Americans Of Jewish Descent
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Jacob da Fonseca Brandon

Jacob da Fonseca Brandon[1]

Male 1764 - 1843  (79 years)

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  • Name Jacob da Fonseca Brandon  [2
    Born 1764  [2
    Gender Male 
    Reference Number 4055 
    Died 14 Mar 1843  [2
    Person ID I4055  aojd
    Last Modified 11 Nov 2011 

    Mother Esther da Fonseca,   d. 1787, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Family ID F1438  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

     1. Joseph Brandon,   b. 9 Mar 1808, London, Middlesex, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 25 Jul 1884, New York Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years)
    Family ID F1432  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • (Research):AJLLJ Portrait Database 5 Aug 2011

      Jacob (or James or Joshua) da Fonseca Brandon was not American. Indeed, it is likely he never left London in his life. He is included here not just because his descendants would arrive in the New World, but because of the varied threads of the Sephardic experience running through the details of life. Tracing them, one ranges over vast temporal and geographic distances, and Brandon comes to seem not only a representative of the Sephardic merchants of the eighteenth century Atlantic, but of the very processes of historical change and the restless and curious movements of peoples.
           From a prominent Sephardic family, Brandon traced his lineage back to a variety of illustrious ancestors, both real and imagined. Among these were the Fonsecas of Madrid, and he may well have had in his family tree a converso archbishop who helped preside over the Inquisition, Cardinal da Fonseca. On the Brandon side, he claimed to be related to Charles Brandon, first Duke of Suffolk, whose father had been slain beside Henry VII at the hands of Richard III on Bosworth Field, but there exists no evidence for such a claim. What is more likely, however, is that he was related to Alvaro da Fonseca (a.k.a. Jacob Jessurun Alvares), a Lisbon born crypto Jew who fled to Amsterdam and then to London after his uncle was put to death by the Inquisition, and later spent years living in India trading in diamonds and luxury goods, becoming one of the wealthiest Londoners of his day.
           Brandon too was involved in East Indian trade. A shipping magnate with several Asian fleets, Brandon displayed his wealth in what served as one of eighteenth-century London's principal arenas for ostentation— windows. The window tax, introduced in 1696 and not repealed until 1851, was a means of levying taxes based on wealth at a time when income tax was considered by the English an infringement on personal liberty. Thus, windows became a status symbol, and Brandon's house had so many that it came to be a minor London attraction.
           Brandon was also engaged with London's Jewish community. In 1824 he is on the record as one of the governors of the Society Mihel Sedaca for Granting Marriage Portions to Fatherless Girls, which provided dowries for orphaned Sephardic girls.
           In 1788 he married Sarah Mendes Da Costa, daughter of wealthy New World plantation owners. Though the couple remained Londoners, it is telling that both families had profited so handsomely from opportunities afforded by New World colonial expansion. The movements of these two families through the Atlantic sketches a network of opportunities and connections, transience and community. Sarah's family had, in a sense, gone and come back from the New World. Of Jacob and Sarah's eight children, one would migrate to Jamaica, one to Curacao, one to Surinam and another to New York. [3]

  • Sources 
    1. [S285] .

    2. [S4] PG. 26 FONSECA BRANDON (Reliability: 3).

    3. [S294] BRANDON, JACOB DA FONSECA (Reliability: 3).