Inez sat upon the deck, a fugitive, and alone. She who, only the evening previous, had been the centre of a brilliant group, whose halls had sounded with the voice of revelry, the blithsome dance, whence aught of sorrow seemed so far away as to be but a name, not a reality. […] She was going to a land where she knew not one, her only credentials being a letter hurriedly written by her cousin to one of his friends in London.
Grace Aguilar, “The Fugitive”, Home Scenes and Heart Studies (New York, 1853)
During the 1720s and 1730s, the Jewish population in London reached figures never witnessed before. According to A. S. Diamond (1962), it more than doubled. This growth was due to the remarkable increase of Iberian New Christian emigration to England, mostly from Portugal, following the recrudescence of the Inquisition in the kingdom. For example, between 1700 and 1730, near 500 New Christians living in Lisbon were prosecuted. After the Inquisitorial trial or to avoid it altogether, many escaped on board of English packet boats and military vessels. This illicit circulation of people and assets would end up provoking a diplomatic tension between Portugal and England.
The website Nation between Empires aims to connect both phases of this movement, providing information and historical sources on the path of New Christian/Jewish families and individuals from their origins and life in Portugal until their settlement in England and British colonial territories. Through a prosopographic approach, the objective is to disclose life paths, trade networks and geographic, economic and social mobility.
The core of this website is the page Vindos de Portugal (coming from Portugal) – a label used in the documentation from the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation of London to designate those new members who had recently arrived from Portugal -, where it is provided data on families who had escaped to England during the first half of the 18th century . This is the result of the confrontation of Portuguese and British sources with the aim of finding the identity of these newcomers, which, in most cases, is hidden under the veil of the change of name following the conversion to Judaism.