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Jews

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JEWS. It does not appear at what time the Jews came into Great Britain, but they were settled here in the Saxon period, and as early as A.D. 750. From the time of the Conquest the Jews in England rapidly increased in number. Under the first three Norman kings they lived undisturbed, so far as we are in formed. But,under Stephen and his suc cessors they suffered from the rapacity of the kings and the intolerance of the people. The persecutions which they experienced from all persons, both lay and ecclesiastic, poor and rich, are fully attested by the evidence of their enemies. Finally, in the reign of Edward I., about A.D. 1290, all the Jews were banished from the kingdom. Their numbers at that time are conjectured (but on what grounds we are not aware) to have been between 15,000 and 16,000. It was not till after the Restoration, A.D. 1660, that the Jews again settled in England; and though under the Protectorate they had entered into negotiations with Cromwell to obtain permission to enter the island, nothing seems to have been done in the matter, and those who have investigated the subject bring forward no proof of leave being formally granted to them to return. After the Restoration it seems probable that they came in gradually without either permission or opposition, and since that time foreign Jews have been on the same footing as other aliens with respect to entering the country. In the reign of Queen Anne (I Anne, c. 30) an act was passed, by which, " if any Jewish parent, in order to the compelling of his or her Protestant child to change his or her religion, shall refuse to allow such child a fitting maintenance, suitable to the degree and ability of such parent, and to the age and education of such child," the Lord Chancellor, upon com plaint made to him, shall make such order for the maintenance of such Pro testant child as he shall think fit. In the year 1753 an act was passed to enable foreign Jews to be naturalized without taking the sacrament ; but the act was repealed in the following session, under the influence of the popular feel ing, which was most strongly opposed to the measure of 1753. Since this year they have lived in the United Kingdom unmolested. In 1830 the number of Jews in London was estimated at 18,000, and in the rest of England about 9000. But since the act for the registration of marriages, &c. was passed, and the num ber of marriages among the Jews is ac curately ascertained, we know that this calculation was too high ; and if the pro portion of marriages amongst the Jews is the same as amongst other portions of the population, the number of Jews in England and Wales in 1843 was only 18,700. The number in Scotland and

Ireland is probably small, but we are not aware that there is any good estimate as to their numbers in these parts of the United Kingdom.

During their residence in England, up to their banishment in the time of Ed ward I., the Jews were considered as the villains and bondsmen of the king, a relation which seems to explain the power over their persons and property which was assumed and exercised by the king in the most oppressive manner. They however could purchase and hold land, subject only to the right of the king, whatever it might be, to levy taxes on them and seize their lands if they were not paid. By the statute of the 54th and 55th of Henry III. the Jews were declared incapable of purchas ing or taking a freehold interest in land, but might hold, as in time past they were accustomed to hold, houses in the cities, boroughs, and towns where they resided. Another statute (Statutum de Judaismo), 3 Edward I., forbade Jews from alienat ing in fee, either to Jew or Christian, any houses, rents, or tenements which they then had, or disposing of them in any way without the king's consent; they were permitted to purchase houses and cartilages in the cities and boroughs where they then resided, provided they held them in chief of the king; and they were further permitted to take lands to farm for any term not exceeding ten years ; such permission, however, was not to con tinue in force for more than fifteen years from the date of the act. Since the tune of their banishment no statute has been passed which in direct terms affects the right of the Jews to hold real estates in England, and it has been a matter of dispute whether they can now legally hold such estate. It has been contended that the statute called the 54th and 55th Henry HI. is not an act of parliament, but only an ordinance of the king, which, however, to say the least, seems a very questionable proposition. But all doubt on this point, together with the property disabilities noticed above under Edward I. and Henry III. have been removed by an act of 1846, the 9 & 10 Vict. c. 39, under which statute the Jews are enabled to hold lands, and to alienate any real property they possess without leave of the king.

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