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David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester: glimpses into a Jewish family in thirteenth-century England

Reva Berman-Brown and Sean McCartney

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Jewish Historical Studies, volume 39, 2004 David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester: glimpses into a Jewish family in thirteenth-century England REVA BERMAN BROWN and SEAN McCARTNEY This paper concerns the activities of a thirteenth-century Jewish married couple, David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester, and traces their descendants through three generations, to Licoricia's nine grandchildren.1 The story is told chronologically, interweaving the themes of acceptance in and exclusion from the wider community, demography, mobility, marriage, divorce, education, employment, property and inheritance as the narrative progresses. The history of the Jewish community of medieval England is relatively brief. The chronicler William of Malmesbury2 states that the Jews of London were brought from Rouen by William I (the Conqueror) as part of a policy of stimulating commercial development. In the half-century following the accession of Henry II in 1154, there was a new wave of immi? gration from both Angevin and Capetian territories. Stacey's3 opinion is that the English Jewry was 'in many respects an archetypical medieval Ashkenazic community. Almost all the structural features that characterized 1 This paper is based on published work; manuscripts have not been consulted as our aim has been to produce a synthesis and interpretation of the work on medieval Jewry published during the twentieth century. We would like to thank Professor Zefira Rokeah for her advice and support generously provided in personal communications. 2 William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum, ed. and trans. R. A. B. Mynors and completed by R. M. Thomson and M. Winterbottom II (2 vols) Oxford Medieval Texts series (Oxford 1998) 371. See H. G. Richardson, The English Jewry under Angevin Kings (London i960). For the Jews of England, a brief overview and some useful references may be found in D. M. Stenton, English Society in the Early Middle Ages, 1066-130/ (London 1965, 4th ed.) 193-202. See also P. R. Hyams, 'The Jews in Medieval England, 1066-1290', in A. Haverkamp and H. Vollrath (eds) England and Germany in the High Middle Ages (Oxford 1992) 173-92; C. Roth, History of the Jews in England (Oxford 1964, 3rd ed.). 3 R. C. Stacey, 'Jews and Christians in Twelfth-Century England: Some Dynamics of a Changing Relationship', in M. A. Signer and J. Van Engen (eds) Jews and Christians in Twelfth Century Europe (Notre Dame, Ind. 2001) 340. I</page><page sequence="2">Reva Berman Brown and Sean McCartney Jewish life elsewhere in twelfth- and thirteenth-century northern Europe can be found in England, but in high relief The Jews were expelled from England by Edward I in 1290. Throughout their period of residence, the Jews were in England, but never of it, and their presence was at once tolerated and resisted to the point of violence. Their status was unique in that they were protected by and 'belonged' to the Crown. The Statute of Jewry of Henry III (1253) makes it explicit that 'All Jews, wheresoever they may be in the realm, are of right under the tutelage and protection of the king; nor is it lawful for any of them to subject himself to any wealthy person without the king's licence. Jews and all their effects are the king's property, and if any one withhold their money from them, let the king recover it as his own.'4 Jews could not hold an estate of inheritance other than in urban land, but were liable to exceptional taxation and subject to expulsion at a moment's notice. This condition, like villeinage, was hereditary, notwithstanding permanent domicile; birth within England did not of itself confer capacity to do fealty to its king. While Jews were allowed to swear on the Pentateuch in cases brought before the courts, this privilege was not extended to the ceremony of investiture, so they could pay neither homage nor fealty, and it was not lawful for Christians to pay homage or fealty to them. It was not until 1275 (fifteen years before the expulsion of the community) that they were legally permitted to hold as much as a ten-year agricultural lease, and the licence then granted was subject to the express reservation that they received no homage or fealty from Christians. The only land they were en? titled to hold at common law was that tenable by rent in money or kind, and the mortua vadia (discharge of gage ? something of value deposited to ensure the performance of some action, and liable to forfeiture in case of non-performance) mentioned in the rolls5 were probably rent charges. The Jews were therefore outside the hierarchy in which land was given in return for military service, and constituted a distinct community, owing allegiance directly to the Crown but largely self-governing, with its own culture, laws and customs. Urban dwellers were a minority in the England at the time, and the Jews formed an extremely small minority within the urban community.6 The question of numbers is obviously important, but unfortunately anything more than an assessment remains little more than guesswork. The geography of settlement shows that there was steady expan? sion during the twelfth century and confirms other evidence that numbers 4 J. M. Rigg (ed.) Select Pleas, Starrs, and Other Records from the Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, AD 1220-1284 (London 1902) x. 5 Close Rolls, 1225, p. 24. See Addendum 1 below. 6 V. D. Lipman, 'The Anatomy of Mediaeval Anglo-Jewry', Trans JEISE XXI (1970) 64-77. For further information, see J. Cox Russell, The Population in Europe, 500-1500 (London 1969). 2</page><page sequence="3">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester were falling during the thirteenth. The total was probably four to five thou? sand in 1200. This would have been perhaps 0.25 per cent of the population of England as a whole, or 1.25 per cent of the total urban population. By the Expulsion in 1290, the numbers had dropped to between two and a half and three thousand. These figures are rough, but the impression they give of a very small group in terms of total numbers is probably justified. Nevertheless, it is clear from the records that the Jews were highly mobile at a time when, ostensibly, most people travelled only between villages and the nearest towns. The Jews moved to England from France, Spain, Germany and Italy, and from town to town within England. There 'was much move? ment of Jews over all lands where French was spoken'.7 This mobility was a characteristic shared by a large number of the French-speaking ruling elite, because for much of this period the Anglo-Norman knights might have estates on both sides of the Channel in the king's extensive French posses? sions. The family of David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester, for instance, lived and worked in Lincoln, Oxford, Winchester, Canterbury, Marlborough, Basingstoke and Devizes. The Jews settled first in London: the earliest extant record of Jews' finan? cial activities appears in an official document in 1130.8 From London, they moved out to many of the major towns of the kingdom. In the thirteenth century, there were important Jewish communities in Bristol, Canterbury, Colchester, Exeter, Gloucester, Lincoln, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Winchester and York, and smaller less permanent communities in Cambridge, Devizes, Hereford, Huntingdon, Marlborough and Worcester. Thus, communities sprang up in the more populous parts of the country, and (with the exception of Bristol) in county towns which were the headquar? ters of the sheriff (the king's representative) and/or which had a royal castle. It was the function of the sheriff or castellan of a royal castle to regulate and protect the lives of the Jews. Because of their special relationship, they were outside the feudal system, protected by and 'belonging to' the Crown. There were no ghettos; the Jews settled among their Christian neighbours in areas near the castle or the marketplace. They tended to live close to each other in an area known as 'the Jewry', which still survives as a street name in some towns. Christians passed freely to and fro and occupied houses in the same street. As well as business relationships, friendships developed, despite cleri? cal disapproval.9 This can be inferred from twelfth-century edicts preventing 7 H. G. Richardson (see n. 2) 3. 8 See J. Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England (London 1893) 14-5 for several extracts from J. Hunter (ed.) The Pipe Roll of 31 Henry I, Michaelmas, 1130 (London 1833). 9 J. Katz, Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times (Oxford 1061). 3</page><page sequence="4">o o u C8 U ? ? * ? K aj ji ail o ? G ? 3 dog u CS Si ?^ &lt; o o 3 o 4</page><page sequence="5">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester Christians from living in Jewish homes as domestic servants or as nurses to the children, and from the introduction of the 'Jewish badge' by the Lateran Council of 1215, which itself emphasizes 'the difficulty, throughout all the lands of Latin Christendom, of distinguishing Jew from Christian by their physical traits ... it is unlikely that many Jews could be readily distinguished from Gentiles by their appearance'.10 While the requirement to wear a badge was strictly imposed on Jewish communities in Europe, English kings for a long time waived the rule in return for yet another payment from the Jews. Since most of the population lived in the countryside, it is likely that a large percentage of the population never saw a Jew, let alone had personal or busi? ness contact with one. All 'knew' about the Jews and their nature from Church teachings, however, and that the Jews were considered testes fidei, bearing witness in their inferior social status to the punishment of those who rejected the Christian creed. The story of the Jews in thirteenth-century England is told here by means of the activities of a single family.11 To provide a guide through the generations, we begin with the family tree of David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester. The family tree is our interpretation of the information available.12 It is possible that Asher Lumbard of Lincoln, previously of Winchester, was David's father. Licoricia's father is named in an entry in a Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer's memoranda roll as Lumbard. Her first husband was Abraham of Kent or of Canterbury. The number of Licoricia's children is uncertain. One authority gives five sons - Benedict, Cokerel and Lumbard from her first marriage, and Asher and Sweteman from her marriage to David. Another suggests that she had three sons ? Cokerel and Benedict, and Asher. Our interpretation is four ? Benedict, Cokerel and Lumbard from the first marriage, and Asher (also 10 H. G. Richardson (see n. 2) 6. 11 For non-Jewish family life, see S. Shahar, The Fourth Estate: A History of Women in the Middle Ages (London 1983) and her Childhood in the Middle Ages (London 1990). 12 Sources for the family's names and possible relationships are C. Roth, Jews of Medieval Oxford (Oxford 1951) 46, citing H. E. Salter (ed), Cartulary of Oseney Abbey IV (6 vols) (Oxford 1929-36) 9 (Asher Lumbard as David's father); S. Bartlet, 'Three Jewish Businesswomen in Thirteenth Century Winchester', Jewish Culture and History III 2 (Winter 2000) 43, citing H. G. Richardson, Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, i2j$-jj IV (London 1972) 15 (Licoricia's father as Isaac); Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer's memoranda roll, E368/36, m. 17 dorse - information provided by Professor Rokeah in a personal communica? tion (15 February 2003) (Licoricia's father as Lumbard); Z. E. Rokeah, Medieval English Jews and Royal Officials: Entries of Jewish Interest in the English Memoranda Rolls, 1266-1293 (Jerusalem 2000) 136-7, 512 (Abraham of Kent/Canterbury); H. P. Stokes, 'A Jewish Family in Oxford in the Thirteenth Century', Trans JHSE X (1924) 193-206 (Licoricia's five sons); C. Roth (see above) (Licoricia's three sons); Bartlet (see above) 50 (Belia as Licoricia's sister) and 43 (Benedict's seven children). 5</page><page sequence="6">Reva Berman Brown and Sean McCartney called Sweteman) from the marriage to David. There may also have been a daughter called Belia, as the person who found Licoricia's body after her murder is given as her daughter Belia, presumably the sister of Benedict, Cokerel and Lumbard. But it is possible also that Belia was Licoricia's sister, because their family trees show a recurrence of the same names across the generations which strongly indicates family kinship, or that the records use the word 'daughter' but mean daughter-in-law, suggesting that she was the wife either of Cokerel or of Lumbard. When it comes to Benedict's chil? dren, one author suggests that there were seven, adding another daughter, Rose of York, to the six children shown in our family tree, and that they were the children of Benedict's first marriage to Belassez, and not his second wife, Flora le Blund. It might, then, be that after three boys, the first daughter was given her mother's name. David of Oxford More is known about David's early life than about Licoricia's. Since, in the main, Jewish occupations were limited to various aspects of financing the wider community, Jews moved from town to town, being referred to by vari? ous names as they did so. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to trace the same person over the years. David is also referred to in the records as David of Lincoln, where he may have been born, the 'of denoting both 'residing in' and 'coming from'. So, when David of (coming from) Lincoln moved to Oxford, he became David of (residing in) Oxford. Probably because her stay in Oxford was so short, Licoricia is referred to throughout the records as 'of Winchester'. While little is known of David's early life in Lincoln, he probably under? went the education normal for Jewish boys, which aimed to provide linguis? tic, ethical and religious knowledge. Literacy was required in order to participate in synagogue services and, as within the other European Jewish communities, the standard of education was high: 'even ordinary Jews as a rule learned to read and write Hebrew'.13 In the towns in which there was a Jewish community, there was also a school, usually attached to the syna? gogue, where education in biblical studies began at five and continued to thirteen, when the education of the 'ordinary boy' finished. The 'Separated' (Perushim) continued until they were sixteen, when they decided for them? selves whether to devote their life to the study of Torah or not. If so, they went to the 'great school' in the capital for another seven years. The small, provincial schools were composed of scholars, teachers and a rector to 13 A. Wendehorst, 'Who Could Read and Write in the Middle Ages?', in A. Haverkamp and H. Vollrath (eds) (see n. 2) 81. 6</page><page sequence="7">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester supervise. No teaching was done at home, and the rector was not to live at the school with his family but to go home every Sabbath. The rector was required to give two lectures, one in the morning and another in the after? noon. The teachers went over each lesson twice with their class. At the end of each week, there was repetition of the week's work, also at the end of the month, and at the end of the summer and the winter sessions. No teacher could take more than ten pupils or have any occupation other than teaching. The lads were encouraged to examine one another in the day's lessons every evening. Dull scholars were sent away, so as not to keep back the more advanced. Teaching was done 'by book', not by rote learning. In the winter, the evening lessons were to be short, on account of the early lack of light. Every member of the community contributed school fees and the rector was to get twenty marks14 annually and the teachers eight marks. In the great school, the Separated paid for their lodging and a share of the teachers' salaries.15 David clearly chose not to devote his life to the study of Torah but to become a financier. For this, he required some understanding of the Latin alphabet of the Christian majority. Jews needed to know Hebrew for religious reasons, but among them? selves spoke Norman French. A knowledge of the language would in any case be necessary for communicating with their clients, who tended to be Norman nobility, gentry and townspeople.16 English increasingly became the vernacular as the thirteenth century progressed, but not of the Jews, thus underlining their 'Frenchness'. Male Jews tended to use French trans? lations of their Hebrew names - Licoricia's son Benedict would have been known in Hebrew as Baruch, and Cokerel would have been Isaac (Yitschak, probably pronounced 'Yitscok', hence Cok and Cokerel as diminutives). Asher was the biblical son of Jacob and Leah. Licoricia herself demon? strates that Jewish women tended to be given non-biblical names - Belaset or Belassez (Rachel) and Biket (a diminutive of Rebecca) are exceptions among names such as Gentilia, Brunetta, Precieuse and Mirabilia. Literacy was also considered important for girls, who were taught at home until they were sufficiently literate to enter business. David moved to Oxford at the beginning of the reign of Henry III (1216-72), possibly because the expansion of the university created good conditions for finance. Employment for Jews was mainly in the area of 14 See Addendum 2 below. 15 Jacobs (see n. 8) 343-4. 16 For the Jew's clients, see R. Mundill, England's Jewish Solution: Experiment and Expulsion, 1262-1290 (Cambridge 1998) and his 'Lumbard and Son: The Businesses and Debtors of Two Jewish Moneylenders in Late Thirteenth-century England', The Jewish Quarterly Review LXXXII 1-2 (July-October 1991) 137-70; and S. Lieberman, 'English Royal Policy towards the Jews' Debtors, 1227-1290', PhD thesis, Birkbeck College, University of London, 1982. 7</page><page sequence="8">Reva Berman Brown and Sean McCartney moneylending. There appear to have been three strata within a Jewish community. At the top was a small group of well-to-do financiers and investors, forming the chief families of each local congregation. Below them was a larger group of moneylenders of moderate means who carried on the same kind of business as the members of the richer families but on a smaller scale, and some of whom acted as agents for the wealthier group or restricted their activities to pawnbroking. The majority did not lend money but serviced the community as ritual butchers, synagogue officials or school teachers, or were servants to the richer members of the community. If one takes a nuclear family group of five,17 the Jewish community would have been made up of around six hundred households; the records mention probably the top one hundred or so heads of families. This may not be a reasonable multiplier because the health of the Jews could well have been better than that of their Christian neighbours, if only because of the reli? gious obligation to wash their hands after using the privy and before eating, and to bathe regularly. A greater number of their children could well have survived than those of the Christians around them. What is known is that by the time of the Expulsion, when the communities had been restricted to seventeen towns in which there were archae (the locked chests in which the official documents dealing with loans were kept), in the eleven communities for which there are records, two-thirds of the wealth was in the hands of eighty-two people in eighteen families. One family in Oxford owned more than half, and one in Norwich owned two-thirds of the community's entire capital.18 But nothing is known of how the bulk of poorer Jews, not involved in financial transactions at a sufficient level to warrant recording, main? tained themselves. Besides working for the community's wealthy financiers, they may have sold foodstuffs, second-hand clothing or even have been day labourers.19 David appears as David of Lincoln in the records where he is mentioned as being in arrears in 1220?i of his contribution to the Bristol Tallage of 1210.20 A tallage (tallagio) was an arbitrary tax levied by Norman and early Angevin kings on the towns and the demesne lands of the Crown. It was therefore a tax levied on feudal dependants by their superiors and, by exten? sion, a municipal rate, a toll or customs duty, or a grant, levy, imposition or 17 See J. McComish, 'The Medieval Jewish Cemetery at Jewbury, York', Jewish Culture and History III 2 (Winter 2000) 21-30. 18 C. Roth (see n. 2) 278. 19 V. D. Lipman (see n. 6) 68. 20 H. G. Richardson (see n. 2) 214, n. 5, and R. C. Stacey, 'Royal Taxation and the Social Structure of Medieval Anglo-Jewry: The Tillages of 1239-1242', Hebrew Union College Annual LVI (1985) 190 and n. 62, differ from C. Roth (see n. 12) and Stokes (see n. 12) and assign this to the 1241 levy. 8</page><page sequence="9">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester aid. The Bristol Tallage was particularly savage at sixty-six thousand marks. In 1219, David was one of the six representatives of the wealthy class selected from all English Jewry to apportion the tallage among the com? munity. He subsequently complained that he had been over-assessed, and obtained letters patent from the king ordering that, in future, he should be treated equitably with the other Jews.21 Then, in 1221, he contributed ?7 2s 6d, nearly half of the Oxford total of ?14 18s iod, to the Aid to marry the king's sister Joan to King Alexander of Scotland. On this tallage list, he is still called David of Lincoln, though he was by then resident in Oxford and included on the Oxford list. By this date, his transactions were on a vast scale. He had dealings in Warwick, Berkshire, Buckingham and Northampton, and lent sums as small as one mark and as high as three hundred. It is interesting that David had a business relationship with Simon de Montfort, who assumed the debt of ?110 us owed to David by two of the lesser baronage, but ultimately managed to evade his obligations.22 Like the other financiers of his day, David frequently transacted business in association with others, thus spreading his risks, though at the same time dividing his profits. Through the 1230s and 40s, David co-operated in this way with Aaron of York, H?mo of Hereford (one of the wealthiest Jews of the day), Benedict Crispin of London and his brother Jacob, and especially with his fellow townsman, Copin of Oxford. David seems to have been a hard creditor, but had good reason. One of the methods by which the king financed his wars was by remitting the debts owed to Jews by those who followed him on campaign. Between 1230 and 1244, in the Close Rolls and other records, there are fully thirty cancella? tions of this type relating to amounts due to David. It seems reasonable, therefore, that he adjusted his terms so as to compensate himself for such contingencies, and asserted his claims to the full in other cases. But this hard business sense added to the Christian dislike of, and resentment towards, David and other Jewish financiers. He played a prominent part in the life of the Jewish community. Besides being one of the tallagers who allocated a levy on the Jews of England in 1219, the records show that in that year he was made responsible for conveying a certain Jacob from Oxford to London for imprisonment (Jacob's offence is not clear). In 1237, with Aaron and Leo, both of York, David was ordered to distrain those who had not yet paid their portion to defray the costs of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land undertaken by the king's brother, Richard of Cornwall. He was also one of the commission of eight 21 J. M. Rigg (ed.) Calendar of Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, AD 1218-1272 I (London 1905) 266, and M. Adler, Jews of Medieval England (London 1939) 222. 22 Patent Rolls, 1244, p. 43. See Addendum 1 below. 9</page><page sequence="10">Reva Berman Brown and Sean McCartney Jewish magnates which was appointed at the request of the communities in 1238 to collaborate with the Justices of the Jews, Elias de Sunninges and William le Bretun, in an enquiry 'touching Jews who are clippers of coin, thieves and receivers', in order to inquire into the abuse and to root it out if they found the accusations to be justified.23 David appears as one of the half-dozen Oxford representatives at the 'Parliament of the Jews' in 1240-1, assembled at Worcester to assess a levy on the Jewish communities, and with them, he was made responsible for the local collection. Of the considerable property David owned in Oxford, the history of one demonstrates his financial and community involvements. Isaac of Oxford, son of Moses of Bristol, owned a house (acquired as a forfeited pledge from one Robert Sunegod), a little way south of Carfax in what is now St Aldate's but was then called Fish Street or Great Jewry. Isaac acquired the next house south, with a stone chamber (cum camera lapidea). During King John's spoliations, these two houses were taken from Isaac and given to Nicholas de Breaute. Isaac of Oxford's son, Joscepin, converted to Christianity, taking the name of Alberic, but was permitted to regain possession of the family holdings, including the two houses. Alberic later fled the country, but his brother Moses was permitted to reacquire the first house, although it subsequently escheated to the king and was granted to Rudolph of Rouen. The second house with the stone chamber was granted by King John to Brito the crossbowman, and on Brito's death to Rudolph of Rouen. In 1228, when Rudolph of Rouen went on pilgrimage, he leased this house for five years to David of Oxford. David undertook to pay the Exchequer on behalf of Robert Sunegod the sixty marks Robert had originally owed to Isaac of Oxford (non-payment of which was the reason he had forfeited the house), which had now escheated to the Crown, and the ten marks out of his assessment of a hundred marks still outstanding from the Bristol Tallage of 1210, in the name of the scapegrace Joscepin or Alberic. Thus David became the owner of the property, which was secured to him by royal charter. It was specified that, in consideration of his tenancy, he should render at the Exchequer each Easter either sixpence or else a pair of gilt spurs. Roth24 states that a financial record of 1231 specifies that David of Oxford had brought to the Exchequer a pair of spurs for a certain house which he held in Oxford of the 'Lord King'. Thereafter, 23 Ibid. 1238, p. 228. 24 The history of these houses is taken from C. Roth (see n. 12) 86-8 and n. 21, who cites Close Rolls, 1224, p. 598; 1228, p. 48; 1229, p. 155; 1291, p. 212; Charter Rolls, I (1228), p. 76; I (1229), p. 93 (see Addendum 1 below); C. Roberts (ed.) Excerpta e Rotulis Finium in Turri Londinensi asservatis, Henrico tertio rege, 1216-72 I (2 vols) (London 1835) J74; King's Remembrancer Roll, 1231, p. 49; from H. E. Salter, 'Was there a Domus Conversorum in Oxford?', Miscellanies of theJHSE II (1935) 29-32; and from Z. E. Rokeah (see n. 12) 136-7. 10</page><page sequence="11">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester David allowed his payments to lag, but in 1241-2, he settled his arrears for that year and the previous five years. The northerly house was handed to the town for use as a guildhall 'wherein to hold the king's pleas'. In about 1270, the building was recon? structed and served the town for administrative purposes for many years. The southerly house, David's residence, escheated to the Crown when David died in 1244, and was presented by the king to the Home for Converted Jews (Domus Conversorum) which Henry had set up in 1232. This institution also received, for the use of the converts, all David's house? hold utensils, victuals and clothing. The house continued to pay an annual rental of eight marks to the London Domus, or to the Master of the Rolls as its Keeper, down to the sixteenth century, the house having been declared exempt from taxation in 1291 after the expulsion of the Jews. Thirty years after David's death, the Exchequer seized the house in settlement of a still outstanding fine of David's, but the impoverished converts appealed to Edward I and the house was restored to them. In consequence, Cary's Inn, on the north part of the site, became known as the House of Converts, giving rise to the legend that there was in Fish Street (St Aldate's) in Oxford a home for converted Jews similar to that in London. (A fine was a payment to the king in return for the bestowal by the Crown of some grant, conces? sion or privilege, including the avoiding of some anticipated, unpleasant penalty for a disapproved act. In later legal phraseology, fines refer chiefly to final agreements for the transfer of real estate.) The town acquired this house in the sixteenth century as an addition to the northerly one which it already owned, and it became known as the Lower Guildhall. In the eighteenth century a new Guildhall was built, combining the two properties, and in 1893, the present Oxford Town Hall was built, thus connecting David of Oxford to the twenty-first century. One of David's houses holds a clue to his family relationships. In 1253, a mandate was issued to the Justices of the Jews that 'according to the tenor of a certain Starr [contract, from the Hebrew word shetar] made between David sometime Jew and Muriel Jewess of Oxford, they adjudge the said Muriel to repair forthwith a certain house which she holds for life in the parish of St. Edward in the town of Oxford, of the bail of the said David'.25 This was the house that David provided for Muriel as part of his divorce settlement. The Close Rolls of 1253 record a 'grant to Licoricia, Jewess, late the wife of David, Jew of Oxford, and Asher (Aszero), son of David, and their heirs and assigns, of a house late of Roger le Vinter in the parish of St. Edward, Oxford, which the said David leased for her life to Muriel, Jewess, as is contained in the agreement made between them'.26 Either Muriel had 25 Close Rolls, 1253, p. 455. 26 Close Rolls, 12 March 1253, p. 455. II</page><page sequence="12">Rev a Berman Brown and Sean McCartney died or, if the upkeep of the house was a condition of the lease and she was not able or was unwilling to repair it, the house reverted to Licoricia and Asher. One of the reasons Muriel did not or could not repair the house may well have been that in 1249 Henry gave three hundred marks of 'the goods of Muriel of Oxford, divorced wife of David', to Master Vincent, the doctor of Aymer de Lusignan (Henry Ill's half-brother), then staying in Oxford, who was to go to Rome as the king's nuncio.27 Muriel was David's first wife. It is probable that he married her when he was still living in Lincoln, and she was associated with him in some of his business affairs. It seems that there was some discord between them, because the Close Rolls of 1242 contain the following two entries, issued in Winchester on 27 August: For David of Oxford. The king to Masters Moses of London, Aaron of Canterbury, and Jacob of Oxford, Jews, greeting. We forbid you from hence? forth holding any plea concerning David of Oxford and Muriel who was the wife of the same. You are not to distrain him under any circumstances either to take or retain her or any other woman as his wife. Know for a certainty that if you do otherwise, you will incur grave punishment. For David of Oxford. Whereas by the counsel of the venerable Archbishop in Christ, W. of York [Walter Gray, then Archbishop of York], and sundry of the king's Council, it was provided that henceforth no chapters might be held concerning the Jews in England: and whereas the justices assigned for the custody of the Jews were firmly enjoined on the part of the king to see with regard to the Jews of England that no chapters should henceforth be held throughout England; consequently, these are to appear before the said Archbishop and others of the king's Council on the octave of St Michael [a week after the feast of St Michael], wheresoever such Council may be in England, to show cause why they sent to France, and to the Jews of France to hold a Chapter concerning the Jews of England - namely, Peytevin of Lincoln, Muriel, who was the wife of David of Oxford, Benedict the son of Peytevin of Lincoln, Vaalyn, and Moses of Banbury, Jews. And the aforesaid Justices are ordered not to suffer David of Oxford to be coerced by the Jews to take or hold any woman to wife, except at his own free will.28 The story behind these documents concerns what was clearly an acrimoni? ous divorce.29 It seems that David, possibly because of Muriel's childless? ness, had issued her with a Bill of Divorce. The Beth Din (Jewish Court) 27 Close Rolls, 1247-51, p. 143. 28 Close Rolls, 27 August 1242, p. 464. 29 M. D. Davis, 'An Anglo-Jewish Divorce, AD 1242', Jewish Quarterly ReviewV 17 (1892) 158-65. 12</page><page sequence="13">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester which dealt with the matter was composed of the three rabbis to whom the king addressed his order. By the Ordinances issued by Rabbi Gershom of Mainz (c. iooo), which were generally accepted in northern Europe, it had been declared improper for a man to divorce his wife without her assent, or to remarry, if he did so. Muriel clearly objected and invoked help. Her Lincoln relatives rallied to her assistance, headed by Peytevin, who may have been her brother. (His name, which means 'from Poitou' may indicate where Muriel's family originated.) An appeal was made to their French co? religionists, whose intellectual supremacy was generally acknowledged by English Jewry. The French rabbis gave their decision in favour of Muriel, and Peytevin of Lincoln, Peytevin his son and Moses of Banbury consti? tuted themselves into an ad hoc Beth Din, quashed the divorce and instructed David to take Muriel back as his wife. David appealed to the king, which played into the hands of the clerical party at court. The Church disliked the autonomy enjoyed by the Jewish community (and illustrated by this story), so the Archbishop of York obtained a royal decree forbidding 'chapters', or courts, to be held by the Jews in England. The appellants were therefore ordered to appear before the Archbishop to justify their conduct, and the ruling of the two Peytevins and Moses of Banbury was quashed by royal order. The divorce was upheld, leaving David free to marry Licoricia. In accordance with Jewish law, provision had to be made for Muriel. David assigned her a house at the junction of Jury Lane and St Edward's Lane. Muriel lived there, round the corner from David's house, which was at the top of the Great Jewry, near Carfax, long after David's death. It could well be that the close presence of the aggrieved first wife was one of the reasons for Licoricia's return to Winchester after David's estate had been settled. Property-owning is an aspect of Jewish economic activity which has tended to be less thoroughly examined than moneylending. Not only did the Jews lend money to Christians on the security of their houses which, on default of repayment of debts, would fall into their hands, but it is clear that some Jews systematically purchased urban real estate and lived on the rents. Property, unlike cash, bonds or jewels, was safe from theft or easy destruc? tion. It may be that the progressive restrictions on Jewish landowning were determined by the potential loss involved to the Exchequer by transactions that did not have to be registered in the chirograph chests, and thus could not be exploited to royal advantage. In Oxford, of course, house-owning was a good form of investment owing to the influx of students who sent up rents, did not object to overcrowding and made property-owning lucrative. It has been suggested that the great students' riot of 1244 was partly due to the high rents which Jews were 13</page><page sequence="14">Reva Berman Brown and Sean McCartney alleged to charge and the widespread complaints and grievances against them as landlords. That owning houses in Oxford was viewed as a good investment is evident from the fact that not only Jewish residents of Oxford, but Jews from other parts of the country, bought houses there. Among local land? lords were Jews from London, Lincoln and Winchester. This income generating activity was brought to an end in 1271 when Jews were forbidden to own any houses except those in which they themselves lived or else let to other Jews. As this policy was rigorously enforced, the large-scale property owners in Oxford disappeared, to the benefit of the founders of the University colleges, including Merton and Balliol. In 1228, David was one of three Jewish witnesses (the others being Bonefey, son of Moses of Oxford, and Isaac, son of Simeon) who, together with the Christian officials of St Frideswide's Priory and the Mayor of Oxford, John Pady, witnessed the legal arrangements for the exchange of houses when Moses of Oxford made over to the prior and canons of St Frideswide his two houses near South Gate, and received in exchange the property belonging to the Priory adjoining his own residence. This prop? erty became the Oxford Synagogue. When David died in 1244, he would have been buried according to Jewish rites in the Oxford cemetery and have had a gravestone erected in his memory. Until 1177, all Jews had to be buried in the London cemetery, but once royal permission had been given for communities to bury their dead locally, land was bought and maintained by the various communities for the committal of their dead. The site of Oxford's Jewish cemetery is now part of the Botanic Gardens. Licoricia of Winchester Licoricia must have commended herself to David on two counts - a widow and the mother of sons, she was obviously capable of bearing further chil? dren, and she was a financier in her own right. The records show her in busi? ness together with Peytevin of Winchester in January 1234,30 living in Winchester. She is described as the wife of Abraham of Kent and of Winchester, which may derive from her husband's toponym. Licoricia was in business with Belia (possibly her sister) and Helie in January 1236,31 and may have been one of the wealthiest financiers in Winchester in the late 1230s.32 By 1240, she seems to have had enough assets to lend money on her own - an 30 S. Bartlet (see n. 12) 41, citing R. H. Britnell, The Commercialisation of English Society 1000-1500 (Cambridge 1993) 104 and 98. 31 Close Rolls, Henry III, vol. 1,1234, p. 362, vol. II, 1236, p. 36, and vol. Ill, 1236, p. 230. 32 R. C. Stacey, Politics, Policy and Finance under Henry III 1216-1245 (Oxford 1987) 151. </page><page sequence="15">David of Oxford and Licoricia of Winchester entry of January 1240 in the Liberate Rolls (which contained enrolments of writs under the Great Seal relating to royal expenditure) allocates payment to her to settle her loans to the monks of St Swithin's in Winchester.33 Nothing is known of her first husband beyond his name, Abraham of Kent or Abraham of Canterbury, but she had three sons from this marriage - Benedict, Cokerel and Lumbard. With David, she had a son named Asher, who was also called Sweteman or Douceman. The number of Licoricia's children is problematic. Asher means 'happy' or 'fortunate' in Hebrew, and might either celebrate David's happiness and sense of good fortune at having had a son at last, or commemorate David's father, Asher Lumbard. The boy could well have been given the nickname Sweteman or Douceman in reference to his sweet nature, rather than for the sweetness of his father's good fortune. It seems that David and Licoricia's marriage was too short for her to have produced two children in this time, and there is no record that she was pregnant when she was placed in the Tower as surety for the collec? tion of the king's portion of David's estate after his death. As to the ages of the bride and groom, one can only surmise. David had been a prominent financier for more than thirty years so must have been in his fifties. He had been sufficiently involved in financial matters to be required to contribute to the Bristol Tallage of 1210 (the arrears of which he eventually paid in 1228), so that by his marriage in 1242 he was certainly well into or even past middle age. It can be assumed both that Licoricia was an adult when she undertook her first recorded business transaction in 1234, and that, despite a practice of relatively early marriage, she was not in the first flush of youth, but was still of child-bearing age. Going by Stokes's chronology,34 her eldest son Benedict was born in 1227, so he would have been fifteen when his mother, possibly in her thirties, married David. Even though it is possible that the three sons she brought to her new marriage with David were very young children, Licoricia herself could not have been both just out of her teens and a well-known and successful businesswoman, sufficiently established in the field of finance to have caught David's eye as a suitable wife and business partner. This was not a marriage of young passion, but a union of two adults for personal and business reasons. Girls were in some cases betrothed as children too young to undertake the responsibilities of marriage, in which case, the wedding ceremony was deferred as long as four years after the preliminaries. After the wedding, the young couple would live in the house of the bride's father for a year or more, the latter undertaking to provide them with food and clothing, to discharge 33 W. H. Stevenson (ed.) Calendar of the Liberate Rolls Preserved in the Public Record Office. Henry III. A.D. 1226-1272., Vol. I, 1226-1240 (London 1916) 440, 12 January 1240. 34 H. P. Stokes (see n. 12) 193, chronology. i5</page><page sequence="16">Reva Berman Brown and Sean McCartney any tallage which might be imposed during that period, and even to engage a teacher with whom his son-in-law might continue to study. If a girl were left an orphan, her brothers would bind themselves by deed to find her a 'becoming and pleasant spouse' and to give her an adequate dowry, as well as to make proper provision for their widowed mother. The marriage settle? ment made by the bridegroom would normally amount to as much as a hundred pounds 'according to the custom of the Isle' - a striking commen? tary on the general prosperity of the community.35 David's divorce from Muriel took place in August 1242, so the earliest the next marriage could have taken place was September 1242. Calculating the new year to have started in March, and adding the fact that David died at the beginning of 1244, the marriage probably lasted fifteen to eighteen months, insufficient time for two full-term children to have been born in separate births. Licoricia was therefore probably left a widow with three children and a babe in arms, to deal with his vast estate. She would have been entitled to her dowry and the amount settled on her by David in their pre-marriage contract (ketubah). But the Treasury acted swiftly to gain possession of the one-third of the property of a deceased Jew that was generally seized as 'relief or death duty.36 The archae