Materials for a biography of Antonio Fernandez Carvajal, otherwise Antonio Ferdinando, " the great Jew" of the Commonwealth as Violet calls him,1 are exceedingly scanty. The few references to him in the State papers and other contemporary documents relate almost exclusively to one decade of his life. For the rest we are left alto? gether to conjecture. We learn, however, from his patent of deniza tion2 that he came to England between 1630 and 1635. At that time he must have been at least fifty years of age, for when he died in 1659 he was described on his tomb-stone as "in a ripe old age."3
Early in life he had lived in Fundao,4 a town of Lower Beira, in Portugal, and the seat of a large and flourishing community of Marranos. Fundao was one of the industrial centres of Portugal enumerated in the political testament of the famous Luis da Cunha as having been ruined and depopulated by the Inquisition.5 Antonio Carvajal was probably among those of its Marrano merchants and manufacturers who were forced by the persecution to flee to Spain. A few of these refugees settled ultimately in the Canary Islands, where, under the direct protection of the King of Spain, they
1 "Petition against the Jews" (1661), p. 7.
2 See documents appended to this Paper, VII.
3 Jew. Quart. Rev., Vol. I., pp. 92, 93.
4 Deposition in Hohles case (Transactions Jew. Hist. Soc, Vol. I., p. 79).
5 Kayserlmg": Juden in Portugal, p. 329.
farmed the royal revenues, established vineyards and exported produce.1 Carvajal seems to have acquired some property in the Canaries,2 and it was no doubt in order to save to himself the profits which were then eaten up by the English middlemen in Cadiz and London that he visited and ultimately settled in England.
This piece of enterprise made his fortune. The trade between England and Spain at this period was advancing by leaps and bounds, but the profits were all on one side. Thanks to the Inquisition and a vicious economic policy, the manufacturing industries of Spain had fallen on evil days. On the other hand England was on the threshold of her great career as a manufacturing country, and her merchants naturally turned their eyes to Spain, where bullion was plentiful and produce and raw materials tended through the cheapness of labour to almost a vanishing price. In 1605 the trade between the two countries had been organized by the establishment in London of the Society of Merchants of England trading with Spain and Portugal, and the Peninsula had been flooded with the factors of London and Bristol houses, who bought at their own prices the wools, wines, cereals, and minerals with which the country was overstocked. To the Canary Islands, however, they seldom penetrated, and the local wine growers and merchants had to carry their produce to Cadiz or Seville, where they were glad to accept whatever prices the English agents offered. The London merchant found the trade exceedingly lucrative. From a tract published in 1659,3