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S03EP04: ‘The Defiant’ with David Mendoza

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The Family Histories Podcast - 'The Defiant' with David Mendoza

In the fourth episode of Series Three of The Family Histories Podcast, Andrew meets David Mendoza – President of the Sephardic Genealogical Society, to find out how he got hooked on tracing his ancestry, how he researches his Sephardic Jewish roots, and how he became the co-host of the weekly Sephardic World YouTube series.

Listen to the episode

S03EP04 – 'The Defiant' with David Mendoza The Family Histories Podcast

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The Life Story:
Miguel de Mendonça Valladolid

David has chosen his ancestor’s nephew Miguel de Mendonça Valladolid, who was born in about 1688 in Valladolid, in Castile and León, Spain but lived in many different locations throughout his life.

He was imprisoned by the Portuguese Inquisition for being a Jew, and after continuing to refuse to be converted into what was called a “New Christian”, his possessions were confiscated and he was burnt alive in Lisbon in 1731.

Ironically, whilst this was an attempt to eradicate him from the world, it has actually left us with 700 pages of historical documents.

The Brick Wall:
Aaron Mendoza

David’s brick wall really is a mystery – it’s his ancestor Aaron Mendoza for whom the anchoring pieces of evidence are his marriage in London in 1730 at Bevis Marks Synagogue to Benvenida, and his work in 1733 to translate a religious manual of Jewish customs – the first Jewish book published in England. Other than that, Aaron’s origins and eventual demise are unknown.

He’s found in 1744 in London, and his wife Benvenida is documented as receiving charitable payments in 1749, but Aaron is missing. David’s best guess is that he might have gone to Ireland (where there were some small Portuguese Jewish communities), but Irish records destroyed during the 20th Century would have eliminated any potential evidence.

  • When and where was Aaron Mendoza born – was it really Amsterdam or Bayonne in France in about 1708-1710?
  • When and where did Aaron Mendoza die?

It really is a bit of a pin in a map scenario that could stretch from the UK to Ireland to Brazil, or elsewhere but David hopes to find answers one day.

If you think that you can help David with a clue to help him demolish his research brick wall, then you can send him a message via our Contact Form and we’ll pass the message straight on.

In the meantime, David is initially unsure whether to accept Andrew’s offer of help, but then things don’t always quite go to plan…

Episode Credits
Series Three, Episode Four

  • Andrew Martin: Host & Producer
  • David Mendoza: Guest

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