- Historical event
- 21 December 1804
- The Prime Minister’s surname was originally written D’Israeli, meaning “of Israelis” i.e. Jews. Benjamin changed the writing of his surname to Disraeli (no apostrophe).
The famous British prime minister of Jewish origin – Benjamin Disraeli – was born on this day. His ancestors were Jews who probably till 1492 lived in the Pyrenees peninsula (present-day Spain and Portugal). When the Jews were expelled from Spanish-speaking countries in 1492, it seems that the Disraelis moved into northern Italy. The prime minister’s grandfather was born near the Italian city of Ferrara, and in 1748 moved to England. The prime minister’s father was born in England, near London. All in all, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli belonged to the third generation of the family who lived in England.
The Prime Minister’s surname was originally written D’Israeli, meaning “of Israelis” i.e. Jews. Benjamin changed the writing of his surname to Disraeli (no apostrophe). Interestingly, the prime minister’s father had little Benjamin baptized when he was 12 years old, thus making him a Christian, and of Anglican orientation. Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin remained an Anglican his entire life. Despite the fact that he was not really of Jewish faith, the prime minister was often discriminated because of his Jewish origin.
Interestingly, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was one of the few statesmen in world history who were also writers. Specifically, Disraeli wrote a series of fiction novels. His better known works are “Vivian Grey”, “Venetia”, “Tancred,” “Sybil,” “The Rise of Iskander”, “Coningsby”, and “Endymion”.
Benjamin Disraeli became Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1866, and the Prime Minister in 1874. On this position he had very good relations with Queen Victoria. It is interesting that it was precisely Disraeli who obtained the title Empress of India for Queen Victoria. Because of that, his opponents complained that he was an imperialist. The Queen awarded him by elevating him to a Lord, and gave him a high title of Earl of Beaconsfield (in the UK the title of Earl roughly corresponds to the title of Count in the rest of Europe).