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Notable Sephardi Jews

Notable Sephardi Jews include:

Grace Aguillar (2 June 1816 – 16 September 1847) was an English novelist born to Portuguese Jews fleeing the Inquisition. Her fiction includes A Mother’s Recompense and Woman’s Friendship. She also wrote liturgy, meditations and sermons. As a translator from French she produced Orobio de Castro’s (1620–1687) apologia, Israel Defended in English. Aguilar’s Home Influence was her most popular novel. She was a reformer and believed in women’s education.

June Brown, MBE (born 16 February 1927) is an English actress, best known for her role as Dot Cotton in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Other than English, she has Irish, Scottish, Italian, and Sephardic Jewish descent from Oran, Algeria. On her maternal grandmother’s side Brown is descended from the Jewish bare knuckle boxer, Isaac Bitton.

Tony Bullimore (15 January 1939 – 31 July 2018), nicknamed The British Bulldog, was a British businessman and international yachtsman. On 5th January 1997 in the Southern Ocean, Bullimore’s boat, Exide Challenger capsized and it was assumed that the 57-year-old sailor was lost. However, Bullimore was alive and managed to survive in an air pocket in the upside-down boat in pitch darkness, having lost his food supplies, aside from a bar of chocolate for five days until being rescued on the 10th.

Caryl Brahms (8 December 1901 – 5 December 1982). Born Doris Caroline Abrahams was an English critic, novelist, and journalist specialising in the theatre and ballet. She also wrote film, radio and television scripts. Her mother Pearl Levi descended from a Sephardi family who had come to Britain from the Ottoman Empire a generation earlier.

Philip Guedalla (12 March 1889 – 16 December 1944) was an English barrister, and a popular historical and travel writer, and biographer. Born into a secular Sephardi family, he later embraced his Jewish identity. He was well known for his epigrams including: “History repeats itself. Historians repeat each other.”

Sir Basil Lucas Quixano Henriques CBE JP (17 October 1890 – 2 December 1961) was a British philanthropist from a prominent Sephardi family of Portuguese origin. He was a social reformer and founder of the Oxford and St George’s Clubs. His philanthropy was mainly concerned with helping children, his work concentrated in the East End of London during the first half of the 20th century.

Raphael Meldola FRS (19 July 1849 – 16 November 1915) was a British chemist and entomologist. He was Professor of Organic Chemistry in the University of London, 1912–15. he was descended from Raphael Meldola (1754–1828), a theologian who was acting minister of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in London, 1804. Inspired by Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species he collected evidence of mimicry in butterflies, helping to provide evidence of natural selection. 

Daniel Mendoza (5 July 1764 – 3 September 1836) was an English prizefighter, of Portuguese-Jewish descent, who was boxing champion of England in 1792–1795. According to the Ring Boxing Record Book, Mendoza was undefeated in 27 straight fights prior to 1788. In 1789 he opened his own boxing academy and published one of the earliest books on boxing titled “The Art of Boxing” which was a modern “scientific” approach that every subsequent boxer learned from.

Claudia Roden (born 1936) is a British cookbook writer, presenter and cultural anthropologist. She is best known as the author of Middle Eastern cookbooks including A Book of Middle Eastern Food, The New Book of Middle Eastern Food and Arabesque—Sumptuous Food from Morocco, Turkey and Lebanon. Roden was born in Cairo, Egypt, her parents both from Syrian-Jewish merchant families. She was Egypt’s national backstroke swimming champion at the age of 15.

Siegfried Sassoon CBE, MC (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an English poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His father, Alfred Ezra Sassoon (1861–1895), son of Sassoon David Sassoon, was a member of the wealthy Baghdadi Jewish Sassoon merchant family. On 11 November 1985, Sassoon was among sixteen Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner.

Peter Sellers CBE (born Richard Henry Sellers; 8 September 1925 – 24 July 1980) was an actor, comedian and singer. His mother, Peg was related to boxer Daniel Mendoza, whom Sellers revered. Sellers is probably best known for The Goon Show and playing Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther films. Sellers once dubbed Humphrey Bogart’s voice in Beat The Devil after Bogart was in a car crash and lost his teeth.

David Ricardo (18 April 1772 – 11 September 1823) was a British political economist, one of the most influential of the classical economists alongside Thomas Malthus and Adam Smith. Ricardo‘s ideas had a tremendous influence on later developments in economics: US economists rank him as the second most influential economic thinker (behind Adam Smith) prior to the twentieth century.