Memòria del Carrer is a group made up of some twenty people who have come together over a period of time thanks to an interest in studying, researching and exchanging information about the descendants of Mallorca’s Jewish converts, the ‘xuetes’ and, by extension, about everything to do with the presence of Jews in Mallorca.

Memòria del Carrer is an open group, dedicated to working to recover and preserve documental and oral sources of all kinds, with the aim of making them available to researchers and any interested parties. The members of Memòria del Carrer are aware that at present conditions are better than in past times for studying and publicising this part of our history, but for this very reason we are also aware that it is necessary to make an effort to guarantee the objectivity and quality of the project and that sharing information and teamwork is one of the ways of achieving this.

The group that created Memòria del Carrer formed initially around genealogical research and then went on to share other lines of research and projects by means of an internet forum which later resulted in the launching of the website www.memoriadelcarrer.com

This website aims to continue the debate and coordination among the members of the group and, at the same time, to be an instrument for sharing and divulging among all those looking for information for the first time or who want to increase the knowledge they already have, everything connected with knowledge of the ‘xuetes’ and Majorcan Jews.


The Street (view)


Converts of Jewish descent have been called, and have identified themselves as people ‘of the street’. The term, which avoids the word ‘xueta’ as it was held to be offensive, is an abbreviation, or a way of avoiding, making reference to Carrer del Segell (Segell Street) now known as Carrer Jaume II or Calle Jaime II, still called by a lot of people Carrer dels Bastaixos. Carrer del Segell was important enough to give the whole neighbourhood the name of Barri del Segell (Segell District), bounded by Carrer de Sant Bartomeu, Carrer de les Monges, Borsería, Argentería, Santa Eulàlia, Carrer dels Llums, Plaça de la Pescatería, Carrer del Forndels Paners and the end of Carrer de Jaume II.

It would appear that the Call Menor (inner Jewish quarter) was already in existence at the time of the Moslem occupation, firstly with a synagogue, and later the church of Sant Bartomeu, in the street bearing that name - the present site of the Banc d’Espanya (Bank of Spain). Some data appear to show that the majority of the last wave of converts, of 1435, gradually took up residence in that area of Palma and for that reason became ‘people of the street’.

The truth is that it is clear that for five hundred years, if not more, from the 17th century up to the middle of the 20th, the greater part of that area of the city of Palma was inhabited by families bearing surnames considered to be ‘xuetes.


The ‘Xuetes’


Although the definition could appear controversial, especially since it is curiously specific, the clearest way to identify who the ‘xuetes’ are is to say that they are Majorcans - descendants of Jewish converts who practised the Jewish religion in private and who were tried and condemned by the Inquisition at the end of the 17th century - who bear one of the fifteen surnames that are considered by the rest of the island’s population as belonging to those of Jewish descent and who initially inhabited almost exclusively the area known as the ‘call menor’ or Jewish quarter.

It is therefore important not to confuse the presence of Jews in Mallorca, dating back to Roman times, with the story of the ‘xuetes’, a sub-group of Jewish converts forming a Catholic community, with traits common to the Jewish community.

These fifteen surnames are strictly the following: Aguiló, Bonnin, Cortés, Forteza, Fuster, Martí, Miró, Picó, Pinya, Pomar, Segura, Valls, Valentí, Valleriola and Tarongí. At certain times there were other surnames which were also considered  to belong to this group, such as the Moyà family, some of the Suredas, the Galianas, some of the Serras or some of the Flores, although this belief has not been maintained. It should also be noted that in some cases, for example among the Fusters and Martís, certain individuals and families have never been held to be ‘xuetes’, as is also the case with those having these surnames but coming from somewhere other than Mallorca, such as those called Cortés, Segura or Fuster who come from mainland Spain.

The ‘xuetes’ make up a social group who have suffered a particular form of segregation and social discrimination, leading them to develop a marked sense of group identity and cohesion, a forced endogamy and to practise only those professions held to be acceptable for them: they also developed an internal structure of sub-groups and social categories. In spite of their Catholic faith, in some extreme cases it was the very church that discriminated against them right up to the 20th century, refusing them positions of responsibility and ecclesiastical studies.

The case of the ‘xuetes’, who have been proved to have formed over time a genetically differentiated group, is absolutely unique and bears very little relationship with the history of the Sephardic Jews. It should be noted that when the “Catholic Kings” (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand) expelled the Jews from Spain, none had to leave Mallorca. This particularity gave rise to the paradox that on the island Jewish descent and even being tried for practising the Jewish religion has been proved among a very high number of people bearing over two hundred different surnames, but only those having one of the particular fifteen surnames have suffered rejection from society.

Memòria del Carrer