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Book Notes: Review Article - Jews in England and the 18th-Century English Economy

H. E. S. Fisher

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Book Notes Review Article: Jews in England and the 18th-Century English Economy H. E. S. FISHER Eighteenth-century Jewry in England has not yet received the attention warranted by virtue of its expanding numbers and useful economic role, not to mention the rather unusual position Jews occu? pied in English social life. But our knowledge improves and an important contribution of 1962, Gedalia Yogev's Ph.D. thesis for the Hebrew University of Jerusalem,1 has now become more widely available with its belated but welcome publication in 1978 by the Leicester University Press. Retitled Diamonds and Coral Anglo-Dutch Jews and Eighteenth-Century Trade2 the thesis has been edited by Dr Aubrey Newman, who in so doing has performed a service to scholarship. The book seeks to advance Jewish economic history by considering the nature of the business activities undertaken by the Anglo-Jewish 'patri? ciate' in the 18th century. In this aim Dr Yogev achieves a marked success, but the value of his work is far wider. It will interest economic his? torians in general because of the light thrown on English commercial and financial development, on business practice, and on the sources and social setting of enterprise, all in an age of remarkable change in the English economy. And students of English society will learn much about immigrants, their attitudes and their acceptance by the host society. Dr Yogev's book falls into two parts. The greater part examines particular aspects of 18th-century foreign trade, one being the trade in uncut dia? monds from India to England and the export to India of the highly prized Italian red coral, a prime means of purchase of the diamonds. In the 18th century the East India Company left such business to private individuals, and Dr Yogev considers the Jewish involvement to have been substantial and often predominant. This judgment is based on an analysis of annual business as recorded in the East India Company books (see his Appendix I), and is supported with a good deal of evidence on indivi? dual Jewish merchants in both England and India. Dr Yogev is informative on the development of this not unsizeable business: official imports of dia? monds into England - excluding the smuggling trade - varied much, but at their best in the years 1724-30, for instance, averaged nearly ?100,000 per annum, between 1749-56 averaged ?136,000, and between 1767-78 some ?207,000. The vicissitudes of the trade, including its near cessation in the 1730s following the discovery of diamonds in Brazil, are also explored, as are the business organization of both the Indian and London ends and, to some degree, the parts played by London and Amsterdam in the European diamond market. The book's other trade section studies a leading Ashkenazi firm, the Pragers, with partners in London and Amsterdam, during the latter decades of the 18th century. Using a rich collection of correspondence - twice-weekly letters from Amsterdam survive for many years-Dr Yogev analyses the principal business undertaken, the re-export from England to Holland of various colonial and Asian goods including sugar, coffee and cocoa, as well as diamonds from India and Brazil, but chiefly Virginia tobacco and Eastern 'drugs'. The partners were reluctant to step outside their regular commodity-dealing into other fields, and least of all into financial affairs. They did deal, cautiously, in what they regarded as the 'hazar? dous' exchange business, but they kept out of the precious-metals trade, regarded the possibility of personal dealing in the stocks with abhorrence, and did only a little contracting in British government loans. Some revealing references to business ethics emerge, the partners apparently always being ready to deceive if it could be done safely. The interesting question is, of course, how typical - as with their business practice in general - such deceit 156</page><page sequence="2">Book Notes 157 was, but as Dr Yogev suggests, it was probably not uncommon. The generally low standing of Jewish credit in London (although not the Pragers') is discussed, Jewish houses being the first to feel the pinch when credit became scarce, with the Bank of England discriminating between Jewish and other houses seeking discount of their bills. In seeking an explanation Dr Yogev does not rule out an element of prejudice, but ascribes it mainly to commercial reasons, to the prominence of the unstable exchange business in Jewish activities. The advan? tages that connections with Christian houses gave to the standing of a Jewish firm are also touched on. Since the Pragers corresponded on family mat? ters, their letters also illuminate aspects of contem? porary Jewish life in London and Amsterdam. These include the friction between the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities, the weight attached to Jewish public opinion, the question of a proper education for children, and the problem of giving them an appropriate start in life when so many occupations were closed to Jews. The burden of supporting poor relations, naturally falling more heavily on prosperous houses, is also referred to. The quotations from the letters are always of interest: for instance, Jacob Prager, in referring to a religious work published by Amsterdam's Chief Rabbi, thought it 'the most unnecessary thing in the world and only meant for making money'. But the book's first part, including the introduc? tion, will perhaps attract most attention. For it discusses the place of Jewish merchants and finan? ciers in the 18th-century English economy. The remainder of this article aims both to review this discussion by Dr Yogev and to amplify and develop it. The opening chapters look at the areas of English trade and finance where Jewish businessmen were significant. In foreign trade the most striking cases appear to have been the diamond business, the re-export from England to Holland of precious metals and other American and Asian goods, and the trades with Portugal and Spain that continued through their ports to the Iberian American col? onies. Related to the latter was the Jamaican contraband trade with the Spanish Empire. Concerning the general trade with Portugal it is not hard to see why London Jewish merchants should have been active, since for much of the century many were of Portuguese extraction. But how important were the London Jews in this branch of English trade? Dr Yogev, while accepting that only general impressions are possible, declares that they certainly were important, although his statements on this vary. On page 34 he writes of them as 'prominent', elsewhere as Very prominent' (p. 16), or even 'pre-eminent' (pp.34-5). He also thinks that although the London Jews were not involved in wine imports from Portugal they figured substantially in the import of precious metals. It must be said, however, that while numerous cases of Jewish exporters and importers are cited and quite a lot of other material mar? shalled, the evidence presented by Dr Yogev does not support conclusively the rather large claims made for Jewish involvement in Anglo-Portuguese trade. First, with regard to textile exports from England, the present writer stands by his opinion that the evidence as a whole does not indicate that the Jews were likely to have been the prime exporting group, or anything like it.3 A lot must depend, though, on the extent to which English 'cover' names were used by Jews, a matter impos? sible to determine, although it seems unlikely to have been at all extensive. If too, as Dr Yogev says (pp. 34, 6 7), Jewish dealings with Portugal were the 'most important branch in the business' of the London community after the diamond trade, a certain discrepancy arises. For, as indicated above, the registered import of Indian diamonds (including those by non-Jews), at their best averaged between ?100,000 and ?210,000 annually, but otherwise were often well below these figures. To this we must add the probably large contraband imports. But if we take the English textile trade to Portugal, by the early 1720s the official value of the principal goods shipped came to some ?620,000 annually, rising to an average of ?865,000 in the 1740s, and reach? ing a peak of over ?1 million in the later 1750s.4 If Jewish textile shipments to Portugal rank after the value of diamond imports from India then they certainly could not have been 'pre-eminent' or even 'very prominent' among English textile exports to Portugal until 1760. Conversely, if they were very important among total textile shipments they would have comfortably exceeded the diamond trade. And if we were to combine the Jewish interests in the textile trade and bullion imports</page><page sequence="3">158 Book Notes from Portugal (of which more below), this discre? pancy would become even more marked. A further point suggesting caution in assessing Jewish involvement in exports to Portugal concerns the actual number of Jewish merchants in London (whence the great bulk of shipments came) and particularly to 1760 when the Portugal trade was most expansive. For it is clear that Jewish mer? chants made up only a small part of the total merchant community of the City. Accurate figures for the number of merchants in England and London are not easy to come by and much depends on definition. But contemporary estimates indicate that at the end of the 17th century there were 2000 'eminent merchants' in England, that in 1750 there were 2900 and in 1812, 3 500.5 E. R. Samuel has pointed out that Kent fs London Directory of 17 5 3 had altogether some 3800 entries, but of these only 108 were Jewish, of whom about two-thirds were Sephardi and the rest Ashkenazi.6 Samuel further states that the London Sephardi flnta assessment of 1752 rated only 11 men as worthy of the ?18 maximum which could be expected of merchants of the 'most extensive trade and plumb capitals', and one of these, Samson Gideon, was a stock-jobber rather than a merchant.7 It is generally accepted that the Sephardi community contained most of the better-off Jews in London in the 18th century, although decreasingly as the century wore on. It would have been a little surprising if these com? paratively few Jewish merchants in London had dominated or been markedly leading elements in one of England's principal and most prosperous branches of foreign trade in the first half of the century. This point is reinforced by the long-term nature of many of the English textile sales in Portugal, and the large capital investment thus required.8 Moreover, reservations come to mind on two main pieces of evidence that Dr Yogev advances for his assessment of Jewish participation in English trade with Portugal. One is the pamphlet of 1753 generally thought to have been written by Joseph Salvador, a leading London lewish merchant of the mid-century.9 Its author, writing in support of naturalization for lews at the time of the lew Bill affair, may well be seen as having an interest in favouring the role and utility of the Jewish trading community. It is noteworthy that Mr Samuel concludes that Salvador's statement of the Jewish merchant role in English trade as a whole was exaggerated.10 The other piece of evidence cited by Dr Yogev (p.35) is the 1732 observation by the English ambassador in Lisbon, Lord Tyrawly, that the Jews in London were the 'greatest dealers to Portugal in our woollen goods'. But caution is needed with this remark. Lord Tyrawly in his dispatches was somewhat given to hyperbole. He was, further, unsympathetic to Jewish mer? chants,11 and may have been inclined to overstate their position in order to influence opinion in England. Moreover, comments in a dispatch from a later English envoy in Lisbon at the very time of the Jew Bill affair suggest that the London Jewish merchants were not then of any particularly marked importance in the English textile trade to Portugal. 'A young gentleman' who had brought a copy of the 'Act' to Abraham Castres, the Envoy, informed him that 'our Lisbon merchants at home [i.e. English merchants in England trading to Lisbon] were preparing a petition to the House of Commons against the Bill'. This did not surprise Castres as the advantage of being naturalized tho' in itself inconsi? derable for the present, may in time set the Portuguese Jews already settled in London, and those who may come over from Amsterdam, upon engrossing the woollen trade to this country, where by the connections many of them must have with friends and relations of their own persuasion scattered up and down the Portuguese dominions, it will not perhaps be impossible in process of time to worm out all other houses but those they may be immediately concerned in. And this I take in reality to be the principal reason of the opposition this Bill may have met with either within or without doors at home, I mean among the merchants, and of the discontent it may have occasioned among some of our people here . . .12 My purpose is not to deny that part of the large shipment of English textiles to Portugal in the period to 1760 or after was undertaken by London Jews, but to urge caution in attributing to them a pre-eminent or leading share. More reasonably, we can say that the London Jews played some part, although probably a moderate one only, in English exports to Portugal. Turning to Jewish participation in the import of precious metals, which chiefly involved gold, from Portugal, their position was clearly also of note. But the present writer again considers Dr Yogev is</page><page sequence="4">Book Notes 159 inclined to overstatement. Dr Yogev cites (pp. 39-41) a 1723 petition concerning the car? riage arrangements for gold landed in Falmouth from the Lisbon packet boats. It was signed by 56 London merchants, of whom 13, just under a quarter, were Jews. But he also cites evidence indicating a lesser Jewish involvement. Between January and June 1741 the gold brought to Falmouth by the packets totalled ?133,562, of which, according to the lists of consignees, the part consigned to Jews came to a little over 9%, of which one Jew, Francis Salvador, received almost 70%. Dr Yogev regards this Jewish share of 9% as insignifi? cant and thinks it suspect because only one mer? chant had an important business, although one cannot see why these detailed lists, which seem to be copied from the actual packet-boat records, should be thought of as incomplete.13 Dr Yogev considers it possible that 'a considerable part' of the gold consigned to non-Jewish houses may have been destined for Jews. But it is hard to be at all sure about the extent of the use of agents or of cover names, and in any case his reasoning is open to challenge.14 It is worth pointing out that 9 or 10% of bullion imports from Portugal, if at all representative of the normal Jewish trading position, cannot really be seen as Insignificant', given the size of the bullion business. We have no yearly statistics of imports, since such imports were not recorded by the English customs and bullion exporting was illegal in Portu? gal. But the present writer has calculated, very approximately, that total bullion shipments to England from Portugal between 1700 and 1760 on English account alone (excluding shipments on the account of Dutch or other foreign merchants remitting via England) may have reached ?25 millions.15 This would mean an average of some ?400,000 per annum, with the figure much lower at the beginning of the century when Anglo-Portu? guese trade was smaller, and tending to rise secularly to 1760.16 If the lewish business was typically 10% then it would have averaged some ?40,000 annually over the whole period, with a lower figure about 1700 and one approximately twice as large when imports were at their heaviest in the 1750s. This, however, is pure conjecture, since the participation of Jews in bullion importing may well have varied. Interestingly, Dr Yogev states (p.41) that after the discovery of diamonds in Brazil in 1728 the London Jews may have switched to some extent from gold to diamond importing from Lisbon. But to conclude on bullion importing; Dr Yogev goes so far (p.42) as to express some frustration at the limited role the 1741 bullion lists give Jewish importers. Yet such hard statistical evidence should give him pause. All in all, the available evidence suggests that Jewish bullion importing from Portugal was notable though not all that prominent, a position not dissimilar to Jewish involvement in the textile trade to that country. The present writer is less able to comment closely on Dr Yogev's views on London Jewish partici? pation in English trade with Spain and thence to Spanish America, or on trade from Jamaica to the Spanish colonies. Dr Yogev cites various pieces of evidence for Jewish business with Spain, including that of Jacob Mendes da Costa and his son Moses. The latter's investment in the Spanish and Spanish American trade and related bottomry loans at his death in 1756 amounted to over ?25,000. Dr Yogev makes further use, too (pp.44-5), of the Salvador pamphlet of 175 3 which declares there to have been a major Jewish involvement, as far as British capital was concerned, in the 'Spanish West India' trade, carried on through licences granted by Spain to foreign merchants. Jonas Hanway's coun? ter-remarks on the pamphlet, while referring to the numerous licensed ships which carried the trade and the involvement of 'merchants of all nations', significantly do not refute Salvador's statement about Jewish predominance within the British interest,17 but the problem of the propagandizing purpose of Salvador's pamphlet remains. The reser? vations about a large London Jewish share in English trade with Portugal would apply also to the trade with Spain in the light of the limited number of Jewish merchants in London and their restricted capital, relative to the merchant community in England and the long-term capital needs of a large, generally expanding trade.18 Certainly a part, although how notable is unclear, of English trade with Old Spain was Jewish financed. Concerning trade from Jamaica to the Spanish colonies, Dr Yogev's evidence on Jewish businessmen resident in Jamaica and their dealings suggests, fairly surely, a notable share for Jews. But there were, from Dr</page><page sequence="5">i6o Book Notes Yogev's own citations, many non-Jewish mer? chants in Jamaica and London interested in these trades. Whether the evidence, on balance, warrants Dr Yogev's suggestion that the 'Jamaican contra? band trade was dominated by Jews' must surely be open to doubt, his use of the term 'considerable interest' seeming more applicable.19 Jewish involvement was clearly marked in two other expanding fields, the London bullion and foreign-exchange markets. Dr Yogev pulls together what he himself describes as a meagre range of evidence to make a number of points about these Jewish activities. At the outset, though, it might be useful to indicate the great stimulus to Jewish enterprise that resulted from the generally expan? sive and very sizeable nature of such business. As mentioned earlier, bullion imports into Eng? land from Portugal in the first sixty years of the century, in settlement of the English trade account, were of the order of ?25 millions. Rather less in total but still very large were the bullion (largely silver) shipments to England from Spain, possibly some ?14 millions between 1712 and 1770.20 Furthermore, as Dr Yogev discusses (pp.28-9) and the present writer has explored,21 significant flows of precious metals came to England from Portugal and Spain on the account of Dutch, German and other north-European merchants who found it more convenient to remit such bullion homewards via England. Then there were the not insignificant influxes of Spanish silver brought to England via Jamaica and other English colonies. These large flows, secularly growing especially before 1750, permitted London successfully to challenge Amster? dam as the prime distribution centre for bullion in northern Europe, probably by about 1730.22 It is in the context of an expanding London business in precious metals that the Jewish bullion-dealers operated. Similarly, London Jewish dealers in for? eign exchange, providing bills of exchange on foreign trading centres for merchants in England, operated in a growing market. The scale of such exchange business is very difficult to measure, but a crude indication can be seen in the growth of English foreign trade; English exports (excluding bullion) nearly doubled between 1700 and 1750, from ?6.5 to ?12.7 millions (in official values), and by 1790 increased further to some ?19 millions.23 Dr Yogev shows how, in bullion and exchange dealing, the Jews of London did well, helped by their connections on the Continent and their own bullion importing from the Iberian peninsula and the Spanish West Indies. They figured, albeit in varying degree over time, as sellers of bullion to the Bank of England and as receivers of loans from the Bank on the security of their own gold and silver deposits. They included very prominent silver brokers to the East India Company, and bullion brokers to the Bank of England.24 A number of Jewish firms stand out, such as the house of Medina, the Salvadors, Samson Gideon and the Mocattas. Dr Yogev argues, too, that London Jews were active bullion exporters to Holland. This branch of bullion exports is worthy of some emphasis since, along with the flow to India, it dominated such business, helping in the settlement of England's trading deficits with the Baltic and northern Europe.25 Another element in the bullion outflow to Holland was shipments settling the Dutch, German and other foreign balances remitted to England from the Iberian peninsula. It is also certain that bullion flows to and from Holland occurred from time to time as a result of speculative and arbitrage transactions. In war? time, shipments were also linked to governmental remittances to the Low Countries. Available official figures for bullion shipped to Holland show that values could be high: from 1725 to 1750, for example, shipments from London alone exceeded ?1 million in 18 years and ?2 millions in 8 years.26 In the exchange business proper, Dr Yogev argues convincingly how Jews exgelled, especially in the crucial London-Amsterdam exchange axis. He says, indeed (p. 5 5), that this was the 'only field in which London's Jews played a truly essential part'. Notable in this field were the 'Dutch Jews', although it is improbable (p.58) that only residents of the Netherlands were implied, but also Dutch immigrant Jews in London and perhaps Ashkena zim. In Dr Yogev's view, prominent as Jews were, they still did not compare with the leading non-Jew? ish firms, like Hope and Muilman of Amsterdam. Significantly, he declares (p.59) that the London Jews were not active in bill-discounting, with its need for large capitals,27 a business virtually synonymous with banking, of which more shortly. Jewish interests in the remaining fields of English foreign commerce, as Dr Yogev shows, seem to have been very limited. These included the trades</page><page sequence="6">Book Notes 161 with Europe other than those with the Peninsula and Holland (a little commerce was carried on with Italy), the West Indies trade proper and that with the English North American colonies. Jewish houses resident in New York, Philadelphia and other colonial ports did carry on some transactions with England, sometimes involving triangular pat? terns with the West Indies and elsewhere. One leading London house, though, the Franks family, with a branch in Philadelphia, seems to have been more involved in government supply contracts in the mid-century than in trade as such.28 Dr Yogev (p.43) cites an instance of a London Jewish interest in the West African slave trade in 1767. In shipowning, although this is not discussed as such, there was evidently something of a Jewish interest, particularly in the hiring of vessels to the East India Company.29 Jewish involvement in England's extensive and developing internal commerce in this century Dr Yogev thinks (pp. 17-18) not to have been 'at all prominent... except at the lowest level, as pedlars'. Prominent it might not have been, but it would be surprising if Jews had not had some sizeable interests. At the end of the 17th century Solomon de Medina was dealing in the Newcastle coal trade,30 and it is likely that the textile-export? ing London Jewish merchants had some related dealings in the internal cloth trade. It is also generally thought that Jews were active in the London wholesale markets. In his introduction Dr Yogev raises the important question of Jewish activity in other large areas of English economic life. In banking, London and provincial, he briefly states (p. 17), and rightly so it appears, there was no discernible Jewish role. But here as elsewhere, with regard to these wider activities, Dr Yogev might helpfully have referred to some at least of the available literature on them. On banking, reference might have been made to the works by Joslin,31 Pressnell,32 and Sir John Clap ham,33 (this latter work is included in Dr Yogev's bibliography), none of which indicate any Jewish enterprise in banking (although, of course, Jews were depositors and customers with the banks).34 But other quite important areas of London Jewish financial activity are either only briefly noted or not mentioned by Dr Yogev. They include, first, an important part in the developing business in com? pany stocks, as both stockjobbers and stockbrokers. As is well known, when the City of London attempted to restrain the 'numbers and illpractices of brokers and stock jobbers' in 1697, there were 124 brokers licensed of whom 12 were Jews (some of whose dealings were in general wholesaling). In the 18th century the London Jews came to assume a prominent role in the market in stocks, as, for instance, Dickson shows in his 1967 study of the 'financial revolution' in England.35 Sometimes related to such dealing, although they were distinct financial activities in their own right, were the investing of funds, speculative and otherwise and often of a large order, by London Jews into the stocks of the leading companies of the age, espe? cially the Bank of England and the East India Company. London Jewish subscriptions to the growing body of government debt from the mid-1690s were also striking. The evidence on such Jewish investments is considerable, some of it appearing before Dr Yogev's thesis was presented. For example, concerning Jewish holdings of Bank of England stock, Giuseppi has shown there were numerous - and some very large - London Jewish stockholders from 1694 to 1725, and that this continued to be the case, for in the 1750s and 1760s the numbers were considerably higher than in the early years.36 Dr Yogev might usefully have gone more into these stock-dealing and investing activities, important as they were to the develop? ment of corporate and public financial power in England and the rise of a 'monied interest'. Further, and related to these kinds of business, was the agency work undertaken by London Jews for Dutchmen, Jews or Gentiles, seeking to invest and speculate in British funds and company stocks. Dr Yogev in the Prager section of his book (pp. 204-5) discusses such commissions undertaken by that house. As Wilson and Dickson have shown, London Jewish correspondents for Dutch clients were numerous.37 The significance of these interna? tional Jewish links for the English economy lies, of course, in the role Dutch capital played in England's finances in the 18th century. Dr Yogev also does not discuss the financially and politically significant activities undertaken by Lon? don Jewish financiers in the business of army supplies contracting and government loan con? tracting. The outstanding instances include Solo? mon de Medina's transactions for William III,38</page><page sequence="7">162 Book Notes Samson Gideon's massive business and services as a loan contractor in the War of the Austrian Succes? sion and the Seven Years War,39 and Joseph Salvador's operations as a loan underwriter in the Seven Years War.40 Finally, we should note the part Jews played in the evolution of marine insur 4.1 ance. A summary view, then, of Anglo-Jewish interests in the 18th-century English economy, as Dr Yogev sees the position, is that these were rather narrow, confined chiefly to certain branches of foreign trade and finance. Prominent were the Portuguese and Spanish trades (although in the present writer's view there is a tendency to overstate the Jewish position) and the Jamaica-Spanish West Indies trade. Jews were active, too, in the diamond-coral component of the East India trade; in certain branches of Anglo-Dutch trade associated with bullion and other colonial and Asian goods; in the London bullion and foreign-exchange markets; and in internal trade at its humblest levels. To this list can be added an interest in London wholesaling; a minor role in shipowning and in marine insurance; a striking interest in stockbroking and stockjob? bing, some of it with an international dimension; substantial individual investments in government debt and company stocks; as well as a conspicuous place in government loan contracting. And further, as Dr Yogev shows, among the Jewish businessmen engaged in these fields of enterprise there were to be found a handful of truly remarkable merchants and financiers, impressive in any company. Dr Yogev rightly argues (pp. 17-18) that in the wider fields of English economy, in agriculture, mining, manufac? turing, and in the transport system (excluding shipowning) Jewish interests seem to have been absent. One exception perhaps worthy of mention is a Jewish presence among the artisan crafts of London and other cities, too, as in watchmaking, jewellery making and gold and silver working.42 We might also add that in concluding that Jewish enterprise was singularly lacking outside the bounds of London trade and finance, it is not readily apparent that Dr Yogev made use of the large literature on provincial English economic activity to assess any significant Jewish presence or involve? ment. If we take but trade, for example, reference might have been made, say, to the work of Willan on the coastal traffic, or, for a leading provincial port, the work of Minchinton on Bristol,43 neither of which, however, contain anything of note on Jewish activity.44 Given, then, the rather limited and specialized roles occupied by Jews in the 18th-century English economy, the question naturally raised, and dis? cussed by Dr Yogev in a most interesting way (pp. 18 et seq), is why the Jews in England were so confined in their activities. Why did they not seize more of the opportunities presented by an expan? sive economy? One answer not discussed by Dr Yogev (but already alluded to above) seems to be the restricted number of Jewish businessmen in the country as a whole, and their virtual confinement in London. Dr Yogev (p. 19) talks of the 'limited capital resources at the disposal of the majority of Jewish merchants', which is no doubt true. But the absolute number of Jewish businessmen was rela? tively small, with only a few having large capi? tals.45 It is relevant to note that, according to Lipman, the Jewish population in England (pre? eminently in London until the middle of the century when provincial communities began to be formed) grew significantly over the century. From about 1000 in 1695, virtually all in London, to possibly 6000 in 1738, with another estimate from 1753 mentioning 8000, the total number in Britain as a whole in 1800 was thought to be about 20,000.46 But, as Lipman shows, overwhelmingly the growth in numbers after the mid-century came from Ashkenazi immigration through the Low Countries from the German states and Central Europe, people who were generally poor and with little capital. The better-off Jews of the early 18th century, the Sephardim from Portugal, Spain and the Nether? lands, apparently hardly grew in number in the second half of the century, at its end remaining still at the mid-century level of about 2000.47 Further, the concentration in London of the body of Jewish merchants at a time when much of English foreign trade, let alone the other prime activities of the age, was carried on and organized outside London, also helps to explain the confined position of Jews in the English economy. Given the relative dearth of Jewish merchants, the infrequency of sizeable capi? tals, and their predilection for residence in London, we may go quite a long way towards explaining their circumscribed place in the English economy. Accepting these points, Dr Yogev's emphasis on</page><page sequence="8">Book Notes 163 legal and social issues rings true in looking for further prime factors. He stresses the legal disabili? ties faced by non-British-born Jews, their right only to denization, not naturalization (and the conse? quent need to pay aliens' duties in foreign trade), their exclusion from the parliamentary franchise and from Parliament, their dissociation from the land (their right to hold estates was at the least ambiguous), and, we might add, their inability to become freemen of the City of London (not achieved until 1828). Although, as Dr Yogev says, Jews were not legally disqualified from being elected to direc? torships of the East India Company, no Jew ever achieved such a position of influence. Dr Yogev talks, too, doubtless very reasonably, of the jealousy of Christian merchants as a further factor inhibiting the extension of Jewish interests. This raises the intriguing question of Jewish attitudes to their possible role in the economy, and their possibly quite deliberate restriction of their more important business activities to fields, foreign trade, stock-job? bing and -broking, bullion and exchange dealing, and other financial affairs which hardly figure in the eye of the general public. Dr Yogev does mention the weight of traditional Jewish thinking about their economic role, their inherent conserva? tism, and it would have been most interesting to have seen him directly examine Jewish attitudes and the social setting Jews found themselves in. It may be, especially in the second half of the century, that London's Jews were broadly content with maintaining a low profile and involving themselves in fairly discreet forms of business - it is perhaps remarkable that the great Jewish financiers, Medina, Gideon and Salvador, made their mark in the early and mid-century. One wonders how far the fiasco of the 1753 naturalization bill might have prompted feelings of circumspection among Jews in their business ambitions, given the strength of anti-Jewish feeling the short, intense debate on the bill revealed? It is surely noteworthy that Jewish businessmen do not begin again significantly to broaden their economic activity until the first half of the 19th century when there is a distinct move towards greater toleration in English political and social life. Factors of social setting and attitudes might well have repaid more study. Another possibly quite powerful reason for 18th century Jewry's limited economic role may have been the community's changing composition. By the mid-century the Sephardi community had experienced some decades of acceptance. But the century's second half saw little change in the numbers of this reasonably well-established com? munity, contrasting with a secular increase in those of Ashkenazi background. Being newer and poorer the Ashkenazim needed time to become established, and the process of Jewish acceptance in England was hence, in a sense, retarded. Moreover, the branches of English trade where Jews were prominent in the century's first half, those with the Peninsula and Asia, declined in the second half, relative to the faster growth of English commerce with North America. Some interesting contrasts with Anglo-Jewry are raised by the apparently more successful position enjoyed by other immi? grant business groups in England in this age, the Dutch, Germans and Huguenots in particular. Such groups, including great City figures like the Houb lons, Van Neck, Janssen and Delme, seem to have cut a greater and more accepted figure than the Jews, as shown by their prominence on the boards of the leading corporations. Study of their numbers and activities and the factors underlying their rise in comparison with the Jewish experience would be worth while. While London's Jews did have a limited role in English economic life, it was, as Dr Yogev's work demonstrates, a useful and, to a degree, an innova? tive one. Growing as their contribution was in the century's first half, however, it did not maintain its momentum later on when English economic expansion became more striking. Jewish interests in Iberian commerce, in precious metals, diamonds, foreign exchange, the stock market and loan con? tracting, have a special significance because of their expansive and technically demanding character? istics. Through such business the London Jews made a distinct national contribution, enriching the stock of native skills and capital, aiding the advancement of English financial institutions, and helping London to achieve European commercial and financial pre-eminence by at least the mid century. NOTES 1 Entitled, 'The Economic Activity of the Anglo-Jewish Patri? ciate in the Eighteenth-Century International Trade'. 2 Pp. 360, price ?8.50.</page><page sequence="9">164 Book Notes 3 H. E. S. Fisher, The Portugal Trade. A Study of Anglo-Portuguese Commerce, 1700-1770 (London 1971) pp.55-6. 4 Ibid., p. 144. 5 W. E. Minchinton, 'The Merchants in England in the Eighteenth Century', Explorations in Entrepreneurial History X (1957) p.62. 6 'The Jews in English Foreign Trade - A Consideration of the "Philo Patriae" Pamphlets of 1753', in J. M. Shaftesley (ed.) Remember the Days. Essays on Anglo-Jewish History presented to Cecil Roth (London 1966) pp. 131-2. 7 Ibid., p.131. 8 Fisher, Portugal Trade, pp.58-60. &gt; 9 Further Considerations on the Act to permit Persons professing the Jewish Religion to be Naturalised by Parliament. In a Second Letter from a Merchant in Town to his Friend in the Country. 10 'Jews in English Foreign Trade', especially p. 133. My observations here do not diminish the force of Dr Yogev citing Jonas Hanway's belief that the firm of Salvador was a 'great trader' to Lisbon or that other Jewish principals as important as Salvador existed. 11 'None too friendly', as Dr Yogev puts it, p.34. In R. D. Bamett's view Lord Tyra wly was not as sympathetic to the Jews or crypto-Jews of Portugal as his predecessor had been, 'Diplomatic Aspects of the Sephardic Influx from Portugal in the Early Eighteenth Century', Trans. JHSE XXV (1977) p.218. 12 Castres to Amy and, 26 June 1753, pro sp 89/48. For its interest for Jewish history at the time of the Jew Bill affair, this Lisbon dispatch, and two others which discuss the Portuguese government's attitude, will be printed in a forthcoming issue of the Trans. JHSE. 13 My own calculations from the same source (Cholmondeley mss) of the value of bullion imports in these months comes to ?104,863 and not ?133,562. Apart from this, if we accept Dr Yogev's first six months of 1741 import total of?i 33,562, he says (p.41) this gives a monthly average import of ?5500, which should surely be ?22,260. This much weakens his comparative statistical argument that the January-June 1741 list is not comprehensive. It should be noted that gold was brought to England from Portugal by other shipping than packet boats; by merchant vessels to some extent and, especially in wartime, by men-of-war. See, Fisher, Portugal Trade, Chap. 7. 14 Dr Yogev thinks that 'if Jews were indeed prominent in the export of woollen goods to Portugal, it would be difficult to explain why they had only an insignificant part in the import of gold' (p.41). But, as argued, it may well be that the Jews did not have a prominent part in textile exports to Portugal. It was possible for Jewish exporters to Portugal to receive their returns in bills of exchange instead of in bullion (we can exclude returns in commodities such as wines or fruit which the Jews do not seem to have dealt in). As the present writer has argued (Portugal Trade, p.94-7), there was a tendency, because of the riskiness of bullion shipping from Portugal, for the lesser men in trade to remit to England in bills and leave the larger merchants and the bullion dealers to ship the bullion from Portugal. This practice suggests that the 1741 bullion lists could understate Jewish involvement in the textile trade to Portugal. But this then means that the 1741 bullion-importing lists imply a dearth of substantial Jewish houses and of specialist Jewish bullion dealers. 15 Fisher, Portugal Trade, p.20. 16 Assuming an average yearly bullion import of ?400,000, the 1741 figure of imports on the Falmouth packets for the first six months of the year at ?133,562 (Dr Yogev's figure) or ?104,863 (my figure, see n. 13), will seem well below average. But 1740 was a year of quite significantly lower English exports to Portugal than usual, while in such war years as 1741 the resort to English warships for the safer carriage of bullion strikingly increased. See, Fisher, Portugal Trade, pp.99-100 and Appx I. 17 Samuel, 'Jews in English Foreign Trade', pp. 13 5-6. 18 Total English exports to Spain, in official terms roughly doubled to over ?i million annually between 1700 and the mid-i76os. See, Fisher, Portugal Trade, pp.3-4. 19 Dr Yogev tends also to overstate Jewish bullion imports to England when (p.53) he says that 'most' of the importers of precious metals into England from 'the Western hemisphere . . . belonged to the Portuguese [Jewish] community', a statement not supported by the evidence he presents earlier. 20 Fisher, Portugal Trade, pp.4-5. 21 Ibid., pp.21-2. 22 In the present writer's view the significance of the recovery of Latin American precious metal production from the end of the 17th century, initially with gold in Brazil and then with silver in Mexico and elsewhere in Spanish America, has not been fully appreciated for European trade and monetary development. The role of expanding American bullion supplies in London's rise as a bullion market is one of the implications discussed in my forthcoming 'American Precious Metals and the European Economy, 1650-1800'. 23 E. B. Schumpeter, English Overseas Trade Statistics, 1697-1808 (Oxford i960) p. 15. 24 For the various ways in which merchants in England disposed of bullion imports from Portugal, see Fisher, Portugal Trade, pp. 103-6. Some part of the imports were sold directly to specialist bullion dealers among whom Jewish houses were probably prominent. 2 5 There has been a lively debate involving Heckscher, Wilson, Price, Sperling and others on how the Baltic trade deficits were settled, in part it seems by direct bullion shipments but also through bills of exchange drawn on Amsterdam. See, Fisher, Portugal Trade, p. 134. The bills on Amsterdam were substantially settled by the sterling balances accruing from England's trade surpluses with Holland. But it is clear that large bullion shipments were made to Holland as well. 26 C. J. French, 'The Trade and Shipping of the Port of London, 1700-1776', unpublished University of Exeter Ph.D. thesis (1980), pp. 16-17 and Appx II. 27 The firm of Goldsmids seems to have been acting as bill discounters as well as bill brokers in London in the 1790s. See, L. S. Pressneil, Country Banking in the Industrial Revolution (Oxford 1956) pp.91, 93 28 On trade between England and North America see also, L. Hershkowitz, 'Some Aspects of the New York Jewish Merchant in Colonial Trade', Migration and Settlement. Proceedings of the Anglo-American Jewish Historical Conference (London 19 71) pp.101-17, which is very informative on the New York Jews and their business interests including those with England. 29 Maurice Woolf, 'Eighteenth-Century London Jewish Ship? owners', Trans. JHSE XXIV (1974) pp. 198-204 (a paper cited by Dr Yogev on p. 2 84 of his book but not apparently made full use of), discusses Jewish shipowning interests using the letter of marque records. See also, L. S. Sutherland, A London Merchant 1695-1774 (London 1933) Appx V. At the end of the century, Emanuel Silva, an 'insurance broker' of London was part-owner of a Hull whaling ship, see Gordon Jackson, Hull in the Eighteenth Century (London 1972) p.172. 30 0. K. Rabinowicz, Sir Solomon de Medina (London 1974) P.23 31 D. M. Joslin, 'London Private Bankers, 1720-1785', Econo? mic History Review, Sec. Ser. VII (1954). 32 L. S. Pressnell, Country Banking in the Industrial Revolution. 33 The Bank of England. A History, I, 1694-179 7 (Cambridge 1944) 34 They practised a variety of transactions with the Bank of England, as Clapham among others has shown, while the surviving accounts for 1731 of Surman and Stone, the City bankers, include a number of Jewish names. See Joslin, 'London Private Bankers', p. 179.</page><page sequence="10">Book Notes 165 35 P- G. M. Dickson, The Financial Revolution in England. A Study in the Development of Public Credit, 1688-1756 (London 1967) passim. 36 J. A. Giuseppi, 'Sephardi Jews and the Early Years of the Bank of England', Trans. JHSE XIX (i960) pp.53-63. See also, on Jewish investments, Rabinowicz, Solomon de Medina, especially pp.17-18, 37, 42, 51; L. S. Sutherland, 'Samson Gideon; Eight? eenth-Century Jewish Financier', Trans. JHSE XVII (1953) p.80; M. Woolf, 'Joseph Salvador 1716-1786', Trans. JHSE XXI (1968) pp.104, 108; and Dickson, Financial Revolution in England, passim. 37 Charles Wilson, Anglo-Dutch Commerce and Finance in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge 1941) pp.106, 116-17, 160-3, and Dickson, Financial Revolution in England, pp.264, 307~8, 318. 38 For a recent, full account see, Rabinowicz, Solomon de Medina, passim. 39 Sutherland, 'Samson Gideon', passim. See also, Dickson, Financial Revolution in England, pp.222 ff. 40 For a 1968 account see, Woolf, 'Joseph Salvador', passim. Mention may also be made of the important loan-contracting business undertaken by the Goldsmids in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. See, Cecil Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford 1964) pp.239-40. 41 For Samson Gideon's involvement see, Sutherland, 'Samson Gideon', p.80, and that of Moses Paiba see, Woolf, 'London Jewish Shipowners', p. 199. L. S. Sutherland, A London Merchant, has a number of references to Jews in insurance, pp.59, 67, 68, 72 and Appx IV. 42 A. Rubens, 'Portrait of Anglo-Jewry 1656-1836', Trans. JHSE XIX (i960) p. 19, and for a later discussion, B. S?sser, 'The Jews of Devon and Cornwall from the Middle Ages until the Early Twentieth Century', unpublished University of Exeter Ph.D. thesis (1977), Chap. IV. 43 T. S. Willan, The English Coasting Trade, 1600-1750 (Manchester 1938); W. E. Minchinton, The Trade of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century (Bristol Record Society, XX, 1957). 44 In a later paper by W. E. Minchinton, 'The Merchants of Bristol in the Eighteenth Century', in Societes et Groupes Sociaux en Aquitaine et en Angleterre (Federation Historique du Sud-Ouest, Bordeaux 1979) pp. 185-200, mention is made of Bristol mer? chants of Huguenot, German and Dutch descent, but none of Jewish descent, p. 189. A fairly recent study (1972) shows that another leading port, Hull, had 'surprisingly few' merchants who had come from Europe, of which only two were successful, neither Jewish. Jackson, Hull in the Eighteenth Century, p.99. 45 See above p. 158. Jews were not the only foreign-born merchants in England, there being numerous men of Dutch, German, Huguenot and other descent. In 1760, of the 810 London merchants who kissed the hand of George III following his accession to the throne, at least 250 were of alien origin, of whom some were Jewish. T. S. Ashton, An Economic History of England: the 18th Century (London 1955)^.140. 46 V. D. Lipman, 'Sephardi and other Jewish Immigrants in England in the Eighteenth Century' in Migration and Settlement, pp.37-8. 47 Ibid., pp.38-41. On the general poverty of the Ashkenazi community at the close of the century we may note the belief of Patrick Colquhoun the Westminster magistrate in 1795, that the Ashkenazic Jews of London were 'indigent', that is 'with the exception of three or four very wealthy men and as many families connected with the Royal Exchange'. G. Reitlinger, 'The Changed Face of English Jewry at the End of the Eighteenth Century', Trans. JHSE XXIII (1371)2.37.</page></plain_text>