A History Of The Jews In England,by Cecil Roth, 1941.

Chapter 6

The Middle Period

THE exclusion of the Jews from any land, however rigidly it may be prescribed by law, is unlikely to be absolute. England, in the period following the fatal year 1290, provides the classic exemplification of this general rule. 1 Across the Channel and the North Sea the victims of persecution sometimes cast longing eyes at this potential haven of refuge, forgetting all they had suffered there before. At the close of 1309 Magister Elias—from his title a physician or Rabbi—was given a safe-conduct by Edward II to come to England to treat 'on certain matters relating to Us'. He was presumably that medical practitioner who arrived with five companions in the course of the following summer. Though he may have come in a professional capacity, it was thought that his object was to obtain permission for his co-religionists to re-establish themselves in England. 2 He does not appear to have met with any success. There is, however, a persistent report in both Jewish and non-Jewish sources of a second expulsion under Edward III (the year is given in a Hebrew chronicle, circumstantially, as 1358); 3 and it is not altogether impossible that a few surreptitious settlers may have been ejected about that time.

Throughout this period, notwithstanding the edict of expulsion, Jews trickled into the country. In 1318 a knight hospitaller captured by the infidel brought back with him from the Holy Land a Jew named Isaac to whom he had been made over, who remained until ransom had been paid. 4 In 1376 the Commons complained that the Lombard (i.e. Italian) usurers harboured Jews and Saracens in their midst; and, though religious toleration was not conspicuous in the Italian mercantile centres at this period, there may have been some justification for the statement. 5 Solomon Levi (later more famous as Pablo de Santa Maria, bishop of Burgos and member of the Council of Regency of Castile) was in London towards the close of the century, though it is not quite certain whether before or after his conversion. 6 In 1410 the ailing Henry IV summoned from Italy Elias Sabot (Elijah Be'er ben Sabbetai, of Bologna, subsequently physician to Popes Martin V and Eugenius IV), who was empowered to practise medicine in any part of the realm; and he brought with him ten followers, sufficient to form the quorum requisite for Jewish public worship. In the previous year, Richard Whittington, mayor of London, had obtained permission to invite to London to attend upon his wife another Jewish physician, Master Samson de Mirabeau. In 1421 an Italian Jewish apothecary named Job was found in the country with his son, and both were compelled to accept baptism. 7 

Meanwhile, the in Domus Conversorum founded by Henry III had never been quite empty. At the time of the Expulsion it contained nearly one hundred persons, men and women. 8 After these original collegiates died out the utility of the institution did not end, as might have been imagined. Down to its decline at the beginning of the seventeenth century, there were always a few inmates to justify its existence—poor Jews who had drifted to England from overseas and embraced Christianity; foreign converts attracted by the endowments; rascals who immigrated. expressly to enjoy these advantages. The persons in question (who, in certain instances, had been living in the country for some while before their conversion) 9 came from many parts of the Jewish world: France, Flanders, Italy, Sicily, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Marocco. Besides, there were a few apostates who did not avail themselves of the benefits of theDomus—as for example the enterprising charlatan who professed to be able to detect thieves by magic, and was consulted professionally in 1390 by the Council of the Duke of York. 10 

One or two of the sordid parade subsequently attained a certain distinction. Thus—under Edward II, Alexander le Convers parson of Letherhead (probably a survivor of the expulsion of 1290), became successively agent for securing money and ships for the royal service, collector of Peter's Pence in Ireland, and Envoy to Flanders. 11 Still greater was the prominence achieved a century and a half later by a certain Portuguese Jewish soldier, named Edward Brandao (he subsequently anglicized his name Brandon or Brampton entered theDomus Conversorumin 1468. The fact that on his baptism Edward IV had acted as his godfather provided him with an introduction to Court, and in the stormy days of the Wars of the Roses he had ample opportunity of advancement. From 1472 onwards he received a succession of naval and military commands. After ten years he was appointed governor of the island of Guernsey, and in 1483 was raised to the knighthood. His devotion to the Yorkist cause proved disastrous to him when Henry VII triumphed at Bosworth Field, and he returned to his native Portugal. With him he took to wait upon his wife an ambitious Flemish youth named Perkin Warbeck, who received from him a great deal of casual information regarding life at the Court of Edward IV, which proved invaluable when he made his preposterous bid for the English throne a little later on. 12 

A new and peculiarly tragic chapter in Jewish history began in the year of the discovery of America. In 1499 Ferdinand and Isabel expelled the Jews from Spain—a measure which was speedily imitated in Portugal and Navarre. This drastic step ended the immemorial connexion of the Jews with south-western Europe. The whole distribution of the Hebrew people was changed, the centre of gravity moving from West to East— from the Iberian Peninsula to the Turkish Empire.

There was now left in Spain and Portugal only the Marranos—those crypto-Jews who, under an outward guise of Catholicism, remained faithful at heart to the religion of their Fathers. It was in order to cope with these that the Inquisition had been established, and their resistance to its persecutions constitutes one of the most remarkable pages of history. They were to be found in all walks of life—from playwrights to pastry-cooks, from pedlars to physicians, from soldiers to monks. Some of the most eminent persons in the Peninsula, who occupied positions of dignity and trust in the army, the administration, even the Church, were of Jewish descent; and the country was periodically thrown into a turmoil by the news that one of them had been hauled off to the Inquisitional dungeons, from which he might emerge only to be burned at the stake. 13 

For a long period, these New Christians (as they were termed) were forbidden to leave their native land, lest they should shake off the shackles of the religion so recently imposed upon them by force. Such a prohibition could not be maintained in perpetuity, and before long Marrano fugitives were to be found in all parts of Europe, joining or establishing open Jewish communities in Turkey, Italy and ultimately Holland, Germany , and France as well. For stragglers to reach England was inevitable. The result was that the orientation of this country in Jewish life underwent a radical change. Whereas in the Middle Ages it had looked toward the Franco-German or Ashkenazi 13B group, the Spanish tragedy and its aftermath brought it for a period of some two centuries into the sphere of the Spanish and Portuguese, orSephardi, nucleus.

There is evidence that in 1492 some of the exiles came to London with bills of exchange on local Spanish merchants. Apparently a few of the Marranos similarly sought refuge here much to the indignation of the Spanish rulers. This 'infesting scourge' (as it was pedantically described, though the numbers in question must have been very small) continued till 1498, when, at the time of the negotiations for a marriage between the Prince of Wales and Catharine of Aragon the Catholic sovereigns formally protested against it. Laying his hand on his breast King Henry solemnly assured the Spanish envoys that he would prosecute without mercy any Jewish renegade or fugitive from the Inquisition who could be discovered in his dominions. 14 There is no indication that anything drastic was done; but in such circumstances there was plainly little chance of permanent establishment.

But, to an extent far greater than the Spaniards, it was the Portuguese New Christians (victims or descendants of victim of the comprehensive Forced Conversion of 1407, which put an end to the Jewish community in that country) who figured in Iberian mercantile colonies abroad: for they played a role of disproportionate importance in Portuguese commerce. In 1512 the great Marrano mercantile and financial house of Mendes, which controlled the coveted pepper monopoly and at one time all but rivalled the Fuggers in the extent and importance of their transactions, established its Antwerp branch. Its operations, carried on largely through New Christian agents, speedily spread across the North Sea. Ultimately it became entrusted with the loan transactions of the English treasury; and when in 1532 proceedings were taken on a charge of Judaizing against Diogo Mendes, the head of the Antwerp establishment, Henry VIII personally intervened on his behalf. In 1535, on the death of Diogo's elder brother Francisco, his widow Beatrice (later, when she had openly reverted to the faith of her fathers, known as Gracia Mendes, the most adored Jewish woman of the age) went to join her brother-in-law at Antwerp, and on her way paid a short visit to England. With her came her whole family, including her nephew and future son-in-law the young Joao Miguez, who was to bring his kaleidoscopic career to its climax as the Jew Joseph Nasi, duke of Naxos and the Cyclades all-powerful advisor at the Sublime Porte.

The Marrono community which they found in England comprised at least thirty-seven householders. 15 Organized religious life was not absent. Services were regularly held at the house of one Alves Lopes, to whom newly arrived fugitives would come for assistance and advice. Christopher Fernandes, one of Diogo Mendes' local agents, would send to intercept the Portuguese spice-ships touching at Southampton and Plymouth, and warn Marranos on board if danger awaited them in Flanders. Antonio de la Rona, a kinsman of the Mendes family, who was described as 'master of Jewish theology', was probably, the spiritual leader of the group: it was his practice to help refugees to realize their property, providing them with bills of exchange on Antwerp. The settlement was rich in medical practitioners. The most eminent was Dionysius Rodriguez, formerly physician to the Court of Portugal and a medical author of some reputation, who had fled to London for safety and was later on to be burned in effigy by the Lisbon Inquisition. With him had come his three sons, of whom one, Manuel Brudo, was likewise an accepted medical authority and had a distinguished clientele in Court circles. 16 Better known than either (though as writer, not as physician) was that versatile personality variously called Isaiah Cohen, Diego Pires, and Pyrrho Lusitano, later of Ragusa, who became famous as one of the foremost Latin poets of the sixteenth century. 17 

In 1540 news arrived in London that proceedings had been opened at Milan against the Marrano refugees. Antonio de la Rona was summoned to Antwerp to attend the meeting which discussed relief measures; and he subscribed one hundred ducats—partly in English crown pieces—to the emergency fund. But the crisis had more serious repercussions than could be realized at the moment. One Gaspar Lopes, a cousin of Diogo Mendes and formerly his London agent, who was among those arrested by the Milan commissioners, turned informer. In consequence of his depositions, amplified by the details elicited in the course of the subsequent proceedings in Flanders, the secret of the little London community was laid bare. The Spanish authorities communicated what they discovered to the English government. On February 4th, 1542, the Privy Council ordered the arrest of certain Merchant Strangers suspected to be Jews and the sequestration of their property. A few of them were restored to liberty at the request of the queen regent of the Netherlands, who gave her personal assurance that they were good Christians. Her information turned out to be based on pious hope rather than established fact, and presumably proceedings were re­opened against them. The little community was thus broken up. A majority of its members were able to make their way to the Low Countries, one or two eventually struggling as far as Italy or even Turkey. Nevertheless a few persons (including some who had been settled in London for about thirty years, and were no longer to be included in the category of Merchant Strangers) managed to survive the catastrophe and remained in England. 18 

It was not long before the infiltration was resumed, for the total exclusion of such furtive refugees was impossible. By the close of the rein of Edward VI we find a diminutive Marrano community not only in London but also in Bristol: for this cityat maintained a considerable trade with the Peninsula, in which Spanish Jews had been interested or centuries for past. 19 Among the residents here was Antonio Brandao, a young surgeon from Santarem (nephew of Amatus Lusitanus the most illustrious medical annalist of his age, who mentions him more than once in his writings), 20 an a physician named Henrique Nunes. The latter and his wife were the leaders of the group. Services were held regularly at their house: they periodically received the dates of the festivals from London: they were in touch with the latest Jewish literature, reading avidly Usque's famous martyrology, Consolaçam as Tribulaçoens de Israel, recently published at Ferrara. Of the community of London at this stage we have less detailed information; but the names of eight householders belonging to it are recorded.

The Morranos of this period were presumably regarded as Protestant refugees—the obvious guise to assume if they wished to escape interference and even secure sympathy. Hence, with the reaction against the Reformation under Mary, when native Protestants were burned and the Spanish alliance threw the shadow of the Inquisition over England, no safe course remained for them but to leave the country. Henrique Nuñes retired with his family to France, and probably other members of the two communities followed his example. Though even now a slender residuum remained, the colony was once more scattered to the four winds.

In that remarkable period of expansion which opened with the accession of Queen Elizabeth, the foreign mercantile settlement in London ('the dinning-room of Christendom' as Middleton called it) increased prodigiously. At the beginning of the reign there were less than 3,000 aliens in the city; at its close there were some 10,000. Among them was inevitably, as before, a considerable sprinkling of Spanish and Portuguese New Christians, again encouraged by the possibilities of tolerance heralded by the overthrow of Roman Catholicism. The intensification of commercial intercourse with southern Europe gave these refugees fresh opportunities, and during the war with Spain they were used by London merchants as a cloak for trade with the Peninsula. Thus the Marrano community again expanded, its hundred or more members including a few persons of outstanding ability and some prominence in public life. At their head was Hextor Nunez (generally known as ‘Dr. Hectour'), one of the handful of persons who had remained. Through a qualified and practising physician, he also engaged in foreign trade on a large scale. His widespread business and personal connexions abroad were found extremely useful by the government. He enjoyed the confidence both of Burleigh and of Walsingham, and on one occasion left his dinner-table to bring the latter the first news of the arrival of the Great Armada at Lisbon. 21 

The most prominent of the Marrano merchants after him was George Anes (anglicised as Ames), whose family had been settled in London at least since 1952. One of his sons Francis, became a soldier of fortune, and was employed by Francis Drake for intelligence work in the Azores. Subsequently he held a command in the English garrison at Youghal, in Ireland of which he was once the Mayor, and earned the commendation of the Earl of Ormonde for his gallant defence of the town against the rebels, 22 Dunstan Ames, his brother was purveyor to the Queen and traded extensively with Spain. Their sister, Sarah, brought them into touch with Court circles, for she was the wife of the well-known Dr. Roderigo Lopez. This was another Portuguese New Christian who, after qualifying in medicine in his native country, settled in London. Here he was a member of the college of physicians (before which he delivered the annual Anatomical Lecture in 1569), and was the first house-physician appointed at St. Bartholomew's hospital. Later he became medical attendant to the all powerful Earl of Leicester, and then in 1586 to the queen herself, who recommended him warmly in correspondence. He was connected by marriage, as it happened, with Alvaro Mendez (alias Abenaish), the ex-Marrano Duke of Mitylene, who had succeeded to much of Joseph Nasi’s influence at the Sublime Porte and, as one of the architects of the Anglo-Turkish entente against Spain, was in continuous correspondence the English ministers and had his services rewarded by the honour of knighthood. Lopez threw himself into the political game with unnecessary zest. Taking advan­tage of his close relations after Leicester's death with his stepson, the Earl of Essex, he began to intrigue industriously to secure English intervention on behalf of Dom Antonio, prior of Crato, the pretender to the Portuguese throne. The latter (whose financial agent in London was Dunstan Ames) was himself, as it happened of Jewish blood being the son of a member of the old royal house through an irregular union with the beautiful New Christian, Violante Gomez: and the Marranos had high hopes that this triumph would secure them some measure of relief. In 1592 he was brought over to England by Essex and the war party, and Lopez was constantly with him in the capacity of secretary and interpreter.

The degree of religious observance in the furtive London community is obscure, but its members were Jewish in more respects than by mere descent. It is on record that they collected funds for the maintenance of the secret synagogue at Antwerp, forwarding them through the medium of Dr. Lopez. In 1592, when an envoy of Alvaro Mendez named Solomon Cormano was in London on diplomatic business, religious services were held at his house in full traditional style; and the crypto-Jews of the capital gratefully took the opportunity to attend. Though their marriages an funerals were performed of necessity in accordance with Protestant rites, there is evidence that baptism was neglected. So far as possible, too, they were laid to their last rest side by side in Stepney Churchyard, some way from their actual area of residence. During a lawsuit brought in 1596 against one of the Marrano merchants who had been trading with the Peninsula in partnership with an Englishman, the Jewish ceremonies observed at his home in Duke's Place, London, were alluded to in Court without any sense of incongruity, and (what was more remarkable) without any untoward results. 23 

In the year 1593 (according to an ancient legend, which need not be discredited in all its details) the community was reinforced for a short space of time by a party of visitors of particular religious zeal. A brother and sister, Manuel Lopez, Pereira and Maria Nunez (whose parents had suffered from the persecutions of the Inquisition) set sail from Portugal with a small body of Marranos, in the hope of finding a place of refuge in the freer lands to the north. The vessel was captured on journey by an English ship, and brought to port. The queen herself expressed a desire to see the fair prisoner, was captivated by her charm, took her in the royal coach when she drove about London, and gave orders for the vessel and all its passengers to be set at liberty. In spite of this token of royal favour, the visitors, 'leaving all the pomp of England for the sake of Judaism' (as the old chronicle puts it), pursued their way to Amsterdam. Here, after other vicissitudes, they managed to establish an open Jewish community, which, constantly recruited by fresh Inquisitional fugitives, became known before long as one of the most important in Western Europe, and was subsequently to play an important part in the formal readmission of the Jews to England. 24 

Occasionally professing Jews also found their way into the country. The most remarkable instance was that of a certain mining-engineer named Joachim Ganz, or Gaunse , member of a distinguished Bohemian family. In 1581 he was working in England, where he introduced improved methods into the copper-mines at Keswick in Cumberland and at Neath in Wales. He remained undisturbed for a number of years. However, in September 1598 he was arrested at Bristol for certain incautious words let fall during a discussion with a local clergyman. On being brought before the Mayor and Aldermen he openly declared himself a Jew, born at Prague in Bohemia adding that he had never been baptized and'did not believe any Article of our Christian faithe for that he was not broughte to uppe therein'. The local authorities, scandalized, sent him up to London for trial before the Privy Council. Though further information is lacking, it is to be presumed that he was expelled from the county. 25 

Towards the close of the century, the Marrano community in England began to decline. The reason was in part political. After the failure of Drake's expedition against Portugal in 1589, Lopez and his associates had quarrelled with the prior of Crato, an incompetent figurehead at the best, and began to favour an agreement with Spain. Naturally, this embroiled him with Essex and the war party, who resented the fact that his position gave him easier access to the queen than they themselves had. The Spanish court seized the opportunity to enter into secret negotiations with him, offering a heavy bribe if he would make away with the Pretender. Whether he actually intended to do this cannot be ascertained, but (whatever the reason—he himself explained it on perfectly plausible grounds) he did not reject the overtures outright. The relations which he thus began with the national enemy provided his opponents with a weapon. In October 1593 he was arrested and accused of plotting to poison Elizabeth herself, at the instigation of the king of Spain. Sir Robert Cecil championed him: the queen was plainly unconvinced: but to no effect. His trial, hopelessly partisan, dragged on for months before a special commission, which included some of the highest officers of the state. In the end he was found guilty, and executed at Tyburn on June 7th, 1594. 26 There can be little doubt that, though his aims and methods were not above suspicion, he was innocent of this particular charge. A miniature anti-Semitic storm was nevertheless aroused in England. During the period between the sentence and its execution the most popular play on the London stage was Marlowe's Jew of Malta, the extravagances of which seemed to anticipate the character as well as the fate of Dr. Lopez. Meanwhile Shakespeare was at work on his Merchant of Venice, in which the character of Shylock clearly reflected in its cruder facets the popular abhorrence of the new Judas and his machinations.

The atmosphere which thus developed can have been by no means encouraging for the dead man's associates and kinsmen. The heyday of the Marrano community in England was now ended. The decline of trade relations with Spain discouraged the settlement of further New Christians, who now found a powerful counter-attraction in the newly established community at Amsterdam. 27 The two most prominent of the London group were by now dead—Hector Nunez in 1591 (his profession of faith in his will had been noteworthy for the absence of any Christian colouring, notwithstanding strong monotheistic allusions) and Dunstan Ames in1594. Of the latter's family some remained in the country, where they became utterly assimilated with the general population. Others made their way to the Levant, where in after-years English travellers were surprised to encounter, openly professing Judaism, persons born in Crutched Friars in London. 28 

Finally, in 1609, six years after James I's accession to the throne, an unfortunate quarrel took place amongst the members of the little colony. One party avenged itself by denouncing its opponents as Judaizers, and the authorities were compelled to instruct the Earl of Suffolk, as Lord Chamberlain, to take the necessary steps. As the result of his inquiries all Portuguese merchants living in London who were suspected of Judaizing were expelled from the country. 29 It was necessary to wait half a century before the Marrano settlement again became numer­ous and was officially authorized.

Meanwhile, under the stimulus of the Reformation, England had witnessed a revival—or rather a birth—of Hebrew studies. These were represented after the thirteenth century only by nominal lectureships at the universities, established in obedi­ence to the Bull of Pope Clement V of 13 to, which insisted on the necessity of including Hebrew in the curriculum. One reason for the fresh orientation is to be found in Henry VIII's matrimonial difficulties, which had a theological as well as a political aspect. For his desire to annul his long-standing marriage there was biblical authority in Leviticus xviii. 16, in which an alliance between a man and his brother's wife is categorically forbidden. On the other hand, in Deuteronomy xxv. 5, such a union is expressly prescribed if the brother had died childless, in order that his name should be perpetuated. The problem of interpretation was highly perplexing. In consequence the importance of Hebrew tradition for the correct comprehension of Holy Writ was suddenly realized. Since Jews were now excluded from both England and Spain, it was to the Jewish quarters of Italy, and especially to that of Venice, that both sides turned for guidance. Richard Croke, who had been sent to collect opinions on behalf of Henry from eminent canon lawyers, applied for assistance to the famous Venetian humanist, Fra Francesco Giorgi. The latter had no difficulty in finding Hebrew scholars who were willing to support the English thesis—notably one Marco Raphael, a recent apostate from Judaism, and inventor of a new invisible ink for use in the secret diplomacy of the Serenissima, who showed himself more than eager to oblige. Hardly a day passed, reported Croke from Venice at the beginning of 1530, when he did not confer upon the matter with some monk or some Jew, and the names of six of the latter, conforming or converted, are mentioned in his dispatches.

Henry insisted on having the rabbinical opinions submitted to him for personal consideration. Despite an attempt of the Spanish ambassador to waylay them, Raphael and Giorgi reached London safely at the beginning of 1531: and there the former drew up a report to the complete satisfaction of his patron. He was, however, borne down by weight of learning and of numbers. Almost all of the Italian rabbis were ranged against him. Worst of all, at this very period a levirate marriage took place in Bologna between a Jew and his brother's widow. This completely discredited all arguments on the other side, and the breach between England and Rome was brought nearer. Nevertheless the episode had a real importance in Jewish history; for it was this which, combined with the contemporary. Reuchlin-Pfefferkorn controversy in Germany, began to rehabilitate Hebrew literature from the discredit which it had suffered in Europe since the rise of Christianity. 30 

So vivid did interest in Hebrew become in England with the stirring of the Reformation that the Act of Uniformity (1549) authorized its use in private devotions, while the medals struck in 1545 to commemorate Henry VIII's recognition as head of the Church, and two years later on the occasion of his son's accession to the throne, both bore lengthy inscriptions in what was optimistically considered to be the language of the Old Testament. 31 Hebrew printing in England goes back a couple of decades earlier still, the first examples being included in Wakefield'sOratio de utilitate trium linguarum, published by Wynkyn de Worde in 1524. A few productions of the Hebrew presses recently established in Venice and elsewhere were to be found in some of the greater religious houses before their dissolution32 In 1549, just before his death, Paul Fagus, the famous German Protestant divine and humanist, was appointed to the chair of Hebrew at Cambridge—the first more or less competent scholar to occupy such a position in England. 33 

Obviously, for the serious investigation of so remote a tongue the assistance of some person with first-hand acquaintance was indispensable. Accordingly, from this period a few Jews by birth (generally converted) began to haunt the purlieus of the universities. The earliest was John Immanuel Tremellius, a native of Ferrara who had been converted to the Roman Catholic faith by Cardinal Pole but afterwards went over to Protestantism. Owing to the wars of religion in Germany he sought refuge in 1547 in England, where he enjoyed the hospitality of Archbishop Cranmer at Lambeth. After Fagius's death, he succeeded to his position at Cambridge, and was appointed simultaneously to a non-residential canonry at Car­lisle. On Mary's accession and the beginning of the Catholic reaction, he fled to the Continent, where he ultimately became professor of Hebrew at Heidelberg, and published a number of works; but he paid another visit to England in 1565. 34 

Less distinguished was Philip Ferdinand subsequently professor of Hebrew at Leyden. Born in Poland in 1555, he embraced Christianity, made his way to England, and studied at Oxford. Here he proved his capacity by giving tuition in Hebrew in several colleges, after which he transferred himself to the sister university. A little book of his on the precepts of the Mosaic law, published here in 1597, was the first serious contribution to Jewish scholarship to see the light in this country. 35 At the beginning of the seventeenth century professing Jews began to make their appearance, beginning with a 'Rabbi Jacob’ who was teaching about this period at Cambridge. He is perhaps identical with the Oxford scholar Jacob Barnett, whose Hebrew learning attracted much attention, and who in 1609 became secretary to the distinguished Protestant humanist, Isaac Casaubon.. After long discussions he was persuaded to submit to baptism, but, when the day for the ceremony arrived, was nowhere to be found. It is not remarkable that not long after there is a record of the banishment of 'Jacobus Bernatus' from England. 36 

The record of these scattered Hebraists is not peculiarly distinguished or inspiring. Nevertheless, the role they played was not without importance. In the first place, they familiarized the Englishman, for the first time for three centuries, with the existence and the appearance of the authentic Jew (albeit in most cases converted). Moreover, limited though their knowledge sometimes was, they did a great deal to promote and diffuse Hebrew studies in England. Their disciples outdid them in earnestness and in importance. By the reign of James I there was in the English Church a small but competent nucleus of native-born Hebrew scholars of real ability. The result was seen in that great achievement, the 'Authorized' version of the Bible, published in 1611. Executed direct from the original tongues 37 by acompetent band of scholars, it was as faithful as the age and the circumstances would permit. Though no Jews participated, the spirit of the ancient Hebrew commentators was immanent, and their works were always at hand for consultation. The result was a magnificent rendering, which almost rivals the grandeur of the original and has been he most potent influence in moulding the English language from that day onwards. Though the Jews were still jealously excluded from England, there was no country in which the Hebraic spirit was so deeply rooted or so universally spread. 38 


Chapter 6
  1. For a complete bibliography illustrating this chapter see Bibl. A.5. 1-29. The only important contribution to be added is that mentioned below, p. 142, note I.
  2. See Note VI (a), pp. 278-9.
  3. Joseph haCohen, Emek haBakha, p. 54. For allusions which would corroborate this cf. Thorold Rogers apud Neubauer, ubi supra, p. 314 (Jews in Oxford throughout Middle Ages): Collectanea Franciscans, ii. 150 (Jews expelled under Edward III).
  4. P.R. 5318, p. 254. The safe-conduct was prolonged for one year on January 11th, 1319.
  5. Rotuli Parliamentarum, ii. 332a. It has frequently been suggested that the Spanish and Italian merchants who traded in England at this time comprised many Jews: but, notwithstanding a careful inspection of the available material, I have been unable to trace a single name in corroboration of this hypothesis. Thus in A. Beardwood's Alien Merchants in England, 1350-1377, the only possible names which occur are those of Benedict Zacharie (a Lombard), David Jacobi of Lucca, and Solomon de Alman, goldsmith of Norwich. None of these is sufficiently distinctive to justify any further deduction.
  6. A letter from him, bemoaning the cheerless state of London during the Purim festival, is extant (Bibl. A.5. 4: cf. also L. Landau, Das apologetische Schreiben des Josua Lorki, Antwerp, 1906). But it is not out of the question that the document is a satire upon the ex-Rabbi, written by one of his former co-religionists.
  7. Cf. Bibl. A.5. 25, 26. There is no evidence, other than the biblical first name, for believing that David Nigarellis of Lucca, who attended on Henry IV in 1412, was likewise a Jew. The 'Jewels' of Abingdon, who gave a performance before the eight-year-old Henry VI in 5427 (Rymer, Foedera, x. 387), were clearly not Jews but joueurs, or players.
  8. A comprehensive account of the Domus Conversorum in the Middle Period is given by M. Adler in J.M.E., pp. 306-79, superseding that in Trs.J.H.S.E. vol. iv.
  9. In thefourteenth century the inmates included persons from Eton, Woodstock, Stratford, Leicester and Dartmouth (Adler, J.M.E., pp. 323-6).
  10. H.T. Riley, Memorials of London (London, 1868), pp. 518-19. He was subsequently pilloried and banished: R. R. Sharpe, Letter Books of London, H, p. 351.
  11. M. Adler, 'Edward II and his converted Jews', in 3.c. 5. viii. 1898. But is the name 'Conyers' decisive?
  12. Bibl. A.5. 24: some corroborative details in C. L. Scofield, Life and Reign of Edward IV (London, 1923), ii. 87-8, 240-1. Brampton subsequently returned to England, and a son of his was knighted at Winchester in 1500.
  13. See my History of the Marranos (Philadelphia, 1932), from which I have copied some phrases.
    (13B) The biblical Sepharad (for which see Obadiah, verse 20) was consistently applied by the Jews of the Middle Ages to Spain. Similarly, Germany was called Ashkenaze. (Genesis; x-3). The terms Sephardim and Ashkenazim are today applied a little loosely to the two main historic categories of the Jewish people, according as they are descended from the Spanish—Mediterranean—Levantine or the Franco—German—Polish, group. They are distinguished from one another by certain differences of background of liturgy and of Hebrew pronunciation.
  14. Text, in Wolf, Diplomatic History of The Jewish Question (London, 1919) p.126, where, however, the inferences drawn are more than the document justifies.
  15. The history of the Marrano community in Tudor England was unknown until 1928-9, when Lucien Wolf began to publish the results of his remarkable researches into the records of the Portuguese Inquisition (Bibl. A.5. 24a, 27, 28). Previously the only information available was that in Sidney Lee's 'Elizabethan England and the Jews' (Bibl. A.5.19) which may still be consulted with profit: see also Bibl. A.5. 22 and Wolf's earlier paper on the Middle Period of Anglo-Jewish History, Bibl. A.5. 29.
  16. See Note VI (b), p. 279.
  17. Possibly to be identified with the 'Master Diego' on whose behalf the Netherlands government intervened in 1542 (Wolf, Essays, p. 77); but the poet was then very young. The Marrano colony in London at this time included also two of Michel de Montaigne's uncles, Martin and Francesco Lopes (T. Malvezin, Michel de Montaigne, Bordeaux, 1875, pp.108-9): the former s family subsequently played an important role in the Calvinist Consistory at Antwerp.
  18. It is to be noted that the expulsion of 1542 was not so complete as Wolf imagined: see my editorial note to his Essays, p. 83.
  19. The Pamplona archives show that the Jews of Navarre were trading in green cloth 'from Vristol'. in considerable quantities, between 1400 and 1433 (Jacobs, Sources of Spanish Jewish History, London, 1894, pp. 118-19).
  20. Centuria V, iv, vi, xvi. Cf. M. Lemos, Amato Lusitano, Oporto, 1907, pp. 9, 10, 40, 74, 124.
  21. See Note VI (c), p. 279.
  22. Nufiez's brother-in-law, Bernaldo Luis, also did extensive espionage work for Burleigh in Spain, where he was arrested in 1588 (Trs. J.H.S.E., xi. 5-6, 36; L. de Alberti and A. B. W. Chapman, English Merchants and the Spanish Inquisition in the Canaries, London, 1912, pp. 77-8).
  23. C. J. Sisson, 'A Colony of Jews in Shakespeare's London' in Essays by Members of the English Association, xxii. 311--51.
  24. See Note VI (d), p. 279
  25. Bibl. A.5. 3. Another indication of Jewish life in England at this time is provided by the fact that Nathaniel (Judah) baptized with great pomp in 1577 (on which occasion the sermon was preached by John Foxe: Bibl. B.6. i) had been resident in London as a Jew for six years. (John Florio’s father Michelangelo Florio preacher to the Italian Church in London and biographer of Lady Jane Grey, was also of Jewish birth, but converted before he came to England.) The Ipswich records for 1572 include a memorandum of the payment of sixpence 'for whipping of a Jewish man’ – three times the rate for whipping a Welshman. (H.M.C. ix. app. 249b).
  26. Bibl. A.5. 9, 15, 18; A.10, 32; Hume in Trs. J.H.S.E. v. 32 sqq.; Bird's Memoirs, i. 149-58; H.M.C. Hatfield, iv. 512-13; S.P.D., 1593-4, passim. The queen's incredulity is reflected in her generous treatment of Lopez's widow.
  27. Hugh Broughton was informed by an Amsterdam Jew in 1608 that many of his co-religionists in that place had been in England (Our Lordes Famile, London, 1608).
  28. Cf. Coryat's account in Purchas his Pilgrimes, 11. x. 1824-5.
  29. See Note VI (e), p. 280.
  30. For the Royal 'Divorce' in its Jewish associations, see D. Kaufmann, 'Une Consultation de Jacob Rafael Peglione de Modene sur le divorce de Henri VIII' in Revue des Etudes Juices, xxx. 309 sqq; and 'Jacob Mantino', ibid., xxvii. 30 sqq. (especially 47 sqq.). Raphael remained attached to the English Court, accompanying Henry to France in 1532. He was not (as often stated) a nephew of Giorgi, whose family had no Jewish associations.
  31. Trs. J.H.S.E. v. 113-14.
  32. Some specimens are preserved in the libraries of Oxford and Cambridge colleges.
  33. Stokes, Studies, pp. 207 sqq.
  34. Bibl. A. to. 271-2: for Hebrew studies in England generally, cf. the material listed ibid. A.11, and most recently E. J. Rosenthal, 'Rashi and the English Bible', in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, vol. xxiv (1940), and S. Levy, 'English Students of Maimonides' in The Jewish Annual, 1940-1, pp. 72-87.
  35. Bibl. B. 11. 2.
  36. Neubauer, Notes on the Jews of Oxford, ubi supra. In the subsequent period we find a few additional names to add to the foregoing list. Early in 1626 Queen Henrietta Maria asked the University of Oxford to favour her servant, Antonio Maria de Verona. A little later Alessandro Amidei, a Florentine convert, taught Hebrew at Oxford, and contributed to a miscellany published there in 1658: subsequently he became professor of Hebrew in Edinburgh. Mention is deserved also by Paul Jacob, a converted Jew, who petitioned King James for an allowance in 1623, on the Ingenious plea that, since the sceptre had departed from Judah, the petitioner was the English monarch's child and subject.
  37. In this respect the Authorized Version was a great advance on that of Coverdale, who knew no Hebrew. His precursor, William Tyndale, was, on the other hand, a fair scholar. Whittingham, who took a leading part in producing the Geneva or 'Breeches' Bible (1560), was similarly familiar with Hebrew, as also were a few of the translators who participated in the 'Bishops' Bible (1568). The earliest English Hebraist of any eminence was Hugh Broughton (1549-1612) some of whose works are listed in Bibl. B.14.4-10: while the first Hebrew grammar for English use was John Udall's Key to the Hebrew Tongue (Utrecht, 1593), composed while he was in prison for his share in the Marprelate Tracts.
  38. See Note VI (f), pp. 280-1. On Hebrew studies in the 16th century, the most recent work is D. Daiches, The King James Version (Chicago, 1941).

Previous · Index · Next