It is generally known, although not always remembered, that, prior to the building of the grand old cathedral Synagogue of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in Bevis Marks, there existed in London an earlier Synagogue belonging to the same congregation. It stands out in the minds of most people because of the reference to it in Pepys' Diary, and one does not require to have delved very deeply into Anglo-Jewish matters to realise that the religious service which Samuel Pepys witnessed on October 14, 1663 (and described somewhat unsympatheti cally),1 could not have been held in the Bevis Marks Synagogue, which was not opened for public worship until 1701. Mr. Lucien Wolf, that eminent authority on the Jewish Resettlement Period, has devoted some very delightful pages to unravelling the early congregational history of London's Spanish Jews ; his pioneer essays, " The Jewry of the Restoration " and " Crypto Jews under the Commonwealth "? written twenty and thirty years ago respectively and published in the early Transactions of this Society2?contain a certain amount of information about the early Synagogue ; but sufficient materials were not then available to enable the exact date of its foundation to be established or to admit of its precise location being stated. Mr. Wolf proves that there was a Synagogue in Creechurch Lane in 1660. He
1 Diary of Samuel Pepys, Oct. 14, 1663. Wheatley's edition, vol. iii. p. 303.
2 Transactions of Jewish Historical Society, vol. i. and ii.
presents it to his readers as a secret Synagogue, and hints that it had been there for twenty or more years previously.
An earlier authority, the late Mr. James Picciotto, in his Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, published in 1875, gives 1662 as the earliest authentic date of a Jewish Synagogue in London, and he states that the building was situated in King Street, Aldgate.3 Another early authority is Dr. Gaster, who deals with the matter in his bicentenary book on the Bevis Marks Synagogue. He is, of course, only an 44 early authority " in the sense that Mr. Lucien Wolf's final conclusions were published subsequently. Dr. Gaster gives 1664 as the commencing date of the first Synagogue of the Spanish congregation, but beyond saying that it was 44 in a small house " he ventures no suggestion as to where it was situated. He does not allow that a Synagogue was in existence in Creechurch Lane until the year 1674, when 44 they obtained the lease of the house near Dukes Place in Creechurch Lane for 25 years expiring in the year 1700." 4 Mr. H. S. Q. Henriques, in Jews and the English Law (1908), declares for 1663 as the opening year of the first London Synagogue, and for Dukes Place as its location. He is clearly disinclined to admit into the realm of proven facts Mr. Wolf's Creechurch Lane Synagogue of 1660 ; of this he grudgingly writes : 44 There is moreover some, though it must be admitted, weak evidence that a Synagogue was