ACTS OF PARLIAMENT RELATING TO THE JEWS OF ENGLAND:
By: Joseph Jacobs
The legislature of England expresses its will in formal documents known as Acts, and thus the record of the legislative enactments concerning the Jews of England is to be found in the collected Acts known as the "Statutes of the Realm." As Parliament, in the modern sense of the term, had scarcely begun to exist before the Jews were expelled from England in 1290, there are only a few references to the Jews in the statutes of the fourteenth century. A reference to them in the Statutes "De Mercatoribus" (Statutes, i. 100), "De Pistoribus" (ib. pp. 202, 203), and the Statute 1 Ed. III., st. 2, c. 3, exhaust the list. But after the return of the Jews to England many Acts relate to their position with regard to marriage laws, etc., and especially to their legal disabilities. The most interesting of these are the two Acts removing and replacing these disabilities during the "No Jews!" agitation of 1753. The following is a list of the chief Acts of the English Parliament (including some Acts of the Colonial Parliaments) relating to the Jews:
1694.—6 & 7 Wm. III., cap. 6, sec. 63. Jews cohabiting as man and wife to pay the duty imposed by this statute on marriages.
1702.—1 Anne, cap. 30 (repealed in 1846). An Act to oblige the Jews to maintain and provide for their Protestant children.
1740.—13 Geo. II., cap. 7. An Act for naturalizing such foreign Protestants and others therein mentioned (including Jews) as are settled or shall settle in any of His Majesty's colonies in America.
1753.—26 Geo. II., cap. 26. An Act to permit persons professing the Jewish religion to be naturalized by Parliament, etc.
1753.—26 Geo. II., cap. 33. Lord Hardwicke's Act for prevention of clandestine marriages. (Sec. 18 exempts Jewish marriages.)
1754—27 Geo. II., cap. 1. An Act to repeal an Act of the twenty-sixth year of His Majesty's reign, intituled, An Act to permit persons professing the Jewish religion to be naturalized by Parliament, etc.
1820.—Barbados—An Act concerning the vestry of the Hebrew nation resident within the island. (For electing five representatives to settle taxation.)
1823.—Geo. IV., cap. 76. Repealing Lord Hardwicke's Act. (Sec. 31 exempts Jews.)
1830.—Copy of a bill which has recently passed the House of Assembly in Jamaica. (Repealing the clauses disabling Jews from being elected members of the Corporation of Kingston.)
1836.—6 & 7 Wm. IV., cap. 85. An Act for marriages in England. (Sec. 2. Jews may contract marriage according to Jewish usages, provided that both parties are of the Jewish religion, and that the registrar's certificate has been obtained.)
1836.—6 & 7 Wm. IV., cap. 86. An Act for registering births, deaths, and marriages in England. (Sec. 30. The president of the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews is to certify to the registrar-general the appointment of secretaries of synagogues to act as marriage registrars.)
1840.—3 & 4 Vic., cap. 72. An Act to provide for the solemnization of marriages in the districts in or near which the parties reside. (Sec. 5. Jews exempted from operation of the Act.)
1844.—7 & 8 Vic., cap. 81. An Act for marriages in Ireland. (Sec. 12. Jews may contract marriages according to their usages, provided they give notice to the registrar and obtain his certificate. Sec. 13. Jewish registrars to be certified by the president of Jewish Board of Deputies.)
1845.—8 & 9 Vic., cap. 52. An Act for the relief of persons of the Jewish religion elected to municipal offices.
1846.—9 & 10 Vic., cap. 59. An Act to relieve Her Majesty's subjects from certain penalties and disabilities with regard to their religious opinions. (Sec. 2. Jews are to be subject to the same laws as Protestant dissenters with regard to their schools, places of religious worship, education, and charitable purposes, and the property held therewith.)
1847.—10 & 11 Vic., cap. 58. An Act to remove doubts as to Quakers' and Jews' marriages, solemnized before certain periods. (Declares all marriages among Jews solemnized in England before April 1, 1837, or in Ireland before April 1, 1845, according to their usages, are good in law, if both parties were Jews.)
1855.—18 & 19 Vic., cap. 81. An Act to amend the law concerning the certifying and registering of places of religious worship in England. (Sec. 2. Synagogues may be certified as such to the registrar-general, and to be exempt from the provisions of the Charitable Trusts Act, 1853, with certain exceptions.)
1855.—18 & 19 Vic., cap. 86. An Act for securing the liberty of religious worship. (Sec. 2 provides that 9 & 10 Vic., cap. 59, vide supra, is to be construed with reference to this Act.)
1856.—19 & 20 Vic., cap. 119. An Act to amend the provisions of the marriage and registration Acts. (Sec. 21. Marriages of Jews may be solemnized by license. Sec. 22. Twenty members of the West London synagogues of British Jews, or of any synagogue in connection therewith, may certify a secretary to the registrar-general, as a registrar of marriages.)
1858.—21 & 22 Vic., cap. 49. An Act to provide for the relief of Her Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion. (Sec. 1 empowers either House of Parliament to modify the form of oath, so as to enable a Jew to sit and vote. By Sec. 3, Jews are precluded from holding certain offices. By Sec. 4, the right of presenting to any ecclesiastical benefice possessed by Jews is to devolve on the Archbishop of Canterbury.)
1860.—23 & 24 Vic., cap. 63. An Act to amend the Act of the twenty-first and twenty-second years of Victoria, chapter forty-nine, to provide for the relief of Her Majesty's subjects professing the Jewish religion. (Repealed by 29 & 30 Vic., cap. 19, which removed the words "on the true faith of a Christian" from the oath.)
1870.—32 & 33 Vic. Workshop Act permits Jews to work on Sunday.
1871.—33 & 34 Vic., cap. 116. An Act for confirming a scheme of the Charity Commissioners for the Jewish United Synagogues.
1872.—35 & 36 Vic., cap. 33. The Ballot Act. (Schedule I., sec. 26. If a Parliamentary election takes place on Saturday, the presiding officer may mark a Jewish elector's ballot-paper for him.)
1878.—41 & 42 Vic., cap. 16. An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to factories and workshops. (Sec. 50 provides means by which Jewish manufacturers closing on their Sabbath may employ young persons and women in such a way as to make up the lost time. Sec. 51. Jewish employees in factories or workshops are permitted to be employed on Sunday, subject to certain restrictions.)
[For statutes affecting the Jews in other countries see articles on respective countries.]