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Attention History Buffs! Possible Jewish heritage?

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    Attention History Buffs! Possible Jewish heritage?

    Dear Readers,



    I thank you for taking the time for taking a gander at my post. This is in reference to my mother's maiden last name of Estelow. She is originally from Burlington, NJ. It is a family tradition that the first Estelow in the U.S. was one of the Hessian (Hesse was a German principality) soldiers so infamously used by King George the Third against the American colonial army. Now I took 3 years of German in high school and the word "Estelow" (pronounced "ESS-ta-lo") always struck my ears as sounding very un-German (I hope those who know German will corroborate this for me). About the most I could do was concoct a theory that it was possibly an Anglo-Americanization of "Oeste Loewe" which means "East Lion" in Germany. However, I am unaware of any such possible surname extant among Germans. Furthermore, it is certainly an odd phrase or name.


    Some light was shed on the matter when I looked at some old censuses via some web-site a few years ago (I forget which one). Apparently, the name was originally spelled "Estilo". This just so happens to be Spanish for "style". This confused me. If the family tradition is true, and yet this is a Spanish name, what was a Spaniard doing fighting for Hesse who was in turn fighting for England.....in America? Now, as an aside, I have always had a fascination for anything pertaining to Jewry. What was half-hunch and half-wishful thinking led to my idea that this Estilo was possibly of Sephardic Jewish extraction (i.e. Jews from Spain). It is known - I hope history buffs will corroborate this for me - that the Jews were kicked out of Spain in 1492. Some of them moved across the straits of Gibraltar to North Africa, others to the Netherlands. I am unaware of whether any of them moved to any of the German lands.


    So my question, aimed mainly towards those knowledgeable of History, is: Were there Sephardic Jews who moved to the German principality of Hesse? Would some of these Sephardim have fought in the Hessian Army?


    I am certainly not aware if any of my ancestors were practicing religious Jews. The Estelow/Estilo family which my mother comes from were Anglicans traditionally. However, knowing a little history, I am aware that many Jews (particularly those of Spain) converted to Christianity - the so-called Marranos/Conversos. I am also aware that it was not uncommon for some of these converts to choose, in particular, the Anglican/Church of England Communion. I believe Benjamin d'Israeli was of this variety (again, history buffs: correct me where I am wrong).


    Thank you for your help and time!

    #2
    I have no knowledge of the Jewish heritage. My experience is just with the surname itself in England.

    I have done a little research for someone whose maiden name was Easterlow. It is not a common name and I saw it rendered in several spellings including Estilo and even Costello. I managed to trace the family on the UK censuses and they were mostly from the midlands of England, around Birmingham. There was some suggestion that they had a Romany background.

    Anne

    Comment


      #3
      The problem with all this is that surnames were neither consistent nor common in the 1400s. (Although Jewish people often used their clan name.)

      I honestly don't know how you could solve this other than by doing a DNA test to see if you ally with any of the known Jewish haplotypes. Even that won't prove anything really.

      Anne's comment that the name in the UK seems to have a Romany link is interesting as it is likely that the Romanies were originally of Jewish stock.

      OC

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        #4
        Bear in mind that until recently many people were illiterate, so when they gave their name, the census enumerator, vicar or whoever would just have to guess at the spelling.

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you so much for your replies, Anne, Holden, and Mary!

          Anne: Thank you for the light you have shed. If it is true that Estelow/Estilo/Easterlow is a name indigenous to England, then perhaps my family tradition got mixed up. This would be somewhat disappointing. I'm not sure if it's the same in England, but there seems to be an unspoken attitude in the U.S. that one could be proud of one's heritage as long as it wasn't British! Not that anyone is ashamed of being of British extraction, but I am ever hearing of different acquaintances boasting of being Irish, Italian, African, Dutch etc. But no one ever goes to pubs or picnics to celebrate being English-American. There is no Kwanzaa or St. Patrick's Day or Feast of St. Francis of Assissi for folks to gather around to toast their English heritage. Perhaps there is some hidden shame for being descended from the people who once ruled the largest Empire in history, I don't know.

          By the way, it wasn't until a couple years ago that I found that the name Costello was Celtic. I had always assumed that Elvis Costello was Italian! I was wrong.

          The Romany link is definitely interesting.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by David Carroll View Post
            Thank you so much for your replies, Anne, Holden, and Mary!

            Anne: Thank you for the light you have shed. If it is true that Estelow/Estilo/Easterlow is a name indigenous to England, then perhaps my family tradition got mixed up. This would be somewhat disappointing. I'm not sure if it's the same in England, but there seems to be an unspoken attitude in the U.S. that one could be proud of one's heritage as long as it wasn't British! Not that anyone is ashamed of being of British extraction, but I am ever hearing of different acquaintances boasting of being Irish, Italian, African, Dutch etc. But no one ever goes to pubs or picnics to celebrate being English-American. There is no Kwanzaa or St. Patrick's Day or Feast of St. Francis of Assissi for folks to gather around to toast their English heritage. Perhaps there is some hidden shame for being descended from the people who once ruled the largest Empire in history, I don't know.
            I'm quite puzzled by your experience of American people not being proud of British ancestry. Remember British does not equal English/England - it compasses Scotland. England, Wales and Northern Ireland and before 1922, Eire was also under British rule and had been so for centuries.
            There are many Americans very proud of their Scottish forebears and from the TV programmes I have seen in the past, they would be in 7th heaven to discover they could trace their forebears back to the Pilgrim Fathers who sailed from England to America.

            Comment


              #7
              David, There is a very large Jewish community in Gibraltar - presumably many of them descend from those who were expelled from Spain. I don't have an address for the "head" (don't know what the title is) of the Jewish Community but because of the closeness of the communities in Gibraltar, which I think is an example to the rest of the world, I think it may be worth writing to Gibraltar. You could, I imagine, write to the British Ambassador, enclosing your request to the Jewish community and ask that your letter be passed on - alternatively you could just address your request to "head of the Jewish community, Gibraltar" It is such a small place that everyone knows each other - there should be no problem with lack of full address.

              Comment


                #8
                This website should help you to contact the jewish community in Gibraltar: http://www.jewishgibraltar.com/
                Judith passed away in October 2018

                Comment


                  #9
                  Easterlow/Costello/Estilo

                  Originally posted by Anne in Carlisle View Post
                  I have no knowledge of the Jewish heritage. My experience is just with the surname itself in England.

                  I have done a little research for someone whose maiden name was Easterlow. It is not a common name and I saw it rendered in several spellings including Estilo and even Costello. I managed to trace the family on the UK censuses and they were mostly from the midlands of England, around Birmingham. There was some suggestion that they had a Romany background.

                  Anne
                  Hi, my name is Richard Easterlow and I live in Coventry (near Birmingham), England. I have been researching the Easterlow family tree and I am very interested in what you have found. How have you managed to link the name to Estilo and Costello to Easterlow and where did you find the possible Romany link? I have found no jewish conection as yet.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Hi Richard. It is some time ago that I did this piece of research for someone else not my own ancestors. I seem to remember that I found the connections throgh identifying the family groups by their overall group of names and ages. They were very difficult to find but once I found the group it became clear that spelling was an issue!
                    I'll try and find my original research which I think is still buried somewhere on the PC. The Romany connection my have been suggested on someone elses Ancestry tree.
                    Sorry to be so vague. I'll see if I have time tomorrow to find it.
                    Anne

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Anne in Carlisle View Post
                      Hi Richard. It is some time ago that I did this piece of research for someone else not my own ancestors. I seem to remember that I found the connections throgh identifying the family groups by their overall group of names and ages. They were very difficult to find but once I found the group it became clear that spelling was an issue!
                      I'll try and find my original research which I think is still buried somewhere on the PC. The Romany connection my have been suggested on someone elses Ancestry tree.
                      Sorry to be so vague. I'll see if I have time tomorrow to find it.
                      Anne
                      That would be excellent thanks. Spelling is definitely an issue in tracing unusual names, but Easterlow is such an unusual name that people still almost always spell it wrong today. I had the same problem tracing an Irish branch of my tree. Tommy, Tomany and Toumy were all surnames used by just one individual in only 30 years!
                      Rich

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Richard, I'm really sorry but I can't find the notes I made while researching. I think they must have got lost on a change of computer. I just seem to have saved a few census records and the files show me I did the search in 2009. My memory is of being amused at the inventive ways of spelling the name! I remember seeing Easterlow, Eastelow, Estelow, Easteloe, Estilow, Hastelow, and Costello (although I think that one was a census enumerator struggling to read what was written!)
                        The Romany links ... I don't know where that came from, possibly from the original enquirer, whose maiden name was Easterlow.

                        Sorry to not be much help.
                        Anne

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Hi,
                          Never mind and thanks for looking. People are fairly creative on the spelling of Easterlow even now, so its no wonder there are so many variants.
                          Regards,
                          Rich

                          Comment


                            #14
                            After further research, it appears that the Easterlows of the English Midlands are an offshoot of the Hastilow family. Back to my 2x great grandfather John Easterlow, born in the 1850s, the surname was always Easterlow, with variant spellings. However, my 3x great grandfather Edward is almost exclusively a Hastilow in records, again with various spelling. Before Edward, through many more generations, it is all Hastilow, so the Easterlows are probably unrelated to your ancestor.

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