28 April 2007

Barbados: A treasure of Sephardic Jewish records

A new database of English settlers in Barbados from 1637-1800 is now on Ancestry.co.uk; it offers births, wills, marriages and other documents.

For those with Sephardic Caribbean ancestors, this database may be a goldmine of information.

I did a quick search for COHEN, and under an interestingly-named heading of "Jewish Baptisms," found numerous Jewish births. A page with dates of 1799-1800 held a transcribed, typed list of numerous births. The data comes from Register RL1/75. A further note indicates the register is in deteriorated condition and is closed to general view.

Names of infants and parents:

Isaac, son of Benjamin Henriques DaCosta
Joseph, son of Naphtali Hart
Benjamin and Mozeley, twin sons of Isaac Elkin
Walter and Isaac, twin sons of Jacob Levi
Daniel, son of Moses Pass
Sarah, daughter of Moses DeCastro
Hannah, daughter of Eleazer Myers
Sarah, daughter of Jacob Levi
Hananel, son of Moses Decastro
Isaac, son of Benjamin Cohen de Azevedo
Rebecca, daughter of Lemon Hart
Esther, daughter of Elieser Montefiore

HINT: Search for common Jewish given names, such as Isaac (or Isaque, as it is spelled in some documents), Jacob or Moses, and other families of Sephardic lineage will show up. Names with "de" sometimes run together; e.g. de Fonseca will be listed as defonseca or the Portuguese version, dafonseca. The documents also indicate relatives in different cities and daughters' married names.

Here's a will dated July 4, 1685, which was translated from Portuguese.

NAVARRO, Aaron, son of Abraham Navarro of Amsterdam, now resident in Barbados. Since there is no money in the business concern in Brazil, brother Moses Navarro should come to Amsterdam; Iihac Nunes Navarro - Adm in Brazil; my nieces, daus of Mandey Couzal; the heirs of bro Jacob Navaroo; Jacob Fundas; Samuel Frazad; Samuel DeNeiga (also spelled DeVeiga) regarding the care of Abraham Navarro or Mosso concerning the care of his heirs; mentions the Adm of bro Mahamad Eveham (?); daus Hanah Navarro and Ehetta Navarro; mentions Moses Hisquian DeMercado, wf Esther Navarro; chn Moses Navarro, Jacob Navarro, and Sarah Fletcher to place property with the heirs of my bro if own heirs die; Haham Reby; Elias Lopez; Jacob Dafonseca Valle; Joseph Senior; nephew Abraham Valverde; Nosea May Sarah Torres, chn of my wf (?) Esther Navarra. signed Aaron Navarro. Witnesses: Joseph Senior, Sam Brunts, Thomas Page, Jacob Baruh Louzada, Jacob Dafonsecca Neza. Proved 29 Oct 1685.

The 1711 will of merchant David Castello indicates his sons Jacob and Ephraim are to receive the 5 books of Moses he has in synagogue. His son Moses and daughter Hannah are to receive 1/3 of a house in Amsterdam near the Vinticue in the company "of my sisters which was put in the orphans house in Amsterdam by my fa [father] in 1670; daughter Judith Mandez, wife of Moses Mandez Jr - 5 shillings, and names his wife Rebecca as his executrix.

A 1715 document, a memo to a will, reveals that the person gave his nephew "420 aces in the parish of St. Marie's in Jamaica I bought of Moses Cohena, a Jew."

Happy hunting!


  1. valverde is my surname family in Brasil

  2. Marijo Long6:16 PM

    I am following the Israel (de Pisa or possibly Periera) family of Barbados.

    Accord. to David Israel's will May 24, 1689 he mentioned his inheritance from Aaron Navarro.

    I am trying to connect my Solomon Israel who was living on Nevis in 1678 with Isaac Pinhero. Solomon was the ex. for Pinhiero in 1710.
    Isaac Pinhiero was bd. in the Synagogue in NY, Shearith Israel. Bueno Mosquito was buried there also. They all tie to Brazil/New Amsterdam/Amsterdam/
    Jamaica/Barbados/NY and the trading of sugar, peppers and vanilla.

    David of the will in 1689 also mentioned that Selomah (Solomon?)
    was to be disinherited. The will was written in Portuguese.

    I am collecting quite a bit on these brave and faithful families.

    Would love to share,
    Marijo Long
    Dallas, Ga.

    1. Anonymous10:29 AM

      I'm trying to tie my Thomas Israelll b. 1777/ Colpeper, VA/ WVA to David and Israel Israel in Barbados. Think there is a William in early 1700's with this family., too. fayelouise1931@yahoo.com

  3. My ancestor Solomon ISRAEL (c.1710-1795) was reportedly from the Caribbean before he came to New York where he married and began his family. No one knows which Caribbean island nor his parents. I would love to discover both.

    Ken Robinson

  4. Anonymous12:05 AM

    Hello, I too am searching the same names. I found on ancestry.com Solomon Isreal:Birth
    1710 in Hempstead, Queens, New York, United States, Death
    1795 in Wilkes, North Carolina, United States. married Mary Johnston june 29, 1734, Birth
    1720 in Hempstead, Queens, New York, United States, Death
    1792 in Wilkes, North Carolina, United States. no info on her parents.
    his parents are Solomn Isreal de Pisa Birth
    1660 in Port Royal, Kingston, Jamaica, Death
    1734 in New York, United States/ his wife:Catherine Shakerley born 1670 barbados, died ny 1725. his parents are David Israel:1620 in Farroeira, Santarem, Portugal
    D:May 1689 in St Michaels Parish, Barbados. there was no name given for his wife except sarah. Davids father Abraham Israel de Pisa born 1600 portugal died in ny. his father Israel de pisa 1575 born in Toledo, Castilla- La Mancha, Spain and died in Spain. Hope that helps.

    monterey, ca

    1. Anonymous1:56 PM

      Stephanie, I've also traced my ancestry back to Solomon Israel, of Hempstead, NY & Mary Johnston (through my great grandmother, Ellen Malissa Israel), but can't find anything more on Ancestry.com. Where did you get Solomon Israel de Pisa as his father? Looks like we're all cousins!
      Knoxville, TN

  5. He's my 7th Great Grandfather! Heya Cousins!
    Stephanie- that helps a lot, thank you! I can research a bit farther, I hit a wall with Solomon de Pisa's Father.

    It was a shocker though, to find that while I (and my Grandmother) have for admired and valued the Jewish people, to find out I have a link to them!

  6. Anonymous9:55 AM

    Abraham Israel de Pisa was listed as one of the passengers of the St Catherine or St Charles that entered New Amsterdam in 1654. David Israel as well is listed. They were held for ransom by the ships captain. Abraham is also listed in other sources for his claiming to have found a gold mine in the Carribean. I would love to be able to prove that this is our Solomon Israel's family tree. If so we could possibly go further with the geneology by looking at Pisa Italy.

  7. LeDonna11:02 AM

    Some of the Israel's are thought to have previously had the surnames of dePisa. David's records can be found under Israel and Israel DePisa. From what I have found David came to America in 1654 and returned to Barbados in 1679. He died in St. Michaels Parish, Barbados in 1689. Abraham Israel dePisa was born in Portugal in 1600. US Naturalization Records - Southern District of New York, District and Circuit Court list his name but not the year. He died in NY but do not know the year. I show his father to be Israel dePisa born in 1575 in Toledo, Castilla-LaMancha, Spain and that he died in Spain. Please let me know of any revisions you may have to this. Have found no info on the wifes. Thanks

  8. Anonymous12:47 PM

    get the book Jewish priates of the caribbean by edward kritzler. it opens up a great deal of information on abraham israel depisa and his son isaac. and more... there is also an article about col william davidsone that has info about abraham israel depisa tha you can google. would love to correspond with other who are searching this line. contact me at
    linda---ken@juno.com. thanks

  9. Anonymous10:08 PM

    Just found this site. I am researching Isaac Depiza Massiah and his brother Abraham and sister Sarah who married Joseph Barrow all of Barbados. He is connected tot he Lindo's of Barbados ,,,,,Belinfantes and Massiah's of Barbados. Any help on individuals from these families would be greatly appreciated.