 24.7 P 55 "He ought to be delivered over into the hands of the Inquisition since he was a secret Jew."
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- 24.37 P 78 "Having heard that Schonenberg is shortly to leave Madrid for Lisbon, he suggests that he might come from there to London with a certain Methuen."
- 24.38 P 78.
- 24.39 P 37 "...another female scion of this same Lancaster family, Dona Magdalena de Lancastre (expressly stated to have been "of royal blood"), was married to a Marano, Francisco de Brito Coutinho, son of Heitor (Hector) Mendes de Brito, called De Elvas, a knight of the royal house. Such eminent connections as these need not fill us with any wonder. The Jews, and especially the Maranos, occupied such a position for several centuries that they were able to aspire to the highest."
- 24.40 P 37, 38 "There is a story, told again and again, that when, in consequence of the Inquisition, the proposition was made in Portugal to distinguish all Jews and all descendants of Jews by forcing them to wear yellow hats, the Marquis of Pombal appeared before the king with three yellow caps in his hand. When asked for whom they were, he replied: 'One is for Your Majesty, a second is for myself and the third is for the Inquisitor-General.' In this case one can indeed add: 'si non e vero e ben trovato'; for it represents the sentiment of the Portuguese at that time.
It had a parallel in the fourteenth century when a son of Rodriguez Alfonso Pimentel, a member of a Jewish Marano family officially accepted into the Dutch heraldry, married Dona Leonor Telles de Meneses, a sister of the reigning queen. It is said that Dom Luis of Portugal had a Jewish mother."
- 24.41 P 24 "The first and earliest branch takes us to Portugal and to conditions of hfe which are full of dramatic interest. The documents note that in the year 15 19 King Manuel of Portugal, called 'The Fortunate,' granted to Don Iago y Sampayo the right to bear the name of the city Belmonte and to transmit such right to his male descendants in direct line. There is no reason to doubt this distinct statement in the genealogical tree, which must have been based upon reliable information and which was evidently at one time the property of the Belmonte family in Amsterdam."
- 24.41 P 33 "The difficulty is rendered more intricate by the fact, generally accepted by historians and genealogists, that at least one city of Belmonte in Portugal was an appanage of quite a different family, that of Cabral, a family so well-known in early times through the adventures of Pedro Alvarez Cabral, the discoverer of Brazil in 1500 and admiral of the first armada sent by Dom Manuel to India. The following formal record is given by Baena:
'Cabral - Esta familia ja no tempo dos primeiros reis d'este occupava distinctos campos: n'ella permanecen o senhoria de Belmonte e o de outras terras sendo a maior prerogativa que tene a nao dar homenagem dos castellos que se Ihe entregavam. Sao suas armas em campo de prata duas cabras vermelhapas santes, armadas de negro: timbre uma das cabras,' i.e., Cabral: This family already at the time of the early kings occupied specified territory. To it belongs the seignory of Belmonte and that of other lands; their chief prerogative being that they were not forced to render homage for two castles which had been given to them. Their armorial bearings were, on a field of silver two light vermilion she-goats, crossed in black, on the crest one of the she-goats. The explorer was born in the castle of that 'ancient and noble city of Belmonte,' a place known for a peculiar and much venerated image of Mary and the infant Jesus known a 'Nossa Senhora da Esperanza.' His present-day descendant is exuberantly denominated... Ex™° Sr. D. Jose Maria de Figueiredo Cabral da Camara, primogenito dos Ijjmos g Ex™° Srs. Terceiros Condes de Belmonte'; and his photograph is given in the pamphlet referred to in the note. The first descendants of the discoverer are carefully exhibited in Belchior d'Andrade Leytao's Familias do Reino de Portugal.'
In this list there are a number of names that might well be those of Maranos. The great discoverer himself was married to Dona Izabel de Castro. His daughter. Dona Catherina de Castro, was the wife of Nuno Furtado de Mendoça. His eldest son, Fernao Alvares Cabral, married Dona Margarida Coutinho. Such names - de Castro, Mendoça and Coutinho - occur frequently in later Sephardic annals; but I can find no additional warrant for asserting their Marano character. The same may be said of the further descendants of Cabral, as they are given by D. Antonio Caetano de Sousa in his Memorias Historicas Genealogicas dos Grandes de Portugal, 1775." (sic)
- 24.42 P 140 "The names of these men are given as follows: Joshua da Silva, Isaac da Fonseca, Haim da Fonseca, Benjamin Musaphia and his two sons, Jacob Musaphia and his two sons, Is(aac) Belmonte, Samuel Steffens, Jacob Mayers and his five sons. They met in the house of the Polish Resident Abensur and had as their spiritual head a certain Judah L. Ballin, undoubtedly a forefather of the well-known President of the Hamburg-American Line."
- 24.43 P 100 "We find him not only giving information upon weighty matters of general concern (in connection with the Spanish fleet he was called upon in 1695 to make payments amounting to 329,831 florins), but also sending bits of news concerning a Dutch ship that has set out for Buenos Aires, or forwarding a description of the island of Jamaica. It is to be supposed that he was a man of some means. His consulship could not have been very lucrative. From a letter of his predecessor in office, one Jacques Richard, dated Jan. 30, 1654, we see that the salary of this latter was 150 florins a month. Before his elevation to the baronetcy, he signs his communications 'Manuel de Belmonte'; afterwards it is invariably 'EI Baron de Belmonte,' evidently in much pride at his elevated station." (sic)
- 24.44 P 101 "No female Belmonte is buried in the neighborhood of Manuel; and one might suppose that he never married. On the other hand, in the year 1679 he is mentioned as having received a Synagogue honor, which, I am assured, is never known to have been given in the Amsterdam synagogue to an unmarried man. In the record of marriages of the congregation, there is mention of the marriage, in 1678, of Isaac, son of Jacob Belmonte, with Rachel, the daughter of Jacob Ergas Henriques. It is impossible to tell whether this has reference to our Manuel Belmont, as the name of his father is unknown. If he was married, it is quite possible that the Baron de Belmont who signed the petition of the Jamaica Jews in 1700 was his son." (sic)
- 24.45 P 123 "The people of the island, it is quite evident, made up the hostile element. The extraordinary levies to which the Jews were subject were passed into law by the popular assembly, and the report of the governor to the home authorities dealing with the matter makes the ordinary charges which one has been accustomed to read in the BerHn Kreuz-Zeitung, the Paris Libre Parole or in the manifestos of a former Vienna Biirgermeister. The gravamen complained of by the Jews of Jamaica was, that though their 'nation' in the island did not exceed in number 'eighty persons including married men, batchelors, widows and the poor maintained on charity,' they had been inordinately taxed... It was a Baron De Belmont who became the spokesman of the Jews and who in the first instance presented the petition of the Jews to his Majesty the king of England. This petition was referred by the King's Privy Council in England to the governor of the island. Sir William Beeston, who in his own name and in that of the council made reply. The truth of the charges was admitted; but the attempt was made to find an excuse for the exceptional levies in the fact that the Jews were admitted into the island on condition that they should become tillers of the soil - Only a few had done so. Most of the Jews had taken to commerce and to small merchandizing, and because of their thrift and "parsimonious living" had gotten the whole retail trade into their hands and had undersold the English. They had also great stocks in trade and did a flourishing wholesale busInéss. For all these reasons, in the opinion of the governor and council, they ought to pay a greater proportion of the taxes than the English. It was also alleged that they were better able than others to trade with the negroes, because they work at night and on Sundays. The charge that the Jews had" (sic)
- 24.46 P104 "Evidently Jacob thought that the history of his family was of some interest, so that it was worth his while to preserve it for future generations. He did not write that history; but he collected the bare facts that might make up such a history, were we in a position to fill in his framework, in a Livro das Gerasoims, beginning with the year 1599, which was treasured in his family for generations. It then seems to have passed into the hands of other members of the family, as it contains entries signed by David Belmonte, Aharon Querido, Abraham Fonseca, etc. A copy of this work, together with a genealogical chart, was made by some late descendant with the title, Copia do Livro das Gerasoims Prinsipiado y Senor Jahacob Belmonte desde Anno 1599, to which was prefixed a 'Registro do modo que Estad Replasados os Nomes do Luiro.' The manuscript is the property of the Montezinos Library in Amsterdam,... Before leaving the island of Madeira he commenced his Livro das Gerasoims, with a few words of thanks to the Almighty for the grace shown to him hithertofore and with a prayer for the continuance of this grace during his future course of life." (sic)
- 24.47 P3 "This I found to be eminently true of the Belmonte family. Its record in Amsterdam is a most honorable one, not only within the bounds of its own religious community, but also in the larger circle of its citizenship in the Dutch state. Nor has it died out entirely; a branch still exists, that of the Brandon-Belmontes, but much wanting in the dignity and the position that characterized their ancestors. I found that they were in possession of no family documents and that they had knowledge only of the vaguest kind that a family history existed. It was necessary, therefore, to look elsewhere; and I turned my attention to the public archives of the city and the all-too-private archives of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community." (sic)
- 24.48 P139 "According to the original statutes of both the Ashkenazic and Sephardic communities, every Jew resident in Hamburg as bound to belong to one or the other." (sic)
- 24.49 P139 "The Sephardim in Hamburg were not always blessed with that greatest of all blessings, peace within their own house. From time to time these internal dissensions became public scandals, either on account of the high-handed dealings of the leaders or because of the refusal of certain members to place themselves under the jurisdiction of these leaders." (sic)
- 24.50 See also the references and contributions regarding Prof. Gottheil as a contributor to the Jewish Encyclopaedia: Richard Gottheil, Ph.D. - Professor of Semitic Languages, Columbia University, New York; Chief of the Oriental Department, New York Public Library; New York City., ret 27 Jul 2015.
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Royalty I; tempera, 1999, by Pablo Edronkin.
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