Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America

A Genealogical History


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About the Book

Americans have learned in elementary school that their country was founded by a group of brave, white, largely British Christians. Modern reinterpretations recognize the contributions of African and indigenous Americans, but the basic premise has persisted. This groundbreaking study fundamentally challenges the traditional national storyline by postulating that many of the initial colonists were actually of Sephardic Jewish and Muslim Moorish ancestry. Supporting references include historical writings, ship manifests, wills, land grants, DNA test results, genealogies, and settler lists that provide for the first time the Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, and Jewish origins of more than 5,000 surnames, the majority widely assumed to be British. By documenting the widespread presence of Jews and Muslims in prominent economic, political, financial and social positions in all of the original colonies, this innovative work offers a fresh perspective on the early American experience.

About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman is a professor of marketing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and a professor at the University of Virginia–Wise. She has written widely on genealogy and ethnic identity.
Donald N. Yates is an American genealogist, cultural historian and DNA investigator. He lives in Longmont, Colorado. For more information visit his official site at

Bibliographic Details

Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald N. Yates
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 291
Bibliographic Info: 34 photos & illustrations, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6462-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8906-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1
Introduction      4

1. Mapmakers, Privateers and Promoters      7
2. Sephardim in the New World      25
3. Virginia: First—and Not So English—Colony      45
4. Massachusetts: Pilgrims, Puritans, Jews and Moors      60
5. New York Colony: Dutch, British and Jewish      83
6. Pennsylvania: Quakers and Other Friends      104
7. Maryland: Catholic in Her Tastes      123
8. Huguenot South Carolina      140
9. Georgia, the Last Colony      159
10. Beacon of Freemasonry: Elias Ashmole, John Skene and Early American Lodges      173

A: Jewish Naming Practices and Most Common Surnames      191
B: Rituals and Practices of the Secret Jews of Portugal      201
C: Muslim Rituals and Beliefs      202
D: Customs and Beliefs of the Roma and Sinti      203
E: Lists of Immigrants to Virginia 1585–1700      204
F: Lists of Settlers in Massachusetts      212
G: Names from The Town & Country Social Directory, 1846–1996      216
H: Pennsylvania Names      217
I: Maryland Names      223
J: South Carolina Names      224
K: Lists of Settlers in Early Georgia      236

Notes      250
References      267
Index      273

Book Reviews & Awards

“drawing on documents, first-hand accounts, family genealogies, and ethnic DNA test results trace many of the early settlers to Sephardic Jewish and Moorish Muslim ancestry”—Reference & Research Book News.