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As David would his Eyes no rest afford,
Fitz-Alwin of the Drapers Company;
The church is dedicated to the memory of king James I. and its dimensions are, length sixty-five feet, breadth fortytwo, altitude twenty-seven, and the tower seventy feet. The living is a curacy of no great value, in the presentation of the lord mayor and corporation. The perquisites were formerly considerable; but from this being a principal quarter for the residence of those of the Jewish religion, the surplice fees have considerably diminished.
The history of this antient chosen people of God, as far as concerns their introduction and progress in England, forms no small part of our consideration.
It appears from the learned Sir Henry Spelman, that they were recognized in England as early as the reign of Edward the Confessor, in one of whose laws it is declared, that the Jews, and all theirs, belong to the king.” They had been settled in various parts of this country for a considerable time previously ; for in A. D. 740, Ecgbriht, archbishop of York, forbad “ any Christian to be present at the Jewish feasts."
The unprincipled tyrant, William Rufus, is among the first recorded to have patronized these people; this, however, did not proceed from any motive of toleration. William, though a Christian by profession, was an infidel in his practice; he kept all the ecclesiastical benefices in his own hands as they were vacated, and received the profits, until he could dispose of them to the highest bidder. Such a man, who could so scandalously sport with his own religion, would not make any conscience concerning any other where his interest was concerned; consequently when the Jews, by means of considerable presents, gained his consent to permit religious controversies with his bishops, he swore
by the face of St. Luke, that if the Jews gained the victory, he would be a convert to their faith!” This meeting was held in London, and was ultimately declared to be in favour of the Christians. Stow, in his chronicles, after having mentioned this wickedness of the king, adds, that it was followed with such dreadful claps of thunder, and so vio. VOL. II. No. 43.
lent an earthquake, as was scarcely ever felt in England before. *
Under such a reign the Jews became wealthy, and theic ingress into the country was numerous. In the city of Oxford alone, they had purchased so many houses, that the stu
Hollingshead mentions a singular instance of. William’s mercenary irreligion. “The king being at Rhoan,” says he, “ on a time there came to him divers Jews, who inhabited that city, complaining that divers of that nation had renounced their Jewish religion, and were become Christians; wherefore they besought him, that for a certain sum of money, which they offered to give, it might please him to constrain them to abjure Christianity, and turn to the Jewish law again. He was content to satisfy their desires ; and so receiving their money, called them before him; and what with threats, and putting them otherwise in fear, he compelled divers of them to forsake Christ, and to turn to their old errors. Hereupon the father of one Stephen, a Jew converted to the Christian faith, being sore troubled for that his son was turned a Christian, (and hearing what the king had done ir like matters,) presented unto him sixty marks of silver, conditionally that he would enforce his son to return to the Jewish religion. Whereupon the young man was brought before the king, unto whom the king said “ Sirrah! thy father' here complaineth that, without his licence, thou art become a Christian: If this be true, I command thee to return again to the religion of thy nation, without any more ado." To whom the young man answered, “Your grace (as I guess) doth but jest. Wherewith the king being moved, said “ What! thou dunghill knave, should I jest with thee? Get thee hence quickly, and fulfil my commandment, or, by St. Luke's face, I will cause thine eyes to be plucked out of thine head." The
young man, nothing abashed thereat, with a constant voice answered, Truly I will not do it, but know for certain, that if you were a good Christian, you would never have uttered any such words; for it is the part of a Christian to reduce them again to Christ which are departed from him, and not to separate them from him which are joined to him in faith.” The king herewith confounded, cominanded the Jew to get him out of his sight : But the father perceiving that the king could not persuade his son to forsake the Christian faith, required to have his money again. To whom the king said he had done so much as he had promised to do; that was to persuade him so far as he might. At length, when he would have had the king dealt further in the matter, the king, to stop his mouth, tendered back to him the half of his money, and kepe the other himself. All which encreased the suspicion men had of his inAdelity." Chronicle, Vol. III. p. 27.
dents were obliged to become their tenants. Three public hostels, or places set apart for learning, were named from their Jewish proprietors, Lombard Hall, Moses Hall, and Jacob Hall; the parishes of St. Martin, St. Edward, and St. Aldate, were denominated the New and Old Jewry; the rabbies kept public schools to instil their language, and this Christian seat of learning was superseded by the mandates of the rabbinical seminaries.
Such inconsistent innovations, under a thoughtless and mercenary king, induced ill-timed arrogance in the persons who were favoured, as they supposed, by his unprincipled attention, they grew insolent and assuming ; and there is an instance mentioned by Philip, prior of St. Frideswide, in Oxford; where, mentioning the miracles of the saint whose life be is writing, he adds, “ That a certain young Jew. of Oxford, called Eum Crescat, the son of Mossey, of Wallingford, was so impudent at to laugh at her votaries, and tell them that, he could cure their infirmities as well as the saint herself. St. Frideswide, no longer able to. suffer his insolence, so operated upon him, that he suddenly ran distracted into his father's kitchen and hanged himself in his own girdle.” “ Upon which,” continues the legend writer, “ he was, according to custom, conveyed to London in a cart, all the dogs in the city following his detested corps, and yelping in a most frightful manner
Taking the above story, with all its exceptions, it plainly discovers that the imprudence and the ill use that they made of the indulgence which they received, brought on them the indignation of the whole mass of English subjects, and ultimately provoked the horrid and impious sufferings which they afterwards unjustly underwent; for what could be thought of those persons, who, for a price, held the ecclesiastical living which William had seized.
Even at this time, however, their privileges were contracted : they had only one public burial place in the kingdom; this was a large spot of ground without the walls of London, in the parish of St. Giles, Cripplegate, called, in
* Mss. Bodl. Oxon. 3 A 2
antient deeds, The Jews Garden ; which, upon their banishment in future times, was covered by tenements, and denominated Jewin Street: to this place alone they were compelled to carry their dead from every part of the kingdom.
During the reign of Henry I. no mention is made of the Jews either in records or chronicles.
The dreadful impression which the inconsiderate conduct of this misled people, had made on the English, aided by kingly peculation on one side, and ecclesiastical arrogance and selfish principles on the other, opened a scene of persecution against them. A most barbarous crucifixion was said to have been committed on a boy at Norwich, in 1135. This was sufficient to raise the popular cry against the Jews. Some enthusiasts might have been guilty of enor. mities; but that they should be so lost to humanity, as to commit crimes repugnant to its dictates, requires a vast degree of authenticity before it can claim due credit; more especially when it is added by a monkish writer, that the barbarity was committed “in contempt of Christ and his Passion*;" and it is a curious circumstance that the Jews were never accused of these crucifixions but when the reigning monarch was manifestly in want of money.
Notwithstanding these supposed enormities, Henry II. granted that the Jews should have burial places on the outside of every city; this indulgence, says Gervase of Canterbury, was so far from having any good effect upon them, that they crucified another boy at St. Edmund's Bury, where he was buried with great solemnity, and his bones continued to work miracles for many years. A rational conclusion is furnished by the monk himself, besides the above enormity, for the Jewish persecution in this reign; “ twelve years, he adds, before this accident, the king, wanting money, banished the wealthiest Jews out of England, and fined those whom he suffered to remain in the sum of six thousand marks.” We must not therefore suppose that such a piece of iniquity as this, could pass un