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The Strayings of Paul Isaiah in England (1651-1656)

Wilfred S. Samuel

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Strayings of Paul Isaiah in England, 1651-16561 By Wilfred S. Samuel, F.S.A., F.R.Hist.S. On the 21 st August, 1663, Mr. Elias Ashmole, the antiquary (whose memory the University of Oxford still keeps green) was walking in and around St. Chad's Church at Shrewsbury when he noticed a seven-year-old tombstone bearing an English epitaph which ended with four Hebrew letters. The use of Hebrew in epitaphs was not uncommon then in England, and Mr. Ashmole was a student of the language, his teacher having been a convert from Judaism, one Solomon Franco, as has been elsewhere related.2 Moreover, this appeared to be the grave of just such another convert, and so Ashmole made a careful copy of the inscription in a notebook already half-full of jottings from churches in Shropshire. This book has been preserved as MS. Ashmole 854 and this is his entry (p. 201) :? 21 Aug. 1663. Shrewsbury. St. Chadds Church wch stands E.B.E. on a grave-stone at the West end of the Church, neere the dore. Mr. Paul Isaiah, a learned Jew, con verted to the Faith : buried Mar : 21. 1656. nnVt If Mr. Ashmole made further inquiry on the spot about this " learned Jew " he may have heard that the dead man was a chance traveller, aged only thirty, who peddled books dealing with the conversion of the Jews (his own included) and that a fellow convert?also young, but less learned?travelled with him and was perhaps responsible for the concluding Hebrew of the epitaph, which stands for ?ichrono Lehaye-Haolom Haba 3 [(May) the memory of him (be preserved in) the life of the world to come.] Ashmole may also have inspected the corresponding entry, still extant, in St. Chad's Register of Burials,4 and he would, of course, have known? what we do not, for the building collapsed in 1788?whether the grave of the ex-Jew was inside or outside the church. Some months before, the two converts had passed through Dursley in Gloucester? shire, which lies some seventy miles south of Shrewsbury, and a most unedifying account of their doings there appeared early in 1656 in William Prynne's A Short Demurrer to the Jewes Long discontinued Remitter into England. Lucien Wolf shrank from printing this in his Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell written in Victorian times, and he merely gave the reference (at p. xlii). Nowadays we have stronger stomachs and so here is the actual passage :? p. 73. "... if extraordinary care be not taken herein, under pretext of Jews, we shall have many hundreds of Jesuits, Popish Priests and Friers come over freely into England . . . they having formerly sent over some of late years amongst us, under the notion and vizard of converted Jews, as Ramsey the Scot, and Eleazer, and Joseph ben Isaiah, all Jesuitical, wicked, cheating impostors : the two last whereof, have cheated the honest people of the 1 Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England on 20th December, 1938. 2 Miscellanies of the Jew. Hist. Soc., Part III, p. 9, footnotes 7 and 8. 3 Ashmole's copy of Isaiah's epitaph was printed, but without the Hebrew, in 1718 by John le Neve in his Monumenta Anglicana, Vol. II, p. 49, as well as in 1825 in Hugh Owen and J. B. Blakeway, History of Shrewsbury, Vol. II, p. 263. 4 W. G. D. Fletcher, Shropshire Parish Registers (Diocese of Lichfield, Vol. XV), St. Chad's, Shrewsbury (Shrewsbury, 1913), Vol. I, p. 263. 1656. Mar. 21, Mr. Pauli Isaiah, a convertted Jew. . . . bur. 77 H</page><page sequence="2">78 THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 1651-1656 Nation of many thousand pounds, being notorious Villains, one of them formerly a Trooper and Plunderer in Prince Ruperts army, as he confessed to his Hostesse at Dursly in Glocestershire in his drink, where he would have ravished the Maid-servant of the house, locking the door upon her, whiles she was warming his bed in the night, and upon her crying out for help, fled away presently in the night, to avoid apprehension ; And yet wanders about cheating the people in other places, instead of being brought to Tyburne for his Villanies. And if they abuse and cheat us thus already, much more will they doe it upon, and after the Jewes admission.'' Alexander Ramsay the Scot was an ex-monk who provoked grave scandal by masquerading as a Jew and undergoing baptism at Hexham in June, 1653.1 Eleazar ben Isaiah is the pre-baptismal name of Paul Isaiah. The indignant Mr. Prynne has stumbled over the name of Paul's familiar ; it was Abraham bar Samuel, baptized as Peter. Joseph ben Isaiah, as he prints it, is obviously a confusion with Ramsay's pseudonym which had been Joseph ben Israel. Paul and Peter seem to have met first in Brussels about the year 1650 and then to have gone together to Antwerp, where they were baptized by a Jesuit. If either of them really served under Prince Rupert then it must have been in the Spanish Netherlands during the latter half of 1647.2 This does not fit in with Paul's presumed movements, so that Peter would have been the " Trooper and Plunderer " 3 and guilty of the attempted rape at Dursley. Four years after Paul's death came the Restoration, when Peter Samuel lost no time in petitioning King Charles II, jointly with another convert, for the benefits of the Domus Conversorum, the House of Converts. This may be read (with his Hebrew signature Peter Shemuel Hacohen) in the Rev. Michael Adler's history of that institution, as well as the information that in 1687 he was still drawing threehalfpence per day as one of the last beneficiaries of the thirteenth century foundation.4 By then he must have turned sixty and one wonders whether Mr. Ashmole, who lived on to 1692, ever met him. Paul Isaiah's briefer life offers rather more material to the student of the Re? settlement of the Jews in England since he published in London a book in each of the years 1652, 1653, 1654, and 1655, only three of which have, however, found their way into our Anglo-Jewish bibliographies.5 His vagabond life here had coincided with Menasseh ben Israel's campaign for the readmission of the Jews. It had brought him into contact with large numbers of English folk of the lower and middle classes, indeed, with a far wider circle than would be open to any of the Sephardi merchants of Aldgate. He was well acquainted with Henry Jessey, the friend of Menasseh, at one time an important figure in the religious life of the country, and with Nathaniel Robinson, as will be seen, who was a friend of Cromwell. That he changed his 1 Three pamphlets of the period dealing with this curious incident are listed under Nos. 13-15 at p. 206 of Cecil Roth's Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica (London, 1937). A later edition (in 1654) of No. 13 has, however, been omitted. A good general account of Ramsey's escapade is in David Douglas History of the Baptist Churches in the North of England (London, 1846), at pp. 23-29. 2 James Cleugh, Prince Rupert (London, 1934), p. 181. The young Marshal's force is said to have consisted of English mercenaries only. 3 Mr. Lucien Wolf stated (op. cit. p. xlii) that Paul had been the Trooper and also that he had been employed by the adversaries of the Readmission of the Jews to England to prove by his writings that the Jews were unconvertible. Since Paul's four books are all concerned with the hope of evangeli? zing the Jews, the explanation may be that Mr. Wolf failed to connect Paul with Eleazar Bargishai and with Eliazar Bar-Isajah P., which are the names he used on the title pages of two out of the four. * Trans. Jew. Hist. Soc, IV, p. 48. 5 Joseph Jacobs and Lucien Wolf, Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica (London, 1888), p. 50, No. 263 ; p. 51, Nos. 270 and 271. Cecil Roth, Magna Bibliotheca Anglo-Judaica (London, 1937), p. 277, Nos. 9, ii, and 14.</page><page sequence="3">THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 1651-1656 79 religion three or perhaps four times within four years, was accused of" converting " the silver of a confiding English " sister ", and published reckless and malicious mis-statements about Jewish beliefs and practices?will surprise no one who has studied the lives of Jewish professional converts throughout the ages. Paul Isaiah was true to type, and since his presence in England must have influenced many to support and some no doubt to oppose the Readmission of the Jews it seems worth while to examine the life of this unattractive pioneer. I have pieced together from his own writings the following account of his career up to his first baptism at the age of twenty-four. His full name was Eleazar bar Isaiah Hacohen. " I am Mishpochos Aharon Cohen that is from the genealogy of Aaron the Priest." He was born about 1626 somewhere in Muscovy from parents who, he says, enjoyed " worldly riches and honours ". Some references to " my Mother and Friends " suggest that his father died while he was still very young. He was brought up in Poland, probably in Warsaw, and for his earliest studies went to Bychawa, which is fifteen miles south of Lublin. In his own words " I have been in Russia with one of my Uncles, who was my Mothers Brother, in the City called Bochaw, which belongs to the Chancellour of Litovia.1 My uncle being one of the chief or principall Rabies in the said City, and I my self together with other Bahurim that is students, sate round about the Table for our learning or studies." In 1642, being then about sixteen years old, he found himself at " Riga upon the Frontiers of Lifland 2 under the Jurisdiction of the Queen of Swede, at which time I was with my brother there, who is a Merchant." Between 1646 and 1648 " my Mother and Friends . . . determined to send me to my Brother in Prague (the Metropolis of the Realme of Bohemia), who is yet, if living, one of the learnedest Rabies there ; which also they did : In whose discipline I was tutored two yeares and a half. During which time I learned the fabling Talmouth." Eleazar claims that as an outcome of these studies (The Jews) " know that I was not one of the least of their Rabbies amongst them " and again " I have not their Talmuth Book here . . . but relate only what I can bring to memory, having been formerly a Rabbi amongst them." Eleazar seems to have set out on his travels, c. 1649, at tne close of the Thirty Years War. It was at the time, too, when Chmielnicki was heading the Cossack risings which plunged Poland into desperate civil strife. He says " I took a resolution by the help of God to take a Voyage " and explains that about this time there had been a mass conversion to Rome of the learned Jews of Moravia, brought about by their disappointment at the negative outcome of the Messianic preachings in Holland of a certain Rabbi Elias from Jerusalem. I have found no record of these happenings in Holland and Moravia but 1648 was certainly the year when Sabbatai Zevi launched from Smyrna his first claim to be the Messiah. " I made the like attempt myself. . . " (i.e. to become a Catholic) ..." but inasmuch as I was so narrowly watched "... Prague had to be quitted. " But so it happened, that in my aforesaid journey or travel, I happened to come to Bruxels in Brabant, to visit Prince Ratzeville who was a Polander, and a man of great renown in those parts about which I was born and wherein I had the most of my breeding ; 3 but being informed that he was departed 1 Lithuania. 2 Livonia. 3 Probably the name of Prince Boguslav Radziwill, the Protestant paladin, is introduced here only for effect. I have not been able to establish that he was in the Spanish Netherlands at the time. It is this passage which makes me suppose that Eleazer, Memedina Moskovie, was brought up in Warsaw. H*</page><page sequence="4">8o THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 from thence towards the Army of the Duke Leopoldus,1 which was in Flanders, I thereupon resolved to go to Antwerp, where I was no sooner arrived, but I fell sick of a Feaver ; during which my residing there, one of the Palers,2 as they there call a Jesuite, hearing that I was a Jew, and newly come to that Town, with another young man my Fellow-Traveler, who was also a Jew, he comes to our lodging to instruct us in the Christian Faith or Religion, perswading us exceeding much to be Baptized, promising that he would afterwards instruct us thoroughly in the same ; but we purposed not to have tarryed there in hope of his instructions in their belief, our resolutions being for England ; But it pleased God so to increase my sickness, as that we were forced to abide there ; which the aforesaid Jesuite perceiving, would never leave perswading us, until he had overcome us to receive our Baptisme in the Church of Rome, where the Name, which was given then unto my self in my Bap? tisme, was Paul, and my Fellow Traveler was named Peter." 3 We may surmise that the two neophytes were in England by 1651. In that year or in the succeeding one?Adolf Neubauer published this information in 1890? Abraham bar Samuel was " received " (i.e. immersed by the Baptists) in Oxford, and both he and Eleazar bar Ishai " had a stipend half yearly thence ".4 Neubauer stated that this information (" Communicated to me by my friend the Rev. W. D. Macray ") was from papers in the Bodleian Library (Rawlinson MS. D. 828) and I have had these papers examined, and have extracted a good deal of information about Eleazar's and Abraham's 5 adventures with the English Baptists during 1652 and 1653. That sect was then at the zenith of its political power and was influentially represented in Cromwell's army. Towards the close of 1652 Eleazar's first English book appeared, the British Museum's copy (E. 674 33) being dated (in ink) nth September. Messianic senti? ment was running high in England at that time, and this work, like its three suc? cessors, " featured " the word Messiah on its title page, the full text of which ran as follows :? A Brief Compendium of the vain Hopes of the Jews Messias. The Ignorant Fables of their Rabbie And The Confuting of the Jewish Religion Written by Eleazar Bargishai a born Jew, for the upholding of Christianity. London Printed in the Year 1652. 1 The Archduke Leopold William, son of Emperor Ferdinand II, was Governor of the Spanish Netherlands from 1647 to 1656. 2 In India Jesuits were called Paulists, after their monastery of St. Paul at Goa, but Paler here is perhaps just a mistake for Pater. 3 This long passage has been blended from the 1653 and the 1654 versions of Eleazar-Paul's Vindication of the Christian's Messiah. 4 A. Neubauer, " Additions to Notes on the Jews in Oxford (Addenda to Collectanea, Second Series, Oxford Hist. Soc, Vol. XVI, 1890) ", p. 2. 5 As might be expected they retained their Old Testament names for use among the Baptists and assumed their baptismal names on joining the Church of England.</page><page sequence="5">THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 81 Its author explained that " heretofore few or no Jews have . . . received the Christian Faith " and that he himself having recently been converted abroad " it was to make a full and publike expression of my enjoying the right Christian Faith I arrived here in England ". He had also to " excuse my weakness and unfit understanding and knowledge in the English tongue ". Now in the autumn of 1652 a certain widow 1 named Susanne Coveney was in receipt of monthly doles, sometimes five shillings and sometimes three shillings (on one occasion " for coles ") 2 from a newly formed Baptist congregation at Old Ford whose Pastor was John More. It is this Brotherhood whose records are preserved in the Bodleian Library in a thin folio of about one hundred and thirty closely written pages with some loose papers inset.3 Eleazar and Abraham linked up with this Baptist group, and to supplement their sales of the former's book they cozened her plate out of Sister Coveney. The register contains four minutes of January 1653-4 describing the Elders' investigation of the lady's complaint, which was treated at first as a business grievance (" &amp; to know the Caus of her absence from us ") 4 although finally it was left " for her to take wt means she thought good for recovery of her Money or Goods from . . . ye Jew Eleazar ". The principal objects and the crucial figures appear from the following entry :? ? s. d. The whole summe was agreed to be 724 of wch was acknowledged to be received "I 200 in money by Abraham J And a Ring at ye rate of o 14 o And the overplus of ye Plate o 10 o 3 4 0 Rest 3 18 4 And to restore the Kettle. Two things remain in doubt. ? s. d. 1. Whether there were pd to Mr. Barne B.Tr.5 4 10 o 2. Whether the Plate were sold for but 5 o o 6 Eleazar had dealings of a different sort with Sister Rebecca Hounsell, a respected member of the congregation, whose husband, John Hounsell, had not long since died. He courted her, but she was not satisfied with his religious position. At Oxford Richard Tidmarsh, the leading Baptist, lived close to the Castle, and there were stone steps near by leading down to the mill stream and suited for baptisms. Here Abraham had been immersed, but it evidently had suited Eleazar better to remain 1 I infer this, as she is designated " Sister " which was used only for married women and no " Brother Coveney " is mentioned in the records. 2 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 1 (but at the reverse end of MS.). 3 Rawlinson MS. D 828 has formed the subject of an article by Champlin Burrage in the Trans? actions of the Baptist Historical Society, Vol. II, 1910-11, pp. 129-146. 4 MS. Rawlinson, D. 828, p. 19. 5 Brother Treasurer. 6 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 27.</page><page sequence="6">82 THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 an inquirer only, trembling on the brink. The following entries from the record book explain the sequel :? 1652. December 15th. Eliazer Barisaie Baptized, at ouldford I. (ohn). M. (ore). 16th. Sister Hownsell and Bro : Eliazer maried. December ye 16th 1652. I Eliazer Barisaie Befor god at the time abovesaid receive unto my selfe as my Lawfull wife Rebecka Hownsell Widdow to In.? Hownsell to haive and to hould un seperablie and un allterabli till death, apon what grovnds or pretenses what soever contrary to the Law of god or of this nation of England wherin we live, to haive and to hould as above said in Lawfull wedlock witnesse my hand the day and yeare above saide elizier bar issais.1 During the following year 1653 there appeared " A Vindication of the Christians Messiah . . . written by Eliazar Bar-Isajah P.2 a Jew born, but now a Converted and Baptized Christian." The dedication is " To the Supream Authority, the Parliament of the Common Wealth of England. As also the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the famous City of London ". In " The Epistle Dedicatory " the Lord Mayor?perhaps Sir Thomas Viner, the banker-goldsmith?is thanked " for those many noble and gracious favours received from you : and for which, I hope the Lord will one day reward you, by giving you farre more glorious degrees of honour then now you enjoy, even in heavenly places with Jesus Christ." One of these noble favours seems to have been a present of ten shillings from the Lady Mayoress recorded in the Church Accounts of 17th January, 1653-54.3 Eleazar having " but in a small measure attained to the English tongue " finds himself again " constrained to make use of an Interpreter " The Epistle to the Reader " contains a dissertation on adult baptism which makes the author's Baptist position very clear. Of the contents of the book itself it is difficult for a Jewish commentator to speak with detachment even though close on three centuries have passed since it was penned. It can best be classed with those anti Jewish writings of the present day for which Streicher is responsible. In Eleazar's sixty-five pages of calumny the Talmud is only quoted once and there is a persistent falsification of the facts as regards Jewish belief and practice. One does get the impression, however, that he was a sharp-witted fellow, and that he did write the book himself. A Jewish theologian to whom I submitted it told me that he found himself gasping at the author's impudence, at the flagrancy of his mis-statements, and the intensity of his malevolence. But I have no doubt that it was accounted a highly readable book in 1653 when the taste of the average Englishman inclined towards religious works, particularly to those concerned with the chopping of texts. In June, 1653, Abraham bar Samuel was at Southampton on a begging quest, and having been " seen through " by a travelled friend of the Baptist minister there ?the last named (Nathaniel Robinson, a friend of Cromwell's) 4 writes a long letter about the two ex-Jews to Mr. Henry Jessey in London. Henry Jessey minutes the 1 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 5 and p. 9. 2 Perhaps short for Paul. 3 Reference MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 9. See, too, p. 84 below. 4 A. G. Matthews, Calamy Revised (Oxford, 1934), p. 134. Thomas Carlyle, Collected Works, Vol. XV, Cromwell's Letters and Speeches, Vol. II (London, 1845), p. 113. He had a hand in arranging Richard Cromwell's wedding, whose father (writing 48 hours after King Charles' execution as Carlyle points out) addresses him as " My very loving Friend ". (B.M. Add. MS. 24861, 11.)</page><page sequence="7">THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 83 letter on to John More, minister of the Old Ford congregation which had " received " Eleazar, and it seems clear that he is already beginning to have his doubts about the precious pair. Robinson's letter and Jessey's endorsement are as follows :? " Sr I make bould (to) trouble you with these lines therein desireing from you an intimation of your thoughts concerneing two Jewes one of wch videlzt. Abraham Bar Samuel hath bene with us in thesse parts ; upon discourse with him and also by a Freind of mine a gentleman who hath travelled much in Germany I found little satisfaction ; as notwithstanding I should much reioce in the Conversion of that blind and Hardned Nation ; and count an honor to be found worthy to doe any office for such a lost sheepe, yett haveing many occasions of charity att home and by experience found ourselves much abused by travellers : I could not with confidence comend his condition to others till I had Indeavored to gett fuller sattisfaction concerning them and he oft declaring both himself and brother were well knowne unto you I make bould to desire a few lines from you : if you please to give us any encouragmt myself and others shall doe for them and returne it to you, were they or others reall we humbly concive it were better they abode in London and sett to some employment both in respect of the offene such a way of life carryes with it and other respects : and truely sir if yourself or other please to impart any such reall occasion you will find a ready people to contribute to ther yearely maintenance, but the truth is till we (are) better informed we are not without our jealousie we may receive a Jesuitt instead of a Jew etc. .Yours affectionate servant in the gospell Nath. Robinson. Hampton June 19th 1653." (Addressed) " for his much respect and honored Freind and Brothr in the Lord Jesus ; Mr. Hen : Jesse at his house in Swan Alley Court in Coleman street in London thesse deliver ",l (Sealed) (On the back of the above.) " My dear Brother I pray read this lr from my dear freind in S. Hampton. I feare Abram is to blame. Eleazar sd, what he got, he gave no part to him, and sd, he was Reed by one in Oxford, and both had a stipend I think half yeerly thence. Speak to Eleazar, and yn write yor thots yt I may send back, being yor Friend and Brother Coveting yt they had a holy Coveting H. Jessey. Send back as soon as you may. For Mr. John Moor." A few months later Eleazar was already flirting with the Church of England for the influence of the Baptist Church was definitely on the wane. His wife Rebecca was expecting a child and it was an open secret with the Old Ford congregation that Brother Eleazar was proposing to have the infant baptized. To Sister Eleazar, as Rebecca was called, infant baptism was, of course, anathema, and she paid some tearful visits to the Elders in the hope that they might succeed in joining their persuasions to hers in deterring Brother Eleazar from doing anything so reprehen? sible. The Church Accounts show that two doles (2s. 6d. and io.r.) were given Sister Eleazar during July, 1653. In September when she could no longer get about and her needs were greater two payments (10s. and 5^.) were made to her husband. Then comes a more important entry :? Nov. nth. For 3II. is. Lent Bro. Eliazor 3-01-4 2 1 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, inserted in the MS. at p. 7. 2 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 7.</page><page sequence="8">84 THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 1651-1656 In January, 1653-54, came the explosion. On the 17th the Church paid Sister Eleazar five shillings which had been received for her from Brother Willis. On Sunday, 29th January, the following entry is made :? " This day the Church had notice that (the Jew) Eleazar Bar-Ishai (who calleth himself Eleazar Paul who for the love of a woeman (as we now discover) hath made outward profession of ye Faith of Christ by being Baptized, becaus his wife did else refus to be Married unto him) is falne from ye Faith &amp; hath long dissembled with the Church by goeing to othr Assemblies under the Notion of selling of Books, &amp; hath now carried away his Child to be Sprinckled by the Presbyterians or Others without giving either Notice, or causing any Dispute about the Busines. And therefore having put the Lord Jesus Christ to an open shame Wee do in the name of Iesus Christ pronounce the said Eleazar Bar-Ishai alias Paul to be delivered unto Satan. And do account him as a Heathen &amp; an Infidel for neglecting to hear the Voice of the Church. And forasmuch as Rebecca his Wife was conniving to the said Act of her Husband in deineing (sic) to come with her Child upon Intreaty of ye Church. Whereby she became partly guilty of ye said Act, and disobedient to the Councel of ye Church Endeavouring also to justifie the said Conniving under ye Notion of a Wife to a Husband (though ye Act was notoriously against the Gospel of Jesus Christ). The Church doth therefore declare that they withdraw the said Rebecca ye wife of ye sd Eleazar untill ye Lord hath fully satisfied them by her Repen? tance, that she deserveth to bee owned as formerly." 1 Elsewhere in the register one reads :? Acts of the Church. "Beginning 1653/40 Jan: 1." Eleazar Bar Ishay Excommunicated Eleazar Bar Ishay, put ye Gospel to an open shame.2 There is no doubt that the Old Ford Baptists felt that ? serpent had been nurtured in the bosom of their community, and that they were very much upset. The poignancy of their feelings had a financial as well as a doctrinal basis, for the Church Accounts show that Eleazar the Jew, as the former Brother Eleazar was now desig? nated, had received a sum in excess of ?127 from the congregation. The contributors included two donors of ten shillings each, one of whom I am tempted to identify with the Lady Mayoress, whilst the other, " Mr. Blake," may just conceivably have been the celebrated Admiral, who was ashore at the time. The pertinent extract from the Church's Accounts reads as follows :? " To ye Jew Eleasar in all ? 4-11-4 of La : Mayern ? 10 Mr. Blake ? 10 Mr. RoswelPs Church ? 6 Mr. Seiden ? 10 Sister Anne ? 14 7-01-4 (besides besides above 12oil. testified by Abraham ye Jew and Mr. Foster And what was given by severall of Dr. Chamberlens freinds before he went for Ireland." 3 1 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 41. 2 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, pp. 17 and 18. 8 MS. Rawlinson D. 828, p. 9. Since the journey to Ireland was not undertaken by Dr. Peter</page><page sequence="9">THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 85 The baptism of the baby took place a couple of days after these happenings and is duly recorded under " Christenings " in the Registers of the Church of St. Peter, Paul's Wharf :? 1653 (sic). Jan. 31. Elizabeth d. of Paule Isayah, Jew, and Rebecka his w.1 Rebecca suffered acutely at her expulsion from the Baptist confraternity and there has survived a moving letter in which she speaks of her duty to her husband, who had overridden her opposition to his act of defiance ; she murmurs, too, at the lack of support from the church in her time of trial, and pleads to be readmitted to membership. The letter is dated 19th February, 1653-54.2 It has obviously been written by a pious and conscientious woman, and one marvels at such a decent creature having married such an adventurer. During 1654 A Vindication of the Christians Messiah now reappears in a new dress. The title page gives the author's name as Paul Isajah. The dedication to the Parlia? ment of the Commonwealth and to the Lord Mayor has disappeared, whilst " The Epistle to the Reader " exhibits some subtle theological changes. Thus the insinuating Jesuit who had baptized the young Jews becomes " a Romish Priest, one of the Fathers, a grave man, the Dean of the Mother Church at Antwerp ". There is a complete retractation of the immersion by the Baptists. " I ... do bemoan, even with a bleeding heart, my ignorance which suffered me to be misled into divers erroneous waves." The author vaunts that " I had lately a Child of mine publiquely Baptized in the Church of St. Peters Pauls Wharfe in London ". He returns thanks, too, to " my Saviour who has now established me a Member of the Church of England " and he promises himself that in future his " godly living will be more to the benefit of my soul, than the Printing of Books can make for my profit". The Anglican patron of Paul (as we must now call him) was the Rev. Dr. George Wilde, who, having been a Royalist, was then without any cure of souls?as indeed St. Peters, Paul's Wharf, was without an incumbent. However, he cannot have been without means for in his book Paul thanks Wilde in quaint language?which is perhaps that of the interpreter?" for the many Temporall refreshings which he afforded to my Body, but especially for the many more spiritual comforts which he daily administered to my Soul." Out of deference, perhaps, to his patron's Cavalier sympathies Paul's reference in 1653 to " this blessed and prosperous Country of England " is toned down in 1654 to " this remote Country of England ". In the following year, 1655, ?aul Isaiah's fourth book appears. It is the English version of a century old work by Sebastian Muenster translated by Paul from the Hebrew apparently without the aid of an interpreter. The title page runs as follows :? Chamberlen, whose movements are known, it must have been made by Abraham and/or Eleazar. Of the other contributors Mr. Seiden may well have been John Seiden, the famous jurist who had a penchant for rabbinical law, Sister Anne was the doctor's wife, and Mr. Roswell was the pastor of a local Baptist congregation. (Information from my friend the Rev. Dr. W. T. Whitley of the Baptist Historical Society, to whom I am much indebted for many references?and indeed for most of the Baptist background of this paper.) 1 Registers of St. Peter, Paul's Wharf, Harl. Soc. Publ. Registers Series, Vol. 38 (London, 1909) p. 174. 2 See Appendix, p. 87.</page><page sequence="10">86 THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 The Messias of the Christians, and the Jewes ; Held forth in a Discourse, between a Christian, and a lew obstinately ad? hering to his strange opinions, &amp; the forced interpretations of Scripture. Written first in Hebrew, but now rendered into English by Paul Isaiah, a Jew born, but now a converted and baptized Christian. London, Printed by William Hunt, 1655. The dedication is to the Rev. Richard Parr, who had not long since settled at Cam berwell as a minister of the Church of England. He, too, is thanked by Paul for " the many favours which I have received from you, as to the refreshing of body, with the outward things of this life, and to the comforting of my soul ". In the prefatory matter the author " here humbly desires the Christian Reader to take notice, that hee is ready to offer himselfe willing for any honest imploiment, whereby he may preserve himselfe and family from scandalous want." This is preceded by some atrocious allegations against the Jews, including their alleged forms of prayer for blaspheming twice daily the Founder of Christianity, as well as the shocking statement that " if the Christian magistrates among whom they live, did not keep a strict watch over them ..." they would forthwith " stone all such who professe His name ". It is this preface which contains Paul's interesting statement (of which I made use in an earlier paper x) that there were synagogues in London in 1655 to which practising Jews daily resorted. Towards the close of the year Paul's family was augmented by the birth of a son named Christian, whose baptism at St. Peters, Paul's Wharf, is recorded,2 and not long after he left London for the West. On his way he levied toll on Magdalen College, Oxford, and an entry of 1656 in Latin reads " to Paul Isaiah, the Jew through the Bursar of the year preceding (i.e. 1655) ?3 2s. 2d." 3 At Coventry is a record of 1656 which bears his signature :? " A collection for Paul Isaiah, a converted Jew, for his reliefe, il. 105." 4 Death came to him at Shrewsbury in March as has been related already. 1 Miscellanies of the Jew. Hist. Soc, Part III, p. 54, footnote 20. 2 Registers of St. Peter, Paul's Wharf. Harl. Soc. Publ. Registers Series, Vol. 38 (London, 1909), p. 175. 1655, Dec. 23, Christianna (sic.) s. of Paule and Rebecka Isayah. 3 W. D. Macray, A Register of the Members of St. Mary Magdalen Colleget Oxford, Vol. IV, p. 11 (London, 1904). I owe this reference to Mr. Cecil Roth. 4 Thomas Sharp, History and Antiquities of Coventry (Edition of 1871), p. 70. Mr. John S. G. Simmons of Birmingham University has obligingly drawn my attention to this item.</page><page sequence="11">THE STRAYINGS OF PAUL ISAIAH IN ENGLAND, 165I-1656 87 APPENDIX Bodleian Library. MS. Rawlinson D. 828. p. 47. Beloved frends You having been pleased to withdraw comunion from mee upon such grounds as for my part i cannot see caus for if you would but bee pleased to examine things as indeed they (are) for as i have owned you for a church soe yourselves know that i have owned him for a husband soe that as i ow subiection for myself to you as a church soe i also ow subiection to him as a husband in such things as hee ought to have the command and indeed tak this to bee true and itt was upon that account that i did what i did yourselves not showin mee any warrant to the contrary had i eyther been silent to him or his party in itt or had i consealed itt from you i might iustly bee blamed, but i have ever disowned itt to them with what argu? ments i could use and i am sure the conscienc of some of you beareth witnes with mee that from time to time as i have had any sight into itt i have speedilly discovered it with often desiring that hee might bee spoken to about itt and truly for that which some of you saith that i dressed it fine on purpos i uterly deny for i put nothing on the child but what i putt on itt on any day when i put on clean cloths and what yourselves have seen on itt befor therefor i do desire you that you would bee pleased to consider itt seriously an with what tenderness you may an that you will either shew me caus for keepin mee att a distance or els close with mee in thos dutys as formerly the reason of my absence hath been becaus of the bitterness that i did receiv from some when i had more need of comfort and if in that i have been faulty i desir you to excus mee thus desiring the only wiss God to derect both you and mee and humbly intreatin your answer i rest yours in real afection Rebeck Eliazer 19. feb. (16) 5f. (added in another hand.) pp. 49-52. There follows an answer to the letter, beginning ' Peter Ghamb(er)len a Servant of ye word of God, to Rebecca Hounsell (now wife of Eleazar) Grace, Mercy and Peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.' It occupies seven pages, and is concerned with how she has failed in her duty by putting her husband before her church and consenting to the sprinkling of her child, &amp;c. with many quotations from the Scriptures.</page></plain_text>

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