Montefiore, Joshua

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MONTEFIORE, JOSHUA (1762–1843), British-born lawyer and author. Montefiore, an uncle of Sir Moses *Montefiore, was born in London. Most unusually, he attended Oxford University and was admitted to practice as a solicitor in 1784. In 1787 he was in Jamaica, where discriminatory precedent prevented his admission as an attorney and notary. He participated in an unsuccessful expedition in 1791 to establish a British colony without slave labor off the west coast of Africa, near Sierra Leone, an adventure he described in An Authentic Account of the Late Expedition to Bulam (1794). Montefiore allegedly declined a knighthood and was the first Jew to hold the rank of captain in the British army. Around 1810 he went to the United States, pursued the practice of law, and for a time edited a New York weekly political journal, Men and Measures, said to have been subsidized by the British government. Montefiore compiled a number of useful lay guides to commercial law which sold briskly in England and the U.S., including Law of Copyright (1802), Commercial Dictionary (1803; first U.S., ed., 1811), Traders and Manufacturers Compendium (1804), American Traders Compendium (1811), and Commercial and Notarial Precedents (1804). Montefiore's second wife was a Catholic, but his eight children were raised as Protestants. At his request, he was buried on the farm on the outskirts of St. Albans, Vermont, where he had settled in 1835.


M.J. Kohler, in: ajhsp, 19 (1910), 179–80; L.M. Friedman, ibid., 40 (1950), 119–34. add. bibliography: "Joshua Montefiore," in: Appleton's Encyclopedia.

[Isidore S. Meyer]

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