Proposals for Special Taxation of the Jews after the Revolution. Presidential Address (1918)

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[Presidential Address (1918) by H. S. Q. Henriques, MA., B.C.L., K.C.]


The Three Periods Of The History Of The Jews In England.

I have in the first place to thank you for the honour you have done me in electing me your President?an honour which involves the duty of delivering an address for which I am ill qualified. I propose to-day to add a short supplement to a lecture I delivered before your Society nearly eighteen years ago at the request of my old friend and pre? decessor, Mr. Frederick Mocatta, and to conclude by placing before you a document of great historic interest relating to the early days of the Resettlement of the Jews in this country. The lecture I refer to was not published in your Transactions, but a summary of it may be found in the Jewish Chronicle of April 19, 1901. In that lecture I dealt at some?perhaps too great?length writh what had been written about the history of the Jews in this country?dividing it, as it has been usually divided, into three periods, first from the time of the Norman Conquest to the expulsion in the year 1290; secondly, the middle period, extending from that date to the beginning of the reign of Charles II., when an organised and legally recognised community was again established in this country; and thirdly, the history and development of that community until the present time. Since then considerable contributions to the History of the Jews in England have been made under the auspices of this Society and by its members. The most important of these have relation to the first period. I may refer more particularly to work done by your retiring President, Sir Lionel Abrahams, by Canon Stokes, Dr. Israel Abrahams, Mr. Rigg, Mr. Hilary Jenkinson, and Dr. Joseph Jacobs. The work accomplished by these scholars wrould be a credit to any learned Society, and we may be justly proud of it. The only matter for regret is that we are not able to point to similar achievements in the later and, if I may venture to say so, more interesting periods. For the story of these early centuries sheds no lustre on our Jewish annals, and is anything but creditable to the policy of the English realm. Jews were no doubt permitted to live here, to establish synagogues, exercise their religion and form a community of their own; but they lived here not as freemen, but as serfs or villeins of the King, requiring his protection because they were not entitled to the protection of the ordinary law, and re? ceiving it because, and only in so far as, they might be of profit to their Royal master, who used them as a sponge to suck up the property of his liege subjects, to be afterwards squeezed and discharged into his own coffers. At length King Edward I. issued the decree of banish? ment at the request and to the great

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