Henriques Dias Milao-Caceres (1528-1609) was born in Portugal to a Sephardic Jewish family that was exiled from Spain during the 1492 expulsion. The family had refused to convert to Christianity and fled to Portugal in the hopes of being able to practice their religion. Unfortunately, the Portuguese soon forced them to convert as well. Nonetheless, the majority of these forced converts continue to practice Judaism in secret. Henriques Dias was among them, and succeeded in amassing a large fortune through his booming businesses in Lisbon. Towards the end of his life, he was arrested on false charges, and sentenced to death by the Inquisition. He was burned at the stake at age 82, together with two other members of his family. The rest of the family was forced to watch the execution, and subsequently adopted “Henriques” as a surname in his honour. The family grew tremendously and separated into various branches, including a British, Danish, Swedish, and German branch. A large part of the British branch ultimately settled in Jamaica, where they were free to practice their religion once more, and became one of the wealthiest and most influential Sephardic Jewish families on the Caribbean island. (It should be noted that the family has also drawn some heavy criticism for once being involved in slave-holding.) Among the patrons of this family was Ronnie Henriques, who enlisted in the British Army during World War II to fight the Nazis. He went missing in action until later being freed from a Nazi prison camp, and returning to Jamaica. His grandson is Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques, better known as reggae pop star Sean Paul (who was raised Catholic, but is proud of his Jewish heritage). Other notable members of the Henriques family include Moses (Cohen) Henriques, a real ‘Pirate of the Caribbean’ who had his own pirate island off the coast of Brazil, as well as British-Jewish philanthropist and author Sir Basil Henriques, and famous Danish composer Valdemar Fini Henriques.
Words of the Week
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
– Mahatma Gandhi