Sebag-Montefiore Archive

Arthur Sebag-Montefiore Archive

1784 – 1984

Finding aids
Online catalogue

Shelfmarks: MontA, MontA Un, MontA Pre (to differentiate from the Shandel-Lipson Archive, fully catalogued,
available through the same search engine (shelfmarks 1823:1 – 1928:2).

To see all items in the online catalogue, it is advised to use the option:

Scope and content
The greater part of the archive consists of some 350 letters written to Sir Moses Montefiore between the early 1820s and his death in 1885. These reflect his deep involvement in political aspects of Jewish affairs and include letters from the Foreign Office lending support in his efforts to defend Jews in peril and generally to enhance their lives. There is a range of diaries and travel reports - the earliest dated 1827 - by Sir Moses, Lady Judith and others, which equally shed light on his involvement in international Jewish matters. Of particular interest is his own report on a journey to Russia in 1872 to intercede with Tsar Alexander II on behalf of Jews. The Archive also contains extensive documentation on the ‘Damascus Affair’, in which Jews were accused in 1840 of the ritual murder of a Capuchin, Father Tomaso, and also on the ‘Mortara Case’, concerning a secretly baptized Jewish boy who was kidnapped in 1858 by pontifical gendarmes and sent to the House of the Catechumens in Rome to receive a Christian education. Sir Moses’s intervention in Damascus resulted in a Firman being issued by the Sultan of Constantinople disclaiming the ritual-murder calumny and assuring protection for the Jews. Sir Moses’s attempt to obtain an audience with the Pope and gain the release of Edgardo Mortara met with failure. Other political documents include letters from King Louis Philippe of France and Prince Carol of Romania. Various items highlight Sir Moses’s proverbial charity, most particularly the documentation around the ‘Jerusalem Appeal’ for the poor in the Holy Land and the records concerning the founding of the Jerusalem hospital. His role in Anglo-Jewish affairs is evident from letters from David Meldola (1797-1853), Haham (chief rabbi) of the Sephardi community in London, and from Rabbi Solomon Hirschel (1762-1842), the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi, who wrote to Sir Moses in his capacity as President of the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews. There are also letters from the office of Hirschel’s successor, Chief Rabbi Nathan Adler. The Archive contains some copies of letters written by Sir Moses, but also a list of all letters posted between 1859 and 1862, indicating the wide range of people with whom he was in contact. There are also several liturgical Orders of Services, such as on the dedication of the Ramsgate Synagogue or the one on safe return of Sir Moses from a journey abroad. Much of this material has not been published. The archive contains very little Hebraica and Judaica.


Related material at the Muller Library

1. Shandel-Lipson Archive, fully catalogued, available through the same search engine (shelfmarks 1823:1 – 1928:2):

2. Foyle-Montefiore Collection, partially catalogued, accessible.

3. Montefiore Manuscripts’ Microform Collection (loan), accessible.

4. Montefiore-related items on permanent loan as Catherine Lewis Loan, access limited pending cataloguing (list available on request).

Related material elsewhere

Montefiore Endowment Library at Lauderdale Road Synagogue:

  1. 'Core Collection' of manuscripts: detailed censuses of the Jewish communities in the Holy Land and Alexandria,
    as well as letters, petitions and telegrams sent to Montefiore from all over the world.
  2. Over 100 manuscripts, remnant of a collection of 450, of which a significant part was sold in 2004 by auction
    at Sotheby's in New York.

University College London (UCL):

  1. Mocatta Library: A separate large selection of the Montefiore Family Papers made its way to the Mocatta Library of University College London in 1961; these were previously held by the Montefiore Museum at Judith Lady Montefiore College in Ramsgate. The collection encompasses the Montefiore papers and correspondence covering the years from 1827 through to 1885, letter books, account books, appointment diaries, and a very important selection of printed and manuscript addresses and testimonials sent to Montefiore from Jewish communities all around the world. Testimonials Collection.
  2. Moreover, the Endowment has placed on loan with the UCL's Special Collections another section of Ramsgate’s collection of printed books bearing Sir Moses Montefiore's bookplate, as well as some periodicals.

Access status
Accessible since 2009
Cataloguing completed: 8 July 2013

Access conditions
Upon application to Head or Deputy Librarian.
All handling to be performed by librarian on duty.

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