Emanuel Mendez da Costa

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Emanuel Mendez da Costa (June 5, 1717 – May 31, 1791) was an English botanist, naturalist, philosopher, and collector of valuable notes and of manuscripts, and of anecdotes of the literati.


Da Costa was elected one of the first Jewish Fellows of the Royal Society of London in 1747 and became their librarian. In 1767 he was discovered to be withholding members' subscription fees, was convicted of fraud, and sentenced to five years in debtors' prison.[1]

He was also a fellow of the Antiquarian Society of London; a member of the Botanic Society in Florence (Società botanica fiorentina), the Aurelian Society, and the Gentleman's Society at Spalding.


His publications included:



  • Jewish Encyclopedia
  • P.J.P. Whitehead, 1977. "Emanuel Mendez da Costa and the conchology,or Natural History of Shells", Bulletin of the British Museum of Natural History (Historical Series), 6:1-24
  • Rousseau, G.S.; Haycock, David (2000). "The Jew of Crane Court: Emanuel Mendes Da Costa (1717–91), Natural History and Natural Excess". Jnl of the History of Science. 38 (120): 127–170.
  • James Grout: Da Costa and the Venus dione: The Obscenity of Shell Description, part of the Encyclopædia Romana
  • Wikisource DNB entry