David Gabay’s 1660 Letter from London

The Parnassim of the Portuguese Jewish community of Amsterdam had many functions during the seventeenth and eighteenth cen? turies. One of these was to act as the executors of the estates of deceased members. This situa? tion arose if a man died without heirs and left his property to the community, or if he left orphans and no relative to protect their interest. Such a testator might himself be the executor of other such estates, in which event these too would fall to the care of the gentlemen of the Mahamad. Thus in the course of time the archives of the community acquired business papers and account books which concerned the private affairs of various deceased individuals, and it is in just such a collection that the letter which we are going to examine has been found. For the present-day Portuguese Jewish community has very sensibly lodged its papers in

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