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Having too great a respect for Paul Sebag to believe that he would begrudge me participating in the dialog, even if critical, I know enough of his probity to think him not sensitive to what might modify his first judgements or ideas.3
Surnames of Italian origin?
In pages 160 and 161, the author enumerates 71 patronymics about which he writes "the Italian origins of these surnames cannot be in doubt" and even "These surnames are those of Jews of Italian origin" and later "these Jews of ancient Italian roots".4 May I be permitted however—e pùr si muove5—besides putting in doubt a good number of these surnames, to be definite about the following 21 surnames, all of which are Iberian or Arab-Iberian, several of which figure prominently in the history of Portuguese Jewry.
Ayacchini is an italianized diminutive of Ayache, listed by Richard Ayoun among the Livornese of Algiers. Juda Ayache (1690-1760) was a master of talmudic studies. He published several works in Leghorn. During this period, all the Algerian theologians were of Iberian or Hispano-Moroccan origin.
Benedite, a surname scarcely distributed in Tunis, is but part of the italianization of Bendito or Bendit (see Cohn Bendit), a Spanish translation of Baruch, corresponding to the Portuguese Bento, more widely translated in Italian as Benedetti. Bendit were also found in Solsona in 1373-1391.
Benero. This surname means "Venetian", but in Portuguese (Venero or Benero) as was pointed out by Eisenbeth. It denotes a Portuguese Jew coming from Venice.
Bonan is one of the notable Livornese surnames of Tunis that is rarely found in Leghorn. The only mention is in the ballottazione6, involving a Messaoud Bonan, coming from "Michines" in 1775. Here the surname Meknes is written in its quasi Portuguese form.7 The first Benbunan having taken root in Gibraltar was born in Tetuan in 17008, which renders the Hispano-Portuguese origin quasi certain. The family is prestigious and ancient in Tunis.9 Paul Sebag proposes the Italian possibility of Buonanno (good year). But there existed in Toledo Buenanno10 —which may well have provided Morocco with Bunan, corresponding to the pronunciation before the [French] protectorate—and Bonanath having the same meaning. The identity of Spanish and Italian roots should not create confusion when seen in their historical context.
Buonafaro. Faro is a classic Sephardic surname in Leghorn and Amsterdam as is Bueno too. Buonofaro can only be a somewhat Italian contraction of Bueno Faro with the attraction of the A. This surname construction is reminiscent of the Bonastruc and Bonardut surnames.
Cassuto. In 1466, king Alfonso V passed through a marketplace with a Moises Caçuto, a blacksmith from Alcácer-Ceguer, a Portuguese possession in Morocco.11 Renzo Toaff informs us that in 1639 Florence there were only "tre ebrei levantini, Aron Franco, David Cassuto et Elia Jesurun" (three levantine Jews, etc...........).12 Several Cassuto were present in Leghorn, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Salonica, and Smyrna (Izmir).
Coen. One might not initially tend to classify Coen among the Italians. Read below the discussion about Cohen classified as a "Hebrew surname" (but, is Coen any less Hebrew?)
Eminente. The Italian appearance is deceiving and the author was drawn to it. The same word with the same meaning exists in both Spanish and Portuguese. The Baruh Eminente are one of the earliest great families of Marrano origin in Leghorn. Abram Baruh Eminente was twice Massaro or parnas in Leghorn before 1645, date prior to which only Iberians could accede to that function.13
Felice. Here we have the usual slipping towards the Italian form of the primary Portuguese surname Felis or Feliz which one finds in Leghorn in 1656 among the Gabbayim di Zedaqa (Toaff, p. 461). A David Felis nieto (grandson) is in 1654 member of the Fraterna di Mohar Ha-Betulot (brotherhood for the marriage of young orphan girls), a position reserved for the merchant aristocracy. Emidio de Felice (catholic), in his Dizionario dei cognomi iIaliani (dictionary of Italian surnames) associates the Felice and Felis, but without mentioning their religion and origins.
Grego. The Italian form is Greco. The Spanish forms are Greco or Griego. In contrast, Grego is the Portuguese form. It should, it appears, to denote a family of levantine origin rebaptised in Leghorn. But nothing justifies the hypothesis—and certainly not the certitude—of its being Italian!
Iacchia. It is true that this surname is the italianization of Yahia. But the Yahia family, whose surname goes back to the 12th century, is one of the oldest and most prestigious among the Portuguese Jews. The surname is the alias of Diniz. The ancestor Rabbi Joseph ibn Yahia who left Portugal around 1490 belonged to the 11th known generation of the family tree.14
Levi. Same observations as for Coen. Nowhere is the Italian origin shown in view of the presence of Levi families in Pisa and Leghorn since the first days of the Nazione. The only Livornese Levis of Tunis were allied to the old Sephardic families Cardoso, Nunez, etc. Dr. Guglielmo Levi, director of the Jewish hospital and of the Italian hospital, was born in Leghorn. Primo Levi always said his origins were Iberic.
Molco, Molho or Molgo. The surname is Spanish-Portuguese. It was present in Portugal and Catalonia before the expulsion, widely represented in Amsterdam (Molcho or Molgo), Leghorn (1674, Renzo Toaff) and Salonica. Abraham Molho is present in the heart of the Portuguese community of Pisa in 1613.15 The surname's root permits supposing a common origin with the Melki and Malka, which means Jews from Màlaga16, these later surnames being the Arabic form for the inhabitants of and the town, and Molco, Molgo, or Molho the latin form, with an intermediate form Malco appearing in Morocco. There are Melki among the Moriscos which reinforces the Spanish origin. A rabbi physician Mordekhai (Angelo) Malki was in Leghorn at the end of the 17th century, then moved to Jerusalem.17 Paul Sebag places the Molco among the famillies whose Italian origin "cannot be in doubt", whereas on page 107, he explains the Portuguese origin of the same surname: why?
Pansieri. The form adopted in the signatures of the marriage contracts in Tunis is Pansier. (Eisenbeth cites Pensier). The groom signs Isaque Pansier nobio the 8th of June 1796, the signature, very Spanish in form of the first name and in the word used to denote the groom: nobio, and not sposo. The surname does not appear in Emidio De Felice's Dizionario dei cognomi italiani, to which the author often refers. Certainly, it suggests the southern italian word panza, but panza exists in Spanish as illustrated by Cervantes. One can also think of the classic Portuguese surname Penso present throughout the Spanish-Portuguese diaspora and see in the Spanish-Italian homophonic game more pensée (thought) than panse [translator: play on words]. But one can't disregard a hispanized Hebrew Penyer (dimunitive of Pinhas).
Provenzal. The first Provenzal present in Leghorn used the Portuguese form Proenza or Proensa in the 18th century. That was the case of Abram Nunes Proensa placed by Toaff among the Mercanti attivi nella vita pubblica degli anni 1650-1659 (merchants active in public life during the years 1650-1659). In 1677 the same person wrote his name as Abram Nunes Provençal.18 At that date, only Iberians had the right to public duties. These Provençal, like the Franco or Frances or the Narbonne or Narboni were descendants of French Jews who had taken refuge in Spain over the centuries. This family did not cease being part of the notables of Leghorn up to the 19th century. Natanielo Provenzal was the representative for the Jews at the Municipal Council of Leghorn during the 1799 French occupation.
Roa is in no way Italian, but Hebrew for Roah.19
Sacuto. It is strange to see this historic surname classified among the Italian surnames. Let's recall that Abraham Zacuto, noted cartographer born in Salamanca around 1450 left Portugal for Tunisia, and then Turkey where he died around 1510.20 Toaff, who mentions several Zacuto or Sacuto among the massari of Pisa in 1599, writes that the Zacuto or Sacuto family was indisputably of Portuguese marrano origin, as were the Aboab21 (to which we will come soon).
Scialom. To deduce the Italian origin of this surname, just from the spelling adopted in the 19th century, also seems surprising. Upto the 1841 census the surname is spelled in the Portuguese way, Salom or even Salon. The pronounciation had to be the Portuguese Shalom as in Hebrew. Salom members were in Tunis at the forgiving of the debt in 1686. It was to Jacob de Rafael, Rafael, Rafael de Jacob, Rafael Samuel Salom that Toaff associates Salom members Abram, David and Eliahu of Leghorn (1645, 1624 and 1689). On the 16th of June 1612, Abraham Salom and Rafael Coen Salom with a Mose Israel and Selomo Zaquto wrote a query in Portuguese concerning the synagogue organization.22 The surname is no longer found in the 1841 census of Leghorn, but is quite common in Amsterdam (Salom, Salom Morenu, Salom d’Azevedo, Salom del Valhe). In the 19th century some Livornese Salom became Salmon. Others became Pacifici.
Servadio. According to Toaff, this surname is the Italian form by translation of the surname Ovadia. Renzo Toaff explains this by referring to Ovadia di Shabettay, a Romaniot Jew who lived in Damascus and was present in Ancona in 1544-45. Like many Levantine and Pontine Jews, Servadio fleeing papal persecutions established himself in Tuscany.23 Toaff reminds us, as is well known, that following 1492 the Spanish language and culture were dominant among the Romaniot who became levantini. There are Ovadia in Lisbon hailing from Spanish Morocco (Abecassis, V. 3, 540). We should remember that originally, for political reasons, the first community in Pisa declared herself levantine, but was rapidly dominated by Portuguese and, early on, Portuguese became the administrative language of the entire community.
Sulema. The Portuguese identity seems obvious. Salamão Sulema (the form of the first name is characteristic) is massaro in Pisa in 1643. We should recall that at this period, upto the 1693 reform, only Iberics had right to offices. The Sulema, whether in Pisa or in Leghorn, never ceased to be part of the notables. Eisenbeth points out Soullam present in Barcelona in 1270.
I almost forgot the Arditti. Paul Sebag does not discuss them in the chapter in question but mentions them elsewhere, supporting his thesis of the Italian origin of the surname by the work of Pettrochi. I had previously provided in my thesis references on this topic24 that appeared to me to be definitive and seemed to have convinced him, the surname being absent in his appendix. I see that was not the case. In addition there is Taranto's study of the Jews of Smyrna where one finds no less than 129 Arditi. We should acknowledge that Eisenbeth does affirm the Italian nature of the surname. But, without appearing embarassed, he also cites a Pedro Ardit in the list of Jews of Barcelona in 1392.
More Italian Surnames. Toponym traps. Hypotheses and Surprises.
We started by grouping at the start of this study surnames erroneously included by the author in the list of Italian surnames so as not to mix what related to evidence with those that deserve discussion. In general one must be cautious in attributing Italian origin to families solely in that their surname is that of an Italian town, or occupation, or of foreign provenance. We have seen that many marranos from Ancona or Roman possessions, subjected to a brutal repression that followed a somewhat tolerant period, elected to adopt names of Italian towns especially from the Adriatic region (Ancona, Rimini, Senegaglia, etc.). An example that forbids us certitude is that of a Moises Fano or da Fano (or d'Affano) who, on leaving the Ancona region, took the name of the town of Modigliana where he stopped in the 16th century. He became thus Modigliano, a surname that Spanish changed to Modillano, then Modiano. This Modiano family emmigrated to Salonica at the beginning of the 16th century from where it spread all over the Ottoman Empire.25 Some Modiano from Salonica subsequently installed themsleves in Leghorn where there had once lived one of their Spanish d'Affano ancestors. This at least allows us to question the origins of the Modigliani.
Another discovery, the Fiorentino. Having noticed in the Portuguese language statutes of the Pia Santa de Bikur Olim26 an administrator with the surname Florentino, I had for a moment the impression that the "l" replacing the Italian "i" could be explained by a Sephardization of the surname. I subsequently learned that Florentin were a notable family from Istanbul and Smyrna dating back to the 16th century. While on a trip to Spain I met a Parisian with that surname, who was originally from Istanbul, and I asked him if his ancestors were'nt the Fiorentino of Leghorn sephardized into Florentino and Florentin. As luck would have it we were then passing by a street in Seville named "Florentin" and our guide explained was in the past applied to all Italians arriving in the city, no matter which religion or province he came from. Therefore did the Florentin of Istanbul descend from Spaniards of distant Italian origin, as the Frances from distant french origins?
Africano. The adjective could just as well be Italian or Spanish or Portuguese.
Allatini. Was this Livornese family, noted benefactors in Salonica where they did so much for the schools of the Alliance, Sephardic? The apparent Italian sound renders me vigilant since the Uzzielli, or Ussili and Uccielli for Uziel, Gallichi or Gallico for Gallego, Obediente for Abudiente, Pacifici for Salom, Sacerdote for Coen, Zuccarelli or Zuccharino for Zaccharia.27 I learned caution in Amsterdam when I found numerous Aletrino at least since the beginning of the 18th century, a surname which curiously had no apparent corresponding surname in Leghorn. In fact, only an elision of the "r" and the passage to the plural separate the two. Every time an Iberic surname starts with "al" I have a tendancy to give preference to the Arab trail. In Italian the elision of the "r" would not be innocent. It would transfer latrine into latinity... But it also removes the Arab roots; in Arabic, the sound of alatrin evoques Al Attarin, that is a spice merchant, a root we also find in Abenattar. This hypothesis merits being put forth without really influencing the debate's fate, for since the form aletrino exists only in Amsterdam and not in Leghorn, there is room to search for the hidden transformation.
Another surname, Astrologo or Dello Strologo also inspires me. It is found mainly in Venice, in Leghorn and in the south, the first regions to welcome the Iberics. There happens to exist in Aragon a surname Astrugono (unreduced variant of Astruc) denoting an Asturian origin (d'Astorga) and where one does not see a direct trace in Italy. One already notes the closeness of the adjective Astrugono and the substantive Astorga an inversion of the consonants, a common phenomenon in Spain and Portugal (e.g. Abrabanel, Abarbanel, Albuquerque, Aboulker, de Castro, de Crasto, etc.28 I therefore do not ignore the possibility that Astrologo might be a sliding of Astrugono in an Italian ear inclined to give it a meaning. Let's add that the word Astrologo itself exists in both Spanish and Italian. Eisenbeth classifies the surname as Spanish.
Donato appears to be an Italianization of the Spanish Donado, which means converso. The process is common: Abulafia (Arabic-Spanish surname) become Bolafi, Amado Amato, Branco Bianchi or Bianchini, Bueno Bono, Castel Castelli, Castro Castri, Coronel Colonnello, Duran Durante, Espinoza Spinosa, Felis Felice, Gallego Gallico or Gallichi, Garcia Garzia, Pariente Parente, Peixotto Picciotto, Penha Pegna, Seňor Signor, Uziel Uxielli, Vidal Vitali, etc.
Tedeschi may, like Tedesco, be an italianization of Tudesco (archaic Spanish equivalent of Alemano)29 of which Dodisco appears to be an Arabic distortion. The consonnance resembles Sicilian. Remember that the Sicilian Jews, present in Tunisia in the 15th and 16th centuries, frequently mixed with the Iberians in the Mediterranean basin.
Surnames of Hebrew Origin.
Following the exile, many marranos chose Hebrew surnames to hide their identities. Whereas the first emmigrants in 1492 kept their original surnames, often Hebrew.
Avigdor: Josef Avigdor in 1685 was classified by Toaff as an active merchant in Tunis. In 1670, Jacob Samuel Avigdor participates with Josef Vais and Abram Attias of Leghorn in the creation of the embryo of the Portuguese community in Marseille. In 1682, Elisa Alaique agrees to a loan to the banker Isaac-Samuel Avigdor of Nice.30
Baruch. This is the first element of the compound surname Baruch Carvalho. Baruch Carvalho is mentioned in Pisa en 1613-1619. One sees him in Leghorn in 1631 (Toaff, p. 145). Selomò Baruch is 4 times Massaro in Leghorn prior to 1645. During that period he is listed among the active merchants in public life. Several Baruch still exist in Leghorn in 1809 and 1841.
Bensasson. The surname existed in Spain under the forms Ibn Sasson, Abensasson or Abençaçon at least during the early 14th century.31 We mention further down Quevado's thoughts about Sabocca and Ibn Sasson. There still are Sasso in Amsterdam and in the Antilles, a hispanized form of the dimunitive of Isaac. Isaac being traditionally "the son of joy", there is no contradiction with the suggested etymology unless it were that the surname refers to the biblical first name and not to its etymology. 27 Sasson existed in Smyrna.32
Carmi. Carmi or Carmy existed in Leghorn in 1809, but nothing permits us to dismiss the Iberic origin.
Cohen. One finds in Spain Coen, Cohen, or Cofen. The difficulty is to distinguish in Leghorn the Iberic Coen from the Italian ones but in 1613 2 Coen in Pisa, one with the Portuguese form Coem, are clearly Iberic when the Italian Jewish immigration was quasi non-existant et when, up to 1698, only Iberics had access to public fonctions. A Josef Abram Coen appears in 1678 in Leghorn among the avtive merchants (Toaff, p. 466). In many compound surnames the first surname Coen is followed by a second typically Iberic surname which confirms to us that this Hebrew surname was carried by Spanish Jews. Many Cohen (with h) appear among the Amsterdam marriage contracts (taking up 10 pages of the list). Here, non-Iberics having never been integrated, the Iberic identity is certain. Similarly the innumerable Cohen from Salonica, Istanbul, Smyrna (257) and Rhodes.
Dilouya. Sebag himself mentions the Spanish toponym de Loja, Andalusian town, proposed by Eisenbeth, but, without explanation, feels that the Dilayah (Hebrew first name) hypothesis was "more probable". Why? And why does this relative "probability", page 63, become certainty on page 162? Yet Eisenbeth cites Delouya rabbis in 17th century Morocco, a date when almost all Moroccan rabbis were Spanish.
Ghidalia. We find Gedelicia in the internet list "Los Hijos". Toaff, inexhaustable resource, points out (p.345) the arrival in Leghorn in 1648 of the Chakham Abram ben Shemuel Ghedalya (in portoghese Ghedelha) of Jerusalem, who came to print his commentary Berit Abraham (The Pact of Abraham) at the Gabbay printing press.
Israel is the surname of one of the most ancient families of Leghorn since the 2 inerlocutors chosen in 1595 by the Grand Duke Ferdinand were Jacob Aboab and Abram Israel of Pisa. Concerning the first one the quality of being descended from the "foremost Sage of Castile"33 explains the choice; for the second, he had been since 1595 massaro della Nazione Ebrea di Pisa. In 1645 the Israel gained the administration of Tobacco in Tuscany. A branche that had lived in Tunis, returning around 1630, took the name "Israel de Tunes"34
Issachar. Is a Turkish family allied with the Enriques Saranno and some Israel.
Lévy or Levy. Let's go back to our previous works. My greatgrandfather Moses Levy is the son of Judah Levy, merchant in Lisbon, and of Ordueña Espinoza, who was daughter of Moses Espinoza, 18th century ship-owner in Gibraltar and vice-consul to the Netherlands. In 1807, Judah's father Moses Levy, was authorized along with his brother-in-law Isaac Aboab, to transfer his business firm to Lisbon with a personal guarantee of religious freedom.35 Nevertheless, they continued to give birth to their children in Gibraltar so as to maintain British citizenship. Before establishing themselves in Gibraltar at the beginning of the 18th century, the Levy were in Tetuan. Their ancestors were rabbis and judges at least from 1640 on. The work of Corcos and Benady, thanks to whom the entire family tree was re-constituted without interruption to 1460, show that this family had left Lisbon for Safi, a Portuguese enclave, in 1512 by special edict of king Manuel. The majority of the descendants still live in Lisbon. A rabbi Abraham Levy, descended from this Moses, is today the president of the Spanish Portuguese congregation of London. We have had a pleasant correspondance. Despite their studies in England, the Levy were Spanish-speaking up to Moses, his brother Joseph, and their sister Clara Messodi established themselves in Tunis in 1857 where they became italianized by their Livornese marriages.36 Their mother Ordueña Espinoza was descended from Abraham, the great-uncle of Baruch. As much by their origins as by their alliances they were in the Portuguese tradition.
Three other Levy families existed in Tunis. That of Dr. Benjamin Levy, high mason dignitary assassinated at Auschwitz, from Trieste. It does not appear that he was a member of the community. On the other hand another totally separate Levy family from Trieste was integrated with the Livornese—that of Professor Emile Levy, well known economist whose mother was a Cassuto. Finally, the oldest were the descendants of Judah Levy, rabbi of the Livornese, another Gibraltar branch to which a distant Ashkenazi origin has been attributed. The grandsons of Judah Levy have left their mark on the intellectual life of Tunis: Raphael (Ryvel) director of the A.I.U. schools and author; Georges, librarian at La Cité des Livres.
Menasce. Four Menashe famillies exist in Smyrna (cf. Taranto). In Leghorn in 1809 a Benaiuto fù Emmanuel Menasce is a Hebrew teacher. The name is sometimes italianized to Menasci.
Ouziel. Shemuel Uziel appears in the land-register book of Leghorn as a rentor with Judà Cordovero. He was wealthy, according to Toaff (p. 351) who believes that the prosperous family, which later became Uzielli lived in Leghorn and then Florence till today. 17 Uziel were found in Smyrna (Taranto).
Semah. Two Semah merchants appear in Leghorn in 1809. It is a first name.
So here are thirteen Iberian name on top of the thirteen cited by the author.
Surnames of Maghrebian Origin.
The postulate that would give the Maghreb the monopoly of the Arabic language can only be a source of error in Jewish onomastics. Jews, and even Christians, bore Arabic names in Moslem Spain. In the 12th century those who fled from Almohad fundamentalism to Christian Spanish kingdoms of the north did not always abandon their ancient patronyms or the Arabic culture. But before the general discussion, let's take, one after the other, the "Maghrebian" surnames studied by the author.
Abeasis. This surname, which Eisenbeth associates with Aziz, could have been borne in this form by spaniards since the same author mentions a Salvatore Aziz, recipient on the 29th of March, 1602 of a bank grant in Ancona. It so happens that at this date the Jews of Ancona were mainly ponentine or levantine. The others had been expelled. If these two groups could bear Iberian or Arabic sounding surnames, it would have been strange for the Italians to do so. According to J. M. Abecassis37 , the Abeasis are a Spanish family expelled in 1492. Merchants, they established relations with Venice. A branch took root in Gibraltar, then Malta and from there to Tunis and then Tripoli.
Abouaf. It appears to us that herein lies the major error in the book. Isaac Aboab (os Abuefes as David Franco Mendes, 18th century Amsterdam historian of the Portuguese, called them in plural) was in the 15th century the last sage of Castile or Gaon. He was the first to cross the Portuguese border in 1492 at the head of trinta casas de nobres familias (thirty houses of noble families). Is. S. Revah has shown that the Aboab or Abouaf are a single and same family in Amsterdam, Hamburg, Morocco, Leghorn, Corfu, Istanbul, Salonica, and Curacao.38 They were among the ancestors of Disraeli. An Aboab de Fonseca presided the tribunal that tried Spinoza. The family of Tunis came from Istanbul and not from Leghorn.
Arous. Same surname as Roah (Eisenbeth). The surname under the variants Ruah, Arruas, Aruas, Aruhaj, (sometimes transcribed as Bentes or Bento) is pointed out by Abecassis in Spanish Morocco, in Brazil, and in Lisbon. Rodrigues da Silva mentions the Arovas or Arrobas family, which came from Avila (op. cit.; p. 145 n564).
Attia. This family comes from the small but wealthy livornese community of Aleppo where it has played an important role. In the 18th century, a Livornese rabbi Abraham Attia of Aleppo published at least six theological works in Leghorn (cf. Encyclopaedia Judaica). A branch settled in Tunis in the 19th century, mixing with the important Livornese families there. The name is to be associated with Attias which is just the plural form.39 Gerard Nahon informed me that these names were only adopted in the 17th century, after the exile. Thus Abraham Athias, father of the Amsterdam printer Joseph Athias, was burnt alive in Cordoba in 1665 under the name of Jorge Mendes de Castro.
Bembaron. Here too we fall into the linguistic trap. Baron, Varon (a Spanish village near Carballino, Orense province), Ben Varon and Bembaron are frequently found in the Spanish speaking Jewish world and in the south of France. Eisenbeth confirms this and explains that in Spain the Arabic name was even translated into Delmar. An interesting article was published by Bension Varon.40 He mentions in particular a Abuzach Avenbaron in 1142 in Tudela (which was then a safe haven for Jews from the south of Spain fleeing Moslem fundamentalism). But the Avenbaron, Baro, Baron, Barron, Bembaron, De Varo, Varan, Varão, Varronides, Varro, Varron or Waron are refound and emmigrate to Italy, Greece and Turkey.
Darmon. José Rodrigues de Silva Tavim cites Darmon among the Portuguese Jews transferred to the enclaves in Morocco. Georges Marçais extracted the frequent homonyms found between morisco and Jewish Portuguese surnames et mentions the Darmon or Dermoul.41 The Livornese firm of Darmon is mentioned in Tunis by Toaff in 1686. The family continue to the present to be part of the notables of the community.
Dardour. The origin would be Aramaic says Eisenbeth. But "dourador" for goldsmith exists in Portugal. A Dardeiro is among the notable Portuguese Jews of Safi in 1514.
El-Guir. The surname is unknown to us. Can we associate it with the Aragonese Algerri? No mention in Leghorn. No marriage contract in Tunis.
El-Haik. The surname was spelled Aljayque in the 17th century. One cannot help but associate it with the word Alxeique which denoted in Portugal the chief of Jews (Rodrigues da Silva). An Alxaique spelling exists for Livornese of Salonica, surely of the same family. Before the appearance of the jota, the "j" and the "x" marked the sound and were interchangeable (see for example Jerez, Xeres, and Sherry). The large amount of vestiges of Arabic words in the Iberic languages can create confusion. Haik, that Sebag treats separately is just an abreviation of El-Haik.
Flak, Flah (or Fellah?). This is the surname of Livornese rabbi in the 19th century, who was hostile to his own community. Was the origin from Constantine? The family is represented in Leghorn in 1809 (Flach, druggist). In 1846 there were two lone indigent women, one of whom was said to be from Germany.
Gandus. On the marriage contract of November 13, 1788, the signature is Spanish (Ieusuah de Isaque Ganduz novio). The rare surname is found in Venice in the 18th century under the forms Gantus or Ganduz, then in Leghorn where there was a Gandus firm at the beginning of the 19th century. The Portuguese identity, obvious at the end of the 18th century, could not have abruptly dissappeared in the 19th century. Many Portuguese from the Spanish Netherlands having taken root in Venice in the 16th century, such as the Anversa, can one see in Ganduz—using the same procedure—a toponym of Gand or Ghent? The De Castro Tartas only received this compound surname after a stay of several years in Tartas, France.
Halfon. Hebrew for changer (see Ashkenazi Halphen). Eisenbeth mentions an Abba Mari Halfon, Italian astronomer in the 15th and 16th centuries. He studied astronomy in Naples. On the 17th February 1796, in Tunis, Abraham Halfon signs his marriage contract with Gracia Lumbroso: Abram de Salamon Halfon nobio. The surname is present in the old cemetery of Leghorn under the form Jalfon. There are in Leghorn in 1809: two Halfon, two Jalfon but one Calfon. It has persisted in folklore in the expression matto calfon indicating very original behavior.42 Haim Zafrani mentions the Khalfon among the surnames of some Moroccan families, almost all of iberic origin, who had marked their place in the affairs and government of the community.43 Another occasion when a Hebrew or Arabic name does not obviate Spanish origin.
Hayoun. Here too history and linguistics must combine. Under the form Hayon this surname is found in Spain by Eisenbeth in an deed where a Hayon, his wife and a relative sell on the 18th of February 1166 a plot of land north of Tortosa. It is a dimunitive of Haim, a biblical first name and not Arabic. There certainly is a homophony with the very classic marrano surname Aylion (Rab. Aylion 1688, Toaff p. 374). A number of Ailyon are present in Amsterdam since the 17th century. In Leghorn in 1809, there are no Hayoun, nor Ayoun, nor Ailyon, but the surname Hayon is mentioned in Toaff. The surname Ailyon is borne in Alexandria, Egypt by a Livornese family. It is even found in Curacao. It is difficult to study the Portuguese without examiner their various extreme poles. The presence in the Livornese list in Tunis appears none-the-less mysterious, as little is said about this family.
Lasry. The Lasry are a family from Gibraltar with Moroccan roots. The surname is Arabic (Oulad Al’asri) but the first Lasry that Jose Maria Abecassis mentions lived in Fayal (Azores), Tetuan, Lisbon. Samuel Lasry was the chief rabbi of Gibraltar in 1837. He was a lawyer by profession. Several were married in the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue of London and the Arabic culture was in the distant past when a branch established itself in Tunis.
Malca. This surname was studied under Molco.
Meimon. The Iberian—non-Tunisian—origin of this family was contested on the basis of the Arabic surname. It is not represented in Leghorn. The first marriage mentioned by Attal and Avivi only goes back to 1863. The dowry is large. Is it due to the prestige of the bride's family, Reine de Soria, which permitted the integration? Little information is provided by the literature other than a few niceties. It remains that the surname itself is not antinomic to an Iberian origin. There were Maimon among the conversos of Toledo (Pilar, op. cit.); a Bonfos Maïmon in Perpignan in 141344 ; and Maymo and Maimona in Aragon. Maymo are in Gerona in 1390. Meimon are buried in the Sephardic cemeteries of Bulgaria. There is thus neither presumption nor beginning of proof.
Melloul on the other hand is amply represented in the cemeteries of Leghorn and Pisa. In 1809 there are in Leghorn six Millul heads of family of which three were printers and one a teacher in the Hebrew schools. In the 1846 census, the origins of the five Millul is as follows: Leghorn, Germania, Leghorn, Germania, and Pesaro from which we do not learn much. The know-how in printing matters might explain the temporary emmigration to Germany.
Memmi is the surname of an ancient Livornese family in Tunis. The surname is also carried by another uncontestedly Tunisian family, that of the well-known author Alber Memmi. What one can say is that the Livornese family was of Italian culture. Coincidence in surnames? When the Tunisian Memmi (who may have been Mami like the homonomic Moslem family of undoubted Andalusian origin) wrote their name in French style, was there perhaps a tendancy to refer to the Italian spelling, as was frequently the case in Tunis? There were Mahme, Mamen and Mimi in Aragon. According to José Maria Abecassis they might have been originally from the Spanish locality of Miaman. The chief rabbi Shimon Meimi was tortured to death in Lisbon in 1497 resisting conversion.45 We are in the universe of speculation and not of Maghrebian certitude.
Moatty. The surname appears Algerian. The transfer at the Livornese must have been explained by marriage alliances. But there was a rabbi with this surname in Constantinople in the 17th century.
Sebouk, a variant of Sabocca, is a "Livornese family from Algiers". The Sabocca are mentioned in derision by Quevedo, with the Ibn Sasson and the Ibn Nahmias, as examples of mesalliances of the Spanish nobility in the 12th century.46
Suied. The presence of this surname is surprising in the Livornese list, even in the iberized form Assuied. The majority of the grooms are unable to sign their marriage contracts. The surname is unknown in Leghorn. We did not find it in the lists of Spanish surnames published by different sites.
Timsit. The surname is surely Algerian. The family seems to have usually contracted Livornese marriage alliances, which would explain its cooptation.
Zerafa. There were Esdrafa in Leghorn. The surname Zerafa means girafe in Arabic. But the Spanish word jirafa is borrowed from the first. Better, in ancient Spanish the word is azorafa. (Rey, dictionnaire historique, p. 889). In the 15th century there lived in Valencia a Rabbi Joseph b. Isaac Zerafa (Eisenbeth). It could also be a form of Azeraf (changer in Arabic), a surname present in Portugal prior to the expulsion under the form of Açaraf (Abecassis vol 4 p. 6). The origin is patently Iberic.
Thus, of the 24 names presented as Maghrebian, the Iberic origin is shown in 12: Abeasis, Abouaf-Aboab, Arous, Attia, Bembaron, Darmon, El-Haïk, Haïk, Hayoun, Malca, Sebouk, Zerafa. It is amply presumed for the Halfon, plausible for the Gandus, Meimon, Memmi, Dardour, uncertain for the Mellul, absent for the Flak, Moaty, Suied, Timsit. Of the truly debateable surnames only the Flak and the Moaty had a presence in Leghorn. Neither the Suied, Timsit, nor even the Meimon not the Memmi, supposing them to be Maghrebian, have left traces there. One can therefore put away the Paul Sebag's thesis according to which the livornese community of Tunis had grown with Tunisian families previously integrated in Livrono. On the contrary, we see that these Tunisian families in their totality (Alloro, Attal, Assal, Azoulay, Azria, Baranès, Bedossa, Bessis, Bigiaoui, Bismut, Boulakia, Coen Solal, Coen Tanugi, Djeribi, Fellous, Fitoussi, Guetta, Hanouna, Hanun, Jais, Jaoui, Liscia, Marzouk, Pincas, Sahadun, Slama, Sarfati, Sebag, Taïeb, Temim, Tubiana, Zerah, Zeitoun, Zibi), with the sole and double exception of the Moaty and Flak, were not integrated on their return with the Livornese in Tunis47 , perhaps because of a certain sectarianism among the latter but also because of the resistance of the Tunisian community which did not wish to lose its members and contributions in exchange for these ballotements, often temporary. The example of Angiolo Junès, Frenchman of Leghorn, is striking. Having inscribed himself with the Livornese after settling in Tunis, he had to return to the Tunisian community because of his origins in Algeria.48 We also correct the writing of Paul Sebag about a minor point: The Tunisian presence in Leghorn did not grow from 1809 to 1841, but decreased considerably, the new-comers being more than erased by the greater departures.
Let us say a word about the Boccara about whom Paul Sebag adopts, without criticizing Eisenbeth, the thesis of the Boukhara toponym. The hypothesis, event when cautioned by an important author, seems gratuitous. The first Bocarra (the surname having one c and two r) of Pisa and Leghorn are Bocarro. In Algeria the form adopted, Abouccara, like Aboccara in the registers of Livornese Kettubot of Tunis, permits decomposing the surname. The Abou prefix indicates paternity in Arabic. It was frequently reduced to Bo in Portugal, if not eliminated. Thus Abudarham became Bodarro. In Italy, Abulafia became Bolaffi. How then not to recognize the famous Iberic surname of Caro or Carro following the Abou or Bou Arabic prefix? Everything comes together to explain Boccara by the Portuguese evolution and then Italian of the Abu-Carro become Bocarro and Bocarra.
Surnames of Other Origins.
Brandon.This surname could have been found in the list of Jewish surnames of Curacao published in my thesis, p. 208. The Portuguese form in Amsterdam is Brandão. Brando means sweet, soft or tender in Portuguese (cd. the French "blandices"). Blando is the Spanish equivalent.
Brunswick, Goldschmidt, Hertz, Klein, Lehman, Loew, Schweke, Schwartz, Weil, Wolf, Wolinski. Ashkenzic surnames. The Jews who came from Germany and Eastern Europe—except for the Roumanians—joined in Tunis, until the 19th century, not the Livornese community, but the Tunisian community.49 Things changed after the protectorate when the Ashkenazim, some of great culture, settles in Tunis or passing through, asked re-attachment to the Livornese community. But with few exceptions, these Ashkenazim, who never participated in the leadership of the community, mixed little with the Livornese families as Sebag admits, and excercised no influence on their mentality.
Crémieux, Carcassonne, Mossé. It was different for these Comtadine families that history has closely mixed with the Portuguese. At the eve of the Revolution the Comtadines had tried, so as to enjoy their privileges, to integrate themsleves to the Portuguese communities of Bordeaux and Bayonne. These however rejected their attempt. On the other hand when the Livornese of Tunis and Leghorn (Arias, Attias, Bembaron, Boccara, Brudo, Cansino, Castelli, Angelo Coen, Constantini50 , de Paz, de Segni, de Silva, Daninos, Darmon, Dias Santillana, Duran, Gozlan, Huziel, Israel, Lumbroso, Montefiore, Racah51 , Salom), undertook to create in Marseille in 1780 a community called Portuguese, they welcomed the Comtadines of whom several had parents in Leghorn. The Livornese, unlike those of Bordeaux, had always followed a policy of openness. The Livornese primacy in the Portuguese milieu was recalled in the statutes. They foresaw that the new community would refer itself in all matters to the customs of Leghorn adopted "by all the Portuguese communities of France" and specifically that Spanish would be the language. How then to believe in the extinction of the Portuguese identity among the Livornese of Tunis, who, at the end of the century, were imposing it on frenchmen, on the very soil of France? The Comtandines realized their dream: becoming Portuguese, like Michel Boujenah in a lovely sketch dreamt of being Burgandian. Grand Tunisian families were integrated into this new Marseille community, notably the Bellaïsche, Bismut, Lamy, Semama, Tubiana52 . Which means that the Jews of Provence mixed with the Livornese (the Carcassone became Carcassona!), some even coming from Tunis. As to the Tunisian families of Marseille, they did not, on returning to Tunis, join the Livornese community, but initiated an era of mixed marriages which brought them closer in the area of manners.
I left aside the Narboni because the surname is not French but that of Spaniards of French origin. Eisenbeth mentions a Moise Narboni from Perpignan in the 14th century. At that date Perpignan was in Catalonia and had received French refugees. In this group we therefore have at least two Iberian surnames.
Here therefore are errors, certainly numerous, substantive and tied to the complexity of sources. Who does not make them, including the great Eisenbeth (Abecassis coming from Cassis.... Benveniste from Italy...)? But here they all combine in the direction of a theory of identity negation to which the author, for some years now, has associated himself with others, to the point it seems of having difficulty disentangling himself from. We have just shown that at Tunis, the number of Livornese of Iberian origin was the vast majority. It was therefore not the 61 surnames out of 187 (number from Sebag + Arditi) that they numbered, but already, in what is certain, they were 109 without counting the numerous debateable ones for whom I suggest plausible hypotheses, being careful not to affirm or decree. One can not therefore say the remaining 78 surnames are all of other origin, so that evaluating the "Iberian" surnames at 59%—exceeding by 25 points the amount in Leghorn in 1809—we are already on this side of the truth. Further, this coefficient concerns surnames, and not a population, not taking into account the fact that the members of the traditional families, such as the Boccara, Bonan, Cardoso, Enriquez, Lumbroso, Valensi, contrary to the others, number in the hundreds, and that an individual count rather than by family would show that over 80% of persons carry a surname of Iberian origin. The numbers do not reflect neither the weight, nor the economic and social influence.53 We have also seen that the Tunisian families integrated into the Portuguese community was a tiny number.
Neither onomastics nor chromosomes make identities. The imprint of the Sephardic leadership nucleus on the whole of the integrated Jews (agregati) in Leghorn was such that up to beyond the middle of the 18th century, Toaff could say "Volenti o nolenti, tutti sefarditi" (whether Volenti or Nolenti, they are all Sephardim). It is what explains that the Finzi54 , the Calò, integrated since the 17th century, Cesana, Morpurgo, Forti, Disegni55 , in the 18th century, continued to use Spanish, regularly allying themselves to Sephardic families from whom they were indistinguishable; thus the Montefiore, Italian surname, count in their genealogical family tree Lumbroso, Mocatta, Medina. In England they are Portuguese. Finally these families have expatriated themselves in all the Spanish and Portuguese speaking areas of their world, like the Allatini, the Morpurgo in Salonica, the Cesana in Smyrna. Tens of Forti, Finzi, Calò, Morpurgo took root in Amsterdam, remaining portuguese speaking. The Finzi in Gibraltar. The Ottolenghi since the 18th century were members of the Portuguese synagogues of Amsterdam and London.
The Ancient Surnames
The author starts from a principle: The Spanish-Portuguese surnames of Tunis are essentially families present since the 17th century. Having found certain surnames in 1640 or in 1686 in the work of Grandchamp, and having refound some of them in the 19th century, he deduced from that that they had never left Tunis and, over time, had abandoned their culture to become "arabized". This short-cut is to be resolutely rejected. The majority of persons mentioned by Grandchamp from 1614 to 1640 were only there for business, and not to live there. We have shown that the majority are found in Leghorn at later periods, occupying public functions. We agree that the 27 signataries in 1686 of the acceptance of a loan from the French Consul formed the essential of "La Nação" which had thus reconstituted itself.
Concerning a family that I have well studied, the Guttières Penha of Leghorn and of Amsterdam, the demonstration is easy. One sees in Tunis around 1686 the firm Abram Guttieres and Benjamin Gomes Davila undertake commercial operations. The persons are known, they are two brothers-in-law. Abram, incidentally a physician, is between Amsterdam—where he is during the same period parnas of the community and member of the Literary Academy Los Floridos—and Leghorn—where he will be charged in 1703 with the reorganization of free medical care for the poor. He is one of 30 governors of the Nation in 1693. He is thus in no way established in Tunis. The will in Spanish, in June 1652 in Leghorn, of his mother Rachel alias Gracia Guttieres Penha née Fernandes Caseres reveals to us that the father of Abram is Jacob, alias Pedro, and the young brothers, Isaac and Moises. Moises will have a son Jacob that the Roman Inquisition will arrest for apostasy in 1730 on the denounciation of his own brother who had returned to Catholicism under the name of Paolo Antinori. Jacob was freed on the intervention of the Grand-Duke Gaston. The study of the index of acts of birth of the community of Leghorn reveal that Jacob had for son an other Moisè Guttieres Pegna, father of another Jacob. Elia Guttières Pegna, born in 1795, is the son of the later, thus great-grandson of Jacob of 1730. He settles in Tunis in 1828, whereas his wife and his first children had gone there in 1827. The registers of emigrations towards Tunisia show this. They find there cousins present since the end of the 18th century, a branch now extinguished. To say that this Elia and his children had become "arabized" since that date, or had waited for the arrival of the "Italians" to become "italianized", would defy all logic. Elia's two eldest sons, Giacomo and Angelo, were, as Italians, representative members of the international financial Commision to oversee Tunisian finances in 1869. Angelo was the Italian deputy from Tunisia and their young brother Guglielmo, Director of Customs, a position he kept under the French administration. Is it necessary to mention that they all spoke Italian, French and Arabic? Their grandparents had spoken Spanish and Portuguese as did their cousin Isaac Guttieres, President of the Amsterdam community who, still at the end of the 18th century, corresponded with Isaac Pereire in Spanish. In Leghorn Portuguese only ceased to be the legal language in 1787. But in particular Elia, nor his children, could forget that his own great-grandfather had been a prisoner of the Inquisition. The Marrano past of the family, far from being some ancient myth, remained included in their special identity, and they were proud of it, despite their sincere Italian patriotism. As Sergio Romano writes: "Judaism (l’ébraismo) is not only a religon. It is also a "lineage" thus an aristocracy. We are all proud of our ancestry. As far a family can go back in time, thus much can she draw pride of her own continuity and of the self-consciousness (autocoscienza ) she has of herself.56 All these families have retained the traces of this order, notably the Attias, Boccara, Cardoso, Cariglio, Cassuto, Costa, De Paz, Enriquez, Franco, Lumbroso, Medina, Molco, Moreno, Nunez, Sacuto, Soria, Vais, Valensi, leading and cultivated families.
One of the values of this legacy is that it informs us about the allied families, permitting even restoration with sources such as "the genealogical relatives of Immanuel Aboab" (op. cit.). There we learn that Rachel Guttières-Penha née Fernandes Caceres is the daughter of Beatriz de Fonseca and that of her sisters one married a Abraham Nunez Sierra, the other Jahacob Zacuto to which she brought capital funds.57 She also placed funds with Abram Athias, merchand and notable of Leghorn, from whom twenty years later will be born the future philosopher physician-rabbi Josef Attias. The relation of Immanuel Aboab permits us to discover a family link between Rachel Guttières and Abram Athias. In fact Immanuel Aboab de Fonseca, on interrogating one of his cousins from Leghorn about the homonyms of that city, was told by him that os Athias de aquì were related to the Fonseca. We know that Caceres is an alias of Carvalho, a merchant family of Amsterdam and Livornese physician-rabbis of Tunis. We therefore see the spreading of the tissue of relationships between the two poles of the western Sepharad, Amsterdam and Leghorn, giving its meaning to the classic expression among 20th century Livornese: nostre famiglie, one of the keys to their identity. Almost all these families were represented in Tunis in the 19th century. Almost all the great families with Italian surnames were allied or assimilated with them. That some or others may have substituted Italian for Spanish at the beginning of the 20th century, did it erase their identity? The "Portuguese" of Bordeaux and Bayonne, when the Revolution treated them differently during the 1791 emancipation, no longer spoke Spanish. Did they henceforth lose their identity, their endogamy? The second generation Tunisian Jews of France, French-speaking, did they cease to feel "tunes"? It would run in the face of the collective historical memory, even if unconscious, much more vivid than individual memory. Tens of Tunisian Jews who have a distant Livornese ancestry ask me about it. It therefore matters in their identity. When Raymond Valensi, in 1941, the then nearly quasi-centenary president of the community, countering threats to dissolve it—with an arrogance that did not improve with age—naively invoked "la fière allure des Portugais" (sic) to the Résident Général, there is something reminiscent of the report of the Venitian ambassador to Amsterdam in the 17th century, who describing the then notables of the Portuguese Nation, commented: "Ils ont fière allure".58
The Nação Portugueza
It has also been said—but has it been learned ?59 —that the designation "Portuguese Nation" would be erroneous as having appeared late during the Protectorat, in 1881, to please the French authorities. Avrahami has refuted this legend by showing—in an article that Paul Sebag himself quotes—that the designation is very ancient and original.60 It suffices to see copies of the 1726-1759 sumptious Ordinances he published under the title: Copia de Las Escamot quitada del Libro antiguo de nuestro Kahal de Portugueses Tunes. The memorial he studied had as original title : Livre des Mémoires de la Sainte Communauté Portugaise que D. la garde et la protège [Book of Memories of the Holy Portuguese Community, may G. protect her] (translation by Avrahami)
The Tunisians used the same term, thus in the responsa of the 20th of July 1741 which reminded:"les voyageurs originaires des villes du royaume d’Edom relèveraient de la communauté des Portugais" [the original travellers from the kingdom of Edom were of the community of Portugal].61 In their 1728-1730 letters to their colleagues of Leghorn, the leaders of the Portuguese Community of Tunis Joseph Mendes Ossuna, Moseh de Abraham Franco et Abram de Isaque Lumbroso called themselves Masares (lusitanization of the Italian Massari) de la Naçaò Portugueza de Tunes. Of ten letters, six were written in Portuguese and four in Spanish, and even in these latter the word Naçaò persisted.62 Of course, it did not have at that time, anymore than today, the modern meaning given to it by the Revolution. My thesis explains this pp. 11-12.
Ishak Avrahami received a copy of my thesis as soon as I defended it, read my comments on his own writings, congratulated me on them. I would not dare find as a partial reason the further evolution of his own analyses. Thus the dissappearance of Spanish to the advantage of Arabic is an idea that he abandons, writing to the contrary: "Spanish is the language of the past, of memory; Italian become the language of the future in the 19th century, the "national" language of the Livornese, Hebrew in the legal and rabbinic domain, and the Judeo-Arabic is the language of everyday that many read and all understand". As to the supposed "arabization", Avrahami writes: "three and a half centuries of "side-by-side living" starting in the 17th century did not assimilate them, they knew how to jealously preserve their autonomy" .
Spanish is still used in the contracts. J.-M. Filippini published a contract written in Spanish and signed in Tunis by Sigr Eliau Attal, representative of David de Montel, of Leghorn, with thirteen merchants in 1779.63 That the Livornese had chosen as representative a Tunisian, Attal, that Tunisian and Livornese collaborated in the same commercial enterprise, reveals better relations than it is usual to describe. The language chosen shows that Spanish is still used not only by the Livornese of Tunis, but by the Tunisian merchants. The contract is translated in Leghorn into Italian by Judah Frosolone. In the same article Filippini publishes a corporation contract subscribed in Tunis in Spanish in 1782 by eleven associates all Livornese of Tunis.64 All this helps understand that these Tunisians were ready to follow their Livornese friends in the creation of a "Portuguese" community in Marseille in 1780, adopting the Spanish language, which would have been absurd if the "portuguese" identity had dissappeared in Tunis. If Italian gradually imposed itself as a result of the turmoil that followed, everything could not have completely dissappeared, in 1880, in the matter of attitudes.
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