Sunday, October 4, 2015

Origins of the Nunes Vaz Family of Amsterdam

The Nunes Vaz family of Amsterdam traces it's documented roots back to Livorno, Italy in the late 17th century. Jacob Nunes Vaz is the patriarch of the Nunes Vaz family of Amsterdam and was born in 1697 in Livorno, Italy to Abraham Nunes Vaz. Jacob's father Abraham was born around 1670 but there have been no records found on Abraham. It is believed the family originally hailed from Portugal and there is even a family story that there were originally 4 Nunes Vaz brothers who left Portugal and all went to different parts of the World.
Marriage Record for Jacob Nunes Vaz (1697-1746)
and Judith Falcao (1703-????) - Dec 23rd, 1723

Back in Italy the name also was spelled as Nunes Vais and some records in Amsterdam even spell it as Nunes Vaes. It doesn't seem like anyone else from the Nunes Vaz family came with Jacob to Amsterdam, although there is a possible sister named Lea who is listed in the cemetery records at Beth Haim as Lea Nunes Vaes of Esther and died in 1748, 2 years after Jacob. I haven't found any records of an Esther but I suspect it's possible Esther is the wife of Abraham Nunes Vaz, which if so would make Lea the sister of Jacob and Esther his mother. The family left back in Italy became quite prominent with many Rabbis and famous artists including Italo Nunes Vais and Mario Nunes Vais. The patriarch of the branch that stayed in Livorno is Isaac Joseph Nunes Vais who died in 1768 and was most likely born around the same time as our Jacob Nunes Vaz. It is my belief that Isaac Nunes Vais and Jacob Nunes Vaz were 1st cousins who shared Nunes Vaz grandparents, making their fathers brothers (but this is all speculation). Even more interesting is the fact that both Isaac and Jacob were printers, making it possible that printing was a family trade.
Record for Raphael Nunes Vaz (1734-1802) at
Beth Haim of Ouderkerk aan de Amstel

Jacob Nunes Vaz married Judith Falcao on December 23rd, 1723 in Amsterdam and they had two known sons; Aaron (1733-1745) and Raphael Nunes Vaz (1734-1802). Jacob worked as a printer and it is believed his father also worked as printer, most likely gaining their skills in Livorno which was considered the center of Hebrew printing in Italy. Jacob died in 1746 at the age of 49. Jacob's son Raphael Married Simcha Querido on November 10th, 1758 and had a lot of children but because Jacob's other son Aaron died at the age of 12 all members of the Amsterdam Nunes Vaz family trace their roots back to Raphael.

Of Raphael's descendants all of them come from two of his son's; Jacob Nunes Vaz (1759-1813) or Abraham Nunes Vaz (1769-1832), both of whom marred women from the Senior Coronel family. Between these two brothers there are more than 3000 known direct descendants with about 1000 living descendants scattered all over the World. The number seems to constantly go up as more descendants are found but because of the horrors of the Holocaust, especially in Amsterdam, many branches in the Nunes Vaz tree end in the 1940s.

A portrait of Jaap Nunes Vaz
painted by his friend Meijer Bleekrode
One famous figure in the family is Jaap Nunes Vaz, a co-founder of the newspaper Het Parool and a member of the Dutch resistance. He was arrested by the Gestapo on October 25th, 1942 and deported via Westerbork to Sobibor where he was murdered on March 13th, 1943. He has a street named after him in Amsterdam. 


  1. Hi Jarrett - looking forward to the next instalment, though it'll get pretty complicated as you come closer by a generation or two, but don't let that put you off :-). Putting human faces onto the historic entries in the tree make it meaningful, and bring it to life (again). You're doing a great job! Cheers, Rick

  2. my sisterinlaw in chch nzsmaiden name was nunes vaz, we were simply tols it was Dutch although Id say Portuguese..there was poor material there-brother David deaf from birth ns cristina with webbed fingers-perhaps inbreeding? have no further contact anyway

    1. If you ever gain contact again please direct them here. There are many from the Nunes Vaz family who immigrated to NZ including many whom I've been in touch with for a few years.

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    3. Raphael Jacob Nunes Vaz was married to Simcha de Jacob Querido my third cousin 7 times removed. Thanks for your dedicated work!
      Shalom en hartelijke groeten! Bernard Fresco (Amsterdam/Israel)

  3. Does anyone know about a Nunes Vaz emigrating to Surinam, South America??

    1. There was a branch of the Nunes Vaz family in Jamaica who also ended up in Curacao. I would imagine anyone in Surinam would most likely be from this branch. The Patriarch of that branch is Phineas Nunes Vaz (son of Esther) who married Leah Nunes Vaz (daughter of Aaron and Leah Nunes Vaz) whose descendants changed the name to Vaz Capriles after the marriage of Phineas' son Isaac and Ribca Capriles Ricardo.

    2. Hi Mr Ross,
      My name is Rafael Nuñez,66, I am from Caracas, Venezuela.
      I am very glad hearing for my suppose Sephardic Family, and I think they got in here,thru Curazao and Coro city, that.s the closest place in the South American Continent, please if you give me more information, i.ll be very grateful, I am looking forward in order to get an Spanish pardon law and obteining information for the rest of the Family, where are we coming FROM, THANK YOU

  4. My great grandmother was born Sara Nunes Vaz and she was living in Amsterdam until WW11 when she was taken to Sobibor as a prisoner of war and soon after died there in 1942. She married into the Ossensdruver family of Amsterdam and had a daughter named Clara.
    I know my great grandmother Sara was of Portuguese decent

  5. mijn partner evelien hackmannn is ook een nazaat van Jacob Nunez Vaz, nl Isaac Nunes Vaz van 1793,kleinzoon van Raphael Nunes Vaz trouwde met Debora Henriques de la Fuente, die kreeg een dochter Hanna Isaac Nunes Vaz en die had een relatie met een zekere Hendrik waarmee ze 2 kinderen kregen nl Samson en Esther, in 1867 trouwde ze met Jacob Samson Cohen die de beide kinderen echte, zodoende heetten ze Cohen, Samson was de opa van Evelien, want haar oma anna cohen trouwde met jan louis hackmann wn anna cohen was geboren uit de relatie van haar opa Samson en Janna van der sluis uit Harlingen, kunt u het nog volgen ?, wel leuk