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A magnate among the marchers: Hamo of Hereford, his family and clients, 1218-1253

Joe Hillaby

<plain_text><page sequence="1">A magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford, his family and clients, 1218-1253* JOE HILLABY The Commune Iudeorum of 13th-century England was made up of a series of interlocking urban communities.1 By 1221 seventeen had received official recognition in the form of a chest in which details of all loans had to be lodged. A number of others were recognized for short periods subsequently (Fig. I).2 In 1275 the Jewries in Queen Eleanor's dower towns - Worcester, Gloucester, Cambridge and Marlborough - were closed, and the residents transferred to neighbouring communities - Hereford, Bristol, Norwich and Devizes; the remaining Jewries continued to function until the general expulsion in 1290.3 Surprisingly few of these seventeen communities have been subjected to detailed scrutiny. Two major studies have appeared: Cecil Roth's Jews of Medieval Oxford (1951) and, under the auspices of this Society, Vivian Lipman's The Jews of Medieval Norwich (1967). In the 1930s Michael Adler provided short accounts of the medieval Jewries of Canterbury, Exeter and Bristol. Further evidence as to the topography of the Canterbury Jewry is to be found in Urry's magisterial survey of Angevin Canterbury, The Cambridge community was described by Stokes in 1913. Hill's volume on Medieval Lincoln (1948) includes a chapter on the Jewry. A study of the Worcester Jewry has just been completed. The topography of the Winchester Jewry is described in the Survey of Medieval Winchester, I, edited by D. Keene. Professor Dobson has written on two aspects of the York community - of the 1190 massacre and of its decline and expulsion - and Marjorie Honeybourne of the pre-expulsion cemetery in London (1959 61 ).4 Of other communities we have but a slight knowledge.5 Why, then, select the Hereford Jewry, one of the least known and most remote of these communities, for detailed examination? The initial reason was that the site was threatened by large-scale commercial development. Sadly, despite highly vocal objection and a successful outcome at one public inquiry, the Norwich Union pushed forward regardless with a plan which has destroyed, irrevocably, a street pattern which went back to the 11th and 12th centuries (Plates 1 and 2). An earlier version of this paper was presented to the Society on 16 November 1989. 23</page><page sequence="2">Joe Hillaby THE DATE IS THE EARLIEST INDICATING SETTLEMENT Fig 1. Jewish communities in England, late-12th and 13th centuries. However, it soon became clear that there was a wealth of documentary evidence available for the history of the Hereford Jewry, of which the most significant was a list of debts owing to H?mo of Hereford and his 24</page><page sequence="3">A magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford family in the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews for 1244. When this list was published in the first volume of this Society's Calendar, it was described by the editor as 'first in importance* in the records of that court.6 Analysis of the text showed the highly unusual, possibly unique, position of the Hereford Jewry in respect of its clients, in the early years of Henry Ill's reign. Further, the Plea Rolls, together with other evidence, confirm that H?mo was indeed one of the wealthiest members of the English community. However, with the death of the last of Hamo's sons in 1253 his wealth was exhausted and, for a short time, the Hereford community lapsed once more into obscurity. The first reference to a Jew at Hereford is in the Pipe Rolls for 1178-9 when Moses paid 2.5 marks for his right to debts of ?7 6s 8d owed by Henry 'de Minariis' and ?3 6s 8d by Henry Beauchamp.7 The mark was a money of account, or a bar of silver, of the value of 160 silver pennies (13s 4d). In 1194 the community's contribution to the so-called Northampton Donum, in reality not a gift but tallage, was ?11 Is 8d, that is 0.5 per cent of the total sum raised.8 It ranked fourteenth among the twenty-one communities assessed (Table 1). These tax returns enable us to establish a hierarchy of wealth, not only between communities but also within them, for the names of all those 'possessing chattels to the value of 40s and upwards' are given (Table 2). As we have no indication of the number of people possessing chattels worth less than 40s, we can only estimate the total population.9 Northampton Donum, 1194: contributions of individual Jewish communities (PROE101/249/2) Table 1 Community ? s d % Rank London Lincoln Canterbury Northampton Gloucester Cambridge Winchester Norwich Warwick Colchester Oxford Chichester 471 277 242 160 116 98 84 71 62 41 35 26 6 16 14 18 19 10 15 11 7 13 13 0 3 3 4 3 4 0 7 5 10 4 6 0 27 16 14 9 6.5 5.5 5 4 3 2 2 1.5 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 25</page><page sequence="4">Joe Hillaby Bristol 22 Hereford 11 Nottingham 5 Worcester 4 Hertford 4 Bedford 1 Exeter 1 Wallingford 1 Coventry ?1742 9 14 2 1 13 1 8 0.5 14 6 4 0.3 15 8 8 0.25 16 4 3 024 17 14 0 0.09 18 2 3 0.06 19 0 0 0.05 20 11 9 0.03 21 2 Table 2 Northampton Donum, 1194: contributions of the Hereford community (PROE101/249/2) ? s d % Rank Melin 3 13 4 33.1 1 Abraham of Colchester 1 18 10 175 2 Isaac of Bungay 18 8 12.9 3 Elijah 1 3 4 105 4 Samuel of Hereford 1 0 0 9.0 5 Abraham genere Elias 13 0 5.9 6 Salococ 12 10 5.8 7 Peter the Jew 11 8 5.3 8 11 1 8 The table indicates two important characteristics of the English provincial Jewries. First, they were often dominated by one especially wealthy family; second, there was a high degree of mobility between communities. This was a particularly marked feature of the 12th century, the era of settlement and growth.10 Table 2 shows immigration from the southeast, from Colchester and Bungay. The Jewish population of the latter town departed when its castle was demolished after Hugh Bigod's revolt in 1174.11 Movement was not one-way: in 1204 a Jacob of Hereford was making loans in Wiltshire and Somerset.12 Nor did the Hereford community have a monopoly of the local money market. In 1204-5 the magnate Leo of Warwick had at least two Herefordshire clients, Walter Baskerville (?32) and Roger filius Maur (?10).13 In the later years of John's reign the English communities suffered 26</page><page sequence="5">A magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford sorely. Hereford was no exception, for a document of 1219 refers to those who in the face of royal extortion 'had died and those who had crossed over the seas'.14 John died at Newark on 19 October 1216. One of the strangest episodes in English history then followed. The king's body, covered in such slight elements of regalia as could be found, was taken by a small group of his mercenaries across country to Worcester. There it was hurriedly buried, before the altar of St Wulfs tan, by a small group of loyal prelates and marcher barons headed by the rector regni, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, Lord of Striguil and Leinster. On 28 October, John's nine-year-old son was crowned, with his mother's chaplet, in the abbey church of St Peter at Gloucester.15 'Informed', in the memorable words of d'Bloissiers Tovey, the first historian of the English Jewry, 'what profit might arise from the Jews if they were kindly dealt with', these men moved quickly to reverse John's policy towards the Jews, and the migratory flow in particular.16 On 19 June a mandate was sent by the Council to the sheriff of Hereford. It confirmed the right of the Jews to live in Hereford as they had in the early years of the reign of John. They were to have their own community and he was to make known throughout his bailiwick that they had been granted the king's firm peace. It was, in effect, a restatement of the so-called Charter of Liberties of 1201 which guaranteed that the English Jewry should 'hold all things of the king and have all their liberties and customs as well, peaceably and honourably as they held them of Henry, our father's grandfather', that is Henry I (1100-35).17 This is the first occasion on which mention is made of the rights and obligations of a community at Hereford. The 1201 charter had granted 'to our Jews of England that breaches of right that shall occur among them, except such as pertain to our Crown and justice ... be examined and amended amongst themselves according to their law, so that they administer their own justice amongst themselves'. Not mentioned, but well understood, were their liabilities in relation to taxation. Foremost among these taxes was tallage. Payment was a corporate obligation and on occasions whole Jewries were gaoled in cases of default. Adjustment of the burden between the communities was the duty of the Commune Iudeorum Anglie, a duty usually assumed by its magnates.18 The tallage evidence The three Tallage Rolls of 1221 (the so-called 'Aid to Marry'), 1223 and 1226 show the remarkable changes that had taken place at Hereford since 27</page><page sequence="6">Joe Hillaby 1194 (Table 3).19 In 1221 Hereford, ranking eighth out of seventeen communities, now contributed 5 per cent of the total. Two years later it was fifth, 6.5 per cent, not far behind the important Lincoln Jewry. For 1226 the figures are incomplete; the sums paid by York, London, Northampton and Exeter are not available, but the overall picture is clear: Hereford's ranking had not changed materially. Table 3 Tallages of 1221,1223 and 1226: contributions of Jewish communities (PRO E401/4; E401/6; E401/8) 1221 1223 1226 Community ? s d % Rank ? s d % Rank ? s d Rank York 164 10 0 25 1 286 16 8 165 1 1 London 80 10 4 12 2 214 17 1 125 2 2 Winchester 53 7 1 8 3 115 3 61 5 7 3 Lincoln 52 10 1 8 4 156 19 3 9 4 21 7 1 9 Canterbury 52 8 10 8 5 81 16 3 45 11 26 8 0 7 Northampton 47 9 11 7 6 92 17 11 55 7 4/5 Stamford 37 17 11 6 7 84 14 10 5 10 26 7 9 8 Hereford 31 19 5 8 8 110 10 6 65 5 39 12 7 4/5 Norwich 28 7 4 4 9 103 2 7 6 6 14 18 0 12 Oxford 27 8 2 4 10 87 11 0 5 9 30 14 2 6 Bristol 22 12 9 35 11 92 5 6 5 8 10 1 5 15 Gloucester 19 2 4 3 12 51 13 11 1 14 15 10 0 11 Cambridge 16 6 9 25 13 52 1 3 3 13 18 8 7 10 Exeter 8 5 8 1 14 73 10 6 4 12 13 Nottingham 6 6 9 1 15 11 9 2 05 17 3 14 3 18 Worcester 3 1 2 05 16 24 15 6 15 15 11 4 8 14 Colchester 2 8 9 05 17 15 17 3 1 16 7 4 9 17 Wilton 7 13 1 16 Southampton 3 6 10 19 Huntingdon 18 0 20 Bedford 11 2 21 The rise in Hereford's fortunes is easily explained by tabulating the payments of individual members for these three years (Table 4). More than half of the tax burden was borne by one man, H?mo. He was one of that small group of 'outstanding plutocrats' to which Vivian Lipman drew attention in his Anatomy of Medieval Anglo-Jewry.20 The tallage returns illustrate how frequently all except the largest Jewries were dominated by 28</page><page sequence="7">A magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford one man, so they enable us to establish Hamo's place within the ranks of his fellow magnates (Table 5). Table 4 Tallages of 1221,1223 and 1226: contributions of the Hereford community (PRO E401/4; E401/6; E401/8) 1221 ? s d %Rank 1223 ? s d % Rank 1226 ? s d % Rank H?mo Serfdeu Elias Isaac Aaron, son of Josce Manasser, s/1 of H?mo Isaac, s/1 of Moses Deulcresse of Oxford Solomon of Kent Benjamin, s/1 of Isaac Moses of Aylesbury Genta, daughter of Isaac 10 Isaac, son of Solomon 8 13 19 17 2 4 535 3 15 0 11.7 2 3 6 6.8 1 12 2 5.0 1 8 4 4.4 1 8 4 4.4 1 0 0 3.1 14 14 11 11 2.2 2.2 Josce, s/1 of Serfdeu Abraham, son of Serfdeu Aaron le prestre Commune of Hereford Blanche Aaron, s/1 of Abraham Moses, son of Isaac Benjamin, s/1 of Aaron (abbreviation: s/1 son-in-law) 1 70 0 0 633 2 14 15 0 133 3 4 3 5 6 4 2 7 3 13 9 2 9 2 8= 1 12 10 8= 1 11 4 4 1.8 4 1.8 3 1.6 12 6 1.3 13 5 10= 14 6 10= 14 7 1 12 10 19 8 10 0 110 10 5 3.0 3.7 33 22 15 1.4 1.1 1.1 19 8 0.9 2 9 0 22 15 0.9 05 4 6 8= 10 12 11 13= 25 14 0 65.7 2 10 0 6.4 13= 15 1 7 11 13 11 3.6 1.8 19 5 25 17 0 2.2 13 11 13 11 1.8 1.8 14 0 1.8 2 4 8 5.7 16 0 2.0 13 11 1.8 8 0 1.0 13= 4 9= 5 6 9= 9= 8 0 1.0 13= 3 7 9= 39 8 0 1.0 13= 2 8 29</page><page sequence="8">Joe Hillaby Table 5 Tallages of 1221,1223 and 1226: Jewish provincial magnates within their communities (PRO E401/4; E401/6; E401/8) Name and community 1221 s d 1223 s d 1226 s d % H?mo of Hereford 17 2 4 54 70 0 0 63 25 14 0 66 Hereford 31 19 5 110 10 6 39 12 7 David of Oxford Oxford 14 5 27 8 0 52 2 49 7 87 11 56 15 2 30 14 49 Pictavin Stamford 12 11 4 33 37 17 m 24 13 6 84 14 10 29 12 26 0 45 9 Jacob, son of Samuel Bristol 7 0 0 31 22 12 9 37 10 0 92 5 6 41 Figures not available Benedict Deulcresse 15 4 10 29 18 12 0 23 Canterbury 52 8 10 81 16 3 Vives, son of Isaac Northampton 12 17 7 47 9 11 27 25 0 0 27 92 17 11 Figures not available Figures not available Table 6 confirms that he was not one of the lesser provincial magnates, but was equal in wealth to the plutocrats who dominated the London Jewry and that of York, capital of the north. In 1221 the wealth of five members of the York Jewry - Aaron, Leo and Benedict Episcopus, Isaac of Northampton and Aaron, son of Isaac - was outstanding. H?mo took sixth place. His contribution was significantly higher than any from London. Two years later there was a marked change in the relative position of the York and London communities; the contribution of the former has now been reduced from 25 per cent to 16.5 per cent (Table 3). The lightening of York's burden was not the only change. The magnates effected a considerable re allocation among themselves. In 1221 the Crown had demanded 1500 marks; in 1223 that was doubled. All payments therefore went up, except for Aaron, son of Isaac. H?mo now had a tallage bill 4 times that of 1221, David of Oxford's was 3% times greater but for the Londoner, Aaron le Blund, it was 6 times, and for the Bristolians, Jacob, son of Samuel, and Josce Furmag, 5 and 10 times respectively. Although some details of the 1226 tallage are missing, useful comparisons can be made. In that year Pictavin of Stamford's total had fallen back to that of 1221, David of Oxford was paying only 17s 6d more, while H?mo had to find an 30</page><page sequence="9">A magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford additional 50 per cent. The differential between H?mo and David was increasing again. Clearly one cannot argue precisely from these figures, but they do show that the fortune of the Hereford magnate could bear comparison with those of the greatest Jewish financiers of his day - even the legendary Aaron of York. Table 6 Tallages of 1221,1223 and 1226: major contributors (PRO E401/4; E401/6; E401/8) 1221 1500 marks 1223 3000 marks 1226 Magnate Community ? s d Rank ? s d Rank %2 ? s d Aaron of York1 York Leo Episcopus York Benedict Episcopus York Isaac of Northampton York Aaron, son of Isaac York H?mo of Hereofrd Hereford Josce of Kent York Benedict Duelecresse Canterbury David of Oxford Vives, son of Isaac Pictavin Benedict Episcopus (Crespin) Elias of Lincoln Oxford Northampton 12 17 Stamford London Lincoln 28 15 0 27 7 6 21 12 6 20 0 10 17 17 1 17 2 4 15 12 1 15 4 10 14 5 0 7 12 11 4 12 10 10_0_ 225 16 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 43 2 44 13 42 0 15 17 70 0 34 10 18 12 49 7 25 0 24 13 25 13 16 0 1 8 3 10 11 75 81 87 44 204 25 14 110 61 173 15 97 98 12 102 80 2 6 0 0 Leo, son of Isaac (leBlund) London 9 4 2 20 4 0 14 Aaron, son of Leo (leBlund) London 8 13 91 50 0 0 2 Elias, son of Leo (leBlund) London 8 12 6 21 5 9 Jacob, son of Samuel Bristol 7 0 0 37 10 0 Josce Furmag Bristol 2 6 8 21 13 4 13 7 12 109 288 123 267 465 1 'of Lincoln' in text; 2 = 1223 payment as % of 2x1221 payment 31</page><page sequence="10">Joe Hillaby The evidence of reliefs Too much reliance, it may be objected, should not be placed on one type of evidence, for tax returns are always vulnerable, yesterday as much as today. Fortunately the conclusions can be checked against two other sources. In 1231 H?mo died and his heirs were required to pay the Crown a relief, a form of death duty. This was assessed at one-third of the value of the deceased's estate; that is, his outstanding debts as recorded in the various chests, and his goods and chattels outside the chest 'as in gold, silver, pledges, jewels, lands, houses, rents and others moveable and immoveable'. Negotiations with the Exchequer over the amount of relief were undertaken by Hamo's eldest son, Ursell (the name is a variant of the scriptural Joshua). He had been a partner in the family business for at least six years. There is a record of his loan of 20 marks to John de Alebrigge, due for repayment in 1225, on the day of Hereford's great city fair, the feast of St Denis, 9 October.21 Payment of the relief was regarded by the Crown as the responsibility of all four sons - Moses, Leo and Abraham as well as Ursell. It was set at 6000 marks, E4000.22 This confirms the evidence of the Receipt Rolls of 1221, 1223 and 1226. The highest recorded relief paid on the death of any English Jew was on the estate of Leo of York (Leo Episcopus in Table 6). In 1244 his son, Samuel, had to meet a fine of 7000 marks. In the same year a relief of 5000 marks was imposed on Licoricia of Winchester, the widow of David of Oxford (Table 7). Hamo's heirs thus had the dubious privilege of paying the second-highest recorded relief for any English Jew.23 Table 7 Reliefs paid on estates of Jewish magnates H?mo of Hereford Leo Episcopus of York David of Oxford 1232 1244 1244 6000 marks 7000 marks 5000 marks (FR, 1232, 226; 1244, 412; CR, 1244, 260.) It may be held that this comparison is not just, as by 1244 conditions had changed for the magnates. In 1241 there was a radical change in the allocation of the tax burden. Professor Stacey has shown that the magnates had a new system of tax distribution thrust on them at their meeting with Henry III, the so-called Worcester parliament of 1241. The 32</page><page sequence="11">A magnate among the marchers: H?mo of Hereford dozen or so plutocrats were now assessed by 6 mediocres, elected by 103 representatives of the 21 Jewish communities of England. Within fifteen years, Stacey has suggested, this change *ruined the magnates and broke the backbone of the English Jewry'. Certainly, the wealthiest of all English Jews, Aaron of York, was bankrupt in 1255 and died thirteen years later in penury. Under the new arrangement Aaron was assessed at 6000 marks, 30 per cent of the total, and Leo Episcopus of York and David of Oxford each had to pay 2200 marks. The three wealthiest thus contributed 10,400 marks, more than half the total of 20,000 marks.24 However, within three years Leo and David were dead. The 1241 levy can hardly have affected their fortunes so dramatically as to invalidate a comparison of the reliefs paid by their heirs in 1244 and those of H?mo in 1231. For Aaron it was very different. As part of the settlement of relief, Leo's and David's heirs negotiated freedom from tallage. Aaron was thus left in a highly vulnerable position. In 1243 he had to pay a levy of 400 gold and 4000 silver marks - that is 8000 marks sterling - of which the king was pleased to receive the gold marks with his own hands. It is not surprising that he was impoverished by such demands.25 Alliances The magnates were drawn together by compelling forces, a profound sense of their religious and cultural identity as well as their vulnerability in an alien and frequently hostile society. Despite obvious business rivalries and suspicions engendered by the system of tax allocation, there was a tight network of relationships, business and social, between the leaders of the various communities. The closeness of this virtually nationwide network is an important factor in explaining their success. On many occasions loans were made, not by an individual or by a family group, but by a group of magnates. Thus we find H?mo cooperating in June 1230 with Aaron of York and David and Copin of Oxford, and in July and September with Isaac of Norwich and Jocepin of Bristol. From 1234 his son, Ursell, was collaborating with David of Oxford and Samar of Winchester.26 Such joint enterprises solved a number of urgent problems. Short-term difficulties relating to the availability of capital at provincial centres could be overcome in this way. The use of credit notes made possible the development of a more sophisticated relationship of supply and demand. Risks, possibly too great for one individual to assume, could be spread in a way rather similar to that adopted by bookmakers today. Clients' special needs, such as payment at different centres, could be met. 33</page><page sequence="12">Joe Hillaby Naturally, close business relationships were cemented by marriage alliances. From the 1244 list and other sources it is possible to explore some of the relationships linking the families of these outstanding plutocrats. These confirm the evidence of the tallage returns and relief payment, for Hamo's children married into at least two of the wealthiest Jewish families of the realm. Elias1 H?mo = Contessa Abraham of Berkhamstead = Floria dim Blanche Ursell = Rose(Crespin?) ^ 1241 Moses = Sarah &lt;/1253 Leo = Floria = 2? ^ 1234 Abraham &lt;icl232 d = M anasser Episcopus d= Elias (of York)3 Contessa1 Floria Jacob2 Josce son of = Contessa4 Contessa1 ^ 1267 Isaac of Worcs Deudonnel= Floria1 Abraham 1 PROE9/2/4;EJ,I65-8 2 1PM, 1267,112 3 PROE368/14 /4 4 PRO E9/18/6; EJ, IV, 33; PRO ElOl/250/5 Fig. 2. The family of H?mo of Hereford: a suggested pedigree. H?mo had six children of whom we have record, four sons and two daughters (Fig. 2). The youngest, Abraham, died shortly after his father.27 Moses, who succeeded to the business on Ursell's death in 1241, was married to Sarah, of whom nothing is known. The evidence suggests that Rose, wife