Page:Notes and Queries - Series 11 - Volume 11.djvu/298

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.



DA COSTA: BRYBGES WILL YAMS (11 S. xi. 190, 218. 234). The De Laras were not of " Disraeli's family," as MB. ARCHIBALD SPARKE states. Benjamin Disraeli the Elder (Lord Beaconsfield's grandfather) married the sister-in-law of one Aaron Lara, who was a sort of broker or " half -commission man " about the counting-house in Fenchurch Street, where grandfather Benjamin was employed as a humble clerk some time after his arrival in this country "from Cento in Italy." Rebecca Mendez Furtado, the second daugh- ter and fourth child of Gaspar and Clara Mendez Furtado, old Benjamin Disraeli's first wife, died in 1765, leaving only one child, a daughter, who died in 1796, the wife of Mordecai Tedesco of Leghorn. Old Ben- jamin Disraeli speedily took a second wife, Sarah Siprut de Gabey, who had but one child Isaac Disraeli, who married Maria Basevi, who died in 1871. She was Lord Beaconsfield's mother. It is therefore clear that the marriage of Rebecca Mendez Fur- tado Aaron Lara's sister-in-law in 1756, with Benjamin Disraeli the Elder, did not justify any flourish about connexion with the prominent Sephardic family of De Laras," who adopted this aristocratic name of Old Spain. So it must have been more than a little embarrassing to Lord Beaconsfield when, having by 1863 dropped most of the fancies of his romantic youth, he found that the mysterious Mrs. Brydges Will yams of Torquay had left him 4(f,OOOZ. For she stated her

" wish and desire that he should obtain the per- mission of Her Majesty [Queen Victoria] to use and adopt the names and arms of the families of Lara and Mendez Da Costa, in addition to that of Disraeli."

As a matter of fact, Lord Beaconsfield had no claim whatever to the " names and arms " of either. The Laras, who had adopted the name of a Marrano (secret Jewish) family who had adopted the " Gothic sur- name " of the great Spanish House of Lara, had no " arms," except those attached to their pushful shoulders. And the only connexion his Lordship had with the Mendez family was that his grandfather's first wife was a Mendez Furtado.

Mr. Buckle will have a delicate task to perform in relation to the Brydges Willy ams episode ; but there is no reason for extreme reticence. For in later life Lord Beacons- field shed most of the illusions of his dream- ing youth. When some fussy persons were too curiously inquiring about the supposed haughty origin of his family and the evidence

of his connexion with the Aguilas, Laras, Mendez, Treves, Da Costas, Lindos, and other Sephardic strains, he dryly told Lord Rowton, his intimately private secre- tary, that " anyway, his ancestors were on intimate terms with the Queen of Sheba."


ANSTRUTHER, FIFE : SCOTT OF BAL- COMIE (11 S. xi. 188). Particulars as to- Anstruther, or Anster, can easily be got. It is sufficient to say here that it is a royal burgh in Fife, famous in days gone by for its herring fishing. It is celebrated as having been the home of Maggie Lauder, the heroine of Semple's well-known ballad : Wha wadna be in love

Wi' bonnie Maggie Lauder ? A piper met her gaun in Fife,

And spiered what was't they ca'd her.

Richt scornfully she answered him :

" Begone, you hallanshaker ! Jog on your gate, you bladderskate ;

My name is Maggie Lauder.

I 've lived in Fife, baith maid and wife, These ten years and a quarter ;

Gin ye should come to Anster Fair, Spier ye for Maggie Lauder."

In addition to this claim to respect* Anstruther is famous perhaps one should say infamous as being the original home of the notorious " Beggar's Benison." This was an erotic and convivial club, composed of the nobility and gentry of Anstruther and its neighbourhood, and was founded in 1739. All the lairds in the vicinity, and many of the parish ministers of the four eastern burghs of the " Kingdom of Fife " (Anster, Crail, Pittenweem, and Kilrenny), are said to have been " Knights " of the society, the full title of which was " The Most Ancient and Puissant Order of the Beggar's Benison and Merryland, An- struther." The club possessed a code of institutes, a diploma, records (a sederunt book is said to have been kept down to 1823), and had a form of ritual at initia- tions all of a highly facetious and erotic character. It had also a set of regalia, includ- ing the Test Platter, the " breath horn," the toast-glass, a large and a small medal, and several seals. Some of these articles were shown in the Archaeological Section of the Glasgow Exhibition of 1911. Anstruther being found inconvenient and inaccessible for a number of the members, a branch was established in Edinburgh in 1766. It is said that George IV. was made a Knight of the Order when in Edinburgh in 1822, and that his diploma is still in existence.