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AGUILAR, EPHRAIM LOPEZ PEREIRA, BARON D':

Second Baron d'Aguilar; born in Vienna in 1739; died at London, 1802. In 1757 he was naturalized in England, where he had settled with his father. He married in 1758 the daughter of Moses Mendes da Costa, who is reported to have brought him a fortune of £150,000. He succeeded to his father's title and fortune in 1759, and for a time lived in luxurious style with twenty servants at Broad Street Buildings. But by the Revolutionary War in America he lost an estate there of 15,000 acres, and subsequently became known as a miserly and eccentric person, giving up his mansion in Broad street as well as his country houses at Bethnal Green, Twickenham, and Sydenham. His establishment at Colebrook Row, Islington, was popularly styled "Starvation Farm," because of the scanty food provided for the cattle. He died there in 1802, leaving, hidden in various parts of his dwelling, a fortune valued at £200,000 to his two daughters who survived him.

Baron d'Aguilar on Starvation Farm.(From Wilson, "Wonderful Characters.")

D'Aguilar held various positions in his own community, and served as treasurer of the Portuguese Synagogue; the minutes of the proceedings of the Mahamad bear the signature of Ephraim d'Aguilar. He was elected warden in 1765, but he declined to serve, and refused, on technical grounds, to pay the fine. Eight days were given him to accept or to submit to the penalty. He evidently submitted, for in 1767 he married the widow of Benjamin Mendes da Costa, which he would not have been able to do had he been lying under the ban. When he took up his eccentric life the couple separated. After twenty years a partial reconciliation took place between the baron and his wife, but only for a short time. He was again elected to office in 1770, and for some years thereafter remained a member of the synagogue.

Bibliography:
  • Anglo-Jewish Hist. Exhib. Catalogue, 1887;
  • Jew. Chron. Jan., 1874;
  • Wilson, Wonderful Characters, pp. 64-68;
  • Piciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History.
G. L.J.
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