Anglo-Jewish territory of the early eighteenth century, rich though its historical product, is still heavily scarred by barren patches. Catherine (Kitty) Da Costa Villareal wanders over them, a lost soul in Israel, in ragged robes of conflicting records, her death unchronicled. She lives?a wealthy young widow, the victorious " heroine " of a sensational breach of promise action brought against her by her cousin, Jacob (Philip) Mendes Da Costa (brother of Emanuel, the naturalist), and the mother of the first Jewess to enter Debrett as Viscountess Galway, the ancestress of Viscount Galway and the Marquis of Crewe of to-day.
Picciotto incorrectly records that she was the daughter of Moses (Anthony) Da Costa,2 who married Catherine Mendes, his cousin, daughter of Dr. Fernando Mendes,3 physician to king Charles II. This statement is repeated by Dr. Gaster4 and the Rev. Isidore Harris.5
This Paper, dealing mainly with the life of Kitty Villareal, is the historical background of the novel published by Gertrude and M. J. Landa in March, 1934. It also contains the interesting Samson Gideon correspondence concerning the title he sought to obtain.
2 Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, p. 103. Several writers, based upon a statement in the Gentleman's Magazine (1812), i. p. 21, have wrongly made Anthony a Director of the Bank of England. The only Jewish Director was Alfred Charles de Rothschild, 1868-1889. (See W. Marston Acres, The Bank of England from Within. 1931.)
3 See Miscellanies ii, 79, in the list of the Ketuboth of Bevis Marks. No. 63,
4 History of the Ancient Synagogue of Bevis Marks, p.99
5 Jewish Encyclopedia, iv. p. 289.
To some extent the relationship of the members of the Da Costa family is puzzling; they were amazingly intermarried. Lucien Wolf6 is right in showing that Kitty was the daughter of the wealthy Joseph Da Costa and of his wife Leonora, daughter of Dr. Mendes, and sister of Catherine?a case of two brothers marrying two sisters, their cousins.
Kitty was born in 1709, and was of the third generation of the Jewish Resettlement in England. She was the eldest child of parents who were both born here ; her father's father was Alvaro Da Costa, the first Jew to be naturalised in this country.7 Of Alvaro's nine children Moses (Anthony) was the third; Joseph, Kitty's father, the fifth; between them was Esther (Johanna), the mother of Kitty's unfortunate lover. Alvaro lived in Budge Row, part of which still stands near Cannon Street Station. His children were born there; subsequently Joseph lived there and his children were also born in the house. Plans of some Budge Row houses in those days in the British Museum do not, unfortunately, include Da Costa's residence.
Of the nature of Kitty's upbringing, and indeed of the Jewish social life of the period, there are few records. Little can be disinterred from the archaic legal jargon in which the evidence is set forth in the account of her famous breach of promise action.8 She and her cousin Jacob (Philip) were clearly intended for each other when young :