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III.: The Delvalle Family - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 10 Biographical Miscellany 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 10 Biographical Miscellany.
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First published by Cambridge University Press in 1951. Copyright 1951, 1952, 1955, 1973 by the Royal Economic Society. This edition of The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., under license from the Royal Economic Society.
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The Delvalle Family
The family of David Ricardo’s mother, the Delvalles, unlike the Ricardos, had long been established in England. Her great-grandfather, Abraham Delvalle, had two sons, Daniel and Isaac, both of whom were married on the same day in 1725,2 and both of whom were in the tobacco business. Daniel is referred to in the Gentleman’s Magazine for September 1732 as ‘an eminent Jew Snuff-Merchant’: the occasion for the notice was a meeting of ‘a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons’, over which he presided as Master, held at the Rose Tavern, Cheapside, ‘in the Presence of several Brethren of Distinction both Jews and Christians, for whom was a handsome Entertainment’.3 In announcing his death in 1737 the Gentleman’s Magazine describes him as ‘a Jew Merchant in Bunhilfields’.1 The other brother, Isaac Delvalle, who was Ricardo’s great-grandfather, was a leading personality in the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in London. In 1721 he had been involved in a curious theological dispute as one of a group of Talmudic scholars who signed a protest against a heretic who in their school had denied that God could have spoken to Moses since ‘God had none of the human organs of speech’.2 Later, from 1751 until his death in 1757, he was a member of the rabbinical tribunal, an office whose holders were honoured with the title of Haham (that is, Rabbi and teacher).3 Like his brother twenty years before, he too is mentioned as an ‘eminent snuff-merchant’ in the London Magazine of 1751,4 but is now described as of Bury Street. This reference was on the occasion of the marriage on 20 September 1751 of his son Abraham with Rebecca Henriques de Sequeira. These were the maternal grandparents of Ricardo. Abraham Delvalle’s business is best described by his engraved trade card which is in the Print Room of the British Museum, representing the successive operations of curing tobacco and grinding snuff and inscribed as follows:
Abraham Delvalle Of Bury-Street, St. Mary-Ax, London, Makes and Sells all Sorts of Snuffs and Tobaccos, at his Manufactory in Featherstone Street, Bunhill Fields.
Likewise Great Variety of Foreign Snuffs, Neat as Imported, Wholesale and Retail at the Lowest Rates.5
Ricardo’s mother, Abigail Delvalle, was the eldest of the eight children (three sons and five daughters) of Abraham Delvalle. Next to her came Isaac and Leah, as is apparent from the will of old Isaac Delvalle their grandfather (dated 1757), which mentions, in that order, these three children of Abraham Delvalle, evidently the only ones then born. Of these Isaac, although the eldest son, did not succeed to the family business, having obtained in 1784 one of the Jew brokerships in the City.1 He is only remembered in his father’s will of 1785 by the recommendation ‘to follow the business he now carries on, being well persuaded that with due care and attention he will succeed therein’. This hope was soon to be belied, and in 1789 he was declared a bankrupt2 and had to give up his brokership. The second son Joseph inherited, jointly with his mother, the whole of the snuff and tobacco business which he was to carry on ‘under the firm of Joseph Delvalle and Company’. The family business continued under that name for twenty-five years; it must have been wound up in 1811, after which year it is no longer listed in the annual directories.3 With the disappearance of the family fortune, most of the Delvalle uncles and aunts came to be a charge on Ricardo, as is shown by the provision of life annuities for five of them in his will.4
It remains to mention the other children of Abraham Delvalle. There was a third son, also called Abraham, who seems to have been quite young at the time of his father’s death in 1785, since in the latter’s will provision is only made for his maintenance. He was first for some years a coal merchant in Lambeth,1 and then from 1815 a wine merchant at Covent Garden, in which capacity he was involved in a curious epistolary incident with Ricardo which is recorded below, p. 141. Of the other daughters, while Leah remained unmarried, Sarah married Abraham Nunes, and Esther married Isaac Lindo. The most gifted of them, Rebecca (1761–1848), left the Jewish community in 1796 (three years after Ricardo had done so) on marrying Wilson Lowry (1762–1824), F.R.S., a distinguished engraver and one of the earliest members of the Geological Society;2 she herself, in the words of the obituary in the Gentleman’s Magazine,3 was ‘celebrated for her acquirements in the sciences, but more especially mineralogy.’
[2 ]Bevis Marks Records, Part II, Abstracts of the Ketubot or Marriage-contracts from the Earliest Times until 1837, Nos. 327 and 329.
[3 ]Vol. 2, p. 976.
[1 ]Vol. 7, p. 514.
[2 ]M. Gaster, History of the Ancient Synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews...situate in Bevis Marks, London, 1901, pp. 128–9.
[3 ]ib. pp. 131–3.
[4 ]p. 428.
[5 ]See the reproduction in A. M. Hyamson, The Sephardim of England, 1951, p. 144.
[1 ]See above, p. 22.
[2 ]Gentleman’s Magazine, April 1789, vol. 59, p. 464.
[3 ]It appears for the last time in the Post Office Annual Directory for 1811 as of 24, Featherstone-street, City-road.
[4 ]Already in 1802 Abraham Ricardo in his will had provided for a life annuity of £20 to Rebecca Delvalle, his mother-in-law—a clear sign that her business was not prospering. She died, however, before him, in 1807.
[1 ]There are in R.P. two bills of exchange of 1794 and 1795 drawn by A. Delvalle upon his brother the tobacconist for coals delivered (the bills having presumably been paid by Ricardo); and in Holden’s Triennal Directory, 1808, he is entered as a coal merchant at 38, Oakley St., Lambeth.
[2 ]H. B. Woodward, History of the Geological Society of London, 1907, pp. 7, 36, 270.
[3 ]February 1849.