Chronicles of the Mayors and Sheriffs of London 1188-1274. Originally published by Trübner, London, 1863.
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Of the Jews in England
[Of the Jews in England.]
Be it remembered, that whereas in times past the Jews had been allowed to follow many unlawful practices, which are both to the dishonour of God and to the detriment of all the realm; still, not contented therewith, in the year of Our Lord 1271 they asked of his lordship the King and his Council, that they might have wardship and (fn. 1) marriage of Christian heirs under age, as also the advowsons of churches belonging to those whose lands such Jews might hold in seisin. And this indeed, through some of the Council of his lordship the King, who had been corrupted by bribes, was almost conceded to them; upon learning which, a certain religious, belonging to the Order of the (fn. 2) Friars Minors, manfully opposed the same, and went unto his lordship the King and his Council, and said that that request was altogether to the dishonour of God and to the very great disgrace of all Christendom; for that in such case, Christians would have to be subjected to Jews and be given in marriage by them. He further said, that the Jews were in the habit of following many and unlawful practices, to the dishonour of God and the detriment of all the realm; and this the same man on many grounds convincingly proved before his lordship the King and his Council. Wherefore, after counsel had been taken by them in common, it was provided and enacted in manner hereunder set forth.—
Here are set forth certain matters first indited in reference to the Statutes on the Jews.
"W[alter], by divine permission Archbishop of York, Primate of England, and Gr[odfrey], by the same grace, humble servant of the Church of Worcester, to their most dearly beloved friend in Christ, Master Richard de Stanes, Justiciar of his lordship the King, greeting, with continual increase of sincere love in Christ. Whereas the perfidious Jews, at all times adversaries of the Christian faith, who only do dwell in this realm by favour of the princes thereof, are encouraged to gain possession of the common liberties and customs of the faithful of this realm of England, as by holding freehold, for example, and claiming other rights which unto freehold pertain; from the which, if they should be able to obtain the same, very many evils would forthwith ensue. For it would thence arise that, by reason of such tenures, the faithful would have to make corporal oath to unbelievers as to doing fealty unto them: in addition to which, the faithful would have to do homage to unbelievers, as being their lords, and in like manner, unbelievers to the faithful. Jews also, by reason of such tenures, would be presenting to churches; and wardships, marriages, and escheats would come into the hands of unbelievers. Upon assizes too, and recognizances, and juries, by reason of such tenures, they would be frequently placed, and so Jews would be put on a par with the faithful, so far as pleas are concerned. There would also be the same law of the realm for Christians and for Jews, a thing that is contrary to the holy sanctions of the Christian religion and of ourselves. They might be able also in future times, through the agency of money, to gain possession not only of site and freehold, but of baronies, which are immediately held of his lordship the King, as well. And forasmuch as, by these and other counsels which were gradually waxing stronger, to the injury of the Christian faith, no small prejudice might have arisen, to the aggrievance of his lordship the King, and of his realm, and of the people of his realm; of late at London, as you know, in presence of his most serene lordship the (fn. 3) King of Almaine and of the venerable father, R[oger] Lord Bishop of Coventry and Lichefeld, and of ourselves, the whole Council also of his lordship the King of England there sitting, with unanimous will and common assent, to the honour of God and of his holy Church universal, as also, to the common advantage of the realm, after deliberate counsel thereon, it was healthfully provided and enacted, to the effect that no Jew shall from henceforth by deed or gift, or by any other title whatsoever, have or hold either freehold, or rent, or house to be hired by Christians or by Jews, except only the house which he inhabits in his own proper person; nor shall in future plead by writ, by law of the realm for Christians provided, as to any of the matters aforesaid. Nor shall writs on any account from the Chancery be granted unto them as to the matters aforesaid; and if such shall be granted, they are to be held as null and be void of strength and effect. Wherefore, seeing that from dilatoriness and delay of publication of such statute and provision, the Jews perhaps, and their supporters, insisting upon the nullity thereof, no small detriment might possibly in the meantime arise, we have thought it meet that by these presents your feelings of devoutness should be aroused, to the increase of the honour of God and to the exaltation of the Christian faith, and the advantage and profit of the English people, that so, giving aid to us therein, you may cause, with all the haste that you may, the said statute to be enrolled wholly and completely, and solemnly to be published, for everlasting remembrance thereof, by their lordships, the Chancellor of his lordship the King, the Justiciars of Bank, and the great men of the Court, who will the more readily be inclined to support you in so pious an object, and by such others as unto you shall seem expedient: you, in the execution hereof, so conducting yourselves, that you may be enabled to obtain remuneration therefor of the Most High, for the great increase of whose honour you strive. And from thence, so far as yourselves are concerned, may there accrue unto you the meed of high praise, as being a most devout son of the Church; knowing for certain, that although some, to the peril of their own souls, may labour to effect the enervation of the same statute, the Prelates will labour for the observance thereof, nor will permit, as indeed they ought not, that it shall remain unperfected, seeing that, from the duties which are enjoined upon them, they are bound thereto, and that the common and evident advantage so demands. Farewell. Given at Hadley, on the Feast of the Translation of the Blessed Thomas the Martyr [7 July], in the year of Our Lord 1271."
These are the Letters of the King of England as to the same.
"Henry, by the grace of God, King of England, Lord of Ireland, and Duke of Acquitaine, to his well-beloved and trusty, the Mayor and Sheriffs of London, and all his bailiffs and faithful subjects, to whom these present letters shall come, greeting. Know ye, that to the honour of God and of the Church universal, and to the amendment and advantage of the land, and the relief of the Christians from the losses and grievances which they have sustained, by reason of the freeholds which the Jews of our realm claimed to hold in lands, tenements, fees, rents, and other tenures, and to the end that no prejudice may in future unto us or unto the commons of our realm, or unto such realm itself, be generated, we have made provision, by counsel of the prelates, great men, and nobles, who are of our Council, and have also ordained and enacted, for us and for our heirs, that no Jew shall have freehold in any manors, lands, tenements,fees, rents, or tenures whatsoever, by deed, gift, feoffment, confirmation, or any obligation whatsoever, or in any other manner whatsoever; provided however, that in future they shall inhabit their houses, wherein they dwell, in cities, burghs, or other towns, and shall have the same in such manner as in times past they have been wont to have them, and also may lawfully let other their houses, which they have to let, unto Jews only, and not unto Christians; upon the understanding however, that it shall not be lawful for our Jews of London to buy more houses than they now possess, or in any other way whatso ever within our City of London to obtain the same, whereby the parish churches of the same City, or the rectors thereof, may incur loss. Still however, the same Jews of London shall be able to repair their ancient houses and edifices which have already fallen into ruin and disrepair, and at their own will restore them to their former state. We have also, by the same counsel unto us given, provided and enacted, that as to inhabiting or letting their houses aforesaid, as before stated, no Jew shall plead or be enabled to plead by our original writs of Chancery, but only before our Justiciars to the guardianship of the Jews assigned, and that, by the writs of Jewry heretofore accustomed and in use. But as to the lands and tenures of which the Jews before this present statute were enfeoffed, we do will that such enfeoffments and gifts shall be wholly annulled, and that those lands and tenements shall remain unto the Christians who may have conveyed the same unto them; provided however, that such Christians shall make satisfaction unto the same Jews for the monies or chattels in their deeds or chirographs named, without usury, which such Jews may have given unto the Christians for the gift or enfeoffment thereof. Upon this condition also, in addition thereto, that if those Christians shall not be able forthwith to make satisfaction for the same, it shall be lawful for the Jews aforesaid to let those tenements unto others, until by reasonable assessment, according to the true value thereof, the amount of such their chattels may, without usury, be levied therefrom, saving however unto such Christians their right of dwelling therein; and upon the understanding that the Jew receives his money or his chattels for the same by the hands of Christians, and not of Jews, as already mentioned. And if it shall happen that any Jew shall from henceforth receive from any Christian a feoffment of any fee or tenement, in contravention of the present statute, such Jew shall wholly lose the said tenement or fee, and the same shall be taken into our hand and safely kept, and those Christians, or their heirs, shall receive back such land or tenement from our hand; but upon the understanding, that they shall then pay unto us the whole of the money which from the same Jews for such feoffment they may have received; or if their means shall not suffice thereunto, then they shall pay the true value of such tenements or fees unto us and our heirs yearly at our Ex chequer, by true and reasonable valuation thereof, until for such money or chattels full satisfaction shall unto us have been made. And as to nurses of children, bakers, brewers, and cooks, among the Jews, seeing that Jews and Christians are upon unequal footing as to religious belief, we do provide and enact, that no Christian man or woman shall presume to minister unto them in the offices aforesaid. And because that the Jews are still wont to receive at the hands of Christians certain rents under the name of 'fees,' arising from lands and tenements belonging to Christians, as perpetual payments, we do will and enact that the (fn. 4) statute that was then by us made thereon, shall be confirmed and be held established; nor shall there be in any way by this present statute aught in derogation thereof. And we do therefore command you, and do strictly enjoin, that you cause the provision, ordinance, and statute aforesaid, throughout the whole of your bailiwick publicly to be proclaimed, and strictly to be observed. In testimony whereof, we have caused these our letters patent to be made. Witness myself, at Westminster, this 25th day of July, in the five-and-fiftieth year of our reign."
Letters of the same King.
" H[enry], by the grace of God, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Acquitaine, Earl of Anjou, to his well-beloved and trusty, Hugh de Pateshelle, his Treasurer, Philip de Asselles, and his fellows, Justiciars for wardship of the Jews assigned, Peter Grimbald, and the Mayor of London, greeting. Know ye, that for the amelioration of our realm, and for repressing the evilmindedness and falsehood of the Jews, on the morrow of Saint Eadmund [20 November] in the four-and-twentieth year of our reign, it was of our Council before us provided, S[tephen] de Segrave, Brother G[eoffrey] our Almoner, B[ertram] de Criolle, our Seneschal, Master S[imon] de Esteyland, G[eoffrey] le Despenser, and other our faithful subjects being then present, at Winchester, that the keepers of the (fn. 5) Chest of London and the clerk-writers should be removed, and that by view of you and of the Constable of the Tower of London, and of two good and lawful men of the City of London, whom you were to associate with yourselves therefor, other two of the lawful and more discreet Christians, and other two of the lawful Jews of London, were to be chosen, to whose custody such chest was to be recommitted, and each and every of them was to have his own key thereof. By view also of you, two trusty clerks are to be chosen, who, making oath that they will faithfully behave themselves in that office, shall in future attend to all manner of writings that between Christians and Jews shall be made; and who, in presence of the Christian who borrows the money and of the Jew who lends the same, being the parties between whom the writing is made, shall deliver that part of the writing to which the wax is attached, unto the chirographers aforesaid, to be deposited in such chest by the tenth day at the very latest from the time that such writing shall have been made. Also, the first part of the same writing shall remain with the Christian who shall have borrowed such money; and the second part, which is called the 'foot of the chirograph,' and which was wont to be replaced in the chest, shall remain with the Jew, from whom the money so owing shall have been borrowed: upon the understanding that it shall be lawful for him to claim his debt by such foot, and to implead in every way, the same as he was wont by that part to which the wax is attached; such part to which the wax is attached being replaced in the chest, as already mentioned. And if any Christian shall presume to keep out of the chest, and away from the chirographers aforesaid, or from the clerks aforesaid, that part of the chirograph to which the wax is attached, after the tenth day from the time that it shall have been made, he shall unto us be heavily amerced. But if the Jew shall so withhold the same, and shall be convicted thereof, his (fn. 6) chattels shall unto us be forfeited. Also, the seal of the Christian, who shall have contracted such debt, must contain the proper name of him who so borrows, and that part which has to be replaced m the chest, must be sealed with the same. Also, every Jew, wherever he shall be abiding on the day of Saint Michael, must there continue to abide with all his family for the whole year then next ensuing, nor may he thence remove or transfer himself without our especial precept therefor. And we do will, that usury shall not run against debtors from the Day of Saint John the Baptist [24 June] in the three-and-twentieth year of our reign until the Day of our Lord's Nativity in the four-and-twentieth year of our reign. And we do forbid that any Jew shall otherwise lend his money than by the assize which by us and our predecessors has been commonly granted unto the Jews; that is to say, that no one shall presume to take greater interest than at the rate of two pence in the pound each week. And therefore, we do command you that you cause the provision beforewritten to be enrolled and strictly to be observed. These present letters also are to remain in the Chest of Chirographs of London, in the custody of the chirographers aforesaid, as a rule for their procedure therein. Witness myself at Clarendon, this tenth day of December, in the fourand-twentieth year of our reign."