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Origin of the Jewish Historical Society of England

Lucien Wolf

<plain_text><page sequence="1">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. By LUCIEN WOLF. {Presidential Address, delivered before the Society on January 15, 1912.) Our Society meets to-night for the nineteenth time to inaugurate a new session. It is the fifth time that, by your indulgence, the privilege of welcoming you has fallen to me. This privilege always gives me a peculiar satisfaction. It is one which cannot be entirely shared by those of my co-workers who have occupied this chair on other occa? sions, for, in addition to the deep interest I take in Anglo-Jewish history as such, I stand, as you know, in a certain parental relation to our Society which causes me to watch its progress with a very sincere pride and affection. To the historical student accustomed to explore the dimly lit corri? dors of more or less remote centuries, nineteen years is not a long period. It is nevertheless quite long enough for the obscuration and distortion of facts and the growth of legends. We had some little experience of this four years ago, when the origin of our Society as well as of the Anglo Jewish Historical Exhibition of 1887 was the subject of a controversy in the newspapers. In the course of that controversy certain inferences were drawn from the available data which in themselves were quite fair and legitimate, though, as a matter of fact, they were not accurate. But for the fortunate circumstance that my friend, Sir Isidore Spielmann, and I were still in the land of the living, with memories unimpaired and? what is more important?with conclusive documentary evidence in our possession, a version of the origin of the Exhibition and the Society would have obtained currency, and perhaps acceptance, which would not only have been unhistorical, but would also have done an injustice to some of the persons concerned. 206</page><page sequence="2">A. I. Myers ^MB^^ ^^^^^^^ H. Adler ^^^^^^^^ yStHK^u^^ H. Graetz M. D. Davis ? ;i m ^^^^ A. A. Newman</page><page sequence="3">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 207 It would, I think, be a great pity if, while we are putting so much right in the history of the Anglo-Jewish community, we should allow our own small history to fall into neglect and doubt. Indeed, I am not sure that it would not compromise us in the eyes of our subscribers, for if we are unable to set forth clearly and unquestionably the facts of our own two decades of history, and that from failure to preserve the necessary evidence, the public might be justified in looking with some dubiety on our reconstruction of the larger episodes and more remote epochs of general Anglo-Jewish history, as well as upon our zeal for the preserva? tion of ancient documents. For these reasons it has seemed to me that I shall not unprofitably occupy you this evening if I devote my inaugural address to the story of the foundation of our Society. I propose adding to it for preservation in our archives the documentary and other materials on which, in the main, it is founded. The study of Anglo-Jewish history by English Jews, at its sources and for its own sake, had no history of its own previously to 1869, when the late Mr. Myer Davis, whose death we so deeply deplore to-night, first began to give the results of his self-denying labours to the world. The re? searches undertaken before his time were conducted either to serve some passing phase of the struggle for or against?chiefly against?Jewish emancipation, and were consequently of a controversial and unhistorical character, or they were incidental to larger enterprises in connection with the publication of the national records, and hence ignored the Jewish point of view. Thus Prynne's virulent Demurrer, which for over two centuries was almost the only printed source of our knowledge of pre expulsion history, was written to defeat Cromwell's scheme to readmit the Jews in 1655, and Tovey's Anglia-Judaica, which until 1846 was the only attempt to supply a history independent of political contro? versies, and hence was regarded as the standard history, was almost entirely borrowed from Prynne. Many valuable documents belonging to the pre-expulsion and middle periods were printed by Rymer and Madox in their monumental collections published respectively in 1704 and 1760, but their object was, of course, to serve English, and not specifically Anglo-Jewish history. In connection with the Jew Bill of 1753, Mr. Carteret Webb published a pamphlet containing a few additional docu? ments, and Mr. John Blunt added one or two more in another pamphlet written at the time of the Disabilities Bill of 1830. Beyond these five</page><page sequence="4">208 ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. works nothing was done in the way of original research for the purposes of Anglo-Jewish history previously to Mr. Davis. It is true that certain histories and historical sketches were published from time to time, but they were, without exception, mere rechauffes and adaptations of Prynne and Blunt. Such, for example, was Mr. Margoliouth's history, first pub? lished in 1846, and enlarged to three volumes in 1857, and Grace Aguilar's anonymous sketch, published in 1848. Mr. Davis was not the first English Jew to appreciate the necessity of further systematic research, but he had the merit of being the first to set to work on it. Many others had talked at large about it. As early as 1843 Hirschell Filipowsky announced his intention of writing a history of the English Jews from bed-rock sources, but it came to nothing. In 1849 Dukes called attention to the wealth of unexplored material lying in the Record Office, and ten years later S. M. Drach urged that at least the Hebrew "Shtaroth" should be copied and published. These appeals met with no response. A similarly frigid reception was accorded to an enthusiastic correspondent of the Jewish Chronicle, w&lt;ho towards the end of 1859 wrote a letter signed "Gleaner," in which he suggested that the best way to get the work done was by the organisation of an Anglo Jewish Historical Society. " Gleaner " was abundantly right, but that was the only satisfaction he had?if, indeed, he had that. When exactly Mr. Davis began to work I do not know, but in 1869 he w7as already contributing copies of, and annotations on, documents he had unearthed to the Jewish Record. When I first met him in 1874, and served under him as sub-editor of the Jewish World, he had already very extensive collections covering the whole field of Anglo-Jewish history. It was then his custom to devote some hours every day to adding to his stock, either in the Record Office or the Chapter House, Westminster, or the British Museum, while his evenings were spent in classifying the material thus collected. He kept the Jewish World well supplied with historical articles throughout his editorship, with the result that the earlier volumes of that paper marked a very considerable stride in the cultivation of Anglo-Jewish history. I had the curiosity the other day to look up the first volume, published in 1873, and I found in it biographies of Aaron of York and Moses of Oxford, an account of the Jews of Exeter, several " Shtaroth,'' with annotations, and a large amount of other historical material, including a biography of Moses Mendez, the</page><page sequence="5">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 209 banker poet. Besides writing himself, he set others at work on definite lines of research, and one very excellent thing he did during his editor? ship of the Jewish World was to employ the ministers of certain pro? vincial synagogues to write the histories of their respective congregations from their synagogue records and other local materials. Four of these histories, dealing with Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, and New? castle, and running each to from six to ten articles, were published in 1877, and are still the best of their kind. Besides his work on the Jewish World, Mr. Davis was an indefatigable contributor of historical articles and documents, chiefly relating to the pre-expulsion English Jews, to Notes and Queries, and various provincial papers. Nor were his researches confined only to the sources in Fetter Lane and West? minster. He was the first English scholar to call attention to the references to English Jews in the " Tosaphoth," and one or two of his ingenious identifications were afterwards adopted by Neubauer in his Rabbins Frangais. All this time, and indeed up to the later eighties, Mr. Myer Davis had the field of Anglo-Je wish history to himself. He reaped so indus? triously that he was enabled to fill many hundreds of quarto note-books with copies of documents, extracts from printed books, and references to sources. Besides his pre-expulsion material, which was very extensive, he had separate collections of note-books for the middle period and the modern period, the latter arranged chronologically, a biographical collec? tion arranged alphabetically, and a subject collection of great scope and diversity. In a word, Mr. Davis, in his modest way, did the work of an historical society all by himself. It was, perhaps, not very scientifically done, but it was done with a self-denial, an enthusiasm, and an industry which few of our great scholars could match. Moreover, it was really excellent spade-work, and it was found exceedingly useful when the Renaissance came, and the cause of Anglo-Jewish history was taken in hand by more gifted, but less modest men. But, whatever the quality of Mr. Davis's work as history?and, after all, his volume of Hebrew " Shtaroth," afterwards published by the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, is indispensable to the student there can be no question that he stands at the head of the movement which culminated in the foundation of our Society. Before him, as I have already said, there was nothing, except the unsatisfactory works of VOL. VII. 0</page><page sequence="6">210 ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. Prynne, Pymer, and Madox, and the latest of these was over a century old when he began. Since his time there has been much, and most of it is good. In his footsteps other workers soon began to wTalk. Our late revered Chief Rabbi, Dr. Hermann Adler, published an excellent little lecture on " The Jews of England" in 1870, a pledge of an enthusiasm for Anglo-Jewish history which never flagged to the day of his death. The interest excited by Mr. Da vis's work in the Jewish Record and Jeivish World stimulated the competition of the Jewish Chronicle, with the result that Mr. James Picciotto was commissioned to write his fascinating " Sketches of Anglo-Je wish History " for that journal, and for that pur? pose delved for the first time in the rich archives of Bevis Marks. Later on Mr. Picciotto and I kept the ball rolling more or less spasmodically in the Jewish World, and in the eighties we were joined by the Rev. A. L. Green?whose fine Anglo-Jewish library is now in the possession of Jews' College?with a series of delightful essays on the English Rabbinate and on Anglo-Jewish books and their authors. These essays attracted other writers, among whom I should like especially to mention Mr. Mathias Levy. But the most substantial contributions to Anglo-Jewish history at this period came from Sir Sidney Lee, who for the first time attacked the romantic problem of the Middle Period with his essay on Queen Elizabeth's unfortunate Jewish physician, Rodrigo Lopez, in the Gentleman's Magazine for February 1880, with his history of the " Domus Conversorum" in the Jewish Chronicle in 1883, and with other valuable contributions to the Times and the Academy in 1882 and 1883. Whether this growing interest in Anglo-Jewish history wras a direct result of Mr. Myer Davis's labours or a mere coincidence need not be discussed, for it happens that the chain of tradition connecting him with the Jewish Historical Society is complete without it. Mr. Davis had two disciples who not only learnt much from him, but who completely assimilated his Anglo-Jewish enthusiasm, and it was chiefly through them that his influence wras carried into practical channels. One was the late Mr. Alfred Newman, the other was myself. Poor Newman, who died just twenty-five years ago?January 21, 1887?in the flower of his promising manhood, deserves a word of remembrance in our Transactions. He was an art iron worker; and he had established in Archer Street, Haymarket, an old English smithy, which was one of the sights of London. From the signboard, which quaintly announced that</page><page sequence="7">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 211 " Alfred Newman works in Iron Here," and the wrought grilles which covered the mediaeval windows, to the low-ceiled Dutch interiors with their high-backed chairs, old-fashioned presses, cavernous fireplaces, and walls covered with gauntlets and sword-blades and strange bits of mediaeval smithery, the establishment was perfect. To visit it at dusk, when the smithy was aglow with the forge-fires, and the air filled with the clanging of hammer and anvil, varied at quiet intervals by the measured tick of the rusty fifteenth-century water-clock, which peeped from behind the tapestry in the office, was to realise a picture of an age long past. The artistic and antiquarian tastes which formed this unique establishment were a passion with Alfred Newman. They produced in him an enthusiastic love for Jewish history and made of his miniature home in Westbourne Park Yillas a model of what an artistic Jewish home should be. The walls of his favourite room were covered with prints illustrating Anglo-Jewish history?then the finest collection in the country?and the recesses were filled with rare Jewish tracts and books. Even the decorations were borrowed from Jewish art, and it was interesting to note on the stained-glass windows such Jewish symbols as the Magen David, the Menorah, and the extended hands of the Cohanim. How I got to know Newman I forget, but some time in 1884 or 1885 we were already the closest friends, discussing all manner of schemes for the promotion of a better knowledge and a more systematic cultivation of Anglo-Jewish history under the general inspira? tion and instruction of Myer Davis. Our circle at that time was a small one. Besides our two selves and an occasional apostolic visit from Mr. Davis, the only sharer of our confidences and plans was the late Colonel, then Major Goldsmid, another mondain, with a heart of romance. One evening in December 1885 I called on Newman, full of a new idea?at least I thought it a new idea?the establishment of an Anglo Jewish Historical Society. At that time, I should explain, I did not know that the same idea had occurred to the anonymous correspondent of the Jewish Chronicle, " Gleaner," in 1859. That disconcerting informa? tion was only communicated to me some years later, and is now, I believe, disinterred for the first time. Newman was delighted with it, and there and then we decided on a plan of campaign. I was to write a letter to the Jeioish World. He was to follow it up with another letter,</page><page sequence="8">212 ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. patting me on the back, and then I was to commend both letters w7ith proper gravity and impartiality in a leading article. All this was punctually done. My letter appeared on January 15, 1886, his on January 22, and, if I remember aright, several leading articles or editorial notes followed. Somehow or other nothing happened. Newman and I wTere allowed to have the game all to ourselves, and the callous com? munity continued to absorb itself in other and less elevating things. Apathy, however, was not the worst sin of the community. There was a spirit of vandalism abroad, which soon manifested itself in a wray which kindled all our wildest wrath. The Mahamad of the Sephardi Congregation formulated a scheme whereby the ancient synagogue in Be vis Marks was to be razed to the ground and the site sold, while the needs of the congregation were supplied on a cheaper scale elsewhere. When Newman heard the news he could scarcely contain himself. He wrote fiery letters to the papers, convened and addressed public meet? ings, and finally organised and led an Anti-Demolition League, the rank and file of which consisted of a band of rebel Yehidim of Bevis Marks, and the staff of Mr. Haim Guedalla, Mr. L. J. Greenberg and myself. Newman proved an excellent organiser and agitator. He and Greenberg prepared and circulated a number of very effective pamphlets and broad? sheets, which I followed up with strong language in the Jeicish World, and more insidious expostulation in the non-Jewish press, chiefly the St. James's Gazette. The community soon became visibly moved, and ultimately the Mahamad, after receiving an excited deputation from the Anti-Demolitionists, in the course of which I addressed them from the reporter's table, consented to so modify their scheme as to leave the main fabric of the synagogue intact. This victory had important results besides the rescue of the venerable " Esnoga." Sir Isidore Spielmann, then on the threshold of his career as an organiser of art exhibitions, noted the w7ave of interest in ancient things which had passed over the community, and resolved to turn it to permanent account. Towards the end of March, or early in April 1886, he called upon me in South Street, and explained to me his scheme of an exhibition of Jewish history and ecclesiastical art. He told me he thought it would be a fitting sequel to the anti-demolition movement, as it wrould help in the further preservation of historical relics connected with the Jewrs of England. I remember distinctly that he said the idea</page><page sequence="9">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 213 had been suggested to him by the popular interest aroused in the fate of the Bevis Marks Synagogue, and that that was how it originated in his own mind. I mention this not only in order to establish the chain of events, but because it has been erroneously stated that Mr. Newman was the author of the idea. As a matter of fact, Newman was consulted at the same time as I was, and we joined the provisional committee together. That this is so is further proved by the obituary notice I wrote of him in the Jeicish World a few months later, when the events were still fresh in my mind, and in which I stated: " He was one of the earliest to be consulted, and until within a week of his death he was indefatigable in his exertions to carry it to a successful issue." The work of organising the Exhibition revealed, as you know, a wealth and variety of historical material far beyond what any of us had expected, and it was not long before the idea of an Historical Society to work this material was revived in the pleasant conclaves in Westbourne Park Villas, which had now been joined by Mr. Joseph Jacobs. In February 1887, two months before the opening of the Exhibition, the campaign was resumed in the Jewish World, and this time found a good deal of popular sympathy. It sputtered on through the whole year, and one of our earliest recruits, I find, was Mr. I. Zangwill, who took part in the correspondence with an amusing letter to the Editor in December, and who is still a member of our Council. A considerable impetus wras given to the idea by Professor Graetz, who in his brilliant address at the Exhibition in June appealed to the English Jews to found a Jewish Academy in four sections, one of which, he asked, should deal with History and Archaeology, and should be especially charged with the task of forming a " Corpus Historicorum Judaicorum." The upshot was that early in 1888 definite steps were taken to form a Society, and a small preliminary meeting, presided over by Mr. F. D. Mocatta, and attended by Sir Isidore Spielmann, Mr. Frank Haes, Mr. Joseph Jacobs, and myself, was held in Sir Isidore's house in Westbourne Crescent. Of the date there is no direct record, but by other evidence I can fix it as some time in April 1888. At this meeting a draft prospectus, of which I still have a copy, was approved, and the adhesion of certain eminent scholars, among them Professor Graetz, Dr. Kayser? ling, and M. Isidor Loeb, was announced. It was further resolved to call a larger and more representative meeting for the organisation of the</page><page sequence="10">214 ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. Society at a later date. For some reason which I cannot now remember, or perhaps for no reason at all, this second meeting was never held, and the idea passed into another slumber which lasted five years. I had almost despaired of ever seeing the Society established, when one day in the spring of 1893 Mr. Israel Abrahams came to see me, and told me of an idea he had of reviving the scheme in connection with the then newly established Maccabeans. At first it was proposed to found the Society as a sort of offshoot of the Maccabeans, but this was happily dropped. We were, however, enabled to make use of the organisation for the purpose of founding the Society, and this was an important element in our success. Later on we concluded a treaty with the Maccabeans providing for certain co-operation, but it was never acted upon, and was aftenvards formally abrogated. The soul of the new movement was, however, Mr. Israel Abrahams. I am sure that had it not been for his energy and tact, and for the devotion with which, as our first honorary secretary, he afterwards nursed us through our not too robust babyhood, we should not have been in existence to-day. There are two other names which should be mentioned in connection with the actual work of founding the Society in 1893?those of Dr. Joseph Jacobs and the late Mr. Asher I. Myers. Their zeal and enthusiasm were inexhaus? tible, and their services invaluable. Mr. Asher Myers, like Mr. Newman, passed away from us all too soon, but his memory as a devotee of Anglo-Jewish history and as a loyal worker in our Society remains with us, and has a fitting, though inadequate monument in a special fund which in a small way perpetuates the stimulus he always gave to our labours. I should add that the preliminary work w7as not by any means easy. At the last moment we had to encounter a formidable opposition which we were unable to overcome by negotiation, and the result was that the public meeting called to decide on the foundation of the Society was an unusually exciting affair. It was held in the rooms of the Maccabeans in St. James's Hall on June 3, 1893, and was, as the reporters say, very numerously attended. I had the honour of occupying the chair, and, after a very stiff fight, wre carried all our resolutions by large majorities. We were not satisfied with the usual resolutions affirming the desir? ability of the Society, and leaving details for subsequent consideration, but, taught by our past experiences, we there and then elected our</page><page sequence="11">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTOBICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 215 officers and formed our committees. Thus at last the Jewish Historical Society came into being. You will understand now why our inaugural meetings always cause me so much gratification. The rest of our story may be found in the Jewish newspapers and our own Transactions, and requires no elucidation at my hands. One of these days it will have to be written in a compendious form, and it will be a record well wTorth writing.</page><page sequence="12">DOCUMENTS I.?THE ORIGIN OF THE ANGLO-JEWISH HISTORICAL EXHIBITION From the "Report to the Members of the General Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, 1887." "Gentlemen,?We submit herewith a Report of the work connected with the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, dealing with the history of the Movement itself, and summarising its result. . . ." " The idea of such an Exhibition originated with Mr. I. Spielmann, who, from its inception to its end, was the leading spirit of the undertaking, at which he worked with indefatigable energy. He consulted several gentlemen wTho were likely to promote it by their influence or their special knowledge, most of whom consented to lend their co-operation. . . ." Signed on behalf of the Committee, F. D. Mocatta, Chairman, September 29, 1887. From Page 602, Volume I. of "The Jewish Encyclopedia." Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition. "... The idea of the Exhibition originated with Isidore Spielmann, who enlisted the co-operation of a large number of English Antiquaries? . . ." From Page 509, Volume XI. of "The Jewish Encyclopedia." Isidore Spielmann. "... In 1887 he suggested the idea of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, of the Executive Committee of which he was Hon. Secretary from inception to close, besides being the leading spirit of the whole Movement. ..." 216</page><page sequence="13">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 217 Copy of Address. To Isidore Spielmann, Esquire. We, your colleagues of the Executive Committee of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, consider that it should not pass away without some permanent expression on our part of the great, the indispensable services you have rendered to the Exhibition. Rarely can so extensive an undertaking have been so largely the work of one man. The original idea of holding such an Exhibition was yours, and you have stamped with your energy and tact every stage towards the realisation of the idea. It was owing to your indefatigable attention to the reception of the exhibits that the Exhibition was opened in a finished condition on the day previously announced?an event almost unique in the history of exhibi? tions?while your tasteful arrangements of the exhibits helped much towards its success as a spectacle. Your courtesy during all this trying period has caused all the arrangements to pass off without a hitch, and has made it a pleasure to work with yon. That the recollection of the good work that you have thus done may long be a source of pleasure to you is the earnest wish of Yours sincerely, Rothschild. Charles Trice Martin. Lucien Wolf. M. Castello. Joseph Sebag Montefjore. Arthur D. Sassoon. John Evans. William Wright, D.D. Charles Davis. F. D. Mocatta. A. Lowy. Ernest de Bunsen. Frank Haes. Morris Joseph. S. Singer. Francis L. Cohen. Fredk. Davis. Asher I. Myers. H. Adler. T. G. Hilton Price. Samuel Montagu. P. le Page Renouf. A. Goldsmid (Major). Joseph Jacobs. W. H. Rylands. Maurice Davis. M. Gast er. Extracts from the Jewish Chronicle, April 30, 1886. 1. " The idea of holding an Exhibition, and stimulating the preservation of historical relics connected with the Jews of England?as suggested in Mr. I. Spielmann's letter published last week?has already taken practical shape. A provisional Committee is being formed. The Rev. Dr. H. Adler, Major -Goldsmid, Mr. J. N. Castello, Mr. Alfred L. Cohen, Mr. F. D. Mocatta, Mr. J. Sebag Montefiore, Mr. Claude G. Montefiore, and other influential members of the community have signified their willingness to join the Com? mittee. Mr. Mocatta has headed the list of guarantors, and the first meeting of the Committee will probably be held at his house on the 9th proximo."</page><page sequence="14">218 ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 2. (Leading Article.) " The idea of holding an Anglo-Jewish Archaeological Exhibition, mooted in Mr. Isidore SpielmamVs letter which we printed last week, is most excellent, and deserving of the utmost possible encouragement. It wdll prove, we trust, but the first step towards an organised effort to rescue from oblivion and destruction the numerous objects in the possession of English Jews which tell some fragment of their past history." II.?THE FOUNDATION OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY. Letter from Professor Graetz. Breslau, 16 M?rz 88. My dear Sir,?Ich danke Ihnen f?r die Zusendung der Broch?ren bez?glich der Geschichte der Juden in England, die eine the Middle Age of Ang.-Jew. History, ist mir sehr interessant. Sie haben wohl Recht, die Juden pflegten wie die Luft durch noch so enge Poren einzudringen. Ihr vorschlage, die Society of G.J.H. ins Leben zu rufen, hat meinen ganzen Beifall, und ich werde mich geehrt f?hlen, correspondirendes Mitglied derselben zu sein. ihr ergebener, Graetz. To Lucien Wolf, Esq., London. Draft Prospectus adopted at Meeting at Sir I. Spielmann's House, April 1888. Anglo-Jewish Historical Society. It is proposed to found a Society to continue the valuable work begun by the recent Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition. During the progress of the Exhibition much was done to show how large an amount of material is accessible for the study of Anglo-Jewish History, and a beginning was made with the work of collecting and publishing. The close of the Exhibition has brought this work to a standstill, and the whole movement would be nullified if the interest aroused were allowed to die away, and the work begun per? mitted to lapse. The history of the Jews in this country has many claims to recognition. The recent tendency of Jewish historical research is towards such specialisa? tion. No portion of the general history of the mediaeval and modern Jews can be placed on a satisfactory footing till their local histories have been established on a scientific basis. So fully is this recognised, that societies for such special study have been founded in Germany, Russia, Roumania,</page><page sequence="15">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 219 Turkey, and the United States, while in other countries great attention is being paid to the local history of the Jews, with excellent results. In England such investigations would contribute not alone to the general history of the Jews, but also to English history Thus, for its own sake, for the light it would throw on general Jewish history, and for the additions it would make to the annals of England, Anglo-Jewish history is a subject eminently fitted for organised and scientific study. For such inquiries the materials are sufficiently extensive to require something more than individual research. A whole volume of the publica tions of the Exhibition was devoted to a bibliography of the subject. The large amount of MS. material referred to in this bibliography would in itself be sufficient to give work for a Society. The early history of this country is fuller and more easily accessible than that of any other European land, and consequently the records for the pre-expulsion period of Anglo-Jewish history (before 1290) are more extensive than those possessed by any other community of Jews for so early a period. The light which would be thrown on the general condition of Jews under the feudal system by a complete account of the documents still inedited, would be invaluable ; while the early economic and administrative history of England must always remain incom? plete till these documents have been thoroughly ransacked and the most interesting of them published. In later times, too, much of English history would receive elucidation from Anglo-Jewish investigations. Henry VIII.'s divorce, Cromwell's foreign policy, Marlborough's campaigns, Catholic Emancipation are among the subjects which are inextricably connected with the history of the Jews in this country. Besides these collateral interests, the subject must always appeal to English Jews for the light it throws on their own personal and communal history. Scarcely anything has been done to copy the inscriptions on ancient tombstones ; the Synagogue archives and minute-books of institu? tions are almost untouched. A Society would, at any rate, aid towards seeing that these records of the past are preserved in a fitting manner. It could also help towards a suitable collection of the continually increasing volume of Anglo-Jewish literature. The work of such a Society would be carried on by the reading of papers before its Members, and by Sub-Committees charged with special departments of work. At first the object of the Society would be directed more to the collection and arrangement of materials than to publication. At the outset, therefore, no question of pecuniary obligation would arise, and it is not contemplated asking for any subscription from the Members. If any extensive scheme of publication is found necessary, a Special Appeal will be made to those able and willing to contribute towards defraying its cost. Names of those who regard the foundation of an Anglo-Je wish Historical Society with sympathy, and are willing to become its Members, will be</page><page sequence="16">220 ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. gladly received by Adhesions have already been received from many eminent scholars, among whom may be mentioned Dr. Graetz, Dr. Gross, Dr. Kayserling, M. Loeb, Mr. C. Trice Martin, Dr. H. Adler, &amp;c, &amp;c. First Draft of Prospectus, written by I. Abrahams in May 1893. The Jewish Historical Society of England. A Society has been founded under the above name, for the purpose of publishing documents and researches on the history of the Jewrs in the British Empire, and of organising lectures on the general history of the Jews. The Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, held in the Albert Hall in 1887, proved how large and interesting were the materials for the annals of Israel in England, and the Society aims at making those materials available for the use of students of English as well as of Jewish history. Recent research has shown that the JewTs of England, before they were expelled in 1290, held an almost official position towards the public Treasury, and that a knowledge of that connection is necessary for an adequate under? standing of the early financial and economic history of England. The Society proposes to place before the world the fullest evidence of the rela? tions between the English Jews and the Exchequer, and in general to show the important role played by the Jews in the economics and national develop? ment of England. Fresh light will be thrown upon the earliest history of English towns, and new chapters will be opened for the antiquary who is interested in the annals of York, Lincoln, Colchester, Norwich, Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury, Bristol, Nottingham, Northampton, and other large towns. Part of the new evidence will be in Hebrew, and from this source fresh light will be thrown on the inner life of the English Jews. Much remains to be collected and written on the hidden history of the Jews who remained in, or visited, these islands after the community had been expelled. The true history of the Return of the Jews to England still remains to be told, and it will be one of the first aims of the Society to tell the romantic tale, as historical tales are nowadays told, by means of authentic documents. Since the Return, the Jews of England have connected themselves with every division of the national life, and their annals will accordingly throw light on many obscure portions of history. The beginnings of banking, the inner history of Marlborough's campaigns, the struggle for religious tolera? tion, the progress of philanthropy, the development of trade, the connection with the Continent, English genealogies, have all their Jewish aspects, which it will be the business of the Society to develop. Many interesting person? alities, famous in all departments of the national life, can only be fully understood by those having access to J ewish sources of information. There is, then, plenty of work for such a Society to do, and workers are* not wanting. What is needed is the support of the Jewish public and of</page><page sequence="17">ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF ENGLAND. 221 English historical students, to enable an adequate presentment of the material for treatment of such subjects as the following, for which arrange? ments are being made for the first volumes of Transactions :? New Documents on the Middle Period (1290-1656). A Norwich Ledger of the Thirteenth Century. First Burial Book of the Bevis Marks Synagogue. The Jewish Bill of 1753. Aaron of Lincoln. Jewish Brokers of the City of London. Benedict le Puncteur of Oxford and his " Fox Fables." Early Jewish Wills from Somerset House. The Causes of the Expulsion of 1290. Jewish Plea Rolls. Jacob ben Jehudah of London and his " Tree of Life.'' Creechurch Lane Synagogue. The archives of the chief synagogues and other communal institutions will be catalogued and described, and, when of sufficient interest, extracts trom them will be printed. Besides this, the Bibliography of Anglo-Jewish History, compiled by Messrs. Joseph Jacobs and Lucien Wolf, will be continued, corrected and indexed, while members of the Society who do not possess it will be enabled to obtain this, as well as the other publications of the Anglo-Jewish Exhibi? tion, at a considerably reduced price. Another direction in which the Society will work will be the promotion of lectures on subjects of Jewish history generally. These lectures will be organised throughout the country, and, where possible, in connection with the local branches which the Society hopes to establish in all the Jewish congregations of the Empire. The Society will, however, from the first hold itself in readiness to arrange lectures in suitable localities, to supply lecturers, to suggest subjects, and to provide means for illustrating the lectures and for adding to their attractiveness. It would, if circumstances permitted, sometimes be possible to hold in connection with the lectures modest but instructive exhibitions of loan collections of prints, objects of art, and other curiosities or exhibits likely to prove of general interest. The subscription will be Half-a-guinea per annum, and it is contemplated issuing the publications for 1893 and 1894 in the autumn of the latter year. Subscriptions for the current year will be received by the Treasurer, Mr. Ernest Franklin, 60 Old Broad Street, E.C., or by Israel Abrahams, Hon. Sec, 70 Brondesbury Road, Kilburn, N.W.</page></plain_text>

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