Musings of a Jewish Genealogist: The Gentleman’s Magazine and the da Costas

by Ann Rabinowitz

 
There are many unusual resources for locating information about our ancestors. One I came across was “The Gentleman’s Magazine”, Volume 178, Page 665, which I found on Google Books. It was a monthly magazine founded in January, 1731, in London, by Edward Cave, and which ran until approximately 1907. One can find online images of the magazine issues in several of the following places:
 
1731–1750 magazine issues can be found at Oxford University.
 
1731-1899 and 1906-1907 issues of the magazine can be found on Google and at the University of Michigan.
 
The magazine is notable, in genealogical terms, for its listing of marriages and obituaries.  Despite the fact that the listings were mainly for non-Jews, there were some that were Jewish. 

Given the time period of publication, the magazine had several Sephardic Jews listed.  One such was Moses Mendes da Costa (1780-1845), a well-known Jew who spent many years on the island of Barbados.

Looking up the da Costa family, I found an interesting discussion of the family on the Hebrew History Federation site. The piece was entitled “The da Costas – A Remarkable Sephardic Family” by Samuel Kurinsky.

This fascinated me, so I delved further and looked on The National Archives (UK) site,
where I found many references to members of the da Costa family, including a will which could be purchased and downloaded. This 1841 will was for Moses Mendes da Costa, living at Spital Square in Middlesex.

The will was closely handwritten and quite difficult to read. One longed for a typewritten document as we are all used to. The will was very helpful as it provided detailed information on nieces, nephews and god-children of Moses, who he named in the will and its codicil.

Looking in the 1841 UK Census, which is the one before da Costa’s death, one can find a Moses da Costa, age 61, and wife Rebecca, age 55, of Spital Square, which appears to be the same family. In the findmypast.com database on deaths, he is also correctly listed in the fourth quarter of 1845, in Islington.
 
And lastly, notices of Moses Mendes da Costa’s death were found in the November 21 and 28, 1845, issues of The Jewish Chronicle . Unfortunately, the notice had no information regarding his career or life, nor did it mention any surviving relatives. It did provide his residential address as #2 River Terrace, Islington. Evidently, he had moved to Islington soon after his will had been written and the Census had been taken in 1841.
 
[A slightly different version of this article was previously published on 31 October 2010 in The Jewish Chronicle. Reprint permission granted.]
 
Born in Manchester, England, genealogist Ann Rabinowitz is a resident of South Florida and has been involved in genealogical pursuits since the age of ten. A prolific writer, her articles have been published on the JewishGen Blog, in numerous Jewish genealogy journals, on Facebook, and in various newspapers.  

Facebook
Google+
Twitter
LinkedIn

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recent Posts

TOP