Little known concerning the Macnins’ origins. They were natives from Marrakech, and they “were among the most famous Jewish merchant families of the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Morocco.” They settled their trade affairs in Essaouira which is “known to Europeans as Mogador.” Moreover, they were very active in commerce and trade and they had a prominent role in “the early development of the commercial life of the new seaport.” The Macnins were among the elite Jewish merchants who were privileged to wear Western clothes.
Their fluency in European languages permitted them to be successful ambassadors to Europe and the Moroccan foreign affairs. They were among “the elite Jews [who] were part of th[e] cosmopolitan society of foreign commerce, well acquainted with Europe. The Jewish merchants (…) traded with Amsterdam, Livorno, London and Marseille often had members of their families in these European ports,” which allowed them to function well in Europe.
Another important function of the Moroccan Jews is that they served as interpreters to the sultan “when foreigners obtained an audience with the sultan.” Samuel Sumbal, for instance, served as an interpreter and counselor to the sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah. Perhaps this is the reason why the Moroccan Jews remained always in close contact with the sultans. Interestingly, the act of interpreting to the sultan will allow them to be well-versed in politics in the state’s affairs, and to have a wider knowledge concerning the country’s relations with Europe.
Daniel Schroeter makes it clear that “the almost exclusive reliance of Sidi Muhammad b[en] ‘Abdallah on Jewish merchants to conduct his trade with Europe was also closely related to the fact that the Jews did not constitute a political risk, as did Muslim potentates.” The Macnins maintained a special relationship with the Moroccan government. Because they were rich merchants, they were giving presents to the sultan and gifts to officials.
Importantly, during the reign of Sultan Sulayman (1793-1822) in Essaouira, trade was dominated by Macnin family, Jewish merchants to the Sultan, and from 1800 onwards, Meir Macnin was active in London. 
Meir Macnin is “the family’s most famous member.” Meir Macnin’s full name was Meir Ben Abraham Cohen. His father, however, was known as “Macnin” which literally means “goldfinch.” Meir Macnin is a diasporic Moroccan Jew and a prosperous merchant who “was frequently the most important [often practically the only] intermediary between the Moroccan state and the European powers during the first three decades of the nineteenth century, above all under the rule of Sultan Mawlay Sulayman.” Eventually “he began a long residence in London in 1800 at the time of the great bubonic plague in Morocco.”
Daniel Schroeter claims that Macnin “only spoke a rudimentary English; [for] his Spanish and Arabic were all he needed for his dignified communal and social activities.” But he must eventually have advanced in English too, for the fact that he lived for a long time in London and had many encounters with the English.
Meir Macnin was known as the sultan’s Jew and referred to by the Europeans as the “governor’s Jew” because he was always in a close contact with the sultan. In London he was periodically “commissioned to perform certain tasks as agent of the sultan.” He became the favorite pet of Mawlay Sulayman that he would identify him as “our Jew” while corresponding with the foreign powers. This gave a certain privilege to Meir Macnin.
Meir Macnin still served as the governor of Essaouira under the reign of Moulay Yazid. This latter was a very mean sultan not only to Jews but also to Muslims. He hated both Jews and Christians. Still Macnin, the Moroccan Jew, functioned well. Only some Jewish merchants who were granted to serve under Moulay Yazid’s reign such as: Mordecai De La Mar “who received the exclusive privilege to export wax from all the ports.” And Francesco Chiappe, “who had been appointed by Sidi Muhammed b[en] ‘Abdellah in 1784 as secretary for foreign relations,” while others were persecuted.
Macnin departed to London – England in 1799 accompanied by his relative Solomon Sebag; he had “the wealth, standing, and contacts to become in a short time Morocco’s indispensable agent in Europe. But most likely, he left the country not in search of wider opportunities, but in fear of death from a disease that still infested North Africa at the turn of the nineteenth century: the bubonic plague,” for it was widespread in the country then.
Meir Macnin lived in London for about twenty years, and then shuttled between Morocco and England for fifteen years until his death in 1835. Actually,
Macnin’s position as a Moroccan court Jew and his activities in London are representative of a specific conjuncture in Sephardic history. The era in which Macnin lived was the last age in which affiliation to the Sephardic world still transcended one’s national affiliation. Despite the fact that the gap between Moroccan and English economic and military power was obvious in the early nineteenth century, the Sephardic Jewish merchants who frequently traveled between Europe and North Africa demonstrate that there was a kind of parity between Anglo and Moroccan Jewry. There was as yet hardly a sense of a dichotomous relationship between a superior, Western, modern Jew, and the Oriental. The sense of parity was undermined when English Jews increasingly become a part of national civic society. Emancipation, in this sense, brought an end to Sephardic history. Henceforth, the Jewish world was divided between a new set of juxtapositions: East versus West, modern versus traditional, and so forth. In the last few years of Macnin’s life, the sultan’s Jew had become an anachronistic symbol of a bygone era.
Based on this long quote we come to the conclusion that Meir Macnin, although a rich modern Moroccan Sephardic Jew was subjected to the superiority of the European superiority. Moroccan Jews were regarded as backward vis-à-vis the European ‘civilized’ Jews (Ashkenazi). Moreover, they were looked down upon being from Muslim/ Arab lands, which got them accused of being Arabized. Still, this did not stop them from involving prominently in Britain and the British life as a whole.
Although Macnin contributed prominently in the Moroccan state, I have not come across any acknowledgements to him in the state’s archive, somehow he is not given room in the Moroccan history. What is more ironical is that people confuse his name with the most known Moroccan Jewish name: Wacnin. Surprisingly, when I mentioned Macnin’s name to Mr. Didier Tobaly, the lawyer of the Moroccan Jewish community in Morocco, while in an interview with him; he gave me a weirdly shocked face and did not want to give information about this person. What is more striking is that in The Sultan’s Jew preface, Meir Macnin’s life is presented as problematic:
[Macnin’s] life seems to reveal the perennial negative stereotype of both Jew and Oriental: a cosmopolitan polyglot traveler; a schemer and scoundrel; a venal manipulator of other people’s fortunes; a seeker of wealth, honor, and prestige. To European merchants and diplomatic agents in Morocco, Meir Macnin appeared to combine the arrogant self-righteousness of the Jews and the moral depravity of the East. Despite his notoriety and history of unpaid debts, he was still able to operate and outmaneuver his detractore, flaunting his sometimes dubious status as Jewish agent of the Moroccan sultan.
Thus, there must be something striking about this person that people don’t want to unfold or talk about…
 Daniel J. Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew (California: Stanford University Press, 2002), Preface.
 Ibis., p.17.
 Ibid., p. 19.
 Ibid., p. 20.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. 25.
 Robert Assaraf, Elément de l’histoire des Juifs de Fès de 808 à nos jours, (Rabat: Bouregreg, 2009), p. 131.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. 22.
 Gulru Necipoglu. Muqarnas: an annual on the visual culture of the Islamic World (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2009), p. 170.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, preface.
 Ibid., p. 15.
 Yedida K. Stillman, et al., “Morocco, England, and the end of the Sephardic world order (The Sultan’s Jew, Meir Macnin),”From Iberia to diaspora : studies in Sephardic history and culture (Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 1999), p. 87Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. xii.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. xii.
 Stillman, et al., “Morocco, England, and the end of the Sephardic world order (The Sultan’s Jew, Meir Macnin),”From Iberia to diaspora : studies in Sephardic history and culture, p. 100.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. xii.
 Ibid. , p. 29.
 Albert M. Hyamson, The Sephardim of England, p. 207.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. 35.
 Stillman, et al., “Morocco, England, and the end of the Sephardic World Order (The Sultan’s Jew, Meir Macnin),”From Iberia to diaspora : studies in Sephardic history and culture, pp. 100-101.
 Schroeter, The Sultan’s Jew, p. xv.