The Medieval Jews of Exeter
by the Rev. Michael Adler, DSO BA
(Read at Exeter, 24th June, 1931)
[Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and Art. 1931.-Vol. lxiii, pp.221-240]
The existence of a Jewry in this city in the 12th and 13th centuries is fully established from the records of the period, and there are many elements of interest associated with its history. It is an accepted doctrine of modern students of Anglo-Jewish history that prior to the Norman Conquest there were no Jews in England, but they came over with the Conqueror and gradually spread to all parts of the country. And so they drifted in small numbers to this fair county of Devon and were allowed to make a home for themselves in Exeter. I need not here enter into the subject of the legal position of the Jew of the period and his relation under the Feudal system to the king and the general community&emdash; except to quote a few lines from the masterly History of the English Law, by Pollock and Maitland, which sums up the position admirably.
" The Jew's relation to the king was like that of the villein to his lord. He acquired for the king and he, with all that he had, belonged to the king who protected him against all others... As regards the rest of the world the Jews were free men; they could build houses and hold lands... In order to bring benefit to his master, the king, the Jew was allowed to do what the law of his Church forbade the Christian, i.e., to take interest on money lent. Usury was no offence against the law of the land, which enforced the usurious
1A.E., Introduction, p. 9. 2Vol. 1, p. 468.
contracts of the Jew for him... The Jew was permitted to swear in court upon his Scroll of the Law... In internal communal matters the Jew arranged his own affairs in accordance with Hebrew law... He bore an enormous weight of taxation out of his profits and his financial affairs were the direct personal interest of the king who could demand any tallage from his Jews at will...
Unlike almost every other Jewish settlement in England the exact part of the city where the Exeter Jews took up their residence is not clearly indicated - though it was probably near the High Street. A Jew named Amiot occupied a house there in 1211 and a Jewess named Comitissa is reported to have lived in the High Street in 12902 when she was expelled by the edict of Edward I which drove 16,500 Jews of England into exile. Two other houses are mentioned as belonging to Jews of the city in 1280 (see page 237) but their locality is not stated. Exeter was a properly-organised community with a Synagogue - location unknown - administered by its Rabbi, its Chaplain or Precentor and its lay leaders. The law of the y ear 1177 permitted them to have a cemetery beyond the walls of the city,3 - before this date all dead bodies having to be taken for interment to London. The present Jewish cemetery in Magdalen Street lies outside the old walls of the city near the ancient South Gate. According to the condition of qualified religious autonomy which each Jewry enjoyed under the direct protection of the Crown,4 Exeter had its Beth Din or Ecclesiastical Court of Jewish Law recourse to which entailed a heavy fine to the royal Exchequer. In the Plea Rolls of the year II88, it is recorded the Jews of Exeter render count of one mark gold for a fine for pleas which were between them in common.5 The amount they paid was equivalent in modern value to about £2006 - a form of penalty which restricted the use of the Beth Din to only the most important legal cases.
The date when the first settlement took place in Exeter is uncertain. The earliest mention of a local Jew being engaged in financial transactions is in the year 1181 - it being evident that Jews must have already commenced business
1Cartulary of St. Nicholas in British Museum, Cotton MSS. Vit. D., IX, fol. 106a. I wish to express my deep gratitude to Miss E. Lega-Weekes and Miss. F. Rose-Troup for their help in connexion with the Cartulary and other information about early Exeter.
2See p. 236.
3A. E.., p. 62. Hoveden ii, 137,
4A. E., p. 134.
5.A. E., p. 95.
6Concerning the relative money value of the 12th and I3th centuries as compared with to-day , see A.E., p. 320, where Dr. Jacobs multiplies by 30; Lionel Abrahams (Trans., VIII, p. 179) multiplies by 20.
before this time in the city. In the Pipe Rolls of the twenty-seventh year of Henry II, a Jew of Exeter named Piers Delesalt (i.e. Dieu-le-saut - May God save him - the French translation of the Hebrew name Isaiah) paid the sum of 10 marks that the king might take charge of his bonds. The name of the moneylender is characteristic of the manner in which a large number of Jewish men and women of the time assumed Norman-French names. The official system of registering bonds was not yet in vogue so that Piers of Exeter was compelled to pay for handing his business documents into the safe custody of the king's officers. In the year 1194 king Richard I ordained3 that Jews should only be allowed to reside in recognised centres - at first six or seven were indicated - the number later growing to twenty-six. These official settlements formed branches of the newly-established Exchequer of the Jews. In the massacres of Jews that followed the coronation of king Richard in 1190, the most terrible of which took place in York4 - the West of England including Exeter apparently escaping these outrages5 - the rioters destroyed the bonds of the Jews and so all evidence of debts was lost. This constituted a serious attack upon the king's Treasury and to obviate this possibility for the future an Exchequer of the Jews (Scaccarium Judeorum) as created, and in each recognised Jewry a royal Archa or Chest was placed in charge of Jewish and Christian officials called Chirographers. In this Archa a copy of the bond was preserved and whenever the king demanded money or when a Jew died or became converted or upon any other pretext an order was issued to the Sheriffs for the Archa to be inspected and debts owing to Jews collected for the king. Exeter received such an Archa and the names of many of the local Chirographers are recorded and will be given later.
In the year of the constitution of the Jewries, all England was occupied with the collection of the ransom to be paid for the liberation of Richard the Lion Heart from the prison in Austria into which he had been thrust on his way home from the Crusades.6 The Jews were called upon to assist in this patriotic task and the sum of 5,000 marks7 (equivalent to over £100,000 in modern value ) was appointed as their quota - the tax bearing the name of the Northampton Donum or Gift. The details of the payments of the Jewries
1A. E., p. 73.
2A. E., p. 369; Stokes, Part I, Ch. IX.
3Hovenden iii, 266. A. E., p. 156, Gross, Papers of the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition. 1887, p. 182, ff.
4A. E. p. 117.
5Richard of Devizes, p. 383; A. E., p. 133.
6Norgate, Richard the Lion Heart, p. 281.
7A. E, p. 162; Trans., Miscellanies, Part I, p. lix.
are extant in a documents in the Public Record Office.l In Exeter one man whose name is Amiot contributed the sum of £1 3s. 3d., i.e., less than 2 marks out of the 5,000 demanded, his donation being equivalent to-day to about £34.  The number of Jews of Exeter must have been very small and they were not in affluent circumstances at this time as w ill be observed when we compare the payments made by other lest of England Jewries - Gloucester with 21 donors giving £118 and Bristol with 13 contributed £22. Amiot appears to have been at the time the only local money-lender, and in I2042 he lent Sir Henry de la Pomeray, a member of a famous Devonian family,3 the sum of £5, upon which debt the king, as was his custom, exacted a tax of one bezant, or 2/-, for every £1. In the year 1211 Amiot, or Amideus, as he is called in the Latin text of the Cartulary of the Priory of St. Nicholas of Exeter, lived in a house in the High Street belonging to Godekniht, near to land that was the property of the well-known Exeter celebrity, Peter de Palerna.4 By this time other money-lenders were known in the community, mention being made in the year I2055 of Deulecresse le Eveske, of Samuel and Juetta his w if e, and of Jacob the son of Yveling,6 Deulecresse his brother and Sarah their sister - the last three evidently forming a limited liability loan office to carry on their operations.
In 1212 a Devonian landlord named Henry de Nunant borrowed money from the local Jews for which he pledged his Manor of Cliston (Broadclyst) - this property later being confiscated by the king.7
Deulecresse le Eveske or Episcopus (in Hebrew, Gedalya Cohen)8 is a noteworthy Exeter Jew who became the leader of the community and is called the bailiff (ballivus) of the Jewry. In the year I2I8 a Writ was issued by the king in the following terms9:&emdash;
1Exchequer Accounts, No. 249, 2.
2Fine and Oblate Rolls, I, I97; A. E , p. 239.
3Worthies of Devon, by Rev. J. Prince, 1810, p. 645. The name of the family is preserved in the village of Berry Pomeroy, near Totnes.
4See note 1, p. 238 " De terra que fuit Radulphi des Chous in magn' vico Exonie inter terram Petri de Palerni et terram que fuit Godekniht quam Amideus Judeus tenet." Palerna gave grants to 28 chapels in Exeter in 1211. See Topogaphy of the Cathedral Close, by Miss Lega-Weekes and the Lost Chapels of Exeter, by Mrs. Rose-Troup, pp. 3, 18, ff.
5A. .E., p. 240.
6The name Yveling occurs in Exeter records as that of Christians: Cartulary of St. Nicholas, No. 67 (1177); Chapter MSS. No, 379 (1188), Exeter Vicars Choral Obit Book, f. 10 (Mrs. Rose-Troup)
7Testa de Nevil (Book of Fees, p. 98). See paper by Miss Lega-Weekes in Devon and Cornwall Notes and Queries, Jan., 1922, p. 46.
8Stokes, Part I, Ch. iii.
9Rigg, I ,p.18.
"We command you that you have our Jews of Exeter in ward and countenance, neither being, nor suffering to be done, to them, any mischief or molestation, and that, if any offend against them in any wise, you cause reparation to be made them without delay. We command you, likewise, that you neither lay, nor suffer to he laid, hand... on their chattels, and that if any Jew offend in aught for which he deserves to be put by gage and pledge, you take him by view of Deulecresse Episcopus, our bailiff in those parts, to be before our Justice assigned to the custody of the Jews at Westminster at a convenient term to answer thereof."... Moreover, in all Jewish centres, twenty-four burgesses were elected to protect the Jews, especially against Crusaders.l
In the year 1220 Deulecresse was himself in trouble. He, together with Solomon of Exeter, was accused by William de Esse of demanding a debt from him that was not owing, and they were summoned by the Sheriff to go to London to answer the charge before the Justices at Westminster.2 Apparently they set up a satisfactory defence and were acquitted. When they travelled to the capital the two Jews must have been conspicuous by the two broad strips of white linen or parchment in the shape of the Tables of the Law which they wore on their outer garments in accordance with the new law issued two years previously.3
In the Cartulary of the Priory of St. Nicholas,4 two important monetary transactions of Deulecresse are recorded which testify to the prominent position he held in Exeter, being closely acquainted with the heads of both the Christian and the Jewish communities. In the first, numbered 37I in Nichols' Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica (p. 384), whose date is about 1224, William Bozun of Clist gives to Deulecresse Episcopus Judeorum - as he is called, the sum of five shillings which Martin Rof had paid him as rent for his land in Clist. Rof had dealings with the local Jews5 and was a notable Exeter citizen who held the office of Bailiff the first time in 1224 and for four later years, and of Mayor eleven times beginning in 1234.6 The Christian witnesses are Martin Prodome, the Mayor,7 and his brother William, the
1Tovey, p. 77.
2Rigg, I, p. 24.
3Tovey, p 79.
4See text of these deeds in Appendix pp. 238-240.
5In the Cartulary, fol. 160 l60a, Rof borrows 40 silver marks "in Judaismo" to pay William Bozun for some land. Hilary Blund, the Mayor, is one of the witnesses. Nichols, Collectanea, No. 369.
6Izacke, Antiquities of Exeter in his Memorials.
7So-called on fol. 106b of the Cartulary in the deed in which Amideus Judeus is named. See note 1 on p. 238. His name does not appear in Izacke's list of Mayors, nor in that of G. Oliver, History of Exeter, p. 228. Other witnesses to this deed are Samson Rof and Gilbert Bochet, the Bailiff (Oliver, ib., p. 226).
latter a priest who gave a house in the Cathedral Close to St. John's Hospital.l The Jewish witnesses are the Chirographers, Moses le Turk and Ursell the son-in-law of Amiot (of the Northampton Donum), Jacob of Gloucester, Bonefei the son of Isaac and Moses of Burdell.2
Moses le Turk, or of Tuarz in Normandy, belonged to a family which had three other representatives in England, Solomon in Bristol,3 Jacob in London4 and Samuel his brother In Kent.5 He died in Hereford about I270 leaving the small estate of 13/- upon which his widow Genta paid the usual death duty to the Crown of one-third 6 Jacob of Gloucester occurs frequently in the records of Exeter Jewry - sharing the leadership of the community with Deulecresse Episcopus.7 In 1219 the regency of king Henry levied its first tax upon "his" Jewry, and six leading Jews ~ were appointed to superintend its collection. Under these chief talliators, as they were called, local representatives were appointed, Jacob being selected as the Exeter official.8
The second document, No. 372 which belongs to the year 1233 the year of Hilary Blund's first Mayoralty, contains a personal declaration by Deulecresse in which he sells the rent received from William Bozun to Martin Rof, who, in return was to pay him annually a pair of white gloves or the sum of threepence. For this transaction Martin gave Deulecresse the sum of £2, which the Jewish bailiff handed over to Joseph of Bristol,9 who, as representative of king Henry, had come at that time to Exeter with royal letters "to compel the Jews to pay debts owing to our lord, the king".l0 The principal Christian witness to this deed, mention of whose name fixes the date, is the Mayor, Hilary Blund, was in office in in l22711 after having been previously bailiff for three years and later, Mayor for four subsequent years between I255 and
lMiss Lega-Weekes Topography of the Cathedral Close, Index, s.n. Produm. This deed of gift was witnessed by Magister Isaac and Magister Michael who as Mrs. Rose Troup informs me were Canons of the cathedral.
2Perhaps Budleigh. See C. G. Harper, The South Devon Coast, p. 63.
4Ib., XI, p. 100.
5Rigg, I, p. 100
6Ib., p. 204
7See pp. [?]
8P. R. O., No. 249, 12. he is associated with the Western Jewries with Bonenfant and Lumbard for Bristol, and Solomon of Ilchester for Somerset. See Stokes, p. 250.
9i.e. Joseph Furmager, one of the leaders of Bristol Jewry. See my paper on "Pre-Expulsion Bristol." Trans. XII.
10Quos solvi domino regi per manus Iosepini de Bristollis qui tunc temporis venit Exoniam cum litteris domini regis patentibus as compellendum judeos solvere debitos domini regis."
11Oliver, ib. gives 1227 as Blund's first year as Mayor.
126l l The Christian Chirographers, Philip de Stokes and Henry Picot, as well as their Jewish colleagues Jacob of Gloucester and Moses le T urk, also sign the document, to which Ursell and Bonefei, Martin and William Prodome further add their signatures. These documents are of interest because Martin Rof later gave his Clist property to the Priory of St. Nicholas, as recorded in the Cartulary.2
The names of the Jewish witnesses occur in the numerous Receipt Rolls of tallages preserved in the Public Record Office. The earliest of these is of the year 1221, in which a list is given of local Jews who were reported to have been in arrears of payment of the Bristol tallage of 60,000 marks (over £1,206,000 in modern value ) which had been demanded by king John in the year 1216. Upon that occasion the Jews of Exeter, together with their brethren throughout the whole of England, had been arrested and imprisoned for a time in Bristol Castle. The Exeter Jews, whose debts to the king were claimed, are Samuel of Wilton, who had died, his widow Iveta, Deodatus the son of Amiot, Jacob of Gloucester, Samuel Episcopus (Cohen) and Samson cum ore (with the mouth). Strict orders were given to seize the property of these defaulters and to arrest them. In the same year king Henry Ill arranged to marry his sister, the Princess Joan, at the age of eleven,5 to king Alexander of Scotland, and, contrary to all precedent, called upon "his" Jews to contribute towards the Auxilium " pro Johanna sorore Domini Regis Henrici maritanda".6 From seventeen Jewish centres the sum of £564 was forthcoming, more or less willingly, (equivalent to-day  to about £16,920). Exeter could only gather £8 5s. 8d. (about £240 to-day ). The two richest contributors to the Dowry of the Princess were Jacob of Gloucester, £3 11s. 0d., and Deulecresse le Eveske,£2 10s. 0d. followed by Ursell with 18s., Ursell, son-in-law of Amiot, 15s., Moses le Turk 6s. and Moses of Exeter 5s.
The community rapidly increased in numbers and in wealth for, in 1223 fifteen local sons and daughters of Israel paid to a royal tax the sum of £78 10s. 6d. (equivalent to about £2,340 to-day ) out of a total collection of about £1,680 (in modern value £50,400 ) from the whole country.7 The list of twelve men is again headed by Jacob of Gloucester with
lIzacke Antiquities of Exeter in his Memorials.
2Nichols' Collectanea, Cartulary of St. Nicholas, No. 373.
3P.R .O.Exchequer Accounts, No. 249, 13. See my "Bristol,' l.c.
4Examples of this personal description of Jews are given in A. E., p.371 - as Moses cum naso, Manasseh grassus, Benedict longus, Deodone cum pedibus tortis. Stokes, p. 65.
5Norgate, The Minority of Henry III, pp. 132, 174.
6See Paper by Miss Chew in Trans., XI.
7P. R. O. Receipt Roll, E. 40l, 6.
£17 and 14 marks, Deulecresse is second with £13 I8s 10d., Moses le Turk gives £9 6s 8d, Bonefei, the son of Isaac £4, Ursell £4, Ursell, the son-in-law of Amiot, £3 19s 8d, Sampson £1 7s 4d and Moses, son of Solomon, 13s. 4d, and the new Exeter residents mentioned for the first time are Solomon of Dorchester, who, together with his son-in-law Deulecresse subscribes £2 10s. 0d, Jacob of Norwich 5 marks, and Lumbard, the son of Deulecresse Episcopus, 13s. In addition, there are three women able to contribute, i. e, Bona, daughter of Abraham, £1 10s., Chera or Chère, who together with Hanot (Hannah) pays £1 11s. 8d - the activities of female financiers in Jewry being frequently recorded.
It is curious that in a Receipt Roll of I226,l Exeter is not included among the contributors to the tax of 4000 marks - the record probably being incomplete. In 1231, the city and castle of Exeter were given by the king to his brother Richard,2 Earl of Cornwall and Count of Poitou and later king of the Romans, but the Jewry, as in all such cases, remained the sole property of the Crown.
In February, 1241, the city ofWorcester3 beheld a remarkable gathering of 109 Jews from twenty-one Jewish centres assembled to what Tovey - the 18th century author of the "Anglia Judaica" calls the Parliamentum Judaicum 4 the "Jewish Parliament". King Henry was, as usual, in need of money, and orders were issued to the Sheriffs of the Jewries that delegates should be appointed to consider ways and means of raising a new tallage, "to treat with us both for our and for their own good". The Sheriffs were threatened with dire penalties if they failed to carry out the king's command. When the M. P.s met on Quinquagesima Sunday it was soon made clear that all the royal officials had to tell them was "it is your money we want". A tallage of 20,000 marks (in modern value about £402,000 ) to be paid within a year was imposed upon the Jews who were themselves to act as Assessors and Collectors and to aid the Sheriffs in raising the tax from their fellow Jews "under pain of forfeiting their goods and estates and the severest penalties, to the terror of all others". Whilst the larger Jewries as London, York, Canterbury, Oxford, Cambridge and others sent 6, Exeter chose 4 representatives in the persons of Jacob of Gloucester, Deulecresse Episcopus with two men hitherto not mentioned, Bonenfant, the son of Judah (or Leo) and Jose (Joseph) Crespin the son of Abraham. We possess no official report concerning the collection of this tallage, but the records give details of individual payments, the famous Aaron of
1P. R.O., E. 401, 8.
2Close Rolls, 1231, p. 363.
3Stokes, Part II, Ch. III.
York, the Arch-Presbyter, contributing the large proportion of 1,000 marks.l
Bonenfant was an active moneylender2 and became a Chirographer in 1244 when Hak (Isaac), the son of Deudone (Jonathan), was dismissed from his post on the grounds of incompetence,3 and he was joined in the office by the fourth Exeter delegate, Joseph Crespin.4
The Worcester tallage of 20,000 marks had scarcely been paid when, three years later, the king inflicted a tax of 60,000 marks upon the Jews of England as a punishment for a dead child having been found in London who was supposed to have been murdered by the Jews.5 Exeter paid its contribution towards this heavy fine, and when a sum of £31 6s. 0d. still remained to be settled, Joseph Crespin, the Chirographer, undertook to be responsible6 for it. An Exeter resident named Deulegard (Shemaria) about this time removed from the city and settled in Winchester where, in the year 1253, he rose to the important position of Chirographer.7
In the same year Exeter paid £3 15s. 0d. towards a total collection of £320,8 and in 1254 the communal fund of the local Jewry gave £2, whilst a local debtor of Aaron, the son of Abraham, of London, paid £10, and Bonenfant, the Chirographer, I2 marks - the total receipts amounting to £20, out of 1,000 marks given to the king.9 Bonenfant was the pledge for another royal tallage in 125510 that was ordered to be paid to the king's brother, Richard Earl of Cornwall,11 to whom Exeter belonged and to whom the whole of the Jewry of England had been sold in 1251 in return for a sum of 5,000 marks paid into the Royal Exchequer,12 as well as for the sum of £5 5s. exacted for another tax from Isaac, the son of Abraham, an Exeter Jew. By about the year 1260, he was no longer in office and was succeeded by Lumbard Episcopus, the son of the famous bailiff, Deulecresse Episcopus.13 Both Bonenfant and his brother Samuel - being men of wealth&emdash; were pledged to Edward, Prince of Wales - a practice of common occurrence, Jews being given by the king as sources of private income to various members of the royal family.14 In 1266 Samuel became converted to Christianity and as a consequence,15 all his property reverted to the Crown.l6 A mandate
lCalendar of the Liberate Rolls, 11 p. 127.
2Rigg, I, pp. 135, 178, 179, 203.
3Ib., p. 82
4Ib. pp. 107, 132.
5Tovey, pp. 116, 120.
6Rigg, I, p. 75.
7Select Pleas of the Exchequer (Selden Society and Jewish Historical Society), p.23.
8P. R. O., E. 401, 20.
9Ib., E. 401,1566.
10Patent Rolls, 1255, p. 439
11Ib., p. 443.
12Tovey, p. 135. Madox, History of the Exchequer, p. 156.
13Rigg, I, p. 132.
14Ib., p. 203.
16Tovey, p.216. Close Rolls, 1254, p. 24.
was, therefore, sent to the Sheriff of Exeter to ascertain, in the interests of the Prince of Wales, the debts owing to Samuel and to take steps that they were duly collected. Bonenfant died about 1270, leaving Comitissa his wife and Vives (Hayim), his son-in-law, to carry on his business affairs.1
A Receipt Roll of 1260 gives details of a new tallage of 500 marks demanded from the Jewish subjects of king Henry.2 From this document we gather that Exeter Jewry is becoming reduced in circumstances. The rich Jacob of Gloucester has evidently lost most of his wealth, the unceasing royal tallages easily explain the cause, and he can give only the sum of 13s. He died about the year 1267.3 Lumbard Episcopus paid 6s. 8d, Bonenfant 4 marks, whilst his brother Samuel, who was converted six years later gives 21/2 marks and Joseph, the son of Moses, gives 4s., the total amounting to the modest sum of £8 6s. 4d. Towards a second tax of 2,000 marks in the same year,4 Exeter is unable to contribute anything, although a royal order had been issued to the local Sheriffs, Constables of Castles, Mayors, Bailiffs, Chirographers and other officials of all Jewries including Exeter,5 to open the archae and to make a rigid search for the evidence of goods and chattels, jewels and pledges, lands and rents, belonging to the Jews everywhere.
About this period, a description of the local customs and business regulations current in Exeter was written which is extant in the City records and has recently been published under the name of "An Anglo-Norman Custumal of Exeter," by Professor J. W. Schopp and Miss R. C. Easterling.6 There is an interesting reference to the Jews which reads as follows:7 "A plea of a Christian against a Jew could not be heard without Jew and Christian nor the plea of a Jew against a Christian without Christian and Jew, and the Jew must give wage and pledge that he will pursue his plea and the Christian likewise that he will stand to the law, and if he cannot find a pledge, he, the Christian, must be plevied by affiance." (i. e., he must be bailed by solemn engagement). This law of the city is evidently based upon the ancient Charter given to the Jews in 1190 by king Richard I and confirmed by king John
1Rigg, I, p. 2I5. Concerning her house in the High Street, see p. 236 In the Expulsion Report, there are four bonds for the sale of corn due to her and one tally for the sum of 2/-, see p. 237.
2P. R. O., E. 401/43.
3Rigg, I, p. 15l, where his widow Belia is mentioned. He had business dealings with Bonenfant in 1263, ib., p. 182.
4P.R.O., E. 372, 104.
5Tovev, p. 151.
6For the History of Exeter Research Group of the University College of the South-West. M. Bateson, Borough Customs, I, p. xxvi. Historical MSS. Commission, Report on the Records of the City of Exeter, p. 387.
7Paragraph 65, p. 37.
in 12011 and appears to illustrate the generally friendly relations of the citizens of Exeter towards the Jews living in their midst.
The revolt of the Barons led by Earl Simon de Montfort against king Henry from 1262 to 1267, which brought such havoc in the Jewries of London, Canterbury, Bristol and other cities, did not touch Devonshire and the small Jewry of Exeter was left unharmed by the general disorders. As the seal of the Exchequer of the Jews in London had been stolen during the civil war, certain six deeds were ordered to be placed in the safe charge of the Exeter Archa.2 About this time Jacob Baszyn of Exeter was murdered in Oxford, probably by the soldiers of the rebellious Barons.3
A new local celebrity now appears on the scene in the person of Jacob Copin.4 In 1266 he was appointed Chirographer in place of Lumbard who had died,5 his sureties for good conduct being Bonenfant and Deulecresse le Chapleyn (Capellanus) or le Prestre - this latter title, according to Dr Joseph Jacobs, the great authority upon Anglo-Jewish history, describing the Hazan or Precentor of the congregation.6 After the death of Joseph Crespin, his son Jacob took his place as Chirographer7 and remained in office for many years together with Jacob Copin. The latter continued to be one of the leaders of the local community and the most prominent money-lender until a few years before the Expulsion.8 On one occasion, in the year 1270, he was on a visit to the village of Newton, where he transacted business,9 when he was assaulted by Robert of Buleshill, Christiana his wife and William Le Layte. Copin brought an action against them and they absconded, the Sheriff being ordered to arrest them and bring them to justice.10 The king would not allow anyone to ill-treat his Jews, who were so valuable a source of income to him. In the same year a charge was brought against three of the principal financiers of Exeter, Copin, Samuel, the son of Moses, and Deulecresse le Chapleyn, concerning a dispute about a debt, but the plaintiffs failed to appear and they were fined.11 Towards a tallage of 5,000 marks in 1272, Copin is the only Exeter contributor mentioned in the Receipt Roll, paying into the royal coffers in the last year of king Henry's long reign the sum of £20, probably on behalf of the whole community.12 The new king continued the demands upon
1A. E., pp. 143, 212.
2Rigg, I, p. 148.
3Ib., p. 201.
4The name Cophin occurs in Exeter records. Cartulary of St. Nicholas, No. 341-(1162); Chapter Rental, Nos. 100-147-(1265).
5Ib., p. 135.
6Jewish Ideals, p. 205. Stokes, p. 21.
7Rigg, II, p. 52.
8See p. 236.
9Among his clients was Paulinus of Newton in 1271.
10Rigg, I, p. 242.
11Ib., p. 261.
12P. R. O., E. 401, 1567.
his Jewish subjects, and in 1273 Copin paid 6 gold bezants on a promise to settle some arrears of the same tallage.l In the year following a communal collection of £100 (equivalent to £3,000 in modern value ) was handed over towards another tallage of king Edward I, through the hands of the Prior of St Nicholas of Exeter2 - no names of local contributors being given. In the year 1275, six Exeter residents paid £20 towards a royal tax.3 Jacob Crespin, the Chirographer, subscribed over £9, his colleague Copin is absent from the list, and the other contributors were Samuel, the son of Moses, with £7, Lumbard, the son of Deulecresse, Isaac, the son of Moses, Benedict Bateman and his daughter Juetta (or Iveta), whilst a Christian borrower of Okehampton gave a debt he owed to Samuel, the son of Deulecresse, towards the tallage. Bateman was a resident of Bridgewater, Somerset ,4 whose Hebrew name was Hagin (Hayim), the son of Isaac, and he appears to have lived in various cities of the West at different times, whilst his daughter also pursued a financial career.
The year 1277 saw the last of the tallages of which any record exist. From the first, king Edward obtained the sum of £40 from his Exeter Jews out of £1,000 levied upon the Jewries,5 whilst the final impost of 25,000 marks6 met with complete failure, which was the natural result of the passing of the statute de Judaismo two years previously. The increase in the Exeter payments towards the end of the tallage period in response to the royal demands bears testimony to the improved position of the local congregation under the rule of the Chirographers, Copin and Crespin.
In this year also a very serious charge was brought against the two chiefs of the Jewry.7 A certain Robert Fichet8 of the village of Spaxton in Somerset had died owing an Exeter Jew, Solomon, the son of Solomon, the sum of £80. Hugh, the son of the deceased debtor, was a minor, and his guardian, in settling the Fichet estate, asserted that the debt was not owing, but that Adam the clerk of the Chirographer had forged a deed on the suggestion of Solomon the money-lender, after the death of Robert Fichet, and furthermore that the four Chirographers of the Exeter Chest had been parties to the fraud of placing this false document in the Archa.
1Rigg, II, p. 13.
2P. R. O., E. No. 249, 16. The local clergy frequently acted as taxcollectors. See Close Rolls, 1294, p. 326, where the Prior of St. Nicholas is instructed to receive the local taxes.
3Ib., E. 401, 1568.
4Muniments of Westminster Abbey, No. 6933 (dated 1272). Rigg, I, p. 297.
5P. R. O., E. 401, 1572.
6Ib., E. 401, 1573. Only two Jews contributed small sums.
7Rigg, II, p. 140.
8In 1266 he had been a client of Aaron of Caerleon. Ib., p. 134.
Action was therefore taken first against the two Jewish Chirographers. Before the trial came on, the two Jacobs paid a mark to the Royal Exchequer to be allowed bail until Michaelmas,1 and their mainpernors (or pledges) were Aaron of Winchester, Moses Babelard of Wilton, Elias of Hereford, and Pictavin, son of Isaac of Nottingham. The Jewish officials claimed that the Christian Chirographers, David Taylor and Richard Bullock, were equally guilty, if at all, as the Chest could only be opened in the presence of all four keepers of the royal Archa. Full details of the case are given in the Plea Rolls,2 three of the Chirographers, Bullock being too ill to attend, together with Adam the clerk and Solomon the creditor, being brought to trial The defendants asserted that the deed was a good and lawful document and had been placed in the Archa according to the Assize and Custom of the Jewry with the full knowledge and consent of the late Robert Fichet. Andrew of Pouderham and other Christian witnesses testify to the truth of the defence, and the Jewish witnesses are Isaac, the son of Moses, Deulecresse le Chapleyn or le Prestre, Ursell, the son-in-law of Deulecresse, Solomon of Dorchester, Lumbard, the son of Solomon, and Solomon, the son of Samuel. The Chirographers were allowed bail, the mainpernors of the two Jewish officials this time being five of the most prominent Jews in the whole of England - Benedict of Winchester, Bonefie of Oxford, Jacob le Clerk, Elias of Cornhill, Aaron, the son of Yves of London and Isaac of Southwark. The case ended in the acquittal of all the accused, and the plaintiff was fined for his false charge.
Two years passed during which Jacob Copin continued to lend money to many of the gentry and clergy and farmers in Devon and Somerset,3 frequently taking their houses and lands in pledge,4 his principal competitor being Amite (or Amiote), the widow of his friend Samuel, the son of Moses.5 In 1276 his son Blakeman came under suspicion of being guilty of clipping the coin of the realm, together with ten
1Rigg, II, p 145.
2Ib., pp. I9~193, 200, 218, 258.
3A list of his debtors is given in the deeds found in the Archa at the expulsion.
4To pledge land for debts was of frequent occurence. In 1235, Jacob of Exeter, Abraham the son of Moses and Fauntekin (Bonenfant), obtained land in this way (Close Rolls, p. 103). In 1250, the land in the High Street, next to the house of Bartholomew Boschet called Bilebury, is pledged to the Jews (Archives of the dean and Chapter of Exeter, No. 3). In 1254, Robert del Estre pledged his lands. (Close Rolls, p. 84).
5Details of bills belonging to Amité are given in the Inquiry Report after the Expulsion, see p. 237. Samuel and Copin were often partners in money transactions. In 1270, a royal licence was issued, allowing them, together with Gamaliel of London, to sell a debt (Patent Rolls, p. 494).
other well-known Exeter Jews and one non-Jew.l How far this oft-recurring charge was justified it is impossible to say, but it brought great suffering upon the Jewry of England. Among the accused were Aaron of Caerleon, whose family had settled in Bristol,2 Deulecresse le Chapleyn, Leo and Copin, the sons of Lumbard, and Solomon, the son of Solomon, who had been concerned in the Fichet case. The defendants were allowed bail, and there is no report in the records of what finally happened. Copin himself met with a sad end, being hanged about the year 1280,3 probably upon a charge of tampering with the coinage, upon which accusation in 1278, the whole of the Jews of England were imprisoned in one night, brought to trial, and many condemned - in London alone 293 suffering in this way.4 About the time of his death, or perhaps immediately afterwards, one of his daughters, Claricia, whilst very young, became converted and was admitted into the Domus Conversorum in Chancery Lane, London.5 From the records of the Home it is learned that Copin's daughter entered in the year 1280, and twenty-eight years later returned to Exeter where she married and had two children - Richard and Katherine. After an absence of 19 years she found her way back to the London House of Converts, together with her two children, where she died in 1356 at a very advanced age.
A complete change in the affairs of the Jews of England took place when, in the year 1275, the king and Parliament enacted the Statute de Judaismo, which prohibited usury to the Jews.6 The heavy exactions of the royal tallages had almost exhausted the supply of Jewish money and by one act of legislation the Jew was forbidden to follow the pursuit in which kings of England had encouraged him for two hundred years.
Trading in wool and corn was allowed7 and in Exeter this soon became a profitable industry in which many of the local Jews engaged.8 When shortly afterwards the severity of the provisions of the Act of 1275 was mitigated, and a very
IThe other defendants are Benedict of Wilton, Ursell, Isaac Ericun, Aaron of Dorchester, Jorin the son of Isaac, and James dc Fenys.
2See my Paper on "Pre-Expulsion Bristol". Trans., XII.
3Close Rolls, 1284, p. 278.
4Abrahams, Expulsion of the Jews in Jewish Quarterly Review, VII, p. 256. Calendar of Fine Rolls, I, p. 113. Tovey, p. 210.
5See my Paper on the Domus Conversorum. Trans., IV, p. 26.
6Tovey, p. 200. Abrahams, Jewish Quarterly Review VII, p. 244.
7Richard of Devizes (ed. Howlett, p. 437) writing in the year 1192, says, " Exeter feeds men and beasts with the same corn."
8In the Official Enquiry Report at the Expulsion, details are given, see p. [?]
modified form of money-lending was authorised,1 we find the Exeter Jews resuming their former occupation, money being lent in small sums.2 The local Jewry appears to have rapidly dwindled before the final disaster of 1290 drove all Jews from these shores. Their houses and their Synagogue were taken from them before they left the city, as with one exception, there is no trace in the records of any land or tenements belonging to the Jews at the Expulsion.
It is possible that this unhappy change in the fortunes of the local Jewry was the outcome of the Synod held in 1287 at Exeter by the Bishop, Peter Quivil.3 The Church had begun a violent campaign against Anglo-Jewry. In 1284, John Peckham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had issued a decree4 that in London all Synagogues except one should be demolished and no Synagogues in private houses should be allowed. Pope Honorius IV, two years later, addressed a Bull5 to the Archbishop and his colleague of York denouncing the "accursed and perfidious" Jews of England who have done "unspeakable things and horrible acts to the shame of our Creator and the detriment of the catholic faith." The study of the Talmud, a book of "manifold abominations, falsehoods, heresies and abuses," was specifically condemned and the Church of England was enjoined to suppress the activities of the Jews and to destroy any friendly intercourse with them. This attack was followed in 1287 by the Bishop of Exeter summoning his clergy to a Synod whose edicts6 sought to protect their flock against the insidious wiles of their Jewish neighbours. The previous ecclesiastical enactments against the Jews, specially those of pope Clement IV at the Synod of Vienne in 1267, were renewed, among which stress was especially laid upon the following:- that Jews and Christians were not to visit each other or join in any festivities, as they appear frequently to have done7; that a Christian
1See Gross, Papers of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition ,1887, pp. 219-229, Appendix B. Chapitles Tuchaunz le Gywerie (Regulations concerning the Jewry) from Add MSS., British Museum, 32085, ff. 120-121, dated about 1276.
2The tally debts are for small sums, see p. 236.
3G. Oliver, Lives of the Bishops of Exeter, p. 48. Quivil was Bishop from 1280 to 1291.
4Tovey, p. 302.
5Translation in Abrahams, Jewish Quarterly Review, VII, p. 440.
6Mansi, Sacrosancta Concilia, XIV, pp. 1019-1076 (Venice, 1731) These edicts are based upon the decisions of the Church Council of Vienne in 1267 (Mansi, ib., pp. 363 ff.) and the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. See Jewish Encyclopedia, IV, p. 79.
7In 1286, Bishop Swinfield of Hereford excommunicated a number of his congregation for taking part in a Jewish wedding that was held "with displays of silk and cloth of gold, horsemanship and stageplaying, sports and minstrelsy". Ancient Customs of the City of Hereford by R. Johnson, p. 100.
should not take medicine from a Jewish doctor; that on Easter Day, no Jew should appear in the streets of Exeter and should keep his doors and windows closed; that the Jews should pay taxes to the parish clergy and the wearing of the badge of the Tables of the Law was to be strictly enforced. The thunder of the Synod of Exeter does not seem to have produced its full effect as the Jews continued to trade with their neighbours almost until the Expulsion three years later.
When this took place by order of king Edward, as in all other Jewries, by royal command, an official enquiry was set on foot concerning the possessions of the Exeter Jews. These reports are extant in the Lansdowne MSS of the British Museum,l and in the Public Record Office,2 and furnish information of the utmost value. In the presence of the Sheriff of Devon, twenty-five Exeter citizens, whose names are given, took oath and testified that their former Jewish neighbours possessed no lands or tenements (quod predicti Judei nullas terras aut tenementa habuerunt). Only Comitissa the widow of Bonenfant the Chirographer - herself a famous financier - occupied a tenement in the High Street (in summo vico civitatis) which she had bought, without the attached shop, from Joan, the daughter of Adam the writer (le escryveyn) for the sum of 11/- a year. This rent was to be spent as follows, 10/- for the Hospital of St John of Exeter and 1/- for the candles of the Church of St Lawrence.
The old and new Archae were also opened at Westminster and full details of their contents are reported These are divided into three parts &emdash;
A. 143 bonds for money lent by Exeter Jews, and evidently still unpaid, the earliest being dated 1237 and the latest I275, the year of the Statute de Judaismo, the majority being of the years 1270-1275. The highest amount on one charter is £60 (equivalent to-day to £I,500 ) lent by the famous Jacob Copin, and the lowest five shillings.
B. 24 tallies3 (inscribed wooden sticks used as vouchers for loans), recording sums ranging from 2/- to £3 13s. 3d - the few that are dated are marked by the years 1286 to 1289
C. 21 receipts for advances upon corn, at the price of half a mark (6/8) per quarter, dated from 1284 to the year of the Expulsion - the highest transaction being for 60 quarters and the average being 20 quarters.
lVol. 826. Part 5. There are no references to Exeter houses.
2E. 101, No. 249, 27, contains the report upon property. E. 101, No. 260, 2, gives the list of bonds in the Archa.
3Stokes, p. 80.
Some 80 towns and villages of Devonshire and a few in Somersetshire are named in these deeds.
The total amount of debts in money was £1,058 4s. 2d. and in corn £180 13s. 4d. (value to-day  about £37,140). These figures are among the largest in the whole of England and compare favourably with £395 of the communities of Devizes and Marlborough (Wilts) and Bristol, £72.
Jacob Copin was the largest creditor, his 35 bonds amounting to £357 (=£1O,71O )&emdash;all of which had remained unpaid between the years 1266 and 1275. To one debtor he had lent £169 1Os. 0d (=£5,100 ) in two years, and his clients included Sir Robert le Denys, Richard Bullock the goldsmith, who was one of the Christian Chirographers, two priests, Roger de Moleyns and Arnulf of Hunecroft, and numerous residents of Devon and Somerset. It is somewhat surprising that at his execution that took place about 1280, all his bonds had not been removed from the Archa, seeing that the property of condemned Jews escheated to the king.2 His house was confiscated at his dcath3 as also was that of Amité, the widow of Samuel son of Moses, who comes next to Jacob in the amount of her business transactions. There are 36 deeds in her name, one owned by John Quynel, Rector of Shobrooke Church, some are for farm produce, the debts in all amounting to £2I5 (equivalent to-day to £6,540 ). Next in order come Jacob Crespin, the Chirographer with £114 (value to-day £3,420 ), Isaac, the son of Moses, £89 (value to-day £7,670 ), whilst Deulecresse le Prestre, the Synagogue official, had 17 debtors with bills for £75 (equal to-day to £2,250 ), including Sir Philip of Uppecote and a Christian capellanus (chaplain). Aaron, son of Jose of Caerleon, owned £34 ( = £1,020) and Solomon, the son of Solomon of the Fichet case £26 in debts (equal to-day to £780). Comitissa who lived in the High Strect, dealt in corn to the value of £33 6s. 8d. for 100 quarters, and also had one tally to the value of 2/- entered in her name.
Altogether, the Exeter report contains the names of 25 men, one is anonymous, and 4 women, who were among the richest members of the Jewry in the latter half of the I3th century. In the whole of the Exeter records from 1181 to 1290 the names of 66 men and 12 women are so far known.
And thus the mediaeval Exeter community ceased to exist and its memory was revived in the middle of the 18th century when, in the year 1763, a synagogue was opened in St. Mary Arches Street where it stands to the present day.
lAbrahams, Trans., II, p. 81, estimates total value of bonds, etc, at the Expulsion to be £15,000 (=to-day £450,000 )
2In 1269 (Patent Rolls, p. 382) and 1275 (ib., p 126), lists of Exeter bonds in the Archa had been sent to the Royal Exchequer. In Close Rolls, 1279, p. 41, the order for confiscation of property of condemned men is given.
3Agarde's Index to Assize Rolls, Devon, Roll 54.
(to be corrected)
CARTULARY 0F THE PRIORY OF ST. NICHOLAS. British Museum. Cotton MS. ~it. D. ix ff. Io6b-Io7.
I. La1~d ~Icld by Amidct~s t1le JCZL'. (l~'icho]s Collectanea ~'o. 23I.)
I. Sciant presentes c~- futuri quod Ego Johannes Longus dedi ~- concessi et presenti carta mea confirmaui Jordano Lidene ij solidos redditus de terra que fuit Radulphi des chous in magno vico Exonie inter terram petri de palerne ~; terram que fuit Godekniht quam amideus iudeus tenet tenendam ~ habendam sibi ~- heredibus suis de me. Et heredibus meis imperpetuum iure hereditario reddendo michi annuatim & heredibus meis dimidiam libram piperis per annum seruicio ~ querela in Iesto sancti I~Iichaelis. Et pro hac donacione mea ~- concessione dedit michi prefatus iordanus duas ~larcas argenti in recognicione ut autem hec mea donacio & concessio rata imposterum perseueret illam tam presentis carte munimine quam sigilli mei impressione confirmaui. Hiis testibus martino produme tunc maiore Exonie Roberto ceruo Samsone Rof Gilberto boschet. Et multis aliis. (Date about I200).
2. Lidene prese~lts ~Jtis La~ld fo St. l~Ticllolas. (l~'ichols No. 232.)
Sciant presentes 8~ futuri quod Ego Jordanus Lidene pro anima mea & patris & ~Iatris mea ~ omnium antecessorum & successorum meorum dedi & hac presenti carta mea confirmaui deo ~- ecclesie sancti ~'icholai Exonie & monachis ibidem deo seruientibus in puram ~ perpetuam elemosinam redditum duorum solidorum annuatim percipiendum de terra que fuit radulphi des chous in magno vico Exonie que jacet inter terram petri de paleme & terram que fuit Godel;niht quam amideus iudeus tenuit ad quatuor anni terminos scilicet ad festum sancti Johannis baptiste iijd. Ad festum sancti hlicllaelis iijd. ad natalem domini iijd. 'Ad pascha iijd. de me & heredibus meis libere quiete imperpetuum ut autem hec mea donacio Rata ~- stabilis semper perseueret presens scriptum cum sigilli mei iml)ressione eis dedi in testimoniulll. Hiis testibus I~Iartino Rof tunc maiore I~xonie. Thom~ Rof Et ~'illelmo bochet. tunc preposito. Et. aliis.
~Je~T~is~: E1rc~c~0pcdia ~, p. 2 ~
Cotton ~IS. ~Tit. D ix ff. I60d-I62. 3, M~iilia11~ Boz1J11 givcs ~eil~ pa1d hy Marti1l l\'of to I~c~lccresse rpisCO t)1~5. (~'icllols ~o. 37I.)
Sciant preselltes ~- futuri quod Lgo ~'illelmus ]307.un de Clist dedi & conces~ . hac pr(senti carta confirlllaui I)eulecresse episcopo iudeorum E~;onie .~- heredibus suis quinque solidos de redditu scilicct illos guinque solidos quos ~lartinus Rof rnichi c~- heredihus mei- soluere an~ .ttilll tenel)atur XXX denarios ad pacc}la c~ denariuc ad festum sancti l~ichaelis de terra de clist qualll ille martinus ~ heredes sui de me c~ heredibus meis per cartam hal)ellt prout in eadcm carta continetur libcros ~- quietoj integros ~ pacificos de me ~- heredibus meis li ~: heredil)us suis uel cui illos assi~nare uoluerit. Reddendo indc annllatim michi ~ hcl-edibus meis ~-num par calcarium de trillus denariis uel trcs denarios ad pascha pro omnibus demandis ~ e.~.-accionibus .~- contradiccionibus. ~os uero predictos colidos d( redditu Ego predictus ~'illelmui .~- heredes mei predicto l)eulecresse 8~ heredibus suis uel cui illos assi~nare uoluerit tellcmur ~-arantizare contra omnes homincs ~- fcmillas imperl)etuulll super omnes terras nostras ~ci omnes redditus nostris ~ omnia catalla nostra. I'ro hac autcm me a donacione confirmaciolle
arantizaciolle pl edictus deulc cress( michi dedit unam i~iarcam argenti. Ouocl ut ratum ~ in concessum imperpetuum permaneat ' presenti carta ~- sigilli mei impressione confirmaui. Hiis testibus Laurancio cissorc ~ Henrico picot tunc cyrographariis christianis archae domini regis in Exonia I~Iartino Prodome. ~'illclmo fratre eius. Johanne ~losseo ]e turl~ ~ ursello sier (sic) Amiot tunc Cyrograpllariis judeis predicte archae. Jacobo iudeo de Glouernia. Bonefei filio ~'saac l~losseo de Burdellus ~- multis aliis.
4. Dcl~lecresse Episcopl~s sclls to llIart~l Rof t7le la1ld tllat Bozu~ ad sold to oe1(lecresse.
(Nichols No. 37~.)
Sciant presentes ~- futuri quod Ego Deulecresse episcopus iudeorum uendidi spolltanea voluntate mea ~artino Rof quinque solidata redditus quos ~'illelmus Bozull michi vendidit
& quos idem martinus annuatim dehuit reddere eidem ~7illelmo de tenemento suo in clist tencnda ~ hahellda eidem I~lartino & heredibus suis rcddcndo inde annuatim michi & heredibus meis vllum par c~-rothecarulll albarllm. uel v~ m obolum ad pascha pro omnia seruicio ~- per manllm meam ~- heredum meorum heredibus ~'illclmi Bozull vnum par Calcarium alborum uel tres denarios secundum tenorem carte eiusdem ~'illelmi Bozun quam eidcm ~ illehllus michi fecit quam eidem martino libcraui obscruandam in ~-arantum. Pro hac autem vendicione dedit michi predictus martinus quadraginta solidos quos solui domino regi per manus iosepini de Bristollis qui tunc temporis venit Exoniam cum littcris domini regis patentibus ad compcllendum iudeos soluere dcbita domini Regis. vt autem hac vendicione mea firma & stabilis imperpetuum permaneat presenti scripto in modum cyrographi composito cuius altera pars reposita fuit in archa cyrographorum sigillum meum apposui. Testibus phillipo de stokes ~- Henrico picot tunc cophrariis christianis Jacobo iudeo de Gloucestre & mosseo le turc tunc cophrariis iudeis Hyllario Blundo tunc maiore Exonie ~'altero le chaw. Johanne caperun. Martino prodome. ~Tillelmo prodome vrsello genere .~mlot bonefei filio ysaac.
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