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25 February 2011

Sephardic Families of Nevis

Much has been written about the Jews of the Caribbean, and it seems as almost daily contacts are made to the families there. Today is no different. I have been looking at a pedigree of an early Sephardic family that has possible ties through three different lines to Nevis. Those lines are Pinheiro, Abendana and Arrobas.

The Island of Nevis may have had a Jewish community as early as the mid 1600's, most being planters and sugar merchants., however the first records don't began until 1671, when the islands received their own government, separate from Barbados.

In fact, the high taxes placed upon the Jews of Barbados caused many to flee to Nevis, so much so that Nevis became overcrowded. There is no official count of how many Jews were on the Island, however, there must have been a strong community. The clues left behind that point to a strong community include a cemetery, which dates to the late 1600's, as well as the remnants of a Jewish School.

The three families on my pedigree are all very prominent Sephardic families from the London area, in fact all three have family members being married at Bevis Marks Synagogue in the mid 1700's. The early residents of Nevis had ties to the London area. Are these early settlers related to those in London? Probably, however now the work begins to bridge the gap between Nevis in the late 1600's and London in the mid 1700's.

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