The Villarreal Family and the Spanish Inquisition

By Danny Villarreal


Fathers Of my Past

by Me
Echoes of my mind made me search my past.

I found Sailors, Soldiers, and Settlers.

Men of God and Glory.

Men that made a good proud story.

But our true past I've found at last.

Men of God under suspicion.

Just for Practicing their Religion,

Fathers of my Past, I have finally found you

At the Spanish Inquisition.

The sadness of Jews is saudades.


Since I have had this web page up I have received many anti-semitic e-mails, I never realized that Jews were descriminated or hated so. Living in an area with so many Catholics and few Jews you just dont see this.

In my genealogical explorations and now through My DNA Testing, I have discovered many facts about our family which have had an influence on my thinking but the possibility of having Jewish ancestors was quite a surprise. Im a good old Catholic I went to Catholic school was an altar server received all my Sacraments. Now I discover our family possibly was Jewish before 1490. To date we have not been able to uncover any actual proof or records other than complaints to the inquisition by a parish priest in Saltillo Mexico and a document filed in the 1700's by a rival family.

My wife and I are very involved in our church we are even Cathechist's this discovery has sent me back to the Bible I am reading the Old Testament book of Leviticus. Now I understand it better. It is as if it were really spoken to me. My youngest son tells me lets talk to someone dad lets see if maby we should act differently because this was the word spoken to our ancestors. I tell him "The bible is food for thought.!!!!"

No! Im not converting to Judism, but I do feel that all aspects of our cultural heritage need to be explored. I will now try to find out more facts about our people. Were we really Conversos or Crypto Jews and how long did it take until we forgot this rich past. Only if we understand where we came from can we know where we are heading. Not all of the Villarreales forgot, oral history mentions this fact quite often. Always the elders of our family had mentioned that we were Jews. They said it so casual it always just flew in and out of conversations.

Since I have had this web page up I have received many anti-semitic e-mails, I never realized that Jews were descriminated or hated so. Living in an area with so many Catholics and few Jews you just dont see this.

Jewish Origins

Oral History tells stories of Jewish Origins. Some believe the Star of David on the top corner of the Coat of Arms has some signifigance. What have you heard does your oral history reflect this. Lets find out, if you know Id like to include it in this web page.

A friend of mine responded to this question with the following:

Danny, I happened to show my boss, who happens to be Jewish, the Villarreal coat of arms. We both agreed that the star was definitely the Star of David. I told I did not know the significance of the Eagle. She told me that at Torah study they were going over Exodus 19. In verse 4, God tells Moses: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself."At any rate, she indicated that the Eagle in this case was symbolic of anexodus (from Spain). In reading a book by Cecil Roth there is mention of the Villareal families of Castile who added the name Cohen to Villareal. Cohen means high priest. Many had forgotten their original names but they knew that they came from a priestly caste or at least semi-priestly. This could add to their reluctance to deny their religion. Further research in a book by Seymour Liebmann, The Jews of New Spain, Liebmann talks about how Judaism evolved from a religion to superstition. In further conversation with my boss, I told her about some Mexican superstitions, in particular the evil eye. She informed me that the evil eye is a Jewish mystic symbol. This is probably one of those old vestiges brought over by the Spanish Jews. Liebmann stated that the women knew a great deal about herbs and cures

E-MAIL Responses To this web page

I to am a good, old fashion Catholic, BUT with many Jewish roots, and I am assuming Catholic roots from the time of the Inquisition. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK,VERY EDUCATIONAL, AND IT KEEPS ME GOING.



I would say that some times we search out our beginnings and then our beginnings become the things that search us out. This funny can of worms you have opened dad, its odd how the spirit gives us these connections. I think you should follow this as far as you are ready to go to find out the truth about who we really were. In one way or another you will have uncovered more than most anthropologists on any civilization that has ever existed. You started with some names and stories and it became much more than a family tree but more like a living thing. Its amazing that there is so much history behind our family and i think that there is much to be said about our people. Don't you ever wonder what would have happened if just one person had not met the one who eventually became our distincitve look, or the way we talk or all the little things we forget about...all the things that make us who we are. Its all of them inside us, in a way its kinda spooky, we are like a giant haunted house. Maybe this is our immortality. Just thought I'd give you something to think about.Adios

-danny Jr. (MY SON)

This site is quite interesting. I've never even thought of the possibility that our family might have a Jewish link from back in our past. actually I think that it is quite exciting. You never know what might turn up. I also think that it is terrific that you might be able to trace our roots all the way back to Aaron, brother of moses. To me that is really amazing. I am going to download the information onto a disk so that the rest of my family can view it. I'm sure that they will be really pleased.

Talk to you later,


You've done a wonderful job on your research on the Jewish link. I, too, felt uncomfortable upon learning about it. I attribute this mainly to my ignorance. How have others reacted to this link? I find my family members are none too happy to learn of it though they've always known about it (we even have two mezzuzahs in my parents house). Yet they are practicing Catholics. You can imagine my parent's dismay with my sister who is a Messianic Jew and has even studied Hebrew. My father's side of the family has been protestant since the 1860s. Oddly I always suspected something was not quite right about our family as a child when I compared them to otherCatholics I knew. Due to the scarcity of Jews in Texas and lack of exposure, I never could put my finger on it until this past year. I appreciate your research especially in light that there are Villarreales in my paternal and maternal line.

Mazel Tov (Good Luck) and happy researching.

Bonnie Perales-Manchester

enjoyed the reading...i live in san diego... and wonder how many hispanics here... are part of the heritage...

shalom, david.

Dear Daniel

A wonderful informative webste. I am so happy that more of 'us' are coming out of the closet - to acknowledge those who went before - My heart is bursting with pride. May you be successful in all you do and your website inspire even more research. Always in the quest for the truth

Adeushalom - Rufina

Thanks for a very informative page. I am the President of Kulanu and your web page was recently mentioned in our list serve. Kulanu means all of us. All of us means Jews of any type. There are many Jews who are secular Jews, meaning they are cultural Jews and will not practice any religion. There are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, Reform Jews, Reconstructionist Jews, Sephardic Jews, Mizrachi Jews, Yemenite Jews, Ethiopian Jews. My point is this: why not Anousim Jews? How can that be? Well, as you can see from your family, Jews are not inclined to defer to a Pope or worldly authority. We are pluralistic community thriving in diversity and treasuring the diversity. I urge you to return. It is not just that you left involuntarily. Howcan you ally with those who tortured you?

Jack Zeller

Traditions were passed on from Father to Son

Ultimately, the Hebraic tradition died out in the Peninsula. It was longer however, before the tradition of descent from the houses of Levi or of Aaron died out. We have seen how Villarreal prided himself upon his semi-priestly ancestry; and outside the Peninsula, incongruous juxtapositions of the Hebrew and the Gothic, such as Levi or Cohen Villarreal, became common.

None of the Victims of the Inquisition was more distinguished than Manuel Fernandez Villarreal, he had studied at the University of Madrid , and served in the army, rising to the rank of Captain. He was sent to Paris as Consul General. Here he became a friend and admirer of the great Cardinal Richelieu.

In 1650 he was sent to Lisbon on a visit. Just as he was on the point of being sent abroad on a mission, he was denounced to the Inquisition by a certain literary friar, a rabid personal enemy of his. Searching inquiries revealed the fact that this eminent public servant was not only of New Christian blood, but also a devoted adherent of the faith of his fathers. He had worked to obtain some amelioration in the Conditions of the New Christians in Portugal, he publicly condemned the rigor of the Inquisition, boasted that he was of the tribe of Levi, and had been in the habit of going to Rouen to celebrate the Passover with his wife. Accordingly he was condemned. As a member of the nobility, he was spared the additional indignity of being burned; but on December 1, 1652, he was garroted. The king, for whom he had worked so devotedly did nothing to protect him.


In 1658 informers denounced to the Lisbon Inquisition an illustrious group including one Chavez, a Captain in the Portuguese Army; a couple of members of the Villarreal family, kinsmen of the martyred statesman-poet of that name. The statesmans son, Jose de Villarreal, became Professor of Greek at Marseilles towards the close of the century, and was the author of the work Escada de Jacob (Jacobs Ladder), still in manuscript.

Jose da Costa Villarreal was Proveditore General, or Comptroller General, to the armies of the King of Portugal. In 1726, a charge of Judaizing was brought against him, and it came to his ears that his arrest was about to be ordered. As it happened a great fire broke out. Profiting by the confusion, he embarked for England on one of his ships which happened to be in harbor, together with as much property as he could collect and seventeen members of his family, including his aged parents. The total value of the fortune which they thus brought with them was said to exceed L 300,000. Immediately on their arrival in London, the family openly declared their adhesion to Judaism. The males underwent circumcision, Led by the old father, then in his seventy-fourth year. All assumed Hebrew names to replace those which they had been given at baptism; and those who had wives saw to it that their marriages were re-solemnized in synagogue. As a thank-offering for their escape, large sums were given to charity; and a school for Jewish girls, which still exists under the name Vilarreal School, was endowed.

In 1620 the parish priest of Saltillo once complained to the inquisition about
Don Diego de Villarreal whom he described as riding a horse, wearing silk clothing and jewelry even though those privileges were denied by law to a descendant of parents who had been converted from Judiasm to catholicism as adults

A document written in 1741 by a Spaniard with the title El Bach Pedro Regaldo Baez Trevino quoted the following from Saltillo. "In the state of Nuevo Leon there is a General who is a descendent of a person whom had been punished during the Spanish Inquisition and whom had been given penance wearing a San Benito and had been scapularized by the Holy Father the Pope, within this Family , there are two whom are Clergy, one a Captain in a Presidio and another who is a Mayor. These are the Villarreales whom my mother has spoken to me about. They have married into good families and are good people." Written on 9/14/1741 Saltillo, Mexico. This man was writing about our our Family the family of Diego de Villarreal.


Dr. Karl Skorecki, a researcher in genetics at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa, and his colleagues in England and the United States applied the techniques of modern biology to members of an ancient institution, known as the Cohanim, the Jewish priesthood. The Cohanim predate rabbis, and trace their origins back 3,300 years to the first high priest or Cohen, Aaron. the older brother of Moses.

Beginning with Aaron, priestly status has been passed down through the ages, from fathers to sons through word of mouth. To this day, all the Cohanim are seen as descendants of Aaron, not just figuratively but by blood. Many. but not all, have the surname Cohen, Kohen, Cohn, Kohn, Cone, Kone, Cahn, Kahn or Kahane. (Cohen In Hebrew means priest.) But not everyone with one of those names is necessarily one of the Cohanim.

In Orthodox and some Conservative congregations, they are accorded special respect and are the only ones who can perform certain important religious duties (that is not, the practice among Reform Jews). The Cohanim blessing is made by holding the hand with a split between the ring finger and middle finger - a gesture that Leonard Nimoy remembered seeing as a boy in synagogue, and decided, as Spock on "Star Trek," to adapt as the Vulcan greeting.


Timeline of the Inquisition

Mistaken Identy New Mexico Spanish Jews

Sephardic Jews

The Alhambra Decree

Jews in the Toledo Area prior to expulsion

SAUDADES Portuguese Sephardic History Great Page by Rufina Bernardetti Silva Mausenbaum

Back to the Villarreal Home Page Home Page

Conversos Judasaintes Tried by the Méxican Inquisition


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