Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe

The Ottolenghi Affair III

A Transcript of the Original Document

An Answer to Two Papers Lately publish’d by Gabriel Treves, a Jew of the city of Exeter. The one intituled, A Vindication of the Proceedings of Gabriel Treves against Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe, now a Prisoner in Southgate, Exon; The other is intituled, An Advertisement. Wherein is contain’d the said Joseph Ottolenghe’s Vindication of himself against the Aspersions cast on him in the said papers. Together with An Account of his conversion from the Jewish to the Christian Religion. And Also Of the Hardships which he hath suffer’d from the said Gabriel Treves his Uncle etc since his Conversion.

By Joseph Ottolenghe.

London; Printed for Edward Score. over against the Guild-Hall, in Exeter; and sold by Samuel Birt, in Ave-Maria Lane, London.

The Preface

 My first design in this preface is, to acknowledge the goodness of Almighty God towards me; and in as publick a manner as I am able, to return thanks unto him, for having, by his wise and good providence, so conducted the circumstances of my life, for some few years past, as to make them instrumental towards my conversion to the Christian religion.

It is owing to his good providence, that I was invited from Italy, my native country, and that I came into England; where, tho’ I was disappointed of my design, and the prospect I had by my coming hither, and tho’ I earnestly desired thereupon to return to my native country, and to my parents, yet that I was unaccountably engaged to make an unwilling stay here, I was unexpectedly cast into such a condition and manner of life, as gave me both leisure and opportunity, whilst at the same time the constitution of the country allowed me the liberty, to look into and peruse the New Testament.

I bless God, therefore, in an especial manner, for having opened my eyes in this Protestant country: for, though it should have been my lot to have discovered the errors of the Jewish religion, whilst living in Italy, where Popery reigns, yet I know not, whether the difficulty of coming at the knowledge of the gospel in a land where the free use of the bible is prohibited, might not have hindered me from seeing the truth of it; or, whether the scandalous corruptions, and idolatrous practices of the church of Rome, might not have prejudiced me against embracing the Christian religion at all.

My next design herein, is to make an apology for myself; particularly for writing, and presuming to publish the following sheets in a country where I am a stranger: self-defence is my plea: the defence of my reputation, which hath been publickly aspersed and injured in a manner, I am sorry to say, inhuman and malicious. I trust, therefore, that no person, who shall impartially consider my case, will blame me for standing in my defence; or disapprove of my resolution, to make a just answer to unjust slander, and not to sacrifice my good name, and the peace of my own mind and conscience, to any worldly considerations whatsoever.

I am sensible of, and I desire the candid reader to consider the difficulty of, writing against an uncle, and of treating an adversary, who stands in that relation to myself, with decency towards him, and justice to myself; and, whilst he is reading this my defence, he will please to keep in mind, that I am the person upon whom the assault was made, and my uncle the person who made it. He was the first writer; he was the defamer of me in print, even whilst I lay in prison, where he himself had thrown me.

A further difficulty which I lie under is, that my complaint of unreasonable and unjust treatment, is made against one who has the repute of a fair dealer in his trade. However, I am satisfied that the world will distinguish between the dealer and the man; and will consider, that by having gotten me into bonds, he hath got to himself a power over me; whereby it will be seen, that a different treatment and behaviour is capable of arising from it, and that the dealer and the man of power are two different creatures: He deals with his customers as those that are free, and when it is interest to oblige: he deals with me as one in bondage, and become subject to his power. And these sheets will shew what ill use he hath made of that power. From whence it may be concluded, that altho’ the dealer be never so fair a dealer, yet the man remains the cruel man.

And it may as well be argued, that a man does not beat his apprentice, because he does not beat his neighbours or his equals; as that Mr Treves is not arbitrary in his usage of me, because he is fair and civil to a customer.

A new gotten power frequently discovers a latent disposition, which before wanted its own opportunity of shewing itself; and which does not dare to appear, whilst it is awed by the fear of justice, or concealed by the love of gain. Wherefore it is no true reasoning, that a Jew cannot be unmerciful to a poor Christian convert under his power, merely because he sells a real pound for a pound; or sells for snuff nothing but what is snuff.

Whatever may seem harsh or severe towards the Jews, in what I have quoted from any author or authors; the credit thereof will stand or fall with that of the authors themselves, I myself declare, that I bear true charity toward the people of the Jews, tho’ I have left their religion, and I retain a tender regard for my brethren in the flesh, and heartily wish and pray that they may become my brethren in Christ.

I think myself obliged to apologize for the length of my answer: had Mr Treves delivered his meaning more clearly and fully, my defence might have been much shorter. A few words said in general terms, and in the way of insinuation (which is best for the purpose of an ill design) are enough to lead a reader into an erroneous belief, or a strong suspicion; but to undeceive him, or to unravel a difficulty, which a single line will serve to make, may require many pages.

To do justice to myself, I must acquaint the reader, that after the greater part of my answer was sent to the press, proposals were made me for suppressing it; and it was offered besides, that my uncle should publish an advertisement, whereby (it was said) my credit might be saved together with his own. This I could not but judge impossible to be done; because whatever my uncle could advance to clear my reputation, must have greatly reflected on his own; and, if he had saved his own reputation, mine must have been lost.

In the last place I beg the reader to have regard to the depositions annexed hereto, because they serve to illustrate and confirm the main points contained in my answer; particularly, as to the loss of my letters; as to his pretended debt, which was the foundation of the bond; as to his acknowledging my innocence and honesty, as well after, as before I left his house; and as to my regular conduct and behaviour ever since my conversion.

Joseph Ottolenghe maketh oath, that so much of this his Answer etc as relates to his own acts, is true; and what relates to the acts of any other person, or persons, he believes to be true, in manner and form, and to the effect herein before set forth; the narration of facts herein contained, having been conducted by his discovery, direction, or approbation.

Joseph Ottolenghe
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me, John Belfield.

Patience White, upon her oath saith, that soon after Mr Joseph Ottolenghe was gone from the house of his uncle Mr Gabriel Treves, she saw the said Mr Treves’s wife take a letter and some papers out of a box, in which the said Joseph used to keep his clothes, and other things, in the said house, and put the same in her pocket.

Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

Samuel Lichigaray, upon his oath saith that Mr Gabriel Treves told him that he sent for his nephew Joseph Ottolenghe, from Italy to marry his daughter, and frequently gave him a very good character of the honesty of his said nephew, who then dwelt with him. And saith that the said Mr Treves insisted, that his said nephew spent his time in reading and study, and doubted he should not be able to persuade him to follow the snuff trade; whereupon this deponent proposed to Mr Treves, that he should get a note from his nephew, for some money pretended to be due to him, as a means to keep him in the said trade; which Mr Treves approved of, and said he would charge for clothes and schooling, and money sent to Italy; and thereupon this deponent caution’d him that he should not make his said nephew pay him any thing upon such note; which the said Mr Treves approved of, and agreed to.

Samuel Lichigaray
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

Elizabeth Angell maketh oath, that after Joseph Ottolenghe was in prison, his uncle Mr Treves, acknowledged to her in his own house, that his nephew Joseph Ottolenghe had never wronged him, and that he could not charge him with any injustice, and that notwithstanding what he had insinuated in his printed paper, that he doubted whether he was real nephew or not, yet he owned to her that he believed he was his real nephew, because he had received letters from his father, and had returned him answers accordingly.

The said Elizabeth Angell doth further make oath, that being very well acquainted with the said Joseph Ottolenghe since he left his uncle, and since he declared his inclinations to Christianity, he being often at her house, she never saw, nor heard him speak or act on anything, but what was becoming a good Christian.

Elizabeth Angell
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

Mary Rice, upon her oath saith, that from Whitsuntide last, or thereabouts, Mr Joseph Ottolenghe hath been a lodger in a room in her house, in which she has kept, and still keeps, her most valuable effects, without any imbezzlement, to which they were liable; during which time the said Joseph Ottolenghe hath behav’d himself soberly, honestly, and modestly; and believes that all imputations upon him to the contrary, are fictitious, false, and groundless.

Mary Rice
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

Thomas Slocom, upon his oath saith, that Mr Joseph Ottolenghe lodges at his house between three and four months, in all which time, he behaved himself soberly, honestly, and modestly.

Thomas Slocom.
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

Thomas Seely, and Alice Halfyard, upon their oaths say, that Mr Joseph Ottolenghe lodged in their house, from March 1734, to December last; in all which time he behaved himself soberly, honestly, and modestly, and believe that all imputations upon him to the contrary, are fictitious, false and groundless.

Thomas Seeley & Alice Halfyard
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

Mary Brice upon her oath saith, that whilst Mr Joseph Ottolenghe dwelt with his uncle Mr Gabriel Treves, she often heard Mr Treves declare, that the said Joseph was always very honest to him, as she verily believes he was, she having always observ’d his behaviour and conversation to be sober and honest, and well becoming a good Christian.

The mark of Mary X Brice.
Sworn at Exeter, the eleventh day of September 1735, before me,
John Belfield.

The Answer of Joseph Ottolenghe to his Uncle Treves’s Vindication, etc.

 That which my uncle, Mr Gabriel Treves, undertakes to do in his first printed paper, is to “vindicate his proceedings against me, in causing me to be arrested, and put into prison”; in the doing whereof he makes the most “solemn declaration before God”, that he will “make known the full truth without disguise”.

In order to the “vindicating his proceedings, etc.” I conceive he ought to have distinctly informed the reader what he grounded his action upon, and shewn the justice of the prosecution, and that his “proceedings” were fair and equitable; but as to these things he leaves the reader to his own conjectures till the end of the paper, and then gives only a bare hint he had a legal bond, but contrary to his “declaration of making known the full truth”, he says nothing of the extraordinary circumstances relating to that bond, or of the strange means and manner of his obtaining it.

Thus then he comes short of his undertaking; indeed he seems to carry his aim at something else throughout his whole paper, and the solemn declaration goes with him for nothing.

I shall therefore, with truth and sincerity, fairly give the account myself, which he ought to have given, viz of the means and manner of his obtaining from me the bond, on which he imprisoned me, whereby every one may be able to judge “whether his proceedings can be vindicated”, and whether they are just or merciful.

When my uncle suspected that I did not think of returning to his house, which I had lately quitted, he was alarm’d, and tried all ways imaginable to get me home, by sending messages to me, and putting my friends upon persuading me to it; but I determin’d with myself not to return. The consequence of my keeping off he himself apprehended, being (as he says in his paper) “acquainted that I had promised some body to turn Christian”, and that conversation thereupon was “frequently held with a clergyman of this city”.

To this very person my uncle applied, in order to bring me back again (wicked as I am) to his house: this he owns in his paper, wherein he says, that soon after he went to this clergyman’s house, and having talk’d with him, he “quickly perceiv’d his desire was, that [Joseph] should by no means be under his roof again”.

He then sent me a bill of charges; as, for my passage from Italy to England, and from London to Exeter; also for clothes, etc. Finding that I was oblig’d to stand on my defence against such an unexpected demand, I drew up a note of such demands, as I assured myself I could with more justice make on him. This occasion’d the proposal of a meeting, in order to come to an understanding, where each was to bring his friend. It must be observ’d, that before we met, he had signified that his only desire was, that I should “give him a paper, acknowledging what kindnesses he had shewn me”, that in “case my father should require to know [what my uncle had] done for me, he should be able to produce an acknowledgment under my own hand.”

The time of the said meeting was appointed on the sixth of march, 1734, and the place was a wine-cellar, where both of us were well acquainted. I inform’d the mistress of the house, that I had pitched upon such a clergyman of the city, the Reverend Mr Barter, who intended to be with us: she dissuaded me from it, saying, that I “knew my uncle could not endure the sight of a black gown,” and that it would not be fit to bring him, and withal press’d me to come alone; that she would engage the matter would be made up to the satisfaction of both, by her own and her husband’s assistance; in which I acquiesced.

We accordingly met at the time and place appointed: when I began to talk with my uncle, he grew very rough and angry with me; I deliver’d him the demands I had upon him, which he threw away in a passion, without looking them over; however, at that time they were read in his presence; and from thence he came to threatenings that he would throw me into a gaol, and “keep me on bread and water”, and said that this “was in his power to do”; however he told me, that I might “prevent it”, and make all easy, by giving him “my bond” for his demands; adding that he intended me no hurt, but his only design “was to satisfy my relations what he had done for me”, and declared at the same time, that “he would never put the bond in execution against me, confirming the same with an oath”.

At this time, I do declare, I had not attained to experience enough to know the nature and consequence of a bond. There were several persons present, who, I am satisfied intended me no harm, not imagining that “any could ensue from my compliance, after such declaration and such assurances given by my uncle”; some of them importuned me to comply with him. So that through fear of my uncle’s threats, and by their importunity, well knowing in myself, my own aversion to the keeping of bad company, and the improbability (as my circumstances then were) of my being concern’d in the snuff trade, I did at length comply. And I do own, that I did sign the bond, but I did it with much confusion of mind, and misgiving; being at that time depriv’d of any friend to inform and assist me, ignorant of the nature of a bond, prevail’d on by the standers-by, cajol’d by the promises of my uncle never to put it in force against me, and likewise terrified into a hasty compliance by his threats; insomuch that when I signed it, I was as one deprived of his senses.

The aforesaid promise, that “the bond should never be put in execution”, he renewed afterwards, when the Rev. Mr Gay, and another friend (being well assured that at the time I sign’d the bond I owed him nothing) apply’d to him, in order to get me restored to the same situation I was in before I sign’d the bond; by either burning, or delivering it up, or at least by lodging it in a third hand, thereby to oblige himself to keep his own voluntary promise of not putting it in execution, and, in case of his mortality, to prevent the same being done by any other person.

It was also proposed by the Rev. Mr Gay, at that, or another interview, to lodge it in the hands of the mayor of the city, or the senior-alderman for the time being, or any other person of note.

This was done to give room for a fair adjusting the “demands of each”; and for this end Mr Gay discoursed at another conversation with him, on the subject of a reference; which he seem’d to consent to, but coming to mention referees, he would agree to none but persons of London, and they too Jews; saying, that he could not expect to have justice done to him at Exeter in this affair.

Notwithstanding those promises, and notwithstanding his knowledge of my utter inability to pay it, before the bond became payable, I was given to understand that my uncle had put it out of his power to be so good as his word, by having given, or assign’d away the bond.

Accordingly when the half year was near expired, I receiv’d from London the following letter.

London, Sept 3 1734


Your bond of twenty-five pounds, payable to Mr Gabriel Treves, and since, by his assignment, to Mr Toby, and from him to me, will be due on the seventh of this instant September; therefore I desire you will return the money at the receipt of this, and the bond shall be return’d by the person that pays me the money, otherwise I shall put the bond in force; but your complying will prevent and oblige

Your humble servant

Thomas Hooper,
At the Royal-Bed, in Lemon-Street
Goodman’s Fields, London.

Which letter I answer’d thus:

Exon, Sept 11, 1734

Mr Thomas Hooper,

I received a letter from you, dated the third instant, wherein you demand the payment of a bond of twenty-five pounds; which you say was assigned by Mr Gabriel Treves to Mr Toby, and by him to you: I don’t know but there may be such a bond assign’d to you; but the same was obtain’d unjustly, being wrested from me, at a time when I owed Mr Treves nothing, neither do I now. What Mr Treves owes me is between us. And whereas you threaten to put the bond in force, if you do, I am not able to pay it, having nothing.

I am your humble servant,

Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe.

Not long after I was arrested in my uncle’s name, upon the said bond, and thrown into prison.

I appeal now to the judgment of every unprejudic’d person, who shall read this plain, but “faithful account”, whether my uncle hath “made known, without the least disguise, the full truth”, relating to his proceedings against me, which was the “understanding” and “profess’d design” of his paper to vindicate; he is so far from doing this, that he doth not make known at all, in what manner the bond was obtain’d, and upon what foundation, or for what reasons he proceeded thus severely against me. What was his real aim, let therefore the paper itself, speak, to every one that will impartially read it; such an honest reader must be convinc’d that it could be no other than that of defaming me.

However, before he had resolv’d to injure and ruin “my character”, he should, for his “own credit”, have been able to prove the things he offers, which I know cannot be done by any “true evidence”; for either they are “mere assertions”, or “groundless intimations”.

As for my religion, I was really persuaded of the truth of that I was brought up in; for my father and mother are strict and good Jews, and they bred me accordingly with great care; and as I frequented the synagogue constantly at Casal and Leghorn, so I thought it my duty to do the same at London; and I endeavour’d to do my duty as a Jew, to the best of my knowledge, as long as I thought myself, as a Jew, to be in the right way.

But my uncle suggests that I was an hypocrite, and merely suggests it. He calls me a “pretended most strictly religious” Jew, and then draws his own conclusion, that I “suddenly became as fully a pretended zealous Christian”; presently he calls my “conversion a pretended one”; and he himself “pretends” to account for my conversion, viz from the hopes of “cancelling” thereby the pretended “debt” due to him; and, in the same breath, he as good as says that I am his “pretended nephew”: and, Vind. col. 2 par. 3, that his “partial eye was dazzled with the assumed splendour of my flaming devotion”; then in the next breath draws a finishing consequence for his reader, that “an hypocrite in one religion may be insincere in another”, Vind. col. 3, par. 1.

I desire him to ask himself, whether his suspicion of hypocrisy in me may not be founded in his own neglect and contempt of religion. He owns I frequented the synagogue in a manner a “devout and sincere” Jew ought to have done. What if I had follow’d the example of my uncle, and hearkening to him had seldom minded to go thither, would not the argument have been stronger against my being a sincere Christian, because in that case I had not been a sincere Jew? Had he said in his paper that I seldom or ever went there, but was absent on the business of gain, etc. and despised Moses as well as Jesus Christ; that had been the best way of proving the insincerity of my conversion, and to have shewn that I had “no religion” antecedently to it.

But as I am conscious of my own sincerity, I know, and all thinking persons will allow it me, that the same frame of mind which influences a sincere Jew, will influence the same person when a Christian. The better the two religions are understood, the more clearly they are seen to be connected; and the transition from one to the other, from Judaism to Christianity, to a well disposed mind, to be easy and natural: the spirit of devotion required under the one is supposed in the other; the prophecies in the Old testament are fulfilled in the New; and the moral law is enforced and improved by the gospel.

But to support the suggestion of hypocrisy, he affers at a charge against my morals in these words, “keeping a continual converse with a lewd wench, even under my sorrowing wife’s nose”. Vind. col. 3, par. 1.

This charge, laid in such general and loose terms, must be look’d on as no better than an insinuation, and so will not admit of an answer to itself, otherwise than by shewing the improbability of its being true in the supposed sense; or by my denying it to be so, which is as good a proof of its falsehood as his bare saying is of its truth.

However, I have something to say to it, as the words stand in his paper; after which I shall add something more particular.

I desire it may be considered from whence the charge comes &emdash; from my uncle’s new wife, who finding me in credit and in favour with her husband, endeavour’d to throw me out of it. His own account of the thing implies as much; the time when she first started it being when she had seen that her husband “had made provision for new clothing me”. By the way, I find she thought that I was clothed at her “husband’s cost”; she was in the right, tho’ he says I “requested it by letter” to him, and therein “promised thankfully to repay him”; whereas I never requested him for any clothes at all, but thankfully receiv’d them without any other promise of satisfaction than what common gratitude requires, because he promised my father to “clothe me from head to foot at my coming to” England.

Indeed from the same quarter, from my new aunt, came all the other charges against me: my misdemeanours at Exeter, before I left his house, Vind. col.3, par. 3. The “outrageous grievances of his abused wife”, Adv. col. 2, par. 4 after I left it: grievances that I know nothing of, nor what he means by her grievances; if he means injuries from me, let him produce the facts and proofs, and not impose on the world with doubtful words, nor load me with false accusations, which, I observe, are every time grounded on his wife’s tales, after his return from his journeys.

Let my uncle speak out, what he means by my “keeping continual converse with a lewd wench”. What can it be but that I kept a wh&emdash;, at least that such a one kept me, for I had no money to keep her. At that time I had been in England but three or four months, and my misfortunes soon came heavy upon me: I was disappointed of every end of my journey hither; and was under perplexity what course I should take, under an ill state of bodily health, and under disquiet and affliction of mind.

That I had any converse at all with any woman, knowing or supposing her to be lewd, I deny. I was a stranger to the characters of persons; if he knew of any lewd ones resorting to his house, ’tis his fault they were there, and that I conversed with such under his “sorrowing wife’s nose”, though I am apt to think all her tears dropt from the writer’s pen. If she had any sorrow on my account, it was because she wanted my room; and I don’t know but she might have wept for joy, if she could have prov’d on me any crime.

There is another charge, tack’d to the former, which is, that “I wasted his goods”. Here I am at a loss even to guess at his meaning. The truth of this, I find, depends on that of the foregoing; and if I could be guilty of that, this may be supposed. Be it what it will, and whatever it is, I know it must be of his own or of his wife’s coining. I remember that he gave out at London, that he went to a Justice of Peace there about me: I suppose he would have had it thought that it was upon the account of these things; but if he really went, how came I to hear nothing of it till some time after it? If he did not go, what end could he have in giving out that he did, but to make his false coin pass the more current?

Something he would “fain have had to be believ’d” of me that is “criminal” and “scandalous”, and whereof I deny that I am at all guilty. I appeal to the good citizens of Exeter, as witnesses of my behaviour and conduct since I had the good fortune to come to this city, and I desire them to judge of my character before that time by what it has been here. I came with a clear character from Casal, as my testimonial shews, and I wish I could be allowed to say in my own praise, how much respect I met with at Leghorn, and what kindnesses were shewn me, by some of the principal Jews there, at my parting from thence. My character hath been clear during my abode at Exeter. &emdash;&emdash; When a thing is only asserted on one side, and denied on the other, what method of proof can be taken? Let anyone propose what he thinks the properest way to clear it up and convince the reader; if my most solemn asseveration, or even my oath, will satisfy him, I can safely take it; or if the receiving the holy sacrament will be more satisfactory, I can receive it with a good conscience, and with that reverence and awe which is due to it.

I am sorry to find that it is a notion in the world, that some of the Jews are reputed to make light of lewdness or whoring, or of cheating; I was bred up in other notions, and in an abhorrence of vice; my parents are persons of exemplary virtue and honesty. Whatever other faults I may have been guilty of, by the goodness of God, I have been preserved from these; if any serious Christian, for his own satisfaction, hath a mind that I should declare myself in more particular terms, he shall be welcome to ask me any question.

But my uncle, in order to gain credit to his story, says, that he “told it to some creditable persons in Exeter, nine months before the young reformade’s conversion [Vind. col.3, par. 1]. This may be true, tho’ it be more than I know. If he did so, I cannot wonder at it, knowing now what he is capable of doing, and that he told it before, in London. I desire it may be taken into consideration, what ends he could have, coming newly into a city with a design to settle there with a nephew in his family, whom he entrusted with his business, to give out of his own accord such a character of his nephew, who then knew nothing of it, and so could do nothing to prevent the belief of the slander. Was it for his own credit to have such a kinsman? Could he have any other end in doing this, but to discredit me? It may be asked, why should he do this? I answer; to have some colour of reason for his usage of me; for his doing nothing in my behalf; for his returning me to my parents, whenever that should be, with nothing; and to find his excuse for all in my supposed wicked life and behaviour, which had rendered me undeserving of any favour at his hands. But perhaps he will say, had this been my design, I would have published it to all the world, whereas I told it only to “some creditable persons”. I answer, if he had published it openly, it must have come to my ears that he did so, and he knew that whilst I was a Jew, there were persons enough at London to answer for my character, and that I could have had testimony enough from the Jews there to confound him, who would have rebuked him for his shamelessness, in continuing such discourse at Exeter, which could not meet with the least credit at London. Therefore reporting this of me in a private way only, he did therein as much as he dared to do, and thought needful for his ends. And if this was not the design, viz to discredit me, let him declare what it was else; let him account if he can for this odd and extraordinary act, for an uncle to speak so scandalously of his kinsman, immediately on his coming to Exeter to settle there, and to some creditable persons, who could not contradict him, whatever they thought of such a story coming from the uncle.

I wished he had mentioned the names of those “creditable persons”, (not that I question that he did really tell it to such) as also whether he told it to each of them separately, or to all at one time; perhaps his design might the better have been made to appear.

I own that he might have had another end besides, in this unaccountable act; and I can easily suppose it of Mr Gabriel Treves, with his reach and forecast. I would ask him whether he did not think, even before he begun to talk of me at London after this manner, that it might possibly be of use to him, to provide himself with something against me, which might serve him on occasion; whether he did not consult his own credit, in enabling himself to tye up my tongue; whether he never thought of securing his own reputation, by getting the disposal of mine into his power &emdash;&emdash; If any reader supposes that by saying this, I seem to reflect on his dealing in business, I here solemnly profess that this is not my meaning herein. I leave his unaccountable conduct with his own conscience, and shall say no more without his leave. If he goes on to asperse my reputation, I hope he will allow me the liberty of a future examination of his moral character and conduct. &emdash;&emdash; This is my answer to the charge as it lies in his paper.

I am now going to declare all that I know of myself any way relating to this charge, desiring to trust myself with truth, and to submit to take my fate with it.

Under the same roof at London, where my uncle dwelt, there was another family, consisting of a man and his wife, who were Portuguese Jews; a Jewish gentlewoman who boarded there, and a servant maid, a Christian, who is the person my uncle charges me to have had “continual converse with”, as a “lewd wench”. An acquaintance with this family came of course. The gentleman, Mr Aaron Navara, in Gravel Lane near Hounsditch, was a man of knowledge and reading; it pleased him to seek my company, as I did his; and his wife conversed with me in Spanish: they were both kind to me, and pitied me, and she was the first that talked publickly of my hard case, and my uncle’s unkindness; the boarder, I was also acquainted with, and with the servant maid; as far as my going in to visit her master and mistress must suppose, and no farther. The time when my uncle began to talk of this servant maid to my disadvantage was after I had made complaints of the loss of my letters, whereof more by and by; and the first time I heard of it was in a coffee house, in company there; every one indeed cried shame on my uncle, adding that people would say, that I had learnt of him. When I complained to him about it, he replied, “Why, is it not so? tell me, were you never naughty &emdash; come confess, etc.” I found then I was in very bad hands: if it be asked, why I tarried with a man so barbarously wicked; why I came with him to Exeter? His promises and fair words did it, as shall be related. Immediately after our coming to Exeter, he was at the same thing again with me; I remember it was on a Jewish holy day, the first day of the Feast of Weeks; [Wednesday 20th May 1733 or Monday 7th June 1734, but may not be accurate because of the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars at that time] he being pretty warm with liquor, took me into his chamber, none present but his wife; he discoursed very kindly to me; he vow’d how much he lov’d me; he embrac’d me and kiss’d me often: he began to talk of the servant maid, and asked whether she never tempted me; “I know,” said he, “you are an innocent young man, and she might easily draw in such a youth as you before you are aware, tell me the truth; &emdash;was it not so? it shall never go out of my mouth.” Had I been at all or in any degree guilty, I suppose I had been prevailed on by less than this to have own’d it. I had but one answer to make; would you have me declare against myself what I know nothing of? And I will be bold to say, that he himself is as entirely persuaded, as I certainly know, that it is false: he knows it to be an invention; he knows that he attempted to raise the like report of me here in Exeter, that he affirmed and would have had it believed, that I kept company with a lewd woman here in Exeter: he was demanded to produce his evidence, else it must be look’d on as a slander; he refer’d to a person of good credit, wife to a substantial citizen, who being applied to by Mr Gay, gave him this account; that Mr Treves came to her one day, and desired her to go to a certain house, where such a woman lived, in order to see whether his nephew was not there, for that he believ’d he was there; that she went accordingly; and as she knew the woman and her room, she enter’d without any question or ceremony, and found her alone, in her business: that afterwards she took care to enquire where Mr Joseph had been at that time, and found that he had been at Mr Hicks’s, the Priest Vicar. This is my answer to his charge of hypocrisy, and his pretended proofs of it. And I have no cause to wonder at such a charge being laid against me by him, since he hath given out in Exeter, that I have been a Papist, and also a Turk or Mahometan, as several persons are ready to testify.

My religion and morals, from the time I left Italy, to the time that by God’s goodness, I discovered that the Christian is the true religion, were the same they were before I left my native country; what that was, may be seen in some measure, by my testimonial, from the rabbi of Casal; which testimonial my uncle has often seen, and knows to be genuine; and by virtue of the licence for killing therein granted, he admitted me to kill for him, as I did for other Jews. The translation of which testimonial and licence is as follows.

“In the name of God, Amen. I the underwritten do testify for the young man Rabbi Joseph Solomon, son of Rabbi Ephraim Ottolenghe, whom God preserve, one of the sons of our congregation, whom the Lord hath moved by his spirit to draw near to the work, even the work of God; to exercise his hands in killing of fowls; and he inclined his mind to learn before me the rites of killing, till he knew them perfectly and particularly in the sense of feeling (the knife;) he feels all the defects or flaws of the knife, tho’ ever so small; and also he hath killed before me many times fowls of various sorts, both great and small, ’till I gave him licence to kill both for himself and for others (even though he did it alone by himself) so that all Israel may lawfully eat of his killing. And as at this time, he is about to take a journey into a far country; I will not refuse to do him justice, but will under my hand testify for him according to truth and justice, and will be an advocate for him, of his being in the fear of the Lord from his youth to this very time. And therefore it shall be lawful for him to kill in every place where he shall go; and lawful for all Israel to eat what he kills; only with this condition, that he will always continue to study the rites of killing, at least four times a year, that he may be certain of them, and may always have the fear of the lord before his face, and be very cautious as to any doubts that may arise about his killing.


This is the statute of the law, in the year 5492 [1732]. Sampson Eleazer, in the name of the Rev. Doctor, my lord and father, our teacher, Rabbi Meir Baki.”

Mr Treves knows this testimonial from the chief rabbi of my native place to be authentick; the original of which is in the Reverend Mr Hicks’s hand, and may be seen by any person. And now, what is the real motive of that strong inclination to discredit me, which my uncle has betrayed in his papers, I must leave it to the world to judge. I pray God to forgive him, and to guide him into the way of that truth, which alone cannot teach us true charity, and will not allow us to serve ourselves of falsehood and calumny on any occasion or pretence whatsoever.

The next thing which may be thought of to be of consequence enough to require a reply, because my uncle grounds thereupon his supposition, that he ought to be repaid what he has laid out for me, is what is contained in the fourth paragraph of his vindication; where, had he said, that he sent for me from Italy to marry his daughter, and towards the expences of my passage remitted me five pounds, he had then given the substance and truth of the case; most of what is there said besides, makes no more for him, I conceive, than it does for me, even supposing the same to be faithfully related, which it is not. And I wish my uncle would produce the letters, which passed between him and me, concerning these and other facts.

But my uncle says that by “a merchant’s servant going to London [MS correction: Leghorn], he in a letter acquainted me with his daughter’s case, and advised me not to come to England at all; and that the messenger delivered the said letter in April.” Vind. col. 2, par. 1.

To this I answer first, that I utterly deny my having ever received any such letter from my uncle, or any such message from him, at any time or place. Next, I do affirm, that at that time, viz in April, when it is said, “the letter was delivered to me at Leghorn”, I was at Casal, which is 150 miles from Leghorn; I was at Casal the whole month of April, and long before, and long after, (that is) till I went from thence to Genoa to get passage for England, where being disappointed, I came to Leghorn, which could not be till the middle of June at soonest.

I shall declare all that I know. Some time during my fortnight’s stay at Leghorn, being at Mr Solomon Passilio’s house, where I had been formerly acquainted, he himself came in, and, in discourse, finding that I was going to London, asked of me the occasion of my journey thither; which being told him, he said, I think Mr Treves’s daughter is married. When I found that he did not jest with me, as I at first apprehended, I produced to him and his mistress my letter which I had received from my uncle a little before I came from Casal, wherein he desired me to hasten my journey; she thereupon desired me to take no notice of Mr Passilio’s words, and he said, that he only heard it reported at London before he came from thence, that Mr Treves’s daughter was married, and desired me not to let my uncle know that he said any thing of it. I thought I had no reason to take any notice of this hearsay, when the letter which I had received from my uncle himself, bore date after his setting out from London. I own also, that I heard the like report at Gibraltar, where we touched in our voyage to England.

Indeed, it is not probable, that my uncle ever wrote to me at all, to advise me not to come to England, or that he desired my coming the less for his daughter’s being married, because he absolutely disapproved, and was bent upon dissolving it, and “did not doubt”, as he owns himself, Vind. col. 2, par. 2, “but he should be able to procure a divorce”, and therefore he had no need to countermand me. Yes, if for supposition’s sake, we suppose that he did so, and that I received the letter, or order, whereby it was done; how could I have been thought to proceed contrary to such his express advice, and to take so senseless a journey, when being come to England, I must have found, that my only business would have been, to return home again. For, if I had received his order, not to come to England (as it is pretended I did) what claim could I have had to his favour, or to the benefit of the law, if contrary to such order of his I had come hither.

On my arrival at London, I found that my cousin was really married, and that my uncle had been working to dissolve the marriage; and for that end, had made divers attempts before, as he did after, my coming, which I shall mention particularly, to put the matter out of doubt, that he did not only send for me to marry his daughter, and did not expect me, but also did approve of my coming for that purpose.

Before my arrival he attempted in two ways; one, by applying to the Beth Din, that is the house of judgment, which is a court, consisting of the head rabbi, and, at least, two others of the wisemen of the synagogue; here he expected to have got the marriage declared invalid, but was disappointed. The other way was, by trying to get a divorce; in order to which it was necessary to bring both parties, as this case stood, to agree thereto. To bring his daughter to agree to it, he “prevailed on her (to use his own words) to accompany him in his journey to the west’, I suppose he means into Cornwall; and, it seems, he got her consent and “promise withal, to renounce the man, to whom she, against his consent, was wedded.” (Vind. col. 2, par. 2.) And to bring the man to agree to it, a sum of money must be offered him; and, he says, “he did not doubt” but £10 would do, and then that “a divorce might be procured, since they had not bedded together.” This sum, he told me, he did offer to Mr Toby for that end.

After my arrival, he made an attempt toward getting the Beth Din, to reverse the sentence, whereby the marriage had been declared valid, in that court. For which purpose he promised himself to be able to convict Mr Toby of buying snuff on the sabbath day; for my uncle thought, that upon Mr Toby’s being proved a breaker of the sabbath, he would have had a right, to demand a reverse of the sentence; but he failed in this.

He proposed to me also, to be married to his daughter by a Christian minister, according to the rites of the Church of England. But I was at that time a Jew, and too strict a Jew to give ear to the proposal.

He also desired me, to write his daughter’s case to the rabbi at Leghorn, in order to get the marriage declared invalid by him; I wrote to the rabbi accordingly; but did not receive his answer till several months after.

In the mean time my cousin left her father’s house, and went to her husband. The very night she left his house, he repeated what he assured me of at my coming to London first, that he had made me his heir in his will, and had cut off his daughter with a shilling, if she did not marry me. But, to my great astonishment, my uncle married a second wife, in a little time after, and, in the presence of his new wife, burnt the will, wherein he had made me, as he said, his heir.

The will being burnt, and his daughter and himself married; finding I had no occasion to stay in England, I desired him to send me home to Italy; and I let him know that I expected some recompence, for the loss of my time, and the loss of my place at Mondevi [Mondovi’], where I had had the offer, or call, to be a teacher, whereof I gave him an account before my coming from Italy, acquainting him with the value of the employment, and desiring him to consider, whether my coming to England would be of greater advantage to me: his letter, in answer hereto, assured me, that being a widow-man, and not designing to marry, upon my marrying his daughter he would make me his heir; on the receipt of this letter, I gave notice to the congregation at Mondevi [Mondovi’], that I could not serve them, for that I must go to England. This very letter of his to me, he often desired me, after I came to London, to produce, in order to shew it to his friends, which he did with some satisfaction, and boasting of the choice that he had made for his daughter, although she at the same time had made so silly a one for herself; and from hence he took occasion to lay all my losses and disappointments at her door, and would often urge me to apply to Mr Toby, her husband, for a recompence, which I could by no means agree to, having no demand upon him, or any other person, but my uncle, from whom alone I had all my advices to come into England.

One day, being in company with some of my uncle’s friends, I happened to mention the sum which I expected of him, which was fifty pounds; one of them asked me, if I had anything to shew that he sent for me, I said I had all his letters by me. Not long after this, my uncle told me that some of his friends had informed him, that I expected fifty pounds for my losses, and that I had letters to shew, for the reasonableness of my demands; to which he added that whereas I boasted of the letters he sent me, he had no fear or care about them. That same evening, having an occasion to look over a paper in the chest of drawers, where I kept my letters, (not suspecting in the least, that they were taken away) I found, to my great surprise, that all my letters were gone, that could any way prove that he sent for me. Of this I complained to my uncle and aunt, though I received nothing but abuses for it: finding myself in this sad plight, I complained to others of it; which my uncle hearing of, called me up to his chamber where he lay sick, and asked me what I meant by complaining to people about my letters; for, that if they were lost, he would write me new ones. I replied, that it was in his power to write what he pleased; so that his new letters might be more prejudicial to me, than the loss of the old ones.

Inclosed in one of those letters which were taken away, was the aforementioned testimonial of the rabbi of Casal, in which was contained my licence for killing: this, if not my letters, I desired might be returned to me, being the only means left by which I could possibly get any thing of a livelihood; and having lost it, apprehending now that I had no farther views from my uncle, and being but just turned of one and twenty, in a strange country, and without a friend, I grew very melancholy upon the same.

I complained of this usage to my uncle and aunt, and others, for near a fortnight together; at the end of which, being at home alone with my aunt, and still complaining, she said I had not looked carefully enough for my licence, and that she was sure it was there: she went accordingly to the drawers; where, it seems, it lay loose; so that she took it out, and gave it me: but before this, I had often turn’d my drawers quite out; besides, this licence was inclosed in one of those letters which were taken away, and never returned me.

Now again I requested my uncle, to send me back to Italy; who reply’d, that he should soon settle at Exeter, from which place, he said, he could send me to Leghorn with less expence, than from London, and that he would not only send me to Leghorn from thence (provided I would go to Exeter with him) but also would send with me, from a person (meaning Mr Parsons, as he told me after my coming hither) that kept a wine cellar in Exeter, who dealt in serges, fifty pounds worth of that sort of goods, as a recompence for my losses. But after my uncle had thus dealt with me, I put very little confidence in his words, and was very unwilling to trust my self any farther with him. And having also been advised by the rabbi of London not to go with my uncle by any means, I accordingly refused to go with him to Exeter.

However he set a Jew, an acquaintance of mine, upon me to persuade me to go; who argued, that as I was the flesh and blood of my uncle, it would be good and kind in me to oblige him herein, my uncle having declared to him, that he was almost distracted to think what would become of his business in Exeter, when his affairs should call him into the country, because his new wife (who was an Italian) could not speak a word of English, whereas if I would go to Exeter with him, that little English I was master of, would be of great use to him in his shop, whilst I waited there for the opportunity of a ship bound for Leghorn.

This, and my uncle’s renewing his promise of sending fifty pounds worth of goods with me, made me inclined to go, and upon my giving consent, he immediately sent my clothes to Exeter a fortnight before I went myself. I often put him in mind of his promise after I came to Exeter, but heard no more of either the ship or goods. However my uncle, to make me the more willing to tarry with him, endeavoured to make me believe I might get at least twenty pounds a year by teaching Hebrew and Italian. In pursuance of which, he advertised in the news paper, and put on the sign over his shop, that he had a person in his house who taught Hebrew and Italian.

Finding me now useful to him in his shop, my uncle thought of another stratagem to keep me with him; he persuaded me to become his servant, and for my service I was to have had six pounds a year wages; which, he said, with what I might get by teaching and by my licence for killing, would be somewhat of a livelihood for me. But here I was bubbled again, for by teaching I got but a very small matter, having never more than two scholars while I was with him; and tho’ I served him six months, after the agreement, he paid me nothing for it, only he pretended to allow it, by striking off three pounds from his bill of charges, on which the bond was grounded. I also killed for him and his family all that time, for which he never gave me any thing.

And here I can’t help reflecting on the mean and low condition of life my uncle by his stratagems had brought me to. I was to have been a teacher of a congregation at Mondevi [Mondovi’], in Italy. Persuaded by many repeated letters from my uncle to leave that business, I came to England, in order to be his son and heir, and now at this time was no other than his servant. However I served him faithfully and honestly, and never secreted one penny of his money to my own use, whatever injurious hints to the contrary he has been pleased to publish in his Advertisement; who yet, privately to a friend of his, hath himself confessed, even since my conversion, that I was “ever faithful and honest to him.”

Now here I cannot but observe the goodness of God, in making my uncle in some measure instrumental to my conversion; for had he done me justice, as he often promised, he would have satisfied me for his losses and sent me back to Italy. But the providence of God was more good and gracious to me, than my uncle designed, or I myself imagined, by keeping me from returning to a popish country again, where I must have been probably doom’d for my life to converse with the lyes and fables of the Talmud (which are the legends of Judaism, as the Romish legends are the Talmud of popery,) and been destitute, as I ever had been from my youth, till I came into England, of all opportunities of reading the New Testament, and coming to the glorious light of the gospel.

Whilst I lived with my uncle here in Exeter, I got a New testament in English, and gratified my curiosity and desire of reading it; wherein I spent my spare time, especially at night, sitting up very late by myself in perusing the same; so that I read it over several times, and transcribed the four gospels in Hebrew, from Robertson’s New Testament, examined and compared it with the Old testament to the best of my power; and hereon a conviction grew upon me, that Jesus was the messiah, and the gospel true; which was confirmed by the helps I met with afterwards, as shall be related.

At the end of nine months after I came to Exeter, I left my uncle’s house: the real motive was this strong apprehension I was under about the truth of the Christian religion, and a resolution thereupon of putting myself in the way of being fully satisfied, and being able freely to declare my thoughts. For which end I longed for an occasion to get away from my uncle and the first that offered itself I laid hold of, which was the insult and abuse received from my uncle’s father in law, who was one of the family. It was this which made me quit my uncle’s house all at once; going off in the condition and posture I was then in, without any clothes, except what I then wore, and with very little money, which I had received for teaching Hebrew. For some time I lived in a publick house; the Jews who lodged in the same house shewing me no kindness all the while, but reproached me for leaving my uncle, not knowing then any thing of my intentions; but since the time of my having declared myself, they have treated me after a very inhuman manner, even spitting in my face, and cursing me as I walked the streets.

I now sent to my uncle, desiring him to deliver my clothes, books, and whatever else belonged to me. This my uncle refused to do, unless I would sign a paper, acknowledging his kindness to me, and that I went freely from his house of my own accord, lest my father and mother should hear of it, and think he turned me out of doors; and also to give him a release upon the said paper. All which I consented to do. But soon after this, he sent me the aforesaid note of particulars, to the amount of twenty-eight pounds, which he said was due from me to him.

Which note when I had examined, I was astonished to find not one article justly chargeable on me due to him; and I do verily believe, that till this time, it never enter’d into my uncle’s thoughts to charge me with one of them. For the note does not consist of money received of him, or lent to me, or a debt contracted with him, as he falsly suggests in the second, third, and also in the last paragraph save one, in his Vindication: but of the charges of my voyage from Italy to England, and of my voyage from London to Exeter, which voyages my uncle knows in his own conscience (if he would declare the truth) that I took against my own inclination, and was only induced to undertake them by his persuasions and promises. Thus it was wholly upon the considerations aforementioned, so pressingly writ by him to me, when I was in Italy, that I was prevailed on to come from thence to England. And it was likewise upon his promise in London, to send me back to Leghorn from Exeter, with fifty pounds worth of goods, and to defray all charges, as a consideration for my several losses and disappointments, that induced me to come from London to Exeter: so that he cannot justly charge me with either of those articles. The next charge in his note, is for clothes: I have shewn before, that he promised my father “to clothe me from head to foot”, if I would come to England, for the purposes aforesaid. There is one charge more, which was two guineas paid for my learning to write, and keep accounts. The same sum (since he is pleased to charge me with this) I charge him with, for teaching his wife to read and write Italian. And as for the snuff box therein charged, he knows he gave it me. And now the reader may see the pretended debt, for which alone, I was so unjustly drawn in to give my uncle a bond, viz for the articles contained in this note: and this at a time, when I ought to have had of my uncle fifty pounds for my losses and disappointments, which he himself once allowed to be but a reasonable recompence for the same, otherwise he would never have so often promised me that sum.

That the reader may see the truth of what I assert touching the note, I shall here transcribe it; the original of which, in my uncle’s own hand, I have now by me. Any other debt my uncle never pretended to charge me with.

The Bill

London, Sept. 22d. 1732

 £              s             d

1. To Cash, paid for his Voyage from Leghorn        10             5          0

2. To a blue coat                                                         2             0          0

3. To a Hat, and Wigg, and Silver Snuff-Box,
and Shoes and Stockings          1           10         0

4. March 20. 1732-3. To Cash paid to two Masters for Writing.                          2             2        0

5. Ditto 26. To a Broad Cloth Sute                             6             0        0

6. To a new Hat, WIgg, Shoes, and Stockings.           2           10      0

7. To three new Shirts and two old ones.                    1           10       0

8. To a Pair of Plush Breeches, and a Camblet Waistcoat. 1        0       0

9. To Cash paid for his coming from London, to Exon,
in order for his going to Leghorn.                                      1             0       0

10. June 10. 1733. To a Pair of Shoes.                                 0             4       0
                                                                             28          1        0

The Answer to the several Articles of the Bill.

The 1st article is accounted for before, and acknowledged. It consists of five pound transmitted to me by bill whilst I was in Italy, five pounds paid to the master of the ship in which I came over for my passage, and five shillings, as he says, he gave to the sailors.

2. The blue coat was a coat of his own, which he told me he had worn when he delivered it to me. If his design was I should buy it, he ought to have told me so, and let me then have known the price, and had my consent to it.

3. The snuff box was so indifferent, that I could make but three shillings of it in Exeter. He made a present of it expressly, as he cannot but remember. All the other things were old and of his own wearing. Those old things, with the blue coat, must be those he refers to (Vind. col. 2, par. 2.) where he says I clothed him cap-a-pee in a very handsome vesture newly made for my own wearing.

4. What he agreed with the masters for, or paid them, he never told me. When I objected to this article at our meeting, when I signed the bond, viz that I learnt to write but a little while; he answered, that he gave the master who broke and ran away, half a guinea out of charity. Must I therefore pay for his charity?

5. He never asked me what sute I liked. I was not pleased with the colour; but said in the proverb of the gift horse, “cavallo donato in bocca non guardare”. I never knew what the cloth was a yard, or what the sute cost. If my uncle had told me, I must have paid for it, I would not have had it. I did not then so much want a sute; if I had, and must have bought one, I would have pleased myself with less cost, and have got a better sute by far.

6. I had them: what they cost him, I never knew.

7. I never had but two new shirts of him: he promised me two old ones, but never gave me more than one.

8. Both the breeches and waistcoat were old ones of his own. The breeches torn to pieces and mended up; the waistcoat too, much worn, and scarce fir for use, and worth but very little.

9. I have heard him say in Exeter, that he gave so much for my passage: but, as he knows, he brought me here intirely against my inclination, and as he never attempted to send me to Leghorn, which was the only end of my coming here, how can he charge me for my passage?

10. I own I had them.

I now humbly conceive that no person besides my uncle can think that his demands aforesaid, ought to be answered by me, much less rigorously exacted of me, when he hath not paid me one farthing, in consideration of all my losses, my troubles, and disappointments, which I have suffered through his occasion alone; upon which score, something is certainly due to me, if not fifty pounds, which I think to be but a moderate recompence.

Having mentioned my release out of prison, I shall now relate after what manner it was done, and upon what terms. This cannot but be partly known already, to such persons as have read the title of the excellent sermon lately preached at the church of St Petrock, on the 6th of July last, by the Reverend Mr Lewis Stephens, archdeacon of Chester and canon residentiary of the cathedral church of St Peter Exon; for which charitable and truly Christian act of his, flowing immediately and entirely from his own generosity and good will, without application made to him from any friend of mine, and, as I am well assured, without the least suggestion from any person whatsoever, I think my self obliged to return my hearty thanks to him; as also for his causing the sermon, which was printed at the request of the parishioners of St Petrock’s, to be published for my benefit. &emdash;&emdash; But a more particular account of the occasion, the manner and terms of my release from prison here follows.

After the service was ended at St Petrock’s, one day in the last Christmas week, the Reverend Mr Roberts, having heard that my uncle had thrown me into prison, exhorted the parishioners to shew their Christian charity towards me; upon this, some of the gentlemen there present, resolved to meet and consider my case, which they did accordingly, and having got my uncle with them, press’d him to release me; to which he consented, provided they would pay his attorney’s bill, and my prison fees, but he would by no means deliver up the bond.

Upon this the Reverend Mr Roberts, minister of St Petrock’s, and Mr Nicholas Lee of that parish, one of the chamber of this city, were so good as to come to me in prison, and informed me of what had passed between them and my uncle; and the Saturday after, December 28, Mr Thomas Coffin goldsmith, another of that parish, came to the prison between 9 and 10 at night, and told me I must go with him; he paid my fees, and I came out of prison. To these gentlemen I return a hearty thanks for this their unasked and unexpected charity toward me: as I do likewise to all my other benefactors, who have so generously assisted me with their bounty, in my great necessity; and I pray to God that he would reward them all with his blessings; and particularly that he would never cease to pour down his benefits upon all the inhabitants of this generous and honourable city.\The charity of these gentlemen who took me out of prison, my uncle makes it his business in his 2d paper to ridicule. Adv. col. 1, par. 3. But, as for charity in fact, he contends for the honour of it as due to himself; yet he falls foul on those who put him in the way of doing it, with the elegant names of “tongue padders”, and “wordy charitable”; that is, words cost no money. How much did the charity he brags of cost him? Why, he saved by it above three pounds, by having his attorney’s bill discharged by those gentlemen, which otherwise he must have paid himself. I ask him, whether he did not refuse to let me out of prison upon any other terms? And as he hath lost nothing, and as he hath given me nothing, nor hath remitted to me any part of the bond, and can send me to prison again when he will, where is his boasted charity in fact?

That it was a true charity, and laudable zeal in those worthy gentlemen, who took me out of prison, late in the night, in the midst of winter, paying my fees, and undertaking to answer his attorney’s bill above £3. In prison I had no assistance from my uncle, who put me there, tho’ he knew I had no money to assist me; where I was without any accommodation, but what came from the keeper’s kindness to me, and the charity of other Christians; where my uncle aggravated my misery, by assuming a pretence of goodness; and at that time, and no other in all his life, that can be learn’d, sending a present to the prisoners of forty pounds of beef, and two shillings, with a positive charge, by the servants who brought it, that I should have no share of it. Such is my uncle’s charity to me. It is nothing but adding an insult to misery.

Having his second paper now before me, I shall make a remark or two on it.

In the same, par. col. 2 he charges me with a “design against the life of him and his wife”. This is very strange. I appeal to every good Christian in Exeter, whether any one of them can think in his heart, or suspect, there is any grounds for this. I desire only to be on the defensive; the behaviour of the Jews, indeed, towards me, was such, that I was forced to betake myself for refuge to a Justice of Peace, who was Mr Alderman Hole, to whom I am much obliged. The Justice himself knows the proof, and his own order upon it.

But, to shew the heinousness of my crime, in having a “design upon the life” of so innocent a person, as he himself pretends to be, he gives some account of himself in his paper, and lets the reader know what he is; particularly, that he is a professor of “true religion”, as it appears to him; but not so as to “attempt to make proselytes” to it; and says, that it “would not grate or swinge his spirits, if a thousand daily deserted their synagogues.” I believe him; especially, if he could save thereby so many thousand £50 and get as many £25 bonds.

This is the religious professor! But what is now become of the zeal he had in his first paper, where he talks how he is used for his “stedfast adherence to the religion of his forefathers”. I think that it is natural for a “stedfast adherer” to his religion, to desire that others should not desert it. Thus he says what he pleases, to serve his present turn; and he gives up all pretensions to any zeal, or concern for his religion, that it may be thought he does not pursue me upon the account of my having deserted it. And, this is the man who charges me with insincerity.

In the next paragraph it makes it to be a “ridiculous” thing, for any person who is a servant, as I was, to appeal to a neighbourhood for a character of his honesty “in any measure at all”. ‘Tis not ridiculous, if those that are in the family are known to be partial. Can the neighbours and customers make no judgment at all of a servant’s behaviour? Do they know “nothing at all” of what passes in a family, because they do not know all? Whom have I to appeal to but Christians without, when the persons within are my professed enemies from the time of my being a Christian? When the proper evidence is known to be partial, testimony must be sought for from elsewhere; and in my case, it is from the neighbourhood. Ridiculous as he thinks it, he himself, (if we read him a little further) “refers to the neighbourhood for a just and deserved character”; of what? Of a good master, and a good uncle to me, he must mean, or mean nothing to the purpose; for, this is the only thing in question; and the “only charge” which is (wickedly, as he says) “brought against him,” is that he hath “wronged and oppressed me”.

But I was dishonest to him; if so, why did he court me to return to his services? My having “deserted his religion”, it seems, gave him no concern. For what then was he concerned to have me back again with him? Or, why did he promise me, that a collection among the Jews should be made for me, if I really was that wretch to him, which he so often insinuates I was? Particularly (col. 2, par. 2) his words are these: “I would venture modestly to ask, if one entrusted with managing a shop and ware house business, neglects, and truantly abandons the same at will, and leaves his service at a nonplus; who delivers out goods not only without the knowledge, but contrary to the injunction and approbation of master and mistress, who pockets money got in his master’s service, and the like, shall have it said of him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant!'”

This complicated charge, is only suggested and insinuated; and this is the worst sort of slander. A man hath a difficult task to give a satisfactory reply to slander; because it naturally takes quick possession of a reader’s or hearer’s mind, and is not easily removed, even by the greatest innocence, which falls under the disadvantage of being last in the cause. Yet a harder task have I, who must answer slander merely suggested; which points out the worst of crimes, but says or speaks out nothing directly, and which points out a particular person, whilst the slanderer shelters himself under general expressions; whereby suppositions are made which are true in the general, but false with respect to the person of whom they are insinuated, and undoubtedly meant. &emdash;&emdash; As for example, if a man defrauds his master, he is not a good and faithful servant; this is true&emdash; but when my uncle insinuates by “this”, that I have defrauded him, and therefore cannot be called a good and faithful servant, it is false. &emdash;&emdash; I deny his consequence which he insinuates, viz that I have defrauded him; and this shews it to be a fallacious way of talking or reasoning. This is the art of those who scatter slander, which they are afraid to assert plainly and positively, lest the falshood should be visible; and therefore my uncle expresses his malice in suppositions only, that his readers being first prepossessed and deceived by a general truth, may take for granted, that the consequence which is insinuated is true too. This is the way that knaves argue when they would delude fools.

Let my uncle allow me to talk with him in his own way: suppose I should say; if a man makes no conscience what he gives out or reports of his neighbour; if he declares things for truth which he knows to be false; if he leads his reader to believe what he does not believe himself, yet at the same time guards his words in such manner, that his reader shall not be able to charge him with meaning that very thing which he designedly drew in his reader to believe, such a man is not a good Jew. I suppose my uncle would say to this, I own, that if a man make no conscience of his words, etc. he is certainly no good Jew. But, nephew, if your meaning is, that I Gabriel Treves, make no conscience, etc. it is a false consequence, and you injure me by this unfair and fallacious way of arguing. Therefore, I hope, the world will think the same of me, when my uncle asperses my character, whilst he lurks under suppositions, which affirm nothing, and will not let his suppositions of facts, to conclude me out of my good name, nor his insinuations, pass for arguments.

If I had been really a thief, or fornicator; much more, if a notorious whoremonger, a drunkard, a swearer, an adulterer, a sabbath breaker; if I had been a slanderer, etc. he would have avowed it in plain terms. For his papers were published evidently with intent to vilify and blacken me to the last degree; and yet he hath said nothing in positive terms. And every fair reader must, I conceive, conclude, that he would not have omitted any one fault which he could have proved, since he hath only insinuated so many, which he doth not prove, and which I know, he cannot prove, notwithstanding what he says of his “two old Christians”, whom he mentions as his “vouchers for family affairs”, tho’ they came to his service since the time I left it. And, I take it for granted, his “foreign vouchers”, as he calls them, are no better than these.

I hope, he does not intend those reflections and insinuations, as an instance of his charity, or of his generosity towards me, which he so magnifies, and says, he is “so pleased with”; I wish he does not take a greater pleasure in having abused and injured me. That generosity of his, such as it was, he made me do something for; he made me ask his pardon in the presence of those gentlemen who were the occasion of my release; I own, I did it upon their advice, and at their instance, but not in the manner that he represents it, for any actual “offences I had given him”; being conscious of nothing that I had ever done to my uncle, that could require or warrant me to do this; he, on the contrary, having injured me almost from the first time I ever saw him: it was at that very time, my uncle promised those gentlemen not to put the bond in force against me for five years, and then to cancel it, on conditions of my “good behaviour towards him and his wife for that time”. But I did not place much confidence in this promise, knowing how he had broke all his former ones to me.

And I was not mistaken. For, though I have not been at his house since that time, neither have in any manner whatsoever meddled in his affairs, or given the least occasion of offence, either to him, or his wife; notwithstanding the frequent abuses I have received from his family (aforesaid) when I have passed quietly before his shop; one of which was from my aunt herself, who, as I was passing by, asked one of her folks in the shop, what religion that fellow was of (pointing at me,) withal adding, “that altho’ they had thrown a little water on my head, yet I should go to the devil as well as the rest of them”. To whom I made no reply. Though at the same time, could not help thinking, that this was not only a very uncharitable, but also a bold and audacious saying, of a single Jewess, permitted to be an inhabitant, amidst a whole city of Christians, touching the sacrament of baptism.

I say, notwithstanding all this, my uncle writ a letter to a friend of mine, dated Aug. 12 1735, wherein he says:

“As my nephew, since my additional kindness to him, in consenting to his being discharged out of prison, and my voluntary saying I would forgive him the debt at the end of five years, in case of his good behaviour towards me and my wife, during that space of time, but not only ungratefully, and unjustly treated, but scandalously and falsly aspersed me in my character, I am determined to put the bond in suit, for the recovery of my debts, if not soon paid.”

As I have before, so now I declare again, I have not given him, nor his wife, any occasion of offence in the least degree; neither can I conceive what my uncle means by his saying I have; unless he took offence at the advertisement I lately caused to be printed, viz that I intended soon to set up some business in this city, wherein I also mentioned, that I should speedily print my case, and therein shew what hardships I have received from my uncle.

As for the former, no one, I hope, can blame me for endeavouring to get an honest livelihood. And, for the latter, I appeal to all who read these sheets, whether I had not cause to complain of the hardships, and very grievous, and unjust dealings I have met with from my uncle; who drew me into bonds, imprison’d me, and at that time defamed me in print, long before I ever printed the advertisement, at which he pretends to be so much offended.

My uncle having said, in effect, that difference of religion is not at all in the question between us, that is, that his hard treatment of me, was not in the least owing to my embracing the Christian religion, or not renouncing it again; I shall therefore lay before the reader some facts, from whence he may be able to judge of the real motives of his severe proceedings against me.

About April, 1734 in Mr George Trobridge’s shop, goldsmith,my uncle delivered me a letter directed to me, without name, date, or place, with the seal broken, which he said, he had from the post office, and that it cost him four pence; which letter was in Hebrew, and translated, is as follows;

“Dear Brother, as my own soul,

Remember that the Lord (blessed be his name) said in the Mount of Sinai, I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out, etc. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me, etc. Thou shalt not worship them, or serve them, etc. Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is but one God, blessed be his name, his honour, and his kingdom, for ever and ever; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength; and these words that I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them to thy son, at thy lying down, and at thy rising up; and thou shalt bind them upon thine arm for a sign, and frontlets between thine eyes; and thou shalt write them upon the posts of thine house, and upon thy gate. And remember that thou must give an account before the king of kings; even the Lord, blessed be his name.”

Some time after, about the beginning of June, as I was standing in Mr George Coming’s shop, druggist, my uncle called me over to his own shop; and then began to expostulate with me, for not frequenting his house, shewing a mighty concern, that there should be such a strangeness between so near relations, and pressed me to visit him often, with great assurances of a hearty welcome; and least I should think he should offer to persuade me against the Christian religion, he now gave me his promise, that he would never say any thing to me about religion. hereupon I consented, and did visit him often.

being once alone with him, he asked me “why I would be such a grief to my mother, and cause such trouble to himself, by embracing such a religion; saying, that those who endeavour’d to take away my soul, when I should be baptized, would never mind me after; as, he said, had been the case of many before me”. Then he urged me to follow the advice he would now give me, viz “to go directly for Holland, or if I was not willing of that, to my own country; for that the rabbi of London had press’d him by letter, to get my consent so to do; and that the rabbi would make a considerable collection for me”; which, my uncle said, he believ’d would amount to a hundred and fifty or two hundred pounds. And for my uncle’s own part, he promised (in case of my consent) that he would do all that lay in his power for me, and burn the bond before my face.

Upon my uncle’s tempting me thus to forsake the Christian religion, I (with some warmth) charg’d him with breach of promise and oath; who seeing me ruffled and displeas’d, renew’d his promise, and swore by the living God (in Hebrew) “that he would never more speak of religion to me, provided I would still come to see him, and take no notice of what he had said”.

After this he took a journey into Cornwall, and upon his return, making him a visit, he told me, “that he had receiv’d a second letter from the rabbi to the same effect as the former, viz pressing him to persuade me to go for Holland, or to my own country,” my uncle adding, “that he wonder’d I was such a fool, as to embrace so foolish a religion”.

Upon this second breach of promise, I turn’d my back upon him, and never went to his house after; being fully satisfied, that his only design in inviting me to his house, was to bring me back to his religion; determining never to lay myself under any the least temptation for the future, that might any ways stagger my resolutions, and my faith in Jesus Christ.

Soon after this I receiv’d the first mention’d letter from Mr Hooper of London, threatening to put the bond in force against me, and not long after I was arrested by my uncle, and thrown into prison.

From the aforesaid account of my uncle’s behaviour towards me, between the time of my giving the bond, and my being arrested, whereby it will appear that he would not have put me to trouble if I would have return’d to his religion, and that he actually did it, as soon as it was in his power, after he found me resolved not to return to it; the reader will please to judge of the real motive of his causing me to be arrested and imprison’d; and what credit ought to be given to what he says of this affair; who, both in his “Vindication” and “Advertisement”, (which he so industriously spread about this city) and also in Brice’s newspaper, declares that it was not upon the account of religion, that he proceeded thus against me; and that this was only a pernicious slander and calumny upon him, of my own invention.

To what purpose now doth he say, &emdash; “An outcry against me had its rise from my so stedfastly adhering to the religion of my forefathers”, (Vind. col. 1, par. 2) for no outcry is made against him merely as a Jew, but as an unmerciful man. He contriv’d how to draw me into a bond, with a promise not to put it in execution; and by an artful transfer of it to another hand, he did rigorously put it in execution, he imprison’d me, and in prison I might have starv’d for him; for tho’ he knew I was owner of nothing, he gave me nothing there, nay he caused a charity to be withholden from me, which was given in common to all the other prisoners.

Let the world judge who is the persecutor, and whether there is not good reason for what he calls an outcry against him. He threw me into prison, which he would not have done, would I have return’d to his religion; he put in force against me a bond, which he would have burnt before my face, would I have renounc’d Christianity. He could not do this for any gain from me, because he knew I was not worth one farthing. He could not do it for anything I had printed against him, for at that time I had printed nothing. Therefore it could be only because I would be a Christian, or because he hop’d to get his bond satisfied by those good Christians, who would be touch’d with my misfortunes, and thereby become benevolent towards me.

I am sorry to find such usage from Jews towards convert Christians, from among them has been practised heretofore, and that even by their nearest relations. In my own reading I have met already with things relating hereto, one of a particular case, the other of the general temper of the Jews. The first case is of Moses Marcus, as we find it in his own book, printed 1724, whose father, after many other cruelties, inhumanly endeavour’d to stab him with a case knife.

The other is from Bishop Kidder, viz “The Jews do not only call by the opprobrious names of apostates, but are wont to follow, with the most direful and dreadful execrations imaginable, them who forsake Judaism, and embrace Christianity. They teach that such an apostate as this shall have no part in the world to come. That his sin shall never be forgiven to eternal ages. They spit at him, they call his children bastards, and his wife polluted and defiled; they refuse to eat and drink with him; they anathematize him, they curse him three times a day, morning and evening, and in this curse they pray that he may be cut off from hope; they esteem him an Epicurean and an heretick; they contemn him and his family, and decline all affinities with them, be they never so wealthy; they insidiously wait for him; him that kills him they indemnify, and affirm that he needs no repentance, but is to be steemed as if he had brought an oblation; when he dies, they say of him, the name of the wicked shall rot; if in his life time any evils befall him, they say, thus let the enemies of the lord perish; they rejoice at his fall, and make his goods common; they follow him with many reproaches; when they mention him they say, let his name and memory be blotted out, and let this apostate be our atonement: woe be to him, and to his soul; woe be to his father and mother, that brought him up and conceived him; woe be to his master who taught him the Law, etc.” (Kidder’s ‘Demonstration of the Messiah’, part 2, page 88)

But as to my uncle, and his usage of me, I pray God forgive him. I have never abused him in all the course of his life, nor ever wronged him of a farthing, and I hope it will not be interpreted as a malicious design of defaming him, but look’d on as a just vindication of my own innocency, that I have been forced in this manner to shew that he would have depriv’d me of the benefits of Christianity, which is the foundation of my salvation, and that of all my Christian readers. And that by sending for me from Italy, he hath actually taken me from my native country, my parents, and my nearest and kindest relations.

And of my livelihood, in taking me from the business promised at Mondevi [Mondovi’].

And as if my being very poor, and without a farthing of money, was not hardship enough, he has heavily loaded me with a debt, when he knew I had not one farthing in the world to pay him.

And since my liberty might have enabled me to have follow’d some useful business in the world, for my support, he depriv’d me of that liberty by casting me into prison.

And as if this was not cruelty enough, that my good name might not be serviceable under my confinement, he depriv’d me of that good name, by malicious lies, which he printed against me.

And, as if loss of liberty and good name was not revenge enough, he has farther endeavour’d, by scattering his papers with utmost industry, to deprive me even of that good will of Christians, which was my only support in prison and out of prison.

And all this, as far as I can conjecture, to prevent me setting up his own trade of making snuff, and to gratify the passions of his wife, lest he should continue his favours which he shew’d me before he was married; and to compass the main point he always kept in view, which was to enslave me to himself, and fix me in his own religion.

And what greater mischief could he do me, then to endeavour to deprive of my religion;

And actually to deprive me of my

Native Country,

My liberty,

My good name,

And the good will shewn towards me by kind Christians?

And what could all this tend to, but

Ruining me,

Starving me?

And not only ruining me in this world, but if I had follow’d his advice, contrary to my own convictions, I must add,

In the world to come.

But I am a Christian, and do forgive him, and that God may forgive him also, I shall ever pray.

“Almighty and everlasting God, who makest us to will, and to do those things that be good and acceptable to thy divine majesty; I make my humble supplications to thee for all my benefactors, deliverers, friends, relations, and also for my very enemies; let thy fatherly hand, I beseech thee, be over them, let thy holy spirit be ever with them, and lead them into the knowledge and obedience of thy word; that in the end, they may obtain everlasting life, through our lord Jesus Christ, who with thee, and the Holy Ghost, liveth and reigneth ever one God, world without end. Amen.”

An Account of my Conversion.

Having promis’d something relating to my conversion, I think myself obliged to give (at least) the following short account.

As soon as I was able to read and understand English, which was about six months after I came to Exeter, having a new testament in English, I read it over many times, and carefully compared it with the old, especially those texts that relate to the messiah, and more especially to his birth, Godhead, sufferings, and death; in which points finding the old testament exactly agreeing with the new, I began to dislike the Jewish, and to have favourable thoughts of, and strong inclinations towards, the Christian religion; the following texts at that time not a little contributing thereto, viz Isaiah vii.14 “The Lord shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, [עמנואל] that is God with us,” as the word is truly translated in the new testament, Matth. i. 23.

Also Isaiah ix 6, 7 “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called wonderful [פלא] [pele,] councellor, [.יועץ] [johets] the mighty God, [אל גיבור] [el gibor] the everlasting father, [אבי עד] [avi-ad] the prince of peace, [שר שלום] [sar shalom] Of the increase of his government and peace, there shall be no end.ולשלום אין עד] למרבה המשרה]]lemarbeh hamisrah and endless peace] Upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even for ever. [על נסאי דוד ועל ממלכתו להבין אותה] [Al nassei David ve al mamlachto lehavin otah] The zeal of the lord of hosts will perform this.”

And also the whole fifty-third chapter of this prophet, relating to the sufferings of the messiah.

Now the texts in the two former chapters above quoted appearing very plainly to me, that the messiah was to be God; convinc’d me of the falshood of the Jewish instructions, contain’d in the Talmud, and other Jewish writings, which constantly teach that the messiah, when he comes, shall not be God: and in this belief I was taught and instructed; but having attain’d by the grace of God, a conviction that a greater regard is due to the plain word of God, than to the traditions of the Jews, contained in those books, I gain’d from thence a full satisfaction, that the messiah was to be God.

from thenceforward I employ’d my time and studies to confirm my self in, and improve that degree of light and knowledge, which I had gained by reading the new testament, and comparing it with the old; and by constantly doing thus, I became thoroughly persuaded that Jesus Christ is the true messiah.

The books which I have read, are those which follow.

Bishop Kidder’s Demonstration of the Messias. 3 vol.

Ostervald’s Grounds and Principles of the Christian religion.

Lesly’s Short Method with the Jews and Deists.

Hugo Grotius of the Truth of the Christian religion.

Whole Duty of Man.

Bishop Beveridge’s Thoughts on Religion, 1st and 2d chapter.

The Conversion of Xeres the Jew.

Nelson’s Devotions.

Cave’s primitive Christianity.

Jenkins’s Reasonableness of Christianity, vol. 1.

Besides other little books from the Society for promoting Christian Knowledge.

Having been now for more than four months, thoroughly persuaded and convinced that the Christian religion is the only true religion, I was very desirous to be baptized into the same; in order to which I sent the following letter to the minister of the parish, wherein I was an inhabitant; by which letter the reader may see some further particulars relating to my conversion.

“Reverend Sir,

Having been for some time past, an inhabitant in your parish, I presume to lay before you the following particulars: I was born a Jew in Italy; at one and twenty years of age I came into England; I staid at London six months, and then I came to Exeter; in which place I have been twelve months, and somewhat more. At the end of about six months after I came to Exeter, I attained so much of the English tongue, as to be able to read the new testament in English, which I carefully read over several times; and having the advantage of a new testament in Hebrew, I diligently compared them together, and upon my thorough perusal of them both, I began to have a favourable opinion of the Christian religion: upon this, for my farther satisfaction, I compared the several texts quoted in the new testament from the old in relation to the messiah, and found them to agree thoroughly together; which so far strengthen’d my belief of the truths contained in the new testament, that from that time, I resolved to get the fullest information that I possibly could, in the several points of Christian doctrine therein mentioned, in which I then began to think my eternal salvation was greatly concern’d; and upon this, I inclined to discover myself to some Christian friends, for my farther instruction, as I did accordingly, and one of those friends having recommended to me the reading of Bishop Beveridge’s two first chapters, of his private thoughts on religion, and having lent me that book, I carefully read it; soon after which, I was thoroughly convinced, that the Christian religion was the only religion, in which mankind can be saved. Since which time, my friends having furnish’d me with books proper for my farther information; I having employ’d my time in perusing them with the best application I was capable of; and hope by this time, I have through God’s grace and goodness towards me, gained such a measure of Christian knowledge, and full persuasion of the necessity of my attaining salvation only by the merits of Jesus Christ, that I do heartily embrace the whole Christian religion: and I do humbly offer my self, to be admitted into it, by the sacrament of baptism; and do pray and desire you, as the minister of the parish to which I belong, to recommend me to the bishop for that purpose.

I am, Reverend Sir,

Your most obedient humble servant,

Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe.”

Some time after this, I was examined by the Reverend Mr Subdean Hawtry, and soon after that, the bishop gave leave for my baptism, which was performed at St David’s church, by the Reverend Mr Cary, on Wednesday, Feb. 5th, 1734&endash;5.

The next day I was confirmed by the bishop of Exeter, and soon after I received the blessed sacrament of the Lord’s supper, and continue to be a partaker thereof.

For which great, and inestimable benefits, I return my hearty and unfeigned thanks, to the most glorious, and ever blessed trinity, father, son and holy ghost, three persons, but one eternal God blessed for ever.


Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe

The Ottolenghi Affair II

An almost complete facsimile of this extremely rare publication
(Page 22 is missing)
A transcript will follow…..

Page 22 is unfortunately missing

Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe

Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe

Giuseppe Salomone Ottolenghi 1711 – 1775

When one sets out to uncover previously unknown family history, it is rather like a treasure hunt. There is always a kind of half hope, though not really a serious expectation, to discover that amongst one’s long, or not so long departed ancestors there will be someone who left his mark on history. Little did I know on that early summer’s night in May 1999 when I set out on my own research into the history, geography and genealogy of my Ottolangui family that I would come to discover that the Italian Ottolenghis had produced so many important and influential people from the sixteenth century until today, some of whom have their own biographies elsewhere on this site. Great rabbis like, Joseph ben Nathan who established a rabbinical seminary and publishing house in Cremona, Samuel David ben Yechiel, the 17th century kabbalist, Chief Rabbi of Venice and Padua, Abraham Azaria (Bonajut) 18th century rabbi of Acqui Terme, Lazzaro, 19th century rabbi of Turin, Moncalvi and Acqui. Nineteenth century philanthropists like Leonetto Ottolenghi of Asti who rebuilt the Asti synagogue in 1889 and organised the great expositions at Asti, and Emilio Ottolenghi, director of Bank of Italy and president of the Italian Jewish Community, who established refuges and asylums and in 1883 was made Count of Vallepiana. Doctors and scientists like Salvatore Ottolenghi, the father of modern forensic science who founded the Italian Police Academy’s School of Forensic Investigation. Soldiers like General Vittorio Ottolenghi and General Giuseppe Ottolenghi, who had enlisted in the army as a volunteer in 1859 after studying at the Turin Military Academy and was later a senator and the Italian Minister of War from 1902-1903. Even today one finds the name Ottolenghi prominent in academic and political life, law, journalism, radio, television, politics and business in Italy, Israel, England, Argentina and the USA.

Another surprising factor is the “skeletons in the closet”. No family is without its “black sheep” and we are no exception. There are at least one or two of our ancestors who were embroiled, if not implicated in petty crimes in London in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Their stories form a different significant chapter. One, a 3 times great uncle at the age of 18 was convicted of stealing a cheese was transported for life to the penal colonies in Van Diemen’s Land, now Tasmania in Australia, however the most interesting character that my research has uncovered is, without doubt, Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe.

It was in one of my early Internet searches that I found a paper called The Ottolenghi Affair which was in act, a poorly photocopied document that had been faxed too many times. I spent most of the night reading the document which claimed to be a facsimile of two pamphlets published by the young Joseph Solomon Ottolenghi in London around 1735.

Born Giuseppe Salomone Ottolenghi around 1711in the town of “Casal” (Casale Monferatto, Piedmont, Italy) an area steeped in viniculture and silk weaving in which he was educated as a young child. He was the son of Rabbi Ephraim Ottolenghi and Dolce Eleonora née Treves.  By his own account, the young Joseph was a Hebrew scholar who had studied ritual slaughter (שחיטה shechita) under Rabbi Meir Baki.  In 1732, aged about 21 Joseph was about to take up a position as a Hebrew teacher and shochet in the nearby town of Mondevi. However his uncle Gabriel, the recently widowed brother of his mother, who lived in London and was a successful snuff merchant, suggested that the young Joseph Solomon come to London where Gabriel would teach him the snuff trade and he would marry Gabriel’s daughter Deborah.  Joseph Solomon travelled to London by ship from Livorno via Gibraltar and joined his uncle Gabriel. About six months thereafter, Gabriel Treves transferred his business from London to Exeter where there was already a thriving Jewish community, the fourth in Britain, and Joseph moved there.  It there transpired that his, cousin was already married and despite concerted efforts, his uncle was unable to secure annulment of the marriage.  The young Joseph, although a devout Jew, had long been interested in Christianity, since he believed from his study of the scriptures that Christ was the fulfilment of the prophecies of the Old Testament.  His revulsion of the Catholic church in Italy was replaced by a fascination with Anglican Protestantism and he became friendly with Anglican clergymen in his new environment, probably to augment his meagre income whilst he was lodging with a local family, even taught them Hebrew which they were eager to learn in order to read the Hebrew bible, and Italian. He also made a little money from the slaughter of chickens for the local Jewish community.

Before long, a scandalous public argument had developed between his uncle and Joseph regarding monies that Gabriel Treves claimed were owed him for Joseph’s passage to England. Treves discounted to a London businessman the promissory note which Joseph had signed, at his uncle’s demand to prove to Joseph’s father that his uncle had kept his promise to clothe, feed and house him during his apprenticeship. Upon maturity of the note Joseph could not redeem the guarantee and that lead to his imprisonment for debt in Exeter’s Southgate prison. Whilst there he continued his contacts with his friends in the Anglican clergy, finally being baptized, christened and accepted into the Church of England in 1734 shortly after his release from prison had been secured by them.

Knowing that the original publications were kept among historic papers at the Exeter synagogue I was able to contact a historian and genealogist in the Exeter Jewish community and together we set about transcribing the two pamphlets of Joseph’s account.  The first had been published as an answer to a pamphlet published by Gabriel Treves which itself has been lost in the annals of time, in which the uncle told of the conflict between him and his nephew, and in the second he relates the story of his arrival in England, the ensuing troubles with uncle Gabriel Treves and Joseph’s unhappy relationship with his new aunt after his uncle had remarried. Joseph alleges that all his papers, letters and his certification as a shochet (ritual slaughterer) were confiscated by his new aunt.

A copy of the facsimile and our transcription is appended to this chapter.

It is now thought that these pamphlets were not actually written by Joseph himself, whose command of English in those early days was probably not so good, despite Joseph’s claim that within six months of reaching Exeter, i.e., about a year after arriving in England his English was good enough for him to read and understand the New Testament. It is likely that they were actually written or at least edited by Joseph’s friends in the clergy of Exeter, who may have also had an interest in discrediting the local Jewish community and Joseph’s uncle, Gabriel Treves.

Learning about “The Ottlenghi Affair”,  I became very interested in the life and times of JSO as I began to call him, or Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe as he was known,  but it was quite some time before I was able to pick up his trail and follow his later life……………………..

After Joseph’s release from prison and his conversion to Christianity, little or nothing is known of his life until 1751 when he emigrated to the new British Atlantic Colony of Georgia in America on the good ship “Charming Martha”, arriving there he settled in the town of Savannah. There are conflicting versions of how Joseph came to emigrate; it is known that the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community of London at the Bevis Marks synagogue sponsored a group of 40 Jewish settlers to the New World and it has been suggested that Joseph may have been one of those although there is no documentation to support this suggestion, nor is it likely that he had much if any contact with the Bevis Marks congregation since he was no longer a practising Jew. Other sources state that Joseph was sent to Georgia as a catechist, a lay preacher and teacher, by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and/or the Associates of Dr Bray. The records of the USPG (reference B Series, B18 no. 78) hold a letter from one James Vernon, Clerk of the Council, Commissioner of the Excise and a Bray associate, to the Archbishop of Canterbury dated 9th January 1751.  In this letter Mr Vernon asked if the SPG was willing to contribute 25 pounds per year towards supporting Joseph’s work as a catechist in Georgia. The Bray Associates were contributing a similar amount. Joseph is described by Mr Vernon as a “convert from Judaism”. There is also a letter from Joseph dated 9th September 1751 (reference B Series B19 no. 149) in which Joseph reported his arrival in Savannah and gave an account of his work among the slaves.

However, according to the following extract from the Jewish Encyclopaedia, Joseph was sent by the Trustees of the colony as a superintendent of the fledgling silk industry there. This extract gives some background on the Jews in pre-revolutionary Georgia and mentions Joseph’s appointment by the Trustees to oversee the new silk industry. – UNITED STATES.txt

 The Jewish settlement in Georgia dates almost from the very foundation of the colony; and the early history of Georgia is practically the history of the growth and development of Savannah, Jewish life centering in that city.

It would appear that a movement was set on foot in London to settle some Jews in the colony even before Oglethorpe, in June, 1733, led his first band of followers to the point which soon after became the city of Savannah.

The second vessel which reached the colony from England (on July 11, 1733) had among its passengers no less than forty Jewish emigrants.  Though their arrival was unexpected, the liberal-minded governor welcomed them gladly, notwithstanding that he was aware that the trustees of the colony in England had expressed some opposition to permitting Jews to settle there.  These first settlers were all of Spanish and Portuguese extraction, though within a year of their arrival others, who were apparently German Jews, also took up their residence there.

These two bands of settlers received equally liberal treatment from Oglethorpe, and were the progenitors of one of the most important communities of Jews in the United States.  Many of their descendants are still living in various parts of the country.  The first male white child born in the colony was a Jew, Isaac Minis.

Among the first immigrants was Dr. Nuñez, who was made welcome because of his medical knowledge, and because he, with a number of others, brought sufficient wealth to the colony to enable the immigrants to take up large tracts of land.  A congregation was organized as early as 1734.

Three years later Abraham de Lyon, who had been a “vineron” in Portugal, introduced the culture of grapes.  The cultivation and manufacture of silk and the pursuit of agriculture and of commerce were the chief occupations of these early settlers.

A dispute with the trustees of the colony respecting the introduction of slaves caused an extensive emigration to South Carolina in 1741, and resulted in the dissolution of the congregation.  But in 1751 a number of Jews returned to Georgia, and in the same year the trustees sent over Joseph Ottolenghi to superintend the somewhat extensive silk-industry in the colony.  Ottolenghi soon attained prominence in the political life of his associates, and was elected a member of the Assembly in 1761 and in succeeding years.

 There seems to have been little if any distinction made socially between the Jews and the other settlers, and educational and philanthropic institutions seem to have been supported by all alike.

However, it seems that Joseph’s early involvement in Georgia was largely connected with his Christian missionary activities. According to one of my correspondents in my search for JSO,  Dr. Holly Snyder in her work “A Tree with Two Different Fruits: The Jewish Encounter with German Peitists in the Eighteenth Century American World” published in the William & Mary Quarterly (March 2003) in his early days in “British Atlantic” he acted for the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts) and the Associates of Dr Bray, as a catechist, mainly amongst the negro slaves. He was befriended by the Reverend Boltzius a minister in the German immigrant community who was so impressed by Joseph that he declared that although Ottolenghe had been born a Jew,”he is an upright, skilled, well read and well spoken man, who could well fill the minister’s position in Savannah….although he is not ordained, nor does he have the theological studies demanded for the ministerial office, he has enough talent to serve as a catechist among the black and ignorant people…he speaks good English, has a good library, is a zealous member of the Anglican Church, and is well versed in Oriental languages”.  (The reference is probably to the Hebrew language in which he was fluent and Chinese which he may have learned from silk traders in his Piedmonte home town.

Though he was unable from their initial conversation to determine whether Ottolenghe was of Jewish or Catholic origin, Boltzius was clearly encouraged by Ottolenghe’s apparent sincerity. When he mentioned Callenberg’s Institutum Judaicum at Halle, he was pleased to note that Ottolenghe “knew of the splendid Institute . . . for bringing the blind Jews to a recognition of the Messiah.” A few months later, having spent some time in getting to know Ottolenghe, he added that,”he has a fine gift of convincing the Jews of their errors and absurdities in religious matters.” Though Ottolenghe, in the eyes of Boltzius, remained a Jew, because of his conversion and his evident commitment to Christianity, he could be named in his diary, and Boltzius might even “number him among my good friends in Georgia.”  Holly Snyder also quotes B. H. Levy’s “Joseph Solomon Ottolenghi: Kosher Butcher in Italy – Christian Missionary in Georgia” (Ga. Hist. Q., 66 (1982) 128-33 and John C. Van Horne, “Joseph Solomon Ottolenghi (ca. 1711-1775), Catechist to the Negroes, Superintendent of the Silk Culture and Public Servant in Colonial Georgia” “Ottolenghe apparently qualified as “a proper Person” to serve “as an Itinerant Teacher in the Principles of Christianity” despite his status as a convert..Van Horne notes that Joseph was about forty years old at the time of his arrival in Georgia in July 1751 had been a Christian catechist for some 17 years While Boltzius clearly hoped that Ottolenghe would succeed where he himself had failed, Ottolenghe elected to focus his religious work on catechizing the colony’s slave population. Although Joseph evidently maintained friendly contact with Savannah’s practicing Jews, there is no evidence of any description to suggest that he attempted to spread Christianity among the Jews in Savannah.

Joseph had apparently gained his expertise in silk manufacture of which Piedmont in Italy and in particular his home town of Casale Monferatto was an established centre, for he was later nominated by Pickering Robinson to succeed him as superintendent of the colony’s important silk industry. The trustees of the colony accepted Robinson’s suggestion and when Robinson retired to England in ill health in 1753, Joseph was appointed under a three-year contract. He was granted a tract of land along the river where he established a farm, calling it “Exon” or “Exonia” after the Latin name of Exeter. Joseph received a stipend of eight pence a day and his wife six pence a day on condition that they commit their “utmost efforts” to the promotion of the silk industry. The trustees of the colony were interested in promoting the silk industry and bounties, or subsidies were paid to the farmers as a productivity incentive. Joseph was to control the payment of the subsidies according to this notice in the LONDON MAGAZINE dated April 1758, copied in the PENNSYLVANIA GAZETTE in August of that year:

August 10, 1758 The Pennsylvania Gazette From the LONDON MAGAZINE for April, 1758.

ITEM #22131

August 10, 1758

The Pennsylvania Gazette

For the Advantage of the BRITISH COLONIES, the following Premiums are given by the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

Silk in Georgia. The production of Silk, in the American colonies, being undoubtedly a proper object of encouragement, as it must tend greatly to the advantage of those colonies, and prove highly beneficial to the mother country, by promoting a very valuable branch of its manufactures:  In order to forward the same, by such bounties as may operate in equal proportion to the benefit of the poorest, as well as the richest planter, the society propose to give,

For every pound weight of cocoons produced in the province of Georgia, in the year 1758, of a hard, weighty, and good substance, wherein one worm only has spun, 3d.

For Every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, of a weaker, lighter, spotted, or bruised quality, tho’one worm has only spun in them, 2d.

For every pound of cocoons produced in the same year, wherein two worms have interwoven themselves, 1d.

N.B. The premiums will be paid under the direction of Mr. Ottolenghe, superintendent of the Silk Culture in Georgia, to every person who shall bring his balls or cocoons to the public silature at Savannah, according to notice already sent to Georgia.

He was said to have been a severe superintendent, rejecting cocoons with even the slightest defect and according to Van Horne was accused of cheating in the weight if the farmer was not present.  One Edward Caiger, referred to Joseph as “a Jew” in a letter complaining of his cheating “in the Weight” dated 15 September 1766. Edward Caiger of South Carolina complained to the Society for Encouraging of Arts and Commerce that Savannah’s silk filature was directed by “one Joseph Ottolenghe a Jew”; Letter of Edward Caiger, Sept. 15, 1766, quoted in Van Horne, “Joseph Solomon Ottolenghe,” p.405. Ottolenghe had been a committed Christian for nearly 30 years at the time Caiger made this statement. Conceivably, Caiger’s reference to Ottolenghe as a “Jew” (which Ottolenghe was not, in terms of religious practice) had something to do with Caiger’s claim that Ottolenghe “not only throws by a Cocoon that has the least Spot but cheats in the Weight if the [silk farmer] is not present.” Allegations of cheating were frequently levelled at Jews in British Atlantic America as a means of impugning their credibility.

Joseph published treatise on the breeding of silk worms, wrote extensively on the education of the colony’s negro slaves which had been a major part of his early life in Georgia, and entered public life as a Justice of the Peace for the Savannah district, later he was also a member of the colony’s governing Commons House from 1761-1765. A number of books and papers about life in the pre-revolutionary colony of Georgia contain mentions of the public life of Joseph Ottolenghe

The Fledgling Province, Social & Culural Life in Colonial Georgia, 1733-1776, Harld E. Davis -University of North Carolina for the Institute of Early American History & Cutlure

Everyday Life Part I – Page 50: “A more comfortable way to travel was in a riding chair, a buggy that usually carried one person but sometimes carried two. Chairs were common all over the colony and we have an account of two meeting on a road outside Savannah in the 1760’s.  In one was [William] Gibbons, who was going into town.  In the other was Joseph Ottolenghe, formerly a caechist but at this time a member of the Assembly. They paused to greet each other, but Ottolenghe had to move along quickly because he had a ‘young horse in the Chair that would not Stop'” from “A Memorandum of Agreement between Joseph Ottolenghe Esq., and Willm Gibbons as near as Willm Gibbons could Recollect” (ca 1760’s) William Gibbons, Jr., Papers.

Everyday Life Part II – Page 78:

“In the midst of a business dispute over the exchange of some lands, [Joseph] Ottolenghe wrote to William Gibbons Jr.,:

‘I want none of your Favors, nor shall you have any note of Hand from me. If I owe you anything arrest me. I want none of your dear purchased Indulgencies, but Justice.’ ” from Ottolenghe to William Gibbons, Jr., Jan. 23, 1765, William Gibbons, Jr., Papers, Perkins Lib., Duke Univ., Durham, N.C.

(Joseph obviously is wary of signing a “note of Hand” after the experience with his uncle, Gabriel Treves, in Exeter, England in the 1730’s – see transcription below – BL)

Occupations – footnote to Page 90:

“Ottolenghe wrote [concerning Governor Henry Ellis and his apparent concern for the slaves] ‘How often the present humane Governor and I have commiserate their [the slaves’] hard and forlorn Fate, and propose to find out some Relief for them, which would not be difficult, but who must give the Consent to such Regulations?  Why the Legislative Body compos’d mostly of owners of Negroes, who would as soon to it as an Assembly of Lawyers would pass a Bill to curtail their Fees.'” from Joseph Ottolenghe to the Rev. Mr. Waring, July 12 1758, MSS of Dr. Bray’s Associates, Pt. H L.C. reel 11, 335/208-209).

Slavery, Class Structure and the Family – Page 131:

“A sensitive Georgian of the period wrote that slaves ‘never hear no other Discourses but what passes amongst themselves and no white People will have anything to say to them but to abuse them with bitter Execrations and cruel Blows.'”  from Joseph Ottolenghe to the Rev. Mr. Waring, July 12 1758, MSS of Dr. Bray’s Associates, Pt. H,(L.C. reel 11, 335/209; Ottolenghe to Waring October 4 1759, ibid. (L.C. reel 11, 335/218-219) Ottolenghe stated that “as for the Negroes of these Parts they are mostly African born.”  Henry Ellis attached a statement certifying the truth of the contents of the letter.

Slavery, Class Structure and the Family – Page 142-143:

“In 1751 the trustees appointed Josephe Ottolenghe to be catechist for the blacks in Georgia(1).  A Jew who converted to Anglicanism, Ottolenghe had been born and educated in Italy and had journeyed to London to be married, but was disappointed in his suit. After a dispute with an uncle who lived in England, he was cast into a British jail for debt. Attracted to Christianity through reading the New Testament, he was baptized a Christian according to the rites of the Church of England. During his imprisonment, he was befriended by members of the Anglican church in Exeter. For the rest of his life he maintained a firm attachment to the established church.

In Georgia, Ottolenghe was paid to teach the slaves reading, writing and the principles of Christianity(2)  (He was to promote the silk industry at the same time.) The important thing about Ottolenghe’s appointment was its officiality.  His ministrations to the slaves were sanctioned by the trustees. Under royal government the official attitude changed substantially. After the passage of the 1755 slave act, it was a crime to teach a slave to write. The provision was continued in the 1770 act and was law when the Revolution began. Some masters disregarded it, for prominent men conspicuously educated some of their slaves, and no one was ever prosecuted for doing so.  Ottolenghe himself carried on his teaching until at least 1760, long after it was illegal.

To Ottolenghe and to others, the purpose of teaching slaves to read and write was to foster religion-specifically, to get them to use the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  When he arrived in Georgia in 1751, he asked the rector of the church in Savannah to announce from the pulpit that slaves of consenting masters would be taught three times a week.(3) He disregarded advice that he become an itinerant catechist going from plantation to plantation and, instead built a house in Savannah with a large room where his students assembled, usually at night when their work was done and their owners could spare them.  Many masters refused to have their slaves taught at all.  For those who came – sometimes there were fifty and at other times fewer than ten – Ottolenghe opened with prayer, then taught reading and instruction in the Lord’s Prayer.  Next came the catechism, followed by a homily.  He taught some slaves to read, but poorly, for ‘Slavery is certainly a great Depresser of the Mind (4).

The resistance of many masters to Ottolenghe’s efforts was dogged, and the life of the catechist was difficult. Some masters thought they would be losers if their slaves were either converted or educated, asserting that Christian slaves were ten times worse than pagans.  Some masters were as great heathens as their slaves, said Ottolenghe, and he was surprised that they even bothered to use ‘so many sophistical Arguments to block the Instruction.'(5) In the face of these discouragements, Ottolenghe found himself busier and busier with silk culture. By the early 1760’s he had abandoned the slaves altogether.

From (1) Colonial Records of Georgia II, 510

(2) Ibid, 556

(3) Ottolenghe to the Rev. Mr. Smith, 4 December 1751, MSS of Dr Bray’s Associates, Pt. H (L.C. reel 11,335/201-203)
(4) Ibid, also Ottolenghe to Waring, 12 July 1758 ibid, (L.C. reel 11,335/206-211); and Ottolenghe to Associates of Dr. Bray, 18 November 1754, ibid, (L.C. reel 11,335/223)

(5) Ottolenghe to Associates of Dr. Bray, 19 November 1753, ibid, (L.C. reel 11,335/230)

Slavery, Class Structure and the Family Page – 146-147:

“Nevertheless, social mobility characterized royal as well as colonial Georgia, for power and status were open to those who could certify themselves through wealth or remarkable abilities. One could not otherwise explain the rise to prominence of Habersham, a former Savannah schoolmaster; of Ottolenghe, the catechist who had been imprisoned in a British jail; of William Ewen and William Russell, who came as servants; of Francis Harris, who had started as a clerk in the trustee store; of John Adam Treutlen, who first came to notice as a schoolmaster among the Salzburgers; or of Edward Barnard, a former baker’s apprentice”.

Slavery, Class Structure and the Family – Page 154:

“In 1769 the upper class apparently rallied, for five of their own were chosen [as Commissioners of the workhouse], if one includes the again victorious [Robert] Bolton.  Habersham himself was elected in that year, along with Ottolenghe, Edward Telfair and William Young, all members of the upper class.”

Religion – Page 197-198:

“When Josephe Ottolenghe arrived in Georgia, a false report spread that he was a minister, and he found himself pressed to visit the back-country. Unqualified to go, he sent them books instead.” from Joseph Ottolengh to the Rev. Mr. Smith 4 December 1751 MSS of Dr Bray’s Associates, Pt. H (L.C. reel 11,335/201-202).

 Religion – Page 197-198:

“The story of the establishment of the church in Georgia is a remarkable one without exact parallel in any other province.  Usually, if establishment had not already occurred by 1758, it did not occur at all. Establishment was no easy thing to bring about in Georgia, although it was finally done voluntarily and without external pressure.  A move to establish the Anglican religion was begun in 1755 in the first session of the assembly under royal rule.  A bill passed the lower house but did not survive in the upper.  A similar thing happened in 1757.  In 1758, however, an act of establishment was finally passed and became law.  Ottolenghe, then a member of the Commons House, seems to have been its principal mover, assisted by Edward Barnes of Augusta and Henry Yonge.  Ottolenghe wrote an account of what happened, and not unnaturally made himself the “hero” of the story.

According to him, there were three alignments in the Commons House-Anglican churchmen, dissenters and men who had no feeling for any church. Spotting a division amongst the dissenters, he strove to turn their disagreements to the advantage of Anglicanism. The Germans and the Congregationalists “differ’d so much from each other as both differ’d from the Church of England”, Ottolenghe said, and he set about keeping them from uniting.  He succeeded.  After fourteen days he and his allies passed the establishment measure through the lower house and sent it on to the upper, where all the members except two were dissenters.

The upper house cut the bill to shreds and sent it back to the lower chamber with the words “Church of England” struck out, which convinced Ottolenghe that the measure, if passed in that form, would establish “every whimsical Sectary in Georgia”.  But again fortune favoured him.  The altered bill arrived back in the Commons when that body was already angry with the upper house over another matter.  Ottolenghe made it appear that changing the church bill was yet another affront.  The Speaker of the lower house appointed him to represent that chamber’s interest in a conference committee with the upper house, and he shrewdly arranged for the appointment of two dissenters to his committee, knowing that they would be required to advance the opinions of the lower house rather than their personal convictions.  Thus he expected them to influence the dissenters in the other chamber. If his account of what happened is correct, he was right, for the strategy worked.

Details and quotations concerning the establishment are taken from an unsigned letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury, read in committee, 15 January 1759. SPG papers, Series C, Pkg. I Pt. Ii (L.C. reel2, 17-25).

Religion and the State in Georgia in the Eighteenth Century

Reba Carolyn Strickland, Ph. D. Columbia University Press, New York, 1939

Policy of the Trustees and Their Agents – Page 97-98:

“Joseph Ottolenghe was a Jewish native of Casale [Monferrato] in Italy, who had been converted to Anglican Christianity. He wanted to go to Georgia because the climate was similar to that of his birthplace. He was familiar with silk culture, which the Trustees were trying to promote, and offered to teach the Negroes Christianity (1). The Associates of Dr. Bray allowed him 25 pounds a year as a catechist for instructing the Negroes in Georgia, who were said to number over 300(2). Supported by James Vernon, he petitioned the SPG and received a grant of 15 pounds a year (3). The Georgia Trustees agreed to pay his passage and that of his wife on the “Charming Martha” and gave them 30 pounds to aid the promotion of silk culture(4).

Ottolenghe arrived in July, and [Rev.] Zouberbuhler welcomed him heartily, suggesting methods which he thought would be effective in teaching the Negroes (5). At Ottolenghe’s request, Zouberbuhler announced in the church that Negroes would be instructed on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings, in order not to interfere with their work.  The sessions were opened with a prayer after which came a reading lesson “that they may be able in Time to come to comfort themselves in reading the Book of God.” Then they were taught to repeat the catechism, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed. Ottolenghe usually gave them a brief talk, illustrated with a story from the Bible, couched in simple terms and in such a loving manner as to attach them to himself, so they would follow his advice. He also offered rewards to the diligent (6). After a year’s effort he seemed to think that his work was reasonably successful, and the Associates of Dr. Bray were pleased with his methods (7). The co-operation of the Trustees in this venture seems liberal in view of the fact that the later government of Georgia forbade the teaching of slaves to write.

(1) Minutes of the Associates of Dr. Bray, I, 73 14 January 1750/1

(2) Ibid., same date; S.P.G. Correspondence, Series B, XVIII, 78-9

(3) S.P.G. Correspondence, Series B, XVIII, 78-80, S.P.G. Journal XI, 311 15 February 1750/1; Minutes of the Associates of Dr. Bray, I, 75, 21 March 1750/1; C.O..5/671 page 181.

(4) C.O..5/671 page 181: C.R. Ga., I, 552, 556: II, 510; C.R. Ga., ms. XXXI, 74

(5) S.P.G., Journal XII 87-8

(6) S.P.G. Correspondence, Series B, XIX, 149 ; Dr. Bray’s Records, Original Letters, J. Ottolenghe to Rev. Mr. Smith 4 December 1751.

(7) Dr. Bray’s Records, Original Letters, Ottolenghe to Associates 8 June 1752; Minutes of the Associates of Dr. Bray, 10 July 1752, I, 78-9.

From the preceding passages it is apparent that Joseph Ottolenghe had played a prominent role in the social, political and religious life of pre-revolutionary Georgia and left his indelible mark on the province’s history. What a different world from that of the historic Jewish communities he had left years earlier in Casale Monferrato and Livorno. One cannot help but wonder how different modern Georgia would be if the young Giuseppe had declined his uncle’s invitation to London and had taken up the living as shochet and teacher in Mondevi, or had he been able to marry his uncle’s daughter Deborah in Exeter.

There is still much we do not know about Joseph and his life between his release from prison in Exeter until his arrival in Georgia – where he spent those 17 years and how he made his living, whether those years were as troubled as his years in London and Exeter and how they prepared him for those years of colonial life – in the words of Greg Johnson of the David Library of the American Revolution, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania PA, USA, who helped me by providing some of the source material for this mini-biography of Joseph Solomon Ottolenghi, from Hebrew scholar and teacher to kosher butcher, apprentice tobacco merchant, prisoner, convert, catechist, educator, silk farmer, magistrate and legislator until his death in Georgia in 1775, “Joseph Ottolenghe certainly appears to have been an individual of strong convictions combined with the courage to carry them out”.


I had written the preceding history before I was able to track down and study “Kosher butcher in Italy – Christian Missionary in Georgia” the excellent biography by B.H. Levy which was published by the Georgia Historical Society in the Georgia Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, Number 2 (Summer 1982). If I had known of its existence, I might not have had the enjoyable adventure of researching and compiling my own version.