Jewish Entries in the “Curia Regis Rolls” and Elsewhere

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I have more than once called attention 1 to the fact that the information available in the Public Records for the history of the Jews in England during the medieval period was not confined to the two classes of Records specifically relating to Jewish affairs? the Jewish Receipt Rolls and Jewish Plea Rolls?nor even to the miscellaneous subsidiary documents, relating exclusively to Jewish business though they do not form special Jewish classes, which are to be found among the Records of the King's Remembrancer and elsewhere. In the thirteenth century, and especially during its earlier part, administrative institutions were still fluid. Even when special machinery had been set up to deal with some particular type of business a case which should properly have come to it would sometimes, for reasons of con? venience or even through mere ignorance of what was the correct procedure, be handled in some other way and con? sequently recorded in some place other than the one in which we should naturally look for it. In the case of the Jews there is the added complication that what was primarily at least Jewish business, particularly in the case of land engaged as security for a debt, might upon occasion resolve itself into an affair between Christians, with no mention of Jewish names.

In this last-named case we must probably resign ourselves for the most part to the loss : though at times patience and a

1 cp. Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews ..., vol. iii (1929), p. xviii.

little luck may produce the clue which will enable us to identify the Jewish element and place the information where it belongs in relation to other Jewish business. In the other cases (where Jewish matters having been dealt with by machinery not normally used for the purpose, or at least not specially designed for it, figure in Records mainly devoted to non-Jewish affairs) what the historian of the medieval Jewry has to face is that almost every Record within his period, at any rate so soon as it becomes available in an indexed form, will be worth his searching : and this means more perhaps than is at present generally realized. There is (to take the most obvious example) the great series of Memoranda Rolls of the Exchequer. This is represented, for the reign of John, by two somewhat primitive specimens only, to which I called attention in 1917 2 ; noting the occurrence in both of Jewish matter 3 : but a regular and continuous series begins early in the reign of Henry III. Publication of the Memoranda Rolls has long been one of the mcst urgent tasks awaiting the Public Record Office and there is now reason to hope that it may be put in hand : and when these Records (com? plicated and difficult to search) become available in a printed and indexed form I shall be surprised if the stray references, at least, of Jewish interest do not amount to a

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