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LUMBROZO, JACOB or JOHN:

Physician, planter, and trader resident in the palatinate of Maryland, America, in the middle of the seventeenth century; born at Lisbon; died between Sept. 24, 1665, and May 31, 1666. From Portugal he removed to Holland, and ultimately established himself in Maryland Jan. 24, 1656. His arrival formed, directly or indirectly, an important event in the life of the province. He early exercised his profession, and apparently enjoyed a lucrative practise. On Sept. 10, 1663, letters of denization were issued to him, together with certain privileges, enabling him to take up land under the liberal terms established by the proprietary—a privilege of which he promptly availed himself. A "Mistress Lumbrozo" was living in Sept., 1663, having arrived in Maryland in the preceding year. She was probably not of Jewish descent. Lumbrozo appeared as a witness in a lawsuit in 1657, and served as a juror in 1663. In 1665 he was granted a commission to trade with the Indians. He seems to have been in active intercourse with London merchants and to have corresponded with a sister in Holland. He amassed considerable wealth both in real and in personal property.

Although Jews were resident in Maryland probably from its settlement, Lumbrozo is the first Israelite—indeed the only one of that time—of whose faith there is documentary evidence. He was one of the earliest medical practitioners in the palatinate, and for nearly a decade continued to be an important figure in its economic activity. His career is of widest interest in its relation to the history and nature of religious toleration in Maryland. After living for at least two years in undisturbed quiet as a recognized Jew, and probably as a professed one, he was in 1658, through the activity of zealots and in consequence of his own indiscretion, arrested, under the provisions of the so-called Toleration Act of 1649, for "blasphemy," that is, for denial of the doctrine of the Trinity, thus becoming liable to punishment by death and forfeiture of lands and goods. The general amnesty proclaimed in the province ten days later, upon the accession of Richard Cromwell to the English protectorate, gave him freedom. Whether in consequence of his high economic importance or because of the milder interpretation put upon the statute in the case of discreet unbelievers, no further attempt was made to vindicate the letter of the law; and thereafter Lumbrozo gradually succeeded in exercising most of the rights of a fully naturalized citizen.

Record exists of a John Lumbrozo, born in June, 1666, who apparently was a posthumous child of Jacob's. But the widow married very soon after his birth; and the name "Lumbrozo" figures no more in Maryland colonial records.

Bibliography:
  • Hollander, Some Unpublished Material Relating to Dr. Jacob Lumbrozo of Maryland, in Publ. Am. Jew. Hist. Soc. No. 1 (1893), pp. 25-39;
  • idem, Civil Status of the Jews in Maryland, 1624-1776, ib. No. 2 (1894), pp. 33-44, and references therein cited.
A. J. H. Ho.
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