A Nação Hebraica (Portuguese: The Hebrew Nation) is a project to make the early modern archives of the Spanish & Portuguese Jews’ Congregation of London accessible to researchers around the world by transcribing them. The London community was part of a network of Portuguese-Jewish diaspora communities, principally in the Atlantic world.

The focus is on the congregation’s Portuguese-language hand-written Account Books. The earliest surviving Account Book is for the Hebrew years 5436 to 5438 (1676-78). The latest Annual Account Book is for the years 1870 to 1875. The entire series covers 200 years, with only one Account Book missing.

The Account Books provide a unique day-to-day insight into the activities of Britain’s first religious minority and first non-Christian ethnic minority. People made financial contributions for the upkeep of the congregation, in thanks for religious honours, to mark family occasions, recovery from illness, with respect to travel, and other matters. The synagogue paid employees’ salaries, for its upkeep, buying supplies, helping impoverished members, paying for poor visitors’ travel abroad, paying ships’ captains bringing refugees from the Portuguese Inquisition, and buying ceremonial objects. The Account Books give us the names of those supporting the community by paying synagogue taxes, as well as the names of those in receipt of relief.

How to use this resource

The transcriptions replicate the original orthography, that is spellings and abbreviations. We have prepared a Glossary that may help. Most users, especially those interested in the genealogy of their families, will be searching for names. They are there, although sometimes difficult to recognise. Names are frequently abbreviated or spelled differently, even on the same page. We recommend trying variants of the name in the Search box, and perhaps using the “fuzzy” search parameter.

We regret that we cannot answer genealogical queries and such requests will go unanswered. If your question is of a general nature, we suggest posting it on The Sephardic Diaspora Facebook Group page. If you have more specific requirements, we recommend contacting Sephardicgenealogy.com.

Want to help?

A Nação Hebraica’s transcription process makes use of Transkribus automated hand-writing recognition software developed by the READ-COOP organisation based in Innsbruck, Austria. The machine-generated transcription is then edited by our small team of volunteer researchers. If you would like to become involved in this activity, please join the private A Nação Hebraica Facebook Group or email us. We are looking to recruit volunteers with an eye for detail, who relish the challenge of deciphering early modern palaeography. Basic ability to read Portuguese is desirable.

Legal notes on use

The rights to the digital copies/scans of the documents are held by the National Library of Israel (NLI). The NLI has asserted that these digital copies/scans may be copied and used for any purpose, and that there is no need to contact the NLI for permission to use the item.

The transcriptions provided by A Nação Hebraica are subject to the Creative Commons 4.0 licenceCC-BY. They may be freely used, extended and modified, provided that it is made clear that the derivatives are based on the transcriptions published here.


The images of the manuscript documents published here have been taken from the archival records of the National Library of Israel (“NLI”), which in turn are digitised copies of the original manuscripts held at the London Metropolitan Archives (“LMA”) on behalf of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation, London.

Given this complex chain of provenance, we recommend citing from the relevant image page on A Nação Hebraica’s read&search site, but including the LMA call number, which is also cited in the NLI archive. The folio number of the original manuscript can be added manually if desired, but it should be noted that some documents either do not have folio numbers, or they are illegible.

For example, for the document described here as:

Annual accounts: 5436 to 5438 (1676-1678) (Selomoh de Medina, Gabay), LMA/4521/A/04/01/001

we recommend the following citation (here in MHRA style, but may be adapted to other citation styles):

A Nação Hebraica, Spanish and Portuguese Jews’ Congregation London, LMA/4521/A/04/01/001, Annual Accounts (5436-5438), 1676-1678 //anacaohebraica.transkribus.eu> [Accessed 26/02/2023].

Useful links

A Nação Hebraica (SCIO) is registered with the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) as a SCIO under charity number SCO 52226.