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Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820

Naomi Cream

<plain_text><page sequence="1">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 NAOMI CREAM Cecil Roth described Solomon Lyon as one of the rare Anglo-Jewish scholars of the eighteenth century.1 He lived well into the nineteenth century, and although he was a minor figure his story is worth telling. Early life He was born in Bohemia in 175s,2 probably in Kuttenplan,3 now Chodov? Plana in the Czech Republic, about 80 miles northwest of Prague.4 A small Jewish community of about thirty families lived there under the benign juris? diction of the local count. In the year after Lyon's birth the count gave per? mission for the ramshackle wooden synagogue to be replaced with one of stone, but a few years later, in less benign mood, he punished the Jews for having built it too high and ordered it to be painted black.5 In the wider community, anti-Semitic rules prevailed as Lyon grew up: laws regulated settlement, trade and occupation. The Jewish population was restricted by a system which allowed marriage only after the age of twenty-four and on receipt of a Tamiliant' number, which passed to an eldest son on the death of his father. A junior son had to wait for his elder brother to die before he, in his turn, could inherit the number and get his own marriage permit.6 Furthermore, had these young men lived in Prague, they would have had to Paper presented to the Society on 15 February 2001. I am greatly indebted to Henry Roche for information about Solomon Lyon in Portsmouth. I am also grateful to Petra Laidlaw for her comments. 1 C. Roth, Records of the Western Synagogue (London 1932) 69. 2 Family paper, source of information unknown. 3 See Plate 2 below showing Portsmouth Old Congregation Minute Book, vol. II, p. 14, in which he is the last of the original seven signatories. Lyon signed in Hebrew, transliterating the placename in its Yiddish form: '//# [the young Mr] Solomon Lyon, son of the learned Isaac Ari of blessed memory from Kutin Ploin'. (I am grateful to Henry Roche for obtaining the illustration and interpreting the text.) His father's name is also given in Ketubah No. 1656 Bevis Marks Records Part II (Oxford 1949) 125. ('Ari' or 'Aryeh' is Hebrew for 'Lion' or 'Lyon'.) 4 'Chodov? Plana', in Encyclopaedia Judaic a (Jerusalem 1971) . 5 A. Schapirnik, Geschichte der Juden in Kuttenplan und Umgebung (Prague/Brno 1934) 335? 41. I am grateful to Dr Otto Fleming and Mrs Fleming for their translation. 6 'Familiants Law', in Encyclopaedia Judaica (see n. 4). 3i</page><page sequence="2">Naomi Cream wear the Jewish badge, described variously as a yellow collar over the coat7 or a yellow strip on the left shoulder.8 Little is known of Lyon's early life, but before leaving Bohemia, probably in his twenties, he must have received the traditional education of a clever boy with scholarly interests, passing from elementary study of Hebrew and the Talmud to advanced talmudic study at a yeshivah. He is said to have attended the University of Prague,9 but this is unlikely to have been the famous Charles University since Jews were not admitted there until 1782,10 by which time he was already established in England. It is more likely that he studied at the so-called Jewish University of Prague, also known as the Prague Talmud University.11 Portsmouth, 1781-1789 It is not surprising that he should have left Bohemia in search of a better life, although it was to be some years before he could earn a living appropriate to his education and interests. It is unknown how he came there, but evidence suggests that he had settled in Portsmouth by 1781,12 where mainly German Jews had founded a community about forty years before.13 The town was thriving on the success of Portsmouth as a naval centre during the succession of wars with Europe and America. In 1781, about the time of Lyon's arrival, the local newspaper wrote: Tew places in England are at present more flour? ishing than this: the great sums of prize money spent by the sailors, added to the wages constantly laid out by the number of hands employed in the dock-yard, cause a greater circulation of cash than is to be found in most parts of the kingdom'.14 Most Jews lived in Portsea, at that time known as Portsmouth Common, about half a mile from Portsmouth town and next to the naval dockyard. A guidebook of 1775 described how 'The Dockyard resembles a town in the number of its dwelling houses, offices, storehouses, lofts and other edifices erected for the various purposes of the yard. It con? tains amazing quantities of everything necessary for the royal navy. There 7 'Badge, Jewish', in Encyclopaedia Judaica (see n. 4). 8 'Prague', in Jewish Encyclopedia (New York 1901-07) . 9 J. Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History (London 1875; republished I. Finestein [ed.] 1956) 307. . 10 'Bohemia', in Encyclopaedia Judaica (see n. 4). 11 J. Lion, The Prague Ghetto (London i960) 17. 12 Portsmouth Record Office S3/183/91. (Borough Sessions Records; deposition 9 July 1781.) 13 A. Weinberg, 'Portsmouth Jewry', Portsmouth Papers 41 (Portsmouth 1985) 3-4; C. Roth, 'The Portsmouth Community and Its Historical Background', Trans JHSE XIII (1936) 10 11. 14 A. Geddes, 'Portsmouth During the Great French Wars 1770-1800', quoting The Hampshire Chronicle\ in Portsmouth Papers 9 (Portsmouth 1970) 3. 32</page><page sequence="3">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 are never less than 2,000 men employed in it, and in times of war upwards of 2,500. . . .' Portsmouth Common was 'a very prosperous genteel town, exceeding Portsmouth itself in the number of its inhabitants and edifices'.15 The attraction of Portsmouth for struggling immigrants is clear, but the Jewish population was not large. Only about fifty synagogue members, with any family they might have, lived in Portsea and Portsmouth during the 1780s.16 Unfortunately, community relations were not harmonious; the famous split, caused by the dispute over which rabbi in London should receive the allegiance of the congregation, had occurred in 1766. This led to the departure of over half the original synagogue membership to form a 'New Congregation' in a new synagogue only a few hundred yards from the first.17 A key figure in the community and one of the leaders of the split was Reb Leib Aleph (1723-1814), known in the non-Jewish community as Levy Isaac, a silversmith. He was famous among the Jews of Portsmouth and the south of England for his skill as a mohel (circumciser) and he kept a circumcision register of historic importance.18 He was to play a significant part in Lyon's life in Portsmouth. Lyon first came to public notice in 1781, when he was the victim of an assault by another Jew, a Portsea silversmith, who hit him with a stick and tore his shirt;19 this led to the first of Lyon's several encounters with the English legal system. At the time of the assault he was a pedlar, like many other poor Jewish immigrants. Although the seaport pedlars traded with sailors and also went inland, the Jewish pedlars of Portsmouth are best known for supplying the seamen living in the ships at anchor off the port. The sailors' trips ashore were restricted because the authorities feared they would desert, and therefore the pedlars went out to the ships, travelling in small boats loaded with bedding, slops (clothing and personal equipment), fruit, vegetables and provisions. The scenes on board the ship after the distribution of the seamen's wages have been described: 'when paid, they hurry down to their respective berths, redeem their honour with their several ladies and bumboat men, and then they turn their thoughts to the Jew pedlars, who are ranged round the decks and in the hatch-way gratings, in fact, the ship is crowded with them'. Having bought their watches, trinkets and seamen's essentials, the sailors were prone to taunt and humiliate the Jewish salesmen.20 Lyon himself was robbed of a silver seal and a gold ring by a young midship 15 Ibid. 18. 16 H. Roche, 'The Jews of Portsmouth', printed notes accompanying lecture (1993). 17 C. Roth (see n. 13) 11-14. 18 E. Newman, 'Some New Facts about the Portsmouth Jewish Community', Trans JHSE XVII (i953) 251-9 19 Portsmouth Record Office (see n. 12). 20 G. Green, The Royal Navy and Anglo-Jewry 1740-1820 (London 1989) 239, 231-5. 33</page><page sequence="4">b? ' u&gt; &gt;&gt; O. o U ? Oh O CS 34</page><page sequence="5">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 man in 1783.21 He had by then moved from Portsmouth to Portsea and had progressed up the commercial ladder to a more settled business as a silver? smith. This was a common pattern: 'Those who were absolutely destitute became pedlars, and were financed by the Jewish shop-keepers, who sent them inland with boxes of trinkets, laces, cigars, and other portable goods to sell to farmers and farmers' wives. Accounts were settled at the ports once a week on Friday afternoons, after which [they] would assemble for the inaug? uration of the Sabbath. ... On Monday they would trudge off again. If a pedlar prospered he would set up a shop of his own and bloom out into a jeweller and silver-smith.'22 The next recorded event is Lyon's marriage in the summer of the next year, 1784, to Rachel Hart, whose parents were said to be 'of Ely'.23 Although it has not been possible to trace any other contemporary Jews living in Ely, the records of the Portsmouth Congregation lend support to the accuracy of the statement about his father-in-law's place of origin.24 Five years later, on the Eve of the Jewish New Year in 1789, a significant event occurred in Portsmouth Jewish communal history which also involved Solomon Lyon. The members of the secessionist synagogue rejoined the ori? ginal one, which had been rebuilt.25 In the list of new seat holders in the Minute Book, Lyon's name, like that of Leib Aleph's, was preceded with an initial Hebrew letter resh, as an abbreviation for Reb (a title for a learned man), or for 'rabbi', or as an honorific title, distinguishing Lyon and Leib Aleph from most of the others whose names are preceded with the letter kaf (the equivalent of 'Mr').26 However, by then Lyon and Reb Leib had fallen out. Their dispute was about events five years earlier when Reb Leib had been a lodger in Lyon's house. Solomon Lyon alleged in court - two months after the two men might be assumed to have been in friendly agreement when they had signed the Minute book - that Levy Isaac (alias Reb Leib Aleph) owed him money for the stay.27 21 Portsmouth Record Office S4/2, p. 220. (Borough Sessions Records; deposition 4 July 1783.) 22 L. Wolf, Essays in Jewish History (London 1934) 137-8. 23 A. E. Franklin, Records of the Franklin Family and Collaterals (London 1935) 136. A family document, source unknown, names her parents as Barnet Hart and Rose (formerly Myers), both of Ely, and gives the marriage date as 4 August 1784. 24 Portsmouth Old Congregation Minute Book 1. 'Berky Ely' is named in 1810 and 1813 (though deceased by the latter date); 'Ely' is in the position for a placename. He is possibly the same man as 'Barnet Hart' and 'Issachar b. Naphtali'. (Personal communication from Henry Roche.) 25 E. Newman (see n. 18) 256. 26 Portsmouth Old Congregation Minute Book, vol. II, p. 202. See Plate 2 for the signatures appended to the reunification agreement. (I am particularly grateful to Henry Roche for obtaining and interpreting this information.) 27 Portsmouth Record Office S5/3: Court of Records, 8 December 1789. 35</page><page sequence="6">Plate 2 The signatures of Leib Aleph and Solomon Lyon on the reunification agreement of the Portsmouth communities. Number 2 reads 'Judah son of Isaac Leib' followed by the letter alefi and number 7 '[The young] Mr Solomon son of the learned Isaac Ari [Aryeh], of blessed memory, of the congregation of Kutin Ploin'. (The numbers do not appear in the original.) From the Portsmouth Old Congregation Minute Book, vol. ii, p. 14. 36</page><page sequence="7">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 The case is interesting for its description of domestic arrangements. The court was told that Reb Leib had unexpectedly spent six weeks from 4 Janu? ary 1785 in Lyon's house and shop in Queen Street, Portsea,28 probably because Reb Leib had fallen ill while away from his own home in Broad Street, Portsmouth.29 Joel, Reb Leib's son, fetched bed-linen at Lyon's request, and Reb Leib slept in the garret of the house, which was a small room furnished with a bed and a bureau but had no curtains; he sat with Lyon's family in the kitchen and had use of the dining room. There were crucially differing accounts of who provided his food. Reb Leib's witnesses were not impartial, since they were his daughters Sarah and Hannah and his son Joel. The children had visited their father, Sarah two or three times a week and the others less frequently. Between them they brought food: large amounts of meat three or four times a week, a loaf of bread about the size of a gallon on Tuesdays and three or four loaves of Jewish bread on Fridays, a quarter of a pound of tea and two pounds of sugar once a week as well as other provisions, particularly cheese. On Saturdays most of the family dined there, providing their own food. Lyon had only one witness, his servant, Mary Chapman, who worked from between 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning until 10 at night. She stated that Lyon had supplied all his lodger's food except on one occasion, when a piece of hake was brought by Reb Leib's family. He had had hot food almost every day, and once when he was ill Mrs Lyon had made chicken broth from fowls which were cooked only for him. She also bought him gin and bitters. Joel stated that he was a very good friend of the plaintiff. He said that his father had been upset by his journey when he arrived at Lyon's house. Joel advised him to return home, but reported that Lyon had said, 'Let your father continue here till things are settled. It shall be no expense to him. The obliga? tions he [Lyon] owed to his family [were] a sufficient compensation'. Once, when Joel had to go to London, he had given Lyon 3 guineas to cover his father's needs, even though Lyon said he did not expect anything. Joel had also once seen his father give Lyon half a guinea, and a few days after Reb Leib had returned home, Lyon told Joel that he [Lyon] had been well rewarded. Some financial transactions passed the other way: Reb Leib sold Lyon some fur and Hannah sold him a pair of silver buckles suitable for a very small child. Cambridge, 1789-1806 Judgement went against Lyon and, perhaps as a consequence, he left Ports? mouth; he has no entry in the Portsmouth rate books of October 1789. By 28 Portsea Rate Book (June 1785-Sept 1788), possibly about 17 Queen St. The next rate book (24 April 1789) lists him at Havant St Portsea (perhaps at 5, formerly the address of Gershon Woolfe, slopseller, silversmith and Navy Agent). (Personal communication from Henry Roche.) 29 G. Green (see n. 20) 171. 37</page><page sequence="8">lb n'Tiam it z&gt; most 7-esjjecZfuUv TnW. j/fi Jt?l&amp;he&amp;ScSoldtyMtfathan,^? 7, Poland Streeh?r?r&amp;?tr. Vfteriemqy 2?c had foe fbUotrdzfffonps TtfiUeri qy me JiigJitJIenZwdJJyrwi, tfeMusic TpJIZMilhan. TheTazrJ&amp;udet - 2/6 TheAu-s, dearllaid ihr 7yo7iar%ft?Z\'6 ^TvLif? Hove feu -? 2/0 TJit^Iio^e, ?&gt; calm mylfrvlhenr ccavf - 2/ff Thou art not /?lre, but lhoucav/ich$e2/m2fight wanes sirng fy'^VTMrdhartz _2/ 6" Plate 3 The Soldier's Farewell, 1812, by Emma Lyon, set to music by Isaac Nathan and sung by John Braham. (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.) 38</page><page sequence="9">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 later statements, he lived in Cambridge from about that time.30 Whatever the reason for his departure, Portsmouth had been a rough place in which to live. It is worth noting that all three men in the court case had had previous experience of the judicial system after having been victims of assaults. Reb Leib, like Lyon, had suffered twice - once in 1770 when a sailor had punched him in the face and struck him on the arm with a piece of wood without provocation, and two years later when two sailors gave him a black eye, blew tobacco smoke in his face and then threw the pipe at him.31 Surprisingly, Solomon and Joel had been attacked by Jews - Solomon in an incident already described, and Joel when he had been badly beaten on the common at the age of twelve.32 Cambridge must have been a marked contrast to Portsmouth. Instead of the hurly-burly of a naval port, Solomon Lyon, his wife and two young chil? dren entered a university town full of Anglican clergymen. The total popula? tion in 1794, a few years after Lyon arrived, was about 8000, less than a third of that of Portsmouth.33 In medieval times the Jews of Cambridge had been financially and economically important until they were banished by Queen Eleanor in 1275.34 After their readmission, Hebrew was taught at the univer? sity in the seventeenth century by a Jew, Abendena, but after a quarrel he transferred to Oxford.35 In the middle of the eighteenth century the Vice Chancellor was worried about the numbers of young students who exchanged their books and clothes for trinkets sold by Jewish pedlars.36 George Dyer, at Cambridge between 1774 and 1778, a historian of the university, recalled fifty years later that in his time there had been a synagogue and an academy for Jews.37 Roth quotes the names of a very few Jews who lived in Cambridge from the 1730s.38 By the end of the century four more can be added: Levi, a glass dealer,39 Hart, possibly a tradesman,40 Jacobs41 and Elkin. A story about the Elkins reveals a little about social relations between the 30 University of Cambridge Grace Book A, p. 258 (2 July 1791). I am grateful to Dr Mark Nicholls for information from the Grace Book. 31 Portsmouth Record Office: Borough Sessions Records S3/165/6 (18 February 1772). 32 Portsmouth Record Office: Borough Sessions Records S3/165/107 (24 March 1772). 33 F. Knight, University Rebel: The Life of William Trend (London 1971) 1; A. Geddes (see n. 14)3. 34 R. D. Dobson, 'The Jews of Medieval Cambridge', Trans JHSE XXXII (1993) 16. 35 H. P. Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History (Edinburgh 1913) 221; C. Roth, 'Jews in Oxford after 1290' Oxoniensia 15 (1950) 68. 36 D. A. Winstanley, The University of Cambridge in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge 1922) 29. 37 G. Dyer, The Privileges of the University of Cambridge.. . (London 1824) 2:160. 38 C. Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry (London 1950) 45. 39 Universal British Directory (London 1793). 40 Public Record Office (hereafter PRO) RG 10/533 f?- 3? 6; personal communication from Doreen Berger. 41 D. A. Winstanley (see n. 36) 18-19 (citing MS. MMV, 51 in University Library). 39</page><page sequence="10">Naomi Cream Christians of the university and the Jews. In the 1780s the Elkins had a very small house and shop in the middle of King's Parade. In the shop window was a glass ease containing jewellery and trinkets and behind the case, on a raised chair so that her head, shoulders and bust could be seen, sat Rose Elkin, a very beautiful young woman of Jewish appearance. Every morning her beauty attracted young undergraduates, mainly 'of the higher class', into the tiny shop, which could not hold more than six at a time. They bought goods from the window display, but then offered most of them back to her as gifts. She accepted them with a show of reluctance, but later discreetly returned them to the window for recycling. Despite her social status and her religion she was invited to parties and country excursions by the rich young men. Although called a coquette, she had an unblemished character. She never accepted an invitation unless her mother was included nor was she seen in the street without her. The reputation of her beauty reached the Prince Regent, who sought her out at the Newmarket races. He talked to her for a quarter of an hour with great politeness and affability but did not ask to see her again - it was said that he judged the beauty of women by their propensity to fatten and Rose Elkin was remarkably small and slender.42 Cambridge was also a market town, where pound weights of butter were sold in the market place in rolls a yard long and the thickness of a walking cane for the convenience of college catering.43 Curiously, more than a century later, this description of the butter proved to be the only detail of Lyon's stay in Cambridge which remained in the memory of his descendants.44 Vis? itors were surprised by the mean appearance of the town in contrast to the university and public buildings with their beautiful setting. Most streets were narrow, unlit, dirty and unpaved; houses were old, thatched, badly built and crowded together. Gutters ran in the middle of the streets and roof spouts discharged onto the people below. Street paving and street lighting had been introduced only the year before Lyon arrived.45 The streets may have become brighter, but the university's reputation was dim. Student numbers had fallen, possibly due to the mathematical content of the examination system which put those without mathematical ability at a disadvantage, as well as to economic and demographic changes. The degree examination was based on mathematics and a little moral philosophy, 42 H. Gunning, Reminiscences of the University, Town, and County of Cambridge from the year ij8o (London 1854) 45-9. 43 Universal British Directory 1793-8 (facsimile edition, King's Lynn 1993); S. Lewis, Topo? graphical Dictionary of England (London 1831) 1:338. 44 Family letter dated 1923. 45 M. D. Lobel, Cambridge (London 1974) 22; A. Gray, The Town of Cambridge (Cambridge 1925) 153, 165-6; E. Leedham-Green, A Concise History of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge 1996) in. 40</page><page sequence="11">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 although the colleges taught a wide range of subjects. Academic torpor is the general impression of the period, although there were some notable scholars. There were about 150 new undergraduates each year, divided between sixteen colleges. In 1795 (in the middle of Lyon's stay) there were about 700 under? graduates in all. Eleven colleges had fewer than forty each and five had only twenty to thirty. King's College was in a special position and had only twelve. The university functioned as an institution of the Church of England; Cath? olics, Dissenters and Jews were barred because they could not declare them? selves to be members of the Church on graduation.46 Here Solomon Lyon was to spend the next seventeen years as a teacher of Hebrew. To understand how he fitted into this Christian and traditional English environment it is useful to know how the university was organized. It has been described as a place which functioned largely as an Anglican seminary, while teaching more mathematics than theology. Most undergradu? ates were the sons of Anglican clergymen and the majority became clergymen themselves. Unless these young men were motivated to study for the love of it or because they wished to become fellows of colleges, they could get away with very little work and obtain an ordinary BA or 'poll' degree with little or no effort. Indeed, many wealthy undergraduates, known as 'fellow com? moners', and the handful of noblemen, who together numbered about 100 in 1795, were entitled to obtain MA degrees without examination and were often excused from attendance at lectures. Exceptions to the examination system were former scholars of Eton, who were granted automatic fellowships at King's College, thereby obtaining a guaranteed income and position in life following success at the age of twelve or thirteen. In 1795 the 700 undergraduates were set against 400 fellows. Some colleges even had more fellows than undergraduates. Fellowships went to those who obtained the greatest success in the final honours stages of the BA examina? tion, which was a gruelling test of mathematical knowledge taken over several days in January in freezing conditions. Strangely, although these gifted young mathematicians were mostly destined to take Holy Orders, theology was not an obligatory course of undergraduate study or examination. Fellows could keep their positions as long as they did not marry and provided they took Holy Orders, although there were a few exceptions. Many were renowned for their relaxed style of life. They often combined their fellowships with clerical duties elsewhere and they were not obliged to teach or publish. Through the 1780s, the decade of Lyon's arrival, only one fellow, a medical practitioner, appears to have published anything at all. 46 P. Searby, A History of the University of Cambridge (Cambridge 1997) vol. Ill (1750-1870) and E. Leedham-Green (see n. 45) for information about the university except where otherwise attributed. 4i</page><page sequence="12">Naomi Cream However, students were not confined to the study of mathematics, for theology and many non-examination subjects were taught independently by the colleges. Classical literature was predominant, but other subjects included chemistry, botany, astronomy, modern history, Arabic and Hebrew. College tutors, typically one or two at each college, were the official teachers and organizers of teaching, aided by an assistant lecturer or tutor. However, pri? vate tutors, who were almost always members of the university and paid privately by their pupils, were sometimes needed to supplement college teach? ing or to provide extra stimulation for gifted or ambitious students. The study of Hebrew at Cambridge was waning by the end of the eight? eenth century. There was little demand for formal instruction,47 although knowledge of the subject was necessary for a fellowship in some colleges.48 Although in the middle of the century the university statutes required every MA proceeding to the Bachelor of Divinity degree to attend the Hebrew lecture daily for seven years,49 it is difficult to see how this requirement was enforced since the professors seldom gave any lectures. In contrast to Cam? bridge, the Dissenting academies all taught Hebrew to their students50 and in continental Europe it was widely studied.51 Three professors of Hebrew, all graduates of Trinity College, had tenure while Lyon was in Cambridge: Collier (1771-90), Porter (1790-5) and Lloyd (1795-1831).52 One contemporary commentator wrote: 'It is sometimes asked, what useful purpose is promoted by the professorships of Hebrew and Arabic established in both Universities, when no lectures are delivered on this sub? ject: to this we reply that, though lectures are occasionally read on these topics ... the design of these institutions is not regularly to teach the ele? ments of the language in question, which is best effected by private tuition, but to afford encouragement to the pursuit of an object which presents but few attractions, and to the critical examination of those oriental dialects which would otherwise, perhaps, be speedily neglected, if not utterly lost.553 A modern historian, referring to the whole of the eighteenth century, had a harsher opinion: 'The Hebrew professors did not atone for neglecting their 47 D. A. Winstanley, Unreformed Cambridge: a study of certain aspects of the University of Cam? bridge in the eighteenth century (Cambridge 1935) 122. 48 L. Wainewright, Literary and Scientific Pursuits encouraged and enforced in the University of Cambridge (London 1815) 74. 49 C. Wordsworth, Scholae academicae: some account of the studies at the English universities in the eighteenth century (1877; reprinted New York 1968) 167. 50 H. McLaehlan, English Education under the Test Acts. Being the History of the Non-conformist Academies, 1662-1820 (Manchester 1931). 51 D. Patterson, 'Hebrew Studies', in L. S. Sutherland and L. G. Mitchell (eds) The History of the University of Oxford (Oxford 1986) 5:550. 52 C. Wordsworth (see n. 49) 166. 53 L. Wainewright (see n. 48) 76. 42</page><page sequence="13">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 statutory obligations by conveying their learning to the world in other ways than by lectures, and indeed, with the exception of Sike [professor 1703-12] they had little or no learning to convey'.54 A contemporary writer remarked that the office had been 'for many years considered as only a feather in the cap'.55 This judgement is perhaps a little unfair on the last professor of the eight? eenth century, Henry Lloyd, who began to lecture, but stopped because he had no encouragement.56 In February 1799 he put up a notice offering free instruction on Tuesdays and Thursdays or more often if desired.57 Three months before that he had petitioned the king for support in his ambition to revive the study of the sacred scriptures in their original tongue in an age of irreligion and infidelity. This may indeed have been his sincere wish and the primary reason for his petition, but he also pointed out that there had been no increase in the professor's ?40 annual salary since Henry VIII had founded the chair. Both Henry VIII and James I had intended that a high ecclesiastical appointment should be added to the professorship, which had occured at Oxford but not at Cambridge. The present salary was 'scanty provision for a Royal Professor with a wife and an increasing family'.58 Although the professors had a poor reputation, other members of the uni? versity were noted for their proficiency and interest in Hebrew. Robert Tyr whitt, for example, a Hebrew scholar contemporary with Solomon Lyon, left the university ?4000 in 1817 for the encouragement of Hebrew literature.59 William Frend, the reforming and controversial clergyman resident in Cam? bridge until 1793, who later became an actuary and a subscriber to the Hebrew grammar which Lyon published in 1815, was a keen Hebrew scholar and spent a vacation living with a Jewish family in London to learn the language.60 The list of those who studied with Lyon and the much longer one of those who subscribed to his grammar show that quite a number of people in Cambridge had an interest in Hebrew. Only two of Lyon's pupils from his Cambridge period can be identified with certainty. One is William Mansel (1753-1820), Master of Trinity Col? lege, Vice-Chancellor of the university during Lyon's time, and later Bishop of Bristol, who must have known Lyon well. The second is Thomas Perronet Thompson (1783-1869), who was a gifted undergraduate at Queens' College between 1798 and 1802, had an interesting naval and army career and later 54 D. A. Winstanley (see n. 47) 122. 55 G. Dyer, History of the Universities and Colleges of Cambridge. . . (London 1814) 1:215. 56 D. A. Winstanley (see n. 47) 363. 57 C. Wordsworth (see n. 49). 58 A. Aspinall (ed.), The Later Correspondence of George III (Cambridge 1969) 154-5. 59 G. Dyer (see n. 55) 1: 110-11. 60 F. Knight (see n. 33) 48. 43</page><page sequence="14">Naomi Cream became a politician and writer, campaigning against the Corn Laws.61 Lyon's only other pupil was confusingly named 'Charles Poulett Thompson' by Pic ciotto and 'Charles Perronett Thompson' by the Jewish Chronicle. He was probably George Poulett Julius Scrope (i 797-1876) whose surname at birth was Thomson. He was the brother of Lord Sydenham and educated first at a small private school and then at Harrow from 1808 to 1815. He spent a couple of terms at Oxford and then transferred to Cambridge in 1816 where he graduated in 1821, so it is uncertain when or where Lyon taught him. He became a notable geologist and then a politician.62 Solomon Lyon's predecessor in the field of private Hebrew tuition was Israel Lyons.63 Born in Poland, he lived in Cambridge for about forty years from at least 173264 until his death in 1770, teaching Hebrew and also working as a silversmith. He published a Hebrew grammar in 1735 which ran to four editions (two posthumously) and a treatise on scripture history in 1768, and he contributed Hebrew verse to an official volume of poetry in 1738. Gonville and Caius College paid him to lecture to their students for some years 'while the nominal lecturer treated the office as a sinecure' and a small sum is recorded in payment to him from St John's College.65 Joseph Cradock (1742 1826), a writer who entered the university in 1759, appreciated the grounding in Hebrew he received from Lyons. Cradock had dined with the Goldsmits (sic) of Finsbury Square and in 1786 visited the Jewish community of Amster? dam. He wrote warmly of the lavish hospitality he met in both places and his excellent impression of the Jews of Amsterdam.66 Israel Lyons died in 1770, but by then he had lapsed from Judaism. He was buried at his own request in the churchyard of St Mary the Great church, opposite his Cambridge home, and the burial service was read by his daughter, who became a fortune teller and died a pauper.67 His son, also Israel Lyons, was a gifted mathemat? ician and botanist. For a period after Israel Lyons' death the local rabbi appears to have done some Hebrew teaching, for in 1783 Robert Robinson, a Baptist clergyman of liberal views, relates how the rabbi came to see him, said that he had only 61 J. Picciotto (see n. 9); Jewish Chronicle (hereafter JC) 24 November 1871; Dictionary of National Biography (hereafter DNB) (London 1921-2) for Mansel and Thompson. Also L. G. Johnson, General T. Perronet Thompson (London 1957). (Mansel is incorrectly named 'Dr. Mansell, Bishop of Gloucester' by Picciotto. Thompson is named as 'Colonel Thompson, the Corn Law reformer' by Picciotto and by the JC as 'Colonel Thompson, the apostle of Free Trade ... and brother of Lord Sydenham'.) 62 Picciotto and ibid.; Harrow School Register 1801-igoo (London 1901); G. Poulett Scrope, Memoirs of Charles Lord Sydenham (2nd ed. London 1844). 63 DNB for both father and son. 64 H. P. Stokes (see n. 35) 224. 65 Ibid. 225. 66 J. Cradock, Literary and Miscellaneous Memoirs (London 1828) 1: 273. 67 C. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, (Cambridge 1842-1908) 4: 381. 44</page><page sequence="15">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 four pupils from the university and that he would be able to teach Hebrew at Robinson's house every morning.68 In 1789 Solomon Lyon, whether by design or chance, stepped into the vacancy left by Israel Lyons' death and the university quickly came to appreciate the value of his teaching. A 'grace' (a proposal voted on by the highest executive body of the university) dated December 1790 was put for? ward. Translated literally from the Latin, it reads: 'Since in this our Academy so fruitful in high learning, the sacred language almost alone lies neglected and as it were untouched, and therefore someone seems needed to teach our young men the rudiments of Hebrew Grammar: and since the jew [sic] Solo? mon Lyon, whose morals and learning are already clear enough, because of straightened family circumstances cannot stay with us much longer to under? take this office unless aided by your munificence: May it please You, that the sum of thirty pounds be granted to the said Solomon Lyon from the common Chest.'69 In a vain attempt to make ends meet he seems to have tried his hand at something quite different, for in May 1791 the London Gazette announced that Solomon Lyon and his partner Jonas Hart, 'late of Ratcliffe Highway, Middlesex, but now of Cambridge . . . Dealers, [and] Chapmen', had been declared bankrupt. They had to appear at the Hoop Inn in Bridge Street, Cambridge on 9, 19 and 25 June before their creditors,70 and in January the following year they received their certificate of discharge from bankruptcy.71 No other details exist, but there were so few Jews in Cambridge at this date that the bankrupt Solomon Lyon and the university teacher are likely to have been identical. The address in London may well refer only to Jonas Hart, who could have been a relation of Solomon's wife. There was indeed a Solomon Lyon in London around this date who has been understandably confused with Solomon Lyon of Cambridge. In 1794 he was an expert witness on Jewish marriage law at the celebrated case of Mendes Belisario v. Lindo, and his circumstances were surprisingly similar to those of Solomon Lyon of Cambridge: he was aged thirty-eight, had gained a rab? binical qualification eleven years before after studying at Prague, Frankfurt and Metz, and had had a school for more than three years at 7 Little Minories where he taught Hebrew.72 A man of this name was also the secretary of the New Synagogue in 1808.73 68 H. P. Stokes (see n. 35) 227. 69 University of Cambridge Grace Book A, p. 252 (December 1790). 70 PRO ZJ 1/89 {London Gazette 10-14 May 1791, p. 285). 71 PRO B 6/7 fo. 204. 72 Mendes Belisario v Mendes Belisario alias Lindo, (1795) case no. 6189, Process Books D146, Records of the Court of Arches. 73 A. Barnett, The Western Synagogue through Two Centuries (ij6i-ig6i) (London 1961) 77. 45</page><page sequence="16">C?Ml'08EJJ&amp; DMDJCIATJ?) TO fktnchw" Ifiutctie^ Shwsbury, i. Nathan. fjifol Mai /At// fh/trA,ttf tft/tt? Jt(thorCrc/ce/i?,Sou/AivoJ^LajidatFenliJsn'.r Marie (IfweAemsc fePJ&amp;Yitift *g SorosKA. \*} and Q$ Cu: hands aero** back stfr?fn,l Cutest of?*2 CtrUnd up a&gt;r?ln, sind hand* 6 round Plate 4 &amp; New Dances, 1808, by Isaac Nathan included Miss Lyons Hornpipe, Louisa's Fancy possibly refers to her sister. (By permission of The British Library. Shelfmark h.120.) 46</page><page sequence="17">Louisa's Fancy. 1* and S%} Cu\ &lt;ett and change I ides the fame buck ?jcain#Pou?ettc with the t\ und .1* C'ul Jess a my Bower. 1** Cn; Ma v(ot Rrct) on contrary ildc*t4nd turn Pari quite round down the middle, it|? again, and Swln}&gt; c ?rti? r.?t. 47</page><page sequence="18">Naomi Cream In Cambridge the university must have heard of Lyon's bankruptcy but did not hold it against him and in July 1791 offered him regular financial support: 'Since it seems to be in the interests of our Academy that it should not lack someone to pay care and attention to the teaching of the rudiments of the sacred language; and since the Jew Solomon Lyon who has already for two years proved his application, expertise and moral probity, complains that the reward of his labour in no way suffices to cover the requirements of himself and his family (especially during the long vacation): May it please You that there be granted to the said S. Lyon, for as long as he remains in good standing the sum of thirty pounds a year from your common chest.'74 It is difficult to judge the generosity of this sum, but for comparison Wil? liam Frend received ?150 a year in 1788 for his duties as Jesus College tutor75 (a much more demanding job than Lyon's) and also enjoyed the benefits of a fellowship. Later on, in 1802, the university authorized an increase in tutors' fees because of inflation: depending on his undergraduate status, a pupil paid either ?3, ?10 or ?40 a year to his college tutor.76 The years that followed were difficult for the country and no doubt for Lyon trying to support his enlarging family. The French wars started in 1793 and lasted for the next twenty-two years with only a short break. Between 1793 and 1815 there were general price increases of around 70 per cent77 and food shortages and high prices led to unrest. In Cambridge in 1795 the price of bread had to be reduced and a mob seized flour and meat and demanded a reduction in the price of meat. In September 1800 a public soup shop was set up, rice and peas were given away or sold at reduced prices and people rioted because of the price of corn. In December the Vice-Chancellor, twelve heads of colleges and thirty-nine other members of the university set a good example by swearing to abstain from pastry and to limit their bread consump? tion - although only as far as 'their respective healths would permit'.78 The next month an advertisement appeared in the local paper: Solomon Lyon sought a teacher for his academy to teach 'the English grammatically' and 'arithmetic, etc.'79This school is said to have been the first Jewish board? ing school in England80 and four years later it received favourable comment in a national periodical: 'There is, at present... in the town an academy for the Jews; and we should be happy to see the time, when they might be 74 University of Cambridge Grace Book (see n. 30). 75 F. Knight (see n. 33) 62. 76 P. Searby (see n. 46) 125. 77 H. V. Bowen, War and British Society (Cambridge 1988) 37. 78 C. Cooper (see n. 67) 454-5, 464-9. 79 Cambridge Chronicle 10 Jan. 1801. 80 J. Picciotto (see n. 9) 307. 4?</page><page sequence="19">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755?1820 permitted, not only to view the beef but to sup the broth'.81 Lyon himself probably taught Hebrew, Chaldean (Aramaic), Latin82 and German. In 1805-6 Isaac Nathan (1792-1864), the musician, was sent there from Canterbury when he was thirteen83 to be trained as a hazan (cantor). He did well at Hebrew, Chaldean, Latin, English, German and mathematics, but music was his favourite subject84 and when his violin practice woke everyone at four in the morning, his parents allowed him to leave for musical training in London.85 However, he kept up his association with the family and espe? cially its eldest daughter, Emma, for in 1808, the year he took up his appren? ticeship with Domenico Corri, he published 'Miss Lyon's Hornpipe'86 and later composed a song set to the words of her poem 'The Soldier's Farewell',87 which was sung by John Braham, the famous Jewish singer.88 The names of only two other pupils are known. One was Benjamin Cohen (1789-1867),89 the youngest son of Levi Barent Cohen, the wealthy and reli? giously observant London merchant. Benjamin became a broker, married Moses Montefiore's sister and was the father of Arthur Cohen, the distingu? ished lawyer. The other pupil was John Wagg (1793-1878)90 who became a broker and with his uncle founded the firm of Helbert, Wagg and Co., now Schr?ders, the merchant bank. Helbert and Wagg married respectively a daughter and granddaughter of Levi Barent Cohen.91 Meanwhile, Lloyd, the professor of Hebrew, was having a bad time. He was in the debtors' prison when he wrote to the Prime Minister, Pitt the Younger, in 1801. He began by saying that the salary of the Hebrew professor at Oxford had been raised to more than ?1000 per annum, which accounted for that university's greater proficiency in sacred literature, and he concluded: 81 Monthly Magagzine i April 1805, p. 234-5. 82 JfC 24 November 1871 (in Lucien Wolf papers, in former Mocatta Library). 83 Dictionary of Musicians (London 1824) 2:209. The entry was submitted by Nathan himself and gives an accurate year of birth. I am very grateful to Graham Pont, author of Muse Unruly: The Secret Life of Isaac Nathan (in preparation) for this and other information about Nathan. 84 S. Sadie (ed.) New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (London 1980); A. Barnett (see n. 72) 116; O. S. Phillips, Isaac Nathan, Friend of Byron (London 1940) 28; C. Mackerras, The Hebrew Melodist (Sydney 1963) 12. 85 C. Mackerras, ibid. 86 I. Nathan, Six New Dances, Composed and Dedicated to Monr. La Feuillade Dancing Master of Shrewsbury, London (1808). 87 E. Lyon, Miscellaneous Poems (Oxford 1812). 88 I. Nathan, The Soldier's Farewell, Composed by I. Nathan, sung by Mr. Braham . . . The words taken from Miss Emma Lyons Poems, London (1812). 89 C. Roth (see n. 38). 90 JfC 23 May 1879. 91 R. Roberts, Schr?ders: Merchants and Bankers (Basingstoke 1992) 356, 358. I am grateful to Christine Wagg for information about John Wagg. 49</page><page sequence="20">C/3 '? E 50</page><page sequence="21">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 'I have been for four months, after a painful struggle and without any extra? vagant, much less vicious propensities, a prisoner in the Fleet!' 92 Like Lloyd, Lyon needed money and by 1806 his creditors were pressing. At the last minute the university rewarded him with a substantial sum and a tribute: 'Since Samuel [sic] Lyon has applied himself for sixteen years to the instruction of young academics in Hebrew literature, and by his diligence, and scholarship and teaching skill has merited the testimonials of his students, lest all his goods be distrained on account of the debts which he has accumu? lated on account of his numerous offspring and his very small income; and his departure from Cambridge, which he is contemplating, is so beset with difficulties; May it please You, that one hundred pounds be granted from the common chest, and paid to his creditors by Master Chilcot.'93 School in Chelsea, 1806-08 Despite this, Lyon set off very soon after with his wife and about nine chil? dren for a risky venture in London. In about June 1806 he moved into what had once been a grand mansion - Ormonde House at the eastern end of Paradise Row, Chelsea.94 Paradise Row is now part of Royal Hospital Road and the house, which has gone, used to stand opposite the west gate of the Royal Hospital for veteran soldiers.95 The history of the house is well docu? mented.96,97 It was built in 1691, lived in by Lord Pelham at the beginning of the eighteenth century and took its name from its next occupant, the wife of the second Duke of Ormonde. It was in a pleasant spot with the Royal Hospital to the east, the Physic Garden to the west and the Thames three hundred yards away with views across to 'the meadows and windmills of Battersea and the slopes of Streatham'.98 By the time Lyon arrived the house was no longer a private dwelling, since it had been turned into an unusual school in 1779. This was the Maritime School, later the Naval Academy, for deserving boys intending to become officers in the Royal Navy. The house had been altered to accommodate twenty-six boys aged eleven to fourteen.99 Its most striking feature was the scaled replica of a fully rigged ship in the playground. The 'Cumberland', named after the school's president, the Duke of Cumberland, had all the 92 Aspinall (see n. 58). 93 University of Cambridge Grace Book A, p. 485 (May 1806). 94 Poor Law Records, Parish of St Luke, Chelsea, P74/LUK/19. 95 H. T. A. Bosanquet, 'The Maritime School at Chelsea', Mariner's Mirror VII:ii (1921) 328. 96 W. H. Godfrey, 'The Parish of Chelsea', in Survey of London (London 1909) 24, 27. 97 R. Blunt, Paradise Row (London 1906) 4, 98-106. 98 Ibid. 6. 99 A. Beaver, Memorials of Old Chelsea (London 1892) 240-1. 5i</page><page sequence="22">Naomi Cream Plate 6 Rear view of the school. (By permission of The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Libraries and Arts Service.) usual masts, sails and tackle and was large enough for twenty-four boys to go aloft at one time; it moved on swivels to mimic tacking or wearing. Other teaching aids included a battery of two six-pounders, an observatory and a rope house.100 The Maritime School proper closed in 1787, but the former mathematics master continued it under its new name of the Naval Academy until about 1805.101 Lyon arrived the following year, presumably with the intention of setting up his own school. It is surprising that he took on the responsibility of such a large establishment, but since he answered for the rates - which were among the highest in the parish - he must have been in charge. Perhaps he hoped to attract Jewish boys from well-off London families whose parents were reluctant to send them as far as Cambridge for their education. His main competitor in the provision of good-quality tuition would have been Hyman Hurwitz, whose academy in Highgate had opened in 1799. Nothing more is known about Lyon's school which ended in disaster, for in November 1807 one Thomas Norris sued him for a debt of about ?20. Standing bail were Joseph Lee, a hatter of Houndsditch, Isaac Isaacs, a china and glass warehouseman of Newington Causeway, and David Solomon Aaron, 100 R. Blunt (see n. 97) 101-2; H. T. A. Bosanquet (see n. 95) 322-5. 101 Poor Law Records (see n. 94); Chelsea Miscellany (cuttings book), vol. 9, 1102, Chelsea Public Library; H. T. A. Bosanquet (see n. 95) 327. 52</page><page sequence="23">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 a merchant of Fenchurch Street. Bankruptcy proceedings started in February 1808 against Lyon, who was described as a schoolmaster of Ormond House Academy, Chelsea,102 although in the subsequent announcement in the London Gazette he was called a chapman and dealer. (This term was often used loosely as a general description of occupation in order to qualify as a bankrupt instead of an insolvent debtor.) The creditor's meetings were sched? uled for March and April at the Guildhall.103 Just after this, on 7 May, unable to pay his debt, he followed professorial footsteps when he was committed to the notorious Fleet prison.104 He languished there for two months until he obtained his certificate of bankruptcy.105 On discharge he did not revive his school but left Chelsea that summer106 - with yet another child to feed and clothe.107 Newington Butts and 'Antique Medal', 1810 Two years later in 1810 he was still in London but at a less fashionable address. This was 87 Prospect Place, Newington Butts, Southwark, south of St George's Street, in the area now known as the Elephant and Castle. There was a local Jewish community and Nathan Henry's synagogue was close by.108 While there he published a scholarly work entitled Explanation of and Observations on an Antique Medal.im A labourer digging in a ruin near Hun? tingdon the year before had found a medal with a Hebrew inscription which had been acquired by Lyon. According to Lyon the inscription on one side read: 'The Lord is the keeper of Israel, the mighty king in Jerusalem'. There was a raised design of a cup containing manna, a mitre, a shofar and accom? panying Hebrew letters of significance. The other side read: 'The shekel of David left in the treasury of Zion in the temple', and had a relief of the rod of Aaron sprouting branches, an urn of sacred oil and a king's crown, again with associated letters. Some people told Lyon that the medal was a forgery, but he disagreed and decided to publish his conclusions because such interest had been shown in the subject. He wrote for both a Christian and a Jewish readership - in a passage which incidentally demonstrates his command of English: 'There is no subject that requires a greater exercise of the intellectual faculties than the 102 PROB4/28 no. 112. 103 PRO ZJ 1/120 (London Gazette 23-7 February 1808). 104 PRO PRIS/1/23, p. 207, no. 12,875. 105 PROPRIS 3/11. 106 Poor Law Records (see n. 94); not in midsummer rate book (16 June 1808). 107 1861 Census, PRO RG 9/106 fo. 76. 108 V. D. Lipman, 'A Survey of Anglo-Jewry in 1851', Trans jfHS E XVII (1953) 177. 109 S. Lyon, Explanation of and Observations on an Antique Medal (London 1810). 53</page><page sequence="24">Naomi Cream Plate 7 Lyon's medal (left), Hottinger's medal (below) and a modern plastercast in the British Museum of a privately owned silver medal (above). (The detail from H?ningens treatise by permission of The British Library. Shelfmark 686.1.8.) inquiry into the origin of medals and coins... the Hebrew abounds with figurative and allegorical expressions. To explore the extent, and to fathom the depth of this sacred tongue, falls to the lot of few. To those who are intended for holy orders, this attainment becomes a secondary consideration; as to them, the important vocation of assiduously pursuing the study of the Latin and Greek is of more immediate consequence.' He described his pursuit of information: he went to the library of the Royal Institution, then, as now, in Albemarle Street, where he found a treatise in Latin on Hebrew coins by Hottinger (a Swiss Christian Hebraist of the seven? teenth century) in one of the volumes of a thirty-four-volume collection.110 The illustration accompanying the treatise showed a medal with an identical inscription apart from the omission of one word. He obtained permission to view the original at the British Museum, where to his surprise he found there had been no mistake about the missing word. After complex analysis of the Hebrew and the symbols, which included the attribution of numerical values 110 H. Hottinger, 'Dissertation de Variis Orientalium Inscriptionibus', in Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum ... (Venice 1765) mccx-mccclxxvi. 54</page><page sequence="25">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 to letters in order to calculate dates, he deduced that the medal was a shekel struck for the royal treasury 'by the express order of king David'. Sadly, modern opinion on the origin of the medal is less exciting.111 Lyon's find was a religious medal derived from the shekel struck by the Jews in the first revolt against Rome in 66-70 CE. An identical one in silver was shown at the British Museum at the beginning of the last century. Such medals were used as talismans and mostly carried by Jews, often found in England and struck there as well as in other places such as Italy. In the light of present-day certainty that Hottinger's medal was from the late Renaissance period, about 1650, Lyon was unwise to be so scathing about Hottinger's literal translation of the inscriptions and his uncertainty about its age when he wrote: 'The injudicious observations which he has made are but too evident a proof that the subject of which he was speaking exceeded the limits of his acquirements'. Oxford and Eton, c. 1812 Soon after the publication of this book Lyon must have gone to teach at Oxford. Although his appointment is not recorded in the university arch? ives,112 he was probably privately employed by colleges or individuals, as at Cambridge. It is likely to have been before 1812 because in that year his daughter Emma published her book of poems at Oxford and it had many Oxford subscribers, although she wrote the preface from London.113 Hebrew studies and the pattern of education at Oxford were similar to those at Cambridge. Reform started at the beginning of the nineteenth cen? tury, but there had probably been little change by the time of Lyon's arrival. As at Cambridge, most students were destined for the Church.114 During the eighteenth century Hebrew scholarship had been at 'a low ebb, and its Jewish exponents were few and fickle',115 although there had been some notable Christian Hebraists. The quality of some of the eighteenth-century Hebrew poems composed for official occasions was high, and overall the poems were better than those from Cambridge.116 Around this time and therefore possibly overlapping with Lyon, three members of the small Jewish community taught 111 I am indebted to Martin Price, late of the Department of Coins and Medals, British Museum, for this information (1990). 112 Personal communication from Simon Bailey, Oxford University Archives (1994). 113 E. Lyon (see n. 87). 114 V. H. H. Green, 'The University and Social Life', in L. S. Sutherland and L. G. Mitchell (eds) The History of the University of Oxford (Oxford 1986) vol. 5, 'The Eighteenth Century', 310. 115 C. Roth, 'Jews in Oxford', Oxoniensia 15 (1950) 69. 116 D. Patterson, 'Hebrew Studies', in M. G. Brook and M. C. Curthoys (eds) The History of the University of Oxford (Oxford 1997), Nineteenth Century Part I, vol. VI, 539-41; 546-9. 55</page><page sequence="26">Naomi Cream Hebrew in Oxford.117 Not much is known about two of them, Sailman and Strassburg, but the third was H. V. Bolaffey, who was a tutor at Eton and published two grammars.118 Lyon's daughter had been forced to publish her poems because of a new disaster affecting the family. Her father had developed cataracts and become blind, threatening the family with poverty. She wrote: 'The piercing thorns which still spring in our rugged path, force me to yield to the glaring eye of day the employment of my lonely hours. It is the only means in my power of contributing to the support of a large family, the object of my tenderest solicitude . . . these compositions are the production of a young female, whom necessity, not choice, has forced thus publicly to appear.'119 Lyon's loss of sight continued for more than three years. It was restored in about 1815 after the operation of couching,120 an unpleasant procedure performed without anaesthetic. The patient, having had some drops of opium in a little wine beforehand if he were especially nervous, and perhaps a little bloodletting, sat in a chair opposite the surgeon, who inserted a needle into the eye and displaced the cataract downwards, but did not remove it.121 The large number of subscribers to a book they had not seen suggests knowledge of the family and compassion for its plight. There were about 360 subscribers, half of whom were members of Oxford and Cambridge universit? ies. Oxford (possibly because her father had taught there more recently) pro? vided slightly more subscribers than Cambridge. The book was dedicated, with her permission, to Princess Charlotte, who was living at Windsor at the time. The Prince Regent, three of his brothers (but not the Duke of Sussex), and one of his sisters were also subscribers. There was an interesting group of thirty-one people from the 'Friends of Foreigners in Distress' in London, many with German or Dutch-sounding non-Jewish surnames, for whom Emma had composed poems. There were twenty-five names from Eton Col? lege, Eton and Windsor. There were only twenty-seven recognizably Jewish names, mostly from London. Joseph Crool, a Jew who went from Leicester to Cambridge to teach Hebrew after Lyon left,122 took two copies. Once Lyon could see again, he was able to continue with the preparation for publication of his second Hebrew grammar. He had published an earlier 117 D. M. Lewis, The Jews of Oxford (Oxford 1992) 8-9; C. Roth (see n. 115) 76-7. 118 C. Roth, 'Two Livornese Jews in England: Michael Bolaffi, Musician and Hayim Vita Bolaffey, Linguist', Trans JHSE XVI (1952) 224-5. 119 E. Lyon (see n. 87) viii-ix. 120 S. Lyon, A Theological Hebrew Grammar and Lexicon, entitled, a key to the Holy Tongue, etc. (A compendious Chaldaic Grammar) (Liverpool 1815) preface. 121 S. Cooper, Critical Reflections on several Important Practical Points relative to the Cataract. . . . (London 1805) 122; J. Ware, Observations on the cataract and gutta percha (London 1812) 321. 122 Cambridge Chronicle 15 November 1806. 56</page><page sequence="27">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 one, called A Compendious Hebrew Grammar, in 1799.123 It was probably that work which he sold to the Junior Bursar of Trinity College, Cambridge, for 1 os 6d during the academic year 1799-80.124 Another copy was probably 'the sheet Hebrew Grammar which ... for many years hung on the wall of the library of Cambridge University. . . .'125 One of several Hebrew grammars published during the period by both Christians and Jews, it has disappeared from the Cambridge University Library and cannot be found in other major English collections. The second work had substantial pre-publication backing. The Gentleman ys Magazine announced in June 1815 that the four volumes were in Valpy's press in London, and that the first volume would be the grammar.126 Lyon himself made a similar announcement the next month from Cheltenham.127 It is therefore surprising that the book was eventually published in Liverpool in the same year - perhaps connected to his brother's residence there128 - and that only the first part, the grammar, can be found. The heralded second part or lexicon announced on the title page, and called The Gate of Heaven in the preface (although this title also seems to refer to the whole work), does not appear to have been published. Partial explanation is given where Lyon writes that the loss of his sight had prevented the completion of his book on time. Against this is the fact that the book seems to have been near completion five years earlier, because on the title page of his book on the antique medal in 1810 he states that he is the author of a Hebrew grammar and lexicon called The Gate of Heaven. The subscription list was headed by the Duke of Sussex (1773-1843), by then a supporter of Anglo-Jewish causes, to whom Lyon dedicated the book, writing: 'Your Royal Highness having added to your numerous branches of knowledge that of the Hebrew language - your pious endeavours in diffusing the contents of the Holy Bible through all quarters of the globe. . . .' Lyon, possibly on recommendation of Solomon Herschell, the Chief Rabbi at the time,129 is said (by Picciotto, though direct corroboration is lacking) to have taught Hebrew to the duke,130 who in later years used to read a portion of 123 'Grammar, Hebrew' in Jewish Encyclopedia (see n. 4) vol. VI; Gentleman's Magazine 1820, II:283 124 I am grateful to Jonathan Smith, Manuscript Cataloguer, Trinity College Library, for this information. 125 JfC 6 June 1879, letter from Alexander Henry, son of Emma Lyon. 126 Gentleman's Magazine June 1815, p. 541. 127 Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Advertiser 20 July 1815. 128 A. E. Franklin, Records of the Franklin Family (London 1935) 96. The brother is named as 'Rev. Samuel Lyon', but his correct name appears to have been Nathan Lyon. I am grateful to Mr J. Wolfman for this information. 129 H. Simons, Forty Years a Chief Rabbi (London 1980) 62. 130 J. Picciotto (see n. 9) 307. 57</page><page sequence="28">Naomi Cream i3ithe Bible every day in Hebrew.131 Lyon could have been the first of the several Jews with whom the duke studied. Many other prominent people were subscribers. The Prince Regent and three royal dukes headed the list, followed by thirty-four assorted peers, bishops, churchmen and knights, who included Sir Joseph Banks, the explorer and naturalist, and Spencer Perceval, the statesman and Prime Min? ister. Perceval's name confirms the long gestation of the book, because he had been assassinated three years earlier. Of the 300 subscribers who can be iden? tified there were roughly 200 Christians and 75 Jews. Oxford University had 88 subscribers, Cambridge University 43 and Eton College 20; the rest were from London, English provincial cities and towns and from Dublin. There were about 170 churchmen, mostly from the two universities, forming the majority of the Christian subscribers. Jews made up about a quarter of the total who subscribed; most were from London, but there was a handful from Bideford, Bath, Plymouth, Sheffield and Liverpool and a small group from Surinam and Jamaica. The most famous Jewish name was N. M. Rothschild. Although there were relatively few Jewish subscribers, the grammar was later named several times in the record of Jewish education compiled for the Chief Rabbi, Nathan Adler, in 1845, which suggests that it was studied by Jews.132 (In contrast to this unsurprising use of the book, it is interesting to speculate why the East India Company needed its copy, now in the British Library.) Lyon was probably pleased to be able to announce in his advertisements and on the title page of his book that he was a teacher of Hebrew at Eton College as well as at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge. After 1812 he is described as the 'Rev.' Solomon Lyon, an unofficial title giving him added status and denoting respect and esteem and perhaps referring to past rabbinic training. Although at Eton - where the new boys were called 'Jews' and bullied133 - the archives do not list him, he must have been one of the private tutors employed by parents to add extra subjects to the restricted Classical curriculum. The college has a copy of his grammar in its library.134 It may have been at Eton that Lyon taught the Duke of Wellington's son, Arthur Richard Wellesley, Lord Douro (1807-1884),130 who was a pupil there between about 1818 and 1824.135 The first Duke of Wellington wrote that he wished his sons to have a 'finished classical education' and that his own unfinished schooling had been a source of deeply felt regret.136 The second 131 Ibid. 278. 132 D. M. Lewis (see n. 117) 9. 133 C. Hollis, Eton (London i960) 232-4. 134 Letters from Patrick Strong, Eton College Archivist (1980) and P. R. Quarrie, Eton College Librarian (1987). 135 G. H. White (ed.) Complete Peerage XILII (London 1959) 458. 136 J. Wilson, A Soldier's Wife: Wellingtons Marriage (London c. 1987) 101. 5?</page><page sequence="29">Revd Solomon Lyon of Cambridge, 1755-1820 Duke of Wellington certainly knew Hebrew, because he owned and used a well-worn Hebrew pocket Bible, but the Wellington archives have no information about his association with Lyon.137 The feeder preparatory school for Eton, Temple Grove School in East Sheen, London, attended by the Duke of Wellington's sons,138 did not teach Hebrew, but there was at least one preparatory school which did. At a small private school - King's House Academy near Portsmouth - little boys sat down at 6 am twice a week to learn Hebrew. Their headmaster believed that although many were prejudiced against its study, Hebrew was 'the most effec? tual means to possess a learned education . . . Hebrew was easier to learn than Greek and Latin and could even be started before them, and the requisite grammar could be condensed onto a single sheet.'139 In his promotion of Hebrew the headmaster agreed wholeheartedly with the Bishop of St David's in Wales, Thomas Burgess (1756-1837) - also a subscriber to Lyon's grammar - who crusaded to improve the training of Welsh clergy, whom he had found to be 'ill educated, careless of their duties, often drunken and immoral'.140 Burgess advocated teaching Hebrew, although not everyone may agree with his opinion of how easy it was: 'You may acquire the Hebrew language, and read the Bible through in its original, in less time than you can learn to play, with tolerable dexterity, any single game at cards . . . you will attain to the reading of the Hebrew Bible with as little pains, as a boy takes to whip his top, or play dexterously, at marbles.'141 A roving life in the provinces: Cheltenham, 1815 After the restoration of his sight, Lyon continued his itinerant life, no doubt still short of money. In 1815 he was in Cheltenham, soon after his eye opera? tion and prior to the publication of his grammar, advertising his special method of teaching Hebrew. Cheltenham was then a spa with a small Jewish community, but his advertising was directed towards the Christian majority. After the first lesson any pupil of Lyon's would be able to read Hebrew accurately and after another eleven two-hour lessons he or she would know the grammar. Lyon gave the lessons in his genteel private apartment or in 137 I am grateful to Georgina Stonor, Archivist to the Duke of Wellington, for this information. 138 M. Batchelor, Cradle of the Empire (London 1981) 4. 139 J. Shoveller, An Address on the excellency and facility of the Hebrew Language, etc. . . . (Southampton 1811); An Essay on the most effectual methods of advancing youth in scholastic education . . . (Portsea 1815); Scholastic education: or, a synopsis of the studies recommended. . . (Portsmouth 1824). 140 DNB. 141 T. Burgess, Motives to the Study of Hebrew (Carmarthen 1809) 20. 59</page><page sequence="30">m m m S5 O Q *?&lt; w Q S5 ?&lt; -&lt; ?&lt; cs o I * 1 ? t* mil Mill mt Hi: .?"522 0w 2341 * &lt;2 S * ii hip 1 J ? fills 5| * i Ii;. I i 11 5 i * I &lt; I Ii? 5 i ? I I I * I I 6o</page><page sequence="31">m u &lt;U rS *C u C? -? c a S o Cu e o o 4t J J? c x? s * g 3 &lt;3 ? SS I sr.* J ? J &amp; ? eil ?jfiiW|-&amp; 1 WM Hp IfS&amp;lU In I &lt;/l www? s fc w* S 'S Ph?S i fr I ? ? e !??? II -s^Sl SbJB 11 iL* J % es J 1 13 5=25 iL ^U^ijlftmft.? n mAiC* ?Iii iJ * |g|| Iff yfiMJ?fisawsa?^iu,-^ | -g e &amp; ssi? nigii, 11 (111111 i 11 I ? 1 si &amp; *s o JG vrs 00 sf * I'^l^ls^ |J Hi* ?b3*5l *$s I ? Sgft" '141 |&gt;? I *j?^? ? s-3 ?oJg I i l?IH!^l11lll^IlH! ^ 6i</page><page sequence="32">Naomi Cream his pupils' homes and he was also willing to visit local boarding schools. He claimed experience of teaching at several classical schools in town and country as well as at Eton.142 At this time Lyon catered for prosperous Christians who wanted to be able to read the Bible in its original tongue, but Hebrew was still out of fashion at the universities. An anonymous author, writing about Cambridge in the 1820s, thought that although Hebrew was encouraged more than it had been fifty years before, it was still neglected: 'a man who has a little Greek, and a little less Latin, is thought a very clever fellow; but you may be more convers? ant with Hebrew than a rabbi, or an old-clothesman, and no one will value you a whit the higher for it'.143 The well-to-do were not the only ones who wished to learn Hebrew, as the following story illustrates. In Darlington, in the county of Durham, in 1809, a small group of 'very humble' Christians met three times a week to translate the Bible from Hebrew. Their leader and teacher was a skinner and furrier who had seized on the outcome of a chance meeting with a Jew. This came about when the Jew, who was travelling to Darlington, came across a poor man on the road, who was very ill with a liver complaint. The Jew sought out the skinner, who was renowned for his medical ability, and asked him to treat the sick man. The skinner agreed and asked for payment in the form of Hebrew lessons. These he received, taking four weeks to learn Hebrew, which was a week longer than he took to cure the patient.144 Bristol, 1817 Lyon turns up next in Bristol in 1817, where there was an established Jewish community. At the end of the year he was advertising for pupils,145 although this time he offered a course of twenty-four lessons of unspecified duration. Bath, 1818 He must have been unsuccessful in Bristol because by the next month he had moved a short distance to Bath. Perhaps he hoped for more luck from pros? perous visitors and inhabitants of the fashionable spa or from the local Jewish 142 Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Advertiser 20 July 1815. His address was 2 St James's St; B. Torode, The Hebrew Community of Cheltenham (Gloucester and Stroud 1989) 17, 36. 143 Letter