Montefiore Family Papers

Scope and Content

Papers and correspondence of the Montefiore family, 1827-1885, mainly papers of Sir Moses Montefiore, comprising a volume containing a list of letters addressed to Sir Moses, covering the years 1844-1851 and including a record of correspondence from him; two letterbooks of Sir Moses, 1862, comprising copies of letters sent and received, with index; letterbook of Sir Moses, 1865-1870, comprising copies of letters sent and received, with index; account book of Sir Moses, 1827-1829, including in particular detailed records of his travels, with expenditure on hotels, horses, tolls, etc, and comments; account book of Sir Moses, 1856-1865, recording funds received and spent on behalf of the Holy Land Committee, and also including some records of correspondence; account book of Sir Moses, 1861, 1869-1872, recording sums received and expended on behalf of the Holy Land Committee; account book of Sir Moses, 1864-1884, recording sums received and spent mainly on behalf of the Jewish community in Jerusalem, and indexed; printed appointment diary of Sir Moses, 1879, with narrative entries and notes in his own hand and that of an amanuensis, and also including as inserts various almanacs, telegrams, etc; printed and manuscript addresses and testimonials, some illuminated, framed or in presentation cases, presented to Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore, 1840-1885 and undated, comprising c350 items, among them many centenary tributes, 1884, the donors including many Jewish communities and organisations in Britain, Europe, the USA, and elsewhere; bound volume of testimonials from Italian Jewish communities, 1884, comprising 165 items. There is also a manuscript volume, 'Talmud Torah ...' (Jerusalem, c1875), with a dedication to Sir Moses Montefiore and his signature. Various other material on Jewish subjects and individuals, including artefacts and printed books, formerly belonging to the Judith Lady Montefiore College includes some material relating to Sir Moses Montefiore, notably eight large volumes containing addresses, letters of congratulation and poems presented to Sir Moses on his ninety-ninth and hundredth birthdays, 1883-1884, arranged alphabetically by place; copies of [Lady Montefiore's] 'Notes from a Private Journal of a Visit to Egypt and Palestine ... ' (2nd edition, privately printed, Wertheimer, Lea & Co, London, 1885). The collection also includes five volumes of letters of the family of Nathaniel Montefiore, c1850-1883, mainly letters from Nathaniel to his wife Emma, and also including letters from Leonard Montefiore to his parents.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Moses Haim Montefiore: born in Leghorn (Livorno, Italy), 1784; eldest son of Joseph Elias Montefiore, a Jewish merchant of Italian descent whose father had settled in London, by Rachel, daughter of Abraham Lumbrozo de Mattos Mocatta, of an ancient family of Spanish Jews; educated in London; married Judith (1784-1862), second daughter of Levi Barent Cohen, 1812; spent some time in a mercantile house; acquired for £1,200 the right to act as a broker on the London Stock Exchange, where the number of Jewish brokers was limited to twelve; rapidly amassed a fortune; retired from much of his business, 1824; retained some business interests, but devoted himself to the service of the Jewish race at home and abroad; on his way to Jerusalem, visited Egypt and had a private audience with Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, 1827; became a member of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and was active in the struggle for emancipation; President of the Board of Deputies, 1835-1874; chosen sheriff of London and was knighted when Queen Victoria visited the Guildhall, 1837; submitted a scheme for establishing Jewish colonies in Syria to Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, but despite the Sultan's promise to give it favourable consideration it fell through, 1839; intervened on behalf of some Jews who had been arrested and tortured at Damascus for using Christian blood for religious rites and, as head of a deputation from the English and French Jewish communities, pleaded the prisoners' cause before Muhammad 'Ali Pasha, convincing him of their innocence and obtaining their release, 1840; proceeded to Constantinople and obtained from the Sultan a firman, placing Jews on the same footing as other aliens throughout the Ottoman empire, 1840; on his return to England, was presented to the Queen, who granted him the privilege of bearing supporters to his arms with "Jerusalem" inscribed in Hebrew characters; the Jewish community recognised his services by appointing a day of thanksgiving; when Tsar Nicholas of Russia issued an order for the removal into the interior of Jews domiciled on Russia's western frontier areas near Germany and Austria in 1844, Montefiore made representations to the Russian ambassador, Count Brunnow, which resulted in its suspension; on its threatened reissue, Montefiore was admitted by the Tsar to a private audience in St Petersburg and obtained its abrogation, 1846; toured Eastern Russia and made notes of the condition of the Jewish population, which he communicated to the Russian ministry; created baronet, 1846; following a revival of anti-Semitic feeling in Syria in 1847, Montefiore obtained a private audience with Louis-Philippe whom he asked, as protector of the Christians in Syria, to repress the agitation, which was granted; prominent in the collection and distribution of the relief fund for victims of the Syrian famine, 1855; founded a girls'; school and hospital in Jerusalem, 1855; became involved in the celebrated Mortara case in which a Jewish child in Bologna was secretly baptised by his Catholic nurse and subsequently removed from his parents by the papal police and placed in a convent to be educated as a Christian, an affair which created a panic among the Jewish population in Italy and aroused indignation elsewhere, 1858; since remonstrances addressed to the papal government were ineffective, Montefiore attempted a personal appeal to Pope Pius IX in Rome, which was refused, and although the Pope consented to receive Montefiore's petition through Cardinal Antonelli he remained inflexible, 1859; raised funds for the relief of Jewish refugees brought to Gilbraltar by apprehension of war between Spain and Morocco and for Christian survivors of the massacre of the Lebanon, 1860; visited Constantinople and obtained confirmation by the new Sultan, Abdul-Aziz, of all firmans granted by his predecessor in favour of the Jews, 1863; in response to an outbreak of anti-Semitic fanaticism in Tangier, travelled on HMS Magicienne from Gibraltar to Mogador and, under an escort provided by the Sultan, crossed the Atlas desert to Morocco, where the Sultan issued an edict placing the Jews upon an equal footing with his other subjects, 1864; went to Syria, distributing alms to the victims of a plague of locusts and cholera epidemic, 1866; visited Bucharest and interceded with Prince Charles on behalf of the persecuted Jews of Moldavia, and was well received by the prince, but was threatened by a mob which he managed to quieten, 1867; carried to St Petersburg an address from the British Jewish community congratulating Tsar Alexander II on the bicentenary of the birth of Peter the Great, 1872; made a seventh and final pilgrimage to Jerusalem, 1875; spent his later years in comparative seclusion at his seat, East Cliff Lodge, Ramsgate, where he died, 1885; a strict Sephardic Jew, orthodox in his religious opinions and observance; on his death without issue the baronetcy became extinct. See also Lady Montefiore, 'Private Journal of a Visit to Egypt and Palestine by way of Italy and the Mediterranean' (privately printed, London, 1836); Meyer ben Isaac Auerbach and Samuel Salant, 'An Open Letter addressed to Sir M Montefiore ... on the day of his arrival in ... Jerusalem. Together with a narrative of a forty days' sojourn in the Holy Land ... by Sir M Montefiore' (Wertheimer, Lea & Co, London, 1875); 'Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore: comprising their life and work as recorded in their diaries from 1812 to 1883', ed L Loewe (2 volumes, Griffith, Farran & Co, London, 1890; facsimile edition introduced by Raphael Loewe [1983]). Dr Nathaniel Mayer Montefiore: born, 1819; second son of Abraham Montefiore and his second wife Henrietta Rothschild; nephew of Sir Moses Haim Montefiore; married Emma (1819-1902), daughter of Sir Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, 1850; had issue Alice, Leonard (1853-1879), Charlotte, and the biblical scholar and philanthropist Claude Joseph Goldsmid (1858-1938); Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh; died, 1883.

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Mocatta Library (subsequently the Jewish Studies Library) of University College London.

Other Finding Aids

Some volumes are catalogued in the Mocatta card index at University College London Special Collections. The testimonials are currently being listed to item level, with the main list arranged alphabetically by place of donor and giving the description, date and number of each item, and the list of the Italian testimonials arranged in number order, giving the name of the donor. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The letters of Nathaniel Montefiore's family are bound in matching volumes and housed in a special box.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Custodial History

The papers formed part of the Montefiore Museum at Judith Lady Montefiore College in Ramsgate, Kent, and are owned by the Montefiore Endowment. They were deposited in the Mocatta Library of University College London in 1961. Most of Sir Moses' papers were destroyed after his death.

Related Material

University College London Special Collectionss also holds a letter from Sir Moses Montefiore to (Sir) Isaac Lyon Goldsmid, 1840 (Ref: GOLDSMID); papers relating to the Mortara case, in which Sir Moses was involved, and miscellaneous letters of Sir Moses (Ref: MOCATTA); correspondence and papers relating to Sir Moses Montefiore, 1831-1854 and undated, in the alphabetical sequence of correspondence in the papers of Moses Gaster, found among Gaster's papers after his death but of unknown provenance (Ref: GASTER).