Although, I have been a member of JewishGen almost since the start (I am
member 1283), I only just joined this list. I do have other known Sephardic
ancestors besides for the line which I discuss here.
In August, I received an email >from someone who is a mitochondrial DNA
match. Mitochondrial DNA is passed >from mother to child. Both male and
female children inherit it, but males do not pass it further. Thus this
match indicates that we are related on our purely maternal lines.
The person whom I match is >from Mallorca, Spain. Although he knew that both
his father and mother were descended on their male lines >from people who
converted >from Judaism due to the Inquisition, he did not know about his
purely maternal line which is why he took the test. The fact that he matches
a great number of central and eastern European Jews proves that this line is
In my case, I can trace my maternal line only pack to a woman named Lina or
Lia ( = Leah) who was born in 1753 in the town of Birstein in the
present-day Main-Kinzig-Kreis in Hessen, Germany. That is only about halfway
back to the Inquisition.
What else I noticed is that almost all of my many mitochondrial matches are
obviously primarily Ashkenazi. There are only a couple of other who appear
to have ancestors >from Spain. What I am curious about is if anyone has any
statistics, even if quite approximate, as to what percentage of Jews
converted at the time of the Inquisition as opposed to leaving Spain?
Ralph N. Baer Washington, DC RalphNBaer@...
The subject of these statistics is very much a "Who knows?" question and one
typically sees a range of estimates.
Here are some estimates >from Wikipedia "Expulsion of Jews >from Spain"
providing a timeline as much as anything.
The Alhambra Decree aka Edict of Expulsion was issued March 31, 1492, to
take effect on Tisha B'Av, 1492, which it did.
More than half of Spain's Jews had converted in 1391 due to persecutions and
pogroms. Wikipedia "History of the Jews in Spain" put this number at
Because of "continuing attacks" 50,000 more had converted by 1415. Wikipedia
"Expulsion of Jews >from Spain" numbers the total converts >from 1391 to 1492
Between 40,000 and 100,000 Jewish Spaniards were expelled in 1492. "An
unknown number returned to Spain in the following years" (Wikipedia
"Expulsion of Jews >from Spain"). The numbers expelled would constitute a
human tidal wave in any era.
Likewise the number of today's descendants of converts who remained in Spain
in 1492 must be considerable.
I saw a very imprecise map showing where the expelled migrated. There was
one arrow >from northern Spain to somewhere in southern England. The note
stated some were forced to return >from England to Spain where they
There was no record given of those who did not return to Spain >from England
which was already officially Judenrein in 1492. Presumably those remaining
in England were forced to convert in England and assimilated there.
It is a little known fact that Sicily was under the control of Spain in 1492
and the Jews of Sicily suffered the same fate at the Jews of Spain but in
An estimated 36,000 Sicilian Jews were expelled in 1493 (Wikipedia "History
of the Jews of Sicily and the Spanish Inquisition"). An unknown number
accepted conversion to remain in Sicily.
An interesting article "Surnames of the former Jews of Sicily" states "After
the edict of expulsion part of the Jewish population converted. These are
some surnames adopted by Jews after the conversion." Hundreds of names are
The Inquisition in Spain was abolished in 1820s-1830s. The last Inquisition
trial in Brazil I could find noted was in 1763.
I have learned of an annual festival on one of the Portuguese islands when
men dress in pointed black hoods and black robes to mingle among the crowds.
This appears to be a form of modern intimidation.
Likewise I learned of an annual festival in Ecuador when effigies are
burned. People tease one another saying "I will burn you!" This also
appears to be not so subtle intimidation.
Family Tree DNA found that an astonishing percentage of Latin American men,
presumably not Jewish, testing there have the Cohen Modal Haplotype
indicating they are descendants of Aaron the brother of Moses.
If so many Latin American males are Cohen, what are the rest?
Peter Irvine <peterbirvine@...>
The ending date of the Inquisition, I am told, is considerably later
than one might imagine. My ancestor Antonio de Sousa was born 1707
on the Island of Terceira, Azores, Kingdom of Portugal. He left his
native country at the age of 19. I think he may have been escaping
from the Inquisition, as late as it might seem.Peter Irvine
I want to thank everyone who replied to my question, both on line and
privately. While, as expected, there is not universal agreement as to the
percentage of Spanish Jews who converted, there was agreement that
significant numbers converted and significant numbers left the country.
The reason that I had so few Converso matches is probably what my contact
suggested, a relatively small amount of non-Americans take DNA tests from
I wanted to correct one thing which I wrote in replies to a couple of
people. I do not have one 4th-great-grandmother who is known to be
Sephardic. That 4th-great-grandmother Barbara (Brendel) ASTRUK who was born
about 1735 in Worms and died on 20 February 1793 in Heidelberg-Rohrbach was
herself actually only quarter Sephardic through her paternal grandfather
Calmon ASTRUK (born about 1660 Mannheim, died 26 February 1721 Mannheim).
His parents were Moses Abraham ASTRUK (born about 1630 Avignon, died 1668
Mannheim) and Gentille CARCASSONE (born Avignon, died 16 January 1705 Wien).
Abraham's wife. Moses Abraham ASTRUK's father was Gad ASTROUQUE (ASTRUK)
(born about 1600 Avignon). His mother is unknown. Gentille CARCASSONE's
parents were Emanuel (Manoach) CARCASSONE (born Avignon, died 8 April 1667
Mannheim) and Rosa de MONTE (MONTEUX) (born Avignon, died Mannheim).
One 6th-great-grandparent would account for 1/256 on my DNA or about 0.4%
which would explain why autosomal DNA tests don't show it.
If anyone knows how the people whom I mentioned are connected to those
families in Avignon, I am certainly interested.
Ralph N. Baer Washington, DC RalphNBaer@...