26 December 2009

Canary Islands: Crypto-Jewish history

Thanks to Harry Stein's Sephardim.com, Tracing the Tribe learned about a century-old paper on Crypto-Jews in the Canary Islands, delivered by Lucien Wolf to the Jewish Historical Society of England in London on December 12, 1910.

The paper is a treasure chest of Jewish names and history. Here's a map of the islands:

Read the complete paper here, but understand that it was posted using OCR (optical recognition software) and there are many errors caused by software inaccuracies (for various reasons). I recommend reading the online version carefully.

Information covers secret synagogues, kosher butchers, the Inquisition, Sephardim in London, buccaneers, sea captains, French merchants, Holland, the plague. Records discussed refer to dates as early as 1480. For many of those names listed below, there is detailed information on their fates, by public burning or other means, such as serving 10 years in the galleys.

In May 1524, several anti-Converso edicts were published in the Cathedral Church of St. Ana in Las Palmas:

-- 1. A general call for the elimination of heresy and confession of erroneous practices.

-- 2. This was directed specifically at Jews and Moslems, providing detailed accounts of their religious and social manners and customs at great length. It is a record of Jewish ceremonies and customs which had survived among the Conversos and helped informers to detect the heretics.

-- 3. This prohibited masters, owners and ship's captains, visiting and leaving the Canary ports, from allowing on board or providing passage to "converts or New Christians, converted to our Holy Catholic Faith from Judaism " under pain of excommunication and confiscation of their ships and other property.

These three edicts generally encouraged "religious maniacs," according to Wolf, and resulted in a large number of denunciations (1524-26).

Here are the names from the paper. If these are of interest, then do read the paper to learn more such as occupations and many geographical location.

Antonio Fernandez Carvajal
Duarte Henriques Alvares
Antonio Rodrigues Robles
Simon de Souza
Domingo de la Cerda
Antonio de Porto
Rodrigo de Leon
Rabbi David
Goncalo de Burgos
Luis Alvares
Luis de Niebla
Goncalo de Cordova
Juan de Ler
Juan Fernandez
Pedro Dorador
Alvaro Esteves
Beatrice de la Cruz
Gutierrez de Ocana
Diego Frances
Alvaro Gonsales
Mencia Vaes
Silvestre Goncales
Maistre Diego de Valera (Isaac Levi pre-1496)
Pedro Gonsales
Alonzo Yanez
Ana and Duarte Goncales
Hector Mendes
Hernan Rodrigues
Fernando Jaryam
Aldonca de Vergas y Vargas
Duarte Goncales
Duarte Perez
Pedro Berruyo
Juan Yanez
Catalina Nunez
Fernan Pinto
Jorge Fernandez
Duarte Henriques Alvares
Diego Rodrigues Aries
Duarte Henriques Alvares
Antonio Rodrigues Robles
Leila Henriques
Antonio Fernandes Carvajal
Domingo Rodrigues Francia
Jorge Francia
Domingo de la Cerda
Joseph Carrera y Coligo
Lourenco Rodrigues (Isaac Lindo) Lindo and wife Perpetua
Goncalo and Lucina Rodrigues Vaes
Manuel Lindo
Manuel Pereira
Jaques Faro
Antonio Fernandez Nunez
Juan de Tarifa

Place names include:

The Canaries:
Santa Cruz
Los Santos
San Lucar
San Lucar de Barremeda
Las Palmas
La Laguna

Marchena, Andalucia

Castel Blanco

Cape Verde
A very interesting paper! For more resources on Sephardic names, go to Sephardim.com and SephardicGen.com.


  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    I am a native of the Canary Islands and this story reminds me something curious my father told me . Before the spanish conquest te islands wre inhabitated by people called Guanches who lived in caves, my father and friends explored some of the caves and in one of them they found a wooden spoon with a the star of David, they supposed taht jews hid in the caves to secretely practice their religion.

  2. Anonymous12:49 AM

    The first comment is interesting. I believe I have a sephardic background, and I believe that my last name showed up in the canary islands. Furthermore, one of my ancestral names is "Covarubbias" meaning "red caves". I wondered about the name -- that maybe it referred to caves in which my forbears hid from the Inquisition. I wonder if Harry or anyone else can speak to that.

  3. Goldwater1:23 AM

    My Great Great Grand Father told me about Verdugo/Berdugo Jews who had desendants lining in Arizona. They were a mining family.

  4. Anonymous9:39 AM

    This paper is available as a book. It is a little hard to read at times because they made digital copies of the original 1926 paper. It's titled "Jews in the Canary Islands Being a Calendar of Jewish Cases Extracted from the Records of The Canariote Inquisition in The Collection of The Mauquess of Brute" Making of Modern Law Print Edition