Original inventories of early New York Jews (1682-1763) (concluded).

Author:Hershkowitz, Leo

[Editor's Note: In this issue, American Jewish History concludes publication of all known surviving inventories of the Jews of colonial New York City. The extant inventories were originally thought to number twelve, as indicated in our previous issue, where the first seven were published as transcribed by Professor Leo Hershkowitz of Queens College of The City University of New York, together with his editorial annotations. The existence of a thirteenth inventory has since come to light. Upon publication of our last issue, Mr. Arnold Kaplan, a private collector and subscriber to the journal, contacted Professor Hershkowitz and informed him that he possessed the inventory of Abraham De Lucena, who died in New York in 1725. He graciously provided a copy to Professor Hershkowitz, who has authenticated the document and transcribed it for publication here, together with an introduction.

The original of Abraham De Lucena's inventory is part of the Deanne and Arnold Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica, whose kind permission has made publication possible. The inventories of Samuel Levy (1722), David Elias, and Mordecai Gomez are at the library of the American Jewish Historical Society. Those of Isaac Levy and Samuel Levy (1762) are in the collections of the New-York Historical Society.]


Samuel Levy was probably born in Germany like his brother Moses, and he arrived in New York from London shortly before 1695. He became a freeman of the city in 1695, and he and his brother were naturalized in 1713. They were related to Asser Levy (d. 1682), the first permanent Jewish resident of New York. Both brothers were merchants and both married sisters: Samuel married Rachel Ashers and Moses married Rycha Ashers. (1)

The brothers lived and died in the city. They were active not only in business but also as office holders, both serving as constables of the North and Dock Wards in 1718. They were major participants in trade, typically with England and the West Indies. (2) Samuel Levy earned the plaudits of James Alexander, a noted attorney who represented the executors of the Levy estate; he called him the "honestest Jew that has been in this place and a man of the most Easy temper." (3) In his will dated April 25, 1719, Levy appointed Isaac Levy, the son of another brother, Joseph, and merchants Nathan Simson and Jacob Franks, "loving kinsmen," as his executors. His wife Rachel was given his house and its furnishings, while his daughter Abigail was bequeathed "my Silver Tea Pot and one of my Silver Tankards." Levy made several individual grants, including money to impoverished relatives in Germany. He wished that his share of the pink Charlott (a vessel with a narrow stern) and the sloop Abigal be sold quickly. The will was probated on May 21, 1719. Executors Franks and Simson immediately began to settle the estate, and by June 10, 1719 a public sale was held. The lots included Levy's share of the forty-ton Charlott, but there is no mention of the twenty-ton Abigal. Possibly the co-owners, Moses Levy, Jacob Franks, Jacobus Van Cortlandt, and Adolph Philipse, took the vessel off the market, settling their part of the estate. (4)

The inventory is a good example of the variety of trade that was typical of New York's merchants. The bulk of Levy's estate came from debts owed by a cross-section of the New York business world. Also included were a variety of currencies, including Spanish, French, Arabian and local money, all used in the colonial market. There was obviously no standard currency. His estate also included a slave as well as a horse, "tarr," and flour. Property, human and not, were treated equally, if not indifferently.

There were approximately sixty people listed who did business with Levy, some who were quite well known, including William Bradford, New York's first public printer, and Robert Livingston, Jr., a large landowner in the province. Of the sixty, ten were Jewish merchants, a good indication of the extent to which Jews were a part of the general community.

Inventory of Samuel Levy March 9, 1721/2 (1722) An Inventory of what we have recd for Goods Sold at publick vendue outstanding Debts etc. Belonging to the Estate of Mr. Samuel Levy Deced Viz. 1719 June 10--To 293 ozs of Spanish Silver found in his house 126 [pounds sterling] 11 6 35 pistolls 49 14 8 Giunies (5) 13 4 1 French Do 1 12 6 Moydores (6) 12 18 4 Arabian pieces 2 Jersey Bills 6 5 N England Ditto 1 2 Cash Reced for Goods sold at vendue Charges of Vendue were Deducted 371 17 11 Ditto for ye pt of the pinck Charlott 80 Ditto for one horse 10 Ditto for 68 Barrl tarr at 30d of pitch sold to Mr. Wm. Walton, agt. 68 14 9 Ditto for 100 lb. tallow 2 10 Ditto for 12 tunn flour 43 5 5 Sundry Outstanding Reced as viz of Jacob Rutsen 3 11 6 Of Baraugh Juda [Baruch Judah] 28 19 9 Of Ezabell Davis 19 10 5 Of Richard Ray 24 2 Of John Theobalds 4 19 Of Adrian Man 2 10 5 Of Wm Bradford 5 Of Judath Isaacs 10 Of Abm. Pinto 8 8 9 Of Mary Brockholst 6 11 9 Of the Owners of the Sloop Hunter 32 10 Of Rodrigo Patcheco [Pacheco] 2 5 7 Of John Foster 18 Of Elias Peltreau 1 15 Of James Howden 8 15 Of Abm. Wendell 32 10 Of John Harris 1 4 Of Mary Burck 2 8 9 Of Mary Heath 3 10 Of Ed Davis 4 Of Thos Breasor 2 18 5 Of Robt. Livingston, Jun. 25 [pounds sterling] 3 Of Gabrill Shell 62 8 8 Of Thom. Parmyter 16 18 9 Of Gisbert Van Imburgh 31 1 Of Adolph Hardenbrook 37 9 6 Of John Hardenbergh 36 5 10 Of Thomas Noxon 5 11 6 Of Jacob Hayes 7 Of Simon Moses 31 1 Of Wm. Provoost 10 10 Of John Vizien 22 13 6 Of Mary Breton 1 13 Of Cor Low 11 10 6 Of John Finch 1 Of Elizabeth De Foreest 37 14 9 Of Richard Stillwell 24 13 Carried over 1375 [pounds sterling] 19 1 Brought over from the other side 1375 [pounds sterling] 19 1 Reced of Issac Demodena 20 5 6 Of Elizt. Kiersteed 86 13 Of Frans Geritbrance 52 15 9 Of Gerit Vanhorne 1 16 Of Abm. Vanvlieg 12 7 4 Of Cors. Clopper 17 11 Of Sam Provoost 44 7 10 Of Wm. Bradford 23 8 9 Of Henry Cuyler 15 10 6 Of Abraham Isaacs 26 19 9 Of George Tayler 60 11 1 Of Daniell Mouro 1 10 Of Peter Bogardus 4 12 Of Fredrick Williams 14 2 6 Of Elizt. Stillwell 8 Of Jacob Franks 24 15 5 Of Jacob Standford Reced by the hands of Cors. Standford being for a balance due in comp with M. Levy 2 11 5 Of Janetie Criger for a Negro sold 42 Of Jannetie Van Schayack 9 Of John Borrows 13 3 4 Of Thos. Williams 12 18 10 Of Nettie Beckman 12 9 Of Abm. Ullio in Curocoa Reced By the Sloop Port Royall In Jno. Fred Being money Left In sd ullios hand By Moses Michells 27 [pounds sterling] 15 Cash for 11 Doz. Handkerchiefs & Gross ferrit Lace which was returned by Deluecena 23 1 5 Reced 5 [pounds sterling] Barbados Money 6 5 Of Oliver Teller Jsay Neettie Beekman 13 6 6 Of Edward Davis 3 Of Simon Moses & Co. Interest of Bd 12 19 Cash Rcd from Barbados by the pinck Charlot 68 1 1 2037 [pounds sterling] 6 2 Some Goods Remaining By Us unsold 7 ps stuff Returned by Abm De Lucena Belonging to t[ha]t Estate 50 yds of allamode Returned from Barbados Belonging to Do 24 ps. Muzelin Belonging to M. Marcus Devries Merc[han]t in London New York ye 9th March 172 1/2 (Reverse of page) Accot of wt Debt etc. we have Rece'd Levy as [line missing] 1 Looking Glass 1 Small Table 1 Bed Bedsteed & Curtins 1 Doz. Of Small India pictures (7) Doz. Chears 1 Doz. Leather Do 1 Table 7 Small Tea Table 1 Drawers 1 Seretoor [escritoire] 3 Gilt Pictures 2 Small Do 2 pare of Sconches 1 pare hand Irons Doz. Broken Cupps & Cawcers 1 Teapot & Slop Bason 3 Doz Napkins 1 Doz. Table Cloths 1 Doz. Sheets 1 Watch 76 oz. of wrought plate 2 Lookin Glases 4 Brass Potts 1 Gridiron 1 Pan 24 wt Pewter 1 pare Candle Sticks 1 pare Thongs & Shovell 1 paile 1 Iron Pott Some small Matter of Household Goods Unknown and Some waring aparell New York March ye 9th 1721/2

There personally appeared before me Isaac Bobin being thereunto authorized by his Excellency William Burnet Esq. & Nathan Simson and Jacob Franks and made oath that the within written Inventory is a true and perfect Inventory of the Goods Rights and Credits of Samuel Levy late of this City Merch[an]t deceased as far as hath come to their hands or possession or to the hands or possession of any Person or Persons in Trust for them.

Is.[aac] Bobin


Nathan Simson

Jacob Franks


March ye 9th 1721/2

Inventory of the Estate of Samuel Levy Esq. By Nathan Simson & Jacob Franks

Not pd. Mr. Franks

Dr 21 [pounds sterling]/10 Pd Mar. 18, 1722 (8)

(1.) Leo Hershkowitz, "Another Abigail Franks Letter," American Jewish Historical Society Quarterly 59 (1970): 225-26.

(2.) New York City Register's Office, Conveyance Liber 31, cp. 236-37. See also Leo Hershkowitz, "Some Aspects of the New York Jewish Merchants in Colonial Trade," in Aubrey Newman, ed., Migration and Settlement: Proceedings of the Anglo-American Jewish Historical Conference (London, 1971), 105; David De Sola Pool, Portraits Etched in Stone: Early Jewish Settlers, 1682-1831 (New York, 1952), 192-99; and Leo Hershkowitz, ed., Wills of Early New York Jews (1704-1799) (New York, 1967), 27-29.

(3.) Ibid., 27; New-York Historical Society, James Alexander Papers, Box 10. See also George J. Miller, "James Alexander and the Jews, Especially Isaac Emanuel," Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 35 (1939): 177. Alexander wondered if Samuel Levy "the nephew" knew the trick of putting salt water into cocoa in order to gain allowance for damage.

(4.) Hershkowitz, Wills, 27-29. The Charlott was owned by Henry Cuyler, Moses Levy, Jacob Franks, and Nathan Simson.

(5.) A guinea was the equivalent of 21 shillings, or 1 pound-1 shilling.

(6.) Moydores, pistolls, and Arabian pieces were types of hard currency.

(7.) Jewish merchants in England frequently traded with India, and perhaps paintings from there came to Levy's hands. See Leo Hershkowitz and Isidore S. Meyer, eds., The Lee Max Friedman Collection of American Jewish Colonial Correspondence: Letters of the Franks Family...

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