Voltaire and the Sephardi bankrupt*

Voltaire came to London in May 1726 and stayed here until October or early November 1728. During that time he became involved, in very curious circumstances, with the Mendes da Costa family.

The Mendes da Costas were among the first Sephardi merchants then resident in Portugal or Amsterdam to come over to England after the famous decision by legal experts in 1655 that there was no law in force prohibiting Jewish re-entry into the kingdom. This converso family had lived in Trancoso in Beira Alta, well to the northeast of Lisbon, from at least the end of the sixteenth century.((Many of the following details come from the enormous and detailed genealogical table established by Mr A. Mendes da Costa of New Zealand and kindly shown and elucidated to me by Mr Edgar Samuel. I have been able to correct, or add to, this table by research at the Public Record

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