Monday, August 6, 2018

Revelation of Jews Who Remained in England During Expulsion Period of 1290-1655

Nadene Goldfoot                              
Jewish home in Lincoln, England

Jews were forced out of England from 1290 to 1655, a period of 365 years.  Christians there couldn't abide us living with them.  The ironic fact is that in 1922, the English were awarded the mandate by the League of Nations to be in charge of helping the Jews to create the Jewish Homeland out of Palestine!   What they immediately did was turn over 80% of the land meant for the Jews to an Arab prince who needed land being there wasn't any left for him in Arabia.  He was the ggrandfather of today's king of Jordan.  Jews remained homeless since 70 CE when the Romans with more updated war weapons and men destroyed Jerusalem and the 2nd Temple of Solomon.  Treated as pariahs, wanted by kings for their talents and then kicked out once they were no longer necessary, they finally had their own country in a corner of their past empire on May 14, 1948, Israel.  

In 1656, the English altered  their prejudice against Jews  enough to allow Jews to return.  Here they had had the attitude similar to the Nazi one of getting rid of the Jews.  The Nazis of course had their final decision of killing all Jews in the world.   The revelation is that the Jews in England had never entirely gone away!  They were hidden Jews from the public's eye, similar to the hidden Jews of Spain after their 1492 decree of convert or leave upon facing death!                                         
William of Normandy-the "Conqueror"

Jews did not enter England originally until the Norman conquest in 1066 by William the Conqueror aka William of Normandy.  Normandy was a part of northern France.  After that, a handful of Jewish financiers followed William  from the Continent. " It is likely that individual Jews came to this country long before then, as far back as Roman times, whether willingly as traders, or by force as slaves."  

However, it is impossible to talk of a settled Jewish community until the late 11th century. It was then that William of Normandy brought over Jews from his French territory to help colonize his new kingdom.
The first Jews to arrive probably settled in the London area, either because it was one of the nearest points of entry or because it was the seat of royal power. The latter was important as the Jews were outside of the traditional feudal system, which was based on land and allegiance to local overlords, from serfs to squires to nobility to the monarch.
 In the next generation, communities were established in London, York, Bristol, Canterbury and other places.  
Crusades:  1095-1291
killing Arabs and Jews
throughout all 5 Crusades, even through Europe
on their way to Jerusalem

Jews  traded and lent money to the baronage.  They also advanced funds for their current needs on the security of the revenue to the Crown, which was protecting them.  It must have been the crown who protected them during the 1st and 2nd Crusades, though in 1144 the 1st recorded Ritual Murder Accusation was brought against them in Norwich.  By the time of the 3rd Crusade from 1189 to 1190, there were riots all over the country causing much bloodshed, especially in London and York where their business bonds were burned.  
The Magna Carta was signed on June 15, 1215.  It contained 3 clauses about Jews.
In particular, their moneylending activities was the main concern. "It means that the document not only has enormous significance for English history, but also epitomises the privileges and problems of medieval Anglo-Jewry."  When their legal status was formalized, they were described as "chattels" of the king and physically belonging to him. In fact, like property, the king could mortgage his entire Jewry when needing to raise revenue. He could also tax them directly without permission of Parliament.  

The Crown's fiscal power over Jews meant that it was in the king's interest to ensure their safety, although more for his benefit than theirs. The total subservience of the Jews to the Crown was codified in graphic detail by John's son, Henry III, in his Mandate to the Justices of 1253, which declared: "No Jew remain in England unless he do the king's service, and that from the hour of birth every Jew, whether male or female, serve Us in some way".

William encouraged Jewish migration to England for two reasons. First, it was obviously useful having people who were both French speakers and loyal to him. On the continent, Jews tended to be an urban population, not tied to the land and farms, much more mobile than most sections of society, and so were more amenable to uprooting and crossing the English Channel  Many Jews performed a very useful economic function as moneylenders. 
To keep this from happening again,  which would cause a loss to the Exchequer, a system of registration of Jewish debts were set up in 1194 with Archae or chirograph chests in all the principal cities under the control of a central EXCHEQUER OF THE JEWS.  This was a systematic exploitation of Jewish resources by mercies taxation during the reigns of John (1199-1216) and Henry III (1216-1277).  
The enforced sternness of Jewish creditors in exacting their dues resulted in growing unpopularity evidenced in the Ritual Murder case of HUGH OF LINCOLN IN 1255 and the attacks made on them during the Barons' Wars from 1263-1265.   Then came the competition of the Italian bankers which made the Jewish services superfluous.  The rights of the Jews were being   continually restricted from 1269 onward and by 1290, they were expelled from the country.   What anti-Semites would do would be to attack Jews for wanting Christian blood in the making of matzos, the bread eaten during Passover, a Spring holiday.  What anti-Semites didn't know was that Jews would never ever eat any type of blood let alone human.  Their strict Kosher laws see to that.  They do not to this day even eat blood of a cow when eating beef.  Kosher meat is salted and rinsed so as to remove all blood.  

Throughout Jewish history, Jews were kept from entering many areas of commerce due to anti-Semitism.  They were allowed to loan money-a profession considered  a vile profession by the Christians, and that was about all.  Some became so skilled that rulers of countries came to them when they needed money.  
Dick Whittington, known for the story
with his cat.
Who were the Jews allowed on the sly to stay?  Jews were known to be the best doctors in England.  Various English monarchs had required their services.  Even Dick Whittington (1354-1423) arranged for a Jewish doctor, Samson de Mirabeau, to care for his wife.   Spanish and Portuguese Jews (called the nasty name, Marranos) today called anusim, also worked discrectly among London's financial community.  There were about 40 Jewish families in Elizabethan London.  Some of them were even known to Shakespeare (1564-1616), but they had to keep a very low profile.  With Shakespeare's prejudice against Jews, possibly someone wasn't careful enough, as his feelings came out in his plays.  It would take a long time before a Jew was presented favorably on the English  stage.  

The Jews held their services of Friday nights and Saturday mornings and holidays in a private house owned by Alvaro Mendes.   Solomon Ben Yaʿesh (AKA Ibn Yaʿish or Abenæs and Alvaro Mendès) was born in Tavira, Portugal in 1520 and died in Istanbul in 1603. A wealthy and influential Jewish statesman and diplomat, he worked to stymie Spain at the height of its power by engineering an alliance between England and the Ottoman Empire. The man who later received the title of duke of Mytilene was born to a marrano (anusim) family in Portugal as Alvaro Mendès, a name which most Europeans would continue to use with him throughout his life. In his youth, Mendès worked as an apprentice to a goldsmith before going to India in 1545 to manage his parents’ affairs and making his own large fortune in the diamond mines of the kingdom of Narsinga, near present-day Chennai (formerly Madras).
Upon his return to Portugal, Mendès became an intimate of King João III (r. 1521– 1557), who made him a knight of the Order of Santiago (Saint James of Compostela).  
Oliver Cromwell 1599-1658
During the Commonwealth, a distinct change of attitude took place due to theological and economic reasons.  This shows up in the comment that Oliver Cromwell wrote in 1654: "I desire from my heart, I have prayed for it, I have waited for this day to see union and right understanding between Godly people-Scots, English, Jews, Gentiles, Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists and all..."All" evidently did not include Catholics in that day and age, however.  "Oliver Cromwell was an English military and political leader. He served as Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1653 until his death."

By this time, Marranos (Anusim) were prosperous merchants and financiers and were living on  Fenchurch Street and the St. Mary Axe area of London and had a house, used as a synagogue, on Creechurch Lane.  Authorities in charge of making sure Jews were did not live in England, their ICE counterpart, and military intelligence. turned a blind eye.  That's because Jews were a valuable link to continental mercantile and military intelligence.  

Cromwell appreciated the potential economic value to the country of a more open society, where Continental Jews could operate freely.  He also held a religious belief in scriptures (Daniel 7:7 and Deuteronomy 28:64 that Jews had to be scattered to all corners of the world before the Messiah would return.   He knew that Augustine of Hippo in the 4th century had emphasized that God then intended to convert the Jews en masse in time for the LAST TRUMP.  The Last Days loomed  large in Puritan thinking.  and he must have been a Puritan, same group of religionists who sailed in the Mayflower from Holland-exiles from England, in 1620.  Being the end of days was imminent, he knew that Jews had their part to play in these times.  Jews had recently set foot in America;  it just remained to bring them back to England for biblical prophesy to be fulfilled.  

Many Sephardic Jews had been living in Holland while trading and had created companies.  Rabbi Menasseh ben Israel was a highly respected member of the Jewish community in Amsterdam.  He was aware of how England's attitude towards Jews had been changing so he appealed to the tender-heartedness of Oliver Cromwell.  The rabbi was also encouraged by the practical arguments of JohnThurloe in that a British trading empire in the Atlantic would be greatly assisted by the Jews' inside information on the main rivals;   the Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.  

Cromwell held a 5-day conference in the Council Chamber in Whitehall, attendead by theologians, lawyers, Members of Parliamaent, merchants and other interested parties.  The subjects for discussion was:
   1. Was it lawful for Jews to return?  
  2. If so, on what terms?  
The answer:
   1.  The Jewish expulsion was by royal decree.  There was no legal reason why they could not return.
  2. All old prejudices came to the surface with this answer.  
        A.  The Jews would try to CONVERT CHRISTIANS!  Yes, this is the excuse they used.  Jews had been stopped from trying to convert others in the year 300 in the first meeting of Christians!  
           1. Jews really wanted to convert St Paul's into a synagogue.
       B.  English trade and traders would wilt under Jewish competition.

Cromwell realized this wasn't going to be easy.  He couldn't give a straightforward declaration of support.  So he adopted an English compromise.  He disbanded the conference and said that Parliamaent would consider the conference's advice, then let it be known that the Jewish presence was legitimate.  

The result was that Sephardic Jews did gradually emigrate to England, mainly from Spain, Portugal and Amsterdam.  Ashkenazi Jews came from Hamburg and the south of France.  In London they formerly established a synagogue at Creechurch Lane in 1657 where 5 years later had a congregation of 100 men and boys.                                                        
Samuel Pepys: 1633-1703  was an administrator of the navy of England and Member of Parliament who is most famous for the diary he kept for a decade while still a relatively young man

Samuel Pepys, a Gentile,  attended on October 14, 1663 and was shocked to see the disorder of laughing, sporting and confusion instead of attention to a lecturer.  Was he a spy for the city?  He didn't realize that he had walked in on the holiday of Simchat Torah, the one festival here Jews were allowed to let their hair down, to sing, dance, drink and generally misbehave.  This was a happy holiday of celebrating the  finishing of reading the Torah (Pentateuch) in the congregation each week.  Congregants take out all the Scrolls of the law and carry them 7 times or more round the synagogue, sometimes with dances which may be continued for hours.  The last section of Deuteronomy is read by someone.  At first I thought the writer was talking about Purim, another happy holiday we have that fits his description even better.  

Now the Jews were able to buy land for a Jewish cemetery, their 1st time.  This happened just in time, because the GREAT PLAGUE started in 1665 and they had 21 victims to bury.  Samuel Pepys reported the panic that started when the wealthy , including the physicians, fled the city which now numbered over 400,000.  One disaster followed another.  
London's Great Fire, September 2, 1666.
Jews were allowed to return in 1656, so had 10 safe years. 
The next year the GREAT FIRE swept through London.  Many Londoners blamed God, Catholics or foreigners.  It all started as an accident in a baker's shop on Pudding Lane and was fanned by a gusting wind.  England had a man with the title of Medieval Warren of Streets and Building plots, and it's a wonder he survived the crowd because of the complex land-ownership and the determined occupants.   The fire actually cleansed as much as it destroyed.  

Out of the ashes rose Wren's St. Paul's and the spires of his churches which soared over the city until the Blitz of WWII with the beginning in September 1939.  

The Jewish community  expanded and by 1673 the Creechurch Lane synagogue housed 174 men and 84 women.  They were prosperous merchants, bankers and dealers in precious stones , Sephardim Jews who had established  themselves .

New Jewish immigrants came in, the Ashkenazim arrived from central and eastern Europe.  They were less well educated and earned their living as peddlers, street traders and rag merchants.  By 1690  many Jews were living in London  so that they established their own synagogue not far from the sephardim one in Duke's Place, Aldgate.  

At the end of the 17th century, there were 1,000 Jews in London.  In 1701 the Sephardim opened a new synagogue in Bevis Marks around the corner from  Creechurch Lane.  It was a magnificant building and has survived, except for some IRA bomb damage-with both the building and the bomb being legacies of Oliver Cromwell.  

Therefore, Jews were among the first people to create England, and they weren't safe.  They were kicked out because of their keen skills and their religion exactly 191 years later, not to be allowed back in again for 365 years.  
  How countries do change in their attitudes.  "The UN recommended 1,358 Syrian refugees for resettlement in Britain during the first quarter of 2018, of whom only four were Christians. Britain agreed to resettle 1,112 of these refugees, all of whom were Muslims, and refused to accept the Christians." 

Resource:  The Tribes of Britain by David Miles on who are we?  And where do we come from?p 366-339.

History of the Turkish Jews and Sephardim: Memories of a Past Golden by Elli 

The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia


  1. I applaud Nadene's excellent history of the Jewish experience in England from medieval times to the present.

    I was born and raised in England and can add some more information of the lives of the Jews during the Middle Ages up until their expulsion by Edward 1st in 1290.

    In that year some 5,000 Jews fled across the English Channel to relative safety in France and Flanders. King Edward used and abused them, as did all the kings and barons, until they were penniless and of no further use to the corrupt temporal and ecclesiastical powers, i.e. the Kings and the Church.

    Before the expulsion, smaller expulsions took place from various towns throughout England and North Wales. in 1190, violent attacks by mobs stirred up by priests, crusaders and monks resulted in the Jewish population of York committing mass suicide in Clifford's Tower rather than be torn to pieces and murdered by the mob.

    In 1255, false charges were made against the Jews of Lincoln and 18 members of the Jewish community were executed by being burnt alive. Earlier, King John demanded money from Abraham of Lincoln, who had been made penniless by the same king and by barons who had never repaid the loans forcibly taken from their victim. The king ordered that for every day Abraham could not give him money, a tooth would be pulled from Abraham of Lincoln's mouth.

    When Richard 1st was crowned, the Jewish community arrived with gifts to congratulate the new king on his coronation. A false rumor was started that the Jews had come to poison the king and a mob attacked the Jews and killed them.

    Perhaps one of the worst crimes against the defenseless Jews was the hideously false charge against them that they had ritually killed a young boy called Hugh of Lincoln. This has become a vile blood libel used over the succeeding centuries by anti-Semites.

    One other tragic incident was when a student at Oxford University in 1222 adopted Judaism and married a Jewish girl. For that he was burnt alive.

    Such horrors were repeated relentlessly throughout the European continent.

    1. Thank you, Victor. This is a history you've added that should be the topic of another book. It's history we Americans haven't been exposed to. Good grief! It was such horrible times for our ancestors then! That blood libel has been used in Syria and many other places against us.
      I'm glad you're enlightening us.

  2. and not just europe. blood libel going on at the united nations big time!