Discovered possible (probable?) Jewish roots in Colonial USA #usa #unitedkingdom #sephardic


Albert Stern
 

I am looking for someone with insight into Jewish migration to Britain's American colonies in the 1700s. I was adopted as an infant by a Jewish family, and have known all my life that I was not of Jewish lineage. Ten years ago, I had my DNA tested, which confirmed I was primarily of British stock - I was disappointed then that I hadn't even a trace of DNA that connected me with Jews. Through ancestry.com two years ago, however, I discovered my birth families and have since discovered many fascinating things about my ancestors. This fall, my birth sister was doing our father's family tree, and discovered a David Levy, who was born in London in 1741 and who died in Frederick, Maryland in 1804. He married Maria Barbara Weis, who was born in 1741 in Germany, but who must have come to America with her parents (named Weissen) to Maryland as a child. Levy seems to have been a colorful character - the family historian of that line says he might have been brought over as a convict forced into indentured servitude (he was likely in the colonies by 1756 and for certain in Frederick by 1766), and that he served as a quartermaster sergeant with the German Battalion with Washington's army at Valley Forge. Apparently, a building in which he operated a tavern and hardware store still stands in Frederick. It seems that church records show baptismal and other records for his children and wife, but nothing (neither baptism nor confirmation) for David, though he is mentioned in church records but only as a husband to Maria - also, he never sponsored a baptism (i.e., he never served as a child's godfather) although his wife and some children did. My ancestor is David and Maria's child Sarah, who was wed in a Lutheran church to a Gessinger (parents Gessinger and Weissman, who may have been of Jewish heritage but who were married themselves in a Lutheran church). And this is where my Jewish line effectively ends.
I have many questions that I hope someone in this group can answer. Coming from England, David Levy was likely to have been Sephardic - I think. Could he have lived unconverted with a Christian wife in that era? It seems hard to believe, even in religiously tolerant Maryland. His 10 children had a mix of biblical and English names, which suggests some Jewish consciousness. All of this is very confusing and intriguing to me, and I would very much welcome corresponding with someone who knows more about this era. Thanking you in advance.

Albert Stern

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