In Portugal the very name of Jew is a term of such high reproach, that the government enacted a law which forbade any person to call another by that appellation: if a man who was styled a Jew to his face, stabbed the offender, the law did not condemn him. When we consider the horrid persecutions with which these unhappy people were assailed in that country to drive them from their faith, and the tortures with which the inquisition was ready to receive those 'new Christians,' whom anguish and fear had cast violently into the pale of the Romish church, we cannot wonder that we find the Portuguese Israelites although preserving still a remembrance of the sunny country of their fathers' exile, so much more like their own land than our northern regions, should yet be found dwelling upon more hospitable shores, exiled even from that, which was in itself banishment.
The Spanish and Portuguese Jews (or the Sephardim as they are called) claim their descent from the tribe of Judah ; and found these pretensions on a supposition which prevails among them, that many of their ancestors removed, or were sent into Spain, at the time of the Babylonian captivity. In consequence of this supposed superiority, they would not until of late years, by marriage or otherwise, connect themselves with their brethren of other nations. They had separate synagogues,; and if a Portuguese Jew, even in England or Holland, married a German Jewess, he was immediately expelled from the synagogue, deprived of every civil and ecclesiastical rite, and ejected from the body of the nation.
Souce: Emanuel Hecht, Max E. Lilienthal. Synopsis of the history of the Israelites: from the time of Alexander. 1857.