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The Testimony of the London Jewry against the Ministers of Henry III

Rev. Michael Adler

<plain_text><page sequence="1">The Testimony of the London Jewry against the Ministers of Henry III By the Rev. Michael Adler, D.S.O., B.A. Paper read before the Jewish Historical Society of England, June 15, 1937. " Henry III believed in the absolute power of the Crown . . . and this claim was maintained by his favourite advisers in the royal council. The death of Archbishop Langton (in 1228) followed by the fall of Hubert de Burgh (1232) left him free to surround him? self with dependent ministers, mere agents of the royal will. Hosts of hungry Poitevins and Bretons were at once summoned over to occupy the royal castles and to fill the judicial and administrative posts about the Court. . . . The whole machinery of administration passed into the hands of men ignorant and contemptuous of English government or English law. Their rule was a mere anarchy; the very retainers of the royal household turned robbers, . . . corruption invaded the judicature and judges openly took bribes This description of what took place in the days of King Henry III, written by Green, in his Short History of the English People (p. 144, ed. 1889) forms an accurate background of the story I propose to relate to you. My narrative is based upon the recent discovery in the Public Record Office of a document that has hitherto remained un? published,1 and that gives in detail the testimony of the London Jews in the year 1234 against the crimes of the King's ministers. When Hubert de Burgh, the Chief Justice, was driven from power by his i Public Record Office. K.B. 26. No. 115. B. M1</page><page sequence="2">I42 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III French rivals in the year 1232, Henry determined on a radical change of policy. He concentrated all government in the hands of his Poite vin friends. He thus practically surrendered the rule of his realm to the French courtier-prelate, Peter des Roches, Bishop of Win? chester.2 The Bishop was apparently a wealthy man, as at different times he lent the King the sum of 20,000 marks ( ? over ^400,000 to-day).3 In his hands lay all the official appointments, which he distributed among his associates. Sir Stephen de Segrave,4 who was a judge as well as being Constable of the Tower of London and other castles, was given the office of Chief Justice in place of de Burgh. He was a native of England, a " yielding man ", as Matthew Paris5 calls him, but nearly all the other State officials were French? men, tools of des Roches. Upon his son, or as others style him, his nephew, Peter de Rivaux,6 the Bishop showered profitable honours in abundance. To him was delivered for life the custody of the " Wardrobe ", which was the Treasury of the King's household, and he was later created also Treasurer of the national Exchequer. This post had previously been held by Walter Mauclerc, Bishop of Car? lisle,7 who, together with des Roches and de Burgh, had encouraged King Henry in the same year to found the London House of Con? verts.8 Peter further became the King's Chamberlain for London and a Justice of the Jewry, in addition to acting as a Sheriff of no less than twenty-one counties,9 Chief Justice of the Forests, Warden of the ports and coasts of England, Constable of a large number of royal castles, and keeper of escheats and wardships. In Ireland, too, 2 Dictionary of National Biography, vol. Hi. p. 45. 'A Patent Rolls, 1237, p. 47. 4 D.N.B., vol. li. p. 204. Foss, Judges of England, ii. p. 468. Chronicle of Roger of Wendover (Giles' translation), ii. p. 565. Matthew Paris is regarded as the author of this Chronicle. 6 D.N.B., vol. xlviii. p. 332. Foss, I.e., p. 454. His name also rendered de Rivallis, de Rievaulx, Orival. 7 D.N.B., vol. xiii. p. 79. Foss, I.e., p. 404. 8 For the History of the " Domus Conversorum " see my Jews of Medieval England, pp. 279-379. 9 Patent Rolls, 1232, p. 489.</page><page sequence="3">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III T43 he held similar high positions, including the wardenship over the Irish Jewry.10 This accumulation of State offices in the hands of Peter de Rivaux, says Professor Tout,11 remains absolutely unprecedented in English history. The domestic and national Treasuries were controlled by one man, who was thus able to effect extensive reforms in the national administration of finance.11* The Chronicler12 relates that " all his former councillors, bishops, earls, barons and other nobles Henry dis? missed abruptly and put confidence in none except the Bishop of Winchester and his son." As expressed by Professor Jacob, " the Court officials had triumphed over the baronial minister. The Ward? robe became solitary and supreme. Though de Rivaux appointed deputies to assist him, the unitary tendency is clear. . . . The ground? work of Henry's policy was to administer the country primarily through the primitive Court organism strengthened and made effici? ent by clerks independent of the great magnates and strictly depen? dent upon the royal will. . . ." 12a To assist him in his manifold duties, de Rivaux selected another royal favourite, Robert Passelewe.1'3 He had formerly served as an agent at the Papal Court of the notorious baron, Faukes de Breaute, who was an enemy of Hubert de Burgh. Passelewe was made Deputy Treasurer of the kingdom and Justice of the Jews, and en? joyed many honours from his royal master. Under the aegis of the Poitevin Bishop, the three ministers, Stephen de Segrave, Peter de Rivaux and Robert Passelewe, ruled the country. " Their word was law and their rule was anarchy ", as Green expresses it. Justice was bought and sold, the Jews under their charge were robbed and ill 10 Ibid., p. 494. See Trans., v. 229. The Jews of Ireland. 11 Chapters in the Administrative History of Medieval England, i. p. 214-32. 1Ja In Transactions, Royal Historical Society, Fourth Series, vol. x. pp. in sq. Miss M. H. Mills discusses in detail the effect of the changes introduced by de Rivaux in the control of the Exchequer. She makes no reference to any misrule of the Poitevins, and attributes their dismissal in 1234 to the barons again obtaining power from the King. 12 Roger of Wendover, I.e., p. 565. 12a Cambridge Medieval History, vi. p. 261. 13 D.N.B., vol. xliii. p. 444.</page><page sequence="4">144 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III treated, and the triumvirate misused the royal authority for the pur? pose of amassing riches for themselves by every method of cruelty and extortion. Their misrule soon aroused the anger of all classes. In the following year, the Bishops declared that they would excommuni? cate them for giving the King evil counsel, but finally contented themselves with pronouncing only a general censure against those who had turned the King's heart against his natural-born subjects. Robert Bacon,14 an influential priest, a relative of the more renow? ned philosopher and writer, Roger Bacon, in a witty speech, once asked the King : " What is most dangerous to sailors, or what frigh? tens them most? " "Those whose business is on the wide waters know best," replied the King. " Sire, I will tell you. Stones and rocks " (petrae et rupes), an allusion to the all-powerful Peter des Roches (de Rupibus). The rule of the Poitevins was now coming to a close, and the baronial party again assumed power for a time. Edmund Rich,1* later canonised as St. Edmund, became Archbishop of Canterbury on April 2nd, 1234, and seven days later he confronted King Henry with a threat of excommunication, voicing England's hatred of the royal ministers who were bringing the country into confusion by their misconduct. " They do not consider you in the light of a king," he declared in his righteous anger, " for you are more under their rule than they under yours.. . . They misapply and pervert alike justice and the law : . . . they do not fulfil their promises to anyone, they do not keep faith or their oaths nor abide by any written agree? ment. We therefore advise you in the name of God and man to correct these abuses by dismissing such evil advisers and to govern your kingdom with your own faithful and sworn subjects." The King accepted the counsel of the prelate, and forthwith ex? pelled the four ministers from office. He gave orders that they were to appear before him to answer the many charges against them and to render an account of their misdeeds, especially in the adminis? tration of his public and private funds. Upon learning of the sudden reversal in their fortunes, the favourites, who, as Matthew Paris 14 Ibid., vol. ii. p. 373. ir&gt; Ibid., vol. xvi. p. 405.</page><page sequence="5">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III T45 writes, " found their consciences plead guilty of all the charges and were in dread of the anger of the King ", fled away, fearful of their lives at the hands of their enemies. Bishop Peter and his son sought sanctuary in Winchester Cathedral and hid themselves, " withdraw? ing themselves entirely from the sight of men." The Justiciar de Segrave who had begun life as a priest, and then had become a soldier and later a judge, concealed himself in the monastery of St. Mary in Leicester and returned to his clerical duties, which, we are told, he had deserted long ago without the permission of his Bishop. The fourth of the courtiers, Passelewe, could not be found. Many thought he had gone to Rome, where he had previously lived for some time. But in fact he was lying covered up " like a hare " in a secret cellar at the New Temple in the Strand, feigning to be ill. Two months later, Archbishop Rich guaranteeing him protection, Peter de Rivaux was the first to present himself before King Henry at Westminster. He came in clerical robes, with head shorn and wearing a broad chaplet, and humblv implored mercy from his master who was sitting on the bench with the judges. The King spoke very harshly to Peter, calling him a traitor, and blamed him for all the disturbance in the realm. He finally sent him to the Tower of London to await his judgment. Now that he belonged to the Church, Peter claimed exemption from punishment, but it was noticed that, under his garments, he was dressed in a coat of mail, " no fit dress for a cleric observes Matthew Paris, the monk. After two days in the Tower he was allowed to return to his father at Winchester. The ex-Chief Justice also presented himself in the garb of a priest and was sternly commanded to render a full account of all he had done. The last of the three to appear was Passelewe, in a state of terror. De Segrave, to shield himself, had accused his fellow-rulers be fore the King of various acts of maladministration that had rendered their government odious to the nation, and the King sent them all into retirement. The story of their subsequent restoration to favour will be narrated later, but the part played by the Jewries of England in the misdeeds of the ministers now demands our attention. L</page><page sequence="6">I46 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III De Segrave, de Rivaux and Passelewe had been the Justices of the Jews,16 and therefore in close touch with the communities, supervis? ing their business affairs and exercising control over their lives in every way. The sudden removal of these instruments of the new royal policy from their high offices was therefore a matter of the deepest interest to the Jews of England. On May 30th, 1234,17 an order of the King directed the Jews of London no longer to obey Passelewe, who had previously, on May 2nd,18 received authority to regulate the affairs of the Jews of Winchester and elsewhere. Simi? larly, newly appointed Justices of the Jews were directed to report all matters direct to the King, and not to de Rivaux.19 In July of the same year,20 a decree was issued that in every city and county an official Inquiry on oath be held, and testimony be obtained both from men, religious and lay, who were enjoined to give evidence " without hatred, fear or love, concerning all loans, monies and other move ables, as well as injuries, gifts, taking of wines and other valuables, unlawful distraints or fines " carried out by the orders of the three guilty ministers, Bishop Peter evidently not being directly concerned. In the writ sent to the Sheriffs of Canterbury,21 it is expressly stated that the witnesses were to include the citizens and "our" Jews of the city, which form of words was probably repeated in the letters to other centres. August 15th was fixed for the Royal Commission to be held in London22 under the charge of Alexander de Swereford, the Treasurer of St. Paul's Cathedral, who was also a Baron of the Ex? chequer, Hugh Giff?rd, the newly appointed Constable of the Tower, and Gerard Bat, a Sheriff of the City.23 The leading Jews of London readily came forward and presented their indictment of the Justices, for they had suffered much at their hands. 16 See Gross, Papers of the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition, p. 176. As a rule, " the Justices were subject to the superior authority of the Treasurer and Chief Justice of the realm." In the present case these offices were united in the same persons. 17 Close Rolls, p. 438. 19 Ibid., p. 440. 21 Ibid., p. 583. 18 Ibid., p. 416. 20 Ibid., p. 581. 22 Ibid., p. 467. 23 Stow, Survey of London (ed. Kingsford), ii. p. 154. In 1239 Rat was elected Mayor,</page><page sequence="7">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF FIENRY III 147 In his lecture given before the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition in 1887 on " The- persecutions of the Jews in England," the late Mr. Walter Rye, an eminent Norfolk antiquarian, for the first time made known the existence of the document in the Public Record Office that had preserved the evidence of the London Jews at the public In? quiry.24 Mr. Rye gave a very brief account of the first part of their evidence, promising to print the whole manuscript later, which, however, was never done.2,1 Recently I read this interesting chapter of Anglo-Jewish history, which had been hidden away among a miscellaneous mass of legal records of the King's Bench,20 and con? sists of two long skins of vellum, one being written on both sides. In many places the parchment is torn and the ink faded, in parts it is much decayed at the edges, but Miss Sarah Cohen, M.A., has skil? fully transcribed the Latin text, and Mr. Hilary Jenkinson, of the Public Record Office, has kindly helped to solve various difficult readings. Here we have in full detail the sworn testimony of the Jews of London, as well as of two Christian Chirographers of the time, concerning the manner in which the three Justices of the Jewry had treated the Jews under their authority. In accordance with the sys? tem of concentrating all power in their hands, they had taken control of the Jewish Exchequer, as well as of every other financial source. They had extorted heavy bribes and valuable gifts of all kinds, both from individuals and from the community as a whole. They im? prisoned Jews to obtain ransom. They compelled them to reduce debts to their clients and to return pledges, in one case a manor in Essex. They defrauded them of their charters, some of which they publicly sold; they cheated the Exchequer in matters of tallage, in? creasing the assessment of taxes as they pleased and appropriating sums for themselves, and generally behaved in the most illegal man? ner. Their clerks and servants followed the evil example of their masters and demanded gifts of all kinds. The real villain of the story 24 Papers of the A.f.H. Exhibition, p. 154. 2r&gt; The City Librarian of Norwich, Mr. George Hay ward, kindly made a search in the bibliography and in the manuscript collection of Mr. Rye, in the possession of the local Public Libraries, but could find nothing concerning this Roll. 26 See note 1.</page><page sequence="8">i48 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III appears to be Robert Passelewe, the Judge and Deputy Treasurer, whose offences far exceeded those of his two colleagues. It is an illuminating side-light upon English as well as Jewish history that is afforded by this document, the original text of which, together with a translation, is appended to this paper. Eighteen London Jews were summoned by the Commission to reveal the iniquities of the royal ministers, among whom were some of the most prominent men of the community."7 The first to give evidence was Benedict Crespin,28 and he was followed by Jose Pres? byter (le Prestre),29 the second of the Arch-Presbyters.30 Then came Aaron, the son of Abraham,31 who later was deputy Arch-Presbyter with Elias le Eveske,32 Benedict Crespin's brother Jacob,33 three members of the Blund family, Aaron,34 Elias,35 and Samuel,36 Isaac of Southwark,37 Aaron the Chirographer,38 Abraham the son of 27 In addition to the eighteen witnesses, the following names of London Jews are given in the course of the evidence: Ursell brother of Benedict Crespin, Aaron who was hanged," Isaac son of Jose le Prestre, Manasser Gruinguard, Leo son of Isaac Blund of Milk Street, Margery sister of Aaron the Chirographer, Ermine sister of Benedict son of Pictavin, the wife of Jacob Crespin, the wife of Benedict son of Pictavin, Benedict le Eveske, Elias le Eveske. 28 For details of his activities, see Loewe, Starrs and Charters, ii. 90. 29 Stokes, Studies in Anglo-fewisJi History, p. 25. :iU Concerning the title Arch-Presbyter, see Jews of Medieval England, p. 137. ;u Loewe, ii. 62. ?&gt;2 Ibid., ii. 38. Ibid., ii. 35. 34 Ibid., ii. 68. Ibid., ii. 72. Brother of Aaron. ?36 Ibid., ii. 77. Son of Aaron. 37 Ibid., ii. 214. n8 Mentioned in Rigg, Plea Rolls, i. 102 (1244). In Tovcy's Anglia Judaica, p. 102, the following passage occurs: ". . . in the Plea Rolls of the same Year (18. H. Ill) we meet with several Complaints and Inquisitions concerning the Bribery and Cor? ruption of Peter de Rivallis, Stephen de Segrave and Robert de Passelew, Justices of the Jews: against whom Simon, Cirographarius Judeornm, petit Literas. The Event of which was, that Peter de Rivallis was depos'd from his Office and oblig'd to surrender totum Forestarium suum, or Justiceship of the Forest; and Robert de Passelew was also remov'd ..." This quotation cannot be confirmed from any printed text of the Plea Rolls. The Chirographer Simon is otherwise unknown, and may be intended for Aaron,</page><page sequence="9">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III I9 Muriel,39 and Benedict the son of Pictavin.40 Of the well-known le Eveskc (Cohen) family,41 Solomon, the youngest son, alone appeared before the tribunal. His father, Benedict, was too old to present himself, and his more noted brother, Elias, who in 1243 became the fourth Arch-Presbyter, succeeding Aaron of York,42 was ill at the time of the Inquiry. Solomon gave full details of the mis? deeds of Robert Passelewe and two of his clerks concerning the members of his family. Two other brothers, Jacob43 and Isaac le Eveske, were among the witnesses, but, like Jacob le Turk44 (so called as coming from Thouars in France), they declared that they had no knowledge of any bribes received by the judges, asserting that they gave nothing because they had nothing. Two men, Samuel of Hertford4" and Solomon of Kingston,46 com? plained of Passelewe having extorted money from them and other Jews for permission to live in places which were not official Jewish centres,47 and afterwards expelling them from their homes. All the seven leaders of the London community who represented the local Jewry later at the Worcester " Parliament" of the year 1241, were among the sufferers. They were the two Crespins, Aaron the son 39 Locvvc, ii. 116. 40 The only one of this name is a Chirographer of Lincoln. Rigg, i. 39, 44, 71. He may have removed to London. There is a better known Pictavin, son of Benedict, of London (Loewe ii. 45), or Bedford, who may be meant. 41 Loewe, ii. 38. Stokes, I.e., pp. 12-17, where the family history is given in full, and pp. 30-35, concerning Elias the Arch-Presbyter. 42 See Note 50, infra. 4:5 Jacob was Clerk of the Exchequer of the Jews and lived principally in Oxford. Details of his life are given in S. Cohen, The Oxford Jewry, Trans., xiii. 313. 44 There were also other Thouars Jews: Solomon, Moses, and Samuel, known as le Turk or Turyk or Tuarz or Tuace. Cf. IT. Gross, Gallia Jzidaica, p. 208. See J.M.E., p. 208. 45 Mentioned in a Cambridge Roll of 1233 (Stokes I.e., p. 146), and in Select Pleas, 87 (1275). 46 Solomon of Kingston-on-Thames is mentioned in Rigg, i. 64 (1244), with Aaron of the same place; sec also ibid., 90. In Close Rolls, 1255, p. 26, he is called " Jew of London." 47 A special royal licence was required for a Jew to reside in a town where there was no archa; cf. Gross, I.e., p. 189.</page><page sequence="10">i5o LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III of Abraham, three Blunds, and Elias le Eveskc.48 About the year 1246, three of these notables, Aaron the son of Abraham, Aaron Blund, and Benedict Crespin, were attached to the Court (qui curiam vestram sequuntur).^ Aaron of York, who had a home both in London and in his native city, is not mentioned, but it is probable that his evidence was given in a local Inquiry, the record of which has been lost, only the London report having survived.50 Not being content with levying heavy toll upon individual Jews and ill-treating them in many ways, the three Justices had demanded unlawful pay? ments from the London community, who seem to have kept a public fund from which to meet these and similar exactions. To Peter de Rivaux the community gave the sum of ^250 (equal to ?7,500 to? day), and still owed him a further ^118 which they had promised. Chief Justice de Segrave had accepted a bribe of ^64 16s. 8d. and Passelewe ^214, together with a number of gifts. Another French official, who at one time was a judge, named Peter Grimbaud,51 was given a sum of ^10 as well as other presents from individuals, and the servants of the Exchequer also took their share of the spoils. Assured of the royal protection that had failed them during the past two years under the domination of the Poitevin ministers, the London Jews spoke up without fear at the Inquiry, and their state? ments confirmed each other in many respects. Evidence was given by several of them of illegal conduct with reference to the King's archa;y'~ the official chest in which bonds for debts were preserved under the charge of four Chirographers, two Jewish and two Chris? tian, who kept the keys. This was a serious crime committed against the royal authority itself. Passelewe had ordered the London chest to be removed from the custody of the Chirographers and taken 48 Stokes, I.e., p. 86, and J.M.E., p. 74. 49 Shirley, Royal Letters of Henry III, ii. p. 46. 50 Beyond the writ addressed to the Sheriffs of Canterbury there is no mention of a Commission holding an Inquiry in any city except London. Concerning " Aaron of York," see J.M.E., pp. 127-173. 51 Foss, I.e., p. 358. He received Church livings and gifts from the King. Liberate Rolls, 1226, p. 6; 1228, p. 71. Patent Rolls, 1230, p. 328; 1233, p. 23. He was later active in the collection of the Worcester tallage of 1241. See Stokes, I.e., p. 88. 3- See Gross, I.e.</page><page sequence="11">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III to his house. Later it was deposited for a period of fifteen days or a month in the house of the Sheriff of London of the year 1233, Simon Fitz Mary,"3 himself an unscrupulous citizen who was dismissed from his post for fraudulent use of public funds after six months' tenure of office. A servant of Passelewe took away the keys from the Chirographers, opened the archa, and carried the bonds and char? ters to the market-place at West Cheap (now Cheapside), where they were publicly offered for sale, a most improper proceeding. The London Jewry were made to pay this man Simon to replace the un? sold bonds in their archa. In this connection it is interesting to note the evidence of the only non-Jews at the Inquiry, Robert of London, and John de Solar,54 who were the Christian Chirographers. They asserted that one of Passelewe's men, in the name of his master, demanded the archa from them together with its keys, and kept it for several weeks. They were then both dismissed from office, probably because they resisted this unlawful interference with their public duties, but, later, seeking to be reappointed, they gave gifts in the form of a barrel of wine and a heavy ring, but in vain, as two new Chirographers were elected in their places. Passelewe was further accused by Aaron the son of Abraham of accepting bribes from a certain Robert de Burnebury, and another example of receiving gifts from a Christian occurs in the evidence of Aaron Blund. A relative of the Earl of Norfolk named William le Bigod '5 owed money to three Jews. He gave a ring and other goods to Passelewe who thereupon forced his creditors to reduce their claims to a much smaller amount. As has already been indicated, of the three Justices of the Jews, Passelewe was by far the most guilty. He alone is accused of having been in the habit of committing his Jewish victims to prison in order to obtain money from them. He once treated the chief representa Sec Stow, I.e. Newcouit, Rcpertoritim of St. Paul's, i. p. 464. Besant, Medieval London, ii. p. 43. In 1234 he became castos camerarie Angliae {Close Rolls, p. 386). He lived in a house in the Jewry next to Aaron son of Abraham. Charter Rolls, 1261, p. 38. 54 A citizen of Bordeaux. Patent Rolls, 1229, p. 234. 55 Dugdale's Baronage, i. p. 132.</page><page sequence="12">152 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY ill tive of English Jewry, Jose the Arch-Presbyter, in this manner, to? gether with his son Isaac, and they had to pay Passelewe fifty marks in order to secure their freedom. Later, Jose was again arrested, taken to Gloucester where he was threatened with incarceration in Corfe Castle, the ruins of which still frown on the traveller going to Swanage, unless he handed Passelewe a further sixty marks. Isaac of Southwark was lodged in the Tower of London, of which the Chief Justice, de Segrave, was the Constable, and was forced to sur? render a pledge upon a house. There he may have met Isaac the son of Solomon, a Norwich Jew, who for some unrecorded reason was in the prison at the same time/'6 Benedict the son of Pictavin, to? gether with his wife and his sister Ermine, were also shut up in the same stronghold on the Thames and paid a heavy fine to their oppres? sors before they were set free. Elias le Eveske surrendered certain pledges after a term of imprisonment, and a second stay in the Tower led to a Starr being written by him, under compulsion of Robert, to reduce a debt which was due from the heirs of an estate of which Passelewe was a trustee.57 During the period of their being in power, two tallagcs were ordered to be raised by the Treasurers. The first in 1233 amounted to 10,000 marks (in modern value, over ^200,000) to be paid by the Jewries within six years. '8 The signatories to this decree were Bishop Peter of Winchester and de Segrave. There are forty securities named who guaranteed the payment of this tallage, Aaron of York not being among them. For rendering assistance to the London community in collecting the tax, as the report of the evidence phrases it, Passelewe received a personal gift of 100 marks. The second levy was for the sum of ^500.59 The King was due to visit Northampton in February, 1234, an&lt;^ sent word to his Deputy Treasurer that he urgently required the sum of ^1,000, which was to be given to him :,t5 Close Rotts, 12^1, p. -5(12. :&gt;7 See note 63, p. 154. :'8 Patent Rolls, t?.^, pp. 12. 187. Li/crate Rolls, 12^, p. 244. Cross, /.r.. p. 195. In 1236 the Justices of the Jews were directed to collect the arrears of this tallage, no Jew to escape. (Close Rolls, p. 404.) *'9 Close Rolls, 1234, p. 551.</page><page sequence="13">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III on his arrival. If the total amount was not to be found in the Trea? sury, the balance was to be collected immediately by all possible means. Accordingly, de Rivaux and Passelewe assessed the sum of ^500 upon the London Jews as their part of the deficit in the royal Exchequer. For their own gain, however, the ministers raised the tallage to ^700, which sum was to be paid into the private account of de Rivaux, the profit of the Treasurers on the transaction to be ^200. As a Justice of the Jews as well as Deputy Treasurer, Passel? ewe busied himself personally in fixing the assessment both upon the community and upon individual Jews. In order to lighten the bur? den of their taxes he secretly took bribes from the wealthiest contri? butors. Thus, from Aaron the son of Abraham, Aaron Blund, Elias le Eveske, Elias Blund and his friend, Leo Blund of Milk Street,60 he received sums of money, jewels, silver cups and dishes. He borrowed loans which were not repaid. He further levied a fine of four gold pounds (equal to ^1,200) upon Aaron the son of Abraham, who had not arrived in time to meet him at Northampton. One of the Jews was compelled to bear the cost of Passelewe's stay at Northampton, and the London community induced him by bribery not to allow their quota of the tallage to exceed that of the York Jewry. Peter Grimbaud and some of Passelewe's staff were also paid to intercede with their master and win his favour. The Jews whose accusations against their Justices are recorded were in nearly all cases the rich business men of the community; their names occur again and again in the archives of the day, in the Plea Rolls, Patent Rolls, the Shetaroth, and in other documents, and the gifts extorted from them, other than money, of which they gave large sums, reveal the nature of their wealth and shed light upon the social and economic life of the Jews of the period. Among the presents accepted by the Justices and their retainers there are gold buckles, silver cups and bowls, rings of gold and other metal, silver spoons, dishes, a knife, silver sj)urs, an emerald and other jewels, 60 Rigg&gt; i- &amp;3&gt; 86, Ny&gt; 128. The description sotins, friend or associate, indicates that he was not a member of Aaron Blund's family, but a son of Isaac Blund, hence he is called Leo, son of Isaac. He was a deputy at the Worcester " Parliament."</page><page sequence="14">154 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III girdles decorated with silver, carved cameos, one of which Passelewe presented to King Henry himself, a circlet to be worn by the King, a barrel of wine and a set of writing implements called a scriptoria. Many of these articles had, no doubt, been received in pledge in return for loans,61 and passed into the possession of the ministers and their adherents to satisfy their rapacity. It is a sad story of oppression of a defenceless community that I have set before you from the ancient record, and the revelation of these crimes must have confirmed the King in the decision at which he had arrived, under pressure from the Archbishop and the barons, to dismiss the offenders from his service. They lost their high posi? tions, their castles and their estates and retired into obscurity. The King became the supreme ruler of the land. The post of Chief Justice that had been so disgraced by Stephen de Segrave was not filled for some twenty-four years. The office of Treasurer was given to Hugh de Pateshull,62 Bishop of Chester, of whom Matthew Paris says: " He passed his life in a praiseworthy manner ". Sir Hugh de Bath63 (dis? missed after two years), Sir William le Breton and Elias de Sunninge were appointed Justices of the Jews. This new form of personal government did not, however, last long. Henry was too incapable of acting for himself. He could not exist without favourites by whose counsel he wished to be guided. Within two years he forgave them all. Peter des Roches returned to his See of Winchester, but henceforth interfered little in State affairs. Peter de Rivaux, de Segrave and Passelewe were again summoned to Court, and once more basked in the sunshine of the royal favour, though they were not restored to all their former honours. In 1236 a decree of the King remitted to Peter de Rivaux the royal anger and granted him protection.64 He had temporary charge of the Great Seal, was created a baron of the Exchequer, and two Church livings 61 Cf. my paper on " The Inventory of the Condemned Jews "?Miscellanies, ii. p. 56. 62 Patent Rolls, 1234, p. 53. Foss, I.e., p. 437. 63 D.N.B., vol. iii. p. 402. Foss, I.e., p. 223. Loewc, i. 94; ii. 233. Close Rolls, 1234, p. 569. 64 Patent Rolls, 1236, p. 145.</page><page sequence="15">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III 155 and numerous gifts were conferred upon him. In 1257 he was restored to his offices of Treasurer and Keeper of the Wardrobe and acted as a royal ambassador to France,65 whilst in the following year he was a witness to a declaration of the King consenting to a project of reform of the government, on the demand of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the rebellious nobles.66 De Segrave paid 1,000 marks to be reconciled. He was reappointed to his office at the Tower of London,67 and was made a judge at Chester.68 He became a trusted friend of the King, but did not hold office long, for he resolved to end his days as he had begun, as a priest, dying as a Canon at the Augustinian Abbey of Leicester, where he had taken refuge in the days of adversity. Passelewe also paid a heavy fine before being pardoned, and a little later was made Justice of the Forests south of the Trent.69 In the discharge of this office he rendered himself most unpopular in his zeal for the Crown. The King, however, was so pleased with his success in raising money for him, who was in a continual state of bankruptcy, that he showed his gratitude by giving him ecclesiastical posts as Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral and of Salisbury Cathe? dral.70 He was further installed as Archdeacon of Lewes,71 and, at the suggestion of the local clergy who sought to curry favour with the King, was selected by Henry to be Bishop of Chichester. Some of the bishops, however, opposed this choice, and Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln, was instructed to submit Passelewe to an examina? tion as to his fitness to occupy so exalted an office in the Church. He failed to answer the exceedingly hard questions which Grosseteste put to him, and Boniface, the Archbishop of Canterbury, though a relative of Queen Eleanor's, rejected him as ignorant and declared the elec? tion void.72 The King in his wrath appealed to the Pope to support him, but his efforts were fruitless. Subsequently, Passelewe seems to have lost the favour of his master and his lay appointments were *r&gt; Ibid., 1237, p. 186. 67 Close Rolls, 1231, p. 394. 69 Patent Rolls, 1245, p. 462. 71 Ibid., 1244, p. 421. C6 Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 381. 68 Ibid., 1237, p. 538. 70 Ibid., 1242, pp. 298, 301. 72 Matthew Paris, ii. p. 41.</page><page sequence="16">I56 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY HI taken from him. He therefore determined to give up his service of the Court and to devote himself to spiritual things. In 1249 he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Ely and died in the odour of sanctity three years later. Matthew Paris sums up his career in a few striking words. " This Robert, though a clerk and a prelate, did not hesitate in his adherence to the king to impoverish many people in order to fatten his sovereign, but his deeds follow him." 73 And so ends a chapter in early Anglo-Jewish history of which nothing would have been known but for the discovery of the record of evidence preserved by the King's law officials. The weak govern? ment of King Henry made the persecution of Jewry possible, and allowed his ministers to discredit their high offices in a manner for which there is no parallel in English history. 7? Ibid., p. 495. ADDENDUM In the year 1286, the trial took place of two other Justices of the Jews, who were charged with malpractices, and, being found guilty, were dismissed from office.1 1 The full details of this trial were first made known in vol. 55 of the Publica? tions of the Seiden Society, 1936. See Maclox, History of the Exchequer, i. 254, 255, where the following is recorded: '* In the reign of King Edward I, the matter of a certain Falsity committed in the Judaism was, at the Instance of the Queen's Attorneys, brought before the Treasurer and Barons to be examined and rcctifyed. They went and sat in the Exchequer of the Jews. And finding that Robert de Lud ham, a Justice of the Jews had committed the Falsity, they put him out of his office, and committed him to prison. At the same time, Hamond Hauteyn, another Justice of the Jews was called to an Account by the Treasurer and the Barons. And being convicted before them of several Misdemeaners, he was by them sus? pended from his office." See also op. cit. iii. 321, 322. Foss, The Judges of England, iii. p. 102, in a note upon the life of Hauteyn, repeats the above, but makes no mention of de Ludham in his list of Judges of the period.</page><page sequence="17">LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III I57 H?mo Hauteyn2 and Robert de Ludham3 had ruled the Jewry for fourteen years since the beginning of the reign of Edward I. Three years before his trial Hauteyn had presided over a special Commission to investigate charges made against certain Jews suspected of selling to foreign merchants plate made of clippings or of silvered tin; and several of them were punished.4 Reports having been spread of the Justices of the Jews having perverted justice, they were summoned before the Treasurer, John de Kirkby," who was also Bishop of Ely, together with the Chief Justices, Ralph de Hengham6 and Thomas de Weyland,7 and other Barons of the Exchequer, to answer serious charges of corruption. Hauteyn alone appeared, for De Ludham was very ill, and he was examined as he lay in bed. In the first place, the two judges were accused of neglecting to keep proper accounts of the revenue of the Treasury, and thus de? frauding the royal Exchequer. It was further alleged that they removed to their own homes, and even to the houses of Jewish credi? tors, official documents and bonds that should have been stored at Westminster. For these offences they were suspended from office. Shortly afterwards, the Earl of Cornwall, the Regent, brought to the Treasurer and his colleagues a writ he had received from the King who was then in France, authorising a fuller inquiry to be made into the misconduct of the Justices. There were two Jews concerned in the new charges. Jose Batecok8 appeared to be a friend of the accused. It was said that he had defrauded two merchants by a trick 2 Judge, and Justice of the Jews. See note i, and Dr. C. Gross, Jewish Exchequer, p. 217. 3 As above. These Justices witnessed a deed of gift by Aaron son of Vivcs to the London community of a stone house in C;itte Street to be made into a Syna? gogue. (Charter Rolls, 1281, p. 253.) 4 Patent Rolls, 1283, p. 56. Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xxxi. p. 204. Foss, I.e., p. tto. 6 D.N.B., vol. xxv. p. 410. He was Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Foss, I.e., p. 261. 7 D.N.B., vol. ix. p. 391. He was Chief Justice of Common Pleas. Both Heng ham and Weyland were removed from office for corruption in 1289. See State Trials of Edward 1, 1289-1293, by Tout and Johnstone, Royal Historical Society, 1906, and Foss, I.e., p. 170. 8 This man is not mentioned in the records of the time, as far as I have been able to ascertain. There are two others of the name of Batecok, Abraham and Dieye.</page><page sequence="18">158 LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III and then had used violence (vi armatd) in robbing them of the sum of ^335. To Hauteyn and de Ludham, Jose admitted that he had taken ^140 from the merchants, and of this money he paid ^20 to the judges, who had accepted this bribe. It being suspected that all had not yet been ascertained of the misdeeds of the corrupt judges, a full scrutiny was ordered to be made of all bonds received by the Justices during the whole period of their being in charge of the Scaccarium ]udeorum* It was then discovered that they had been accessory to the crime of forging an important charter as well as of removing it from the Exchequer. The King had pardoned a debt of ^250 owing by the Abbot of Stratford to a prominent London Jew, Master Elias the son of Master Moses.10 Elias was a Master of the Jewish Law, and his brother Hagin was the Arch-Presbyter11 of the time. A marked intimacy existed between the Jewish moneylender and the Justices who frequently visited him at his house in Milk Street, Cheapside,12 taking with them official documents. The text of the Abbot's bond had been considerably altered by a clerk of the Justices, acting under the instructions of his masters, and the effect of this tampering with the original charter was that the Jewish creditor had received the sum of ^20 more than was due to him. The Justices were condemned to pay a fine of ^1,000, and were dismissed from the royal service. 9 Sec Gross, I.e., p. 75; Jenkinson, Transactions, viii., and Introduction to vol. iii. of the Plea Rolls. Also Cramer, American Historical Review, vol. xlv. No. 2, January 1940. 10 See my Jews of Medieval England, p. 157. Stokes, Studies, p. 7. 11 Cf. J.M.E., p. 137. 12 See note 10, Jacobs, London Jewry, p. 24.</page><page sequence="19">london jewry and ministers of henry iii J59 APPENDIX Public Record Office, K.B. 26, No. 115 b. (Curia Regis 18-19 III), 1234. Membrane 14. London. Benedictus Crespin primo iuratus dicit quod manerium de Bocsted' quod fuit aliquando Roberti filii Philipi fuit vadium suum et Aron' filius Abraham. Et Idem Robertus debuit eis super terras illas et super alias terras suas dcccc . . m. Et Willelmus de (Plessitis?) per vim et oppressionem Petri de RivalP fecit eos remittere debitum illud usque ad sexcentas marcas Waltero filio eiusdem Roberti qui finem fecit cum eis. Et istud factum est occasione maritagii fil(iae) ipsius Willelmi fil(io) ... Et Walterus postea fecit . . . illud per manerium de Bocsted' quod dedit predicto Willelmo ad vocem suam. Et ipse Willelmus postea distrinxit eosdem Benedictum et Aron ad ponen dum manerium illud extra vadium. Et hoc fecerunt propter metum ipsius Petri. Item dicit quod dedit Petro de RivalP unam zonam bombacinam barratam argento precii xxxii. s. Item eidem dedit fermaculum aureum precii ii. m. Item eidem unam petram que vocatur Camae wain que fuit talliata una ... dedit eodem unum fermaculum aureum ponderis iiij. solidis et valuit xliijs. Item ipse cum aliis Iudeis (in) communi C. lib' semel. Item dicit quod dedit Stephano de Segrave j zonam de seriis barratam argento precii ii. marcarum et dimidie et predicta j ferma? culum aurei ex parte Ursell' fratris sui precii iij. marcarum et dimidie. Item dicit quod dedit Roberto Passelewe unam Camahyw' quern ipse postea dedit Domino Regi. Et postea unam zonam precii xliij. d. et unam Cipham precii xx. solidorum. Item habuerit de Catallis</page><page sequence="20">l6o LONDON JEWRY AND MINISTERS OF HENRY III Aaron Iudei suspensi j Camehew et unam emesradam et unam zonam precii ij. marcarum et catalla qua debuerunt esse domino Regi . . . aliter, etc. Item dicit quod predictus Robertus quando Iudei non tenuerunt ei quandam promissionem ei factam deferri fecit arche Iudeorum cum Cartis et Cirographis Iudeorum usque ad domum suam et tarn detinuit per unam noctem donee finem fecerunt cum eo per C. solidos et constanter si esset apporta quam diu ibi fuit dicit quod nescit. Et postea delata fuit ad domum Simon ftT Marie et ibi detenta fuit per xv dies uel per j mensem sed nescit uter. Et ibi aperta fuit per Radul phum Destin clericum ipsius Roberti etc. Item quod fermia cum Cirographis et cartis delata fuerunt apud Westm' in saccis. Et postea reposita fuerunt. Et dicit quod pedes quorumdam Cirographorum exposita fuerunt venalia apud Weschep' per Garciones ipsius Roberti. Item dicit quod dedit Petro Grimbaut j anulum precii xx solidorum. Iosceus le prestre iuratus dicit quod Robertus Passelewe accusauit eum versus Petrum de RivalF imponens ei quod fuit Thesaurarius Domini Carl' et Huberti de Burgo et fecit eum adducere apud Glouc' et minatus fuit ei quod faceret eum adducere usque ad Castrum de Corf donee finem fecit per lx. marcas. Et unde reddidit L. marcas Richardo camerario ipsius Roberti. Et Isaac filius eins inde reddidit x. marcas eiclem Roberti apud Windesor. Item dedit1 ei unam Gar landam quam petiit ad opus Domini Regi apud Theokesbur' precii viij. marcarum et dimidie. Item dicit quod occasione terre quam Radulphus de peshoc uendidit Ricardo