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To the EDITOR of the NORTIJ…



THE JEWS. AT what period, observes a late writer,* the nation of the Jews first obtained a footing here, is a question involved in considerable obscurity, arising as well from the distance of time when this event is supposed to have happened, as from the few memorials that have been (since their dispersion) transmitted down to us concerning them. It has by some been conjectured that they set- tled here when the island was first subjected by the Romans but if we reflect on the unculti- vated and barbarous state of Britain and its in- habitants in that distant age, we can hardly be induced to believe that a people, accustomed to a more favourable climate, and more softened manners, would seek a country of this descrip- tion, and undertake what must, to them, have been a long and, in the infancy of navigation, a dangerous voyage, not to mention the silence of all contemporary historians, who have treated of British affairs, of such an event and its improba- bility on other accounts. The first information that can be relied on, as to the settlement of the Jews in this kingdom, occurs not until about three centuries after the introduction of the Saxons, when it being per- haps feared that they might gain in England too many converts, and become more numerous than was consistent with the safety of the church, a Canon was issued, directing "Ut nullus Chris- tiai-ius judaizare prwsuniat nec conviviis eorum participare." This Canon is still extant, and was made in the early part of the eighth century. It is observed to be not a little extraordinary, that none of the ordinances of the Anglo-Saxon Monarchs^ made any provision for the govern- ment of this people, or indeed noticed them with the exception of one only, among those generally- styled, for distinction sake, the laws of Edward the Confessor, and which were afterwards con- firmed by William the Conqueror and of the au- thenticity of this there are doubts. That they were long before this time pretty7 numerous in England may be inferred from a charter of Wit- laf, King of the Mercians, to Croyland Abbey, in which he confirms all lands, anions others, be- stowed on them by eiiher Ciii-isti,,tiis or Jcii-,Y. According io the testimony of one of their his- torians, the Jews were banished this realm, though he does not say for what, early in the eleventh century. That they were recalled by William the Conqueror is a fact mentioned by several other writers, who state his motive for so doing to have been a pecuniary one. IIol- linshed says the Conqueror brought them from Rouen, in Normandy, and appointed them a place to inhabit and occupy but it is not indicated in what particular year of his reign this event happened. The place here alluded to was that called the Old Jewry, in London, where they were permit- ted to have a synagogue, the which, we are told, was in 1204, defaced by. the citizens, after they had massacred 700 Jews, and destroyed their property. They increased under the protection of William Rufus, who favoured them so far that he is said to have sworn by Luke's face—I his common oath,—that if they could overcome the Christians in argument, he would himself be- come a convert to their religion. By this Pi jnce they were allowed to settle in other parts of the kingdom besides London, in consequence of which they soon chose for their residence the principal trading towns, such as York, Lincoln, Norwich, Cambridge, &c. In some of the.se towns they built synagogues, and c irried on the business of bankers, by letting out I heir money at interest to merchants, and oilwrs concerned in trade. Though considered as no bener usurers, raid obliged in such cases to ■1 wear an ignominious dress to distinguish their profession, they were found to be a necessary people, and very useful to merchants and others, in places where commerce was improving for which reason they were placed under the parti- cular jurisdiction of one principal ofiicr, appoint- ed by the King, called the Justicer of the Jews, whose business it was to protect them in their I just rights, and to decide all suits between the Christians and them. In Dr. Tovey's Anglia Judaica," may be I found many curious facts concerning the Jews, with an ample detail of the various forms of cru- elty and extortion practised upon them, some- times under the pretext of religion, but more frequently by attributing to them erimes they could have no idea of committing. Such was the charge against thein of crucifying children, which, it. is justly observed, only happened when our ancient Kings were in great want of money. — Hence Fuller, in his Church History, says, How sufficiently these crimes were witnessed against them I know not in such cases, weak proofs are of proof against rich offenders and we may well believe, that if their poisons were guilty of some of these faults, their estates were guilty of all the rest." Among other oppressions, Henry oil a charge of their corrupting the current coin of ihe realm, is said to have most grievously punished them. Richard I. forbid Jews and women to be present at his coronation, for fear of enchant- ments. For breaking this prohibition, Stowe in- forms us, "many Jews were si-iii, who being assembled to present the King v, iih some gifts", one of them was struck by a Chiis.ian, which some unruly persons seei forei fill upon them, beat them to their houses, and burnt them there- in, or slew them at their coming out." A still stronger instance of oppression, is the well-known story wh'ch Matthew Paris relates of the Jew at Bristol, from whom King John ex- acted 10,000 marks; a prodigious sum of money in those days, and whose refusal of compiying drew upon him an order, that he should lose a tooth every day, until he complied with the de- mand. Nor is this the greatest instance of bar- barity which might be advanced on this subject. Our ancient records and historians unanimously agree, that the condition of the Jews in this 13 kingdom, in early times, was vassalage. The words in the Confessor's law respecting them, strongly countenances this idea. Bracton, the old law writer, has also a passage in his works still more conclusive, to the same effect. The humiliating situation in which the Jews were then placed, may be fairly assigned as a reason why no charters of a very early "date are discoverable, in which they appear as parties. The most ancient deed to which Jews are par- ties, is a final concord, dated 35 Henry II. Pre- viously to that reIgn no deeds are printed at length, wherin they occur as principals, since their restoration by William the Conqueror.— The Jewish deeds are very rarely seen with seals appendant, and where there are exceptions thev seem to have been done more from conformity to established pitictico at the time, than from any custom prevalent among themselves of adding validity to their charters by the use of seals. None of the Hebrew coins now extrant are ob- served to bear the impression of animals, which was formerly, as a well-informed writer takes notice, prohibited both to Jews and Gentiles through tear of idolatry. Accordingly we do not find on these seals, wherever any of t hem occur, any representations of this sort, exccpt in one in- stance, where a deed was found, the selll of whieh nau an impression which somewhat, resembled a aiS?,it-Wrtch-iy(,™,that, as a late wntu facetiously remarks, it Mas in no danger breaking the commandment, not having the likeness of any thing ia the heavens above, or in 10 earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. Many repositories for the Jewish deeds, when they began to multiply, were established in dif- ferent parts of the kingdom bnt the greatest of them was in a particular part of the Exchequer at. Westiniiister, which, from the use made of it m-m feYS' Ext;hequer. And here all Z ZVA h -the JeWS had an-v conCern ere • ? 1i .1 yioI,er officers, appointed to that the0 Je^s §'Uadei"the title of Justit*s of A. D. 1290, a second banishment of the Jews from this kingdom by Edward 1. took place, without any cause being properly assigned for then expulsion, and more than three hundred and fifty years elapsed before their re-establishment. Since then their transactions are so recent as not to require any illustration. Besides the old Jewry by Lothbury, where, as it has been observed, they first resided, the Jews had several other places allotted for their habita- tion in the metropolis. Stowe mentions another ancient neighbourhood of them in the following terixis ° There was a place within the liberty of the Tower, called the Jewry, because it was inhabit- ed by Jews, where there happened in the reign of Henry I It. a robbery and murder, said to be committed by William Fitz-Barnard, and Richard, his servant who came to the house of Joce, a Jew, and there slew him and his wife Henna.— The said William was taken at St. Saviour's for a certain silver cup which lie had stolen, and was hanged. Richard was called for and outlawed. One Miles le Equier, 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." Jewin-street, Aldersgate-street, is the site of an ancient burying ground of the Jews, and was, until built on, called the Jews' Garden, and Jewin Garden. They had also other places in and near town, in former times, both for resi- dence and interment, but which it is not necessa- ry to enumerate. Mr. Caley, "Archæologin," v. 1.

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