London, Volume 6

Knight, Charles


CXXVIII.-The Old Jewry.

CXXVIII.-The Old Jewry.




The is the most centrical of the various places in the metropolis where the people from whom it derives its name have left traces of their presence, and therefore do we select it as the station where we are to say our say about the London Jews. There is nothing Jewish now about the except its name. A Christian church--a ham and beef shop--the house which once was the Excise Office--the chambers, where the West India Association have their place of business-none of these are Jewish; nor do the names or features of the inhabitants betray a Jewish origin. The very historical associations of the place can scarcely be called Jewish; we have to grope so far back and into such an obscure period in order to find those that are. Here it was, at least according to version of the story, that the mob, in the time of James I., fell upon and murdered Dr. Lambe, not because he was a cheat and a charlatan, but because he was believed to be a creature of the haughty Buckingham. At the corner of the where it abuts upon , so runs tradition, was the house in which a haughtier and greater than Buckingham, Thomas-a-Becket,


was born. We must go sounding back through long centuries in order to reach the time when Jews had connexion with the Old Jewry-and then what we do learn of it and its occupants is meagre enough.

The reason of this is that the London or English Jews of our day have no connexion whatever with the English Jews of the olden time. The banishment of the Jews from England in the of Edward I. was succeeded by a long interval during which no settlements of any consequence were attempted by that people in this country. We say of consequence, for we have that confidence in the mercantile enterprise--the daring and versatility of this extraordinary race where a trade was to be driven--that we believe at no time has England been without individuals belonging to it. And in this impression we are confirmed by Chaucer. In the last stanza of his

Prioress's Tale

we read:--

Oh young Hugh of Lincoln slain also With cursed Jews, as it is notable, For it n' is but a little while ago.

And though we do not hold this to be any proof of the truth of the lying story, revived again and again with slender variations, to the prejudice of the Jews, by uninventive bigots and plunderers, from a time long anterior to Chaucer down to its-last appearance at Damascus, we hold that it-affords a strong presumption of the existence of a straggling remnant of Jews in England during the century. Still they must have been few, and must have shunned observation, for the Jew does not re-appear in England as a public and prominent character till after the middle of the century. We have entirely distinct and independent sets of Jews in England, whom we can in nowise connect by a continuous history. The history of the race terminates in , with their banishment by Edward I.: the history of the other commences with the visit of Rabbi Manasseh-Ben-Israel to England in . There might be, there were, Jews in England during the interim, but there was no


no publicly-organised congregation.

The name of is derived from the earlier race. The limits of

the Jewerie

it is not easy to conjecture. The northern termination of the street at least appears to have been in it.

On the south side of this street

[], says Maitland,

westward, at the end of the

Old Jewry

, stood the


synagogue of the Jews in England, which was defaced by the citizens of London, after they had slain

seven hundred

Jews (

five hundred

according to another authority), and spoiled the residue of their goods, in the year


(this ought to be


), the


of Henry III.

From the church of , Jewry, at the corner formed by and the , to the church of , (not rebuilt since the fire), at the corner formed by the same and , and thence northward to , was all included in what had been

the Jewerie.

Here, according to Maitland,

was of old time


large building of stone, very ancient, made in the place of Jews' houses; but of what antiquity, or by whom the same was built, or for what use, is uncertain; more than that King Henry VI., in the


of his reign, gave the office of being porter or keeper thereof to John Stuart, for the term of his life, by the name of his

Principal Palace in the Old Jewry.



church of St. Lawrence, on the north side of , and rather to the east of the termination of St. , stands upon ground which in its time was within

the Jewerie.

Hugh de Warkenthley was rector of this church in , and in the documents relating to it in his time that have been preserved it is termed

Ecclesia Sancti Laurentii

in Judaismo


Turning eastward from the church of St. Lawrence, and keeping still along the north side of till we reach the south-west corner of , we again find traces of

the Jewerie.

Here, according to Maitland,

was anciently an old building of stone, belonging some time to a certain Jew called Manscre, the son of Aaron, the son of Coke the Jew, in the


of Edward I.

It appears therefore that

the Jewerie

extended along both sides of what is now called , from St. and the church of St. Lawrence on the west, to and the on the east. Between the and it extended at least as far south as . More we have been unable to learn respecting its extent; but as there is reason to think that the Jews would fix upon a centrical site in the quarter of the city they occupied to build their synagogue upon, and as the synagogue is generally admitted to have stood at the north-west corner of the , in all probability

the Jewerie

was considerably more extensive. The mention of the

old building of stone

belonging to the Jew Mansere in the of Edward I. would seem to imply that some of the houses were of a superior character in an age when wooden structures predominated.

There are other traces of the Jews of the old time in old London, besides the . , leading from the south end of Red-cross Street, near St. Giles, Cripplegate, to , is built on a patch of ground granted by Edward I. to William de Monte Forte, Dean of , which is described in the record as a place without Cripplegate and in the suburbs of London, called Leyrestowe,

which was the burying-place of the Jews of London,

and valued then at per annum. In a still older record, of the reign of Henry II., it is described as Maitland speaks of it as having been

a large plat of ground, of old time called the Jews' garden; as being the only place appointed them in England to bury their dead, till the year


, the


of Henry II., that it was permitted them (after long suit to the King and Parliament at Oxford) to have special places assigned them in every quarter where they dwelt.

This plat of ground remained to the said Jews till the time of their final banishment out of England, and was afterwards turned into fair garden-plats and summer-houses for pleasure.

There was another


in the reigns of Henry III. and Edward I., situated somewhere in the liberties of the Tower; Maitland conjectures, near the place afterwards called, by a right English corruption of language,

Hangman's Gains,

in consequence of a number of refugees from Hammes and Guisnes settling there in the time of Queen Mary. This Jewerie, Maitland describes as --

A place within the liberties of the Tower, called the Jewry, because it was inhabited by Jews; where there happened,


Henry III., a robbery and a murther to be committed by William Fitzbernard, and Richard his servant, who came to the house of Joce a Jew, and there slew him and his wife Hanna. The said William was taken at

St. Saviour's

, for a certain silver cup, and was

hanged. Richard was called for and outlawed.


Miles le Espicer, who was with them, was wounded, and fled to a church and died in it. No attachment was made by the sheriffs, because it happened in the Jewry, and so belonged not to the sheriffs but to the constable of the Tower.

Still more curious is an extract from the records of the Tower relating to this eastern


preserved by Prynne :--




, the


of Edward I., upon the Archbishop's request, the King issued a writ to the Mayor and Sheriffs of London, to apprehend certain Apostates,

qui recesserunt ab unitate Catholicae Fidei.

But they were

in Judaismo

, i. e. in the Jewry, and so out of the power and jurisdiction of the magistrates of London. Upon this the Archbishop wrote to the Bishop of Bath and Wells, that was Chancellor, signifying that those enemies of the Faith were yet

in Balliva Majoris et Vice-comitatis Londinensis, sub custodia et Potestate Constabularii Turris, ubi ingredi non possunt, ut dicitur, sine speciali mandato




appear to have been secular priests who refused to part with their wives; for the Archbishop goes on to request that in the new writ the word might be omitted, seeing

they have now their wives with them as formerly.

is almost tempted to conjecture that these


the within the walls, if not within the jurisdiction, of.the City of London, the other in the liberties of the Tower, were distinct colonies. There was a great immigration of Jews into England under William the Conqueror; so great that some have rather rashly concluded that they were the settlers of the Hebrew race in this country. There are, however, traces of them at an earlier period. The canons of Ecbright, Archbishop of York, promulgated in , contain an injunction that no

shall Judaise or presume to eat with a Jew.

Ingulphus, in his

History of Croyland Abbey,

mentions a charter granted by Whitglaff, King of the Mercians, to that foundation in , confirming all gifts bestowed upon it at any time by his predecessors or their nobles,

or by any other faithful Christians, or by Jews.

The laws attributed to Edward the Confessor declare that the Jews stand under the immediate authority and jurisdiction of the King:--

Judaei et omnia sua regis sunt


What more natural than that the Jews who flocked into England under the encouragement of the Conqueror should settle within the jurisdiction of the constable of his Palatine Tower? Or what more natural than that the Jews settled in England before the Conquest, and who are declared to be, with all their property, in the King's hand, should be found immediately adjoining that quarter of the City which would appear to have been the Court end under the Saxon monarchs? Matthew of Paris asserts that St. Alban's church, which stands nearly in the middle of a line drawn from

the Jewerie

within the City, to the angle of the wall at Cripplegate, was the chapel of King Offa, and adjoining to his palace. Mund mentions, in his edition of Stow, that the great square tower remaining at the north corner of in the year , was believed to be part of King Athelstan's palace. The name of is derived by the same antiquarian from Adel, or Ethel-the Saxon for noble. The original council chamber of the Alderman is known to have stood somewhere in , which had its name from it. Without a certain, a positive belief in any of these statements, their coincidence seems to render it extremely probable that the royal residence was in that quarter,


which may account for the King's men, the Jews, taking up their residence near it.

These same Jews whose local habitation we have been endeavouring to trace, appear pretty frequently in the City annals from the time of the Conquest till the time of their banishment by Edward I.

In we have a general massacre of the Jews in London. Richard I. was crowned in the autumn of that year, and intimation was given to the Jews not to present themselves at the ceremony. Some motive or other, however, prompted many of them to disregard the injunction. Under the pretence of carrying gifts to the King they endeavoured to procure admission into the Abbey church of . They were repulsed by the royal attendants; a general fray ensued, the mob taking part against the Jews. Some of the more bigoted of the lower orders of the clergy added fuel to the flame by representing the intrusion as an attempt on the part of the Jews to desecrate the church by their presence. The angry multitude precipitated themselves towards London, killing all the Jews they met by the way, and burning and pillaging their houses. The King, like all kings, was angry at a mob for taking the law into its own handsand angry also at the pillage of a body of men from whom considerable sums could occasionally be exacted-but entertaining no real sympathy or compassion for the Jews, and affecting, moreover, the character of the bully of Christendom, he was easily pacified.

In the Jews of London were sentenced to pay to the King, or to the alternative of perpetual imprisonment, because the Jews of Norwich had circumcised a child born of Christian parents.

The year and the year are noted for massacres of the Jews in London. Almost all those frequently recurring massacres appear to have had their origin in some private quarrel between a Jew and a Christian, in which the prejudices of the mob induced it to take part against the Jew, and when once flushed with actual violence, unable to stop the way given to its furious passions, to precipitate itself on the collective


In a quarrel broke out between a Christian and a Jew, in the church of St. Mary Cole, which stood at the corner formed by the and the Poultry. The Jew, having dangerously wounded his adversary, endeavoured to escape, but was pursued by the populace and killed in his own house. And the mob, as usual, not stopping there, fell upon his neighbours, killing and robbing them indiscriminately. The outrage in arose out of an attempt on the part of a Jew to extort from a Christian more than the legal interest ( per week), for a sum of which the latter owed him. The rabble rose when this intelligence was circulated, in all parts of the City, and attacked the


It was on this occasion that their synagogue in London was destroyed.

In the next attempt to pillage the Jews they suffered in good company, and made a stout and honourable defence. In the fiftieth year of Henry III. Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, having obtained possession of the city of Gloucester, deposed the magistrates, substituting in their places creatures of his own, and liberated a number of his adherents who had been imprisoned. Many of those persons had been excommunicated by the Pope's legate then resident in London. The legate, on his part, put the city under a kind of


interdict; commanding that the bells should not be rung for divine service, ordering that it should not be sung, but said; and directing all the churches to be shut, lest any of the excommunicated rebels should participate in its benefits. The legate betook himself for personal security to the , and thither also fled the Jews, who, either because they had advanced moneys to the royal party, or because they had refused to advance them to the insurgents, appear to have run equal danger from the victorious party with that prelate. The garrison of the Tower-consisting, in great part, of the Jews-made a brave resistance, and held out till the King, having received a large reinforcement of French and Scotch troops, raised by his son Edward, marched to the capital and raised the siege.

The Jews seem after this to have been left pretty much in peace till the close of King Henry's reign: under his son Edward I. their troubles soon re-commenced. That prince appears to have troubled his memory or his gratitude no more with the fact that the Jews had been mainly instrumental in holding out the for his father, than with the fact that Scotch auxiliaries had enabled him to raise the siege. Or perhaps the Jews, presuming on the service they had done the late King, took even greater liberties than kingly gratitude could tolerate. Whatever were--the reasons, we learn from the concurrent testimony of Florian and Mathew of that, in , the Jews throughout England were seized and imprisoned in day, on the charge of clipping and diminishing the King's coin; and that out of those seized in London alone, of both sexes were executed. On the meeting of Parliament at , in , the affairs of the Jews then in England were taken into consideration, and several laws passed to restrain their alleged excessive usury. It was also enacted that they should wear a badge upon their upper garments (

ad unius palmae longitudinem

) in the shape of the tables of Moses' law. Next year the King, by proclamation, enjoined that Jewish women also should wear this badge.

At last, in , the event occurred which brings to a close this section of Jewish history in England--their banishment from the kingdom. The most condensed, and apparently the least inaccurate (we cannot use a stronger term), account of this event we have met with is contained in the

Parliamentary History of England

published by the Tonsons, in , and is as follows:--

An affair of consequence came before this Parliament (the


held in


, which met in Northamptonshire), which was the entire banishment of the Jews out of the kingdom. The nation had long desired it, but the Jews still found means to divert the blow, by large presents to the King and his ministers. They wanted to play the same game again now, but could not do it, the King being unable to protect them any longer, and unwilling to risk the disobliging of his Parliament on their account. Accordingly the Act of Banishment was passed, whereby their immoveable goods were confiscated; but they had leave to carry away the rest with them. There seem to be


different transactions in the Parliament, relating to the Jews:


to restrain their usury, &c. and the other to ordain their banishment. Lord Coke, in his


on the Statute

de Judaismo

, asserts the


, and the last is proved by the Act made on purpose for it. The number of these banished Jews, according to Mathew of


, was


, and the

Parliament were so well pleased to get rid of these extortioners that they readily and willingly granted the King an aid of a


, and the clergy a


out all their moveables; and joined (? the clergy) with the laity in granting a


of all their temporalities, up to their full value, to make the King some small amends for the great loss he sustained by the Jews' exile.

This is (in brief) almost all that can be gathered respecting the London Jews during the period of their residence in England, as a




--a designation properly descriptive of the collective Jewish people in any place, though by Englishmen generally understood to denote the quarter assigned them for residence. It does not appear whether they possessed a synagogue in any other part of the kingdom than London. Till the year the

Jews' Garden,

now , appears to have been their only place of burial in England: from which it might be inferred that London was their central and head residence. Possibly their only synagogue was in London: the few families established in other towns constituting simple congregations. A curious narrative of a law plea in , written by Richard de Anesty, of the parties, and published by Sir Francis Palgrave in the Appendix to his

Rise and Progress of the English Commonwealth,

throws an incidental light on the wealth and business of the Jews during this period. Richard had frequent transactions with them, with a view to raise ready money for his journeys after the ambulatory law courts of these days, and for presents to

Ralph, the King's physician, and others about court.

The Jews were, by their bonds of common faith and common origin, organised corporation; and almost the whole of the ready money of the kingdom appears to have been in their hands; at least, Richard de Anesty, that notable borrower, never borrowed from any other. The interest or usance paid them varied, between and , from to per pound per week; or from rather more than to rather less than per cent. per annum. This was a high rate, but probably not higher than they were entitled to. They had no exclusive privileges to deal in loans: and Christians were not debarred from dealing in them by any doubts as to the morality of taking interest; for we find many of the Judges, and other salaried courtiers who picked up a little money, accused of being as great


as the Jews. The truth is that there would have been little or no money in the kingdom had not the Jews introduced it, and the Jews naturally took as high a remuneration for the temporary use of it as men would give. The


of the Jews was good service to the kingdom. After they were banished, the English were obliged to deal with the Christians of Lombardy, Lucca, &c., on the same terms. The Jews grew enormously rich by this traffic, and thus became an object of jealousy to the natives. They stood immediately under the King's protection, and a sense of honour made the sovereign protect his clients occasionally from the violence of the prejudiced people, though this same sense of honour did not prevent him making the Jews pay exorbitantly for this vacillating patronage. The people could not fail to perceive the mercenary motives which gave the Jews the strongest hold on royal protection; and they were thus encouraged to attach to the countenance lent them the idea of criminality, which properly only belonged to the reason why it was extended. The popular dislike to Jews was but an exaggerated phasis of the vulgar hatred of


of a later day. The statutes of confiscation and banishment of


were the legitimate predecessors of those levelled against the Hanseatic and other foreign traders in later days.

The clergy, however, did assist to increase the odium in which the Jews were held. They had more cause to be jealous of them than at a later period. The Jews were then a more accomplished and enlightened race than centuries of feudal oppression had made them or years later. In the travels of Benjamin of Tudela we read that every association of Jews in the more important cities of Europe had its college, or seminary, for training men learned in their law. On the other hand the laity, and even the priesthood, were then in point of enlightenment as far inferior to their descendants years later, as the Jews were superior to theirs. In England the balance of learning and accomplishments preponderated in favour of the Jews. There was a difference, too, in the relative holds of the religions upon the minds of their votaries. Both rest upon common basis,--the Old Testament. The faith which spiritualises the types and forms of that sacred volume was then comparatively new in the island: many of the Northumbrians, and others of Norman race, had been pagans only or centuries before. On the other hand, the earthly hopes of those religionists who interpret the prophecies had not been tried by so many ages of fruitless expectation as those of our day. The Jews were stronger in faith then, and the Christians more wavering. The Jews were then a proselytising race: now they no more seek to make converts than the Quakers. We have seen that of the persecutions of the London Jews originated in the circumcision of a Christian child by the Jews of Norwich. Mr. Blunt, in his

History of the Jews in England,

records some curious instances of the polemical war waged in England between Jewish and Christian missionaries in the time of William Rufus:--

The conduct of Rufus towards the church, and his frequent disagreements with the clergy, rendered him an object of dislike to the monkish writers, who were the principal historians of his period; and they have not failed to accuse him of impiety and open profaneness, and to record instances of his contempt for Christianity. By them we are told that he obtained the advance of considerable sums from the Jews, under the promise of obliging such of their body as had embraced the Christian faith to revert to Judaism. And they state that on


occasion in particular, a Jew, whose son had been converted to Christianity, paid the King

sixty marks

, upon the agreement that he would induce the lad to embrace the Jewish faith. The youth was summoned to the King's presence, when both persuasion and threats were employed; but he persisted in holding steadfast to his new religion: and William, finding he could not bring about the point, returned the father the half of his money, saying,

That as he had not fulfilled his engagement, he could not in justice retain the whole sum; but that at the same time it was only equitable he should keep a part for the trouble he had taken in the affair.

The same historian

Antonin. Chron. Pars II. lib. xvi. c. 5, says the king swore by St. Luke's face that he would turn Jew if they overcame the Christians.

informs us, that on another occasion the Jews were induced by King William to engage in an open controversy with certain of his bishops and clergy upon the merits of their respective religions, upon a promise that he would give impartial attention to the dispute, and if the

Jews had the best of the argument, would himself embrace their faith : whereupon, to use the words of Hoveden,

The controversy was carried on with great fear on the part of the bishops and clergy, and pious solicitude by those who feared the Christian faith would be shaken; and from this combat the Jews brought nothing but confusion, although they would many times boast they were rather overcome by force than by argument.

However this may have been, the church, it seems, became alarmed at the progress the Jews were making among their Christian brethren; for in the next reign we find it mentioned, that monks were sent to several towns in which the Jews were established, expressly for the purpose of preaching down Judaism. Jaffred, abbot of Croyland, in the


year of Henry I., sent some monks from his abbey to Cottenham and Cambridge to preach against the Jews; and about the same time some ecclesiastics were sent from other parts to Stamford, to oppose the progress of the Jews in that place; where we are told by Peter of Blessans,

They, preaching often to Stamfordians, exceedingly prospered in their ministry, and strengthened the Christian faith against the Jewish depravity.

The hatred nourished against the Jews was irrational and unchristian, but the fault was not altogether on the side of the Christians. The Jews were men--no worse, it may be, but no better, than their neighbours. They felt themselves, as a body, a more civilised, a more literary, race than the mass of the inhabitants of England under the Norman princes--they piqued themselves upon peculiar skill and dexterity in business--they were buoyed up at times by royal protection and countenance. It was human nature to grow insolent on the strength of such advantages; and doubtless the Jews did at times draw down upon their own heads, by their own impertinence, the misfortunes they met with. But, if the fault was in part on both sides, the folly was all on the side of the English, who drove from their shores those who mainly contributed to set their infant industry in motion.

From the year to the year a long interval elapses during which, though there were doubtless individual Jews to be found in England, there was no organised body of Jews. It is probably for this reason that the Jew was turned to so little account in the dramatic literature of the Elizabethan age. At this moment we can only call to memory Jewish characters in the drama of that period-Shakspere's Shylock and Marlowe's Barnabas. In the Jew of Marlowe is not surprised to find little individuality of character. He is a terrible incarnation of passion, but wants all those traits which stamp the passionate being as akin to the men of every-day life. This might pass for being only characteristic of Marlowe's peculiar genius. But even Shakspere's Jew, though it has traits of individuality, has few traits of individuality. His Hebraisms-and he has some noble ones--are such as any Christian might be supposed to have incorporated with his imagination, as well as a Jew. Shylock is every inch a man, as Othello is every inch a man; but Shylock betrays as little knowledge of the natural history of Jewish , as Othello of the natural history of Moorish --and for the same reason: that Englishmen were never brought into habitual contact either with Jews or Moors. Both Shylock and Barnabas belong more to the legendary world than to the real. They were not produced, as some have idly thought, to gratify an


audience prejudiced against Jews; but to strike with awe, from their terrific passion, an audience which knew little about Jews, and cared less. In countries where Jews have abounded and been objects of popular odium, the dramatists who have pandered to prejudice, have uniformly made their Jews mean and ludicrous as well as hateful. You may hate Barnabas and Shylock, but you cannot despise them. Shakspere and Marlowe found their Jews in the legends of other lands, not in real life, nor even in popular apprehension.

In the Jews again emerge into the public life of England. Cromwell's statesmanlike spirit had recognised the advantages which the nation might derive from inviting this intelligent and wealthy people to settle in it. He might also have an eye to the advantages this affiliated body might afford him in procuring early and authentic information from abroad, an object to which Cromwell directed much attention. Whatever his reasons, he invited, or at least encouraged overtures from, some Jews of Amsterdam for leave to settle in England. The petition of the agent or envoy of these Jews--the distinguished Rabbi ManassehBen-Israel of Amsterdam--to Cromwell is a remarkable document:--

These are the graces and favours which, in the name of my Hebrew nation, I, Manasseh-Ben-Israel, do request of your Most Serene Highness, whom God make prosperous and give happy success to in all your enterprises, as your humble servant doth wish and desire.

1. The first thing I desire of your Highness is, that our Hebrew nation may be received and admitted into this puissant commonwealth, under the protection and safeguard of your Highness, even as the natives themselves. And, for greater security in time to come, I do supplicate your Highness to cause an oath to be given (if you shall think it fit) to all the heads and generals of arms to defend us upon all occasions. 2. That it will please your Highness to allow us public synagogues, not only in England, but also in all other places under the power of your Highness, and to observe in all things our religion as we ought. 3. That we may have a place or cemetery out of the town to bury our dead, without being troubled by any. 4. That we may be allowed to traffic freely in all sorts of merchandise, as others. 5. That (to the end those who shall come may be for the utility of the people of this nation, and may live without bringing prejudice to any, and without giving offence) your Most Serene Highness will make choice of a person of quality, to inform himself of and receive the passports of those who come in; who, upon their arrival, shall certify him thereof and oblige themselves, by oath, to maintain fealty to your Highness in this land. 6. And (to the intent they may not be troublesome to the judges of the land, touching the contests and differences that may arise betwixt those of our nation) that your Most Serene Highness will give license to the head of the synagogue to take with him two almoners of his nation to accord and determine all the differences and process, conformable to the Mosaic law; with liberty, nevertheless, to appeal from their sentence to the civil judges; the sum wherein the parties shall be condemned being first deposited. 7. That in case there have been any laws against our Jewish nation, they may in the first place, and before all things, be revoked; to the end that, by this means, we may remain with the greater security under the safeguard and protection of your Most Serene Highness.

Which things your Most Serene Highness granting to us, we shall always remain most affectionately obliged to pray to God for the prosperity of your Highness, and of your illustrious and sage council, and that it will please Him to give happy success to all the undertakings of your Most Serene Highness.


There are some passages in this document which would seem to imply that it had, at least, been revised by a British lawyer. Whoever its framer, however, there is a grave sagacity about it worthy of the representative of a portion of the most ancient nation on earth concluding a treaty of protection with the head of a powerful state. It is interesting, too, to note the unchanged character of the Jews during the long period of their exile from England. Manasseh-Ben-Israel and his friends do not appear to have possessed. even a tradition of the former possessions of their tribe in England, yet the arrangement they contemplate is the organisation of a special jurisdiction under the immediate protection of the chief magistrate as under the Norman princes, and

a place out of the town to bury their dead,


the Jews' garden

near Cripplegate.

Cromwell and the Jews having come to an understanding, the next step was to try whether the national prejudices would admit of its being carried into execution. The Protector sounded

divers eminent ministers of the nation,

who were summoned to meet him and his Council, at , on the . The petition of the Jews of Amsterdam was read in their hearing; when, as the authorised narrative published by Henry Hills, printer to his Highness the Lord Protector, has it-

The ministers having heard these proposals read, desired time to consider of them, and the next day was spent in fasting and prayer.

Adjourned conferences of the Council and Ministers were held on the , , and , but nothing was resolved upon. Another meeting, on the ,

broke up without coming to any resolution, or even a farther adjournment.

The narrative concludes with this remark :--

That his Highness, at these several meetings, fully heard the opinions of the ministers touching the said proposals, expressing himself thereupon with indifference and moderation, as


that desired only to obtain satisfaction in a matter of so high and religious concernment; there being many glorious promises recorded in Holy Scripture concerning the calling and conversion of the Jews to the faith of Christ: but the reason why nothing was concluded upon was, because his Highness proceeded in this, as in all other affairs, with good advice and mature deliberation.

The object of publishing this narrative was, probably, to try whether the general public might not be more favourably disposed to the admission of the Jews than the ministers. But if Cromwell looked for support in that direction he reckoned without his host. Prynne forthwith opened a battery against the proposal, in a publication whose mere title-page almost equals a modern pamphlet:

A short

Demurrer to the Jews' long-discontinued Remitter into England: comprising an exact chronological relation of their


admission into, their ill deportment, misdemeanours, condition, sufferings, oppressions, slaughters, plunders by popular insurrections and regal exactions in, and their total, final banishment, by Judgment and Edict of Parliament, out of England, never to return again. Collected out of the best historians. With a brief collection of such English

laws and Scriptures as seem strongly to plead and conclude against their re-admission into England, especially at this season, and against the general calling of the Jewish nation. With an answer to the chief allegations for their introduction.

This thundering manifesto, in which the sufferings of the Jews in England in the olden time are classed along with their misdemeanours, and equally insisted on as reasons for continuing their exclusion, was followed up by such a burst of popular clamour, and such an inundation of lampoons, that Cromwell silently relinquished his project.

Though nothing was directly done in this matter, however, by government, the Jews and their friends appear to have thought that they might with safety come and settle in England, without the formality of a legal sanction. It was probably the idea of a legislative sanction being given to the exercise of the Jewish religion that startled the public. There had been too little personal intercourse between Jews and Englishmen for many centuries, to admit of a very rancorous prejudice existing between them. Accordingly we find, in the very next year, , the Portuguese synagogue erected in , Duke's Place.

The Rabbi, Manasseh-Ben-Israel, was not of the number of those Jews who ventured to settle in England. Born in Portugal, about the year , and forced to emigrate by the persecutions of the Inquisition, he succeeded Rabbi Isaac Usiri in the synagogue of Amsterdam, while yet only in his eighteenth year. He engaged in trade, but much of his time was devoted to superintending the printing of his own works at his private press, and to the discharge of his official duties. After the failure of his negotiation with Cromwell, he retired to Middleburg, in Zealand, where he died in the course of the year . He died poor, he and his family having been in a great measure supported by a brother settled in Brazil. The Jews of Amsterdam testified their respect for him by having his body conveyed to that city, and buried at their expense in their cemetery.

The care taken by the Jews who settled in England, from their arrival, to secure the due celebration of divine service, and the education of their families, has been most laudable. We have seen that their synagogue was built in the year of their settlement; in --only years later--a school was founded by them to afford instruction to the children of their poorer brethren. This school was originally called

the Tree of Life.

It consisted of branches: in the junior branch, instruction in the rudiments of Hebrew and English was given, preparatory to admission into the superior school, where the more advanced branches of moral and religious education were imparted till the pupil attained the age of . On leaving the school, the scholars received a small grant of money to assist them in commencing the world. This institution still exists, though under another name. The management had been entrusted to a large committee, and, as usual, it was found that

everybody's business was nobody's business.

In , Moses Mocatta, Esq., undertook a reform of the school. By his exertions the management was transferred to a select committee; an additional annual subscription was raised for its support; the advanced school was called

the Gates of Hope;

and a preparatory school on a new foundation added. Since that time an annual average of boys have received in the advanced school a good solid education in the higher branches of Hebrew, English grammar, arithmetic, book-keeping, &c.; and on leaving the


establishment each has been presented with a premium for apprenticeship, or a sum sufficient to enable them to seek a livelihood abroad.

The Portuguese Congregation was the only organised body of Jews in London till , when the German Synagogue was built-also in Duke's Place. The cheapness of the ground in that district, and its proximity to the district in which most of the foreign traders settled in London had fixed their domiciles, were probably the circumstances that originally induced the Jews to settle in that quarter. The synagogue was an additional attraction: and the secured the permanent residence of the German Jews, between whom and those of Spain and Portugal difference of language, and also some slight difference of ritual, keep up a trifling shade of distinction. The present Portuguese Synagogue in was built in ; and in the Hamburgh Synagogue was erected in .

Though not exposed to such fierce persecutions as during the time of their settlement in Britain, the Jews did not pass altogether unscathed through the period, during which they were striking root in London. In several of the wealthier members of their body were indicted at the instance of some busybodies, for meeting to celebrate public worship. Again, in , some of them were arrested for not attending church. The attempt to pass a Jews' Naturalisation Bill stirred up a violent opposition among some narrow-minded sectarians, and also among some more worldly-minded but equally silly alarmists, who dreamed that such a measure would necessarily bring about a transfer of the whole commercial wealth, and ultimately of all the landed property in England, to the Jews. This may seem an exaggerated account of the language of those members of Parliament and politicians who opposed the Jewish Naturalisation Bill, but any who will take the trouble to peruse Sir John Barnard's speech on the occasion will find it literally correct.

In the decision of a Court of Law recognised the Jews born in Great Britain as British subjects. Since that time the only disabilities under which they labour are those imposed by Acts of Parliament levelled against Christian sectarians which have accidentally hit the Jews. The Act of Geo. IV., c. , which substitutes for the sacramental test a declaration by the holders of certain corporate offices,

upon the true faith of a Christian,

necessarily though indirectly incapacitates Jews from filling those offices. The Abjuration Act in like manner excludes them from Parliament and from holding any office under Government except in so far as they may be relieved by the annual Indemnity Act. Some doubt exists as to whether the Jews are legally entitled to hold real estate. Those who maintain the negative side of the question rest upon an Act of the of Henry III., which declares Jews incapable of purchasing or taking a freehold interest in land; their opponents allege that the so-called Act is not properly an Act of Parliament, but merely an ordinance of the king. , some Jews do hold real estate. It is the general opinion that the Jews are within the benefit of the Toleration Act of the of William and Mary as extended by the of George II., c. . disability under which they labour presents a curious anomaly in the law. It has been decided that a legacy given for the instruction of Jews in their religion is not which will be


supported by the Court of Chancery, though any other kind of charitable bequest for the benefit of Jews is valid.

In short, the Jews hold what privileges they do in England much upon the same tenure that more favoured classes of subjects hold theirs. The national spirit has become too enlightened, free, and tolerant to render it possible to execute old bigoted and oppressive laws; but a superstitious veneration for anything that has the mere name of a law has left many of those impracticable enactments, in whole or in part, on the statute-book to tease and harass where they cannot severely injure.

Precarious though their position in England was at , and vexatious though it still is in some respects, the Jews have continued to prosper among us ever since the days of Rabbi Manasseh-Ben-Israel. Their city of refuge-their metropolisis the angular quarter bounded by Bishopsgate, , and the streets of Leadenhall and . Towards the Bishopsgate boundary they become more intermingled with a Christian population, but in revenge their own surplus population has overflowed into the neighbouring , , Spitalfields, &c. Their progress in filling up this region maybe traced by the successive building and rebuilding of their synagogues. As already noticed, the original Portuguese synagogue was built in , and a new erected in-Bevis-Marksin . The German synagogue was built in Duke's Place in , and rebuilt in . The Hamburg synagogue was built in in . A new synagogue was erected in in ; in it was removed to Great St. Helen's. The population of the eastern portion of the region around those places of worship, is essentially Jewish. It has a striking effect when, on a Saturday afternoon, passes from the throng and bustle round the Bank, Exchange, and , into the labyrinth of lanes and courts, bounded by , , Leadenhall and Streets. It is passing from a week-day, with all its noise and care, into the silence and repose of a Sabbath, and of a well-observed Sabbath too--a Scotch . If the season is summer, the inhabitants will generally be found sitting outside of their houses, or in the shadow of their door-ways--the men reading, the women quietly conversing. The appearance of all of them is in the highest degree clean, neat, and respectable.

These are the London Jews. Our information respecting the Jews is more imperfect. Their synagogue was rebuilt in ; in it was removed to . The densest settlements of Jews are in , and the vicinity behind the church of St. Mary-le..Strand, and in and the adjoining region of St. Giles.

The streets and places above-mentioned are the residences of the poorer Jews and of their more substantial middle-class. The wealthy Jews--the aristocracy of their community--are to be found resident in the most fashionable streets and squares of the metropolis. But though thus separated they are not estranged from their brethren. Their congregational organisation is a chain to bind them together. The wealthiest Jews are Presidents and Wardens of the different synagogues. They are also deputies to represent their respective congregations in the London Committee of Deputies of the British Jews. They act too as


Presidents and Office-bearers of the congregational burial societies, schools, and other charities. The associations of boyhood, the influence of religion, the dislike to quit a society of which they are members, all conspire to keep the Jewish community-rich as well as poor-united. A sense of interest strengthens their bonds. The clannish spirit thus kept alive in the tribe enables the wealthier members to command, in their often daring financial speculations, the assistance of the moderate funds of their less wealthy brethren. This is the secret of the power of what is called

the Hebrew party

on the Stock Exchange.

It is no more than justice to the Jews of London to remark that their charitable institutions are, in proportion to their numbers, many, and liberally supported. of the most important is their Hospital, at Mile End, established by the philanthropic exertions of the late Benjamin and Abraham Goldsmid, who began a collection for the purpose among their friends in . So liberal were the contributions that. in , they were able to purchase with them , of per cent. stock. The Hospital for the reception and support of the aged poor, and the education and industrious employment of youth of both sexes, was purchased for ; an adjoining house, soon added, cost The original endowments were of per cent. stock. Additions have from time to time been made to the funds, and considerable sums expended in rendering the buildings more commodious. The present inmates are, aged persons, boys, and girls. A synagogue is attached to the establishment, and workshops in which the boys are taught shoe-making and chair-making, while the girls are instructed in household and needle-work.


Gates of Hope

Charity-school has been noticed already. A Jewish free-school was established in Bell's Lane, Spitalfields, in , or rather added to the old charity, the

Talmud Torah;

in which, in , boys and girls were receiving elementary education, in addition to pupils of the Talmud Tarah. It was estimated in that year that had been educated in the institution since its commencement. The Jews have a well-managed infant-school in ; and an evening school for adult females in White's Row, Spitalfields, founded and conducted by the persevering charitable exertions of Jewish ladies. There is also a National infant-school, superintended by ladies of the Jewish persuasion, and the Villa-real Girls' school. The Jews' College, a recent institution, appears to have confined its efforts hitherto to the training of more efficient candidates for the ministry. In addition to these there are almost innumerable institutions for ministering to the necessities and comforts of the Jewish poor :--Orphan institutions; societies for clothing and educating fatherless children; societies for relieving the indigent sick; an institution for the relief of the indigent blind; a society for assisting the Jewish poor at their festivals, &c. &c.

As might be anticipated from the attention paid to education, there has of late years been a decided rally among the London Jews in the matter of intellectual activity.

The Jewish Chronicle,

an organ of the high orthodox Jews, a curious and able publication, appeared in -, but has since been discontinued for a time. The

Voice of Jacob,

the organ of the more liberal or latitudinarian Jews, is still carried on. These are weekly publications. There are, or have been, a Jewish Review and a Jewish Magazine. The effort to establish a Jewish


College was a most creditable struggle, which it is to be hoped will not be relinquished. This intellectual activity has produced something of the same fruits among the Jews, as among Christians: a keen controversy is at present waging between the

British Jews,

who may be considered analagous to our Protestants, and the adherents of

the Association for preserving inviolate the ancient rites and ceremonies of Israel.

At the risk of being called dull, we have preferred dwelling upon the substantial qualities of our Jewish brethren, to following the hackneyed track of jokers at their national and professional peculiarities. The race which has produced men like the Rothschilds and Montefiores among the strictly orthodox section; the Goldschmidts among the more relaxed and liberal adherents of the hereditary faith; and the Ricardos and Barings among those who have adopted the kindred but spiritualised tenets of Christianity, is no unimportant element of this country's population. It is to be hoped that their disqualifications, daily diminishing in number, may soon be entirely removed. The true way to view such disqualifications is less as an injury to those subjected to them than as an injury to the nation which is by their means deprived of the services of those who could serve it well.