Don Pacifico

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David Pacifico (1784 – 12 April 1854) was a naturalized British subject from Gibraltar. Pacifico's grandfather, of the same name, was born in Italy eventually settled down in Gibraltar. His family had been expelled from Spain with the rest of the Jews in 1492.

His ancestors reached Italy, particularly Tuscany, first Leghorn and then Florence. As Pacifico grew up in Portugal because of his father's work, he was speaking fluent Portuguese. That led to the myth of Portuguese descent for the Pacificos, who were actually of Spanish descent.

He died in London on 12 April 1854.[1] He is best known to history as "Don Pacifico" and for his role as the key figure in the Don Pacifico Affair of 1850.

In 1847, while he was living and working in the Greek capital, Athens, as the Portuguese honorary consul, his home was attacked and vandalised by an anti-Semitic mob that included the sons of a government minister; police looked on and did nothing. He appealed to the Greek government for compensation for loss of possessions, including documents relating to a substantial claim against the Portuguese government for monies owed. When in 1848, it became clear that compensation would not be given, he appealed to the British.[citation needed]

Becausehe was born in Gibraltar and was therefore a British subject, Foreign Minister Lord Palmerston decided military action would be justified and dispatched a squadron of the Royal Navy to blockade Piraeus, the port of Athens. After an eight-week blockade, the Greek government paid compensation to Pacifico. When challenged in the British Parliament by John Arthur Roebuck, the MP for Sheffield, in a motion condemning his course of action, Palmerston justified it in a speech to the Commons on June 25, 1850, using the phrase, "Civis romanus sum", translated as "I am a Roman citizen", the declaration by a Roman to protect him from harm anywhere in the Roman Empire.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jacobs, Joseph. "PACIFICO CASE". Retrieved December 7, 2011. 


  • Dictionary of National Biography, article Pacifico, David
  • [1]
  • voll. 18, 19, Jewish Historical Society of England, 1958, p. 1", "(...) The Pacifico family is of Italian Jewish origin (...)"
  • [2]" "(..) Pacifico, the Elder, Joshua's son, was born in 1707 in Italy and arrived in Gibraltar in 1726 (...)"
  • '[3], Roy Jenkins, Gladstone: A biography, Random House, 2002, "(...) Pacifico was a Spanish jew (...)"
  • '[4]
  • '[5] (...)Don Pacifico, the hero of the 1847–48 claims, was a naturalized British subject (...)", House Documents - Vol. 1-2;Vol 270 - Page 1339 Congress House of Representatives - 1874
  • '[6]