CURIEL, Marrano family, active in Jewish life in Amsterdam and Hamburg under the name of Nuñez da Costa. The origin of the name is Curiel del Duero in Castile. Jews whose origin was from this village bore the name after they had left it. A certain David Curiel from Avila, who decided to leave Castile in 1492, probably settled in Coimbra, with which the Curiel family became identified. It seems that in Coimbra the family descended from Abigail Curiel, alias Guiomar da Costa, after the forced conversion of 1497. Abigail was kept as a mistress for several years by Jeronimo de Saldanha, a nobleman with some Jewish ancestry, who was the father of a son raised in Coimbra as a Jew or Crypto-Jew. Hence the claim of the Curiel family to Portuguese nobility. Part of the family moved to Lisbon, some escaped from Portugal and reverted to Judaism, others moved to the New World. Several members of the family were tried by the Inquisition in Coimbra. These trials reveal much about the Jewish practices maintained by the family. Several members of the family lived in Covilhã. The departure of the Curiel family from Portugal was the result of indiscreet correspondence between the Jewish branch of the family living in Italy and the Portuguese New Christian branch. JACOB CURIEL, alias Duarte Nuñez da Costa (1587–1665), born a Marrano in Lisbon, moved via Pisa and Florence to Amsterdam and later to Hamburg. Having made himself useful to members of the royal house of Portugal in Hamburg, he was made Portuguese diplomatic representative. His elder son, MOSES (Jerónimo Nuñez da Costa; died 1697), was Portuguese agent in Amsterdam, where he was prominent in the Sephardi community and represented his coreligionists in cases before the Dutch authorities. Jacob's younger son, SOLOMON (Manoel Nuñez da Costa), succeeded his father in Hamburg. The family held diplomatic positions in both cities until the late 18th century.
Roth, Marranos, 303; ESN, 178; J. Caro Baroja, Judíos en la España moderna y contemporanea, 2 (1962), 243–4; I. Da Costa, Noble Families among the Sephardic Jews (1936), index; H. Kellenbenz, Sephardim an der unteren Elbe (1958), index; W.C. Pieterse, Daniel Levi de Barrios als geschiedschrijver… (1968), index. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Samuel, in: Jewish Historical Studies, 31 (1988–90), 111–36 (also in: E. Samuel, At the End of the Earth, (2004), 43–67).
[Kenneth R. Scholberg /
Yom Tov Assis (2nd ed.)]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.