Notes on the Jews’ Tribute in Jamaica

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SEVERAL volumes of the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society have included material concerning special taxes levied upon the Jews of Jamaica and the attempts to have these taxes lifted.1 Several documents, heretofore un? published, shed additional light on the situation in Jamaica. Before turning to this new material and a discussion of the history of the process leading to the abolition of all legal disabilties against the Jews of Jamaica, we briefly summarize that material published earlier in the P.A.J.H.S.

Special imposts on the Jews of Jamaica were established as early as 1686. In 1700 the Jewish community estimated that by that time they had paid "?3450 over and above, and besides paying as the rest of the inhabitants." This, they felt, was too burdensome "to this poor nation (who not surpassing eighty persons mcluding married men, batchelors widows and the poor maintained upon charity) ..." This protest, one of many, was rejected. By 1705, it seems that the regular annual tax expected from the Jewish community was fixed at ?1000. In 1712, one-quarter of this tax was remitted upon receipt of a petition of the Jews claiming extraordinary hardships.

In 1740 the Royal Council with the instructions of the King decreed that any special levy "on the Jews as Jews only" be discontinued the following year. None? theless, the Assembly of Jamaica voted to continue the ?1000 tax in 1741, but the tax ended when the Provost Marshal refused to accept the levy because of the earlier action of the Royal Council in the name of the King.

When England conquered Jamaica in 1655, the Jews were already there.2 Sub? sequently, jealousy, because of the commercial success of the Jews, led the English merchants in 1671 to petition the Council of the Colony for the expulsion of the Jews. Governor Sir Thomas Lynch, in forwarding the petition to England, argued strongly against it and paid tribute to the value of the Jews in the Colony. In 1681, another attempt to expel the Jews was ignored by the Crown, although the special taxes were continued.3 In 1700, although the Jews numbered but eighty families, they bore the bulk of the taxes of the island.4

During the next several years, attempts to add to the tax burden of the Jews conti? nued, as well as petitions by the Jews for relief from what they considered to be unjust burdens.5

The following documents add to what is included in an earlier account6 and, together

1 See Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society ( = P.A.J.H.S.), No. 2, (1894), pp. 165-70; No. 5, (1897), pp. 45-57, 87-9; No. 18, (1909), pp. 149-77; No. 23, (1915), pp. 25-29; No. 28, (1922), pp. 238-9; No. 35, (1939), pp. 294-5.

2 Jacob A. P. M. Andrade, A Record of the Jews in Jamaica from the English Conquest to the Present Time (Kingston, Jamaica, 1941), p. 1.

3 Albert M. Hyamson, A History of the Jews in England (London, 1908), pp. 20If.

4 Jacob A. P. M. Andrade, op, cit., p. 9. Ibid.,

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