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Mendes (Mendez)

MENDES (Mendez)

MENDES (Mendez ), family in England of Marrano origin. fernando moses mendes (1647–1724), a Marrano physician, arrived in London in 1669 and practiced there, in 1678 becoming court physician to Queen Catherine (the story that he arrived as physician to Catherine of Braganza, wife of Charles ii, is due to a confusion with Antonio Mendes, who attended her on her return to Portugal in 1692 (see jhset, 16 (1952), 226–7)). His wife was a professing Jew, but his reluctance to declare himself a Jew caused anger and distress among his wealthy relatives. He attended Charles ii during his last illness and was highly respected. He remained a Catholic, although he was close to London's Sephardi community. His daughter catherine (Rachel) (1679–1756), who married her cousin Anthony (Moses) da Costa, was the first known Anglo-Jewish portrait painter. Fernando's grandson, moses mendes (c. 1690–1758), amassed a fortune as a stockjobber. Baptized and married to a gentile, he acquired a reputation as a successful dramatist and wit. His musical entertainment The Chaplet (London 1749, 1753, 1756) was the earliest published contribution of a Jew to English belles lettres, while his farce The Double Disappointment was presented at Covent Garden theater in 1760. His sons took their mother's name, Head, and the family passed out of Anglo-Jewish history, though achieving some prominence in English life; Moses' grandson, sir francis bond head (1793–1875), for example, became lieutenant governor of Upper Canada. A kinsman of Moses, solomon mendes (d. 1762), was a patron and associate of writers.


L. Wolf, in: jhset, 5 (1902–05), 5–33; A. Rubens, ibid., 14 (1935–39), 95–97; A.M. Hyamson, Sephardim of England (1951), index; J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History (19562), index; Roth, England, index; Roth, Mag Bibl., 137, 409ff.; idem, Anglo-Jewish Letters (1158–1917) (1938), 99–114, 121–6, 133–40, 144–7; Gentleman's Magazine (Jan. 1812), 21–24. add. bibliography: odnb online; A. Ruben, "Early Anglo-Jewish Artists," in: jhset, 14 (1935–39), 91–129; Katz, England, index.

[Vivian David Lipman]

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