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Tracing Hidden Jewish Ancestry

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  • C. S. Lewis (1898 - 1963)
    Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British writer and lay theologian. He held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1925–...
  • Christopher Columbus (1451 - 1506)
    Alternate Language tabs existThe name Christopher Columbus is the Anglicisation of the Latin Christophorus Columbus. The original name in 15th century Genoese language was Christoffa Corombo (pronounce...
  • Vladimir Lenin (1870 - 1924)
    Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (alias Lenin ) was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from...
  • Donna Beatrice Gracia de Luna Nassi (1510 - 1569)
    Donna Gracia Mendes Nassi YouTube Donna Gracia Mendes Nassi (Gracia is archaic Portuguese and Spanish for the Hebrew Hannah, also known by her Christianized name Beatriz de Luna Miques, 1510–1569) was ...
  • Capitán Luis José Carvajal Rodríguez de Matos (1566 - 1596)
    Luis de Carvajal el Mozo (Benavente [Zamora] - Ciudad de México, 8 de diciembre de 1596) fue un comerciante y poeta novohispano , destacado miembro de la reducida comunidad de marranos (denominación qu...

Abraham Zacuto

Abraham Zacuto's opus magnum, Sefer ha-Yuhasin, is the first historical chronicle covering the entire history of mankind from the Jewish perspective. This book allows to appreciate wonders of the world of Talmud and tradition, as well as those of pre-exilic Spain and Portugal.

Please feel free to join and add information.

Abraham Zacuto (Hebrew: אברהם זכות‎, Portuguese: Abraão ben Samuel Zacuto, also Abraham ben Samuel Zacut and Abraham Zacut) (August 12, 1452 – probably 1515) was a Sephardi Jewish astronomer, astrologer, mathematician and historian who served as Royal Astronomer in the 15th century to King John II of Portugal. The crater Zagut on the Moon is named after him. Aside from making maps, Zacuto was also an inventor, astronomer, physician, teacher, religious thinker and advisor as to the nature of the universe to royalty, in Spain and Portugal . Despite these impressive credentials he is not as well known as the Polish, Copernicus, the Italian, Galileo or the Dane, Tycho Brahe. The family name Zacuto is derived from the Hebrew word, “health.”

After graduating from Salamanca , Zacuto taught Mathematics and Astronomy in his native city's famed University, the oldest in Spain . Amongst his scholar-colleagues he was usually referred to as El Judio Salamantino .

Aside from his teaching position at Salamanca, Zacuto enjoyed the admiration and patronage of the Bishop of Salamanca, Gonzalo de Vivero, and Don Juan de Zuniga who was the Grand Master of the Knights of Alcantara. Under their aegis Zacuto wrote many treatises on the solar system. He wrote his famous work on lunar and solar eclipses, De las eclipses del sol y de la luna while in Zuniga's service . Before Columbus set sail Zacuto met him. Afterwards he counseled that the enterprise to the Indies was feasible though hazardous.

So certain of Zacuto's academic abilities was the Bishop of Salamanca that his will directed all of Zacuto's Spanish treatises be bound and placed in the cathedral library. The distinction between the scholar's Spanish and other writings seems clear. Zacuto was a religious man who wrote fluently in Hebrew on subjects relating to Judaism. His most important astronomical work, Ha- Hibbur ha Gadol (The Great Essay) was written in Hebrew and later translated into, Latin, Portuguese, Castilian, Italian and German.

In 1492 when Jews were expelled from Spain , Zacuto left for Portugal . One of his students at the Portuguese court procured a position for him. The move was a bitter experience for him, one he carried for the rest of his life. Like other exiled Sephardim he lamented being torn from his beloved Spain.

Zacuto could not go to the New World ; his descendants would. Zacuto chose neighboring Portugal. Zacuto's fortunes rose in his new home. Because of his reputation he was appointed Court Astronomer to King John II and later to King Manuel I. Under their tutelage he made a great contribution to navigation; the astrolabe, the ancient forerunner to the modern sextant, used by mariners to measure the location of sun, moon and stars in order to determine a ship's position at sea, had been constructed of wood.

This important instrument was prone to swelling when it became wet from rainstorms or humidity. In dry weather the astrolabe would shrink. These variations rendered the Astrolabe's accuracy unreliable. Zacuto constructed one of copper which neither swelled nor shrank. Before he left for his historic voyage to India in 1496, Vasco da Gama consulted with Zacuto packing the astronomer's charts, tables and the newly perfected astrolabe to take with him.

By 1497 the Jews of Portugal were all forceably converted to Christianity. Zacuto managed to escape with his son Samuel to North Africa . The rest of his family remained behind. The trials of this scholar began anew. Imprisoned by pirates in North Africa with his son on two occasions, this man who faithfully served both Spain and Portugal in their efforts to make new discoveries was hounded by the Inquisition and forced to subsist as a private tutor of mathematics in Tunis .

Towards the end of his life, Zacuto finished a work he had been writing for some time on Jewish law and genealogy, Sefer ha-Yuhasin (The Book of Relations.) He wrote other philosophical religious tracts. Not much is known of his last years. He surfaces in Jerusalem in 1513, where he taught at a Yeshiva. He disappeared thereafter and it is believed he died around 1515 in obscurity.

While Zacuto was able to leave Portugal , others of his family were trapped and forced to lead the lives of crypto-Jews. Two, who were to become influential in Jewish history, were able to leave Portugal and resume their Jewish lives. Both came with their families to Amsterdam . From that city, a haven for Portuguese crypto-Jews there their lives took very different paths.

Amatus Lusitanus

Amatus Lusitanus (1511-1568) was born to a family of crypto-Jews in the city of Castelo- Branco as João Rodrigues de Castelo-Branco. In 1497 his family had been forcibly converted to Christianity, all historical evidences of the family were lost. We assume that their former family name was "Haviv," a well known Jewish family in Spain.

Amatus Lusitanus studied Medicine and Botany in the University Of Salamanca, Spain.  After finishing his studies he returned to Portugal to practice his profession but he had to leave, frightened by the Inquisition, and traveled to Antwerp, about 1533. There he worked as a botanist and acquired phenomenal knowledge in herbal medicine as he continued to work as a physician. Among his patients were the Mayor of Antwerp, the Portuguese Consul and the well  known Doña Gracia. ‬

Eventually he left Antwerp and went to Ferrara, Italy to teach medicine as a lecturer in the local university. There he apparently changed his name to Amatus (translation of "Haviv" – lovable, likable in Hebrew) Lusitanus (The Portuguese).   

Some years later he moved to Ancona, where he waited for permission to transfer to Ragusa (nowadays, Dubrovnik, Croatia). Meanwhile, he treated the sister of Pope Julius III. While there, his house was burnt and all his writings and papers were ruined. Finally, Amatus moved to Ragusa but he did not stay there long. He moved again to Salonika, Greece, then part of the Ottoman Empire. There he returned to Judaism.

As a physician he treated all people, wealthy and poor. In 1568 he died while treating patients during the plague. His burial place is not known.      
Amatus Lusitanus published books of medical botany, Index Dioscoridis and 7 Centuria1. Each volume contains descriptions of hundreds of different case histories that Amatus had treated, with commentaries and discussions. Among the medical descriptions he included moral and medical advice as well as the Jewish Physicians Oath.

Dr. Hector Nuñes

DR. HECTOR NUÑES, Portuguese physician, merchant and crypto-Jew in Elizabethan England 1547-1591.

Dr. Hector Nuñes was a Portuguese subject when he arrived in England in approximately 1546/7. It is quite possible that Nuñes fled the existing Inquisition in his hometown of Evora, Portugal. But, his immediate concern was to seek a medical license from the Royal College of Physicians. Nuñes was unsuccessful in this objective. Therefore, as a Portuguese subject and alien, he had to seek an immediate source of income in order to justify his conditional existence in England. He turned to commerce as a source of livelihood.

Nuñes took advantage of his knowledge of the Iberian Peninsula and language fluency, to focus his immediate energies there. However, his marriage to Elinor Freire in 1566 gave his fledgling commercial efforts a shot in the arm.

Peter Freire in Lisbon and Bernal Luis in Segovia, Spain, Elinor's brothers as well as her cousin Jeronimo Pardo, based in Lisbon, were heavily utilized by Nuñes be­tween 1566 and 1591 in foreign commercial pursuits on the continent.

London was a provincial and regulated city in the latter half of the sixteenth century. Alien immi­grants were welcomed and utilized for their services. Religious toleration was extended to the diverse Protestant mix that they represented. But, toleration did not extend to Catholics and Jews especially.

In 1290, Edward I had expelled Jews from England.  In the intermittent years, a small number had passed through and temporarily resided in the land. The Domus Conversorium in London had housed Jewish converts.

King Henry VIII had imported a Jewish adviser in his divorce preceding. Even Queen Elizabeth I employed a lapsed or converted Jew as physician, Dr Roderigo Lopez.

But, royal toleration only went so far. They knew that Nuñes and his immediate family, including Ferdinando Avares and Alvaro Lima, were observing Jewish holidays such as Passover and maintaining the Jewish Sabbath. But, they needed intelligence pertaining to Spanish activities especially after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. Thus, they had no alternative but to accept heretical Jewish religious activities on a temporary basis.

The death of Dr. Hector Nuñes in September of 1591, relieved them of any further obligations to the family. Mrs. Elinor Nuñes, alone in a foreign and alien Christian country without friends nor knowledge of the language, was placed in this untenable position due to the naivete of her late husband.  He mistakenly thought that he had a personal relationship with Lord Burghley and Sir Francis Walsingham in particular, as well as with other members of the English ruling elite. Nuñes also felt that members of the London commercial elite, whom he had aided and supported throughout his residence in England, would come to the aid of his widow. In both instances, Nuñes was mistaken.

As far as the London commercial elite were concerned, Nuñes had served an immediate need but once the objective was accomplished, it was time to move on.  His death was only a ripple in their lives, and Mrs. Nuñes was left to her own initiatives. No one cared and aid was not offered by Burghley or the commercial establishment. Nuñes was not one of their own. He was a Portuguese alien, and even worse, an heretical Jew.  Why should anyone care? The proverbial wan­dering and outcast Jew was alive and well in Elizabethan England.

Capt. Luis Rodriguez de Carvajal

Luis de Carvajal was the governor of the state of Nuevo León, a northern Mexico province in which the restriction against immigration from conversos was relaxed in order to encourage migration to the peril-fraught frontier. He was responsible for bringing a significant group of crypto-Jewish conversos living in Portugal since the Expulsion of 1492.

  • Luis de Carvajal el Mozo was the nephew of Jose Luis Carvajal y de la Cueva, the only crypto-Jew of the Spanish colonial era whose memoirs have been preserved.
  • Antonio Fernandez Carvajal was a Portuguese merchant in London; "lCarvajal prayed at the Catholic chapel of the Spanish ambassador, while simultaneously playing a leading role in the secret Jewish community, which met at the clandestine synagogue at Creechurch Lane."

Dr Roderigo Lopez 

  • Rodrigo Lopez, a converso who fled from Portugal to England and became physician to Queen Elizabeth I.

Miguel de Cervantes

  • Some scholars of Judaic studies believe that Miguel de Cervantes may have been a crypto-Jew or of crypto-Jewish descent.

Vladimir Lenin - aka - Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov"

Lenin's Early Life ---Born in Simbirsk, Russian Empire (now Ulyanovsk), Lenin was the son of Ilya Nikolaevich Ulyanov , a Russian official in public education who worked for progressive democracy and free universal education in Russia, and Maria Alexandrovna Ulyanova. The family was of mixed ethnic ancestry. "Lenin's antecedents were Russian, Kalmyk, Jewish, German and Swedish, and possibly others". Lenin was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church.

Lenin himself was of mostly Russian and Kalmuck ancestry, but he was also one-quarter Jewish.

His maternal grandfather, Israel (Alexander) Blank, was a Ukrainian Jew who was later baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church.

Lenin's mother, Maria (Mariya) Blank Alexandrova, was the fourth daughter of Alexander Dmitrievich Blank, a doctor and a baptized Jew from Zhitomir. He had taken as his patronymic the name of his godfather at his baptism, Dmitri Baranov, dropped his original patronymic of Moishevich, and adopted the Christian name of Alexander in place of his original name, Srul, the Yiddish form of Israel.

Alexander Blank married Anna Johannovna Groschopf, the daughter of a prosperous German father and Swedish mother. In 1847, Alexander attained the civil service rank of State Counsellor, he retired and registered himself as a member of the nobility in Kazan, a major city on the Volga and the centre of Tatar culture in the region. There he bought the estate of Kokushkino.

Here, Anna raised five daughters: Anna, Lyubov, Sofia, Maria (Lenin's mother), and Yekaterina. Anna Groschopf died young, and after her death her sister, Yekaterina von Essen, raised the five daughters. She was an educated woman and it was from her that Lenin's mother acquired her ability to play piano, to sing and to speak German, English and French.

The seriousness of which these studies were undertaken is indicated by the fact that in 1863, Maria was able to pass the examinations which qualified her as a teacher of Russian, French and German.

The manner in which both Ilya and Maria met gives credence to the saying “everything happens for a reason.” The year after his wife died, Alexander Blank took up the post of inspector of a medical board in Perm and moved there with his family. For a short time he acted as the doctor for the Perm high school, where he befriended its Latin teacher Ivan Dmitrievich Veretennikov, who married his eldest daughter Anna. Veretennikov became inspector at Perm Nobles’ Institue. It was on a visit to her married sister’s home in Perm that Maria Blank met the mathematics teacher at the Institute, Ilya Ulyanov, her future husband.

Lenin's Jewish Roots

MOSCOW -- For the first time ever, ordinary Russians can now see documents that appear to confirm long-standing rumors that Vladimir Lenin had Jewish heritage.

In a country long plagued by anti-Semitism, such heritage can be a significant taint, especially for the founder of the Soviet Union who is still revered by many elderly Russians.

Among dozens of newly released documents on display at the State History Museum is a letter written by Lenin's eldest sister, Anna Ulyanova, saying that their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew who converted to Christianity to escape the Pale of Settlement and gain access to higher education.

"He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of (the western Ukrainian city of) Zhitomir," Ulyanova wrote in a 1932 letter to Josef Stalin, who succeeded Lenin after his death in 1924.

"Vladimir Ilych had always thought of Jews highly," she wrote. "I am very sorry that the fact of our origin – which I had suspected before – was not known during his lifetime."
Under czarist rule, most Jews were allowed permanent residence only in a restricted area that became known as the Pale of Settlement which included much of present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Poland, Moldova, Ukraine and parts of western Russia.

Many Jews joined the Bolsheviks to fight rampant anti-Semitism in czarist Russia and some were among the leaders of the Communist Party when it took power after the 1917 Revolution. Most prominent among them was Leon Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein.

But Lenin, who was born Vladimir Ilych Ulyanov in 1870, identified himself only as Russian. He took Lenin as his nom de guerre in 1901 while in Siberian exile near the Lena River.

A brief period of promotion of Jewish culture that began under Lenin ended in the early 1930s when Stalin orchestrated anti-Semitic purges among Communists and hatched a plan to relocate all Soviet Jews to a region on the Chinese border.

Ulyanova asked Stalin to make Lenin's Jewish heritage known to counter the rise of anti-Semitism. "I hear that in recent years anti-Semitism has been growing stronger again, even among Communists," she wrote. "It would be wrong to hide the fact from the masses."

Stalin ignored the plea and ordered her to "keep absolute silence" about her letter, according to the exhibition's curator, Tatyana Koloskova.

Lenin's official biography, written by his niece Olga Ulyanova, said his family had only Russian, German and Swedish roots.

The letter from Lenin's sister became available to Russian historians in the early 1990s, but its authenticity was fiercely disputed. It was chosen for inclusion in the exhibit by Koloskova, who as director of the State History Museum's branch dedicated to Lenin is one of the most authoritative scholars on his life.

The exhibition in the museum on Red Square, near the mausoleum where Lenin's body still lies, also discloses that he was in such misery after suffering a stroke in 1922 that he asked Stalin to bring him poison.

"He did not incidentally pick Stalin to fulfill this request," Lenin's youngest sister, Maria Ulyanova, wrote in a 1922 diary entry. "He knew Comrade Stalin as a steadfast Bolshevik, straight and devoid of any sentimentality. Who else would dare to end Lenin's life?"

Initially, Stalin promised to help Lenin, but other Politburo members decided to turn down his request, the letter says. Trotsky, whom Stalin forced out of the Soviet Union, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin had poisoned Lenin.

The 111 documents on display, many of them only recently declassified and all of them open to the public for the first time, give surprising insights into top figures of the Soviet Union. Men usually portrayed as stern and fearless are seen as sometimes whimsical, frightened and even despairing.

One of the documents contains a desperate plea that Stalin received in 1934 from an arrested Communist leader, Lev Kamenev, whose real name was Rosenfeld.

"At a time when my soul is filled with nothing but love for the party and its leadership, when, having lived through hesitations and doubts, I can boldly say that I learned to highly trust the Central Committee's every step and every decision you, Comrade Stalin, make," Kamenev wrote. "I have been arrested for my ties to people that are strange and disgusting to me."

Stalin ignored this letter, too, and Kamenev was executed in 1936.
A slightly more humorous – but no less macabre – aspect of the exhibition is caricatures drawn by Politburo members.

Nikolai Bukharin, a leading Communist ideologue, depicts Stalin with a giant, exaggerated nose and his trademark pipe. His portrayal of other Communists is also unflattering – one is shown as a White Army officer. The anti-Communist White Army, which was backed by Western powers, unsuccessfully fought Lenin's Red Army in a civil war from 1917-23.

Prominent economist Valery Mezhlauk ridicules Trotsky as a Wandering Jew and depicts a finance minister hanging in an awkward position. In a handwritten note under the latter caricature, Stalin recommends that the minister be hanged by his testicles.

The minister and both cartoonists were arrested and executed in 1938.


Crypto-Jewish Link of CS Lewis

  1. Clive Staples Lewis
  2. Albert James Lewis born 1863
  3. Richard Lewis married Martha Gee of Liverpool
  4. Joseph Lewis born 1803 married Jane Lewis daughter of Richard Lewis of Flintshire Wales and his wife Jane Ellis
  5. George IV King of England and his mistress Mrs Mary Lewis (nee Goldsmith/Goldsmid)

Note: Some researchers had Rosaline West married to her father-in-law William (b.1830) instead of to his son William born in 1848. 

Also some have confused William (b.1848)'s maternal grandfather Ebenezer Lewis b.1800 with a different Ebenezer who was b.1814. William b.1848 was reared by his grandparents Ebenezer and Mary Lewis.  

Lewis families of Flintshire Wales.

Clive Staples Lewis and his brother Warren are the children of Albert James Lewis who was born in Cork Ireland in 1863.

Albert James Lewis was the son of Richard Lewis who was born about 1832 (possibly in Birmingham, Norley Cheshire or Flintshire Wales).

Richard Lewis at the age of 19 went to Cork Ireland with his wife Martha Gee of Liverpool in 1853. He was a boiler maker.

William Lewis, his older brother, was also a boiler maker who married Martha Lewis (daughter of Ebenezer Lewis and Mary Williams).

William Lewis, William and Martha's son, (b.1848 Hawarden Flintshire) was also a boiler maker and he married Rosaline West of Norley Cheshire the daughter of Simeon Levi West and Mary Ann Payne (believed to be the granddaughter of George IV and Maria Fitzherbert).

John Lewis and Joseph Lewis, Richard's brothers, were also boiler makers who went with Richard to Ireland.

Samuel Lewis, another brother, (b.1837 Birmingham) was a Jewish financier.

Jane Lewis, their mother, was the daughter of Richard Lewis of Flintshire Wales.

Joseph Lewis, their father, (born 1803) was an illegitimate son of George IV by his Jewish mistress Mrs Mary Lewis (nee Goldsmith).

Richard Lewis of Flintshire Wales was born in Norley Cheshire about 1775. Richard moved to Wales where he married a local girl called Jane Ellis who was of crypto -Jewish background.

William Lewis, Richard's brother, married the former mistress of George IV in Brighton.

Joseph Lewis was brother to Samuel Lewis (b.1801), James Graham Lewis (b.1804), George Coleman Hamilton Lewis (b.1806 Portsmouth) and Mary Ann Lewis (b.1809).

Joseph Lewis, a son of George IV, went as a boy to live with his step-uncle Richard Lewis in Caergwrle Flintshire and later he married his step-cousin Jane Lewis (they were no blood relative).

Joseph was a crypto- Jew attending the Anglican Church for social reasons who later became a Methodist minister.

Samuel Lewis, Joseph's older brother, was trained by his step -father as a maltster in Brighton at the Black Lion Brewery and later went to live with his step-father's sister Mrs Mary Woodhouse (nee Lewis) at Norley Hall in Cheshire. He later became the owner of the Tiger Head Inn in Norley and a local farmer and land owner. Family tradition states that he was known as the Squire of Norley.

James Lewis and George Lewis, Joseph's brothers, went to live with their Jewish step-uncle Edward Henry Lewis and his wife Sarah Raphael (daughter of Nathaniel Raphael and Shinah Jane Levy) in London where they studied Law and became Jewish lawyers.

Edward Henry Lewis, their step-uncle had three children

  1. .Charles Lewis (who married Sophia Levy),
  2. Louis Lewis of Jamaica, and
  3. Catherine Lewis who converted to Catholicism on her marriage to George Drew Keogh.

Due to their step uncle and aunt rearing the two boys as their own sons the relationships in the family have confused some researchers.



Nostradamus came from a long line of Jewish doctors and rabbinical scholars. His family had converted from Judaism to Christianity in 1502, as a result of persecution on the ascension of Louis the XII. After a classical education he studied medicine, herbalism and astrology. Michel de Nostredame was one of at least nine children of Reynière (or Renée) de Saint-Rémy and grain dealer and notary Jaume (or Jacques) de Nostredame. The latter's family had originally been Jewish, but Jaume's father, Guy Gassonet, had converted to Catholicism around 1455, taking the Christian name "Pierre" and the surname "Nostredame" (the latter apparently from the saint's day on which his conversion was solemnized).

Christopher Columbus Lithuanian?