By Ann Rabinowitz
October 31, 2010
There are many unusual resources for locating information about our ancestors. One I ran into today was “The Gentleman’s Magazine”, Volume 178, Page 665, which I found on Google Books. It was a monthly magazine founded in January, 1731, in London, by Edward Cave, and which ran until approximately 1907. Online images of the magazine can be found for the 1731-1750 issues at Oxford and 1731-1899, 1906-1907 issues on Google and the University of Michigan.
The magazine is notable, in genealogical terms, for its listings of marriages and obituaries. Despite the fact that the listings were mainly for non-Jews, there were some that were Jewish. One such was for Moses Mendes da Costa who was born in 1780 and who died November 8, 1845, age 65, many years of the island of Barbados.
Looking up the da Costa family, I found an interesting discussion of the da Costa family on the Hebrew History Federation site, http://www.hebrewhistory.info/factpapers/fp041_dacostas.htm. The piece was entitled “The da Costas A Remarkable Sephardic Family” by Samuel Kurinsky.
This fascinated me, so I delved further and looked on The National Archives site, http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/search/search_results.aspx?Page=1&Que... where I found his will which could be purchased and downloaded. This was in addition to many references to other members of the da Costa family.
The will was closely handwritten and quite difficult to read. One longed for a typewritten document as we are all used to. The 1841 will was for Moses Mendes da Costa, living at Spital Square in Middlesex. The will was very helpful as it provided detailed information on nieces, nephews and god-children of Moses who he named in the will and its codicil.
Looking in the 1841 Census which is the one before da Costa’s death, one can find a Moses da Costa, age 61, and wife Rebecca, age 55, of Spital Square, which appears to be the same family. In the findmypast.com database on deaths, he is also correctly listed in the fourth quarter of 1845, in Islington.
And lastly, notices of Moses Mendes da Costa’s death were found in the November 21 and 28, 1845 issues of The Jewish Chronicle. Unfortunately, the notice had no information regarding his career or life nor did it mention any surviving relatives. It did provide his residential address as #2 River Terrace, Islington. Evidently, he had moved to Islington soon after his will had been written and the Census had been taken in 1841.