Moses (Raphael) Levy (1665 - 1728)

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Birthplace: Germany
Death: Died in New York, New York, NY, USA
Occupation: Freeman NY 6/1695; merchant-trader, landowner, businessman, & pres. Congreg. Shearith Israel; 5 children by m1 (Lon. 1695). Richea Asher (d. 9/29/1716); 7 by m2. Grace Mears Levy (London, 1718); portrait attrib. Gerardus Duyckinck, Museum City of NY
Managed by: Nate Hoffman
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About Moses (Raphael) Levy

Levy was born in Germany in 1665 and arrived in NY from England in 1695. He was a successful merchant with a fleet of ships that sailed between the colonies, the Caribbean, England and North Africa. He owned 70 acres of land in NY and was a successful real estate investor. In 1718, Moses Raphael Levy, widowed in 1716, married Grace Mears, with whom he had seven children. When he died in 1728, he was considered one of NY's wealthiest citizens. He was buried at Chatham Square in NY, the oldest Jewish cemetery in America. Abigail Levy Franks, eldest of five children Moses had with first wife Richea Asher Levy, despised her stepmother and spared no insult in her prose. But when Grace Levy, left a widow with many young children in 1728, made a bad remarriage to David Hays in 1735, Abigail’s assessments of her shifted. Through Abigail’s letters a rare portrait of a widowed colonial Jewish woman emerges—of Grace Mears Levy Hays as female shopkeeper who single-handedly supported and raised her young family, survived a deeply unhappy second marriage, and died brokenhearted, too young, and finally admired by her oldest stepdaughter. Both Moses Rafael Levy and Grace Mears Levy were active in establishing the Jewish community in NY and were contributors to the first synagogue on Mill St., in the area commonly referred to today as Wall Street.

-------------------- Moses was born in London in 1665.

This was also the year in which the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) arrived in London killing 75,000 to 100,000 people. One year later in 1666 the Great Fire of London occurred. The fire lasted 4 days and destroyed 4/5 of the city, including 87 churches. Ironically, it was the fire, which helped to control the spread of the plague. It was into these turbulent times that Moses was born and grew to adulthood. At the age of twenty-nine Moses left London and traveled to New York, where his parents had already settled. This was the same year in which his father Isaac died in New York. Moses and his wife Rycha had several young children as well as a large extended family in London. Rycha who was probably pregnant at the time stayed behind in London with their children when Moses left for America in 1695. (Rycha‘s great-grandfather was another Levy, Benjamin Levy, born before 1599.) Moses became a Freeman in New York in 1695. His mother Beila passed away in 1697. Moses returned to London in 1703 and brought his wife and family over. The merchant ship that carried Moses Levy, his wife, Rycha Levy, and their three young children docked in New York harbor around 1703. The long sea voyage separated them from a large clan of Levy relatives in London. By comparison with the metropolis that they had abandoned, New York was a mere provincial village. However, a small Jewish community had been long-settled in New York, and there in the midst of familiar tradition, they would establish their new home. New York boasted a population of 5000 of which only 250 were Jewish. Moses was a merchant and settled down to make his fortune. He soon became a pillar of the Jewish community and a wealthy merchant, as well as the owner of a fleet of trading ships.

Moses had 5 children with his first wife Rycha. They were Bilhah (Abigail), Asher, and Nathan (born in London in 1696, 1698 and 1704 respectively), and Isaac and Michael (born in New York). Rycha died in 1716, thirteen years after immigrating. Moses remarried and had 7 more children with his second wife Grace Mears. Moses died in 1728 at the age of 63. He is buried in New York City.

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Moses Levy's Timeline

1665
1665
Germany
1695
1695
Age 30
New York, New York, United States
1696
November 26, 1696
Age 31
London, England, United Kingdom
1699
February 2, 1699
Age 34
New York, New York, United States
1704
February 18, 1704
Age 39
New York, New York, United States
1706
July 19, 1706
Age 41
New York, New York, United States
1709
July 10, 1709
Age 44
New York, New York, United States
1718
1718
Age 53
New York, New York, United States
1719
February 27, 1719
Age 54
London, United Kingdom
1720
February 11, 1720
Age 55
New York, New York, United States