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Some Historical Notes, 1648-1680

C. H. Firth

<plain_text><page sequence="1">SOME HISTORICAL NOTES, 1648-1680. SUMMARY OF A PAPER BY C. H. FIRTH. At the time of the King's trial, that is, at the end of December 1648, certain officers of the army, in their general council, passed a resolution which was held at the time to imply the readmission of the Jews to England. It was probably a vote of toleration, general in character, and implicitly including the Jewish people. Evidence of the vote may be found in a speech delivered in January 1649 by William Erbury, army chaplain, who observed that no purpose would be effected in allowing the Jews to come back to England, if they were not given the right to exercise their religion. The rumour of some vote passed by the Council of Officers in favour of the Jews, or the knowledge that the general feeling of the Army was favourable to their readmission, no doubt accounts for the fact that in the same month a petition was presented to the Council of Officers, praying for the repeal of the (supposed) statute banishing the Jews from the realm. It was pre? sented by a woman named Johanna Cartwright, and her son, Ebenezer Cartwright, both residents in Amsterdam, and was immediately printed in a quarto pamphlet. In this pamphlet it is stated that the petition was favourably received by the Council, " with a promise to take into speedy consideration when the present more publick affairs are de? spatched." So favourable was the attitude of the Army at the time, that the statement that it had actually repealed the laws against the Jews, was accepted among the Royalist exiles on the Continent as an indisputable fact. The feeling in favour of the readmission of the Jews was not confined to the Army. It existed also in the Navy of the Commonwealth, which in political and religious temper was in close agreement with the Army. In a newspaper of the time there is an account of a conversation which some English sailors had with 194</page><page sequence="2">SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. 195 Jews, concluding with an aspiration that the latter would soon be permitted to return in peace to England (see Appendix I. below). It is clear from these different indications that there was a tolerably widespread feeling in favour of the readmission of the Jews, and that this feeling existed outside the narrow circle of more or less distinguished and enlightened persons who advoc ited their cause in print. In 1652 the Jews were, for instance, holding prayer-meetings in Hackney (see Appendix II. below). Except amongst the merchants who were their rivals in trade, and amongst theologians, the hostility against the proposal to tolerate them in England was not so great as sometimes represented. What effect did the favour shown to the Jews by Oliver Cromwell have upon the attitude of the Royalists'? Charles II. was not troubled by theological scruples, and when he heard that Cromwell was about to readmit the Jews into England, it at once occurred to him to promise similar concessions in return for substantial pecuniary support. In September 1656 Charles sent General Middleton on a mission to the city of Dantzig and the King of Poland, to raise money from the numerous Scottish merchants in Poland. On his way, Middleton was instructed to stop at Amsterdam and endeavour to raise a loan from the Jews there (see Appendix III. below), but Middleton's negotiations did not lead to any practical result. Mr. Firth also cited Thomas Violet's remonstrance (cfated August 10, 1660), in which he prayed that the property of the Jews should be confiscated, because they had returned to this country without per? mission. He advised that the property should first be seized, and that they should be caught whilst at prayer on the Sabbath morning, and then imprisoned until they should be ransomed by their rich brethren abroad. He added, however, that he expected a tenth part of the proceeds of this undertaking. The original of Violet's petition is to be found in Carte MSS., vol. xxxi. f. 19, in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Appendices IV. and V. contain accounts of the position of the Jews with regard to the English Government during the English rule in Tangiers. (The curious typography of the originals has, in some cases, been retained.)</page><page sequence="3">196 SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. APPENDIX. I. THE LETTER FROM LEGHORN. From Leaghorne came as followeth, viz.;? Sir,?The twelfth of this month wee came to Leaghorne, we have cause to Messe God for his goodnesse, that wee are yet 'preserved, for ive have had very sad weatlier, and a very long passage. We have great cause to rejoyce that the Lord carries on the endeavours of his people, to long after the good of the poor blind Jews. We cannot but pray for them, not vilify them, as is the course of most men. Some of us were desirous to see their Synagogue ; and comming, they were at their Service. But their glory ive forbtar to mention, Their Lamps, their Candle? sticks, their Myters, their Bells, Aaron's Bells they say. We spake to one that could speak a little English, a very grave proper man, and, asked him the meaning of such and such things. And we, as ive durst, spake of the Messias, and his actings: But he said, the Messias was not come. Moreover, the Jews, said hee, are naughty men now; but they shall bee good. We asked when, they said it is about ten years first. They long to hear that England will tolerate them. Surely the promise of Jehovah will be performed, and he will give them favour in all nations. 0 that England may not be slack herein. Shall they be tolerated by the pope, and by the Duke of Florence, by the Turks, and by the Barbarians and others, and shall England still have laws in force against them, ? When shall they bee re-called ? Truely we are persuaded that the Antichristian state must have a great fall, before their conversion. O that the poor Jews might have a toleration to come into England out of her. That they may be succoured in that terrible day (Rev. xviii. 4). Blessed be God that mdketh men in poxcer to countenance the work of the Lord. It is the designe of the enemies of God to make his people fall out one with another, but we hope God will frustrate their designes herein. We can tell you no newes, &amp;c. The letter is signed " J. W., T. A., G. M., J. B., &amp;c." and is endorsed " Leaghorn, from aboard the Phoenix, the 19th of the first month, March 1652."</page><page sequence="4">SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. 197 II. PRAYER-MEETING IN HACKNEY. Mr. Firth quoted a statement from Perfect Proceedings (E, 842, 6) to the effect that "this day [June 2, 1655] some Jews were seen to meet in Hackney?it being their Sabbath day?at their devotion, all very clean and neat, in the corner of a garden by a house, all of them with their faces towards the East, their minister foremost, and all the rest behind him." [The passage has been since quoted, at Mr. Firth's suggestion, by S. R. Gardiner, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, vol. iii. p. 216, note 2. Gardiner held that the statement "may safely be rejected."] III. GENERAL MIDDLETON'S MISSION. C. H. Firth's Scotland and the Protectorate (Scottish History Society, vol. xxxi.), 1899, pp. 342-4. CCLXIV. Additional Instruction to Lieut-General J/iddleton. [From Egerton MS., 2542.] Sept. . Charles by the grace, etc. To our trusty and well-beloved servant, Lt. Gen. John Middleton, Lt. Gen. of all our forces raysed or to be raysed within our Kingdome of Scotlande, and for reduction of that our Kingdome to her obedyince, and dryving out and suppressinge our Rebells ther: Whereas you have represented to us the good affection which some principle persons of the Hebrew Nacion resyding in Amsterdam have expressed to you towards our service, and that they have assured you that the application which hath bene lately made to Crumwell on ther behalfe by some persons of that nacion hath been without ther consent, and is utterly disavowed by them, and they are desirous by all offices to expresse ther good will to us and desyre our reestablishment. Wee do heareby appointe you to lett them know how gratiously wee accepte these ther professyons, and that wee are very farr from that preiudice to them as to looke on them as enimyes, and that wee shall be gladd to receave any such evidence of ther affection to us as may be an argument in better times to us to avow and declare our resolutions in ther favour. And wee do heareby give you full power and authority to treate with such of the principle persons of that nacion who for ther interest and discretion are most fitt to be trusted in an affayre of such importance, and to assure them that if they</page><page sequence="5">198 SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. shall in this coniuncture he ready by any contributions of mony, Armes, or Ammunicion to advance that service with which wee have intrusted you, they shall finde that when God shall restore us to the possession of our rights and to that power which of right doth belonge to us, wee shall extende that protection to them which they can reasonably expecte, and abate that rigour of the Lawes which is against them in our severall dominions, and you shall tell them that if in these our streights, when by our coniuncture with Spayne they cannot but looke upon our affayres as in a hopefull condicion, they shall lay a signal obligacion upon us, it will not only dispose us to be gratious to them, and to be willinge to protecte them, but be a morall assurance to them that wee shall be able to do whatsoever wee shall be willinge when we can iustly publish and declare to all men how much wee have bene beholdinge to them, and how farr they have con? tributed towards our restoration, which no doubt will by all who are well affected to us be valued as it ought to be. And wee do likewise give you full power and authority to receave all summes of mony, Armes, or Ammuni? tion as they shall be willinge to furnish you, and acknowledgement under your hande shall oblige us to the repayment of the same as soone as wee shall be able in the same manner as if the same were deliuered to ourselfe, and for what you shall do in pursuance of this our Commissyon this shall be your warrant. Given at Bruges, ye 24th Sept. 1656, 8? Beg.1 [In No. CCLXIII. just before given at Bruges the same day the Instructions to Middleton say he is to use this commission to the Jews in such manner as upon their behaviour to him he shall judge fit. If he finds their professions to be only general, and not like to be applied to any present advantage for the carrying on the King's service, he is to recjui q" them only with as general expressions.] IY. JEWS IN TANGIERS UNDER ENGLISH RULE IN 1675. From a letter to " His Grace the Lord Chancellor of Ireland," by G. P., dated Tangier, Sept. 29, 1675, and printed in The Present State of Tangier (London, 1676), the following passages (pp. 41 seq.) referring to the position of the Jews in Tangier during the English rule are extracted :? Among the Inhabitants there are some few of several Nations, as French, Spanish, Portugueses, Italians, and divers Jews both of Barbary and Europe, 1 In Sir Edward Hyde's handwriting.</page><page sequence="6">SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. 199 who are great Dealers in Trade, and have their several Synagogues within the Town : I say, several, for although they agree in the common Reading and Veneration of the five Books of Moses, their Denial of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and their Hatred to Christians; yet they are not free from their little Schisms, as appears by a passage since my coming hither, which may perhaps be worth the relating. On the 9th of July last, a Petition was presented to the Governour by Joseph Artnitel, Samuel Mexias,'Joseph Benjamin, and Moses Benazara, in the name of the Barbary-Jews residing in Tangier, setting forth that Abraham Cohen, an Amsterdam-Jew, did continually affront, molest, and disquiet them, that they could not attend their Callings: whereupon Abraham Cohen, and the European-Jews, being summoned, and the matter heard, it appeared that they were on both sides in Faction and Fire, for that the said Abraham Cohen and his Fellows did drink Wine, and traded in Swines-Flesh ; for which cause the Tangier-Jews had made their complaint to the Sabios of Tetuan, who had actually Excommunicated the said Cohen and the rest: but the Governour perceiving knavery in the business, and that the inhibiting the European-Jews to bring Pork into the Town might be out of design to hinder the bringing in of Provisions; and that their Appeal to the Moorish Jews in Tetuan, and the publishing of an Excommunication, was a very great presumption, and an affront to His Majesties Government ; commanded the Barbary-Jews within a few days to dissolve the Excommunication, and to renounce the authority of Tetuan, or any other Power, but of the King of England; or else he would turn them and their Families out of Town: which took good effect, caused a Peace among them, and no more was heard of it. The following Address was made to the Mayor of Tangier by Abraham Cohen, &lt;hc.;? Forasmuch as certain Tetuan-Jews, who at present are residing in this City of Tangier, have given out, that they have a Decree from the Sabios of Tetuan, by which they do Excommunicate all and whatsoever Jew and Jews, who shall joyn in Communion with Abraham Cohen to say their Prayers; We the Under-written, do supplicate, that they may give us a copy of the said Decree, to the end we may not fall into a Praemunire, and to amend our selves in case we have failed, and to undergo that chastisement which shall be due to us in conformity to the Law of Moses. Upon an Order from the Mayor, the Decree was produced; which, for the satisfaction of your Grace, who may be pleased with such a curiosity, I have set down, as it was Translated out of the Hebrew Language into English. Tangier this 21 of tamos Anno 5435. Abraham Cohen, Jaacob Cohen, Jacob Del Canio, Isaac de Mexias.</page><page sequence="7">200 SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. To the Holy Congregation of the City of Tangier, whom oxir Lord preserve, Amen. After having desired your joint Peace, Peace he unto you, your Fellow helpers, and all those who are joined with you, Amen. We send this unto you, by reason of one we received from you complaining in what manner Abraham Cohen treats you, of his Abuses, and what he hath done to your Congregation; and if this be so as appears by your Letter, it is a sign that he is not of the seed of Aaron the High Priest, loving Peace and persecuting it, and endeavouring to have Differences at Law with them; and it is not a new thing with him to desire the continuance of Law-Suits wheresoever he lives, but also to fasten them on others; and thus lie made his Disturbances in Sally, and separated a House of Prayer for himself, and in the end pretended to confirm ivhat the Learned say, Every House of Prayer that is not designed to a good intention, cannot be confirmed : But on his side it signifies little what he can do unto you, for that we once, by reason of the complaints you made, used our utmost diligence to set you tip a House of Prayer, that so you might have no Communication with him ; and yet you do join and meet vnth him ; now you seek after him, you have no reason to complain: Yet notwithstanding all this, if sufficient Testimonies shall come, signed by those that are not concerned on either side, we will do unto him here what the Law requires : But without this, by reason of the evil Offices that you say he hath done, and does you, and for things he d th contrary to the Law, as drinking of Wine, making profit of those things which he cannot do according to Law, and acting several things of the like nature, We order, That no Jew enter into his House of Prayer to pray with him., much less rehearse the Ten Commandments with him ; and whosoever shall enter into his House of Prayer to pray with him, and rehearse the Ten Commandments with him, he is Excommunicated by the Justice of Heaven and Earth : And the same Excommunication reaches any one whatsoever that shall drink of the said Wine, make any profit thereof, or of goods of the like nature ;1 and whosoever shall do any thing of what is above recited, and, break our Order, there shall be used to him, the same as is usual to those persons that are Excommunicated, No Jew shall speak to him, much less shall he come within four cubits of him, and he cannot be esteemed jor one of the Ten. We say no more. Tituan, the 18 of Sinan, 5435 Jacob Aboab. Isaac Bivas. 1 There are obviously some errors in this translation. In date, for Sinan read Sivan. The " goods of like nature " possibly correspond to the Hebrew dabar acker, which would rather mean " pork." Cf. p. 199, line 14, above.</page><page sequence="8">SOME HISTORICAL NOTES. 201 Y. JEWS IN TANGIERS UNDER LORD TEYIOT'S REGIME. The Moores Baffled, being a Discourse concerning Tanger (London, 1681), describes the Earl of Teviot's policy while in charge of affairs there. On p. 20:? But ere I proceed, give me leave to acquaint you with the Earls singular carefulness to carry an equal hand in all Controversies that happened betwixt the Christians and those Jews that were residing upon the place. He was no stranger to the ill-nature of the latter, and how it was their Interest to favour the concerns of the Moors: as being (the most of them) born amongst them, and greatly sympathized in their customs. Besides, many of them were only come to Tanger to Trade, having left their Wives and Children in the Moors Dominions. But besides that, both by Nature and Religion, he was inclined to an Impartial Justice; he knew that to do otherwise, would soon open the Mouth of a clamarous Jew, loudly to traduce him to the Moors. And thereby instil an ill opinion both of his Person and Religion.</page></plain_text>