- Pre-Expulsion Period:
- The Jews Came in with the Normans.
- Massacres at London and York.
- "Ordinance of the Jewry."
- Under John.
- Jews and Municipalities.
- Jews and the Baronage.
- The "Statutum de Judaismo," 1275.
- The Church and English Jews.
- The Expulsion.
- Organization; Chief Rabbis.
- Intermediate Period:
- Resettlement Period:
- Maranos in England.
- Manasseh ben Israel's Mission.
- The Jew Bill of 1753.
- The Oath of Abjuration.
- Influence of Jewish Pugilists.
- The Struggle for Emancipation.
- Action of Sir David Salomons.
- The Result of the Russian Exodus.
- The Colonies.
The southern portion of the island of Great Britain. Owing to the dominance of the capital city in England, most of the episodes of Jewish history connected with that country occurred at London, and are narrated under that heading. In the present article the more specifically historic events, those affecting the relations of the Jews to the state, will be treated, though events that affected public opinion have also been included as influencing those relations. The subject may be treated in three periods: (a) pre-expulsion, (b) intermediate, (c) resettlement.Pre-Expulsion Period: The Jews Came in with the Normans.
There is no evidence of Jews residing in England before the Norman Conquest. The few references in the Anglo-Saxon Church laws either relate to Jewish practises about Easter or apply to passing visitors, the Gallo-Jewish slave-traders, who imported English slaves to the Roman market and thus brought about the Christianizing of England. William of Malmesbury ("Gesta Rerum Anglorum," ed. Duffy, p. 500) distinctly states that William the Conqueror brought the Jews from Rouen to England, and there is no reason to doubt his statement. The Conqueror's object can easily be guessed. From Domesday it is clear that his policy was to get the feudal dues paid to the royal treasury in coin rather than in kind, and for this purpose it was necessary to have a body of men scattered through the country that would supply quantities of coin.
At first the status of the Jew was not strictly determined. An attempt was made to introduce the Continental principle that he and all that was his were the king's property, and a clause to that effect was inserted under Henry I. in some manuscripts ofthe so-called "Laws of Edward the Confessor"; but Henry granted a charter to Rabbi Joseph, the chief Jew of London, and all his followers, under which they were permitted to move about the country without paying tolls or customs, to buy whatever was brought to them, to sell their pledges after holding them a year and a day, to be tried by their peers, and to be sworn on the Pentateuch. Special weight was attributed to the Jew's oath, which was valid against that of twelve Christians. The sixth clause of the charter was specially important: it granted to the Jews the right of moving whithersoever they would, together with their chattels, as if these were the king's own property ("sicut res propriæ nostræ").
Whatever advantage accrued to the king or to the Jews from their intimate relations was disturbed by the complete disorganization of the state under Stephen, who burned down the house of a Jew in Oxford (some accounts say with a Jew in it) because he refused to pay a contribution to the king's expenses. The Jews were equally mulcted by Empress Maud and by King Stephen. It was during the reign of the latter that the first recorded blood accusation against the Jews of any country was brought in the case of William of Norwich (1144). This was followed later in the century by similar charges brought in connection with the boys Harold (at Gloucester, 1168) and Robert (at Bury St. Edmunds, 1181). In none of these cases was any trial held.
While the crusaders in Germany were trying their swords upon the Jews, outbursts against the latter in England were, according to the Jewish chroniclers, prevented by King Stephen ("Hebräische Berichte," p. 64).
With the restoration of order under Henry II. and the withdrawal of the lawless Flemings, the Jews renewed their activity. Within five years of his accession Jews are found at London, Oxford, Cambridge, Norwich, Thetford, Bungay, Canterbury, Winchester, Newport, Stafford, Windsor, and Reading. Yet they were not permitted to bury their dead elsewhere than in London, a restriction which was not removed till 1177. Their spread throughout the country enabled the king to draw upon them as occasion demanded; he repaid them by demand notes on the sheriffs of the counties, who accounted for payments thus made in the half-yearly accounts on the piperolls (see Aaron of Lincoln). But the king was soon to find that others could make use of the Jews for political purposes. Strongbow's conquest of Ireland (1170) was financed by Josce, a Jew of Gloucester; and the king accordingly fined Josce for having lent money to those under his displeasure. As a rule, however, Henry II. does not appear to have limited in any way the financial activity of the Jews; and the chroniclers of the time noticed with some dismay the favor shown to these aliens in faith and country, who amassed sufficient riches to build themselves houses of stone, a material thitherto used only for palaces, though doubtless adopted by the Jews for purposes of security. The favorable position of the English Jews was shown, among other things, by the visit of Abraham ibn Ezra in 1158, by that of Isaac of Chernigov in 1181, and by the resort to England of the Jews who were exiled from France by Philip Augustus in 1182, among them probably being Judah Sir Leon of Paris.
Yet Henry II. was only biding his time in permitting so much liberty to his Jewish subjects. As early as 1168, when concluding an alliance with Frederick Barbarossa, he had seized the chief representatives of the Jews and sent them over into Normandy, while tallaging the rest 5,000 marks (Gervase of Canterbury, ed. Stubbs, i. 205). When, however, he asked the rest of the country to pay a tithe for the crusade against Saladin in 1186, he demanded a quarter of the Jewish chattels. The tithe was reckoned at £70,000, the quarter at £60,000. In other words, the value of the personal property of the Jews was regarded as one-fourth that of the whole country. It is improbable, however, that the whole amount was paid at once, as for many years after the imposition of the tallage arrears were demanded from the recalcitrant Jews.
The king had probably been led to make this large demand upon the English Jewry by the surprising windfall which came to his treasury at the death of Aaron of Lincoln. All property obtained by usury, whether by Jew or by Christian, fell into the king's hands on the death of the usurer; and Aaron of Lincoln's estate included no less than £15,000 of debts owed to him by members of the baronage throughout the country. Besides this, a large treasure came into the king's hands, which, however, was lost on being sent over to Normandy. A special branch of the treasury, constituted in order to deal with this large account, was known as "Aaron's Exchequer" (see Aaron of Lincoln).
Apart from these exactions and a prohibition against the carrying of arms in the Assize of Arms in 1181, the English Jews had little to complain of in their treatment by Henry II., who was indeed accused by the contemporary chroniclers of unduly favoring those "enemies of Christ." They lived on excellent terms with their neighbors, including the clergy; they entered churches freely, and took refuge in the abbeys in times of commotion. There is even a record of two Cistercian monks having been converted to Judaism; and there is evidence that the Jews freely criticized the more assailable sides of Catholicism, the performing of miracles and the worship of images. Meanwhile they themselves lived in ostentatious opulence in houses resembling palaces, and helped to build a large number of the abbeys and monasteries of the country. By the end of Henry's reign they had incurred the ill will of the upper classes, with whom they mostly came in contact. The rise of the crusading spirit in the latter part of the reign of Henry spread the disaffection throughout the nation, as was shown with disastrous results at the accession of his son Richard.Massacres at London and York.
Richard I. had taken the cross before his coronation (Sept. 3, 1189). A number of the principal Jews of England presented themselves to do homage at Westminster; but there appears to have been a superstition against Hebrews being admitted to such a holy ceremony, and they were repulsed during the banquet which followed the coronation. The rumor spread from Westminster to London that the king had ordered a massacre of theJews; and a mob in Old Jewry, after vainly attacking throughout the day the strong stone houses of the Jews, set them on fire at night, killing those within who attempted to escape. The king was enraged at this insult to his royal dignity, but took no steps to punish the offenders, owing to their large numbers. After his departure on the crusade, riots with loss of life occurred at Lynn, where the Jews attempted to attack a baptized coreligionist who had taken refuge in a church. The seafaring population rose against them, fired their houses, and put them to the sword. So, too, at Stamford fair, on March 7, 1190, many were slain, and on March 18 fifty-seven were slaughtered at Bury St. Edmunds. The Jews of Lincoln saved themselves only by taking refuge in a castle.
Isolated attacks on Jews occurred also at Colchester, Thetford, and Ospringe, but the most striking incident occurred at York on the night of March 16-17, 1190. Alarmed by the preceding massacres and by the setting on fire of several of their houses by the mob of crusaders preparing to follow the king, the Jews of York with their leader Josce asked the warden of the king's castle at York to receive them with their wives and children. When, however, the warden attempted to reenter Clifford Tower, which he had handed over to the Jews, the latter refused to receive him; and he called in the aid of the sheriff of the county, John Marshall, to recover the tower. The county militia and a number of York nobles, headed by Richard Malebys, who was deeply in debt to the Jews, besieged the tower, and the rage of the mob was kept alive by the exhortation of a Premonstrant monk, who celebrated mass every morning in his white robe before the walls of the tower till, by accident or design, he was struck by a stone as he approached too near and was crushed. The death of the monk enraged the mob to the highest degree, and the imprisoned Jews saw no hopes of escaping death by hunger except by baptism. Their religious leader, Rabbi Yom-Ṭob of Joigny, exhorted them to slay themselves rather than adopt either alternative, and the president, Josce, began the self-immolation by slaying his wife Anna and his two children. Finally Josce was slain by Yom-Ṭob himself. The few who had refused to follow their example appealed in vain for pity to the Christians, who entered at daybreak and slew them. Finding that the deeds proving the indebtedness of the rioters to the Jews were not in the tower, the mob rushed to the cathedral, and there took possession of them and burned them. The chancellor Longchamp attempted to punish the offenders, mainly some of the smaller barons indebted to the Jews, but these had fled to Scotland. Richard Malebys was deprived of many of his fiefs, but they were soon afterward restored to him. Most of the nobles mentioned in the records were connected with various abbeys, and were influenced by religious prejudice as well as by the desire to free themselves from their indebtedness to the Jews (see York).
During Richard's absence in the Holy Land and during his captivity the lot of the Jews was aggravatedby the exactions of William de Longchamp; and they were called upon to contribute toward the king's ransom 5,000 marks, or more than three times as much as the contribution of the city of London. On his return Richard determined to organize the Jewry in order to insure that he should no longer be defrauded, by any such outbreaks as those that occurred after his coronation, of his just dues as universal legatee of the Jewry. He accordingly decided, in 1194, that records should be kept by royal officials of all the transactions of the Jews, which without such record should not be legal. Every debt was to be entered upon a chirograph, one part of which was to be kept by the Jewish creditor, and the other preserved in a chest to which only special officials should have access. By this means the king could at any time ascertain the property of any Jew in the land; and no destruction of the bond held by the Jew could release the creditor from his indebtedness. This "Ordinance of the Jewry" was practically the beginning of the Exchequer of the Jews, which made all the transactions of the English Jewry liable to taxation by the King of England, who thus became a sleeping partner in all the transactions of Jewish usury. The king besides demanded two bezants in the pound, that is, 10 per cent, of all sums recovered by the Jews with the aid of his courts.
It may perhaps be appropriate at this point to determine as accurately as possible the exact status which Jews had acquired in England at the end of the twelfth century. They could not be regarded as aliens any more than could the Norman nobles with whom they had originally come over; besides, alienage could not become hereditary (Maitland and Pollock, "History of English Law"). They were not heretics, since their right to exist was recognized by the Church. They were usurers for the most part, and their property, like that of all usurers, escheated to the king at their demise. But, on the other hand, their usurious debts could be recovered at law, whereas the Christian usurer could not recover more than his original loan. They were in direct relation to the king and his courts; but this did not imply any arbitrary power of the king to tax them or to take their money without repayment, as is frequently exemplified in the pipe-rolls. The aids, reliefs, fines, and amercements demanded from them were no other than those asked from the rest of the king's subjects, though the amount contributed by the Jews may have been larger. They were the king's "men," it is true, but no more than the barons of the time; and they had the special privilege of the baronial rank, and could move from place to place and settle anywhere without restriction. It will be seen how this privilege was afterward taken away from them. Altogether, the status of the English Jews, who partook of the nature of baron, alien, heretic, and usurer, was peculiar; but, on the whole, their lot was not an unfavorable one.Under John.
These conditions, however, were not destined to last long. As early as 1198 Pope Innocent III. had written to all Christian princes, including Richard of England, calling upon them to compel the remission of all usury demanded by Jews from Christians. This would of course render their very existence impossible. On July 15, 1205, the pope laid down the principle that Jews were doomed to perpetual servitude because they had crucified Jesus. In England the secular power soon followed the initiative of the Church. John, who had his own reasons for disliking Jews, having become indebted to them while a lad in Ireland, at first treated them with a show of forbearance. For the comparatively small charge of 4,000 marks, he confirmed the charter of Rabbi Josce and his sons, and made it apply to all the Jews of England; and he wrote a sharp remonstrance to the mayor of London against the attacks that were continually being made upon the Jews of that city, alone of all the cities of England. He reappointed one Jacob archpriest of all the English Jews (July 12, 1199).
But with the loss of Normandy in 1205 a new spirit seems to have come over the attitude of John to his Jews. In the height of his triumph over the pope, he demanded the sum of no less than £100,000 from the religious houses of England, and 66,000 marks from the Jews (1210). One of the latter, Abraham of Bristol, who refused to pay his quota of 10,000 marks, had, by order of the king, seven of his teeth extracted, one a day, till he was willing to disgorge (Roger of Wendover, ii. 232; but see Ramsay, "Angevin Empire," p. 426, London, 1903). It is scarcely to be wondered at that in 1211 many of the English rabbis willingly joined in the Zionistic pilgrimage of Joseph ben Baruch, who, it is said, was accompanied by more than 300 English and French rabbis in his journey to the Holy Land. Yet, though John squeezed as much as he could out of the Jews, they were an important element on his side in the triangular struggle between king, barons, and municipalities which makes up the constitutional history of England during his reign and that of his son. Even in the Great Charter clauses were inserted preventing the king or his Jewish subjects from obtaining interest during the minority of an heir.Jews and Municipalities.
With the accession of Henry III. (1216) the position of the Jews became somewhat easier, but only for a short time. Innocent III. had in the preceding year caused the Lateran Council to pass the law enforcing the Badge upon the Jews; and in 1218 Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, brought it into operation in England, the badge taking the form of an oblong white patch of two finger-lengths by four. At first the Jews thought of evading the restriction by leaving the land altogether, and directions were given to the wardens of the Cinque Ports to prevent any Jew from passing out of the country without the king's permission. The changed position of the Jews was strikingly indicated in 1222, when a deacon at Oxford was burned for having become a proselyte to Judaism and for having married a Jewess; whereas in the twelfth century several instances of such proselytism had occurred in England, and no punishment had followed the "crime" (Maitland, "Canon Law in England," pp. 158-179). The action of the Church was followed by similar opposition on the part of the English boroughs. Henry at his accession had found it necessary to appoint committees of twenty-four burgesses who should be responsible for thesafety of the Jews of Gloucester and Hereford, while he claimed jurisdiction for his own sheriffs or constables in any causes between Jews and Christians. This was a great source of annoyance to the towns, which were beginning to escape feudal dues and exactions of the king by compounding for a lump sum known as the "ferm of the borough" ("firma burgi"). This exempted them from the king's jurisdiction; but an exception was made in matters relating to the Jewry, on pretext of which the king's officials again and again invaded the boroughs. Petitions were accordingly sent to the king in many instances to remove his Jews from the boroughs, and they were expelled from Bury St. Edmunds in 1190, Newcastle in 1234, Wycombe in 1235, Southampton in 1236, Berkhamsted in 1242, Newbury in 1244; and at last it was enacted in 1253 that Jews could freely reside in such towns only as had an Archa for the preservation of the Jews' deeds and starrs, from which the king could ascertain their capacity for further taxation. Henceforth they were restricted to some twenty-five towns in England, and they became in truth the king's chattels. Any attempt to evade the provisions of this enactment was rigidly met by expulsion, as from Winchelsea in 1273, from Bridgnorth in 1274, and from Windsor in 1283. By these restrictions it became impossible for any Jew by change of residence to evade payment of the tallage, which became the chief means of extortion under Henry III. after the beneficent rule of Hubert de Burgh had been succeeded by that of the king's favorites (see Tallage).Jews and the Baronage.
But there was probably another reason for limiting Jewish business with the towns, for it is likely that the king derived but very little profit from the loans of the Jews to the burgesses of the towns, for it was with the smaller barons, including the superior clergy, that the Jews transacted most of their business. The smaller barons, indeed, found themselves between the upper and the nether millstone in their borrowings from the Jews, their indebtedness to whom fell in the last resort into the hands of the king either by escheat on the death of the creditor or by collection made through the king's officials whenever the Jews were tallaged. But besides this, the higher baronage imitated the crown in making use of the Jews as catspaws to get the lands of their less powerful brethren into their possession; advancing money to the Jew, sharing with him the usury, and claiming the lands if the debt failed to be paid. Complaint was made of this as early as the Synod of Worcester in 1240 (Wilkins, "Concilia," i. 675-676), and nearly twenty years later (1259) the lesser barons petitioned the king to find some remedy for this danger of getting into the clutches of the higher nobility (Stubbs, "Select Charters," p. 365). With the outbreak of the Barons' war violent measures were adopted to remove all traces of indebtedness either to the king or to the higher barons. The Jewries of London, Canterbury, Northampton, Winchester, Cambridge, Worcester, and Lincoln were looted (1263-65), and the archæ either destroyed or deposited at the headquarters of the barons at Ely. Simon de Montfort, indeed, who had at an early stage expelled the Jews from his town of Leicester, when at the height of his power after the battle of Lewes annulled all indebtedness to the Jews. He had been accused of sharing the plunder, but issued edicts for their protection after the battle (Kingsford, "Song of Lewes," pp. 59, 80, Oxford, 1890). Both the Jewry and the king as its representative must have suffered incalculably by this general wiping out of indebtedness.
The value of the Jewry to the royal treasury had in fact become considerably lessened during the thirteenth century through two circumstances: the king's income from other sources had continually increased through the century from about £35,000 under Henry II. to £65,000 under Edward I.; and the contributions of the Jews had decreased both absolutely and relatively, the average from tallages, etc., being about £3,000 per annum in the twelfth century, and only £2,000 in the thirteenth. Besides this, the king had found other sources from which to obtain loans. Italian merchants, "pope's usurers" as they were called, supplied him with money, at times on the security of the Jewry. By the contraction of the area in which Jews were permitted to exercise their money-lending activity their means of profit were lessened, while the king by his continuous exactions prevented the automatic growth of interest. On two occasions, in 1254 and 1255, the Jews appealed vigorously to him or to his representative to be allowed to leave the kingdom before the very last penny had been forced from them. Henry's refusal only served to emphasize their entire dependence upon the royal will. By the middle of the thirteenth century the Jews of England, like those of the Continent, had become chattels of the king. There appeared to be no limit to the exactions he could impose upon them, though it was obviously against his own interest to deprive them entirely of capital, without which they could not gain for him usurious interest.
Further prejudice had been raised against the Jews just about this time by the revival of the charge of ritual murder. The king had sold the Jewry to his brother Richard of Cornwall in Feb., 1255, for 5,000 marks, and had lost all rights over it for a year. But in the following August a number of the chief Jews who had assembled at Lincoln to celebrate the marriage of a daughter of Berechiah de Nicole were seized on a charge of having murdered a boy named Hugh. Ninety-one were sent to London to the Tower, eighteen were executed for refusal to plead, and the rest were kept in prison till the expiry of Richard's control over their property (see Hugh of Lincoln).
As soon as order was restored after the death of Simon de Montfort, Edward, in whose hands was the ruling power, though he was only Prince of Wales at the time, took measures to remedy the chief complaints which had led the nobles to the outburst against the Jews. In 1269 Walter de Merton, the king's counselor, who was himself indebted to the Jews, drew up a measure denying to the latter all right to landed property which might fall into their hands as a result of their money-lending. They were not to lend on the security of landedproperty; all existing bonds on real estate were declared null and void; and any attempt to sell such bonds to Christians was made a capital offense. But, though the barons could no longer alienate their property as security for loans, they could still sell to the Jews; and with this sale there might fall into Jewish hands the feudal right of tutelage and the ecclesiastical right to advowson, both of which were indissolubly connected with the seizin of land in fief. In 1271 the Jews as a desperate measure attempted to force from the king's council explicit permission to hold land with all its privileges; but a Franciscan friar made a protest against the "impious insolence" of the Jews in claiming such rights, and, he being supported by the bishops present as well as by Prince Edward, who presided, the demands of the Jews were repudiated, and they were furthermore precluded from enjoying freehold in tenures of any kind. They were even forbidden to increase their holdings in London, as this might diminish the tithes of the Church ("De Antiquis Legibus Liber," pp. 234 et seq.). Deprived thus of all security for large loan, the Jews were almost automatically prevented from obtaining new business; and indeed, as soon as the enactment of 1271 was passed, Henry III., or Edward acting in his name, sold the whole revenue of the Jewry to Richard of Cornwall for as small a sum as 2,000 marks (Rymer, "Fœdera," i. 489).The "Statutum de Judaismo," 1275.
Shortly after his coronation Edward I., in 1275, determined to solve by a bold experiment the Jewish question as it then existed in England. The Church laws against usury had recently been reiterated with more than usual vehemence at the Council of Lyons (1274), and Edward in the "Statutum de Judaismo" absolutely forbade Jews to lend on usury, but granted them permission to engage in commerce and handicrafts, and even to take farms for a period not exceeding ten years, though he expressly excluded them from all the feudal advantages of the possession of land. This permission, however, regarded as a means by which Jews in general could gain a livelihood, was illusory. Farming can not be taken up at a moment's notice, nor can handicrafts be acquired at once. Moreover, in England in the thirteenth century the gilds were already securing a monopoly of all skilled labor, and in the majority of markets only those could buy and sell who were members of the Gild Merchant. By depriving the Jews of a resort to usury, Edward was practically preventing them from earning a living at all under the conditions of life then existing in feudal England; and in principle the "Statute of Judaism" expelled them fifteen years before the final expulsion. Some of the Jews attempted to evade the law by resorting to the tricks of the Caursines, who lent sums and extorted bonds that included both principal and interest. Some resorted to highway robbery; others joined the Domus Conversorum (see below); while a considerable number appear to have resorted to clipping the coin as a means of securing a precarious existence. As a consequence, in 1278 the whole English Jewry was imprisoned; and no less than 293 Jews were executed at London.
Edward, having found it impossible altogether to prevent usury on the part of the Jews, was forced to permit it in a restricted form in a new statute, probably dated about 1280, allowing the Jews to receive interest on their loans for three years, or at most four. Provisions were made that all loans thus negotiated should be duly registered, so that the king might have his fair share of the usury of the Jewry ("Papers of the Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh." pp. 219, 229). Loans arranged on these conditions could not be very secure or very lucrative, and the returns to the king in particular would be reduced to their lowest terms by the restricted form in which usury was now permitted. From any removal of these restrictions Edward was shortly afterward debarred by an act of the Church.The Church and English Jews.
Ever since the fourth Lateran Council the papacy had become more and more embittered against the Jews, owing to the increased attractiveness of Jewish rites. As an immediate result of the council Stephen Langton had excommunicated all Christians having anything to do with Jews, and the king showed sufficient sympathy with the Church policy against the Jews to found in 1232 the Domus Conversorum for the maintenance of Jews converted to Christianity, though not until 1280 did the king cease to claim the whole of the property of a Jew who became converted. John of Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury, closed all the synagogues in his diocese in 1282, and Edward I. issued a writ instructing his officials to assist the Dominicans by forcing the Jews to listen to their conversion sermons. The Jews had throughout been careless in showing their contempt for certain aspects of Christianity. One had seized the cross carried in front of a procession at the University of Oxford in 1268, and in 1274 a Jew was burned for blasphemy at Norwich. Edward had accordingly issued a proclamation declaring any Jew found guilty of blasphemy to be liable to the death penalty. At the end of 1286 Pope Honorius IV. addressed a special rescript to the arch-bishops of York and Canterbury, pointing out the evil effects on the religious life of England of free intercourse with the perfidious Jews, who studied the Talmud and its abominations, enticed the faithful to apostasy, caused their Christian servants to work on Sundays and holidays, and generally brought the Christian faith into disrepute. On this account he called upon the English state and Church to do their utmost to prevent such pernicious intercourse. The Church immediately attempted to carry out the pope's demands in a series of enactments passed by the Synod of Exeter in 1287, repeating the ordinary Church laws against commensality between Jews and Christians, and against Jews holding public office, or having Christian servants, or appearing in public at Easter; forbidding Jewish physicians to practise; and reenacting the ordinance of the Synod of Oxford held in 1222, which forbade the building of new synagogues, and denied to Jews entrance into churches.The Expulsion.
After the experience in Jewish legislation which Edward I. had from 1269 onward, there was only one answer he could give as a true son of the Church tothese demands: If the Jews were not to have intercourse with their fellow citizens as artisans, merchants, or farmers, and were not to be allowed to take usury, the only alternative was for them to leave the country. He immediately expelled the Jews from Gascony, a province still held by England and in which he was traveling at the time; and on his return to England (July 18, 1290) he issued writs to the sheriffs of all the English counties ordering them to enforce a decree to the effect that all Jews should leave England before All Saints' Day of that year. They were allowed to carry their portable property; but their houses escheated to the king, except in the case of a few favored persons who were allowed to sell theirs before they left. Some of them were robbed by the captains who undertook to transport them to Witsand; others were drowned on their way to France. Of the 16,000 who left, about one-tenth went to Flanders, their passage being paid by the king; and a number are found a short time later in the Paris Jewry. The king's booty was not of great amount, for the total rental of the houses which fell into his hands was not more than £130, and the debts owed to the Jews, of which he could collect only the principal, did not exceed £9,000. Parliament was said to have voted one-tenth of the tithes and one-fifteenth of the personal property in gratitude for the expulsion, but this merely represents contemporary prejudice. Edward's act was not an act of grace to the nation; as has been seen, no alternative was left to him. The Church would not allow the Jews to become an integral part of the English nation, and they therefore had to leave the country.
During the two hundred and twenty years of their stay the position of the Jews had steadily grown worse. At first, treated with special favor and allowed to amass considerable wealth, they had formed a necessary part of the royal organization. Two or three of them are mentioned as physicians, and several monks are said to have been converted to Judaism. They collected books and built themselves palatial residences; but after the massacres under Richard I. and the exactions of John they gradually became serfs of the king—mere chattels which he from time to time sold to the highest bidder. Their relations to their neighbors, which were at first friendly, became more and more embittered, though occasionally they are found joining with Christians in hunting (see Colchester).Literature.
The increasing degradation of their political status is paralleled by the scantiness of their literary output in the thirteenth century as compared with that of the twelfth. In the earlier century they were visited by such eminent authorities as Abraham ibn Ezra, Judah Sir Leon, Yom-Ṭob of Joigny, and Jacob of Orleans. A whole school of grammarians appears to have existed among them, including Moses b. Yom-Ṭob, Moses b. Isaac, and Samuel ha-NaḲdan of Bristol. Berechiah b. NaṬronai ha-NaḲdan produced in England his "Fox Fables," one of the most remarkable literary productions of the Middle Ages. In the thirteenth century, however, only a few authorities, like Moses of London, Berechiah de Nicole, Aaron of Canterbury, and Elyas of London, are known, together with
As has been mentioned above, the Jews were allowed to have their own jurisdiction, and there is evidence of their having a bet din with three "episcopi," or dayyanim; furthermore, reference is made to the parnas, or president, and gabbai, or treasurer, of the congregation, and to scribes and chirographers. A complete system of education seems to have been in vogue, with local schools in the provinces, and the high school in London in lronmonger Lane. In the latter the "separated" ("perushim") were trained from the age of sixteen to twenty-three to act as masters of the Jewish law (Jacobs, "Jews of Angevin England," pp. 243-257, 342-344).
At the head of the whole Jewry was placed a chief rabbi, known as "the presbyter of all the Jews of England" ; he appears to have been selected by the Jews themselves, who were granted a congé d'élire by the king. The latter claimed, however, the right of confirmation, as in the case of bishops. The Jewish presbyter was indeed in a measure a royal official, holding the position of adviser, as regards Jewish law, to the Exchequer of the Jews. For the English legal system admitted the validity of the Halakah in its proper sphere as much as it did that of the canon law. Six presbyters are known through the thirteenth century: Jacob of London, reappointed 1200; Josce, 1207; Aaron of York, 1237; Elyas of London, 1243; Hagin fil Cresse, 1257; and Cresse fil Mosse.Intermediate Period:
Between the expulsion of the Jews in 1290 and their formal return in 1655 there is no official trace of Jews as such on English soil except in connection with the Domus Conversorum, which kept a considerable number of them within its precincts up to 1551 and even later. An attempt was made to obtain a revocation of the edict of expulsion as early as 1310, but in vain. Notwithstanding, a certain number of them appear to have come back; for complaints were made to the king in 1376 that some of those trading as Lombards were Jews ("Rot. Parl." ii. 332a). Occasionally permits were given to individuals to visit England, as in the case of Dr. Elyas Sabot in 1410; but it was not until the expulsion of the Jews from Spain that any considerable number of Hebrews found refuge in England. One of these as early as 1493 attempted to recover no less a sum than 428,000 maravedis which the refugees from Spain had entrusted to Diego de Soria. In 1542 many were arrested on the suspicion of being Jews, and throughout the sixteenth century a number of persons named Lopez, possibly all of the same family, took refuge in England, the best known of them being Rodrigo Lopez, physician to Queen Elizabeth, and who is said to have been the original of Shylock. Besides certain distinguished converts like Tremellius and Philip Ferdinand, the most remarkable visitor was Joachim Gaunse, who introduced new methods of mining into England. Occasional visitors, like Alonzo de Herrera and Simon Palache in 1614, are recorded.Resettlement Period: Maranos in England.
Toward the middle of the seventeenth century a considerable number of Marano merchants settled in London and formed there a secret congregation, at the head of which was Antonio Fernandez Carvajal. They conducted a large business with the Levant, East and West Indies, Canary Islands, and Brazil, and above all with the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal. They formed an important link in the network of trade spread especially throughout the Spanish and Portuguese world by the Maranos or secret Jews (see Commerce). Their position enabled them to give Cromwell and his secretary, Thurloe, important information as to the plans both of Charles Stuart in Holland and of the Spaniards in the New World (see L. Wolf, "Cromwell's Secret Intelligencers"). Outwardly they passed as Spaniards and Catholics; but they held prayer-meetings at Cree Church Lane, and became known to the government as Jews by faith.
Meanwhile public opinion in England had been prepared by the Puritan movement for a sympathetic treatment of any proposal by the Judaizing sects among the extremists of the Parliamentary party for the readmission of the Jews into England. Petitions favoring readmission had been presented to the army as early as 1649 by two Baptists of Amsterdam, Johanna Cartwright and her son Ebenezer ("The Petition of the Jews for the Repealingof the Act of Parliament for Their Banishment out of England"); and suggestions looking to that end were made by men of the type of Roger Williams, Hugh Peters, and by Independents generally. Many were moved in the same direction by mystical Messianic reasons; and their views attracted the enthusiasm of Manasseh ben Israel, who in 1650 published his "Hope of Israel," in which he advocated the return as a preliminary to the appearance of the Messiah. The Messiah could not appear till Jews existed in all the lands of the earth. According to Antonio de Montesinos, the Ten Tribes had been discovered in the North-American Indians, and England was the only country from which Jews were excluded. If England admitted them, the Messianic age might be expected.Manasseh ben Israel's Mission.
Meanwhile the commercial policy which led to the Navigation Act in Oct., 1651, made Cromwell desirous of attracting the rich Jews of Amsterdam to London so that they might transfer their important trade interests with the Spanish main from Holland to England. The mission of St. John to Amsterdam, which had previously proposed, as an alternative to the Navigation Act, a coalition between English and Dutch commercial interests, had negotiated with Manasseh ben Israel and the Amsterdam community. A pass was granted to Manasseh, but he was unable to use it on account of the war between England and Holland, which lasted from 1652 to 1654. As soon as the war ceased, Manasseh ben Israel sent his brother-in-law, David Abravanel Dormido, to London to present to the council a petition for the readmission of Jews. The council, however, refused to act. Cromwell therefore induced Manasseh himself to come over to London, which he did at the end of Sept., 1655, and there printed his "humble address" to Cromwell. As a consequence a national conference was summoned at Whitehall in the early part of December, including some of the most eminent lawyers, divines, and merchants in the kingdom. The lawyers declared there was nothing against the Jews' residing in England, but both the divines and merchants were opposed to readmission, and Cromwell stopped the discussion in order to prevent an adverse decision (see Cromwell, Oliver).
Early in the following year (1656) the question came to a practical issue through the declaration of war against Spain, which resulted in the arrest of Antonio Rodrigues Robles, and forced the Maranos of London to avow their Judaism as a means of avoiding arrest as Spaniards and the confiscation of their goods. As a final result, Cromwell appears to have given informal permission to the Jews to reside and trade in England on condition that they did not obtrude their worship on public notice and that they refrained from making proselytes. Under cover of this permission Carvajal and Simon de Caceres purchased a piece of land for a Jewish cemetery in 1657, and Solomon Dormido, a nephew of Manasseh ben Israel, was admitted to the Royal Exchange as a duly licensed broker of the city of London without taking the usual oaths involving faith in Christianity. Carvajal had previously been allowed to take out letters of denization for himself and son.
This somewhat surreptitious method of solving the Jewish question in England had the advantage of not raising anti-Semitic feeling too strongly; and it likewise enabled Charles II., on his return, to avoid taking any action on the petition of the merchants of London asking him to revoke Cromwell's concession. He had been assisted by several Jews of royalist sympathies, as Mendes da Costa and Augustine Coronel-Chacon, during his exile. In 1664 a further attempt was made by the Earl of Berkshire and Mr. Ricaut to bring about the expulsion of the Jews, but the king in council assured the latter of the continuance of former favor. Similar appeals to prejudice were made in 1673, when Jews, for meeting in Duke's Place for a religious service, were indicted on a charge of rioting, and in 1685, when thirty-seven were arrested on the Royal Exchange; but the proceedings in both cases were put a stop to by direction of the Privy Council. The status of the Jews was still very indeterminate. In 1684, in a case connected with the East India Company, it was contended that they were alien infidels, and perpetual enemies to the British crown; and even the attorney-general declared that they resided in England only under an implied license. As a matter of fact, the majority of them were still aliens and liable to all the disabilities which that condition carried with it.
William III., though it is reported that he was assisted in his descent upon England by a loan of 2,000,000 gulden from Antonio Lopez Suasso, afterward Baron Avernes de Gras, did not interfere when in 1689 some of the chief Jewish merchants of London were forced to pay the duty levied on the goods of aliens; though he refused a petition from Jamaica to expel the Jews. His tenure of the throne, however, brought about a closer connection between the London and the Amsterdam communities, and thus aided in the transfer of the center of European finance from the Dutch to the English capital. Early in the eighteenth century the Jewish community of London comprised representatives of the chief Jewish financiers of northern Europe, including the Mendez da Costas, Abudientes, Salvadors, Lopezes, Fonsecas, and Seixas. A small German contingent had arrived and established a synagogue in 1692; but they were of little consequence, and did not figure in the relations between the Jews and the government. The utility of the larger Jewish merchants was recognized. Marlborough in particular made great use of the services of Sir Solomon de Medina, and indeed was publicly charged with taking an annual subvention from him. These merchants are estimated to have brought into the country a capital of £1,500,000, which had increased by the middle of the century to é5,000,000. As early as 1723 a special act of Parliament was passed which permitted them to hold land on condition of their taking oath when registering their title; they were allowed to omit the words "upon the faith of a Christian." Some years later (1740) an act was passed permitting Jews who had resided in the British colonies for a period exceeding seven years to become naturalized (13 Geo. II., cap. 7). Shortly afterward a similar bill was introduced into the Irish Parliament, where it passed the Commons in 1745and 1746, but failed to pass the Irish Peers in 1747; it was ultimately dropped. Meanwhile, during the Jacobite insurrection of 1745 the Jews had shown particular loyalty to the government. Their chief financier, Samson Gideon, had strengthened the stock market, and several of the younger members had volunteered in the corps raised to defend London.The Jew Bill of 1753.
Possibly as a reward, Pelham in 1753 brought in a bill allowing Jews to become naturalized by application to Parliament. It passed the Lords without much opposition, but on being brought down to the Commons the Tory party made a great outcry against this "abandonment of Christianity," as they called it. On the other hand, it was contended that the Jews performed a very valuable function in the commercial economy of the nation, providing one-twelfth of the nation's profits and one-twentieth of its foreign trade. The Whigs, however, persisted in carrying out at least one part of their general policy of religious toleration, and the bill was passed and received the royal assent (26 Geo. II., cap. 26). Nevertheless, a great clamor was raised against it, and the lord mayor and the corporations of London petitioned Parliament for its repeal. Effigies of Jews were carried about in derision, and placards with the inscription "No Jews, no wooden shoes" were pasted up in the most prominent public resorts. The latter part of the popular cry referred to foreign Protestants, chiefly Huguenots, whom the Pelham ministry had also tried to naturalize as recently as 1751, when the bill for their relief had been petitioned against and dropped. A naturalization bill for foreign Protestants had been passed as early as 1709, but was repealed three years later; and the precedent was now followed in the case of the Jews (Lecky, "History of England in the Eighteenth Century," i. 283). In 1754 the Jew Bill was repealed, and an attempt was even made to obtain the repeal of the act of 1740 permitting the Jews in the colonies to be naturalized. It is difficult to understand the intensity of the popular outburst at the time, since the sons of the very persons whom the populace refused to allow to be naturalized became by mere place of birth subjects of the British crown.The Oath of Abjuration.
The influence of the repeal of the bill on the Sephardic Jews of England, who were chiefly affected by it, was deplorable. Samson Gideon, the head of the community, determined to bring up his children as Christians, and his example was followed by many of the chief families during the remainder of the century. A general feeling of insecurity came over the community. With the accession of George III. a Committee of Deputados was formed as a sequel to the Committee of Diligence which had been appointed to supervise the passing of the Jew bills through the Irish Parliament. By this time the German Jews had become of sufficient importance for a certain number of them to be associated with the deputies in the address of congratulation on the accession of George III., but they did not form a regular part of the Board of Deputies, the only representative body of English Jews. The activity of the board, however, was mainly devoted to helping coreligionists abroad, the wealth of the London community attracting needy applicants from both the Old World and the New. The deputies do not appear to have made a protest even against the Oath of Abjuration Act (6 George III., cap. 52). This fixed the status of the Jews by declaring an oath of abjuration, containing the words "upon the faith of a Christian," to be necessary for all officers, civil or military, under the crown or in the universities, and for all lawyers, voters, and members of Parliament.
At this time a number of the more prominent members of the Sephardic community, as the Bernals, Lopezes, Ricardos, Disraelis, Aguilars, Bassevis, and Samudas, gradually severed their connection with the synagogue and allowed their children to grow up either without any religion or in the Established Church, which gave them an open career in all the professions. Meanwhile the ranks of the English Jewry were being recruited from the downtrodden German and Polish communities of the Continent. While the Sephardim chiefly congregated in London as the center of international commerce, the German Jews settled for the most part in the seaports of the south and west, such as Falmouth, Plymouth, Liverpool, Bristol, etc., as pawnbrokers and small dealers. From these centers it became their custom to send out hawkers every Monday with packs to the neighboring villages; and in this way connections were made with some of the inland towns, in which they began to settle, as Canterbury, Chatham, and Cambridge, not to mention Manchester and Birmingham. Traders of this type, while not of such prominence as the larger merchants of the capital, came in closer touch with English life; and they doubtless helped to allay some of the prejudice which had been manifested so strongly during 1753.Influence of Jewish Pugilists.
Another curious cause contributed to the same end. Jews, mainly of the Sephardic branch, became prominent in the national sport of boxing. Their light physique made it necessary for them to substitute scientific defense for the brutal displays of strength which had hitherto formed a staple of boxing-bouts. Daniel Mendoza by superior science defeated Humphreys in 1789, and became champion of England. A little later Samuel Elias, known as "Dutch Sam," invented the "upper cut" and made boxing fashionable among the upper classes. When the Englishmen of the lower classes found themselves beaten at their own peculiar sport by the heretofore despised Jew, a certain amount of sympathy was aroused; and there can be no doubt that the changed attitude of the populace toward Jews between 1753 and 1829 was due in some measure to the succession of champion Jewish boxers. Notwithstanding, there are distinct signs of deterioration shown by the Jewish population toward the end of the eighteenth century, the picture given by Colquhoun in 1800 of the London community being most unsatisfactory.
A further cause for kindlier feeling on the part of at least the middle classes of Englishmen toward the Jews was supplied by the revival of conversionist hopes at the beginning of the nineteenth century.Misled doubtless by the tendency to desertion shown by not a few of the Sephardim many evangelicals anticipated the conversion en masse of the Jewish population, and on the initiative of Lewis Way the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews was founded in 1807. This and kindred societies wasted large sums of money with indifferent results. But politically they helped to increase sympathy for the Jews among the non-conformists, who formed the bulk of their contributors and were at the same time becoming a leading factor in the formation of Liberal policy. Similarly, at a much later period the craze of Anglo-Israelism made many of the narrower Bible Christians more sympathetic toward the Jews. On the other hand, the great influence of Dr. Thomas Arnold in the Liberal ranks was ultimately directed against the Jewish hopes. The more Erastian he was, the more he desired to see the legislature exclusively Christian.
In the meanwhile the lead among the English Jews was passing from the Spanish to the German section of the community. The bankers Goldsmid acquired both influence and culture, and their efforts to raise the community were soon to be supplemented by those of Nathan Rothschild, the ablest of Mayer Rothschild's sons, who had settled first in Manchester and afterward in London. The times were in a measure propitious for a new effort to remove the civil disabilities of the Jews. The example of France had not been without its effect. The rising tide in favor of religious liberty, as applied to dissenters generally and to Roman Catholics in particular, might have been expected to carry with it more favorable conditions for the Jews; but a long struggle was to intervene before "Englishmen of the Jewish persuasion" were to have equal rights with other Englishmen.The Struggle for Emancipation.
When in 1829 the Roman Catholics of England were freed from all their civil disabilities, the hopes of the Jews rose high; and the first step toward a similar alleviation in their case was taken in 1830 when Mr. Huskisson presented a petition signed by 2,000 merchants and others of Liverpool. This was immediately followed by a bill presented by R. Grant on April 15 of that year which was destined to engage the English legislature in one form or another for the next thirty years. At first the bill failed even to get through the House of Commons, though it is true that, against the opposition of Sir Robert Inglis, the first reading was passed by 115 to 97 votes. But the second reading, on May 17, notwithstanding a monster petition in its favor from 14,000 citizens of London, was rejected by 265 to 228 votes. The next year (1833), however, it passed its third reading in the Commons, July 22, by the large majority of 189 to 52, and was even read for the first time in the Lords. But on the second reading (Aug. 1) it was rejected by 104 to 54, though the Duke of Sussex, a constant friend to the Jews, presented a petition in its favor signed by 1,000 distinguished citizens of Westminster. In 1834 the bill underwent the same experience, being lost in the House of Lords by a majority of 92 votes. The whole force of the Tory party was against the bill, which had, besides, the personal antagonism of the bluff sailor king, William IV. In the following year it was deemed inadvisable to make the annual appeal to Parliament, as the battle for religious liberty was going on in another part of the field; but by the passing of the Sheriffs' Declaration Bill, Aug. 21, 1835, Jews were allowed to hold the ancient and important office of sheriff. In the following year the Jew Bill was introduced late in the session, and succeeded so far as to pass the first reading in the Lords on Aug. 19. It was then dropped owing to the lateness of the session.
For a time the advocates of emancipation seem to have lost heart. The chief supporters of the bill, R. Grant in the Commons, and Lord Holland in the Lords, died within a few months of each other in 1840, and during the next four years the political activity of the English Jews was concentrated on the attempt to obtain admission to municipal office. A bill to that effect got as far as a first reading in the Lords by one vote, in 1841, but was lost on a second reading. It was not until July 31, 1845, that the bill was carried. In the following year (Aug. 18, 1846) the Religious Opinions Relief Bill removed a certain number of minor disabilities which affected the Jews of England as well as other dissenters from the Established Church, and the only portal which still remained closed to the Jews was that of Parliament.Action of Sir David Salomons.
The success with which the Jews of England had induced Parliament to admit them to the shrievalty and to municipal offices had been due to the fact that Jews had been actual candidates, and had been elected to those offices before any parliamentary relief was asked. It was now decided to adopt the same policy in regard to a seat in Parliament itself. Baron Lionel de Rothschild was elected member of Parliament for the city of London by a large majority in 1847, and the bill that was introduced on Dec. 16 of that year was intended to carry out the wishes of a definite English constituency. This passed its third reading in the Commons on May 4, 1848, by a majority of 62 votes, but was rejected in the Lords by 163 non-contents to 128 contents. The same thing happened in 1850 when Baron Lionel de Rothschild was again elected, but in the following year the struggle took on another and more dramatic form. David Salomons, who had successfully fought the battle for the shrievalty and the aldermanic chair, had been elected member for Greenwich and insisted on taking his seat, refusing to withdraw on being ordered to do so by the speaker, and adding to his seeming parliamentary offense by voting in the division on the motion for adjournment which was made to still the uproar caused by his bold course of action. The prime minister moved that Salomons be ordered to withdraw, and on that motion Salomons spoke in a dignified and forcible manner, and won the sympathy of the House, which nevertheless passed the premier's motion. The matter was then referred to the law courts, which decided that Salomons had no right to vote without having taken the oath of abjuration in the form appointed by Parliament, and mulcted him in a fine of £500 for each vote he had recorded in the Commons.The government then brought in another bill in 1853, which was also rejected by the Lords. In 1855 the hero of the parliamentary struggles, David Salomons, was elected lord mayor of London. In the following two years bills were introduced by the government to modify the parliamentary oath, but they failed to obtain the assent of the Lords. In 1858 when the Oath Bill reached the Lords they eliminated the clause relating to Jews; but when the bill was referred again to the Commons, the lower house refused to accept it as amended, and appointed a committee to formulate its reasons, upon which committee, as if to show the absurdity of the situation, the member for the city of London, Baron Lionel de Rothschild, was appointed to serve—which he could legally do, even though he had not taken his seat. A conference was appointed between the two houses, and ultimately a compromise was reached by which either house might admit Jews by resolution, allowing them to omit the words "on the true faith of a Christian." As a consequence, on Monday, July 26, 1858, Baron Lionel de Rothschild took the oath with covered head, substituting "so help me, Jehovah" for the ordinary form of oath, and thereupon took his seat as the first Jewish member of Parliament. Two years later a more general form of oath for all members of Parliament was introduced, which freed the Jews from all cause of exclusion. In 1870 the University Test Act removed the difficulties in the way of a Jew becoming a scholar or a fellow in an English university. In 1885 Sir Nathaniel de Rothschild was raised to the upper house as Lord Rothschild, to be followed within a few years by Baron Henry de Worms as Lord Pirbright and Mr. Sydney Stern as Lord Wandsworth; while in 1890 all restrictions for every position in the British empire, except that of monarch, were removed, the offices of lord high chancellor and of lord lieutenant of Ireland being thrown open to every British subject without distinction of creed.
For some time after their admission to Parliament, the Jewish M.P.'s belonged to the party that had given them that privilege, and Sir George Jessel acted as solicitor-general in Gladstone's first ministry. But from the time of the Conservative reaction in 1874 Jewish voters and candidates showed an increasing tendency toward the Tory party; and of recent years the majority of Jewish members of the lower house have been of that political complexion. The influence of Lord Beaconsfield may have had some effect on this change, but it was in the main due to the altered politics of the middle and commercial classes, to which the Jews chiefly belonged. Baron Henry de Worms acted as under secretary of state in one of Lord Salisbury's ministries, while Sir Julian Goldsmid, a Liberal Unionist after the Home Rule policy of Gladstone was declared, made a marked impression as deputy speaker of the House of Commons.
Altogether the struggle had lasted for sixty years, though practically all that was contended for had been gained in half that period. Yet it must be remembered that complete equality was not granted to Roman Catholics and Jews until 1890. The very length of the struggle shows how thoroughly the opposition had been overcome. The many political friendships made during the process had facilitated social intercourse, which is nowhere so unrestricted as in England. (See Acts of Parliament.)Organization.
The pause which occurred between 1840 and 1847 in the emancipation struggle was due in large measure to an unfortunate schism which had split the community in two and which prevented the members acting in unison for the defense of their rights. The Reform movement had reached England in a mild form under the influence of the Goldsmid family, which had been touched by the Mendelssohnian movement. In 1841 a Reform congregation was established in London, and was practically excommunicated by both the Spanish haham and the German chief rabbi (see Reform). The effect of these differences was to delay common action as regards emancipation and other affairs; and it was not until 1859 that the charity organization was put on a firm footing by the creation of the Jewish Board of Guardians. Ten years later the congregations were brought under one rule by the formation of the United Synagogue (1870), in the charter of which an attempt was made to give the chief rabbi autocratic powers over the doctrines to be taught in the Jewish communities throughout the British empire. But Parliament, which had recently disestablished the Irish Church, did not feel disposed to establish the Jewish Synagogue, and the clause was stricken out. The chief rabbi's salary is paid partly out of contributions from the provincial synagogues, and this gives him a certain amount of authority over all the Jews of the empire with the exception of the 3,000 or more Sephardim, who have a separate haham, and of the dwindling band of Reformers, who number about 2,000, scattered in London, Manchester, and Bradford. In 1871 the Anglo-Jewish Association was established to take the place, so far as regards the British empire, of the Alliance Israélite, which had been weakened by the Franco-German war. The Jews of England felt that they should be organized to take their proper part in Jewish affairs in general. For many years they, together with the French Jews, were the only members of the race who were unhampered by disabilities; and this enabled them to act more freely in cases where the whole body of Israel was concerned.
As early as 1840, when the blood accusation was revived with regard to the Damascus affair, and Jewish matters were for the first time treated on an international basis, the Jews of England took by far the most prominent position in the general protest of the European Jewries against the charge. Not only was the Board of Deputies at London the sole Jewish body in Europe to hold public meetings, but owing to their influence a meeting of protest was held by eminent Christians at the Mansion House, London (July 3, 1840), which formed a precedent for subsequent distinguished gatherings. Sir Moses Montefiore, after aiding the Damascus Jews by obtaining, in an interview with the sultan at Constantinople, a firman repudiating the blood accusation, visited Russia in 1846 to intercede for his coreligionists there. In 1860 he went to Rome in connection with the Mortara affair; and in 1863 he leda mission to Morocco on behalf of Jews of that country. Action was likewise taken by the chief English Jews in behalf of the unfortunate Hebrews of the Danubian principalities. Sir F. Goldsmid made an interpellation in the House of Commons with regard to the Jews of Servia (March 29, 1867), and started a debate in that assembly (April 19, 1872) on the subject of the persecutions of the Jews in Rumania. As a consequence a Rumanian committee was formed, which watched the activities of the illiberal government of that country.
When in 1881 the outburst of violence in Russia brought the position of the Russian Jews prominently before the world, it was their coreligionists in England who took the lead in organizing measures for their relief. Articles in the "Times" of Jan. 11 and 13, 1882, drew the attention of the whole world to the extent of the persecutions, and a meeting of the most prominent citizens of London was held at the Mansion House, Feb. 1, 1882 (see Mansion House Meeting). As a consequence a fund was raised amounting to more than £108,000, and a complete scheme of distributing in the United States the Russian refugees from Brody was organized by the committee of the Mansion House Fund. Similarly, when a revival of the persecutions took place in 1891, another meeting was held at the Guildhall, and a further sum of over £100,000 was collected and devoted to facilitating the westward movement of the Russian exodus. An attempt was made this time to obtain access directly to the czar by the delivery of a petition from the lord mayor and citizens of London; but this was contemptuously rejected, and the Russo-Jewish committee which carried out the work of the Mansion House Fund was obliged to confine its activity to measures outside Russia. When Baron de Hirsch formed his elaborate scheme for the amelioration of the condition of the persecuted Jews, headquarters were established by him in London, though the administration was practically directed from Paris. The immigrants being excluded from most of the cities of the Continent, the burden of receiving most of the Russian refugees moving westward fell on England.The Result of the Russian Exodus.
The advent of such a large number of Jews, unprovided with capital, and often without a definite occupation, brought with it difficulties which taxed the entire resources of the English communities. It was only natural that the newcomers should arouse a certain amount of prejudice by their foreign habits, by the economic pressure they brought to bear upon certain trades, especially on that of clothing, and by their overcrowding in certain localities. While the Continent had seen the rise of strong anti-Semitic feeling, England had been comparatively free from any exhibition of this kind. During Lord Beaconsfield's ministry a few murmurs had been heard from the more advanced Liberals against the "Semitic" tendencies of the prime minister and his brethren in race, but as a rule social had followed political emancipation almost automatically. The Russian influx threatened to disturb this natural process, and soon after 1891 protests began to be heard against the "alien immigrants." Bills were even introduced into Parliament to check their entry into England. Nothing came of these protests, however, till the year 1902, when the question had reached such a point that it was deemed desirable to appoint a royal commission to inquire into the whole subject. This commission has heard evidence both from those favoring and from those opposed to restricted immigration. There is no evidence that the establishment of this commission implied any anti-Semitic feeling on the part of the government: it was merely a natural result of an exceptional state of overcrowding in the East End of London.Literature.
The favorable condition of the English Jews has not hitherto resulted in any very remarkable display of Jewish talent. English Jews have contributed nothing of any consequence to rabbinic scholarship or even to halakic or exegetic learning, though the commentaries of M. Kalisch on the Pentateuch are a mine of learning, and in the later volumes anticipate some of the most far-reaching results of the "higher criticism." The Hebrew chair at University College and the rabbinic readerships of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge have naturally been filled by Jewish incumbents. The libraries of England have become the receptacles of the largest collection of Hebrew manuscripts and early Hebrew books (see Bibliography). In the eighteenth century two Jews, Dr. Sarmiento and E. Mendes da Costa, became members of the Royal Society. Moses Mendes was a poetaster of some repute. David Levi translated the prayers, and defended Judaism from the attacks of Dr. Priestley. Isaac D'Israeli wrote his inaccurate but entertaining "Curiosities of Literature." Rev. Solomon Lyon was Hebrew teacher at the University of Cambridge, and his daughter, Emma Lyon, was the first Anglo-Jewish authoress. Michael Josephs displayed some ability in Hebrew writing, and Arthur Lumley Davids published a Turkish grammar. Grace Aguilar wrote novels which attained some popularity, while E. H. Lindo wrote a praiseworthy history of the Jews of Spain and Portugal which has still some value. More recently Israel Zangwill has obtained more than local celebrity by his novels and sketches of Jewish life. Other Jewish novelists have been B. L. Farjeon, the late Amy Levy, and S. L. Gordon. S. L. Lee has edited the later volumes of "The Dictionary of National Biography," while I. Gollancz, besides editing the "Temple Library," has helped to found and has become secretary of the British Academy.
In other lines of activity Jews have fully participated in the national life. Sir George Jessel was a most distinguished master of the rolls; Professor Waley, an authority on conveyancing; and Sir George Lewis is perhaps the best known living English solicitor. Dr. Ernest Hart was a leader in modern methods of sanitation. English Jews are reported to have taken more than their share in the Volunteer movement when it first sprang into existence in 1860. During the recent war in South Africa no less than 1,000 Jewish soldiers took part in the campaign. Among these the most distinguished were Colonel Goldsmid and Major Sir Matthew Nathan, the latter of whom has also held important command and has been governor of the West Coast of Africa.
Since the abolition of university tests in 1870, which was largely influenced by the success of Numa Hartog as senior wrangler at Cambridge in 1869, Jews have taken some share both as students and teachers in English university life. Joseph James Sylvester was Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford, a position due to his undoubted distinction in the world of mathematics; S. Alexander is professor of mental philosophy and E. Schuster professor of physics in the Victoria University, Manchester, and C. Waldstein was for a time Slade professor of fine arts in Cambridge University. R. Meldola is professor of chemistry at the Finsbury Technical College, while Sir Philip Magnus has been secretary and director of the London Technical Intitute, and is one of the greatest English authorities on technical education generally.
In art the list of Jewish names is somewhat scanty. Solomon Hart became a Royal Academician; Simeon Solomon was one of the most promising leaders of the pre-Raffaelite movement; and S. J. Solomon is an A.R.A. Sir Julius Benedict and F. H. Cowen are the chief names in music.The Colonies.
Jews have taken more than their due share in the colonial expansion of England. Jacob Montefiore, a cousin of Sir Moses Montefiore, was one of the chief pioneers of South Australia in 1835. Hon. Nathaniel Levi did much to develop both the coal and beet-sugar industries of Victoria. Sir Julius Vogel was premier of New Zealand for many years, and did much to promote its remarkable prosperity; while New South Wales has been represented by Sir Saul Samuel and Sir Julien Salomons as agents-general for that colony. Similarly, in South Africa the firm of Mosenthal Brothers and Jonas Bergtheil helped much toward the development of Cape Colony and Natal; while the gold and diamond industries of the Rand were chiefly in Jewish hands, notably those of Barnato Brothers, Wernher, Beit & Company, etc.Statistics.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the number of Jews in England was not supposed to exceed 8,000, of whom at least 6,000 were in London. The increase was comparatively slow until the Russian immigration of 1880, when there were probably about 60,000 Jews in the British Isles. At the present time it is calculated that England has a Jewish population of 148,811, as against 7,428 in Scotland, and 3,771 in Ireland, giving approximately 160,000 for the British Isles. In 1901 the British empire had in all about a quarter of a million Jews, distributed as follows:
|Canada and British Columbia||16,432|
- Jacobs and Wolf, Bibl. AngloJud. Nos. 1-199;
- Prynne, A Short Demurrer Against the Jews, 1655;
- Madox, History of the Exchequer, London, 1753;
- Tovey, Anglia Judaica, Oxford, 1738;
- J. C. Webb, The Question Whether a Jew Is Capable of Holding Land, London, 1769;
- Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, London, 1892, passim;
- B. L. Abrahams, The Expulsion of the Jews from England, Oxford, 1895;
- Select Pleas of the Jewish Exchequer, ed. Rigg, 1902.
Intermediate Period:Bibl. Anglo-Jud. Nos. 201-296;
- L. Wolf, The Middle Age of Anglo-Jewish History, in Papers of the Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh.;
- S. L. Lee, in Transactions of the New Shakespeare Society, 1895;
- L. Wolf, Cromwell's Intelligencers, London, 1892;
- idem, various papers in Transactions of the Jew. Hist. Soc. Eng.
Modern Period:Bibl. Anglo-Jud. pp. 56-231, Nos. 280-2164;
- Blunt, History of the Jews in England, London, 1830;
- J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, ib. 1878;
- L. Wolf, The Queen's Jewry 1837-97, in Young Israel, pp. 99-114, 140-154, ib. 1898.