NOTES ON LEICESTER JEWRY

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I. Jewry Wall.

My interest in Jewry Wall is the result of a recent visit to Leicester, and the short paper I am about to read consists of a summary of a few notes I have collected on the history of the Jews of Leicester in the thirteenth century. Jewry Wall closely adjoins St. Nicholas's Church. As it stands at present it is about twenty-five yards in length and five feet in height, and is judged by antiquarians to be one of the most perfect relics of Rofnan masonry preserved in Britain. In its own way, Jewry Wall has been for long a fragment of renown, but its original purpose has hitherto baffled a solution which would be universally accepted. This vestige of antiquity, dating from the Roman occupation of Britain, has been regarded by some authorities as a portion of a Roman bath, by others as part of a temple dedicated to Janus, and by others as the site of sacrifices offered up by Jews, but the view which now finds most favour is that it was a piece of the Janua Wall of the old city of Leicester. The modern tablet affixed to the wall steers clear of these conflicting theories, and simply states: " This fragment of masonry known as Jewry Wall, because in former times the place where the Jews of Leicester dwelt, is a relic of the period when the Romans occupied Leicester, between the first and the fifth century." We may exercise a like prudence and skip over the centuries following upon the departure of the Romans until we reach the thirteenth century, when the wall acquired Jewish associations.

J. Throsby, a Leicester antiquarian, writing on April 12, 1793,1

1 J. Throsby, Letter to the Earl of Leicester . . . with some thoughts on Jewry Wall. Leicester, 1793, p. 35.

explains the origin of the name Jewry Wall as follows: " As to its retaining the name of Jewry Wall, that might happen from the circumstance of the Jews, some centuries ago, being compelled to live together in certain districts of every city in England : in Leicester they might be compelled to live together in habitations, near this wall, and Jew or Jewry might of course afterwards be added to Wet 11." 1 Curiously enough, a month later, May 2, 1793, the Rev. T. Robin-

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North-East View of the Leicester Jewry-Wall by Bass, 1777. (From Nichol's History and Antiquities of the County of Leicester, vol. i. p. 7.)

son, also of Leicester, placed a different interpretation upon the name. "The name Jewry Wall,', he writes, " is more likely to be a transition from Janua, than from the Jews inhabiting thereabout, for can we imagine they would be permitted to dwell betwixt the city and the greatest thoroughfare, or on that side the city which was

1 J. Throsby, Letter to the Earl of Leicester . . . with some thoughts 011 Jewry Wall. Leicester, 1793, pp. 26,

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