London: the 13th-century Jewry revisited*

Articles Image

It is more than a century since Joseph Jacobs presented his paper 'The London Jewry, 1290' to the great Anglo-Jewish exhibition of 1887.((J. Jacobs, 'The London Jewry, 1290' in Papers read at the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibi? tion, Royal Albert Hall, London, 1887 (Publications of the Anglo-Jewish Historical Exhibition, I, 1888) 20-52; reprinted in J. Jacobs, Jewish Ideals and other essays (1896).)) His description formed the basis for his essay on London in the Jewish Encyclopedia, in the early 1900s, and for Elkan Nathan Adler's London volume in the Jewish Communities series, published in Philadelphia in the 1930s. Both reproduced his plan of Jewish property without alteration. Since Jacobs' time there have been few contributions to our knowledge of London's medieval Jewry. The most notable, all published by the Society, are Canon Stokes's short account of the London magnate family of the Eveskes or Cohens included in his Studies in Anglo-Jewish History of 1913; Michael Adler's 'Testimony of the London Jewry against the Ministers of Henry IIP in Transactions XVI that appeared in 1940; Cecil Roth's presidential address on 'Elijah of London: the most illustrious English Jew in the Middle Ages', which reviews the career of Master Elias, son of Master Moses and appeared in Transac? tions XV of 1946; and Marjorie Honeybourne's meticulous survey of the pre expulsion cemetery that appeared in Transactions XX of 1964.

In the postwar period a number of studies of aspects of the general history of medieval London have been published, but, considering the importance of the subject, the number is surprisingly small. Sylvia Thrupp's examination of The Merchant Class of Medieval London, of 1962, is restricted to the period from 1300, whereas Gwyn Williams provides a detailed description of the earlier period in Medieval London from Commune to Capital, which appeared in 1970. Christopher Brooke and Gillian Keir have plotted London 800-1216: The Shaping of a City, of 1975; and 1980 saw the publication of the long-awaited London volume of the Historic Town Atlas.((British Atlas of Historic Towns, III: The City of London (ed.) M. D. Lobel (1989).)) While of great help in understanding the background, these works offer no more than a few sentences on the history of the Jewry.

After the completion of his monumental Survey of Medieval Winchester in 1985, Derek Keene turned his attention to the city of London. Under his directorship the Cheapside project has used property records to trace the sequence of change in the fabric, density of settlement, social and economic structure, and property market of this part of the city between 1100 and the Great Fire of 1666. For the purposes of the project 'Cheapside' was defined as the five parishes of All Hallows, Honey Lane; St Mary le Bow; St Martin Pomary; St Pancras; St Mary Cole church; and the extraparochial area of the hospital of St Thomas of Acre, or Aeon. Sadly, this includes only a small part of the medieval Jewry - merely Ironmonger Lane and the southern end of Old Jewry. For this area

Become a member to read the full article
Become a member today


24 hour access to JHSE online resources

Instant access to over 700 articles View the original articles as a PDF
Learn More


Annual JHSE Membership

Members are entitled to a free copy of the latest Jewish Historical Studies, free access to our online resources and associate membership of the UCL Library in London.  In addition, they receive the JHSE Newsletter, special offers on books for sale and pay less to attend our series of lectures and other public events.
Learn More


Student Membership

The JHSE want to encourage students to engage with Jewish history.  Apply for a Student Membership with your university email account and once we have verified your status you will soon have all the benefits of being a full JHSE member.
Learn More


Associate your Institution with the JHSE

Give your members access to JHSE online resources and special offers on book sales.  Use your institutional email account when applying, and once your status is verified we will explain the scheme.  Preferred payment is by credit or debit card.
Learn More

Your Cart