JCR-UK

Medieval (Pre-1290) Jewish Communities
in Eastern England
(from Lincolnshire to Essex)

Page created: 22 April 2005
Latest revision: 26 October 2014

 

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

ESSEX

HUNTINGDONSHIRE

  • HUNTINGDON 1 5

 

LINCOLNSHIRE

NORFOLK

 

SUFFOLK

Counties referred to above are not necessarily the counties in which the towns are now located, but are the historic shires (or counties) in which the relevant towns were situated prior to the reorganization of local government in 1965 and 1974.  Although in many cases they are the counties in which the towns were situated during the medieval period, this is not necessarily the case.

Notes
1
Appearing in capital letters. Towns with archae (official registers of Jewish financial transactions, created after 1194).
5 Towns from which Jews were expelled in 1290. 
6 Towns from which Jews had been excluded prior to 1290.


Cambridgeshire

Cambridge

One of the six principal cities of medieval England and one of the original centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1073 Jews first mentioned as living in the town.

Synagogues Information

The ancient synagogue was close to the prison and was subsequently given to the Franciscans. The is also a tradition that the Round Church near St. John's College was also a synagogue.

Cemetery Information

There was a Jewish Cemetery in Cambridge in use from some time after 1177.

Articles on the Medieval Cambridge Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Cambridge by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Benjamin of Canterbury by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.


Jewish Residents of Cambridge prior to 1290

Bibliography

Modern Cambridge Community  


Essex

Colchester, Essex

One of the twenty-six centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1185 - Jews first mentioned as living in the town.  Benedict of Norwich paid a fine of £40 for selling goods without licence to, among others, Aaron, Isaac and Abraham of Colchester.

1190 - Anti-Jewish attacks, which started in Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Colchester.

1193 - The Jews of the town make a contribution of £41 to the levy of 5,000 marks, placed on Jewry for the ransom of King Richard I.

1194 - Colchester is ranked ninth in importance among the Jewish communities in England according to the Northampton Donum.

1252 - A deed shows the Jews as living in Stockwell Street, Colchester.

1255 - King Henry III grants custody of the Castle of Colchester with the lands belonging to Guy de Rochefort, but expressly excludes "the woods of Kingwood and the Jews of the town".

1277 - Colchester townsmen and Jews - Saute, son of Ursel, Cok and Samuel, sons of Aaron, Isaac, their chaplain - were fined for an offence against the Forest Laws and Christians stood surety for Jews and vice-versa.

1290 - Jewish community expelled. At the time of their expulsion, Colchester stood seventh among English Jewries and comprised nine families of about 50 persons. They owned nine houses in Stockwell Street and a synagogue, which were escheated to the Crown.

         Articles on the Medieval Colchester Community

       Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Colchester by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Bibliography

Modern Colchester Community  


Lincolnshire

Grimsby

Very little is know about this community.

Chronology of Events

1182. - First Jews mentioned were Jeremias de Grimesby and Nehemiah the Jew, they are recorded in the Pipe Rolls of King Henry II.

Bibliography

Modern Grimsby Community  


Lincoln

An important city in medieval England and one of the original centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1154 – Beginning of reign of King Henry II.  The existence of a Jewish community in Lincoln is noted in official Treasury records.

1190 -  Anti-Jewish disturbances, which started in Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Lincoln.  However, most of the Jews were able to place themselves and their valuables under the   protection of the royal officials. Many of their properties were nevertheless pillaged.

1194 – As one of the five most important Jewish communities in England, Lincoln sent between 20 and 40 contributors to the Northampton Donum, which had been summoned to decide how to raise the levy imposed upon the Jews to pay the ransom for the release of King Richard I.

c.1216 – Right of Jews to live in Lincoln expressly confirmed during early part if reign of Henry III.

1255 – “The Libel of Lincoln” – Jews of the town are accused of the ritual murder of a Christian boy (Hugh of Lincoln).  The body of the child was found in a cesspool the day after many Jews had assembled for the wedding of the daughter of a prominent member of the community (the child had been missing for three weeks.  Upon a forced confession of a Jew, Copin (who was hanged), ninety-one Lincoln Jews were sent to the Tower in London, of whom, eighteen were executed for claiming a trial before a mixed jury, to which they were entitled.  Eventually, Henry III agreed to release the remaining Jews following a request from his brother, Richard of Cornwall.  An earlier appeal by the friars (which clearly showed that the charges were false) failed to secure the Jews’ release.  The “Legend of Little St, Hugh” entered into English folk lore.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.

Articles on the Medieval Lincoln Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Lincoln by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Aaron of Lincoln by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Hugh of Lincoln by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.


           Modern Lincoln Community            

Jewish Residents of Lincoln prior to 1290

Jewish Property and Heritage & Places of Local Interest

Bibliography


Stamford, Lincs.

One of the twenty-six centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1154-89 –Jewish community in Stamford believed to have started during reign of King Henry II.

1190 -  In March, anti-Jewish disturbances, which started in Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Stamford, spurned on by numbers of Crusaders, at the town’s Lent Fair. Houses in the Jewry were ransacked, property looted and many Jews, who were unable to reach the sanctuary of the castle, were murdered.

1194 – In light of the outbreaks of violence that occurred only four years previously, Stamford is conspicuously missing from the list of Jewish communities participating to the  Northampton Donum, summoned to decide how to raise the levy imposed upon the Jews to pay the ransom for the release of King Richard I.

c.1216 – Right of Jews to live in Stamford expressly confirmed during early part if reign of Henry III.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.


Norfolk

Lynn and Newland, Norfolk

Chronology of Events

Mid-1150’s  - The population of Lynn (now known as King’s Lynn but then known as Bishop’s Lynn, as it was under the wing of the Bishop of Norwich) had increased to the point where settlement had spread north of the small River Purfleet.  Part of the population expansion was due to the introduction of a Jewish community.  The Bishop treated this secondary area of settlement like a separate town, confirming (ca.1146-50) to the settlers on this "new land" a market (on Tuesdays) as well as fair that they had probably already established. This Newland he kept under his direct jurisdiction. (History of Medieval Lynn - Origins and Early Growth, see "http://www.trytel.com/~tristan/towns/lynn1.html")  

1190 -  In February, a riot develops, allegedly as a result of an attack upon a recent convert from Judaism that took place in a Church by his former co-religionists, which spreads throughout the town, Jewish houses are looted and torched and the community is all but exterminated.  The disturbances then spread throughout much of eastern England.

1194 – In light of the outbreaks of violence that occurred only four years previously, Lynn is conspicuously missing from the list of Jewish communities participating to the Northampton Donum, summoned to decide how to raise the levy imposed upon the Jews to pay the ransom for the release of King Richard I.


Norwich, Norfolk

One of the six principal cities of medieval England and one of the original centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1144 – First ever recorded instance in medieval world of the infamous accusation of Jewish Ritual Murder. A young skinner’s apprentice, William of Norwich, is found dead in the woods near Norwich on Easter Eve.  The Jews are falsely accused of crucifying him after their synagogue service.  Although the authorities tried to protect the Jews and they were given sanctuary in the castle by the Sheriff of Oxford, several, including one of the leaders of the community, were murdered, when they left the refuge. Although the evidence against the Jews was so flimsy that they were not even required to answer the charge, the story nevertheless gains credence and William becomes a martyred saint.

1190 -  In February, anti-Jewish attacks, which started in Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Norwich.

1234 – Ten Jews arrested for alleged forced circumcision some years earlier of the son of a converted Jew. Anti- Jewish riots.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.

Synagogues Information

The synagogue was in the centre of the old town, for which the community paid four pence per year for land tax.

Cemetery Information

There was a Jewish Cemetery in Norwich, not far from the synagogue, in use from some time after 1177.

Articles on the Medieval Norwich Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Norwich by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on William of Norwich by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.


Jewish Residents of Norwich prior to 1290

Jewish Property and Heritage & Places of Local Interest

Bibliography

Modern Norwich Community  


Thetford, Norfolk

1154 – Beginning of reign of King Henry II. The existence of a Jewish community in Thetford is noted in official Treasury records.

1190 -  Anti-Jewish attacks, which started in Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Thetford.


Yarmouth, Norfolk

A community is believed to existed in the town of Yarmouth in the thirteenth century, as there are references to at least one Jew from the town.

Articles on the Medieval Yarmouth Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Yarmouth by Joseph Jacobs and Victor Rousseau Emanuel, c-1906.

Jewish Residents of Yarmouth prior to 1290

Bibliography

Modern Great Yarmouth Community  


Suffolk

Bungay, Suffolk

1154 – Beginning of reign of King Henry II.  The existence of a Jewish community in Bungay is noted in official Treasury records.


Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk

Chronology of Events

1181 – Accusation of “Ritual Murder”, the third such incident in England of this false allegation, is made against a number of Jews of Bury St. Edmunds, who, with the connivance of the monks of the Abbey, were accused of torturing and murdering a certain Robert.  This clearly laid the grounds for worse to come.

1190 – On the day following the tragic York massacres, 57 Jews are murdered in the Bury St. Edmunds, and the remainder of the community are expelled from the town.

1194 – In light of the outbreaks of violence that occurred only four years previously, Bury St. Edmunds is conspicuously missing from the list of Jewish communities participating to the Northampton Donum, summoned to decide how to raise the levy imposed upon the Jews to pay the ransom for the release of King Richard I.

1290 - Jewish community expelled.

Synagogues Information

The building known as Moyse Hall is claimed to have previously been the ancient synagogue, although certain authorities dispute this claim.

Articles on the Medieval Bury St Edmunds Community

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Bury St. Edmunds by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.

Jewish Encyclopaedia article on Robert of Bury St. Edmunds by Joseph Jacobs, c-1906.


Jewish Property and Heritage & Places of Local Interest

Bibliography


Ipswich, Suffolk

One of the twenty-six centres to have an archa.

Chronology of Events

1154-89 –Jewish community in Ipswich believed to have started during reign of King Henry II.

Modern Ipswich Community  


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List of Medieval
(Pre-1290)
Communities
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community
)

List of Medieval
(Pre-1290)
Communities  
(arranged according to
county
)

List of Regions
(Medieval Period)
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