(or Duarte Saraiva Coronel)

Ralph G.Bennett

One prominent name in the Jewish history of Brazil is David Senior Coronel who emigrated from Amsterdam to "New Holland" in 1636 during the rule of the Dutch. He was one of those emigrants looking for economic advancement and he did succeed in becoming one of the wealthiest men in Recife.

He is descended from a well known Marrano family from Spain, whose most famous member, Abraham Senior, was an advisor to royalty. Son of Abraham Senior he was born in 1575 in Spain as Duarte Saraiva, his "Catholic" name. He moved to Amsterdam in 1598 at age 23, and was married there. Many young Jews were attracted to Amsterdam because the government was tolerant of Jews and they could openly practice their religion, but also because of Amsterdam's reputation as a financial center of Europe.  By 1601, the future "David" was in the shipping business, sometimes using the name Duarte Saraiva Coronel. There is documentation of his case against the British for reimbursement for their seizure of a ship loaded with sugar; records of the details of trade in salt and other commodities with Portugal have also been found. He began trading with Brazil in the early 1600's. When the Dutch conquered northeastern Brazil in 1630, the government actively promoted emigration to Brazil and, in 1636, David and his family moved to Recife. It was while he lived in Brazil that he became known as David Senior Coronel. He owned real estate and sugar mills, and became the wealthiest man of the community. He died in Brazil in 1650 at the age of 75.

David's son Ishac had the misfortune to inherit his father's estate while Recife was suffering through the war with Portugal.

The businesses had been heavily mortgaged, and the family still owed a great debt to the Dutch West India Company. The Senior Coronel family returned to Amsterdam in 1654 after the Dutch surrendered. In the courts, Ishac attempted to regain control of the Senior-Coronel property that had been confiscated by the Portuguese, but was unsuccessful. Ishac's son, also named David, had been 11 at the time of the family's move to Brazil. He may have been Treasurer for the Jewish community of Recife in 1652, but returned with the rest of his family to Amsterdam in 1654. He died there in 1676 at the age of 51. His descendants eventually emigrated to Surinam (Dutch Guiana), on the northern coast of South America, where they also went into the sugar business.