County town of Lincolnshire, England; formerly the second town of importance in the country, and on that account largely populated by Jews in the preexpulsion period. They appear to have settled on the Steep Hill, between the old Roman colony and the new castle and cathedral. The earliest mention of them occurs in 1159, when the sheriff of Lincolnshire renders count of £40 for the Jews of Lincoln in the pipe-roll of that year.
Aaron of Lincoln conducted his extensive operations from this town as a center; and his house, though considerably "restored," still remains as one of its earliest antiquities (see Aaron of Lincoln). He took in pledge the plate of Lincoln Minster (Giraldus Cambrensis, "Opera," ed. Dymock, vii. 36). During the outbreaks against the Jews at the beginning of the reign of Richard I. the Lincoln Jews saved themselves by seeking refuge in the castle. The influence of St. Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, may have had some effect in restraining the mob. At any rate , Jews mourned his death sincerely in 1200 (Jacobs, "Jews of Angevin England," p. 207). It would appear that Moses b. Isaac, author of the "Sefer ha-Shoham," was the son of a Lincoln Jew, his mother being Contessa of Cambridge. Much business was done not only by Aaron of Lincoln, but also by Benedict fil Isaac, as well as by Aaron's brothers Senior and Benedict, and his sons Elias, Abraham, and Vives. In the Nottingham "donum" of 1194 Lincoln comes second in point of tribute—£287 4s. 11d., as against £486 9s. 7d. for London—but the number of Jewish names mentioned in Lincoln is the largest. Aaron and his family possessed a considerable number of houses in the precincts of the Bail. Those belonging to Aaron himself escheated to the crown on his death, and were declared to be above 60s. in value. The houses of his brother Senior also became the property of the crown; but their value was only 10s.Thirteenth Century.
About 1220 a raid seems to have been made upon the Jews' houses in Lincoln, Mosse de Ballio, as well as Sara, the wife of Deulacresse, having been murdered in that year. In the middle of the thirteenth century the most important Lincoln Jew was Benedict fil Mosse, who is undoubtedly to be identified with Berechiah de Nicole mentioned among the Tosafists. There is also a Joce de Nicole mentioned; and in the celebrated case of Hugh of Lincoln reference is made to the school of Peitevin, from which it seems probable that there was a bet ha-midrash at Lincoln. Several Hebrew "sheṭarot" exist dealing with the transactions of the Jews of Lincoln, mainly with the Abbey of Neusome. When Henry III. tailaged the Jews of Lincoln, several men were made responsible for the tallage, among them Leo of Lincoln, said to be, at the time, one of the six richest Jews in England. He was also concerned with the debts of the Abbey of Neusome. Leo was condemned for some crime; and his house in the parish of St. Martin's escheated to the crown in 1275. In 1255 occurred the case of Hugh of Lincoln, which resulted in considerable loss of life to the Jewish community. Many of these victims are referred to in later deeds with the title "ha-ḳadosh" or "martyr."
During the uprising of the barons in 1266 the "disinherited" attacked the Jewry of Lincoln, mainly for the purpose of destroying the deeds of indebtedness which tended to put the baronage in the king's power. It is probable that the chest of the chirographers of Lincoln was burned at this time ("Select Pleas," ed. Rigg, p. 41). Berechiah de Nicole had a son, Ḥayyim or Vives, and a daughter, Belaset, probably identified with the Belaset of Wallingfordwhose house is the better known of the two Jews' houses at Lincoln. She was executed in 1287 for clipping coin. The betrothal deed of her daughter still exists, in which an elaborate written copy of the Hebrew Scriptures is one of the most important items of the dowry.
At the expulsion in 1290 no less than sixty-six householders of Lincoln left deeds, bonds for money, corn, or wool, aggregating in money £423 15s.; in corn £601 9s. 4d.; and in wool £1,595 6s. All of these fell into the hands of the king, besides thirty houses the exact value of which can not be ascertained. Most of the houses were in the Brauncegate or in St. Martin's parish, where indeed the ghetto seems to have been. No Jewish community has been formed in Lincoln since 1290.
- Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, passim;
- M. D. Davis, in Archœological Journal, xxxviii. 178 et seq.;
- Freeman, English Towns, p. 216;
- Trans. Jew. Hist. Soc. England, ii.