The Pre-Expulsion Cemetery of the Jews in London
By Marjorie B. Honeybourne, M.A., F.S.A.
THIS survey of the pre-expulsion cemetery of the Jews in London was undertaken
because an opportunity presented itself, owing to the wartime bombing of the area,
to uncover a part of the site. The members of this Society contributed the funds
for the excavation, which was led by Professor W. F. Grimes, C.B.E., F.S.A., then
Director of the London Museum. The author gratefully acknowledges the help she has
received from him, and also from the late Rev. Arthur Barnett, Mr. Lewis Edwards, Dr.
V. D. Lipman, Dr. Cecil Roth, the late Mr. Wilfred S. Samuel, and the Clerk and
Librarian of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.
The primary records used for the survey fall into five groups. Firstly, there are
the Goldsmiths' manuscript deeds relating to the site.1 These go back to 1257-58
although the Company did not acquire the property until 1422. Secondly, there are the
earlier Jewish deeds at the Public Record Office and the British Museum. Some of
these have been published (a) by this Society: notably the Calendar of the P.R.O. Plea
Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews,2 and the Starrs and Jewish Charters preserved in the
British Museum3; and (b) jointly by this Society and the Selden Society: J. M. Rigg,
Select Pleas in the Exchequer of the Jews (1901). Thirdly, the P.R.O. Charter, Patent,
Close, Fine and Pipe Rolls, and the Ancient Deeds, have other references to the cemetery
and its environs. Fourthly, the most valuable City records are the Liber Albus, the Liber
de Antiquis Legibus, Letter Book A and the Husting Rolls. Lastly, there are some St.
Paul's Cathedral manuscripts bearing on the cemetery: one or two are printed in the
Early Charters of St. Paul's (ed. M. Gibbs, 1939), and others are listed in Report IX of
the Historical MSS. Commission (1883). As to maps of the district, the most valuable
are those of Ogilby and Morgan, 1677,4 and W. Horwood, 1799. The chief secondary
sources are the writings of Dr. Joseph Jacobs (many inaccuracies but remarkable for his
time), M. Adler, M. D. Davis, C. Roth and H. P. Stokes, mainly in this Society's
Transactions and other publications. As in most topographical work, a word here and a
sentence there—with perhaps a chance reference in descriptions of adjacent property—
have been pieced together to find the boundaries of the cemetery and something of its
history; and the excavations have corroborated the written evidence.
The cemetery had several mediaeval names. Sometimes it was called "the cemetery
of the Jews,"5 "the common cemetery of the Jews,"6 or "the cemetery of the entire
1 Goldsmiths' Co. Cartulary, ff. 117-128; and their Book of Translations of Wills and Abstracts
of Deeds contained in the Great Register (1940/B391). An Abstract of their Title to the Jews'
Garden, compiled c. 1656, is deposited in the Guildhall Library (MS. no. 8740).
2 Three volumes, 1905 and 1910 ed. by J. M. Rigg; and 1929 ed. by H. Jenkinson.
3 Three volumes, 1930 ed. by I. Abrahams, H. P. Stokes and H. Loewe; and 1932 ed. by
4 Facsimile published by the London and Midd. Archaeo. Soc, 1895. The scale is 100 feet
to the inch.
5 Goldsmiths' Cartulary, ff. 117, 118, 120, 121 (between 1257 and 1289); Report IX, 49a.
6 Patent Roll, 28th July, 1250.
the pre- expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
community of the Jews of England"1; and at other times "the ward of the Jews."2 In
1291 and 1294-95 it was described as "Leyrestowe"3 (O.E. "leger" + "stow"), meaning
a lying or burial place with religious significance, i.e. consecrated.4 From 1277-78
onwards the term "Jews' Garden" was used in London,5 as at Oxford, Rome and else-
where on the continent.6
The London cemetery was outside the city wall by its north-west angle near Cripple-
gate. In this vicinity was "a rivulet of springs," mentioned in 1067,7 one of which
springs was later called Crowder's Well.8 The land was open here and was in the soke of
St. Paul's Cathedral. West and east respectively were Aldersgate Street and Red Cross
Street, along both of which there had early been ribbon development. Further building
to the east of Red Cross Street had led in about 1100 to the foundation beside Cripplegate
and the city ditch of the parish church of St. Giles without Cripplegate by Alfune the
Priest, who as an old man advised Rahere and collected money to help build and maintain
the nearby St. Bartholomew's Priory Church and finance the Hospital, both founded in
1123.9 The Jews' cemetery was in this parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, except for two
small later portions in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, an older foundation. The
burial ground was walled and no part of it was along either main road except for the chief
entrance to the east, which was through a gate in Red Cross Street. This gate was on
the line of the later Jewin Street. From Aldersgate Street on the west there was a back-
way under a house into the cemetery. A third entry was by a little lane to the south-east,
by the city wall.
There is no record of the original acquisition of the land by the Jews, but it is note-
worthy that in 1276 Laurence de Frowyk, senior, is recorded as having bequeathed to his
brother, Reginald de Frowyk, a rent of 12d. issuing out of part of the cemetery of the
Jews.10 Though the Jews settled in London in William I's reign the earliest reference
to the site of their cemetery seems to be in 1218, when William FitzHerlicun sued a
group of influential London Jews because he said that they had unlawfully deforced him
1 Rigg, Select Pleas, 121-2.
2 Report IX, 6a.
3 P.R.O. Rot. Orig. Abbrev., I, 75a; Cartulary, ff. 118b, 122. By a coincidence the site of the
Jews' cemetery outside the walls of York is called Layerthorpe, but the place-name seems to be
older than the cemetery, so it probably means a small settlement on clay in this case (Place Name
Soc., Yorks., East Riding, 292-3).
4 P. N. Soc, Chief Elements in English Place Names (1924), 45, 57.
5 Cart., ff. 118d, 119, 119d, 121 (bis), 121d, 122, 123d; Cal, Husting Wills, II, 451-2.
6 C. Roth, The Jews of Mediaeval Oxford (Oxford Hist. Soc, N.S. IX., 1951), 108.
7 Charter of William I, trans, in A. J. Kempe, St. Martin-le-Grand (1825), 12: "the northern
angle of the city wall, where a rivulet of springs near thereto flows."
8 Stow (ed. C. L. Kingsford, 1908,1,301) wrote of "a fayre poole of cleare water neare unto the
Parsonage, on the west side thereof, which was filled up in the raigne of Edward the sixt, the
spring was coaped in, and arched over with hard stone, and staires of stone to goe down to the
spring, on the banke of the towne ditch." Maitland (I, 83) added that the well which supplied this
pool was called Crowder's Well and adjoined St. Giles's churchyard on the north-west side. Rocque,
1746, placed the spring at the north end of Crowder's Well Alley. Modern Well Street runs south
out of Jewin Street. A. S. Foord, in Springs, Streams and Spas of London (1910), 107, gives a 1661
reference for the name, which appears on Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1677 as Crowder's Well
Alley. See also H. Harben, A Dictionary of London (1918), 184, 619.
9 N. Moore (ed.), The Book of the Foundation of St. Bartholomew's Church in London (1886),
chapter XXII, p. Ixix-lxx; reprinted in 1923 by the Early English Text Society.
10 Report IX, 49b. The will is enrolled on the Husting Rolls (Cal., I, 26-7) but the rent is not
there mentioned. Reginald died in 1306-7 but his will gives no details (Cal, 1,183). A Henry de
Frowyk died in 1286 possessed of a garden with four houses adjacent in the parish of St. Giles,
Cripplegate (ibid., I, 76).
of a third part of certain land in the suburb of the City of London.1 He claimed that his
father had during his lifetime devised to him and to his two brothers this land, of which
he and the other two had henceforth had seisin and received the profits as wards of their
mother. Neither the Jews' reply nor the judgment have survived, but it seems that the
plaintiff did not appear.
Some of the most valuable evidence for the position of the cemetery centres on four
houses north of the main gate. The northernmost of these houses was held in 1268-69
by Robert de Oggell and Tiphania his wife,2 who were followed by Walter de Bredestrete,
1 Cal. of the Plea Rolls in the Exchequer of the Jews, I, 2, 7, 16; B. M. Starrs and Charters,
II, 91. In 1308 there was a tenement called "Herlewyne" in the parish of St. Giles (Report IX,
2 Cartulary, f. 117.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
cordwainer, 1293,1 and John de Bredestrete and Emma his wife, 1341.2 All were
tenants of St. Paul's. In the third house northward from the gate lived first Stephen le
Tailor and Isabella his wife, 1267-85,3 then Osbert le Poleter and Isabella his wife,
1287-93,4 and lastly Raymond de Bordeaux, 1293-94.5 In his time the house was worth
5 marks. The first and second houses north of the gate were at times held together and
from them 4s. 4d. was due yearly to St. Paul's. The occupants were John Rosamunde,
son of Richard Blund, 1270-71,6 Emma and Agnes de St. Lawrence (mother and
daughter),7 Robert of Canterbury, shoemaker of London, and his wife, the above Agnes,
1277-78,8 and then a relative of the wife, by name Thomas de St. Lawrence, citizen and
goldsmith, and Juliana his wife,9 Ranulph Follejaumb or Folshanke, 1285 (the house was
then worth 14 marks),10 Bayham Abbey in Sussex, 1291-93,11 and Daniel de Preston,
clerk, 1293.12 This Daniel sold the two houses outright, in the same year, for £10 to the
above Raymond de Bordeaux, citizen of London,13 who at the same time was also buying
the third house. Since 1290-91 a rent of 1 mark had been due to him on the two
houses,14 a rent he had bought from the executors of William le Caller, who held it in
1278-79.15 Raymond de Bordeaux by 1294 held then the three southern properties; but
they covered a lesser area than in 1267 because there had been sales to the Jews of the
western parts of all four holdings.
In 1268-69 part of the curtilage or garden, planted with trees, of the northernmost
tenement had been sold to Jacob of Oxford10 and the entire community of the Jews in
England, for 5 marks. The part sold measured 46 ells from east to west, 34 ells along
the east side and 26 ells along the west side,17 making a total area of about 12,420 square
feet. The sale was confirmed by the Dean of St. Paul's as it was in the soke of the
Chapter. The Jews were to hold the said place for ever to bury there at will "even those
condemned to death."18 A year earlier, 1267-68, a curtilage with trees thereon belonging
to the third house from the gate had been sold to Master Elias the Jew of London, son
of Master Moses, and the entire community of the Jews in England, for 20 marks.19
This curtilage was 14 X 23 ells, i.e. 2,961 square feet. This was a quarter the size of
the foregoing plot but cost four times as much. Isabella, widow of Stephen le Tailor,
quitclaimed the land in 1279-80.20 The ground at the back of the two southernmost
houses was even smaller, 14 ells X 6 ells 1 foot, i.e. 826 square feet. This was bought
1 Ibid., 122.
2 Cal, Husting Rolls, I, 451-2 ("le Juesgardyn").
3 Cartulary, ff. 117, 11£, 121, 124.
4 Ibid., 118d, 121d, 122, 123d.
5 Ibid., 122.
6 Ibid., 118. For a later John Rosamund's will, 1306, see Cal., Wills, I, 180.
7 Ibid., 118. Emma was the widow of Geoffrey de St. Lawrence.
8 Ibid., 118d, 119,121,124. The Jews' Garden had a wall here. The holding measured 8 ells
10 inches from east to west.
9 Ibid., 119, 120, 121, 123, 123d, 124. Juliana quitclaimed the property to Raymond de
Bordeaux in 1297.
10 Ibid., 21.
11 Ibid., 118d¡ 121d, 123d. The gate and wall of the Jaws' Garden are both mentioned.
12 Ibid., 121d, 123d.
13 Ibid., 123, 123d, 124d.
14 Ibid., 123d.
15 Ibid., 123d, 124. William le Caller's executors were his widow Matilda and Robert le Caller.
16 See below, p. 159.
17 Ibid., 117.
18 Ibid., 117. This is Dr. Roth's interpretation of the Latin "damnatos et non damnatos."
19 Ibid., 117.
20 Ibid., 119d.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
in 1284-85 from Thomas de St. Lawrence by Moses Poteman, Jew of London, and the
entire community of the City of London for £101 In 1289 Juliana, widow of Thomas de
St. Lawrence, quitclaimed the land, and as Moses Poteman was dead by then the acquit-
tance was addressed to Hagin, son of Deulcress called Cok Hagin.2 To sum up, between
1267 and 1285 the Jews had bought, to the north of their gate, for the enlargement of their
cemetery, about 16,207 square feet of land, something under half an acre.
An even larger purchase, to the south of the gate, had taken place a little earlier, in
1257-58. This was a grant in fee by Richard, son of Gilbert le Bas, to Elias,3 son of
Master Moses the Jew, then principal warden of the cemetery of the entire community
of the Jews in London, of all his land with the houses built thereon in the parish of St.
Giles without Cripplegate.4 North was the land of Master John Rosamunde (see
above, in the house immediately north of the gate), to the south was a lane leading to the
cemetery, to the east the highway (Red Cross Street), and to the west the Jews' cemetery.
Id. was to be paid yearly to the vendor, and 20d. to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's,
chief lords of the fee. In 1283 there was a quitclaim by Richard le Bas' brother, Martin,
for a fee of 10 marks,5 and the bounds are differently described. To the north was now
Thomas de St. Lawrence (vice Master John Rosamunde) and to the south a lane "which
leads to the ditch of London." A copy of this quitclaim in the Exchequer of the Jews6
has a third version—"the alley as it curves to the Fosse of London."
Three other sales of land or rent to the Jews are recorded:
(a) In 1282-83 there was a grant in fee by William le Mazeliner, citizen and
pepperer of London and alderman of Aldersgate Ward,7 to Aaron, son of Vives, the Jew
of London, for the use of the entire community of the Jews of England, for £20, of a
certain part of his garden in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate.8 The Jews' cemetery
was on the south and east. To the north was land late to John de Condris and then to
Robert le Fraunseys. The property measured 36 ells from north to south, 16 ells along
the north side, and 12 ells along the south side, i.e. a long narrow strip of about 4,536
Laurence de Frowyk, citizen of London, sold an annual quittent of 12d. due
from a certain part of the cemetery to Aaron of York for the use of the Jewish com-
munity. This quittent was quitclaimed in 1283 by Reginald, son and heir of Laurence de
Frowyk.9 It is first mentioned in 1276.10
In 1289 Theodore le Burser and Amice his wife, daughter of the late Henry atte
Ditch, quitclaimed to Hagin, son of Deulcress called Cok Hagin, the Jew of London, and
the entire community of the Jews of London a piece of land lying in the cemetery of the
1 Ibid., 120d.
2 Ibid., 121d.
3 Possibly not yet regarded as a Rabbi.
4 Ibid., 117. The Latin reads: "Elie filio magistri Mossei Judeo tunc principali custodi ad
officium cimiterii totius commune Judeorum in London."
5 Ibid., 120.
6 Rigg, Select Pleas in the Exchequer of the Jews, 121-2.
7 Alderman of Aldersgate, 1282-1305; Sheriff, 1278-79, 1281-82 (Beaven, Aldermen, I, 338,
8 Cartulary, 120.
9 Ibid., 120. This was the Lawrence de Frowyk who died in 1277 (Cal, Wills, I, 28), a year
after his father of the same name (ibid., 26). The father had bequeathed this rent to his own
brother Reginald (Report IX, 49b). Thence it must have passed to the nephew, whose son was
another Reginald, who died 1306-7 (Cal, Wills, I, 183).
10 See above, p. 146.
the pre- expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
Jews of London in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate.1 This piece measured 22 X 50
ells, about 9,900 square feet, (a) and (c) together amounted to about one-third of an
The contemporary descriptions given above are not sufficient to plot the exact
boundaries of the cemetery, but the grants of the site after 1290 give the missing links.
In 1294-952 the bounds are given as follows: to the north the garden of St. Paul's, to the
south the way which runs next the ditch of Houndsditch (i.e. the city ditch) to the
east the highway and the tenements of Raymond de Bordeaux (see above) and Walter de
Bredestrete (see above), and to the west the gardens of Sir Nicholas de Audley, Robert de
Frauncys, Geoffrey de Bocham, Richard of St. Albans, clerk,3 and Hugh de Bedford.
Free ingress and egress from Aldersgate Street was through the middle of the house of
Geoffrey de Bocham, clerk.4
The Jews were expelled from England in 1290. The next year, on 12th July, 1291,
Edward I granted the site of the cemetery to Master William de Montford.5 He was
Dean of St. Paul's but he seems to have held this land privately, for in 1294-95 it was
held by John de Montford, son of Sir Peter de Montford, knight,6 obviously relatives
of the dean. John de Montford granted the site for 40 marks to Raymond de Bordeaux,
now described as citizen and saddler of London, who already owned the three houses
north of the gate. In 1298 Alice de Montford, widow of Sir John de Montford, knight,
quitclaimed the cemetery to Raymond.7 Unfortunately the latter's will is not on the
City Husting Rolls, though in 1315 it was thought to have been enrolled.8 His son,
another Raymond, leased his garden (not the houses on the highway) for three years to
his brother-in-law and former master, Simon Corpe, citizen and pepperer.9 At a later
date a certain John Guy was tenant of the garden.10 Then in 1336 Raymond (the younger),
now described as a pepperer himself, let most of the Jews' garden for five years to Durande
Terade, merchant of London, at an annual rent of £4.11aymond retained for his own
use the dovecot, the pond and the necessaries of the curtilage, together with free ingress
and egress to and out of the same at will. Thirteen years later Raymond de Bordeaux
still held the "Jews' Garden"12; but by 1384 the garden and all his other property in the
parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, was owned by John Weston, citizen and goldsmith, and
Rose his wife.13 Thence it passed to a relative, Richard Weston, also a citizen and gold-
smith, whose widow Rohesia married John Forster, a third citizen and goldsmith. After
1 Cartulary, 121d.
2 Ibid., 122.
3 Richard de St. Albans had succeeded William Milksopp and Constance his wife in their
tenements in the parish of St. Botolph without Aldersgate "on the west side of the ward of the
Jews" (Report IX, 6a).
4 I.e. under an archway. The Guildhall Library MS. 8740 (see Note 1, p. 145) gives the house-
holders backing on to the west side of the Jews' cemetery from 1334 to 1405.
5 P.R.O., Rot. Orig. Abbrev., I, 75a; Cartulary, f. 118d. The cemetery was valued at 40s.
6 Cartulary, 122.
7 Ibid., 123.
8 Cal., Wills, I, 253n. Raymond's daughter Johanna was the wife of Simon de Corp.
9 Cartulary, 119.
10 Ibid., 124d.
12 Cal., Wills, I, 620. Thomas Mareshal, goldsmith (died 1349), bequeathed to Thomasina his
daughter tenements, shops and rents in Aldersgate Street, in the parish of St. Botolph, Aldersgate,
extending up to this garden.
13 Cartulary, 125. The bounds were Red Cross Street on the east, William Larke's tenement
on the north, John Thorneton's tenement on the west, and "the pit called Houndsditch" on the
310 Appedixad Marmora Oxoniensia.
Comitatu Glocesterix, diffitâ, in domo Abbatis Aula vocata, quam cum ad-
juneto Manerio â Decano & capitulo Westmonasteriensi tenet Johanne
Powel Armiger Hospitii Templi interioris Barristarius, & Juriseonsultus
Dotissimus. Idem Lapis jam videndus est in Ėdibus cjusdem Dal Powel,
quas Glocestrix haber, indehuc Oxoniam intra paucos dies est transferen-
dus illo eximio viro ex ingenti benevolentia ejus erga locum bonisftudiis
consecratum Academix dono datus.
Edwards Rex, quõ reganate his Lapis exaratus fuit, erat Edwards Con-
seffor Odda, qui Regiam Auiam construi, & in honorem Sacrosantx
Trinitatis dedicari juffit, videtur ille Odda fuisse, qui Cartx, quâ Edwards
Confessor Rpifcopatum Cornubicnsem Episcopatui Exoniensi conjungebat;
nomen suum subscript Vide Monasticon Anglicanum pag. 230. In eodem
Monastico Anglicano pag. 154. mentio fit cujusdam Ducis Oddonis, qui
A.D.715. Monasterium Teukesburix in honorem Dei ac gloriosx Virginis
Marix xdificari juffit. Cum locus, in quo hic Lapis inventus faerit, Teukel.
burix tam vicinus fit, Hunc Oddonem cum suiffe crederem, de quo hic agitur,
fi non temporis ratio omnino prohibuiffer. Annusenim á Christo nato age.
batur millefimus quadragefimus quintus cum Edwards Confessor in An-
glia, primo inceperit regnare. In adverfariis Lemandi Vol.5. mentio est Oddx
Comitis silii Elseri, qui restituit prxdia Monachis Perforenifibus, qux prius
Elserus abstukerat. Ealdredum in nullo Episcoporum Anglix Caralogo in
venio, fed in Carta Edwardi Consefforis de restauratione Conobii Westmo-
nasterienfis, qux extat in Monastico Anglicano, pag.60. Ealdredi Episcopi,
qui ab eo Rege ad Papam Legatus mitterbatur ad obtinendam absolutionem á
voto, quod ille temere sifeeperat, mentionem fieri invenies, quem cum fu-
iffe, cujus in hoc Lapide nomen est, suadet remporum convenientia. Exa-
ratus enim erat hic Lapis ánno 14 Edwardi Confessoris, cujus hic Ealdredus
Legatus fuit. Aunus 14 hujus Regis erat annus Christi 1058. Elapsi igitur
anni funt 618, á quo Odda dux hunc Lapidem in Monumentum pictatis fux
Not æ ad Marmora Hebræa. 311
. . . . . . . . .
Hæc Hebraicarum Inscriptionum fragmenta, qux, dirutâ ante annis 47, ad
refletonem, portâ Londini boreali Alders gate dita, in veteris struturæ
faxis singulatim reperta sunt, transcripfit Seldenus, & in libro fuo de Mar-
moribus Arundellianis edidit cum notis, qux Sequuntur.
Ebraica saxa non adjecimus perinde acsi tanti visa fuerint ea qux supersunt
vocabula pretii, ut inde locum hic juste mererentur. Er breviuscula crant
& concifa, etiam dum untegra extabant, nec magnt omnino momenti, ad
hunc modum lacunosa minimi funt Unum & alterum Vocabulum, quod
Terram Santam & Abrahamum indicat, in primo legimus. Sed in fingalis
non tam sensum aliquem quam vocabula duntaxat paucula, aut potius ele-
menta, fatis etiam interdum incerta, restrare, inter exscribendum, compe-
riebamus. Veruntamen quoniam reriffima funt ejusmodi Saxa, & inter ea
non femel censita fuere, quæ, utcunque leviffimi forsan pretii, eorum nihil-
ominus qui accuratius bonis studiis incumbunt, desiderium impense irri-
tare folent ut qualianam ea demum fuerint sigillatim satis cognofcant, id-
eo vifum ast ea libri nostri partem facere. Ex dirutis Judæorum Sy-
nagogis & monumentis eroum sepulcralibus ad veterem portæ instautatio-
nem proculdubio olim transferebancur. Et five Synagogarum parictibus five
mortuorum tumulis primo conceptæ funt Inscriptiones, qux á lapicidis asti-
ores commissiras molientibus, vt vides, mutulatæ Sub Elizabethæ item glo-
riosiffimæ memotiæ Regina; cum anno 1586. resicibatur Porta Lonidini oc-
cidentails, Alders gate dita, reperta est in veteris struturæ faxis inscripto
hujumodi ככר ‘rחק ח.רא מזבח ר סםיח בז - Hic tumutus est Rabbi Mofis
‘filii Rabbi illustris Isaac. Ita enim legenda & intelligenda est Inscriptio illa
depravatistime ty pis non femel edita in Joannis Stowæ Notitia Londini, An-
glice Scripta, ubi nullo sensu exaratum habemus חחך ~ם:גגרך םסה ;הרב r ם.הח
Et versio Latina, qux adjucitur item reprehendenda, Hæc est Statio Rab-
bi Mosis Filli infignis Rabbi Isaac, quod de ædibus ibi intelligitur, ac fi æ
dium Rabbi Mofis fronti, pro titulo, adseriptum suiffer. Dubium mihi
non videtur faxum suiffle Sepulchrale Sepulchrum aut tumulum םאבת vo-
cabnet Judæi, quod in Ebraicis Epitaphiis alibi etiam occurrit. Et frequen-
tillimos fnisse olim Londini cipps Jufæorum sepulchrales verisimilimum
est Nam ante annum Salutis reparatæ 1177. feu Henrici Regis fesundi23,
Judæum alibi sepeliri non licuit. Rogerus Hovedenius, Eodem anno, in
Q 99 Quir
Four Tombstones, Once Among The Arundel Marbles
Reproduced from H. Prideaux Marmora Oxoniensa, 1676. B.M. 604 k.3 (also refers to stone
found in Ludgate in 1586). See page 153.
Of an antique Stone in London Wal. 369
ONDON WALL IS
Said to have been
built about the year of
Ctorist 306, by Helena,
the mother of Constan-
tine, (See Simon of Durbam) accouding to
others, 434. (See Staw,
in many of his
books) It was deftroy’d
by the Danes about the
year 839, restored and
repaired by K. Alfred,
Anno 886. In 994, the
citizens defended their
walls against the Danes,
in Support of K. Etbel-
red. The Danes repul-
fed from London walls,
by the Londoners, Anno
1016. Earl Godwin
with his navy assaulted
the walls 1032. Wm
Fitz Stephen. in the
time of Henry II. has
these words: ‘ The
‘wall is high and great
‘and well towered on
‘the North fide, with
‘due distances between
‘the towers. On the
‘South fide also the ci-
‘tie was walled and
‘towered; but the fith-
‘ful river of Tbamer
‘with his ebbings and
‘flowing , hath long Since Subverted them. The wall on the North fide is like a
‘bow; and the South like the ltring of it.’
Stow fays, ‘ I read that in the year 1215, the 17th day of May, being Sunday.
‘the Barons come to London, and entred thro Aldgate, in the Service time, where
‘they took Such as they knew favoured the king, and Spoiled their goods: They
‘brake into the houses of the Jewes, and Serched their coffers, to Stuff their own
‘purses that had been long empty, After this, Robert Fitzwalter, and Geffery de
‘Mandwil, E. of Effex, and the E. of Gloucester, cheif leaders in the army, ap-
‘plied all diligence to repair the walls of the city with the Stones of the Jewes
This stone, it is highly portable, was one of those stones, belonging to the house
of Some Jew: yet as all characters, or letters, are observed to be changing in
great length of time: this possibly might be the letter used by the Jews here about
or before the year 1200 of the Christian æra. And what the meaning may be,
most he left to the Studious in that kind of learning: It was done at lealt 538 years
go, it being buried in the wall with the face of the inseription downward, which
is also a kind of evidence that is one of those Stones, and placed there at the
then repair of London wall. Further accounts of repairs done to these walls may
be leen is Stow’s Survey of London 1598: but these notes being, I think, to our
purpose, I add no more, but that I am
Gentlemen, Your most humble Servant,
July 30, 1753.J. AMES.
Tombstone Found In 1753 Embedded Face Down-
Wards in London Wall
Reproduced from Gentleman’s Magazine, XXIII
(1753), P. 369. See page 154.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
his death the Jews' Garden was sold in 1406 to Drue Barantyn, citizen and goldsmith,
and Margery his wife.1 Drue's nephew and heir was Reginald Barantyn of the county
of Oxford, esquire, who sold the property in 1419 to a group of people, evidently
trustees.2 These in 1421 passed on their claim to Hugh Wetherby, citizen and gold-
smith,3 and under his will, drawn up in 1422 and proved in 1426, Jewen Garden was
bequeathed to the Wardens of the Mystery of the Goldsmiths of London.4
As will have been noted, the late cemetery of the Jews is always described as a
garden, with a dovecot and a pond—highly significant details, for there can be little
doubt that the dovecot was the old cemetery building, and the pond (cf. the 1067 rivulets)
had been used for the Jewish burial ritual. The bulk of the cemetery was still open in
Stow's time.5 He writes as follows:—
"In Red crosse streete on the west side from saint Giles Churchyard, up to the
said crosse, be many fayre houses builded outward, with divers Alleys, turning into a
large plot of grounde, of olde time called the Iewes Garden, as being the onely place
appoynted them in England, wherein to bury their deade, till the year 1177. the 24 of
Henry the second, that it was permitted to them (after long sute to the king and
Parliament at Oxford) to have a speciall place assigned them in every quarter where
This plot of ground remayned to the said Iewes, till the time of their final banish-
ment out of England, and is now turned into faire garden plots and summer houses for
By 1677, on Ogilby and Morgan's large-scale plan of the city, Jewin Street had
appeared, with houses on both sides. The first mention of this street so far found is
five years earlier, in 1672, when one of the houses was licensed as a Nonconformist meet-
ing house.6 Out of Jewin Street, on the north side, there were in 1677 Bull Head Court
and Goldsmiths' Alley, their northern ends linked by another alley, in 1761 called
Nixon's Square and described as having "very mean little houses."7 These three side
roads were approximately on the site of Jewin Crescent, only the east side of which had
been built by 1799. In 1677 there was still a good deal of garden space in the area,
though south of Jewin Street were small houses and four alleys, called Three Pigeons
Court, Pigeon Court, Red Cross Alley and Crowder's Well Alley.
William Horwood's plan of 1792—998 shows more houses and fewer gardens. This
large-scale plan gives the actual numbers of most of the houses. The Report of the
1 Cartulary, 125, 126: "the Jewen gardeyn with a dovecot in the same." Drue or Drew
Barantyn was alderman from 1392 to 1415; sheriff, 1393-94; mayor, 1398-99, and 1408-9; and
M.P. 1395, etc. (Beaven, I, 269, 270, 401). He died in 1415 (Cal., Wills, II, 440n).
2 Cartulary, 126, 127. The bounds were as before, except that John Thorneton was now "the
3 Ibid., 127. The dovecot is again mentioned (and in 1422).
4 Ibid. The same bounds are given as in 1419. In 1549 the property north of John Thorne-
ton's was a messuage called "Phillip at Phyne" in Lamme Alley granted in that year to Henry
Stapleton, gentleman. On the east was the garden called Jewes' Gardyn, on the west was Alders-
gate Street, and on the north lands of the abbot of Waiden (C.P.R., Ed. VI, II, 294). The Cal.,
Wills, II, 440, adds that the bequest was to provide a chantry for the souls of Drugo Barantyn and
Margery his wife, Nicholas Twyford, knight, and others. Drue Barantyn had lived opposite the
Goldsmiths' Hall, to which he had a bridge across the street (Stow, I, 305).
5 Stow, I, 301.
6 Harben, Dictionary of London, 321.
7 Ibid., 441.
8 W. Horwood's Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
Livery Companies' Commission of 18891 gives the exact street numbers of the property
of the Goldsmiths' Company, the owners since 1422 of the Jews' cemetery. The Gold-
smiths' houses, all but one thought to be part of the original bequest of Hugh Wetherby,
were in Jewin Street, Jewin Crescent, Hamsell Street (=Red Cross Alley) and Well
Street. The houses can be plotted on Horwood's map and give interesting results.
They fully corroborate the mediaeval deeds. The position of the houses confirms that
only a small part of the Jews' cemetery touched Red Cross Street, this being a small area
on both sides of Jewin Street—the cemetery gate. Northwards the boundary fine lay
behind the houses fronting on Red Cross Street. The houses in Jewin Crescent marked
the northern limit, beyond which were the houses in Paul's Alley, a memory of the
garden belonging to St. Paul's in the fourteenth century. On the north-west runs the
ancient ward and parish boundary of Cripplegate and Aldersgate, as one had hoped.
In the western portion of Jewin Street the present Goldsmiths' property goes over the
ward boundary on both sides of Jewin Street into Aldersgate Street, where we know,
firstly, that there was an entry to the cemetery under a house; and secondly, that the
Jews held two small pieces of land in St. Botolph's parish.
The south-west boundary again follows the ward boundary most of the way, as far
as Crowder's Alley, close by the city ditch, described in the 1282-83 purchase by the
Jews as "the lane which leads to the ditch of London." This curving lane formed, as
the thirteenth century deeds say, part of the south-east boundary of the cemetery. The
other parts of this boundary were the ditch itself, and the churchyard of St. Giles's
The area covered by the cemetery works out to about 2½ acres. In 1291 it was only
valued at 40s. but four years later it was sold to Raymond de Bordeaux for 40 marks.
In 1336 most of the site was let for five years at a yearly rental of £4. That then was the
site and value of the pre-expulsion cemetery of the Jews in the suburbs of London, the
only cemetery allowed to them in all England until 1177. If one subtracts from the final
size the half acre, the quarter acre and the other lesser portions bought by the Jews in the
latter part of the thirteenth century, the original area of the cemetery would have been
from 1 to 1 acres.
This cemetery was probably maintained almost entirely by the London Jews, who
in the time of Henry III promised to contribute to a subsidy "for the sustaining of their
common cemetery in London." If anyone refused to pay the Masters of the Law of the
community of the Jews of London were in 1250 empowered by Henry III to excom-
municate the defaulter.2 Another reference is in 1285, when it was stated that a certain
house in Wood Street had been given by Abraham Motun for the upkeep of the cemetery.3
A third financial reference to the cemetery is contained in an undated Westminster Abbey
deed in which Josce ben Solomon, alias Deulecresse of Norwich, covenanted that if a
certain transaction of his proved to be dishonest he would pay a silver mark as forfeit to
the Jewish burial ground in London.4
No Jewish community outside London was allowed to have a cemetery until after
1 Vol. II, 348-50.
2 C.P.R., 1247-58, 72 (printed in Foedera, I, 274).
3 C.P.R., 1281-92, 173.
4 M. D. Davis, Shetaroth (1888), 179-80. Josce ben Solomon lived in the second half of the
thirteenth century (Dr. V. D. Lipman). For another forfeit, see pages 140-2, where the phrase
"the Hospital in London" must also refer to the burial ground or cemetery. There were penalties
for those who failed to pay the amounts promised for the upkeep of the cemetery in London (C.
Roth, A History of the Jews in England (1949 ed.), 117).
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
1177.1 Even after 1177 not all the provincial communities acquired one, surprising
though this may seem in other ways, for the funeral journey to London from outlying
parts must have been costly and trying. Unfortunately we have but two references to
such burials. One is of 1189-91, just after the dreadful part massacre, part suicide, of
all the Jews of York to the reputed number of 500, omitting women and children.2 This
tragedy followed the London anti-Semitic rising just after the coronation of Richard I.
In the Pipe Roll there is an entry for 8s. "for hiring carriage to carry the Jews of York to
London."3 The other record of a burial in London dates from before 1190 and comes
from Oxford, where Deus-eum-crescat or Dieulecresse, son of Moses (of Wallingford),
very unwisely criticized in public, and openly made fun of, the credulity of the Christian
pilgrims to the shrine of St. Frideswide, where miracles of healing were believed to be
performed. Dieulecresse finally ran mad and hanged himself with his girdle from a
rafter in his father's kitchen. His body had to be carried for burial to London "as was
the custom of the Jews" and, in the words of an indignant but triumphant Christian, "all
the dogs of the town followed his detestable corpse, yelping in the most frightful manner."4
A sidelight on the difficulty of burial is shown in a charter of King John, where it is laid
down that Jews leaving heirs were not to lie unburied until the Crown's claims on their
estates had been satisfied.5 The Liber Albus of the City of London gives a further
glimpse of conditions after death, this time in regard to Jewish funeral expenses in the
time of Henry III: 3½d. was to be paid to the City "for every dead Jew buried in London."6
This fee would have been collected at Cripplegate.
No tombstones were found in the excavations but at various times six fragmentary
headstones with Hebrew inscriptions have come to light. The first to be found was in
1586 when Ludgate was being rebuilt. Stow saw this stone but, not realizing that it was
a tombstone, conjectured that it was an inscription on one of the Jews' houses destroyed
in 1215, when the barons entered the city, rifled the Jews' houses, and used their stones
to strengthen the city walls and gates against the king.7 Stow tried to copy the Hebrew
inscription and also gives a translation, but neither is accurate. The inscription in
English should probably read: "Here lies Rabbi Moses, son of the honourable Rabbi Isaac."8
Four other Hebrew tombstones were found built into Aldersgate when this was
pulled down for rebuilding in 1617.9 These four stones were placed by Thomas, Earl of
1 Benedict of Peterborough's Chronicle, 1169-92 (ed. W. Stubbs, Rolls Series, 1867), I, 182;
thence in Roger de Hoveden, Chronica (Rolls Series, 1869), II, 137. See also C. Roth, A History
of the Jews in England (1949 ed.), 13.
2 M. Paris, II, 528, cited by Stow, I, 279.
3 Pipe Roll, I, Rich. I (1844), 75; cited in J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, 139; see also 161n,
163n. These Jews may have been the survivors. The number killed must be grossly exaggerated.
4 G. H. Leonard in R.H.S. Trans. (1891), 118. See also C. Roth, The Jews of Mediaeval
Oxford, 6, 18, 108; and A History of the Jews in England, 13.
5 Rigg, Select Pleas, 1. It was the custom to attach the bodies of deceased Jews by way of
security for the discharge of these claims.
6 Liber Albus, 205. Towards the end of the thirteenth century special tolls directed against
Jews were imposed at certain newly constructed bridges. The standard charge for a dead Jew was
8d. (C. Roth, A History of the Jews in England (1949 ed.), 103n).
7 Stow, I, 9, 38, 279.
8 This Jew cannot unfortunately be further identified. In Stow, II, 277, C. L. Kingsford
suggests a more accurate Hebrew reading. Another version is given by J. Seiden (see below), 177.
Dr. Lipman suggests that "the Honourable" may mean a patron of learning; and, if so, says that
this Isaac would be one of the nine with this title in medieval Anglo-Jewry (Brit. Acad. Supp. Paper,
VIII, 15). Two of the nine were named Isaac, and one, Isaac of Norwich, had a son Moses, who
died in 1239 or 1240. This Moses is not elsewhere described as a rabbi, but the term may not have
been used here in the technical sense.
9 Harben, A Dictionary of London, 7.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
Arundel and Surrey, on the bank of the Thames in the gardens of his house (Arundel
House) along the Strand. They were thence removed with the Arundel marbles to
Oxford and placed in the courtyard of the old Ashmolean Museum. These four Arundel
stones were numbered cxci, cxcii, cxciii and cxciv and have now disappeared. John
Seiden saw and commented on them in 1629.1 In the enlarged 1676 and 1732 editions
of Selden's book by H. Prideaux there are facsimiles of the Hebrew inscriptions, now
reproduced for these Transactions.2,
A sixth tombstone was found in 1753 embedded face downwards in London Wall,
next to Bethlehem Hospital,3 and a facsimile appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine,
XXIII (1753), 369. This stone commemorates one Nahum, Nathan or Nathaniel4; and
is also reproduced for this volume.
The desecration of two of these Hebrew tombstones has been attributed to the year
1215, but it is more likely that all the six stones, and possibly others still unfound, were
used for the city defences after the expulsion of the Jews in 1290. We know that the
citizens at that date were hard put to it not only to make good the city wall, which was in
bad repair, but also to rebuild it by Ludgate nearer the River Fleet. This change of line
was to give more space to the newly arrived Black Friars or Dominicans,5 whose sermons
the Jews had been forced to attend in 1279.6 After the departure of the Jews perhaps the
obvious thing would be to desecrate their cemetery and put the stones and site to other
uses. There are suggestions of this procedure at two other Jewish cemeteries:—
(a) Northampton: "the stones of the wall worth 30s. for carting away."7
(b) Winchester: "a stone of the value of 4s. on which the Jews washed corpses before
Christian custom all over Europe in the Middle Ages seems to have been to dig up
the dead after a certain number of years and to deposit the bones in a charnel house.
This was certainly the practice at St. Paul's Cathedral,9 St. Bartholomew's Priory in Smith-
field, and St. Bride's in Fleet Street. The custom still continues at the monastery of
Santorin, a Greek island in the South Aegean Sea, where seven years is the accepted
time, and the bones are put in bags.10 The results of the recent excavations of 1948-49
sponsored by this Society on the site of the Jews' cemetery in London seems to bear out
1 J. Selden's "Commentaries" in his Marmora Arundelliana (1629), 100, 177; H. Prideaux in
(a) Marmora Oxoniènsia (1676), 311-14; and (b) Manmorum Oxoniensi (1732), 62, 99, 193-6; and
C. Roth, The Jews of Oxford, 107n.
2 Pages 310-11 in the 1676 edition, and p. 62 in the 1732 edition. The earlier volume has been
used. The Hebrew as given makes little sense.
3 Bethlehem Hospital stood in Moorfields adjoining the city wall from 1666 to 1814 (Harben,
op. cit., 447).
4 C. Spon in London Wall (1937), 103.
5 London Topographical Record, XIX (1947), 50-1.
6 A. M. Hyamson, A History of the Jews in England (1908), 97.
7 J.H.S. Trans., II, 98.
8 Ibid., 102. 4s. was a large amount for this stone.
9 Protector Somerset removed to Bunhill (Bone Hill) the bones from Pardon Churchaw, on the
north side of the cathedral, when he used the stones of the charnel house for the building of
Somerset House in the Strand.
10 This custom was connected with a great fear of vampires, the bodies of deceased persons,
winged and animated by evil spirits. They were said to come out of their graves at night and suck
the blood of sleeping men, who then died. This belief in vampires was current in England in the
late twelfth century and the early thirteenth century, as Walter Mapes shows (Gualteri Mapes de
Nugis Curialium (Camden Series, 1850), vi-vii, 103-4).
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
this digging up of the dead, either by the Jews1 or Christians, at the time of the expulsion.
Professor Grimes writes, "the curious thing was that when the graves came to be
examined they were found to be completely empty and one can only assume that this
must have been done as part of some desecration of the site. We failed to find a single
complete skeleton in place." The trial cuttings were mostly dug in the empty cellars of
bombed houses in the central area of the cemetery, north and south of Jewin Street.
Those on the south side, and those about half way between the two ends of Jewin
Crescent (south side) proved the more rewarding. There had been some disturbance of
the ground but a number of graves were found not far west of the Cripplegate bastion 9
feet below the unusually high natural ground level. There were traces of graves in
about the same position to the north of Jewin Street as well. The graves were on the
large size, rather square in shape, and shallow. They contained only about 18 inches of
made or garden earth, but a further foot or two may well have been removed for the
excavation of the cellars. Trial cuttings were put down in other parts of the cemetery
area "but either the graves did not extent very far or they were destroyed when the
cellars were made."
Only a very few odd bones were found. There were no signs of a laving stone, such
as Winchester had. Nor were there any remains of a small stone mortuary, a desirability
if not an essential for such a cemetery. This building was probably converted after 1290
into a dovecot, a feature of later descriptions of the site, and most likely disappeared
when Jewin Street itself was made up, since the road was originally the pathway through
the centre of the cemetery.
Three groups of Jews were buried in this cemetery: the London Jews; all other Jews
until 1177; and those Jews who had no nearer cemetery after that date. Every provincial
Jewish community was allowed after 1177 to buy land outside the walls of a city for burial
purposes, and by 1290 there were nine such cemeteries. For the mid-eastern counties
there was one at Cambridge. There are no actual references to this cemetery but several
Jewish gravestones, one with an imperfect Hebrew inscription, were found in 1782 near
the old Tolbooth by the Guildhall.2 These stones were clearly not in situ but seem to
imply such a cemetery. As in 1275 the community moved from Cambridge to Hunting-
don3 the absence of any 1290 reference is not surprising.
To the north-east of Cambridge was the Norwich cemetery. One reference to this
is on the Curia Regis Roll for 1200, when the Jews of Norwich complained that the
burgesses had broken into their cemetery. The burgesses did not put in an appearance,
their excuse for non-attendance was not accepted, and judgment was accordingly given
for the plaintiffs. The burgesses were remanded sine die, and the Jews were awarded
"such compensation as they could get."4 Another reference to this cemetery seems to be
in a deed of 1293 relating to two pieces of property lately belonging to Elias, son of Elias
the Jew. The first piece was part of a house facing the church of St. Peter Mancroft in
the market place. This house had been built over the entry to the synagogue ("Schola
Judeorum"). East of the house was a piece of land 28 feet wide at the west end and 32
1 Dr. Roth thinks that in this most exceptional case the Jews may have taken the bones with
them into exile. Centuries earlier the Israelites had carried with them out of Egypt the bones of
Joseph (Genesis, L, 25, 26; Exodus, XIII, 19; Joshua, XXIV, 32).
2 H. P. Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History (1913), 114,120-1,130,144-5. The synagogue
had stood next the old Tolbooth in Butter's Row, by the Guildhall.
3 Ibid., 131.
4 Rotuli Curiae Regis (1835), II, 155.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
feet wide at the east, where it adjoined the "cockey" or castle ditch. Northwards was a
private house, and southwards was the land which had been the garden of the Jewish
community ("terra illa quae fuit ortus Schole Judeorum"). Dr. Lipman thinks that
this garden was possibly the cemetery although it was in the middle of the Jewish quarter
inside the city wall, and although its size was probably only about 20-30 feet by 50 feet.1
The only evidence for a cemetery at Canterbury in the south-east is the 1290
inventory which records that the Jewish community owned not only a synagogue but also
a piece of ground worth 6d.2
The Oxford Jews bought land for a cemetery between 1180 and 1231. This land
was immediately outside the east gate, on both sides of the highway. The actual
cemetery, one perch in extent, was situated on the north side and was soon taken from
the Jews by Henry III, who in 1231 gave the site to the master and brethren of the
Hospital of St. John the Baptist (first mentioned in 1180) for their new and permanent
home.3 The Jews had to be content with their spare plot of land, 300 X 90 feet, on the
opposite or south side of the road, and here they had their "House of Life" till their
expulsion in 1290.4
Further north, the Lincoln Jews shared the York cemetery at first, but had one of
their own by 1290,5 a fact which has only now come to light. As to Northampton in the
Midlands, in 1189 there may be an indirect reference to a Jewish cemetery when Benedict
of York died there.6 By 1194 there was a very flourishing Jewry in Northampton7 but
as London is only sixty miles away burials may have taken place there. In fact, the
purchase of a Northampton cemetery seems definitely only to have taken place between
1259 and 1264, when the Jewish community arranged to pay 40d. yearly to the Prior
(Brother Guy) and Convent of St. Andrew of Northampton "for our burial ground made
by their licence in a certain piece of land outside the north gate of Northampton." The
original deed was lost in 1264 so another was made, probably in 1271. Henceforth the
Jews were to pay ½ mark (80d.) but in addition to the cemetery, "the House of Graves,"
the Jews had acquired an adjacent house.8 Jews from other communities could be
buried in the Northampton cemetery and in 1290 it is recorded that 4s. was due from
certain houses in Stamford towards the upkeep of this cemetery.9
Winchester towards the south-west of England had a cemetery. There are only
two references to it, both at the end of its existence. In 1290 the Jewish community
1 Dr. V. D. Lipman has kindly supplied this information, based on his own researches and the
1293 deed in W. Hudson and J. C. Tingey, Selected Records of the City of Norwich (1906), II,
2 J.H.S., Trans., II, 89; IV, 220-1. Dr. Roth includes Canterbury in his list of cemeteries
(The Jews of Oxford, 109).
3 C. Roth, The Jews of Mediaeval Oxford, 18, 108-9. The tower and part of the south
frontage of Magdalen College were later built on this site.
4 This land was "extra idem gardinum" and the sheriffs were to see that the Jews had quiet
seisin thereof. After the expulsion of the Jews St. John's Hospital used it as their burial ground.
Magdalen College let it as a meadow, and now it is the Botanic Garden.
5 P.R.O., Rot. Orig. Abbrev., I, 76a: "de loco illo cum pertinentiis in eadem civitate que fuit
6 He could not be buried because he had become a Christian and then relapsed (Hoveden, III,
14; see also J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England, 106; and J.H.S. Trans., II (1908), 82-3).
7 A. J. Collins in J.H.S. Trans., XV (1946), 152-3. 1194 was the year when Richard I's
ransom was paid.
8 Ibid., 155-61, with a facsimile of the 1271 charter.
9 J.H.S. Trans., II, 98. The stones of the cemetery walls were worth 30s. for carting away.
For a 1292 reference, see Rot. Orig. Abbrev., I (1805), 76a.
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
held land (worth 2s. 6d. yearly) from the Prior of St. Swithun's at a rent of 2s., together
with a stone worth 4s. on which the Jews washed corpses before burial.1 Two years
later the ex-cemetery was held by Adam de Northampton,2 so the 1290 land, though not
named as such, must have been the site of the cemetery.
Farther south-west was the Bristol one. The Jews of Bristol lived between the
north ends of Broad Street and Small Street by the quayside of the River Frome.3 This
site was just outside the city wall, and close to Frome Bridge.4 Across this bridge could
be reached Brandon Hill to the westward.5 Here were two springs named Jacob's Wells6
and near the one on the western slope of the hill was, according to local tradition, the
"Jews' Acre" or cemetery. When the foundations for the new building of Queen
Elizabeth's Hospital (the City School) were being dug on this site in 1847 many tomb-
stones with Hebrew inscriptions were found, but were unfortunately buried under the
building and are therefore lost.7 The Jews buried in this cemetery would have been
those living in Bristol, Exeter and Hereford.
The only other Jewish cemetery seems to have been outside the walls of York.
Here there was a cemetery prior to 1230, for in that year the area of it was extended by
the purchase from the sub-dean of York Minster of a piece of ground in the street called
Barkesgate (now Barker Hill) in the suburbs of York adjacent to the ancient cemetery
of the Jews. The Jews were to hold the land in fee but were to pay 2s. yearly.8 The
place-name Jewbury ("le Jewbury") still denotes the position of this cemetery, which
lay on the west bank of the River Foss just outside the city wall and extended from
Layerthorpe Bridge to Monk Bridge. Until the Lincoln Jews bought their own cemetery
they used the York one, as has been said. In 1290 "le Jewbury," with a house and land
adjoining, was worth 20s. yearly; and in this house may have lived a professional cemetery
keeper, as a Jacob "de Coemitereo" occurs in the records.9 From the York cemetery in
1290 the outgoings were 2s. to the Minster, Id. to the prior of Holy Trinity, York, and
l1d. to the king for house tax.10By 1291 the cemetery had passed to secular owners.11
No cemeteries have been found at Bedford, Colchester, Exeter, Hereford, Ipswich,
Nottingham and Stamford. These cities and those mentioned above were the only ones
in which Jews were still allowed to live at the time of the expulsion.
Another question arises, as to who was legally responsible for the London cemetery.
Here the deeds give the answer for the latter part of the time.
(a) Elias, son of Master Moses the Jew, then principal warden of the cemetery of
the entire community of the Jews in London, 1257-58; also described, in 1267-68, as
1 B. L. Abrahams in J.H.S. Trans., II, 102.
2 Rot. Orig. Abbrev., I, 76a.
3 Modern Quay Street; once Old Jewry or Jury Lane.
4 Stone Bridge not far to the west may also have been there in pre-expulsion days. This was
5 The Cabot Tower was erected on the summit in 1897.
6 The name has been perpetuated in the modern Jacobs Wells Road. The spring rises opposite
to the entrance to the City School and now helps supply the Hotwells City Baths, established in 1889.
7 G. Pryce, A Popular History of Bristol (1861), 22-3; J. F. Nicholls and J. Taylor, Bristol
Past and Present (1880), 61; J. W. Arrowsmith, Dictionary of Bristol (1884), 136, 247; ibid. (1906),
116, 231; M. Adler, The Jews of Mediaeval England (1939), 182; and H. G. Brown, Bristol England
(1946), 30, and see the period maps in this book.
8 R. Davies, "The Mediaeval Jews of York" in Yorkshire Archaeo. Journal, III (1875), 185:
the original deed still exists. See also M. Adler, The Jews of Mediaeval England (1939), 165-7.
9 C. Roth, The Jews of Mediaeval Oxford, 109.
10 J.H.S. Trans., II, 105. See also C. Roth, The Jews of Mediaeval Oxford, 109.
11 Rot. Orig. Abbrev., I, 75a.
Master Elias the Jew of London, son of Master Moses.1 This Elias, better known as
Elijah of London, was not the arch-presbyter but he was the most influential and illustrious
person in all mediaeval Jewry, as Dr. Roth2 has found. He was born in London in about
1220, the son of Master Moses of London,3 himself the son of Yomtob and grandson of
the honourable Rabbi Moses of Bristol. Elijah became known as "the Rabbi of London."
1 See above, p. 148,
2 C. Roth, "Rabbi Elijah Menahem ben Rabbi Moses, of London" in J.H.S. Trans., XV
3 Master Moses was a scholar of outstanding eminence, known as "the mighty one." In his
six sons mediaeval Anglo-Jewry reached its highest pitch of distinction, and Elijah was the most
outstanding of them all (C. Roth, op. cit.).
the pre-expulsion cemetery of the jews in london
His activities included business, public work (he collected the Jews' taxes), the Law and
the Prophets, literature and medicine. He could speak Hebrew, English and French,
and understood Latin and Aramaic. His house, first in Milk Street and then in Candle-
wick (modern Cannon) Street, was the administrative centre for the Jews and their
Exchequer officials. Elijah himself was an outstanding financial expert, and was treated
everywhere with marked cordiality. He died in 1284.
(b) Jacob of Oxford and the entire community of the Jews in England, 1268-69.1
This was James or Jacob le Eveske or Cohen, the Chirographer of London and therefore
called Jacob the Clerk. His father was Benedict le Eveske and his brother was Elias le
Eveske, who was Archpresbyter from 1243 to 1257, and then in 1259 became an apostate.2
(c) Aaron, son of Vives, the Jew of London, 1282-83; also called Aaron of York,
1283.3 Aaron, son of Vives, was another great magnate of London Jewry and was the
associate and rival of Elijah of London. It was these two who in 1280 imported from
Gascony 7 tuns of good wine "made according to Jewish rite," obviously for ritual
purposes. In the same year Aaron gave to the London community his stone house and
courts in Catte Street for a new synagogue, to replace the one confiscated and destroyed
in 1272, but in 1282 this new synagogue was dismantled by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In 1290, at the time of the expulsion, this Aaron, who was under the personal patronage of
Edmund, Earl of Lancaster, second son of Henry III, and helped to administer the
Court of Exchequer of the Jews, was given a special safe-conduct by the king, and other
(d) Moses Poteman, Jew of London, 1284-85.5 This Moses died before 1289, as
has already been noted.
(e) Hagin, son of Deulcress called Cok Hagin, the Jew of London, 1289.6 Cok
Hagin was a nephew of Elijah of London and was the last Archpresbyter, from 1281
until the expulsion.7
Thus ends our survey of the pre-expulsion cemetery of the Jews in London. In
more senses than one it has been the digging up of a very tragic past; but not an inglorious
one. The Jews were an important factor in early mediaeval London, and many a Jew
was highly respected and an ornament not only to his race but also to his birthplace,
London. And here in London, hard by the city wall, he and his kin were buried, in the
cemetery of the Jews, in the place called Leyrestowe.
1 See p. 148.
2 C. Roth, The Jews of Mediaeval Oxford, 67-8; H. P. Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History,
5, 6, 30-3.
3 See p. 149.
4 H. P. Stokes, op. cit., 184-5; C. Roth, op. cit., 44.
5 See p. 149.
6 See p. 149.
7 H. P. Stokes, op. cit., 35-7.