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CORTISSOS, DON JOSÉ:

Spanish army contractor; born 1656; died in London 1742. He was fifth in direct descent from Emanuel José Cortissos, Marquis de Villa, a grandee of Spain, who flourished about 1475. José Cortissos was ambassador of the emperor Charles to Morocco. He was invited, as a man of property and thoroughly acquainted with the Peninsula, to contract for the supply of provisions to the allied armies under the Earl of Peter-borough in the year 1706, but he declined through want of confidence in the Portuguese government. However, on the personal assurances of Earl Galway, commander of the British forces, and Earl Stanhope, British minister to the court of Spain, that the British government would answer for the payment on the part of the Portuguese government, he undertook to supply the army. From authentic reports it appears that Cortissos actually saved the army from starvation. Notwithstanding these assurances, he never obtained payment in full for his services, and he eventually went to England in 1712 to urge his claims, but failed to obtain more than a fraction of the sum due him leaving a considerable balance owing from the British and Portuguese governments, all attempts to recover this proving unavailing. The unfortunate contractor, worn out in mind and body, died in poverty. It is reported that a portrait of him has been preserved, representing him in the court dress of the reign of Queen Anne, with a petition concerning his claim in his hands.

Bibliography:
  • Statement of the Case of J. Cortissos;
  • Cat. Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh. p. 48.
J. G. L.
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