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Touro family (Newport, R.I.), Papers

 Collection — Box: CB-P6, Folder: P-214
Identifier: P-214

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains letters and papers of the following members of the Touro family: Abraham (1777/78-1822): an insurance policy for a ship owned by Nathaniel Cushing for which Touro was one of the underwriters (1812), and a letter written to Solomon Jacobs of Richmond, Virginia, regarding a contribution to the Richmond synagogue (1822); Judah (1775-1854): a letter to Mary Anne Gomez Lopez acknowledging the receipt of a painting and silverware (1846), a deed of trust executed with Aaron L. Gomez for the benefit of Edwin Lopez (1849), and a photocopy of Touro's will (1854); and Rebecca (1779-1833): a petition to the Rhode Island House of Representatives regarding payment for the caretaker of the Newport synagogue and cemetery, and the legislature's answer (1823), and an unsigned copy of her will, specifying Joshua Lopez and Aaron Gomez as her trustees (1833). Among her intended legatees were the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society of New York, and Congregation Shearith Israel, New York, as well as friends and relations in the Lopez and Myers families.


  • late 1700s-1849


Language of Materials

The collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

The Touro family of Newport, R. I. was a family of wealthy merchants, famous philanthropists, and prominent Jewish community leaders.

The Touro siblings (Abraham, Judah, and Rebecca) were the children of Rabbi Isaac Touro (1737-1783) and Rebecca Hays Touro (1743-1787) of the Boston Hays family. Rabbi Touro was originally from Amsterdam, Netherlands, but moved to Newport, RI to become the spiritual leader of the Orthodox Jewish community. Rabbi Touro was in charge of building and overseeing the Sephardic Orthodox Synagogue (the original name of the Touro Synagogue), but as a British Loyalist, he fled with his family to British New York at the beginning of the American Revolution.

Shortly afterward, he went the Jamaica with his family where he took a position as a rabbi, and died in 1783. The children and their mother returned to New England, settling in Boston with Rebecca’s brother, Moses Michael Hays. Rebecca died in 1787, and the children were subsequently raised by their uncle.

Abraham and Judah became businessmen and philanthropists, donating to many public works, monuments, hospitals and colleges, as well as funding the upkeep of the synagogue, which was renamed after Abraham Touro. Judah Touro moved to New Orleans in 1801 and opened a store where he prospered. Rebecca Touro Lopez married Joshua Lopez, the son of Newport merchant Aaron Lopez.

After Abraham’s death in 1822, monies he had given for the synagogue were held in in trust by the state of Rhode Island for the upkeep of Touro Synagogue. However, after two years, the funds were left languishing until Rebecca petitioned the state of Rhode Island to release the funds in order to pay for the caretaker of the synagogue. The funds were eventually released in 1825, which began a two-year restoration of the synagogue and subsequent renaming.


3 Folders


The collection contains correspondence, personal, and business papers of the following members of the Touro family: Abraham (1777/78-1822), Judah (1775-1854), and Rebecca (1779-1833) Touro of Newport, Rhode Island. Documents include an insurance policy, correspondence, and wills.

Physical Location

collection is located in Consolidated Box P6.

Acquisition Note

Portions of the collection were donated by Charles Seixas Nathan in 1916; Theodore H. Joseph in 1927; Mark Bortman; and the Elsie O. and Philip D. Sang Foundation in 1979.

Guide to the Touro Family (Newport, R.I.) Papers, late 1700s-1849 P-214
Processed by Yakov Illich Sklar
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
as part of the Leon Levy Archival Processing Initiative, made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation

Revision Statements

  • May, September 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States