String player and composer Ambrosio [Ambrose] Lupo was born in the first half of the sixteenth century, probably in Milan. His family members were Sephardi Jews who had been expelled from Spain and settled in Milan and Venice. Lupo (meaning ‘wolf’) was often used as a surname by Jews in gentile society.
In 1539/40, three individuals ‘de Milano’, Ambrosio, Romano and Alexandro, were among the six string players (known as the ‘Venetian Brethern’: they were all Jews from Northern Italian Sephardic communities) recruited by Henry VIII for the English court in 1539/40. Romano died in 1542, when the group returned briefly to Italy, and Alexander disappears from records in 1544. Ambrosio, however, remained and founded a dynasty whose members served in the court violin consort up to the Civil War. He served in the English court string consort from 1 May 1540 until his death. He may be creator of the pieces ascribed to ‘Ambrose’ in English lute sources. He died in February 1591. His sons Pietro [Peter; born in Venice around 1535] and Josepho [Joseph; born around 1537 in Venice] also joined the court string consort. Until the end of Henry VIII’s reign the viol consort at court was entirely the province of foreign, mostly Jewish, musicians (in spite of the Edict that had banned Jews in England since 1290).