Articles Image

Hitherto the Jewish Historical Society of England in the thirty odd years of its existence has not concerned itself much with the history of our Colonial Jewries. In 1898 Mr. Lucien Wolf touched very lightly on the subject in his paper, " The American Causes of the Resettlement,"1 whilst two more recent essays?on the Jews of South Africa2 and on those of India3?complete the list of the Society's contributions to this aspect of Anglo-Jewish history. Yet the subject in addition to being an extremely interesting one is not without import? ance, for it is impossible to answer adequately the momentous question, " What have her Jews done for England ? " without analysing the history of those early Jewish pioneers whose activities were a factor ?and in some instances, perhaps, a vital one?in the development of the trade, communications and civilization of the British Colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Unfortunately that history still remains to be written.

1 Transactions,

2 Ibid., vii. 180.

3 " Notes on Jews in India," by H. Loewe (read before the Society, Dec. 10, 1923).


have formed the impression that our Colonial Jews rendered more pronounced services to the realm in the British West Indies than in any other part. Moreover, some knowledge of British West Indian matters seems to me to be absolutely essential for a proper understanding of the seventeenth and eighteenth century history of the London Sephardi community, since its members appear to have derived so much of their social prestige?and so much of their revenue ?from their Caribbean connections. The publications of the American Jewish Historical Society contain a very large number of scattered references to the West Indian Jewries. Mr. Frank Cundall, the late G. F. Judah, and the late N. Darnell Davis, all well-known local historians of Jamaica and Barbados, have contributed to the printed Transactions of our sister Society much useful data regarding the Jews of their respective Islands. Dr. Herbert Friedenwald, one of the Secretaries of that Society, was the first to draw attention to the importance of the West Indies to the Jewish historian. As far back as 1897 he compiled a series of extracts from the printed Calendars of British State Papers (Colonial Series), thereby setting out most of the West Indian documents relating obviously to Jews which had been catalogued by the Public Record Office for the period 1661 to 1676. Dr. Friedenwald also extracted a number of ordinances relating to the Jews from the Laws enacted on the Islands of Barbados and Jamaica during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He aug? mented this material subsequently by his contributions to the Jewish Encyclopedia. The Jewish Historical Society of England has thus every reason to be grateful to the American Society for its work in a field which has been neglected over here, in spite of the fact that, strictly speaking, it concerns British rather than American historical workers.

The work which I myself have attempted to do is

Become a member to read the full article
Become a member today


24 hour access to JHSE online resources

Instant access to over 700 articles View the original articles as a PDF
Learn More


Annual JHSE Membership

Members are entitled to a free copy of the latest Jewish Historical Studies, free access to our online resources and associate membership of the UCL Library in London.  In addition, they receive the JHSE Newsletter, special offers on books for sale and pay less to attend our series of lectures and other public events.
Learn More


Student Membership

The JHSE want to encourage students to engage with Jewish history.  Apply for a Student Membership with your university email account and once we have verified your status you will soon have all the benefits of being a full JHSE member.
Learn More


Associate your Institution with the JHSE

Give your members access to JHSE online resources and special offers on book sales.  Use your institutional email account when applying, and once your status is verified we will explain the scheme.  Preferred payment is by credit or debit card.
Learn More

Your Cart