top of page
< Back

Anglo-Jewry in the 18th Century: a Presidential Address

Aubrey Newman

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Anglo-Jewry in the 18th Century: A Presidential Address* AUBREY NEWMAN When I delivered my Presidential address for the year 1977-8,1 took the opportunity of reminding the Society of some of the difficulties facing the Jewish historian, some of the techniques which he needs to acquire, and some of the problems - both professional and personal - which he has to face in order to make sense of the issues that he has to understand and put over to his audience. And that, of course, is itself one of the crucial issues which face all historians: it is not enough that he should be able to see and understand; he must be able to communicate his own vision and interpretation to an audience, to teach as well as to learn. For if he has studied a certain period he has to be able to show others what he finds there of significance, even if what he shows may not always and necessarily be based entirely on his own research work. In order to try and put precept into practice, this second address looks at the problems of marry? ing some of those techniques to the detailed study of a particular period of history, and of the Anglo-Jew? ish community within that period. Only some twenty years ago, the 18th century, in so far as Anglo-Jewish history was concerned, could be described as a period that had not been particularly closely studied,1 and that remains no less true today. At the same time it is also true that a number of important individual studies have still not been completely integrated into the spectrum of overall knowledge of that century, to the loss of all historians, and Anglo-Jewish ones not the least among them. The 18th century as a whole presents basic problems to historians, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. A major one is the size of the population. There are no absolute figures for these years, and although we can make guesses, they must remain unprovable. The best estimates for the overall total would suggest that in 1715 there were some 5^ millions in England and Wales; that the population remained more or less static for thirty years; that it * Address delivered to the Society on 25 October 1978. reached 6 million by about 1760; and that it underwent some sort of population explosion and rose in 1790 to nearly 9 million.2 These can only be guesses, since the first census return was in 1801 - and even that one was based on misleading assumptions. Students of demography are invaria? bly asked to account for these figures and the answer has to be that there is no single answer possible. In some parts of the country populations expanded more and at different times from others; in some places they expanded as a result of internal migration from another part while others actually fell; in some places there was a fall in the death rate and in others a rise in the birth rate, or a fall in infant mortality rate. Any of these individual factors has its own cumulative effect, and social scientists have a field-day while the rest of us look on waiting for some sort of definitive answer. All this has a direct connection with the question of the Jewish population. We know from a group of known figures and reasonable assumptions that the Anglo-Jewish population in 1700 was about 1000, living mostly in London. We have figures suggest? ing a Jewish population in 1738 of about 6000, and others for 1753 of about 8000. By 1800 the comparable figures suggest between about 15,000 and 20,000 in London and about 5000 or 6000 in the provinces.3 Those figures would indicate a general population growth over the second half of the century of 33%, but a Jewish growth of over 200%, and thus would raise a number of interest? ing questions. How far are they explicable in the light of the normal general factors? The answer must be that one basic factor was the continuing immigration, but it ought not to be forgotten that the base population was not a normal cross-section, and that we have seen in our own time how a small immigrant population can have a very much higher birth and growth rate than an 'average' one, since it does not necessarily have the same pattern of old and young; we must also bear in mind that we are talking about an urban-based population where the normal constraints upon age of marriage and I</page><page sequence="2">2 Aubrey Newman size of families need not apply to the same extent as with a population split between urban and rural circumstances. Moreover, even a low level of continuing immigration has the same sort of effect of giving an exponential population increase. I am not trying to blind by science but merely to show that there are in the comparatively simple sorts of questions posed a very large number of imponder? ables which need to be studied by specialists before the general historian can begin to give his general conclusions. Nonetheless, we can accept the importance of a continuing immigration during these years, and indeed we know from many sources that such did exist. Nor, on the other hand, do we need to postulate a very large wave of migration; it could very well have been an intake of between 120 and 150 a year which, added to the normal growth internally of the population, pretty near accounts for the bulk of this increase. There are no official registers of alien immigration, but there are some indicators of its origins and even lists of some of those who were known to be aliens at the end of the century. At that time, when Britain was at war with France, an Aliens' Act required aliens to be regis? tered with magistrates or, in the case of Jews, with their synagogues. Not all these lists have survived, but over the years a certain number have been discovered, as would still more if researchers only knew where to look for them or were able to recognize them when they came across such lists. As long ago as 1970, Dr Vivian Lipman raised several questions posed by these lists, and as yet no satisfactory answer has been given.4 If one follows the traditional division between Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews and deals with that second group first, one obvious group of migrants arriving quite early on in the century were the Jews from Portugal fleeing the Inquisition and coming forward as Jews for the first time. Their marriages, their circum? cisions, their well-publicized law-suits indicate clearly one stream of migration. Dr Lipman has shown clearly that this stream continued until almost the end of the century, though in con? tinually diminishing numbers. A second stream of Sephardim came from Italy, and of course that immigration is well attested from other sources. A third wave came from North Africa, and a fourth came at various stages from Gibraltar as a result of the siege of the Rock during the American War of Independence. Let it not be forgotten either that in addition to those Sephardim who entered the country as aliens and who might therefore be listed in such registers there would be also a number of Sephardim who entered through the West Indies and who would therefore not be classified as 'aliens'. But let us also keep these numbers in perspective. If we remember the ways in which the Sephardi community could well be losing members - intermarriage with either Gentiles or Ashkena zim, or even emigration in turn, for example to Australia - it ought to occasion no surprise that according to Bevis Marks records the numbers of the Sephardi community remained comparatively stable. The second group of immigrants are of course the Ashkenazim. There are many clues as to the place of origin of the earliest Ashkenazim; some came through Amsterdam and had no difficulty in join? ing the Sephardi congregation or being regarded virtually as Sephardim. But within a generation that pattern had changed sufficiently for both the Sephardim and the new settlers to be uncomfortable in Creechurch Lane, and this was to lead to the setting up of an Ashkenazi synagogue, following a Polish-German Minhag as practised at Hamburg. And this picture of a north-German origin with an occasional backward glance to Poland or Russia is emphasized with the establishment of the Hambro' Synagogue and even with the New Synagogue. They still had their close links with Amsterdam in terms of business and general economics, though it might perhaps be pointed out that Amsterdam was beginning to decline relative to overall Anglo-Con? tinental trade and that ports like Hamburg were beginning to assume a greater importance. On the other hand, close examination of the Plymouth Aliens List would indicate frequent immigration from middle Germany and from small towns rather than from large ones, a pattern which seems also to be indicated by various surviving records of the contemporary Portsmouth community. These may result from a not unnatural desire among newly arrived immigrants to make for areas where they could quite reasonably expect to find a welcome from relatives or friends. We know now a certain amount of the growth of Jewish populations in Central and Eastern Europe,</page><page sequence="3">Anglo-Jewry in the 18th Century 3 and we certainly know a great deal more about population movements in the late 17th and 18th centuries out of Eastern Europe into Central Eur? ope.5 We know something about the composition of those migrants, about where they headed, and about the reception they received. Certainly, for example, we know enough to appreciate much more deeply the sorts of agonizing which went on among the communities which were about to receive these migrants, not only the communities of London, for example, asking the Secretary of State to restrict the free rights of passage on ships trading from the English east coast to Hamburg and Amsterdam, but also in the communities of Central Europe itself, faced with the potential arrival of Bettel Juden and the strains they placed on commu? nal funds and religious loyalties. There are still a large number of important and so far unanswered questions about what caused individual Jews not from Eastern Europe to leave their homes and make for Britain. I cannot believe that these questions are unanswerable; I think rather that we have failed to pose the questions carefully and to look at the places where the answers could be found. If we are unsure of the size of the total Jewish population we are equally unsure of its wealth and even of its geographical distribution. We know of extremes of wealth, from the rich 'Jew brokers' on the one hand to the impoverished refugees from Eastern Europe on the other. What we cannot, however, do is to quantify these or be certain how many of the Jewish community lived above or below the poverty-line. In this, figures must be comparative, and we know little enough of the general figures for 18th-century England. We do not really know enough about the wealth of wealthy non-Jews or about the difference between an income of, say, ?1000 a year in Yorkshire and an income of ?1000 a year in Middlesex. So we have no guidelines to compare with Jewry. We could, for example, point to the limitation of Jewish brokers to 12 and suggest this is discrimination; equally it would be possible to point out that the fixing of the number to 12 out of 124, at a time when that equalled all the other alien brokers together, and at a time when the total number of brokers was being drastically reduced, represented a mark of favour to the Jewish immigrants rather than a mark of resentment. Nor can we place too much reliance upon the figures of dowries, estates of deceased persons, or of size of winnings in lottery tickets unless they appear elsewhere than in the 'hatch, match, and despatch' columns of the Gentle? man's Magazine: they are intended to titillate the imagination and are as close to reality as the size of medieval armies or the extent of 20th-century productivity deals. When, therefore, we read of the death of a Jew worth ?300,000 or even of ?900,000, or when we read of someone marrying off his daughter with a dowry of ?20,000 or even of ?30,000, we ought not to place any particular reliance on these figures alone save to indicate that popular belief was that these individuals were wealthy. Nor can we say that a typical non-Jewish squire reckoned that he could 'jog-along' quite nicely on an income of ?40,000 a year. For that particular individual - known thereafter as King Jog - had an income quite out of touch with those of typical squires, while the source of his income was not an estate but rather enormous coal royalties which enabled him a little later to claim and receive an Earldom.6 We are, therefore, very much in the dark still about the general wealth of members of the Anglo-Jewish communities, and it will not be until we have completed a much greater examina? tion of a large number of new sorts of sources that we will be able to make any generalized comments: only when, for example, we have been able to examine in detail marriage settlements, wills, and business records. The most valuable recent book on the trade in diamonds and coral is a good example of the fruitful results of the pursuit of such new and unresearched sources of Anglo-Jewish as well as of non-Jewish economic history.7 We have certainly in recent years learnt much more about the geographical distribution of 18th century Anglo-Jewry thanks to the pioneering work of Cecil Roth. His researches into the Rise of Provincial Jewry have served to show that the origins of the oldest organized provincial communi? ties must be put into the second quarter of the 18th century, even though we can point to individual Jews in various provincial centres earlier in the century. But there are still questions to be answered about these origins, and indeed a number of questions which have not even been posed. Some of these communities, it is clear, emerged because of the presence of individual 'great men' wishing to</page><page sequence="4">4 Aubrey Newman have communities available; others emerged because a number of individual Jews happened to come together. In some cases economic factors created a suitable environment, and in others - perhaps Bath, for instance - there were social factors which led to such a development. The first stage in such studies must obviously be the identifi? cation of 'the first Jew in Hampstead', for until we have been able to make such an identification it is impossible to take any further steps. But of course that can never be an end in itself, and what we must then seek to do is to try and see why the second, third, and fourth Jews arrived in Hampstead or, even more importantly sometimes, why no further Jews arrived in Hampstead. The dog which did not bark in the night and the community which did not develop are vital pieces in our jigsaw. What we can say is that the vast majority of Jews in 18th-century England lived in London and were to a large extent dependent upon the London economy. We can also see, through the letters of men like Horace Walpole, that individuals among them rose quite high in the social scale, some of them able to receive visits from royalty in their own homes, others visiting and being visited by local worthies even more on their dignity than monarchs, and many of them indeed participating in such activities as Freemason Lodges both in the capital and in the immediate towns and boroughs. At one end of the scale were of course the great merchants and financiers involved either on the Stock Exchange and the placing of Government loans, or in the buying and selling of commodities such as cloth or diamonds. Recent work has indicated that these played a major part in the everyday conduct of business, so much so that the East India Company took pains to ensure that its major sales should not coincide with Jewish re? ligious holidays, even though these were in com? modities for which the Jews were not the most important buyers. But there were many at the other end of the scale, and by the nature of things their names and details only rarely emerge to the surface. It is often only because of their appearance as malefactors that we know anything about them.8 There was, for example, Joseph Isaacs, otherwise known as McCoy, who was born about 1724 in Duke's Place and went to a Jewish school in Hounsditch. His early life was divided between London and Amsterdam, and he worked for his father as a pencil-maker for nine years. He made between 16 and 17 shillings a week as a pencil maker and three guineas as a pedlar. He travelled in Holland, France and Germany, and when he was executed for robbery in 1744 his parents were living in Poland. Another criminal executed after the same assizes was Jacob Cordosa, born in Amsterdam, a snuff-maker. He had earlier been one of the poor who had been paid by the Great Synagogue Vestry to return to Holland for a minimum of two years, in return for which he was paid two guineas out of the Vestry's funds. Some trades and industries which found room for Jews in this century were more attractive than others. Silversmiths, clockmakers, a Jewish milkman, tavern-keepers, tailors, hatmakers, glass-engravers and, of course, the ubiquitous secondhand clothes dealers. What Cecil Roth has engagingly termed the 'border-line professions' include keepers of spong? ing houses, police-runners, and Fleet Street mar? riage parlours. The appearance at an early date of a Jewish congregation south of the river near to one of the debtors' prisons implies a necessity to main? tain a congregation for inmates there, while a variety of police records (to which I want to return) equally implies a certain degree of criminality among the immigrants. On the other hand there are other sources for Jewish occupations in this cen? tury. Mention, for example, has been made of the Aliens Lists, and that for 1803 from Be vis Marks records dealers in spices, vendors of rhubarb, feather merchants, teachers of languages, and clock-string makers. Apprenticeship registers, that appeared in an earlier number of our Transactions,9 include such trades as wigmakers and perukiers, surgeons, diamond-polishers, and ship-wrights. In? deed the printed lists of occupations of Jewish masters between 1710 and 1773 serve to empha? size the extent to which Jewish occupations reflect the diversity of London trades themselves. On the other hand, it is equally significant that nearly 16% of those taking apprentices were in some form or other associated with the jewellery or diamond-pro? cessing trades, and a further 12% were involved in the watchmaking trade. Before dealing with the Anglo-Jewish com? munity in its political aspects, one preliminary remark may be made, obvious to us, but not</page><page sequence="5">Anglo-Jewry in the 18th Century 5 necessarily so to the outside world. Even in the 18th century many referred to 'the Jewish community', but we are only too well aware of the differences which an apparently united community can cover up. These are not only distinctions between Ash kenazi and Sephardi Jews, for the Ashkenazi com? munities were themselves split and the appearance in London of three major congregations, to say nothing of the smaller congregations which also emerged during this century, speak volumes for the fissiparous nature of our predecessors. Such splits might well have been based upon differences of liturgical usages, or may have been the result of different social or geographical origins, or merely the result of personal differences within the com? munity; what is important is that we remember the existence of such splits, and are not off-hand with generalizations about London Jews. The splits were there, and on occasion caused public scandal, as for example when a body lay in Duke's Place unburied for several days as a result of the inability of the various Ashkenazi congregations to determine who was responsible for paying for the funeral. In looking at 18th-century Anglo-Jewry in the political field, there are several points to make. We must remember firstly the extent to which the Jews of London were involved, even at the beginning of the century, in the everyday life of the host community. There was a tremendous degree of social integration, shown in part through the very great interest shown by the daily or almost daily press of the capital. It would repay the time spent to examine the collections of newspapers in the British Library and analyse the ways in which events referring to Jews are discussed not in terms of pro and anti-semitism but purely in terms of interest, just as the diaries of the time show a genuine interest, for example, in visits to the Synagogue. One outstanding illustration of this is the Very famous Jew Wedding' of 1720, the marriage of Aaron de Moseh Senior Coronel to his cousin Rebecca de Salomah Senior Coronel. It was cer? tainly a sumptuous occasion, involving the hiring of Leathersellers' Hall for the Chupah and dance, and the following week, for the Shevah Brochas, of a number of Grenadier Guardsmen, not for the playing of music but in order to safeguard the participants from molestation by highwaymen. Large numbers of gentry were invited to attend, even the Prince and Princess of Wales were invited. The Princess excused herself, 'not daring to venture in a crowed, she being with child', but expressed the hope that the bride 'would be soon in the same happy condition'. What makes the whole episode of extreme interest is the extent to which not merely the ceremony but details of the synagogue and of London Jewish life can be found in the ordinary press of the day.10 Another view of the extent to which Jews and non-Jews mixed socially, involving some criticism of the Anglo-Jewish community from inside, can be derived from the sermons of the mid-18th century. Those of Hart Lyon, Rabbi of the Great Synagogue from 175 7 to 1764, criticize the ways in which the community spent its leisure playing cards, fre? quenting coffee houses, and aping the habits of the non-Jews around them, the ways in which they regarded Christmas puddings as being more impor? tant than Pesach matzos, and above all the ways in which the women and girls dress immodestly.11 Equally, a diatribe by Dr Sch?mberg at about the same time, a translation of which appeared in the Transactions,12 also illustrates the way in which the community could be criticized for following the habits of the host society. It must be pointed out that the distinction between those who did and those who did not conform could be a very great one indeed. To take one instance; few figures of the Anglo-Jewish community, even of the most noted and revered, had anything like a beard - the 18th century they did not wear beards, and it was not until the 19th that the wearing of beards and moustaches became at all common. One non-Jew, notable for wearing a beard, was customarily regarded as being so eccentric as to be almost mad.13 When George Gordon, after his notorious conversion, started growing a beard, his conduct confirmed the opinion of many of his contempor? aries that he had become insane. If there was a close integration of Jews into various aspects of social life there were also close parallels between Jews and non-Jews in public life. Obviously it was important that when the Jews had been 'readmitted' there had been no specific discri? mination against them, no special tax and no specific limitation in areas where they could settle. Even if Jews in England could not exercise all the rights and privileges of a true-born Englishman this</page><page sequence="6">6 Aubrey Newman was not as a result of being a Jew but the result of not being a member of the Church of England, and any person not prepared to partake of communion according to the rite of the Church of England suffered the same disabilities. If Jews were unable to hold a variety of public offices it ought to be pointed out that Roman Catholics and Protestant Dissenters were subjected to exactly the same disabilities, and in practical terms we now know that Jews were filling effective offices in many aspects of local government. Here, too, it is necessary to under? stand how the 18th century worked. The fact that Jews did not hold office, for example, in Municipal Corporations mattered little, because by the 18th century these had ceased to hold any function other than that of perpetuating themselves, holding annual fetes and administering their corporate property. In Parliamentary boroughs the corpo? rations might have controlled admissions to Parlia? ment or to the franchise, but since there were few enough provincial communities of sufficient stand? ing this was hardly a drawback from the point of view of the Jews. The effective work in the country was done either at the gentry level through the Justices of the Peace or at the local level through the parish and the parish vestry. And in this context, therefore, it is highly significant that well before the end of the century the books of St James's Parish, the one in which the Great Synagogue was situated and in which the majority of Jews would presum? ably reside, show that Jews had been taking up office, i.e. participating in the affairs of and running the parish.14 That was practical political emancipa? tion. It might well be argued that what we need to do to establish the true status of 18th-century Anglo-Jewry is to look at the ways in which Jews were involved in the everyday running of those parishes in which they lived, rather than looking at the particular boroughs. The fact that in the early and mid-19th century we find Jews participating in the work of the new Boroughs and Municipal Corporations would serve to emphasize this point, because one consequence of the Municipal Reform Act of the middle of the century was to transfer the vast bulk of the work of the parishes and of the municipal Commissioners for Improvements over to the reformed Corporations. There were other circumstances also in which Jews acquired privileges which went even further than those of Protestant dissenters or Roman Catholics. During the century there were a number of causes celebres involving the status of Jewish marriages and the extent to which these were or were not recognized by the courts of law. There was, above all, one notorious breach of promise case involving the Villa Real family.15 On the other hand, it was also a period in which there were a number of notorious cases of so-called Fleet Mar? riages in which adventurers got away with runaway matches with prominent heirs or heir? esses. It was to regularize the procedures involved with the whole status of 18th-century marriage and also, consequentially, 18th-century property holdings that the Lord Chancellor, Hardwicke, introduced a law making it necessary either to have banns read in advance or to acquire a special licence before a marriage could be regarded as acceptable, and that marriages be conducted in certain restricted places or circumstances. From those requirements two groups were specifically excluded - Jews and Quakers, both of whom would have had difficulties in conforming to the new law. And although in practice much of the law was always subject to judicial interpretation, so that subsequent Judges might very well have issued rulings which tended to disparage the status of a Jewish marriage, the intention was none the less to allow Jews the freedom to continue to live peace? fully in a non-Jewish environment.16 This, then, might well throw into higher relief the whole issue of the Jew Bill of 1753 and its almost immediate repeal as a result of public pressure. It might well be thought that almost everything which needed to be said on the subject of the Jew Bill has been said already. And indeed on no condition would I agree in having yet another thesis, article or book devoted specifically to the issue of the Jew Bill. The available materials at both national and family archive level have probably been more than adequately combed.17 On the other hand, it would be ridiculous in a discussion of Anglo-Jewry in this century to exclude altogether discussion of this issue; and above all there is this point to be made - it must be set in the context of relations between Jews and non-Jews in this century in this country, as well as in that of the study of various aspects of English parliamentary history. As one contempor? ary observed ruefully in 175 3,4the domestic politics</page><page sequence="7">Anglo-Jewry in the 18th Century 7 of this summer will make but a contemptible figure in history, which can record nothing else than the art employed by faction to swell a most inoffensive Bill into a national grievance!'18 The Bill was intended to make it possible for Jews born abroad to become naturalized British subjects without having to take the sacrament according to the Church of England. There were in this century two ways of acquiring citizenship - apart, of course, from being born in the country. One of them was to be granted rights of denizenship, and the other was to acquire the full rights for which one needed a private act of Parliament and, at the same time, to qualify by taking the sacrament. Native-born Jews were allowed to acquire and inherit land, but there was considerable doubt about the position of for? eign-born Jews. This act was designed to enable the private act without the accompanying steps, and of course would not in itself naturalize anyone. Furth? ermore, there was already in existence an act which permitted Jews in the Plantations to become natur? alized with little difficulty. It has been shown quite clearly that the pressure for the bill came not from the man usually considered to be the leading Jewish broker and finance man of the time - Sampson Gideon - but from Joseph Salvador, one of the leading members of the Sephardi synagogue. The memorial to the Duke of Newcastle has been already printed,19 although that memo does not make it clear that one of the disabilities from which the foreign-born suffered was the need to pay additional duties as a foreigner at the Customs House. The bill was introduced quietly enough in the House of Lords in April 1753 and was passed with slight amendments by that House; interest? ingly enough one of the amendments, introduced by the Lord Chancellor himself, was to make clear that if Jews did buy property they were not to be allowed to acquire the right to present clergymen to livings within the Church of England. The bill was sent to the House of Commons, and although there began a certain amount of public clamour and feeling in the House of Commons the measure was passed into law in June 1753. What followed has been described as a well-orchestrated programme of agitation. A series of pamphlets appeared against the bill, matched by one in favour, to say nothing of various squibs, lampoons and news items which we are unable to categorize as either for or against. Many of these so-called news items in the columns of the press are so capable of double meaning that we are in doubt whether they were ever meant to be taken seriously. Throughout the summer the agitation con? tinued, as the preparations for the General Election of 1754 made their influence felt. The circum? stances in Oxfordshire in 1753-4 in particular led the Duke of Newcastle and his brother to secure the repeal of the measure, and this was introduced and passed quickly into law. No other measure was taken and, indeed, despite pressure the 1740 Naturalization Act was upheld. The agitation is of interest in itself, and the lists of pamphlets as well as analyses of a variety of caricatures illuminate a great deal of contemporary society and politics. But, of course, the agitation also illustrates for the 20th-century historian the way in which the structure of politics worked at this time. One of the latest works on this episode has an appendix devoted to an analysis of the work of Sir Lewis Namier.20 It must be pointed out that generally the agi? tation was not anti-semitic in any usual sense of that term. Some references could perhaps be described as such, but the vast bulk is xenophobic rather than anything else. The very phase NO JEWS, NO WOODEN SHOES is perhaps a clue to this. There had been a stream of private naturalization bills throughout the century, and these generally went through on the nod. It was, as indicated, a rather expensive measure, and there were one or two individual mps who specialized in seeing that sort of business through the House of Commons. Whether they got a fee is impossible to tell. But whenever there was a suggestion of a general naturalization bill at any time during this century there was a general campaign against such a measure. Even though the difference between this bill and the other general bills was that the Jew Bill in itself naturalized nobody; none the less it was regarded as being in the same category. There were attempts at a general naturalization of foreign-born Protestants at this same time, and it too was assailed, proving equally unpopular. Such a bill in 1747 fell by the way for the identical reason. Similarly, one must make clear that having voted, or having been thought to have voted, for the bill may have had some effect on election results in</page><page sequence="8">8 Aubrey Newman the 1754 general election, but in other results such conduct seems to have had no effect at all. The obvious instance, which Cecil Roth pointed out some years ago, was that of General Oglethorpe who was defeated at Hazlemere. On the other hand, one of the two successful candidates at Oglethorpe's constituency was Philip Carteret Webb, who was Counsel for the Bevis Marks Synagogue, and very well known as having been connected with that synagogue for many years. With the repeal of the Jew Bill, pressure for a measure of general naturalization - which had never been very great anyway - became less evident, and as time went on such events as the Chelsea murders or the appearance of bands of Bettel Juden ensured that any demands for general naturalization acts declined even further. If one of the points at which anti-Jewish feeling erupted was the Jew Bill - and I believe less in the strictly anti-Jewish aspect than in the xenophobic nature of the agitation - another which was quite clearly anti-Jewish came with the Chelsea murders. In 1771 four Polish Jews were accused of breaking into a house in Chelsea and of murdering a servant while committing their burglary. They were found guilty and executed. Even though the Recorder 'prefaced the sentence with a just and judicious compliment to the principal Jews, for their very laudable conduct in the course of this prosecution, and trusted no person would ignorantly stigmatize a whole nation for the villainies of a few, to bring whom to justice they had done everything they consistently could',21 the mere fact that he felt it necessary to make that statement speaks volumes for contemporary opinion. Even the formal excom? munication of the criminals on the sabbath before their execution did little to abate the public uproar and the agitation against the Jews. It was a direct result of that agitation that the authorities of the Great Synagogue asked the Government to try and restrict the number of poor Jews seeking free passage on the Post Office packet boats to this country, and there are links between the attacks on the Jews and cries of 'Go Back to Chelsea' on the one hand, and attempts by Patrick Colquhoun to establish regular industrial training for the poor among the Jews.22 One mark of the development of the Anglo-Jew? ish community is its interconnection with those of the Continent. There were, of course, the obvious links with Amsterdam and Hamburg, and we have also seen the way in which there was a certain amount of coming and going between these com? munities by individual Jews. But I must confess that I would like to know more about the extent of involvement between the Jews of Hanover and the Jews of London as a result of the King of Britain being also the Elector of Hanover. That there were some such links I have no doubt, but as to their nature I have little evidence. What I also have in mind, however, is the way in which increasingly the Jews of Europe were beginning to turn to London as a source of help. Thus, for example, London was one of the principal places to which the leaders of the Prague community turned after 1745 when they were faced with the decree of expulsion by Maria Theresa. I have developed this theme in an earlier paper,23 but there are some points which I would like, if I may, to repeat. The Sephardi community, on being approached, gave their money, but the leaders of the Ashkenazi com? munity, as well as giving money, approached the King for help. He promised to do what he could, and certainly there is evidence that the King's ministers made the appropriate representations in Vienna. The episode has been hailed as the first evidence of Great Power intervention in modern times on behalf of an alien minority on purely humanitarian grounds. Without wishing to disparage that judge? ment I would add only two points; the British intervention was by no means pushed as hard and as far as it might, for on other more immediately concerning matters British intervention was imme? diately efficacious, while on this one it was left eventually for the Bohemian Jews and non-Jews to make their own representations and terms with Maria Theresa. My second point is that there is little or no evidence that the King-Elector instructed his Hanoverian envoys in Vienna to back the British representations, for had he been in earnest he could have used all the pressure available. None the less, that the Anglo-Jewish community was approached says something for the European status of that community, while the fact that George II was prepared to accept these representations on their behalf shows something of the way in which the King and ministers regarded the status of Jews in Britain. From a Jewish point of view, the desirability</page><page sequence="9">Anglo-Jewry in the 18 th Century 9 of being able to approach the throne on such occasions had been emphasized, and is one of the reasons for which the Ashkenazi and Sephardi leaders came together to form the Board of Depu? ties. But even there it was in a manner different from that on the Continent. There was no 'Stadt lan', no intercessor, and no Court or 'Hof Rabbiner'. Instead, the parallel was with an organization of the English non-conformists, who were themselves deeply suspicious of any single intermediary. Just as they had set up a Board of Dissenting Deputies, so the Jews set up their Board of Deputies jointly representing the London communities, and thus preventing any individual or group of individuals having a monopoly of such access. There are other features of Jews in 18th-century life and society on which I could dwell if I were to be fully comprehensive. There were Jews in musical life, there were Jews in art and there were Jews (or past-Jews) in the development of science. But that would be to seek out individual Jews, which would not necessarily illustrate much of the general development of Anglo-Jewry as a community, a form almost of antiquarianism. And what I think the historian ought most of all to be interested in is the contribution of the 18th century to the deepen? ing and development of that community's life. We can, of course, regard the 18th century and Anglo-Jewry within that century as a subject worthy of study on its own. Similarly, we can also regard it as a study of the relations between a host community and a not-yet fully integrated and united immigrant community and, to that end, use the most up-to-date techniques and interpretations open to the professional historian. This century would then become a touchstone in the way an historian works, showing the need in each gene? ration to reconsider Jewish history according to the same rules which are applied to the history of the community in which the Jews are residing. Both of those techniques are equally valid. But there is also a third way in which to examine Anglo-Jewry in the 18th century: as yet another episode in the continuing and seamless history of Jewish life in the outside world. This is the other proposition which I put before you last year. Jewish history is a subject in its own right and deserves to be so treated. We must understand Jewish history just as we understand non-Jewish history. But having learnt how to see each in its context we must then integrate them horizontally and verti? cally. It is when we can do that, when we can understand 18th-century Anglo-Jewish history in the context of Jewish growth in England, and the context of English history within the development of Jewish history in the Diaspora as a whole, that Jewish history falls into its natural place. If we want to be faithful to the spirit of this Society and to see its work expand, then we must do more than merely seek out fresh information on a comparatively narrow band of Anglo-Jewish history. We must look sideways, forwards and backwards, and be prepared to behave as historians of Jews and as Jewish historians of the outside world. That, surely, is our role, and ought to be our role, and in so doing we shall more than justify our continued existence as a learned society. NOTES 1 R. D. Barnett, 'Anglo-Jewry in the eighteenth century', in Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish history (ed. V. D. Lipman, 1961) p. 45 2 M. Flinn, British Population Growth, 1700-1850 (1970) and J. D. Chambers, Population, Economy and Society in pre-industrial England (Oxford 1972). 3 Barnett op. cit. See also C. Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford, 3rd edn 1964) and V. D. Lipman, 'Sephardi and other Jewish immigrants in England in the eighteenth century', in Migration and Settlement (ed. A. Newman, 1971). 4 Lipman, ibid., passim. 5 Lipman, 'Plymouth Aliens List', Misc. JHSE VI (1962); C Roth, 'The Portsmouth Community and its historical back? ground', Trans. JHSE XIII (1936); E. Newman, 'Some new facts about the Portsmouth Jewish community', ibid., XVII (1953); M. A. Shulvass, From East to West: the westward migration of Jews from Eastern Europe during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (Detroit 19 71). 6 John Lambton, later Earl of Durham. 7 G. Yogev, Diamonds and Coral: Anglo Dutch Jews in eighteenth century trade (Leicester 1978). 8 Yogev op. cit; Horace Walpole to George Montague, 3 Oct. 1763 (Correspondence, ed. W. S. Lewis, X, 1941); J. M. Shaftesley, 'Jews in English Regular Freemasonry', Trans. JHSE XXV (1977); Dorothy George, London Life in the eighteenth century (1925, reprinted 1965). 9 'Apprentices of Great Britain, 1710-1773', ed. A. P. Arnold and introduced by R. D. Barnett, Misc. JHSE VII (1970). 10 Aubrey Newman, 'A very famous Jew wedding', Jewish Chronicle, 2 April 1954, p. 30. 11 Quoted C. Duschinsky, The Rabbinate of the Great Synagogue, London, from 1756-1842 (i92i)p. 15.</page><page sequence="10">io Aubrey Newman 12 'Dr Meyer Schomberg's attack on the Jews of London, 1746*, introduced by E. R. Samuel, Trans. JHSE XX (1964); text translated by H. Levy, ibid. 13 Public characters of 1798-9, 'Character of Matthew, Lord Rokeby'. 14 A. Rubens, 'The Jews of the Parish of St James, Duke's Place, the City of London', in Remember the Days: essays in honour of Cecil Roth (ed. J. M. Shaftesley, 1966). 15 The Proceedings at large in the Arches Court of Canter? bury between Mr Jacob Mendes da Costa and Mrs Catherine da Costa Villareal both of the Jewish religion and Cousin Germans, relating to a marriage contract (1734). See also M. J. Landa, 'Kitty Villareal, the da Costas and Samson Gideon', Trans. JHSE XIII (1936). 16 J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish history (2nd edn. ed. I. Finestein, 1956) pp. 94-106, 457~8. 17 T. W. Perry, Public Opinion, Propaganda and Politics in eighteenth-century England: a study of the Jew Bill of 1753 (Harvard 1962), and Roth, History, pp. 212-23. 18 Philip Yorke to the Rev. Thomas Birch, 4 Oct. 1753, quoted P. C. Yorke, The Life and Correspondence of Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke (Cambridge I9i3)llp. 132. 19 Inter aiia,Roth, Anglo-Jewish Letters, 115S-1917 (i938)pp. 129-30. 20 Perry op. cit. 21 Quoted Picciotto op. cit. p. 171. 22 P. Colquhoun, Treatise on the Police of the Metro? polis ... (1796) and his The State of Indigence and the Situation of the Casual Poor in the Metropolis (1799); also J. van Oven, Letters on the present state of the Jewish poor in the Metropolis (1802). 23 'The expulsion of the Jews from Prague in 1745 and British foreign policy', Trans. JHSE XXII (1970).</page></plain_text>

bottom of page