Reflections on the History of the Anglo-Jewish Community. Presidential Address (1920)

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By H. S. Q. Hexriques, M.A., D.C.L., K.C.

The Anglo-Jewish community has now been established here for a period slightly exceeding two and a half centuries?a period which, however long it may seem to the individual, is but short in the history and development of nations. In this period the Anglo-Jewish community has become firmly established in the country, and has won the goodwill of the majority of the population. This is in marked contrast to the hostility with which the English people formerly viewed the Jews?a hostility which was satisfied only by their total expulsion from the realm in the year 1290, and which lingered on for some time after their return in the reign of Charles II. For turning them oat "bag and baggage" King Edward I. was rewarded by his faithful Commons with a grant of one-fifteenth of all their moveables (pro expulsione Judaeorum)?a signal mark of gratitude,1 although these same Commons had, nine years earlier, offered the king three times as much for granting them this boon, but the vote was apparently passed after the decree of banishment had been issued, and gratitude is wont to depreciate when once the longed-for object has been attained. This feeling of hostility did not diminish during the long period of their banishment. Sir Edward Coke writes of them in his Institutes, first published in the year 1628, that they were odious both to God and man,2 and usually speaks of them as infidel Jews, and being infidels they were, according to his doctrine, perpetual enemies and wholly beyond the protection of the law, so that their persons might be assaulted or their property plundered with impunity. As he writes:

1 Tovey's Anglia Judaica, p. 234, quoting from Daniel, the historian.

2 2 Inst.9 p. 507.

" All infidels are in law perpetui inimici, perpetual enemies (for the law presumes not that they will be converted, that being remota potentia, a remote possibility), for between them, as with the devil, whose subjects they be, and the Christian, there is perpetual hostility, and can be no peace; for as the Apostle saith, 2 Cor. vi. 15: Quae autem conventio Christi ad Belial, aut quae pars fideli cum infideli; and the law saith: Judaeo Christianum nullum serviat mancipium, nefas enim est quem Christus redemit blasphemum Christi in servitutis vinculis detinere. Register 282: Infideles sunt Christi et Christianorum inimici. And herewith agreeth the book 12 Hen. 8, fol. 4, where it is holden that a Pagan cannot have or maintain any action at all." 3

This amiable doctrine of the complete " rightlessness " of Jews and other non-Christians was rejected by the Courts when it came before them for decision in the years 1684 and 1697,* but it was accepted at the time when it was laid down, and was apparently in accordance with popular sentiment. In the time of the Commonwealth, Prynne, who was certainly not a reactionary, exhibits equal animosity against the

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