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History of the "Domus Conversorum" from 1290 to 1891

Rev. Michael Adler

<plain_text><page sequence="1">HISTORY OF THE "DOMUS CONVERSORUM" FROM 1290 TO 189I. By Rev. MICHAEL ADLER, B.A. The subsequent careers of Jews who have deserted the fold must always possess an absorbing interest for us. The fame of a Heine or a Beaconsfield?to mention only two of the present century? remains a valued possession of our people, however deeply we deplore the apostasy of these men, for we can never forget that the Jewish temperament remains the same throughout life, whatever religious label be attached to the individual. It is for this reason that the story of the House of Converts, a portion of which I have the honour to unfold before you this evening, presents to us a theme worthy of the consideration of this Society. The subject has been already partially dealt with by Mr. Lucien Wolf,1 Mr. Sidney Lee2 and Mr. C. Trice Martin,3 but none of these gentlemen has given a complete history of the persons who resided in the House of Converts, nor has closely examined the numerous documents preserved in the Office of Public Records in Chancery Lane. The work of investiga? tion, that was suggested to me at a meeting of the Society's Research Committee, proved a highly attractive one, especially as I was in the 1 In his lecture on the Middle Age of Anglo-Jewish History. Papers of the Anglo-Je wish Historical Exhibition, 1887, vol. i. p. 53. 2 Jewish Chronicle, Jan. 26, Feb. 16, April 27, June 15, 1883. These articles, which were published unsigned, deal principally with the story of the Domus in the Pre-Expulsion period, and are based upon Tovey's Anglia Judaica. The concluding article has a few notes upon the Middle Period. 3 Transactions of the Jewish Hist. Soc, vol. i. p. 15, contains a history of the architecture of the Domus: several facsimiles of receipts given by the converts accompany the paper. 16</page><page sequence="2">HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." 17 unusual position of being engaged in the study of a region of Anglo Jewish history that had hitherto remained in a large degree unexplored. In the year 1232, King Henry III.1 issued an Order to the effect that he desired, " for the health of his own soul and for the souls of his ancestors and heirs, to the honour of God and of the glorious Virgin," to found a Home for destitute Jews converted to Christianity. This novel idea was, in all probability, suggested to the king by his clergy,2 who, by means of the substantial bribes of a free Home and maintenance, hoped to effect a conversion en masse of the English Jews. The king fixed the endowment of the establishment at 700 marks a year, and gave a site for the buildings in what is now called Chancery Lane. This Domus Cotiversorum, or Converts7 Jnn,s wTas situated upon the very spot where the investigations for this paper were conducted, and that is now covered by the new buildings of the Rolls Office. The history of the House from the year of its foundation until 1290, when the expulsion of the Jews from England took place, is full of interest, but I pass over these fifty-eight years with set purpose. I also omit all reference to the architectural history of the Domus, which Mr. Trice Martin has already detailed before the Society. I intend to devote this paper entirely to the Middle Period of Anglo-Jewish History (1290-1656), and hope to be able to throw some light upon the question of the presence of Jews in this country from the days of Edward I. until the days of Cromwell. In the year of the Expulsion, there were eighty 4 converted Jews in receipt of the royal bounty, which amounted to l?d. a day for 1 Dated Jan. 16, 1232. See Rymer, vol. i. p. 201. For the full text, see Appendix I. In April of the following year, 1233, a further Order was issued to the Bishop of Chichester. This is erroneously given in Tovey, p. 92, as the Foundation Charter of the Domus, but it merely supplements the first Order, and details the sources of income from certain confiscated lands, and from fines. The second Order is also given in Rymer, vol. i. p. 208. 2 See the preceding note. The two bishops whose signatures are appended to the Order are Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, the favourite of Henry III., and William, Bishop of Carlisle. 3 "Le Converse Inn" in Norman-French. See Hardy's Syllabus to Rymer, vol. i. p. 528. 4 Patent Roll, 1290, m. 19. VOL. IV. B</page><page sequence="3">18 HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." a man (i.e. about 3s. 9d. of our present value) and Id. (i.e. about 2s. 6d.) for a woman. The persecutions of the preceding years had been so severe that it is remarkable that there were not many more faint-hearted Jews willing to avail themselves of the easy life of a royal pensioner, with a home and every comfort provided gratuitously. The decree of banishment that drove some 16,0001 of our co? religionists from England does not appear to have increased the number of residents in the Domus Conversorum. One of the inmates, Claricia2 the daughter of Jacob Copin, the richest Jew of Exeter,3 had deserted her faith and her home some ten years prior to the Expulsion, but her father surrendered all his wealth to share the fate of his persecuted brethren and once again to take up the wanderer's staff. As one man, the Jews departed from this land, holding steadfastly to their sacred Law. When we think of the history of the Spanish Jews, we are led to wonder why some of the people did not either conceal themselves in the country, or undergo baptism and enter the House of Converts, as a species of Marrano, in the hope of the storm passing over and allowing them to emerge at a favourable opportunity with open profession of their faith. In this same year, the affairs of the Domus fell into considerable confusion. Early in the year, two of the inmates, John de Havenak and Philip le But, of Cricklade,4 were appointed to collect the chevage,5 or poll-tax, that was levied upon the English Jews, from the age of twelve, for the support of the Home for their renegade brethren, and these two officials were authorised to summon before a Justice such Jews as did not render true returns of their wealth. Upon the refusal of any Jews to pay the chevage, Jorm and Philip were em? powered to distrain upon their goods or imprison them. The employ? ment of converts to collect debts due to the House was a common practice, and points to the strong belief in the financial skill of the Jew, whether converted or not! The results of this collection do not appear to have been satisfactory, and, moreover, the.Royal Exchequer 1 Vide Jewish Quarterly Revieiv, vol. vii. p. 445 ; Transactions of the Jewish Hist. Soc, vol. ii. p. 79. 2 Vide List on p. 21, note 2. 3 Transactions of the Jewish Hist. Soc, vol. ii. p. 91. 4 Patent Roll, 1290, m. 36d. Calendar, pf. 398. 5 Rymer, vol. i. p. 582. Tovey, p. 217.</page><page sequence="4">HISTORY OF THE "DOMUS CONVERSORUM." 19 had more important matters to attend to than that of the payments to the Domus Oonversorum. In the year 1280, King Edward I. had issued precise regulations1 for the management of the Domus, and, included among the sources of income, was the chevage before mentioned. The departure of the Jews from the country destroyed this source of revenue, and the Treasury took no pains to substitute any other for it. The converts, finding themselves neglected, petitioned the king, three months after the Edict of Expulsion had been signed, and com? plained bitterly of their sad plight. They urged that they did not receive their full allowance, and that their Keeper w,as indifferent to their interests. They prayed that the rents of some churches, or escheats should be allotted to them, and that "the grants of deo dands2 be renewed to them for ever," unless, they generously add, '' the king had already granted their deodands to others." The king graciously complied with all the requests of his converts, except the one asking for the rents of some churches, which, he said, he would attend to when he had time. A Custos (Keeper or Warden), was appointed by the Chancellor, and, from about the year 1300, this office was united to that of the Master of the Holls. The king was especially kind in directing that an annual sum of ?202, 0s. 4d., equal to about ?7000 of our money, should be settled upon the Domus, in addition to the benefaction of the founder, Henry III.? from which amount the salaries of the Keeper, two chaplains, and one clerk were to be defrayed, the pensions to the converts paid, and their chapel, houses, and other buildings maintained in order. Upon the death of each convert the allowance was to lapse, and thus the expenses of the Domus would gradually diminish. The reason for this last injunction of the king is clear. In July of the same year, King Edward had signed the decree banishing all Jews from his realm, and he naturally hoped that the necessity for the existence of the Domus would very shortly cease. But this 1 See Appendix IL 2 Deodand: "Is a thing given, as it were, to God, to appease His wrath when a person comes to a violent death by mischance, or by any reasonable creature ; and is forfeited to the king, and sold and the money given away. Also, the goods and chattels of a felo de se were deodands."?Jacobs' Laiv Die tionary.</page><page sequence="5">20 HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." expectation was far from being realised. The House continued to receive baptized Jews, almost without a break, to the days of James I., and, as late as the year 1717, an application was made for the pay? ment of the royal pension to a converted Jew in London. Eight years after the great Expulsion, the converts renewed their complaints to the king.1 The rents of certain property in the City had been allotted to the Domus, but these moneys had not been received. The king, ever ready to give ear to the appeals of his official converts, ordered the mayor and sheriffs of the City of London to bestir themselves and aid the inmates of the Domus to collect the debts due to them. Notwithstanding these royal commands, the Domus continued to be neglected. In the year 1305,2 a new Order in Council was issued, instructing the Barons and Treasurer of the Exchequer to pay out to the Warden of the House in Chancery Lane the sum of ?202, 0s. 4d. per annum, "as," continues the Order, "it appeared from a petition of the converts that they had received nothing for eight years." The heavy expenses of the wars that were being waged at this time against the Scots, who were led by Wallace and Bobert Bruce, probably caused the Treasury again to disregard the wishes of King Edward. The death of that monarch on his way to Scotland, and the coronation of his son in 1307, were important events for the Domus Conversorum, as the converts must have been present in their chapel when Bobert, Bishop of London, took the oath of fealty to the new king, kneeling before Sir John de Langton, Bishop of Chichester, who was also the royal Chan? cellor.3 In the following year, the converts appealed to their new sovereign for support.4 It may be that this petition came as a complete surprise upon the king, seeing that eighteen years had elapsed since the Jews had been expelled the land, and men had in all probability for? gotten the existence of the House of Converts. King Edward may have expected all the quondam Jews to have been dead by now, or to have left the Domus. Before, therefore, acceding to their request, the king sent Boger de Hegham and John de Sandal to hold a commission of 1 Patent Roll, 1298, p. 315. 2 Patent Roll, 1305, p. 393. 3 Close Rolls, 1307, p. 49. 4 Close Rolls, 1308, p. 90; also Inquisitiones ad quod damnum, 2 Edw. II., No. 126; and Rymer, vol. ii. p. 62.</page><page sequence="6">HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." 21 inquiry into the affairs of the institution. The full report of the commissioners is fortunately extant. At the outset, the royal officers narrate the story of the origin of the House, and of the grant made in 1280 by the previous king for the expenses of the estab? lishment. A complete list of the names of the inmates since 1280 is furnished.1 At that date, there had been ninety-seven persons in the Domus. In the twenty-eight years that had elapsed since 1280, seven? teen men and seventeen women had died, whilst four men and eight women had disappeared. There thus remained twenty-three men and twenty-eight women, for whom provision would have to be made. Speaking of the twelve persons2 who had left the House, the report says that, in the year 1280, they had been living in the Domus, but they were absent at the time of the inquiry, "and whether they are living somewhere else, or are dead, is altogether unknown." Is it possible that these men and women preferred to throw in their lot with their banished ex-coreligionists, and left the country with them in 1290 ? This suggestion is, however, certainly incorrect in one case,3 for we find that, seven years after the inquiry, a woman, Margery of Stamford, petitioned for her allowance to be restored to her, together with the arrears, as, at the time of the inquiry, she had been very ill, and unable to answer to her name. The king granted Margery's request.4?But to return to the report of Hoger de Hegham and John de Sandal. The ninety-seven names of converts are, unfortunately for us, without exception, the baptismal names adopted upon conversion. To the name of each person is usually affixed the town or village whence they came, demonstrating that the London House attracted to itself more provincial than metropolitan Jews. Some of the towns mentioned are as follows :?Canterbury, Merton, Winchester, Stamford, Lincoln, Bury, Arundel, Oxford, Cricklade, Northampton, Norwich, Leicester, Exeter, Bristol, and Nottingham. The men assumed such names as 1 See Appendix III. 2 Johannes de Wynton,[,Walterus de Goringes, Johannes de Croyland, Barna? bas de North, Margery de Staunford, Juliana de Bury, Basilia de Norwyco, Claricia de Exon (Exeter), Isoida de Oxon, Elizabeth de Byngham, Alicia de Wygorn, and Cecilia de Lutegarshall. 3 See also about Claricia of Exeter, pp. 18 and 26. 4 Patent Roll, 1315, p. 184.</page><page sequence="7">22 HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." William, Martin, Richard, Hugo, Reginald, Roger, Gregory, Nicholas. One man was John of Paris, another John le Philiper, i.e. the skinner. Henry of Oxford was a clerk, whilst one Richard was a tailor. The women also received new fine-sounding names, such as Juliana, Alicia, Claricia, Elionora, Isolda, Ermentruda, Letitia, Cecilia. One woman was called Petronilla la Furbere, i.e. the polisher. How our con? verts, formerly styled Isaac, Jacob, Abraham, or Rachel, Sarah, Rebecca, must have enjoyed the novelty of the change of name to these elegant Norman and Anglo-Saxon designations! Many of the women were, no doubt, the wives and daughters of the male converts; in some instances, this is distinctly stated. One woman, called Isabella la Converse,1 had had the good fortune to have as a godmother at the baptismal font, Queen Isabella,2 wife of Edward II., and sister of the King of France, and the generous queen granted her protegee an addi? tional 8d. per day of money of Paris. The outcome of this momentous inquiry was that King Edward renewed the Order to the Exchequer for the regular payment of the pensions to the converts, and all complaints on the part of the latter now cease. A part of the annual outlay incurred by the Exchequer was defrayed from, deodands that were paid in all parts of the country, for, in 1330, the sheriff of the county of Derby3 is instructed to pay half of the deodands to the Abbot and Convent of Newminster, in Northumberland, and the other moiety to the London Converts' House. In the same year, the sheriffs of Bedford and of Leicester 4 are ordered to devote a portion of the deodands to the same purpose. From the records, it is not altogether clear how the converts passed their time in the House. They had to attend service daily in their chapel to pray for the repose of the souls of their royal founders, Henry III. and Edward I., statues of whom, at the present day, adorn the new edifice that stands on the site of the ancient chapel. The converts thus formed a kind of religious brotherhood living in seclusion from the world. It is highly improbable that they took any part in the legal business that was transacted daily in 1 Probably identical with Isabella de Sancte Paulo. 2 Patent Rolls, 1331, p. 122. 3 Rymer, vol. ii. p. 247. 4 Close Rolls, 1330, p. 66.</page><page sequence="8">HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." 23 their chapel, and that is referred to very frequently in the contemporary records. In the regulations laid down in 1280 by Edward I. to the then Keeper of the House, John de St. Denys,1 the king instructs his Custos to select from among the converts a person who was "capellanus conversus idoneus et honestus," a suitable and honourable converted chaplain, and to appoint him to the post of " presbiter seu procurator," priest or proctor, over the other converts. Further, if any man was skilful in teaching, he was to give instruction to his fellows, whether it was in a handicraft or in letters. We can only hope that no Rabbis, or other officials of synagogues, ever entered the House to become chaplains, or priests, or proctors. Whether the inmates were permitted to engage in business is very doubtful. In one instance, however, we find a certain Martin the Convert2 who was unable to shake off the old Adam, for he continued both to lend and to borrow money whilst in the House. He borrowed from a certain Master Henry de Clyf, clerk, and the note of the transaction adds, that, in default of payment, the debt could be levied upon the land and chattels of the said Martin in London. This Henry de Clyf, who was appointed Keeper of the House about the year 1324, was a money-lender on a very large scale, both before and after his promotion3?and the inhabitants of the Domus must have looked upon him with awe as a worthy compeer of the great Aaron of Lincoln of a past generation. But I am anticipating events, and must therefore retrace my steps to the year 1315, twenty-five years after the great Expulsion. At this time, Adam de Osgodeby was Warden of the House, and his brother had married Alesia,4 the daughter of Martin the Convert above mentioned. The friendly relations thus established between this convert and his Keeper probably gave rise to keen jealousy on the part of other inmates, and a bitter quarrel broke out in the House.5 Two of the converts, Masters William of Cricklade and John of Northampton, chaplains of the Domus, headed a revolt against their 1 See Appendix IL, Tovey, p. 217. 2 Close Rolls, 1309, p. 151 ; 1310, p. 331. 3 Close Rolls, 1330, pp. 43, 136, 163, 323, 402, 407, 408, 525. 4 Patent Rolls, 1315, p. 356. 5 Close Rolls, 1315, June 11, p. 228.</page><page sequence="9">24 HISTORY OF THE "DOMUS CONVERSORUM." Keeper, and formally laid complaint against him before the King and Council. It was alleged by " the said convert chaplains, who are charged and sworn from their infancy (sic) to pray for the king and his ancestors, and the conversi of London who are houseless," that, in spite of the charter of the founder of the Domus, the Keeper had been guilty of excluding the converts from the Close of the House, and had harboured his clerks there. He had also allowed strangers and horses to be harboured there, and had let some of the tenements of the converts, where they were entitled to be housed, to strangers, for the term of their lives by their common seal, without receiving their consent, and to the prejudice of the king, to whom the tenements ought to revert after their death. The petitioners, there? fore, pray that these lettings to strangers be annulled, because, if the converts should fall ill or become enfeebled, they had no place to re? sort to, being thus deprived of their Close, that was their own property, and, piously add the ex-Jewish proctors, "the matins and masses of the said chaplains of the alms of the kings, their founders, are worth as much as the paternosters of mere laymen."' The condition of affairs in the Domus that must have preceded the presentation of such a series of charges against the Keeper of the House may be easily imagined. Like a second Korah, Master William of Cricklade, who appears to have been the ringleader of the agitation, caused the whole community to seethe with discontent. The king at once ordered an investigation to be held. Two officers of the Chan? cellor's Court visited the Domus, and, in the chapel of the Domus, examined all the converts and their Keeper under oath. To the manifest surprise of the royal commissioners, it soon became evident that only very few converts sided with William the chaplain. The majority of them, probably led by Martin, whose daughter had married the Keeper's brother, vehemently repudiated the charges against their Warden. The report of the commissioners declares that it was proved to them by the sworn statements of the majority of the converts, that the said William was altogether a disreputable person and undeserving of the post of chaplain. He had never received a fixed residence in the Domus, but had occasionally been permitted to stay there in the time of the former Keeper, who had deprived him of his wages as a convert on account of certain crimes, whereof he had defamed the whole</page><page sequence="10">HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." 25 Community, and whereof he had accused them by letters to the Keeper. Of these crimes they had purged themselves to their Keeper, but the present Custos had been indulgent enough to pay William his wrages against the wish of the converts, who now desired that William should not be allowed to reside in their midst any more, and that it should be left to the Keeper's generosity whether he should continue the pay? ments or not. The letting of the tenements in the Close had been done with the full assent of all the converts, and, so far from their Keeper having let the tenements upon his own initiative, as William had alleged, Adam de Osgodeby had opposed the act of the converts and had only agreed to it with reluctance. The said William had also given his consent, and had, in fact, himself written out the notes of the transaction, it being the opinion of the community that a higher rent could be obtained for the tenements in dispute, and that, by strangers occupying the same, the converts would be saved the expense of keeping the dwellings in repair. In reply to the defence of the converts on behalf of their Keeper, the complainant, William, was examined by the royal commissioners, but his colleague, John, prudently withdrew his charges. When the King and Council had considered the report submitted to them upon the whole quarrel, they rejected the petition of William at every point, and ordered him to be handed over to the Keeper to be castigated, at the discretion of the Keeper, for his false complaints. What form the discretion of Adam de Osgodeby assumed we do not know, but, at any rate, we do not hear of any other inmates venturing to level charges against a Keeper of the Domus. Two years after these stirring events (1317), William de Ayremyne was appointed Keeper1 and remained in office for seven years, resigning the post when he became Bishop of Norwich. Seven years after his resignation, he petitioned the king to have an audit taken of his accounts when Keeper, as he knew that he had received money for which he could not afterwards account.2 The result of this audit is not given. In 1327 Richard de Ayremyne became Keeper, and in the third year of his Keepership he refused to pay her wages 1 Close Rolls, 1324, p. 9G. 2 Close Rolls, 1331, p. 245.</page><page sequence="11">26 HISTORY OF THE " DOM US CONVERSORUM." to a woman named Clarieia la Converse.1 This woman, who states that she was a daughter of Jacob Copin, thereupon petitioned the king for her rights. Her father, we learn from a record of the property possessed by the Jews of Exeter at the Expulsion,2 had been the wealthiest Jew of that town, and had left England together with the rest of his co-religionists. Clarieia asserted that she had been admitted into the House in the time of Edward I., and had received the usual wages during a number of years. In justification of his refusal to pay her, the Keeper urged that she had dwelt for a consider? able time in distant parts and was unknown to him. The king finally ordered the Keeper to ascertain whether Clarieia was a convert and had received the usual pension in the past, and, if so, to readmit her. Upon reference to the above-described Inquiry of 1308, mention is found of Clarieia of Exeter, who had been admitted in 1280, but was absent at the time of the Inquiry. It thus appears that Clarieia had remained out of the House for about nineteen years, and had returned to her birthplace, Exeter. During this period she had married, as, shortly after her readmission, her children joined her in the Domus. But of these children I shall have occasion to speak later. Hitherto, all the information set forth in this paper has been derived from the Close and Patent Rolls, from Rymer's Foedera, and from other contemporary records. With the year 1331, however, there begins a most valuable series of documents that pertain exclusively to the House of Converts,3 and that are carefully pre? served in their original skin pouches at the Rolls Office. These extend in an almost unbroken sequence to the year 1609, thus covering nearly the whole of the obscure Middle Period of Anglo Jewish history. In all, I examined some 200 documents, written either in Latin or Norman-French, and I have to express my sincere gratitude to Mr. W. J. Hardy and Mr. E. Salisbury, both officials at the Rolls Office, for their ever-willing assistance in over? coming the difficulties that abounded in the manuscripts. These records may be grouped under three heads:?A. The orders of the king for the admission of a convert, sometimes adding personal 1 Close Rolls, 1330, p. 64. 2 See p. 18. s Exchequer Accounts. Q.R.; Bundles, No. 250, 15-30; and Bundles, 251-255.</page><page sequence="12">HISTORY OF THE "DOMUS C0NVERS0RUM." 27 details of an interesting nature.1 B. The statement of annual ex? penses of the Keeper, who is also styled Master of the Rolls. In these statements, which are all drawn up in identical form, the names of the resident converts are inserted.2 G. A large number of the annual receipts given by the converts for their pension of ?2. 5s. 7|d., usually left unsigned, but having a seal attached.3 The first annual Account4 is that of the above-mentioned Richard de Ayremyne, in the fourth year of his Keepership. The records prior to this date, 1331, have unfortunately been lost, with the sole excep? tion of that of 1280,5 referred to above. At this time there were eight men and thirteen women 6 remaining from the list given in the report of the Inquiry of twenty-three years before. One of the converts now bears the name of John le Ebreu, whereas in the earlier list he was called John of Havenak. Only one new convert had been admitted during these twenty-three years, as far as can be ascer? tained. He was a certain Walter of Nottingham, who had joined the fraternity very shortly before the year 1331. He was at once promoted to the post of chaplain in the converts' chapel, his colleague being the same John of Northampton who had been concerned in the quarrel of 1315. This position was certainly a distinguished one, as one of the duties appertaining to it was to proceed to the Treasury to receive the salaries of the Keeper and the officials and the pensions of the inmates.7 The rapid rise of Walter of Nottingham leads us to suspect that he may have been a Jew of some importance prior to conversion, perchance a Rabbi, which would account for his imme? diate selection for the chaplaincy. It should be borne in mind that, in addition to the two convert chaplains, there was a regular staff 1 See Appendix IV. 2 For specimens of these, see Appendices VI., VIII., XIV., XVII., XIX. 3 For specimens of these, see Appendix V. 4 Bundle 250, No. 15. See Appendix VI. 5 Bundle 249, No. 24. As this MS. is of considerable importance for Pre Expulsion history, and is the sole MS. remaining of the Domus' records prior to 1331, it is here printed in full for the first time. See Appendix VII. 6 See Accounts, printed on pp. 56 and 57. 7 See Accounts, p. 56 ; i&gt;er manus Walteri, per manus Johannis.</page><page sequence="13">28 HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." of two chaplains and one clerk to attend to the spiritual and temporal affairs of the community. Whether Walter had been hiding in Eng? land, in the town of Nottingham, where there had once been a con? siderable Jewry, during the forty-one years that had elapsed since the Expulsion, or had come to England after the Expulsion, is a matter for speculation. The latter theory appears to have more foundation in fact, for, a few months after his admission, Walter received from the king a special safe-conduct1 to enable him to cross the seas, ad negotia sua, on private business. We are not told whither he went, but it was probably to France, and it may be that Walter went home to settle his affairs prior to his settling down in the peaceful atmosphere of Chancery Lane. He returned to London after his Continental trip, and lived for six years in the Domus. The number of inmates slowly dwindled, the men dying at a greater rate than the women, for, at the end of 1337, two men 2 are alive out of the twenty-three, and eleven women 3 out of the twenty nine, who had attended the royal Inquisition of 1308. In the same year, the year that witnessed the beginning of the Hundred Years' War with France, four new arrivals entered the House. Two of these were the children of Claricia of Exeter, named Richard and Katherine.4 It will be remembered that this woman Claricia had absented herself from the House for nineteen years.5 During this period she had married, and had left her two children behind in Exeter when she returned to the House, and six years elapsed before they joined her in London. There is a special clause in the royal Order of admission 6 for Richard of Exeter that permits the young convert to receive the customary l|d. per day, whether he resides in the House or alibi in regno, anywhere else in the kingdom. This last phrase occurs also in the Orders to admit, in the same year, John, son of Edward of 1 Patent Rolls, 1331, p. 82. 2 Henry of Oxford, who was a chaplain; and Richard, the tailor. B. 250, No. 18. 3 Johanna of Northampton and Anne of Merwelle had died. 4 B. 250, No. 18 ; and Patent Rolls, 1336, p. 259. 8 See p. 26. 6 Before entering the Domus, Richard and Katherine had been in receipt of the allowance as if they themselves were conversi. See Patent Rolls, loc. cit.</page><page sequence="14">HISTORY OF THE "DOMUS CONVERSORUM. 29 St. John, and William his brother.1 The father of these two con? verts was a godson of King Edward IT., but was not sufficiently destitute to need the shelter of the Domus. His sons, however, had become impoverished, and were glad to enter the royal Home, where they remained for one year. What subsequently became of them we know not. Richard and Katherine of Exeter both elected to live with their mother in Chancery Lane, Richard dying thirteen years later. Mention is made above of a convert being the godson of King Edward IL, and consequently assuming the name of Edward. For the king himself to stand sponsor to a baptized Jew was an event of rare occurrence. But, as the Domus was essentially a royal institution, it is not surprising that the various kings took a warm interest in its welfare. This is further illustrated by the following act of King Edward. In the year 1339, the active campaign against France began that terminated seven years later with the crowning victory of Cressy. King Edward landed at Antwerp on his way to invade France from the North, and, whilst staying at the Belgian seaport, a Jew applied to him for admission to his London Home for Converts.2 The fame of the Domus must have spread very far for a Jew of Brussels to seek to participate in its benefits. Although he was busily occupied, King Edward found time to be present at Antwerp at the public baptism of this man, who was accordingly given the name of Edward. An Order was addressed to the Keeper of the House, with a special injunction to pay Edward of Brussels the sum of 2d. per day instead of ljd. Four months later, April 20, 1340, this Order was renewed, addressed this time direct to the Treasury. The terms of the royal command, which is in Latin, are more elaborate than usual, and may be repeated here :?" The King sends greeting to his Treasurer and his Associates. Inasmuch as our beloved Edward of Brussels has recently abandoned the super? stitious errors of Judaism and, through baptism, has accepted the Catholic faith, and because we rejoice in Christ over his conversion, and lest he should recede from the path of truth upon which he has 1 B. 250, No. 18 ; and Patent Rolls, 1337, p. 494. 2 Rymer, vol. ii. part ii. p. 1121; and Patent Rolls, 1339, p. 400.</page><page sequence="15">30 HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM." entered because of poverty, and inasmuch as we desire to provide him with the necessaries of life, we have granted to him, on the third of December last, a suitable home and habitation in our House of Converts, in the suburb of our city of London, to enjoy the same for the term of his life: and, further, we enjoin that he shall receive from our Exchequer the sum of 2d. a day, which is to be paid to him through the hands of the Keepers of the said Domus Conversorum for all his life, and we have issued letters patent to this end and purpose." In spite of these full instructions, there is no record of the fact that Edward of Brussels entered the London Home. The returns of expenses of the Keepers are quite complete throughout these years, but no trace of the Belgian convert is to be found in any of them. The royal Orders described above are taken from the Patent Bolls of the period. It is in the highest degree probable that Edward did not, or could not, cross the North Sea because of the war between England and France. Gardiner states, in his Student's History of England (vol. i. p. 239), that, in the year 1340, the date when Edward of Brussels was converted, " the French navy held the Channel, and had even burnt Southampton." Perhaps our Edward was captured by a French ship, or prudently did not venture to proceed to London to enjoy his pension in view of the troubled state of public affairs. There is also reference made in the Patent Rolls1 of the year 1345 to Orders from the king to admit Janato of Spain and John of St. Paul, but neither of these men ever entered the House. May we express the hope that they repented them of their apostasy and took refuge in a more tolerant land than England was at this time for Jews 1 or it may be possible that these three men, Edward of Brussels, Janato of Spain, and John of St. Paul were allowed to live outside the Domus, and their pensions were paid to them not by the Keeper but direct from the Treasury. Five years later, 1350, there were admitted William of Leicester, son of Johanna of Leicester, who had herself lived in the Domus for over twenty-eight years, and had died there eight years before, and 1 These names are given in Black's Catalogue of the Ashmolean MS., p. 829, and are said to be extracted from the Patent Rolls of 18 Edw. III. They are however, not to be found in the Calendar of Patent Rolls for that year.</page><page sequence="16">HISTORY OF THE "DOMUS CONVERSORUM." 31 John of Hatfield,1 but both stayed only a very short period. William of Leicester died in the Domus after a brief residence of one month. By the year 1353, only Claricia of Exeter remained, the sole repre? sentative of converted Judaism in England, sixty-three years after the Expulsion. To minister to her spiritual needs, the same establishment of two chaplains and one clerk, in addition to the Master of the Rolls, was maintained. The Master of the Rolls received twenty marks a year (?13. 6s. 8d.), the two chaplains ?4 each, and the clerk the salary of two marks, or ?1. 6s. 8d. a year. Claricia died in 1356, at a very advanced age, and was the last survivor of the list of inmates given in the year 1280 ?seventy-six years before. A month or two after her death, John of Castile2 was admitted. This man may have been a refugee from the massacre of the Jews perpetrated in Toledo,3 during the Civil Wars that raged at this time in Castile. The Order of admission states that he had been converted from the rites of the Jews, and had lately arrived in England destitute of means of subsistence. In addition to his daily allowance, an extra grant of ?2 was awarded to him. The records of the Domus Conversorum for the years 1359 to 1386 have been lost, but the gap is partially filled from Rymer's Feeder a and the Patent Rolls. From these sources we learn that six men were admitted during this period.4 These were John de Sancte Marie, the Spaniard; Laurentius de St. Martin, probably also of Spain; John of Kingston, Thomas of Acres, Edmund, and Peter. Stow reports, in his Survey of London (p. 147, ed. by Thorns), that in the year 1382 a man named William Piers was sent to the House and received 2d. a day for life, by order of King Richard II. As the returns of the Keepers are missing of this period, there is no other reference to this convert.5 When the series of documents at the Domus recommences, only John de Sancte Marie is resident in the House.6 He had been baptized in the year 1371 in London, when he was christened in full John the Convert of the Annunciation of Saint 1 B. 250, No. 21. 2 B. 250, No. 24; Rymer, vol. iii. part i. p. 332; Close Rolls, 1356, p. 332 Tovey, p. 223. 3 Graetz, Ges. der Juden, vol. vii. p. 385. 4 Rymer, vol. iv. p. 100 ; Patent Rolls, 1384, p. 366 ; ibid., Dec. 7, 1384, p. 491. 5 Cf. Tovey, p. 226. 6 B. 250, No. 25.</page><page sequence="17">32 HISTORY OF THE &lt;; DOMUS CONVERSORUM." Mary, and the king granted him, in addition to his pension, the profits of the gardens adjoining the Domus.1 Our Spanish convert must have passed the time peacefully enough?he remained for thirty four years?undisturbed by the turbulence of the period and cultivat? ing his garden in what was at that time a rural suburb of the City of London. With reference to the arrival of these foreign converts in London, a wide field for speculation is open to the historical explorer. Two theories are worthy of consideration. The first is, that Jewish men and women came to these shores, by accident or by design, oblivious of the fact that the residence of Jews in England was prohibited. Some, upon learning of this law, left the country, whilst a few indi? viduals preferred to abjure their faith and enter the Domus Conver sorum, in order to enjoy its pecuniary advantages. The second theory is, that the report of the existence of the London Refuge for Converts had been disseminated abroad, and induced certain feeble-hearted per? sons to make their way to this country, where apostates received such substantial support. This was certainly the case with Edward of Brussels, mentioned above, and seeing that so many of the newcomers in Chancery Lane were of Spanish origin, it is possible that the fame of the institution had penetrated as far as the cities of Aragon and Castile. In narrating the history of the Jews of the Spanish Penin? sula of the latter half of the fourteenth century and of the fifteenth century, Gr?tz2 draws especial attention to the numerous conversions to Christianity that took place, and it is only a matter for surprise that the number of arrivals at the London Domus from that land was not considerably larger than we know it to have been. In the year 1386, when Chaucer was engaged upon the Canterbury Tales, there arrived at the Domus a French Jew and his wife, named Aseti and Perota Briarti.3 For seven years these three members of the convert community kept each other company, when they were joined by Thomas Levyn (probably meant for Levi), a Jew of Spain.4 This man remained in the House 1 Patent Rolls, 1384, p. 366. 2 Vols. vii. and viii. 3 B. 250, No. 25. 4 p. 251, No. 1. See Appendix VIII.</page><page sequence="18">HISTORY OF THE " DOMUS CONVERSORUM.'; 33 for thirty-two days, probably bringing the latest news from Spain to his compatriot, John de Sancte Marie; but, at the end of that time, he ran away, and did not reappear. Perhaps Thomas decided to return to his ancestral faith, or, it may be, that the society of the other con? verts was not congenial to him. Did he stay in England, or return home ? Upon this interesting point we are altogether without any information. By the year 1393, John de Sancte Marie is again alone, and the Keeper of the House, finding that the number of his proteg?s continued so small, discharged one of the two chaplains, and so economised to the extent of ?4 per annum.1 In narrating the history of the Domus Conversorum, it must not be forgotten that there lived in England numerous converts who, not being paupers, did not enter the portals of the Chancery Lane institution. Frequent reference to such men and women is to be met with in the contemporary records; two of them, Ralph the Convert and Alexander the Convert, I have already dealt with in an article published in the Jewish Clironicle of August 5, 1898. In the year 1390, a Jew of Sicily 2 was publicly baptized in the presence of King Richard IL, at the Palace of Langley, by the Venerable Father Robert, Bishop of London; and, in honour of his royal god? father, the name of Richard was bestowed upon this convert. He was not sent to the Domus Conversorum, but an annuity of ?10 {i.e. about ?300) was settled upon him for life. In addition to this, he was paid the sum of fifty marks on the day of his conversion?his lot being certainly much happier than that of his confreres in the Domus. The secret of the apostasy of this man probably lies in the concluding words of the royal Order concerning him, that " he be permitted as a Catholic to traffic with certain Christians out of England." But to return to Chancery Lane. After Thomas Levyn had mysteriously disappeared, six years elapsed before a new inmate arrived, this time a woman, whose name is given as Elizabeth, the daughter of Rabbi Moses, episcopus Judaeorum, bishop of the Jews,3 i.e. 1 B. 251, No. 2. 2 Devon's Issues of the Exchequer, 13 Rich. II. p. 242. 3 B. 251, No. 4; Tovey, p. 226. VOL. IV. C</page><page sequence="19">34 HISTORY OF THE