BERNAL , Sephardi family of Marrano extraction. Its members included abraham (Manuel Nuñes) bernal (c. 1612–1655), a native of Almeida in Portugal, who was the leader of the crypto-Jewish group at Écija (Spain). After trial by the Inquisition at Córdoba he was burned at the stake for his faith, proclaiming his adherence to Judaism to the end. When the news reached Amsterdam the local Jewish poets collaborated in a volume in his memory under the title Elogios que zelosos dedicaron á la felice memoria de Abraham Nuñez Bernal, which was published by his cousin jacob bernal. This volume also includes a sermon in honor of Abraham by Isaac *Aboab da Fonseca, and a prose account of the imprisonment and death of Abraham's nephew marco (Ishac de Almeida) bernal who was martyred also in 1655 at the age of 22. It ends with a sermon by Jacob Abendana in honor of both martyrs. In the course of the 18th century, some of the family settled in London. jacob israel bernal, a West Indian merchant (d. 1766), served as a warden of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community there in 1745, but resigned in protest in 1752 when the synagogue authorities objected to his marriage to an Ashkenazi woman. His son jacob (d. 1811) dissociated himself from the community and denounced its methods as inquisitorial when he failed to be elected to office; he did not formally abandon Judaism. In the course of time, however, the family left the Jewish community. His son ralph (1783–1854), brought up as a Christian, was a politician and member of parliament from 1820 to 1853. In 1853 he was president of the British Archaeological Society and a renowned art collector. His son ralph bernal-osborne (1808–1882) was a noted wit and Liberal politician, who was secretary to the admiralty (1852–58). The physicist John Desmond *Bernal (1901–1971) is also descended from this family. The Jewish origin of mestre bernal, who accompanied Columbus' first expedition to America, is hypothetical.
A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951), 170–1, 197–8; C. Roth, in; rej, 100 (1936), 38–51; Roth, Marranos, index; I.S. Revah, in: rej, 124 (1965), 368, 426; P.H.D. Bagenal, Life of Ralph Bernal Osborne (1884); dnb, 2 (1921–22), 373–4; A.B. Gould, in: Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 90 (1927), 532–60; J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History (19562), 149, 198–201.
[Kenneth R. Scholberg]