Tag Archives: How do you find ancestors?

Genealogy… Jewish, Jewish, Jewish… and Our Christian Ancestors Never Knew?

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It wasn’t until I was researching Jewish genealogy for my father-in-law that I began to see a pattern in my matriarchal line. Never had I suspected that my Banta/Bonte ancestors were Jewish, there was never any reason to. We weren’t Jewish. It was never brought up. I should have suspected something. Growing up with only a Southern and Mid-Western identity, should have been a red flag. But when you’re sixteen, who cares? Except for the occasional What are we Mommy? so that I could chime in when my friends recited their ethnic backgrounds, it didn’t matter.

Once I was on the trail to uncover the truth about my ancient ancestry, I was pleased to see the surname Bonte on the list of Jews asked to leave Spain. Great lead. These same ancestors changed their surname to Jacobse and were known to use Jacobs. Jacobse, Jacobs and Jacobi are all Hebrew names. Even Epke, which my very ancient ancestor went by, I believe means Jacob. And the surname Leeuw was used as well. Leeuw and all its variations are Dutch for “Lion,” which is what medieval Jews were required to use when they signed documents. I was so astonished by these findings, I became obsessed with uncovering the truth behind many an American surname.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

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Court Jews – “Hofjew” Could Play a Role in Your Ancestry Search

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During the Middle Ages, when Jews were denied access to trade guilds, they became dominant in finance and business, especially for the courts. This caused envy among other Jews whose lives were in sharp contrast. A fierce debate goes on to this day but the history of the “Hofjew” could play a role in your ancestry search, particularly if you see any clues in your genealogical tree. One Dutch surname is “Brengerhof.” In German, Hof means “farm or yard.” Court Jews were called “Hofjuden,” and whether there was intent to insult by association with a farm, similar to the derogatory “Marrano/Swine” name during the Inquisition, I have not heard but in the Netherlands “hof” meant “court” and the main messenger of this court was called a “Brenger.” If your surname is “Brengerhof” or “Brinkerhoff” I would consider following the Jewish research trail. In England the expression was “Court Jew” and in Latin “Feret” means to “bear, bring, carry off, consider, get, produce, receive, tell, speak of or win.” This class of Jews were granted “protection” because they were accountants, clerks, tax collectors, etc. who provided excellent service to the local government.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees, Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Secret Genealogy IV:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500756105

Secret Genealogy V: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HJ622DU

Secret Genealogy VI: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY35VCP