By: Richard Gottheil
Portuguese Dutch Marano family, which traced its descent from Don Iago y Sampayo, to whom in 1519 King Manuel of Portugal gave the city of Belmonte, allowing him to take the name of the city and to transmit it to his posterity. In 1522 Don Iago married Andria Mascarenhas. Of his five sons, the one called Bartholomeu Sampayo Belmonte (b. 1525), who married Anna Lancastre, was sent in 1551 on a political mission to the Netherlands, where he changed his name to "Van Schonenberg."
The family history shows that some of the members returned to the Jewish fold, while others remained Catholics (neo-Christians). A number occupied influential positions in the diplomatic world, while others were prominent in the Amsterdam Jewish community. The great-grandson of Bartholomeu, Pedro de Schonenberg, returned to the Jewish faith; taking the name of Abraham, and his wife that of Sarah. The name of his son Pedro was changed to Jacob, and that of his daughter Elvira to Rachel. A third son, François de Schonenberg, was brought up as a Catholic by relatives in Madrid; and in 1709 was made a marquis of Brabant. A son of Pedro, Solomon (b. 1675), married Rachel, the daughter of Abraham da Costa. Their son, Jacob Belmonte, married Esther Franco Mendes, who had issue, Jacob Belmonte, alias François Ridder van Schonenberg (b. 1757). His daughter,Hannah, married in 1800 Isaac da Costa, the author of "Israel and the Gentiles."
Two of the children of Bartholomeu Sampayo Belmonte returned to the Jewish faith in 1604; Aurelio (b. 1558) taking the name Joseph, and Guido (b. 1560), that of Emmanuel. From Aurelio are descended the Ergas Belmontes, Pereyra Belmontes, Brandao Belmontes, Sarfatino Belmontes, and the Abendana Belmontes. The Abendana Belmontes emigrated to Hamburg; a number of the tombstones of this family can still be seen in the Portuguese-Jewish cemetery at Altona. Guido was the ancestor of the Ximenes Belmontes. His grandchildren were probably Don Andree de Belmonte and Baron Manuel de Belmonte, both agents of the Spanish crown in the Netherlands. Their sister, Rachel, married Diego Ximenes, whose grand-daughter was the wife of Moses Solomon Curiel. The granddaughter of the latter, Esther Franco Mendes, married Jacob Belmonte mentioned above.
A second branch of the same family in Amsterdam takes its rise with Jacob Belmonte, who came to that city in 1620 from the island of Madeira. He was one of the founders of the Portuguese community in Amsterdam, and his descendants intermarried with the Queridos, da Fonsecas, Pereyras, etc. Descendants of the Belmonte family still live in Amsterdam and in Hamburg. The accompanying two sketch-pedigrees show the relationship of the principal members of the family.