Porto's Jewish community now has a new and proud member. Joseph Nunes Nabarro has just become a Portuguese citizen and intends to connect as much as possible with the community that has always welcomed him since he began his process of obtaining Portuguese nationality.
Unlike his maternal family, who for centuries wandered from country to country fleeing anti-Semitism, his father's ancestors remained for many generations in the safety of England and its Jewish institutions.
His paternal family’s surname is Nabarro, one of the Sephardic families who settled in England as a result of Menasseh ben Israel successfully influencing Oliver Cromwell to allow the resettlement of Jews in London during the mid-1650’s post the Civil War.
Menasseh rose to eminence not only as a rabbi and author, but also as a printer, and in November 1655 arrived in London where he published his Humble Addresses to the Lord Protector, as a result of which Cromwell summoned the Whitehall Conference in December of the same year.
The surname Nabarro means simply I am a “Man from Navarre”, the province of northern Spain whose capital is Pamplona. The Jewish life in Spain had a horrid halt with the Alhambra Decree of 1492 and that family, like many other Jewish families, then moved to Portugal where they adopted the Portuguese name “Nunes”.
From Portugal, like the ben Israel family and so many others, the Nabarro’s decamped to Amsterdam, a then beacon of religious tolerance. And from Amsterdam, bit by bit, the Nunes Nabarro family moved to London.
In 1870, great-grandfather Jacob, by then 25 years old and working as a diamond broker in London, married his bride from Amsterdam, Hannah Ricardo, a daughter of David Ricardo of Amsterdam, a relative of the influential classical economist with the same name. Even today Joseph has in his possession a portrait of David, which used to hang in his grandfather’s office in Piccadilly.
Subsequently members of his family have worked variously as accountants, a banker, doctors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, a magistrate, a politician, and professors, and two of whom have been knighted. And in England, as his family anglicised and converted to other religions like David Ricardo, a part of them remained Jewish genealogically and religiously.
Proud to be Jewish and English, Joseph Nunes Nabarro is today very happy to be Portuguese.