The Jews Of Bath*

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Bath attracted many Jewish visitors from early in the eighteenth century, but the disappearance of all save a handful of communal records puts an exact analysis of the subsequent settlement there beyond the bounds of possibility.((C. Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry (London 1950) 27-9; Board of Deputies arch? ives C7/2/3/WV and D2/5/i-iv, calendered in the RCHM Report no. 76/28 (London 1976) 88 and 194.)) Apart from municipal archives and directories the major sources of information are two newspapers, the Bath Journal from 1744 onwards and the Bath Chronicle from 1755. Both, from their earliest issues, printed at the head of the local news, week by week, 'persons of distinction that arrived'.

Certain customs accompanied the arrival at Bath. 'If a broker or statesman, a gamester or peer,/A naturalized Jew or a bishop comes here', wrote Anstey in his light-hearted verse Guide to the city, 'With horns and with trumpets, with fiddles and drums,/They'll strive to divert him as soon as he comes.'((C. Anstey, The New Bath Guide (Bath 1766) Letter V; for Jews at the gaming tables Letter VIII and M. Chandler, The Description of Bath (London 1736) 14.)) Half a guinea or a crown would pay off the waits, and the Master of Ceremonies might then call to collect subscriptons for the varied diary of events. Most Jewish visitors would have followed a routine along the lines indicated by the entries Jacob Franks made in a cash book in 1777, when he took a house for eight weeks in Milsom Street for himself, his wife Priscilla, and his sister Abigail.((Greater London Record Office (hereafter GLRO) Acc. 775/71. For Franks genealogy see M. H. Stern, First American Jewish Families (Cincinnati and Waltham 1978).)) Bathing, drinking or tasting the waters preceded a morning concert or a public breakfast; then came the shops and promenades, the Upper or Lower Rooms, dances and card parties, and another concert or the theatre. A few weeks of this exhausting regimen sufficed for many, although the more socially ambitious would stay longer, and return more frequently.

Not everybody found a trip to Bath entirely pleasurable. The serious business of the city, often obscured by its role as a leisure centre, was always health. Circumstantial evidence and obituary notices-those for instance of Isaac Franks, Hyman Hart, David Michaels and several of the Adolphuses((A. M. Hyamson, The Jewish Obituaries in the Gentleman's Magazine, Misc.JHSE IV (1942) 33-60, and those in the London Maga? zine, in Anglo-Jewish Notabilities (London 1949) 226-33. ))-suggest that at least some visitors must have been chronic invalids in search of a cure. The first identifiable Jewish visitor, Catharine de Costa, was with her children at the Bath recovering her strength in 1731.((C. Roth, Anglo-Jewish Letters (London 1938) 104-5. Earlier still Ned Ward noticed Jews in the fashionable Cross Bath: A Step to the Bath (London 1700) 13.)) Eight years earlier, Mr Dias, Marcus Moses and Joseph Musaphia appear in the first list of subscribers to the Bath General Hospital.((J. Wood, A Description of Bath... (Lon? don

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