BURY ST. EDMUNDS:
By: Joseph Jacobs
Town of Suffolk, England, and seat of a monastery the ruins of which still exist. Under the rule of Abbot Hugh (1173-80) the monastery fell deeply into debt to the Jews, especially to Isaac Fil Joce, Benedict of Norwich, and Jurnet of Norwich, to an amount exceeding £3,025. The Jews were accordingly favored by the sacristan William, who used to take charge of their deeds and money in times of war (Jocelin de Brakelond, "Cronicon," pp. 1, 2, 4, 8). The town was the site of a case of blood accusation in 1181, when a boy named Robert was said to have been martyred (ib. pp. 12, 114). No details are extant as to this alleged martyrdom. Abbot Samson, who was the rival candidate for the position of abbot with William, the sacristan, on succeeding Abbot Hugh in 1182, found great difficulty in freeing the abbey from indebtedness to the Jews, but succeeded in doing so within twelve years of his accession. On March 18, 1190, fifty-seven Jews were slaughtered at Bury, and almost immediately afterward Abbot Samson obtained their expulsion from the town on the ground that a man of the town had to be a "man"—i.e., vassal—of St. Edmund (ib. p. 33).
There still exists at Bury a building which is known as Moyse Hall and is supposed to have been a former synagogue of the Jews. It is of late Norman or Transition character, and therefore its date is probable; but no continuous evidence of a tradition associating it with Jews can be obtained, and a careful inquiry made by the Jewish Historical Society of England negatives its identification.
- Carlyle, Past and Present, ii. ix, x.;
- Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, pp. 59-61, 75, 78, 141, 385;
- Transactions Jewish Historical Society of England, ii. 116-122.