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Joachim Gans of Prague: The First Jew in English America.

Joachim or Chajjim Gans reached America in the summer of 1585 aboard one of Sir Walter Raleigh's ships under the command of Sir Richard Grenville. On 26 June he arrived at the barrier islands near Cape Hatteras in what is today the State of North Carolina. On 29 June the pilot of the flagship, the Tyger, tried to get her to a safe harbor in the sound beyond the outward islands. The inlet was too shallow, however, and the ship ran aground. To set her free the crew had to jettison valuable provisions, including apparently some of Gans's heavy technological equipment.

Meanwhile Gans accompanied the English who spent most of July in smaller vessels exploring the coastal islands and the adjacent mainland of what they called Virginia in honor of Queen Elizabeth. They traveled about 80 miles south to the Pamlico River. Finally, on 27 July, they found a passable inlet for the Tyger through the chain of islands known as the Outer Banks. Immediately they began to build a fort and settlement on Roanoke Island, which is situated within the sound about equal distance from the barrier islands and the mainland. About 10 miles long and 1 to 3 miles wide, the island slopes from approximately 30 feet above sea level at the northern end to actual sea level at the extreme southern end. The settlement was under the command of Governor Ralph Lane, Raleigh himself being detained at home by the Queen who feared to lose him. (The settlement site has been preserved by the National Park Service as Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo, North Carolina.)

Joachim Gans, a relative of the famous Prague scholar David Gans, arrived in America 35 years before the Pilgrims landed in New England.(1) He was the first technologist or material scientist in English America. The site of his technological work on Roanoke Island in 1585-6 has been called "America's First Science Center" or "the Birthplace of American Science."(2)

What prompted Joachim Gans, a German Jew from Prague, to take part in the premier English settlement in America? Why was he present at the genesis of the American nation? The English often relied on Continental experts in the field of minerals and metals. German specialists accompanied Martin Frobisher, the seeker of the Northwest Passage to China, in 1577 and 1578. At least one German metallurgist sailed with Sir Humphrey Gilbert when he tried in 1583 to establish the first English colony in what is today Canada. When Gilbert's half brother, Sir Walter Raleigh, received a patent from Elizabeth to found a colony, he sent along the mineral expert and metallurgist Gans. It was probably on the recommendation of the Queen's Principal Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham.

One of the primary objectives of the colony was to locate and abstract valuable metals for the investors and the Queen. Therefore Raleigh was anxious to employ the most up-to-date methods, using the top experts in the field. The eminent British historical archeologist Ivor Noel Hume believes that the men running metallurgical assays and other scientific tests on Roanoke Island were "a blue-ribbon team and like most scientific research efforts today, quality of mind brushed aside barriers of race, religion, or national origin."(3) David B. Quinn, the prominent historian of early English settlements, describes the mineral experts as follows:
 One group of specialists was of considerable importance, namely the
 "mineral men"--metallurgists and miners. The leading metallurgist in the
 list [of settlers] was Dougham Gannes, otherwise Joachim Ganz, a Jewish
 expert from Prague, who had been involved in the locating and working of
 copper mines in England.(4)


Gans had been brought to England by George Nedham, the clerk of the Society of Mines Royal, to improve its operations. Maxwell Bruce Donald, the historian of the Society, relates how in 1581 the German-speaking Nedham brought Gans "up to Keswick to explain and develop the brilliant new ideas he had about mineral dressing and smelting."(5) Keswick, in County Cumberland in the north of England, was the center of the Society of Mines Royal where German-speaking experts produced the first copper in Elizabeth's realm. Gans ran trials at the Keswick smelters, and, as we will see, in 1581 he proposed an improved method of copper production to Sir Francis Walsingham, the Governor of the Society and Elizabeth's Principal Secretary of State.(6)

Gans's Scientific Outlook Formed in Prague

Gans was born in Prague around the middle of the sixteenth century.(7) Experts on Prague Jewry believe that he was a relative of the prominent Renaissance astronomer, mathematician, geographer and chronicler David Gans (1541-1613).(8) Born in Lippstadt, near Paderborn, Westphalia, Germany, David worked with Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler in the Prague astronomical observatory.(9) Joachim's exact relationship to David invites further research, but we may be certain that he was raised in an intellectual environment that stimulated his interest in science.(10)

David and Joachim Gans shared a Weltanschauung based on scientific inquiry in contrast to the popular view of most of their contemporaries based on faith in ancient written authority. David and Joachim not only accepted the revolutionary ideas of the Renaissance but put them into practice--David in the field of astronomy and mathematics and Joachim in mineralogy and metallurgy.

Where did Joachim acquire his knowledge of the smelting and refining of copper, lead and silver? The Ore Mountains (Krusne Hory/Erzgebirge) forming the border between Bohemia and Saxony constituted the most important copper mining area of Bohemia in the sixteenth century. In De Re Metallica published in 1556 the year after his death Georgius Agricola (Georg Bauer), the father of mineralogy, described the highly developed mining and smelting techniques employed in the Ore Mountains. We know that some of the chief mineral specialists working in England hailed from this mountain range. At one time Queen Elizabeth's advisors urged her to ask the ruler of Saxony, who controlled the northern portion of the Ore Mountains, to make additional mineral experts available to her. It would have been natural for Nedham, an agent of Walsingham, to look for talent in this region.

Gans at Work in England

Nedham brought Gans to the Mines Royal in 1581 to improve their profitability. The Mines Royal had been founded in 1564 by the Queen as "the outcome of several previous attempts to induce German experts to undertake the management of English metal working."(11) Because the English mineral industry was still in its infancy technical managers and skilled miners were imported from Germany, which at that time was superior to England in this field.(12) "Gans at once put his finger on the main point of criticism of the old regime in that the ores took sixteen to eighteen fires and sixteen to eighteen weeks to be worked into copper."(13)

After running some tests Gans proposed to Walsingham an improved method of producing copper.(14) The ore would have to be heated only four times to be turned into rough copper, instead of sixteen to eighteen times. Apparently Gans was acquainted with the more up-to-date method used in the Ore Mountains, whereas the German-speaking smelters at Keswick used an older method developed in Schwaz, the Tyrol, Austria.

Gans offered to produce a hundred pounds of crude copper for five shillings less than Mark Steinberger, the German mineral expert, was then producing at Keswick. (Five shillings equaled one fifth of a pound of silver.) Moreover Gans offered to roast the copper ore using only peat "whereas Mr. Stembarger [Steinberger] and his father [in-law] have used much wood," a more expensive fuel.

The extensive and detailed proposal transcribed by Nedham describes "the nature and property" of the nine impurities discovered by Gans in the Keswick copper ore after his tests. Now that "the nature of these nine hurtful humors [impurities] being discovered and opened by Mr. Jochim's doing," Nedham told Walsingham, "we can by his order of working so correct them that part of them are by art made friends and be not only an increase to the copper, but further it in smelting."

Gans's innovation involved pounding the copper ore into a powder, roasting the powder and then passing water through it. Nedham explained that the water carries away the vitriol, iron and sulfur and "so cleans the ore that when it comes to the smelting, the copper comes forth so easily, without such quantity of slag or dross as otherwise would be."

"The method of treating roasted ores with water [that Gans introduced to England] was not new as it had been described by Agricola some twenty-five years before in De Re Metallica ... The improvement suggested by Joachim differs from this in that the vitriol [mixture of iron and copper sulfate] was not washed away to waste" but extracted for use as a dye for textiles.(15)

The report to Walsingham describing Gans's proposal gives us an insight into the mineral industry of Elizabethan England. It "is outstanding technically and, if put into modern English, would command respect even now, 400 years later, as a statement of the treatment of copper ores," Donald, Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of London, declared in 1955. He contrasted the description of the difficult operations of smelting copper ores "by scientific technologists from the Continent" with the "nonsensical outpourings of charlatan alchemists" of the time.(16)

Gans not only ran tests at Keswick but also developed his method of roasting and smelting ore in "the great work" at Neath, near Swansea, South Wales. Although there is no documentary evidence that Gans helped build the Mines Royal smelter at Neath that was finished in 1583 or 1584, there is good reason to think that he did. It was he, according to Fritz Wolfgang Ringling, who urged the Society to expand into nearby Cornwall after he ran his assays at Keswick in 1581: "On the initiative of Joachim Gans, the Cornish mines were opened anew" by the Society.(17)

The copper-smelting process introduced into England by Gans was put to good use. Ulrich Frass, a German smelter at the Mines Royal, employed an improved version of Gans's method at Neath to smelt all kinds of copper ores more rapidly and profitably.

Gans Tests Natural Resources of the New World

How did Gans come to take part in the first English settlement in what is today the United States? The scouting expedition that Raleigh had sent to Virginia the year before had found some of the natives wearing pieces of copper as ornaments and as signs of rank. This raised hopes of copper mines and also of silver because copper ores frequently contain silver. Walsingham was "a subscriber to the 1585 venture, in which a number of members of his household took part."(18) As Governor of the Society of Mines Royal, Sir Francis was, of course, acquainted with the ability of Gans as a copper smelter and may very well have recommended Gans when Raleigh assembled his team for America.

"Although no scientific instructions survive to detail what Raleigh and his backers required of their experts," Noel Hume declares that "every detail of the newfound lands' animal, vegetable, and mineral resources was to be recorded, tested, and sampled ... Gans was to find and test the metals that were to make everyone's fortune."(19)

To become permanent governor of Virginia, Sir Walter Raleigh had to establish an enduring colony before his patent from Elizabeth expired in 1590. An enterprise such as a mine and smelter could render a settlement economically viable and ensure its permanence. The Queen, who had contributed to the venture, expected to receive "a fifth part of the profits of the minerals of gold and silver ore" as stipulated in the patent she had granted her favorite. Only Gans and his German miners from the Society of Mines Royal could determine whether commercially valuable ores existed in the area. That is why they played an especially important role in the colony, and that is why they must have faced considerable pressure to succeed.

The small band of Europeans was far from home, but Joachim had come farther than any. Moreover, he was a foreigner among the English and a Jew among the Christians--in fact, the first Jew in English America. The burden of adjustment was therefore greater for Gans than for his companions, yet he adapted himself well and made his technological contributions. That he was Jewish is documented in an official deposition he would give later, but this information is curiously missing from the contemporary accounts of the Roanoke settlement. Surely the unusual circumstance of having a Jew among the settlers would have been recorded by Lane, the governor and chief chronicler of the colony, had he known.

"There is little doubt," writes Quinn, "that throughout his stay Lane would hold regular services in the colony on Sundays, but, without a clergyman, these would consist only of the reading of extracts from the prayer book and the Bible, together with the singing of psalms."(20) This must have been the moment of truth for Gans: Should he refuse to participate and risk rejection by his small group of fellow settlers on whom his life depended more than 3000 miles from home, or should he betray his religion by paying lip service to the Christian one? Gans perhaps decided that wisdom was the better part of valor and silently bowed his head like the rest.

Gans's responsibility was to supervise the prospecting and assaying of minerals and metals. Unlike those gentlemen members of the colony who, according to Gans's fellow scientist Hariot, "had little care for any other thing but to pamper their bellies," Joachim went about conscientiously pursuing his work. Gans justly earned respect among the 107 settlers as a technical expert and was referred to as "Master Yougham" by Lane.

As the main metallurgist of the settlement Gans tested "metal objects found in Indian hands ... to find out whether the copper was of good quality and also whether these objects contained any gold or silver."(21) The English naturalist Hariot reported later that some Indian copper was "found by trial to hold silver."(22) In the 1950s two chunks of surface-pitted but pure copper, 12 and 21 1/2 ounces, were discovered by the historical archeologist Jean Carl Harrington on the island.(23) To Quinn, "there seems little doubt that they were smelted on Roanoke Island and that Ganz had a furnace capable of reaching the almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit necessary to melt copper."(24)

Locally made bricks used in an assayer's furnace built by Gans have been found on Roanoke. "Many of the bats were heavily burned at one end, and several had been ground down so that one side was deeply concave."(25) These concave bricks formed the arch of the opening or "glory hole" of Gans's assay furnace, explains Noel Hume.(26) But why would Gans have resorted to such a makeshift furnace and not brought his own from Europe? Experienced assayers like Gans wouldn't leave home without their own assay oven made of steel or clay (for ocean travel a steel one would, of course, be preferable). Master Daniel the Saxon, the assayer accompanying Gilbert in 1583, had such a movable furnace aboard his ship. The metallurgists who were with Frobisher earlier also used a portable one because there is evidence that it was moved three times during assay work near Baffin Island. Was Gans's heavy steel furnace thrown overboard by the sailors to lighten the Tyger when she ran aground trying to reach Roanoke Island? This is a likely assumption. Gans's original oven is probably still out there in the Outer Banks of North Carolina awaiting a future archeologist with more sophisticated sensing equipment. The German mining expert Lazarus Ercker had advised metallurgists on how to build a provisional furnace such as the one used by Gans on Roanoke: "If you find yourself at some place where no assay furnace is available and you have to assay a sample in a hurry ... you can make yourself an assay furnace by building a square structure out of bricks, leaving air holes in the sides and a mouth hole in the front."(27)

In 1849 a visitor reported finding "glass globes containing quicksilver, and hermetically sealed." Noel Hume associates them with Gans's metallurgical workplace.(28) Evidence of technological activity is spread over about 50 square meters at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. Fragments of crucibles for metallurgical work were discovered as well as slag from metallurgical activity, antimony that could have been used to separate metals, "copper-encrusted crucible sherds and, most surprising of all, a small lump of copper oxide that may be slag derived from an attempt to smelt copper ore obtained from the Indians." Noel Hume even found, in what he calls a major archeological miracle, part of the dirt floor of Gans's workshed undisturbed. In addition he found fragments of chemical glassware, assayers' flasks and retorts for distilling liquids.(29) It is possible that this testing equipment was used by Hariot, the English naturalist. But in his extensive Report of the resources of the area he never mentions testing any; therefore, it seems more likely that Gans used it.

Noel Hume also found "quantities of charcoal and a large lump of bog iron--a combination that could point to experimental iron smelting on the site ..."(30) In his Report on the resources of Virginia Hariot had noted the discovery of rocks "near the waterside" that "by the trial of a mineral man [were] found to hold iron richly."(31) The charcoal and iron found by Noel Hume could have come from this assay. He concludes that the technologists on Roanoke Island were furnished with state-of-the-art equipment but were forced to work under primitive conditions in the American wilderness.(32)

A Dangerous Journey in Search of Minerals

"Master Yougham" as the mineral expert of the colony accompanied the various expeditions in search of natural resources. Gans, a native of land-locked Bohemia, was now tossed about by the waves as he searched for ores along the seacoast and rivers of today's North Carolina and Virginia. Accustomed to the hills and mountains that are the natural habitat of minerals he now found himself among the unfamiliar sands and swamps of Tidewater North America. In these explorations Gans faced many hardships and dangers.

In the winter of 1585-6 the explorers traveled in their boats about 130 miles north from their base on Roanoke Island. They journeyed up Currituck Sound, which they found shallow and treacherous, then through an opening in the Outer Banks (that has since filled in) and up the Atlantic. From there they entered Chesapeake Bay, exploring along its southern shore Lynnhaven Bay and the Elizabeth River. Hariot stated in his Report, "in all our travels which were most special and often in the time of winter, our lodging was in the open air upon the ground."

It must have become quickly apparent to Gans and his mineral men that few metals could be found in the sandy coastal plains within reach of their island settlement. The natives, some of whom wore copper ornaments, talked about rich mines in the mountains farther inland.

In March 1586 Governor Lane led an exploration to the western shore of Albemarle Sound and up the Chowan River. They rowed to the village of Chowanook on the west bank, burst into the settlement and seized the native chief. Lane shackled him although his legs were already paralyzed and held him captive for two days while interrogating him about the country. He also took the chief's "best beloved son" prisoner and sent him to Roanoke Island.

The chief told the explorers about a rich mineral deposit on the nearby Roanoke River containing "a marvelous and most strange mineral," as Lane later reported back to England.(33) The Roanoke River, which empties into Albemarle Sound side by side with the Chowan, originates some 380 miles westward in the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia. So eager was Lane for the copper (or possibly silver) that he went back down the Chowan and up the Roanoke without first returning to his base for additional supplies. As the 20 men in each of the two rowboats labored against the powerful current of the Roanoke River they found that the natives had abandoned their riverside villages and moved their women and corn out of reach. As the English began to run out of supplies the natives sent them arrows instead of food. Having rowed for five days they had now penetrated deepest into the mainland, without finding a mine, friendly Indians or food. Unfortunately the English leadership had turned the initial friendliness of the native Americans into enmity by sometimes treating them barbarously. Now they were reaping their reward from the people they regarded as savages but on whom they depended for their survival.

When the explorers were reduced to making a meal of their two mastiffs they decided to turn back. "We lodged upon an island where we had nothing in the world to eat but pottage of sassafras leaves, the like whereof for a meat [meal] was never used before as I think," Lane reported later.

Shortly after they returned to Roanoke the colony as a whole ran into serious difficulties. After warfare had broken out with the natives and the supply ship had failed to arrive from England the leadership decided to abandon the settlement. They left on 17 June 1586 with Sir Francis Drake, who had stopped at Roanoke Island after his attack on the Spanish in Florida. They returned to England after having spent a year in the New World.

Despite this setback Gans, his assistants from the Society of Mines Royal and Hariot present an inspiring picture: We saw them land in the American wilderness and forthwith set out to investigate their new environment. We watched them set up their assaying equipment to test the resources of this strange new land, while living under trying conditions. They were sometimes short of food, and they never knew when an enemy--native or Spanish--might strike. Yet they persevered.

The plan by the English to start a mineral operation with Continental experts at the very first tiny settlement was too grandiose to succeed even if the Tidewater region had been a treasure-trove of exploitable minerals; nevertheless, Gans's provisional little assay furnace in the Virginia wilderness may be considered the first tiny beginning of the American metals industry.
 Had the Elizabethan scholars working there concluded that Virginia held no
 economic promise, we might have had no Jamestown settlement in 1607 and no
 Williamsburg; indeed, no British presence south of New England. Instead,
 the southern British colonies would almost certainly have been settled by
 Spaniards--and Virginia might now be a Spanish-speaking, independent
 country akin to those of Central America.(34)


Gans the Renaissance Man Challenges the Christian Religion

After Gans returned to England in 1586 he moved to London. A tiny Jewish community of Spanish marranos lived in the eastern end of the capital.(35) If Gans knew of these Sephardic Jews he decided not to join them. He settled instead in the fashionable Blackfriars district named after a Dominican priory secularized by Henry VIII.(36) The quarter still offered certain protections to foreigners because its former character of a sanctuary still clung to it. He continued his practical, technological work but got involved in a theological dispute.

As a cultivated, cosmopolitan personality with an inquiring mind Gans must have felt at home in the lively atmosphere of the capital, the center of the Elizabethan Renaissance. We know that he was versed in languages. He knew German, the language of his profession, and he presumably conversed in that tongue with the German miners he supervised in America. In 1581 he was relying on the German-speaking Nedham to communicate his technological proposals to Secretary of State Walsingham, but by 1585 in America he was already in command of English. He would have also known the Bohemian form of Yiddish as well as Czech. He had studied Hebrew in his native Prague and, as we will see, was able to converse in that language with a Christian minister.

Since Gans possessed a trained intellect, an adventurous spirit and a scientific mind he was no doubt excited by the intellectual ferment that characterized Elizabethan England. This era was marked, however, not only by scientific curiosity but also by theological contentions. We know that Gans engaged in at least one of these: In September 1589 he was arrested in the southwestern seaport of Bristol for denying the divinity of Christ.

Gans was staying with several men ("his company") at an inn kept by one Richard Mayes. Since Bristol is on the direct route from London to southern Wales Gans was probably stopping at this seaport to wait for a coastal vessel to carry him and his companions down the Bristol Channel to the Mines Royal smelting house at Neath near Swansea. One of his assistants was a joiner named Jeremy Pierce. Carpenters were needed at smelting operations run by water power because they involved much woodwork.

On Friday, 12 September 1589, Gans had a discussion with Pierce about "the Old and the New Testaments" of the Bible. This conversation apparently raised suspicions in Jeremy's mind because he demanded to know whether Gans believed in Jesus Christ, "the son of God." Gans replied that there was no such person; there was only one God, and he had neither a wife nor a child.

Later that day a minister of the Church of England, Richard Curteys, entered Mayes's inn to continue a conversation with Gans in Hebrew. Before the discourse could resume, however, Pierce secretly informed the clergyman that Joachim was an infidel because he denied that Christ was the son of God. When Gans entered the room Curteys decided to put him to a test. Addressing Joachim in Hebrew the minister declared that Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews whom the Jews had crucified, was and is the son of God. Jesus is not the son of God replied Gans in the same language. The cleric then suddenly switched to English so that he could have witnesses to Joachim's horrendous infidelity: "What! Do you deny Jesus Christ is the son of God?"

Gans fell into the trap, and he retorted in English: "What need has Almighty God for a son? Is He not almighty?"

Reverend Curteys promptly conveyed this incriminating information to Bristol's mayor--Robert Kitchen--and to the aldermen of the city. On Monday, 15 September, the mayor and his councilors arrested Gans. During the interrogation Joachim took refuge in his Jewish religion. What would have been unforgivable coming from a Christian might perhaps be forgiven in a Jew. He declared that he did not believe any Christian doctrines because he had not been raised as a Christian. He affirmed that he was a circumcised Jew, born in the city of Prague, and that he had never been baptized. When Pierce was brought before the mayor and aldermen the next day he confirmed the minister's testimony.

The city fathers of Bristol decided that Gans's offense was too grave for them to handle, so they sent him to the highest governmental body in England. Mayor Kitchen and his aldermen certified on 17 September to the Queen's Privy Council in London that Gans, on being examined, had "declared himself to be a most wicked infidel. We have, therefore, thought it our duties to send him unto your Honors, also to signify unto you his ungodly and most heathenish opinions and demeanors not meet to be suffered among Christians ... All which we leave to your Honors' further consideration."(37)

How serious were the charges against Gans? Since Jews, unlike Christians, do not proselytize, Gans could not truthfully be accused of having tried to convert his helper Pierce to Judaism. He could, however, be charged with attempting to undermine his subordinate's faith in Christianity and that of the minister by casting doubt on the divinity of Jesus.

In upholding Jewish monotheism against Christian tritheism Gans had challenged the core doctrine of the Christian religion, the divinity of Christ. In that especially intolerant era many Christians put other Christians to death for lesser theological offenses. Moreover, Jews were still officially banned from England, although, as we know, some did reside there.

What could have compelled Gans to such a dangerous act? What could have driven him to repute the Christian religion before a Christian minister? Living alone among Christians he may have felt compelled to hide his Jewishness. The strain of living a double life may have become too much for him. Thus he may have been driven to manifest his Jewishness and defend the true religion.

When Gans arrived back in London for disposition by the Privy Council he was no stranger to at least some of the. Councilors. The top officials of the Council--William Cecil (Lord Burghley), the High Treasurer, and Francis Walsingham, the Principal Secretary to the Queen--were keenly interested in the success of the Society of Mines Royal and no doubt familiar with Gans's abilities. His contributions were, of course, also known to his former employer, Sir Walter Raleigh, who enjoyed the high favor of the Queen after his recent exploits against the Spanish Armada.

How did Gans try to placate the wrath of the authorities who upheld Protestant Christianity as the state religion? A document preserved at Hatfield House, north of London, may throw some light on this question. This manuscript, which is a professional scribe's copy of the one originally written by Gans, instructed the English in the most up-to-date method of producing saltpeter, an essential ingredient of gunpowder as well as an important flux for metallurgy. Gans described it as a guide for the "right and most perfect way of the whole work of saltpeter making ... First written in the High Dutch [German] by the expert and chief M[aste]r of the Emperor's mines in the Kingdom of Bohemia, Lazarus Erkerne [Ercker], and now translated into English by Joachim Gaunz of Prage."(38) Gans dedicated his work, which was actually far more than a translation, to Secretary of State Walsingham:
 Hoping that your Honor will take this my small travail in good part and
 favor it under your protection, hoping thereby to be defended from all
 adversaries in this my good meaning [emphasis added], beseeching God to
 bless your Honor with happiness of long life to continue,
 Your Honor's most humble at
 commandment, Joachim
 Gaunz of Prage.


The manuscript bears no date, but the original must have been written before 6 April 1590, the date of Walsingham's death. Did Gans write the handbook in prison while awaiting trial? If so there would have been precedents; for example, his former employer Raleigh would write a history of the world while confined in the Tower of London. In his 41-page manual Gans asks nothing for himself--no monopoly, no privileges. He offers his work freely to the English so they can make saltpeter at good profit. All he asks of one of the highest officials of the land is protection "from all adversaries." What adversaries did Gans face? The manual on saltpeter must be seen as an inducement to Walsingham, a relative of the Queen, to defend him against the charges of blasphemy and infidelity. This was not the first scientific paper Gans had sent to the Secretary of State; we recall his proposal of 1581 to improve English copper production. Gans apparently wanted to reinforce Walsingham's awareness of how useful he could be to the English alive and productive. As an expert metallurgist and general technologist he could be very beneficial to the government of a country that was still quite backward technologically compared to parts of Continental Europe. Moreover, England was in a state of war with the powerful Spanish Empire and considered itself still in grave danger despite its recent victory over the Spanish Armada. To make is point Gans chose a key subject, saltpeter, so important to the English defense industry. Saltpeter was especially needed by the English government to manufacture gunpowder for the army it had sent to the aid of the French king in the war against Spain. On 1 October 1589 the Privy Council inquired about the quantity of gunpowder remaining in Her Majesty's storehouses and also about "the quantities and prices of the saltpeter brought into the Tower [of London] since the last composition; and the names of the saltpeter men supplying the same."(39)

What Became of Gans?

The death penalty was still being enforced in England for some deviations from Protestant orthodoxy.(40) A Catholic trying to convert a Protestant to his form of Christianity was also subject to the death penalty.(41) These were heresy cases. Heresy was a deviation from true Christianity; for example, an Anabaptist Protestant or a Catholic Christian was a heretic to a member of the established Church of England. Since Gans was a Jew--that is an infidel or unbeliever--he could not be accused of heresy. In denying the divinity of Christ Gans had committed what would have been a capital offense in a Christian. But no Jews believed that Jesus was the son of God. Nevertheless Gans had committed a major transgression: He had publicly denied Christianity's fundamental doctrine and thereby challenged the validity of the religion itself.

Trying to steer a middle course between Puritanism and Catholicism Queen Elizabeth was far from fanatical in religious matters. She tolerated Jews--her personal physician had been one--and even Catholics unless they challenged her rule. But she believed that she could command the allegiance of her subjects only if they believed in the Christian religion (and in a particular Protestant version). She and her officials could not tolerate an open challenge to the Christian faith.

What was done to Gans? Had the Council deported him we would expect to find it recorded in the Acts of the Privy Council as in the case of another Jew who was deported by the Council in 1613 for requesting and then avoiding baptism.(42) But the Acts do not mention Gans. As we have seen he had appeared twice in the State Papers, Domestic, of Elizabeth, first concerning his proposal to improve copper smelting and secondly concerning his arrest in Bristol. But there are no further traces of him there.

Gans had been sent to the Privy Council by the Mayor of Bristol, and his accusation was a matter of public record. Even if Walsingham and Cecil, both investors in the Society of Mines Royal, wanted to hush up the matter and quietly keep Gans in England their hands were bound. They had to follow the official procedure and send him to the proper venue. This was the Court of High Commission for religious offenses headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Archbishop John Whitgift, the Primate of All England, was himself a member of the Privy Council and occasionally attended sittings; therefore, Gans's case could not be kept secret from him. The Council wrote to the Archbishop at the end of September.(43) Unfortunately the contents of this dispatch are not recorded, but it could very well have been the cover letter conveying Gans to the top ecclesiastic in the land.

The Court of High Commission had been established in January 1584 when the newly appointed Archbishop Whitgift had persuaded Elizabeth to issue a new Ecclesiastical Commission with unlimited authority; it consisted of 44 commissioners and was headed by Whitgift.(44) The commissioners "were directed to make enquiry by juries and witnesses `and all other means and ways which they could devise;' which seems to authorize every inquisitorial power, the rack, the torture, and imprisonment ... This Court had all the appearance of an Inquisition."(45)

Little is known of the proceedings of the High Commission under Whitgift, to whom Southerden attributes "cruelties,'"(46) It operated in considerable secrecy. Cecil criticized the Commission in a letter to Archbishop Whitgift: "I think the Inquisition of Spain, use not so many questions to comprehend and entrap their preys." And "this kind of proceeding is too much favoring the Romish Inquisition."(47)

"The threat of the Star Chamber has terrified many a stout-hearted Englishman, and not without reason," declares Southerden; "yet the High Commission ... drew more cases within its clutches and was less merciful in its proceedings, for the whole course of the High Commission from its first arrest or summons, to the ultimate ruin, or death of its unfortunate victim, was a series of unconstitutional and illegal cruelties ... occasionally sending to prison even the lawyer who dared to defend the accused, or to question the power or legality of the Court.'"(48)

Prisoners sent to the Commission "were committed to the Clink prison" for several weeks before they were called to their trial.(49) The Clink was located on the south shore of the Thames in close proximity to Shakespeare's Globe Theater in Southwark. The Archbishop sat in commission at his palace at Lambeth outside London or in the Consistory of St. Paul's Cathedral.(50)

After passing judgment the High Commission farmed out its prisoners to different institutions. Records of this period are, of course, very scant, but we happen to have the list of prisoners in the Tower of London on 24 October 1589. Gans, however, is not among them.(51) A list of inmates at the Marshalsea Prison has been preserved because they happened to petition the Privy Council on 19 December 1589, but Gans is not among them either.(52) If he had been executed there would certainly be a record of that; therefore, we can rule that out. Israel Abrahams has written that Gans left England at the end of 1589, and Cecil Roth, that he was deported.(53) The latter is a likely guess. Walsingham and Cecil were in position to bring some influence to bear on the Archbishop, if only to keep Gans from languishing or dying in prison like some other victims of the Commission. But even they probably couldn't save Joachim from deportation in the face of his offense. No tombstone bearing the name Joachim/Chajjim Gans has been found in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague where David Gans is buried.(54) Therefore, it is not likely that he returned there.

Paul Frank, a member of the Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews (New York), informed the author through a letter of 31 August 1985 that he is descended through his mother from a Joachim Gantz who bought a substantial house in Ceska Lipa/Bohmisch-Leipa in 1596. This town is located approximately 80 kilometers north of Prague, near the German border. This Gantz was identified as a "Brunswick Jew."(55) If Joachim Gans had been forced to leave England in 1589 or 1590, he would have had sufficient time to settle in the Duchy of Brunswick and become identified with that area by 1596. The Upper Harz region of Brunswick, incidentally, possessed rich deposits of minerals that might have attracted Joachim. Jirina Sedinova of the State Jewish Museum in Prague indicated that the Gans families of Ceska Lipa and Prague were branches of the same family.(56) It is possible, therefore, that the Joachim Gantz of Ceska Lipa was the same person as the Joachim Gans of Prague, England and America, but further research is needed to verify this.

The final years of the first Jew in English America are shrouded in mystery. It is time that he be more widely recognized as a pioneer technologist, explorer and Jew.

The author wishes to express his appreciation to Ivor Noel Hume, David Shapiro and Bruce Brigham for their valuable contributions to this article.

Quotations from Elizabethan documents have been rendered in modern spelling, punctuation and capitalization.

(1.) Gary C. Grassl, "Joachim Gans of Prague: America's First Jewish Visitor," Review of the Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews (1986-7), 1:53-90. See also Samuel Eliot Morison, The Oxford History of the American People (New York, 1965), 45, and The European Discovery of America: The Northern Voyages (New York, 1971), 632.

David B. Quinn, professor emeritus at Liverpool University, believes that Gans was clearly "a major figure and his choice to go to Roanoke indicated that minerals--gold, silver, copper, lead, iron--were significant objectives in the colony's activities" (letter to author, 27 March 1993). While European Jewish historians such as Lucien Wolf were aware of Joachim Gans as a metallurgist with the Society of Mines Royal in England it was Quinn who identified him with the person who performed metallurgical work in America. See Quinn, The Roanoke Voyages, 1584-1590 (Cambridge, England, 1955), 907.

(2.) "In the Fall of 1991 archeologist Ivor Noel Hume and a team of veteran archeologists from the National Park Service and the Virginia Company Foundation uncovered the workplace of German metallurgist Joachim Ganz. The Ganz workshop, constructed in 1585, has been called `the Birthplace of American Science'" (Roanoke Revisited: Teachers' Heritage Education Handbook. Division of Visitor Services and Interpretation, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site [Manteo, North Carolina], National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1993, 18).

(3.) Ivor Noel Hume, "Roanoke Island: America's First Science Center," Colonial Williamsburg 16.3 (Spring 1994): 20.

(4.) David B. Quinn, Set Fair for Roanoke: Voyages and Colonies, 1584-1606 (Chapel Hill, 1985), 92.

A word of explanation is in order for the variations in the spelling of the name of the German-Jewish metallurgist from Prague. Fixed spelling of names was unknown in Elizabethan England. The name is spelled "Gannes" in the list of Virginia settlers published in 1589. He himself spelled it "Gaunz" in a document he wrote around 1589, apparently in an attempt to anglicize his name. Quinn uses the spelling "Ganz." I am using "Gans" because that is the way the name was spelled by the Prague family from which Joachim hailed.

Besides Gans several mineral specialists from the Society of Mines Royal headquartered near Keswick, England, were also present. These included Daniel Hochstetter/Hechstetter, Jr., who would later become the manager of the Mines Royal. Noel Hume suggests that Raleigh also recruited some tin miners from Cornwall, where he would become Lord of the Stanneries (tin mines): "With the expedition having Raleigh's input, and being a West Country man, it seems likely that Cornish miners may have been recruited" (letter to the author, 9 October 1996).

(5.) Maxwell Bruce Donald, Elizabethan Copper: The History of the Company of Mines Royal, 1568-1605 (London, 1955), 76. The terms Company or Society of Mines Royal refer to the identical organization; however, the document authorizing its arms (26 August 1568, Anno 10, Elizabeth) refers to "the Society of the Mines Royal."

(6.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, London, vol. 152, item 88, March 1582 (covering A.D. 1581): "Offers made by Jochim Gaunse for making of copper, vitriol, and copperas, and smelting of copper and lead ores; with the opinions of George Nedham thereon, and a description of their doings at the copper mines by Keswick in Cumberland anno. 1581." See also Israel Abrahams, "Joachim Gaunse: A Mining Incident in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth," Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 4 (London, 1903): 83-101; Lucien Wolf, "Jews in Elizabethan England," Presidential Address, 21 November 1926, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, Sessions 1924-27 11 (London, 1928): 2, 22 and 34; and Albert M. Hyamson, The Jews in England (London, 1928), 116.

(7.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, London, vol. 226, item 40 (covering A.D. 1589). "To the right honorable our very good Lordships, the Lords of Her Majesty's most honorable Privy Council, 17 September 1589, from the Mayor and Aldermen of Bristowe [Bristol] with the examination of Jochim Gaunz."

(8.) Jirina Sedinova writes, "David Gans mentioned his family and their members very seldom. The inscriptions on the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery [in Prague] show, however, that this family was fairly large ... One of the interesting members of this family was Chajjim or respectively Joachim Gauns Gans of whose activities we have information from England; condemned by English authorities at the end of the 16th century, he testified during his trial that he was born in Prague. According to N. Grun, L. Wolf and C. Roth, this Chajjim Gans came to England in the year 1581. He invented a new method of smelting copper and producing vitriol and was permitted to carry out technological tests in the copper mines in Cumberland and Wales" ("Erganzung zur Abhandlung uber David Gans [von Otto Muneles]," Judaica Bohemiae 12.1 [1976]: 29-30).

Otakar Petrik, Director of the State Jewish Museum in Prague, believes that Joachim Gans "is, without any doubt, a member of the Gans family from Prague, who were relatives of David Gans, the historian and astronomer, but there is no direct evidence for this statement" (letter to author, 17 September 1985).

Israel Abrahams in The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1925), 5.576, describes "Gaunse (Gaunz, Ganse, Gans) Joachim (Jeochim, Jochim)" as a "German mining expert who ... was born at Prague, and was therefore in all probability a connection of David Gans, who settled there in 1564; he certainly shared his scientific interests."

It has been suggested that Joachim was the son of David Gans, but this seems unlikely. Had Joachim been born shortly after David settled in Prague in 1564 and contracted his second marriage, he would have been only 16 in 1581 when he introduced a superior smelting process to England. It's hard to imagine anyone so young possessing such extensive experience.

(9.) "Gans, David Ben Solomon Ben Seligman" is described by The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York, 1925), 5.565-6, as a "German historian; astronomer; born at Lippstadt, Westphalia, 1541; died at Prague Aug. 25, 1613. After having acquired a fair knowledge of rabbinical literature at Bonn and Frankfort-on-the-Main," he studied in Cracow. "Later he attended the lectures of the brothers Lowe ben Bezalel of Prague and of R. Sinai. They introduced philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy into the circle of their studies, and from them Gans received the impulse to devote himself to these branches of science. He lived for a time at Nordheim [near Fulda] (where he studied Euclid), passed several years in his native city, and about 1564 settled at Prague. There he came into contact with Kepler and Tycho Brahe, and took part for three consecutive days in astronomical observations at the Prague observatory ... [He] also carried on a scientific correspondence with Johann Muller (Regiomontanus), and was charged by Tycho Brahe with the translation of the Alphonsine Tables from Hebrew into German." His published books include a history of the world, a work on cosmography, an astronomical treatise and a work on mathematical geography.

The Alphonsine tables Gans translated for Brahe were astronomical tables that had been developed by Jewish scholars in the thirteenth century at the request of King Alfonso X of Spain (Encyclopaedia Judaica [New York, 1971], 8. 1194).

David Ben Solomon Ben Seligman Avazah (Gans), to give him his full name, was not only descended from a highly respected family but was also related to several outstanding Jewish intellectuals. These included his father-in-law, the physician Samuel Role, who developed a new cure for syphilis (Jerabek Lubos, Der alte Prager Judenfriedhof [Prague, 1903], 40).

In 1967, in connection with the 1,000th anniversary of Prague Jewry, the Czechoslovak government commemorated David Gans with a postage stamp showing his tombstone marked with the Star of David and the picture of a goose. Gans is, of course, the German translation of the Hebrew word avazah, "goose."

(10.) "The relative security Jews enjoyed in the Czech Lands made it possible for Jewish communities to gain access to the surrounding world, which meant, above all, that Jewish arts and crafts were flourishing ... The fact that Jews were less isolated found its reflection in the writings of that period, e.g. in the works of the Jewish historian and mathematician, David Gans" (Bedrick Nosek, "Jewish Hebrew Studies in the Czech Lands in the Pre-Enlightenment and the Enlightenment Periods," Judaica Bohemiae 25.1 [1989], 14).

(11.) William Gershom Collingwood, Elizabethan Keswick: Extracts from the Original Account Books, 1564-1577, of the German Miners, in the Archives of Augsburg (Highgate, England, 1912), Tract Series No. 8, 200.

Between 1568 and 1580 an average of 30 tons of copper and 33 pounds of silver was produced per year. In the following seven years the annual output of copper averaged 25 tons, 25 to 30 were produced annually until 1597, 14 tons between 1598 and 1600, and only five tons in 1601 (George Hammersley, editor, Daniel Hechstetter, the Younger: Memorabilia and Letters, 1600-1639, Copper Works and Life in Cumbria [Stuttgart, 1988], 33).

"Output and production of copper" of the Society of Mines Royal at Keswick "was never more than moderately profitable and could scarcely cover the expenses ... Part of the reason why the enterprise was not as successful as the shareholders had hoped is explained by the high cost of mining and smelting and the low price of copper throughout this period" (Panikos Panayi, editor, Germans in Britain Since 1500 [London, 1996], 24).

(12.) Ernst Bekker, Beitrage zur englischen Geschichte im Zeitalter Elisabeths I. Deutsche Bergleute, Munzverfeinerer und Landsknechte in England (Giessen, Germany, 1899), 1.

(13.) Donald, Elizabethan Copper, 209.

(14.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, vol. 152, item 88, March 1582 (covering A.D. 1581).

(15.) Donald, Elizabethan Copper, 214-5.

(16.) Idem., 299.

(17.) Fritz Wolfgang Ringling, "Sixteenth Century Merchant Capitalism: The Haug-Langnauer-Linck & Relatives of Augsburg as a Case Study" (Ph.D. diss., University of Rochester, 1979), 204.

(18.) David B. Quinn, The Roanoke Voyages, 1584-1590: Documents To Illustrate the English Voyages to North America under the Patent Granted to Walter Raleigh in 1584 (New York, 1991), 1:123, note 3.

(19.) Ivor Noel Hume, The Virginia Adventure: Roanoke to James Towne: An Archaeological and Historical Odyssey (New York, 1994), 77.

(20.) Quinn, Set Fair for Roanoke, 96.

(21.) Idem., 92.

(22.) Thomas Hariot, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia (London, 1588), 10.

(23.) Jean Carl Harrington, Search [or the Cittie of Ralegh: Archeological Excavations at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, North Carolina (Washington, D.C., 1962), 21-2.

(24.) Quinn, Set Fair for Roanoke, 405.

(25.) Noel Hume, "Roanoke Island: America's First Science Center," 20.

(26.) Some of the bricks from Gans's assay furnace are on display in the Visitors Center of Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. One may be seen in the Jamestown Settlement museum near Williamsburg, Virginia, although it is not identified as part of Gans's furnace.

(27.) Treatise on Ores and Assaying, translated from the German edition of 1580 by Anneliese Grunhaldt Sisco and Cyril Stanley Smith (Chicago, 1951), 20-1.

(28.) Noel Hume, "Roanoke Island: America's First Science Center," 17.

(29.) Noel Hume, The Virginia Adventure, 73-81.

Noel Hume locates Gans's work shed about 30 feet to the west of a reconstructed earthwork that may be seen today at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. This reconstruction was built in 1950 under the direction of historical archeologist Jean Carl Harrington in line with the traces of an earthwork he had discovered there. He assumed that the original earthwork dated from the Raleigh colony, and it has been so interpreted by the National Park Service. Noel Hume has shown, however, that the original earthwork had nothing to do with Raleigh's colony. It was in fact erected later over part of the "science center," some of whose artifacts were buried beneath its ramparts. The original "fort" was an 18th century artillery emplacement to protect the sea route to Edenton from marauding French and Spanish pirates. A modern visitor to Fort Raleigh who wants to imagine the Raleigh settlement has to removed this earthwork in his mind and imagine Gans and his assistants doing their technological work on this site.

(30.) Noel Hume, The Virginia Adventure, 84.

(31.) Hariot, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia, 10.

(32.) Noel Hume, "Roanoke Island: America's First Science Center," 14-28.

(33.) Letter from Ralph Lane in Virginia to Master Richard Hakluyt, Esquire, and another gentleman of the Middle Temple published in The Principall Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques & Discoveries of the English Nation, etc., edited by Richard Hakluyt (London, 1589), rpt. (Glasgow, 1903-5), 8:319-45.

(34.) Noel Hume, "Roanoke Island: America's First Science Center," 16.

(35.) David S. Katz, Jews in the History of England, 1485-1850 (Oxford, 1994), 108. Katz also mentions two leading Jewish physicians of London, Hector Nunez and Roderigo Lopez, the Queen's personal physician, executed in 1594 for allegedly plotting to poison her on behalf of the Spanish (49).

(36.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, London, vol. 226, item. 40, 17 September 1589, Bristol. This document is summarized in Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series of the Reign of Elizabeth, 1581-1590 (London, 1865), 617: "17 September 1589. Bristol. 40. Robert Kitchen, mayor, and the Aldermen of Bristol to the [Privy] Council. Send up Jeochim Gaunz, a Jew, born in Prague, and now inhabiting in the Blackfriars, London, who had been apprehended and examined for blasphemous speeches used by him denying the divinity of the Saviour; showing himself to be a most wicked infidel, and not meet to be suffered among Christians. Enclosing, 40. I. Examination of Jeochim Gaunz, the Jew, denying Jesus Christ to be the son of God. 40. II. Evidence against Jeochim Gaunz, in a conversation in Hebrew with Richard Curteys, minister, asserting there was but one God, who had neither wife nor child."

(37.) Idem.

(38.) 9 Salisbury (Cecil) XIV Addenda, 1596-1603. Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Salisbury, preserved at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire (London, 1923), Cecil Papers 276.5. Lazarus Ercker, whose treatise Gans translated and revised, was born before 1530 in St. Annaberg in the Saxon part of the Ore Mountains (Krusne Hory/Erzgebirge). In 1568 he went to Bohemia and worked in Jachymov/St. Joachimsthal and then in Kutna Hora/Kuttenberg. While employed by Emperor Maximilian II in Prague he published in 574 his Treatise on Ores and Assaying. Emperor Rudolf II then appointed him Chief Mining Master of the Kingdom of Bohemia and in 1583 Master of the Mint. As such he was responsible for the mines in Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Hungary (Neue Deutsche Biographie (Berlin, 1959), 4:567-8). Gans's manuscript on saltpeter appears to be based on Book Five of the Treatise, although it's by no means a verbatim translation. Gans himself said that he rewrote many obscure passages to make them more comprehensible. See the Appendix for Gans's introduction to his work.

(39.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, vol. 227, October 1589.

(40.) "The punishment of death for heresy was still enjoined by the statute-book until the year 1677" (John Henry Blunt, The Reformation of the Church of England, Vol. II, A.D. 1547-1662 of [London, 1882], 269 and note 3): "During Queen Elizabeth's reign the cruel practice still continued ... Two [Flemish Anabaptists] were burned in Smithfield on July 22, 1575 ... A ploughwright named Matthew Hammond was burned at Norwich on May 20, 1579 ... John Lewis, in the same city, on September 17, 1583; and a clergyman named Francis Kett was burned also in Norwich, in December 1587." Two men, John Coppin and Elias Thacker, were hanged for heresy in 1583 (W. K. Jordan, The Development of Religious Toleration in England [Cambridge, Mass., 1932], 182-4). A reign of terror began against Catholics after foreign-trained priests reached England's shores. In 1581 the Jesuit priest Edmund Campion "was caught in Berkshire, racked, and executed ... Before the reign ended nearly two hundred Catholics had been executed, while many more lay in prison" (Keith Feiling, A History of England: From the Coming of the English to 1918 [London, 1963], 401).

(41.) The laws of 1571 and 1581 assigned the death penalty to anyone propagating the Catholic religion (Feiling, A History of England, 402).

(42.) The Privy Council deported Jacobus Bernatus, a Jew who taught Hebrew at Oxford University. Bernatus declared that he believed Jesus to be the true Messiah and requested baptism. Preparations were made to celebrate this extraordinary event with a sermon. But on the day before he was to be baptized he disappeared. He was apprehended and immediately deported by the Privy Council (Acts of the Privy Council of England, 16 November 1613, 272-3).

(43.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, vol. 226, 28/29 September 1589.

(44.) John Southerden, The High Commission: Notices of the Court, and Its Proceedings (London, 1865), 10.

(45.) Idem., II.

(46.) Idem., iv.

(47.) Idem., title page.

(48.) Idem., v-vi.

(49.) Idem., II.

(50.) This was, of course, the medieval St. Paul's Cathedral and not Christopher Wren's domed structure completed in 1710 and visible today.

(51.) State Papers, Domestic, Elizabeth I, vol. 227.

(52.) Idem., vol. 228.

(53.) Gans "remained in England till the end of 1589 ... The [Privy] council seems to have taken no hostile action ... Walsingham, who was then secretary of state, was an old employer of Gaunse, and other members of the council also knew him" (Israel Abrahams, The Jewish Encyclopedia [1925], 5:576).

"Though further information is lacking, it is to be presumed that he was expelled from the country" (Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England [Oxford, 1964], 143). Roth indicates in the index of his book (300) that Joachim died in 1619 but offers no proof. Roth apparently identifies Joachim Gans with the Zalman ben Zeligman Gans who died in 1619, was buried in the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague and may have been the son of David Gans's brother. Abrahams in the Encyclopaedia Judaica, 8 (New York, 1971), similarly states, "Gaunse, Joachim (d. 1619) ... is probably identical with the Zalman b. Zeligman Gans whose tombstone in Prague (S. Hock, Die Familien Prags, 1892 no. 997) describes him as having endangered his life to wreak vengeance among the gentiles." Neither Abrahams nor Roth offers any explanation why Joachim would have changed his name to Zalman (Solomon). Otakar Petrik, Director of the Prague Jewish Museum, disputes that Joachim was identical with Zalman: "Despite being rather comprehensive, the epitaph on his tombstone does not include the slightest reference to his having left Bohemia for some time and having been interested in metallurgy or natural science at all" (letter to author, 17 September 1985).

(54.) Simon Hock, Die Familien Prags nach den Epitaphien des alten judischen Friedhofs in Prag, David Kaufmann, editor (Pressburg, 1892), and Leopold M. Popper, Die Inschriften des alten Prager Judenfriedhofes (Braunschweig, 1893).

(55.) J. Bergl, "Der Judenmord in Bohmisch-Leipa am 9. Dezember 1744." Jahrbuch der Gesellschaft fur Geschichte der Juden in der Czechoslovakischen Republik (Prague, 1930), 2:246-7.

(56.) "Erganzung zur Abhandlung uber David Gans," Judaica Bohemiae 12.1 (1976): 29.

Appendix
 To the Right Honorable Sir Francis
 Walsingham, Knight, Principal Secretary
 to Her Majesty, Chancellor of the
 Duchy [of Lancaster] and one of Her Highnesses
 most honorable Privy
 Counselors


Right Honorable, it is well known that many years since unto this day divers saltpeter makers within this realm of England, whereof some had license from Her Majesty and some without license, have taken the saltpeter work upon them and wrought, but very few have profited thereby. Some also which I can name and had the chief and principal work in and about London did quite give over the same with loss, and some a while after they had given over the said work, began the same again in better hope of profit, but at last were enforced to leave the same. It is well known that the soil in and about London, and likewise most places in this realm, yields saltpeter enough, better than in some places beyond the seas where saltpeter is made with good profit, and the sea coals wherewith all the saltpeter may be boiled is reasonably cheap within this realm. For as a ship without a sea card [map] or compass, although the voyage be not long, cannot keep his right course but sometimes misses home coming [how]soever the weather be, even so they which take this work upon them without measure or weight cannot by guess attain to the perfection thereof. For I have seen divers saltpeter makers in this realm without measure or weight to work blindly and without knowledge, whereby they waste and spoil triple charge both in laborers' wages and coals, neither boil so much in three weeks as by this order they may in one, so that they lose both time and unneedful charges. And because some of them that have wrought in this work of saltpeter and left from it without profit discomfited divers others that they were afraid to begin. Whereas if others should work with gain, a number more would be set a work within this realm, and great quantity of saltpeter may be made to serve the realm withal and no need of such quantity to be brought from foreign countries. Therefore, seeing the right and best way of this work to common saltpeter makers in this realm of England is unknown, I thought it needful and profitable to translate this Lazarus Erkerne [Ercker] his good and most profitable way out of the High Dutch into English. And although I am imperfect in the English tongue yet I have done my best and followed the author so near as I could, and in diverse places, where it was not so plainly set down, I have amended and made it more manifest, so that not only for the common saltpeter makers but also for them which have never seen or dealt in this work may learn out of this book to be set on work with good profit. Knowing therefore your Honor to be a profitable member of the common weal has caused me to dedicate this book unto your Honor and although it be small yet is it profitable for many. Hoping that your Honor will take this my small travail in good part and favor it under your protection, hoping thereby to be defended from all adversaries in this my good meaning, beseeching God to bless your Honor with happiness of long life to continue,
 Your Honor's most humble at
 commandment, Joachim
 Gaunz of Prage.


The right and most perfect way of the whole work of saltpeter making wherein is first set down the nature of the earths and how they shall be known, what sort of earth will serve to the work and how the lyes shall be made of it and after boiled to the congealing, then how the saltpeter shall be refined and the salt separated from it and all other uncleans, more a principal instruction, how the poor saltpeter lyes may be made rich of saltpeter and boiled with less and more than half the charge and saltpeter made thereof, and how the earth after it is wrought shall be laid and used that the same may after serve again. First written in the High Dutch by the expert and chief M[aste]r of the Emperor's mines in the kingdom of Bohemia, Lazarus Erkerne, now translated into English by Joachim Gaunz of Prague.

Gary C. Grassl, following graduation from Catholic University, had a 28-year career as a writer-editor with The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the U.S. Department of Education. He is currently a free-lance writer living in a Washington D.C. suburb.
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