SURGUN, ISAAC

SURGUN, ISAAC
SURGUN, ISAAC (1701–1791), merchant in the service of the Dutch East India Company. Originally from Constantinople, Surgun settled on the Malabar Coast in Calicut and cochin early in the 18th century. Dealing in a variety of commodities, he owned warehouses, factories, and ships. His commercial transactions brought him into contact with many native Indian and Muslim potentates and European merchants; Dutch, English, and Hebrew sources stress his linguistic abilities, including Arabic and Portuguese. When in 1759 the Dutch East India Company needed a spokesman to represent its interests before the new Mysore rulers, Haidar Ali Khan and his son Tipu Sahib, Surgun's ability and prestige made him a natural choice. In 1779 he secured the freedom of a group of English visitors who had been imprisoned in Calicut. With his death, the family fortunes declined. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: E. Fay, Original Letters from India, ed. by E.M. Forster (1925); W.J. Fischel, Ha-Yehudim be-Hodu (1960), 112–9; idem, in: REJ, 126 (1967), 27–53. (Walter Joseph Fischel)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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