Joachim Chaim Gans

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Joachim Chaim Gans

Hebrew: יואכים חיים גאנז
Birthplace: Hlavní město Praha, Česká republika (Czech Republic)
Immediate Family:

Son of Father Joachim Gans

Managed by: Alex Moes
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Joachim Chaim Gans

Joachim Gans (other spellings: Jeochim, Jochim, Gaunz, Ganse, Gaunse) was a Bohemian mining expert and renowned for being the first recorded Jew to live in North America.

German mining expert who figures in the English state papers of the reign of Elizabeth. He was born at Prague, and was therefore in all probability a connection of David Gans, who settled there in 1564; he certainly shared his scientific interests. He is first mentioned in his professional capacity at Keswick, Cumberland, in 1581, and he remained in England till the end of 1589. He introduced a new process for the "makeing of Copper, vitriall, and Coppris, and smeltinge of Copper and leade ures." A full description of his operations is preserved in the English state papers (Domestic Series, Elizabeth, vol. 152, No. 88). Foreign miners were very active in England about this period. There is no doubt that England owed much to such immigrants in the mining industries (see Cunningham, "Alien Immigrants," p. 122).

In Sept., 1589, in the presence of a minister, Richard Curteys, at Bristol, Gaunse, speaking "in the Hebrue tonge," proclaimed himself a Jew, and as a result was arrested and sent in custody to the privy council in London (Domestic Series, Elizabeth, vol. 226, No. 46). The council seems to have taken no hostile action, however. Walsingham, who was then secretary of state, was an old employer of Gaunse, and other members of the council also knew him.

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent his first colonization mission to the island of Roanoke (in present-day North Carolina). This was the first English settlement, although it did not survive, it was a military research expedition with a very narrow focus. Joachim Gans was sequestered on Roanoke Island to research copper smelting techniques of the indigenous tribes in order to reduce European copper-smelting times from 16 weeks to 4 days; giving the English a strategic advantage over other European nations in smelting and forging cannons for their warships. What is unique about the inclusion of Joachim Gans in this expedition was that Jews were not allowed in England until Oliver Cromwell allowed them back into England in 1655 by refusing to extend Expulsion Laws imposed roughly 300 years earlier by Edward I in 1290.

Read more: GAUNSE, JOACHIM, jewish encyclopedia and The First Jew In America by baruch sterman,

Colonial Williamsburg: the journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Volumes 22-24, Pg 8, Published by Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2000

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Joachim Chaim Gans's Timeline

Hlavní město Praha, Česká republika (Czech Republic)