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Vestiges of the historic Anglo-Hebrews in East Anglia. With appendices and an apropos essay online

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THIS volume is one of the effects issuing from the
labours of the " Royal Archaeological Institute for
Great Britain and Ireland." Having been asked, in
the spring of this year, by some friends interested in
the researches and prosperity of that useful Association,
to contribute a paper at their annual meeting, to be
held this year at Bury St. Edmund's ; I acquiesced,
and fixed upon the subject which gives the title to this
publication. I considered it a proper theme for an
Essay to be brought under the notice of an assembly
of archaeologists, \vho were to meet in the town which
bears the name of one of the kings of the East Angles.
The subject commended itself to the Honorary Secre-
tary of the Institute, and I forthwith set to work to
isolate some materials for this particular purpose, from
MSS. on kindred subjects, upon which many a year's
hard work and study had been bestowed.

When I had arranged the joints of my skeleton, I
began to feel apprehensive about its probable propor-
tions, should I venture to clothe it with the sinews,
flesh, and skin commensurate with its gigantic stature.
I therefore, by sundry expedients, reduced the struc-
ture of my skeleton to a dwarfish size ; but even
then I was dubious as to whether it might not
be considered out of proportion, for the time usually
allowed for one paper. It took me nearly three


hours to accomplish a private perusal of the first
abridgment. The dissecting knife was once more
applied, and a further series of excisions achieved.
Naturally, I had my misgivings as to the effect which
the mutilated and maimed thesis might produce upon
a highly educated audience, such as form the attend-
ance at such conferences. I confess that whilst I
hoped for the best, 1 was prepared for the worst.
However, the meeting was kinder to me than my
apprehensions foreboded.

It was my good fortune to read my paper when a
NOBLEMAN, well worthy of the name, an accomplished
Scholar, and a learned Divine then the Venerable
Lord Arthur Hervey, Archdeacon of Sudbury, now
Bishop of Bath and Wells occupied the chair.
The President's generous indulgence seemed to per-
meate and pervade the whole audience. I had an at-
tentive and encouraging hearing notwithstanding
the great length of my paper, mutilated though it was
accorded to me. That was not all. When I had
finished, the noble President, as well as the assembly
generally, was good enough to speak in terms of com-
mendation of my humble performance. I was asked
by many, then and there, to publish the production ;
and often, since then, have I been importuned to give
ihe"opuscula,pro bono publico." Refusing compliance
might have been construed into an affected modesty.
I have deferred therefore to the wishes of my partial
critics, as I must call those friends who have urged on
the publication of this paper. In doing so, I have re-
stored,^ the shape of notes and appendices, some of the


parings which I had made from the original plan ; and
have also added an apropos Essay, on the qualifica-
tions which the historian of Jewish annals must

It is not improbable that some of the readers of this
Brochure, may be already acquainted with my works
on the annals of the Anglo-Hebrews, namely, " The
Jews in Great Britain ; being a Series of Six Lectures
delivered at the Liverpool Collegiate Institution, on
the Antiquities of the Jews in England," and " The
History of the Jews in Great Britain" such would
no doubt feel somewhat struck at my altered inter-
pretation of certain men and things, words, thoughts,
and deeds, from that propounded in my former works.
" Live and learn," though a trite saying, is yet a true
and sound aphorism. The first-named work was
written upwards of a quarter century ago ; the
second more than a score of years ago. One learns,
and has to unlearn, a great deal during such a period
of time. On several subjects, I frankly own, my
opinions were then formed on imperfect information,
and but crudely digested. Twenty years' hard
reading, travelling, and thinking, wonderfully enlarge
one's information, and ripen considerably one's

Let me instance two of the principal features in
the following pages the purport of the bronze vessel
found in a Suffolk river, (p. 46,) and the identi-
fication of Nicolaus de Lyra with a Franciscan Monk
of Lynn, (p. 56.) When I first treated of the
former, I was led principally by Dr. Tovey's account


of the vessel. I then lived far away from Town, and
could not avail myself of the unpublished literary
treasures of the British Museum. The sketch of the
vessel fhefac simile of which forms the frontispiece
as preserved amongst the MSS. of the National
Archives, is as different as possible from the print
of the same vessel, as given by Dr. Tovey.* I had
not then visited Prague, and had not read the " Ser-
mons in Stone," with which the ancient Jewish
cemetery, in that place, abounds. When I first treated
of Nicolaus de Lyra, I was not aware that there
flourished a Nicolaus de Lynn at the latter part of
the thirteenth, and the early part of the fourteenth,
century. My former works, just named, are out of
print ; I am prepared for a new History of the
Jews in Great Britain, up to the present day, founded
on materials carefully collected, and critically sifted,
since the publication of the works alluded to.

Let me close my few prefatory remarks with a hope
that my readers will accord to me the like indulgence
which my hearers have done; and will generously
credit me with a conscientious desire to give them the
truest attainable information in my power, weeded of
the tares which ignorance, prejudice, bigotry, and
superstition disseminate.

M. M.

December 1869.

* The stamp on the cover is a miniature of Lady Pigot's
grand artistic diagram, which her Ladyship kindly prepared, for
the purpose of illustrating the part of the paper which it con-
cerned. (P. 46.)



WITTINGLY, or unwittingly, the Royal Archaeological
Institute, in common with certain other scientific and
literary unions, has an important mission. The con-
gress, moving about from place to place in the United
Kingdom, affords an opportunity to Englishmen every-
where to learn from the past how to improve the
present, and how to provide against the future.

There are cycles in history as well as in nature; both
are ordained and controlled by the first great cause, the
moral governor of the universe; both are intended
to inculcate the sublimest of lessons. They point
thoughtful minds retrospectively and prospectively.
When our physical eyes are strained by gazing at
eclipses, conjunctions of planets, the reappearance of
certain comets, meteoric showers, &c., our mental
eyes look back upon the world and the inhabitants
thereof, when the same phenomena took place in times
past. We have before our mind's eye the men and
women who walked this earth then, who hoped and
feared, loved and hated, did good and evil; some were


meek, and some were arrogant; some were gentle,
and some were rude and rough. They gazed then on
the same objects as we now gaze. Where are they ^

Our eye of imagination pierces through also the
vista of futurity. We contemplate beings beholding
the same wondrous things in years to come ; when we
shall be gathered hence. Verily, the revolving cycles
of nature are great moralists and levellers.

The same feelings and thoughts impress us when
we roam over the sites of ancient cities and temples ;
such as Thebes, Memphis, Heliopolis, Nimroud,
Ninevah, Baalbeck, Palmyra, Ephesus, Corinth, Car-
thage, Sidon, Tyre, Jerusalem; or to begin at home
the ancient Castles, Cathedrals, Minsters, Abbeys,
Monasteries and Convents of Old England. The
same eclipses, the same conjunctions of planets, the
same comets, the same meteoric showers interested
the teeming multitudes who once lived, moved, and
had their beings in all those places. Where are
they now?

The periodical bringing before the world the
vestiges and traces of our predecessors, is intended, like
the revolving cycles of nature, to enforce the truth
taught by the inspired penman : " O my God, Thy
years are throughout all generations. Of old hast
Thou laid the foundation of the earth ; and the
heavens are the work of Thy hands. They shall
perish ; but Thou shalt endure, yea all of them shall
wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt Thou
change them, and they shall be changed: but Thou
art the same, and Thy years shall have no end. The


children of Thy servants shall continue, and their seed
shall be established before Thee."*

Such thoughts are induced by the researches of
archaeological, literary, and scientific institutions. The
researches of those organisations spread a table at
which the minds of all sorts of literati can feast ; at
which the wisdom of the profoundest savants may
grow stronger and stronger ; and the crumbs which
fall from it must be nourishing to the masses. The
respective Councils make good use of their opportuni-
ties ; they hold their meetings annually in different
parts of the kingdom, so that they make their
existence to be felt all over this realm, and thus
awaken inquiry, and set intelligent minds to think of
the things that have been, that are, and that may be.

There is one branch of archaeological and historical
research which may be compared to a tree which has
taken deep root in every part of the earth, whose
shadow covers every hill, and whose boughs are like
mighty cedars. The fruit thereof may serve as the
most nourishing aliment for the mind of every nation
under heaven. Or, to use a metaphor befitting the
present occasion, it is that of a shattered ruin of the
most magnificent temple which the Great Architect of
the universe had ever designed, and which the Grand
Master Mason had ever reared, whose fragments have
been scattered over " the wide, wide world." It is
the archaeology and history of the Jewish people.
The interest which that history awakens is cosmopo-
litan in character, inasmuch as the outcasts of Judah,
* Psalm cii. 2428.
B 2


and the dispersed of Israel, are everywhere to be found.
Go from Moscow to Lisbon, from Borneo to Arch-
angel, from Hindustan to Honduras, from Japan to
Britain, and you will meet in the course of your mul-
tifarious peregrinations, with representatives of the
scattered but sacred race. He that adventures him-
self to the snows of Siberia, meets with Jews there ;
he who traverses the sands of the burning desert,
encounters members of the tribes of that wandering
race ; the European traveller hears of their existence
in regions which he cannot reach. Surely, there must
be a great and instructive design in the dispersion of
that ancient people, for the improvement of mankind
all over the world.

Of late years, this branch of archeology has enlisted
the interest of the devout, learned, and curious ; and
in no country more so than in this. I venture to
hope that this paper may conduce to the stirring up
of critical enquiry and research into the early annals
of the Jews in this country. I am only dealing this
time with a few fragments of the great theme, even the
Vestiges of the Historic Anglo-Hebrews of East Anglia.

As this subject, in an exclusive paper, is for the first
time treated in the annals of the Royal Archeological
Institute, I may perhaps be pardoned if I advert, for a
few moments, to the earliest acquaintance of some of
the sacred race with this island. I do not apprehend
any successful contradiction when I state that some Jews
may have dated their earliest landing on British soil,
long ere "Romans, Saxons, Danes, or Normans coveted


the possession of the British isle. I have elsewhere
demonstrated* the migratory character of the Hebrew
race, and the reason thereof, ever since " the Father
of the faithful," i.e., their Patriarch Abraham, was en-
joined to get him out of his country, and from his
kindred, and from his father's house, unto a land that
would be shown him ; and promised that he should
be made a great nation. f I have already established
a strong probability that some Jews were personally
acquainted with this " isle afar off " from their own
land, as early as the time of Solomon, when that
monarch's navy accompanied that of Tyre and Sidon.J
That opinion, which I formed on the strength of
irrefragable evidence, I still maintain, the ingenious
arguments of the late Sir George C. Lewis notwith-
standing. Sir Edward S. Creasy, in his " History of
England from the Earliest Times," the first volume of
which has just been published, after careful research and
critical examination of evidence, has come to the ma-
ture conviction that " the British tin mines mainly
supplied the glorious adornment of Solomon's Temple."
A small remnant of that monarch's subjects re-
mained in Cornwall since that time I have traced
that remnant by the paths of philology, and the by-
ways of nomenclature. I might adduce an array of
whole sentences, exactly alike in the languages of
Hebrew and the ancient Cornish. I might adduce
some of the proper names which prevailed amongst
the aboriginal Britons long before they knew any-
* " The Jews in Great Britain." f Genesis xii. 1, 2.

See Appendix A.


thing of Christianity, such as Adam, Abraham, Asaph,
Benyon, Daniel, Solomon, of which latter name the an-
cient Britons, according to Lloyd's Cambria, had three
kings. We read of a Duke of Cornwall, Solomon by
name, openly professing Christianity about the middle
of the fourth century. Solomon was not his baptis-
mal name, but one by which he was known before
that sacrament was administered to him.

Let me just glance at a few fragments, from the
ruins of Jewish history, to show that considerable
numbers of the sacred, scattered nation were in this
island in the time of the Romans. A copy of a letter
preserved by the Jewish apocryphal historian, Jose-
phon ben Gorion, which the Jews of Asia sent to
Hyrcanus and the nobles of Judah, contains the fol-
lowing passage : "Be it know unto you, that Augustus
Caesar, by the advice of his ally, Antoninus, has sent
throughout all the countries of his dominions, as far
as beyond the Indian sea, and as far as beyond the
land of Britain, that is, the land in the midst of the
ocean, and commanded that in whatever place there
be man or woman of the Jewish race, man servant,
or maid servant, to set them free without any redemp-
tion money. By command of Caesar Augustus and his
ally Antoninus." *

In the Tzemach David, a Hebrew Chronicle of
some importance, written by Rabbi David Ganz, we
have the following brief record : " Caesar Augustus
was a pious and God-fearing man, and did execute
judgment and justice, and was a lover of Israel.
* See Appendix B.


And as to that which is reported at the commence-
ment of the book, ' Sceptre of Judah,' that Ceesar
Augustus caused a great slaughter amongst the Jews,
the informant misled the author ; for I have not met
with a hint even, respecting it, in all the chronicles
that I have ever seen. On the contrary, in all their
[i.e.. Gentiles'] annals, and also in the fifteenth chap-
ter of Josephon, it is recorded that he was a faithful
friend of Israel. The same writer records, in the
forty-seventh chapter, that this Caesar sent an epistle
of release to the Jews in all the countries of his
dominion; to the east as far as beyond the Indian
sea, and to the west as far as beyond the British
territory (which is the country Angleterre, and which
is designated England in the vernacular.)" * The
Jews in this country chronicle the same event
annually, in their calendar, in the following words:
" C. JEi. 15. Augustus' edict in favour of the Jews
in England."

The enquiring archaeologist into the antiquities of
the Jews in this country, encounters the same diffi-
culty which the wise Gildas experienced. That
proto-Anglo-historian lamented in the beginning of
his epistle, in which he has undertaken to give some
account of the ancient British Church, the want of any
domestic monuments to afford him certain informa-
tion. " For," saith he, " if there were any such, they
were either burnt by our enemies, or carried so far by
the banishment of our countrymen, that they no
* See Appendix C.


longer appear ; and therefore I was forced to pick up
what I could out of foreign writers, without any con-
tinued series." So it is with the archaeologist who
desires to construct a history of the Anglo-Hebrews
previous to their banishment from this country in
1290. We have, nevertheless, proof positive that the
Jews were settled in this country to a significant
extent, as has been already stated, before either
Roman, Saxon, Dane, or Norman found their way

Gildas' performance is not redolent of interest of
any kind, and affords evidence neither one way or
the other. The very next English author, the
Venerable Bede, incidentally mentions the Jews, in
such a manner as to prove that they must have been
in this country anterior to his time. Bede, in describ-
ing some of the controversies which raged between
the Romish and the British Monks, mentions the
festival of Easter as a casus belli. The Britons
celebrated Easter on the very day of the full moon
in March, if that day fell on Sunday, instead of wait-
ing till the Sunday following. The Britons pleaded
the antiquity of their usage ; the Romans insisted on
the universality of theirs. In order to render the
former odious, the latter affirmed that the native
priests once in seven years concurred with the Jews
in the time of celebrating that festival

This incidental circumstance proves that there
must have been Jews in Britain, where they had
synagogues, and observed the feast of Passover. The
Jews must also have had learned men amongst them


to arrange their calendars : and such an arrangement
requires a fair astronomical knowledge, or else the
charge would have been totally unintelligible to the
Saxons. This charge, moreover, accounts for the
edict published soon after by Ecgbright, Archbishop
of York, in the " Canonical Excerptiones," A.D. 740,
to the effect that no Christian should be present at any
of the Jewish feasts.* That edict establishes the
facts that the Jews must have resided in this country
at the time of the heptarchy in considerable numbers,
and celebrated their feasts according to their own law ;
and what is more, that they desired to live peaceably
with their Christian neighbours.

It also appears from a charter, granted by Whit-
glaff, King of the Mercians, to Croyland Abbey,
ninety-three years after the above edict was issued,
that there were Jews in this country at that period,
and that they possessed landed property to some
extent ; and, what is more remarkable still, they
endowed Christian places of worship. Ingulphus, in
his " History of Croyland Abbey," relates that in the

* The 146th paragraph of the " Canonical Excerptiones" of
Archbishop Ecgbright runs thus : " A Laodicean Act. That no
Christian presume to judaize, or be present at Jewish feasts."
To which Johnson, in his collection of Ecclesiastical Laws and Can-
ons, adds, " By this, one would suppose there were in this age
Jews in the north of England. The following is the 149th
paragraph of the same " Canonical Excerptiones" : "A Canon of
the Saints. If any Christian sell a Christian into the hands of
Jews or Gentiles, let him be anathema : for it is written in
Deuteronomy, c If any man be caught trafficking for any of the
stock of Israel, and take a price for him, he shall die." Johnson's
Collection of Ecclesiastical Laws.


year 833,Whitglaff, King of the Mercians, having been
defeated by Egbert, took refuge in that Abbey, and
in return for the protection and assistance rendered
him by the Abbot and Monks on the occasion, granted
a charter, confirming to the Abbey all lands, tene-
ments, and possessions, and all other gifts which had
at any time been bestowed upon them by his prede-
cessors, or by any other faithful Christians, or by

Lindo, in his very learned " Jewish Calendar for
sixty-four years," published in 1838, chronicles the
following : " C. M. 1020. Canute banished the Jews
from England." Basnage also asserts that the Jews
were banished from this country in the beginning of
the eleventh century, and did not return till after the
Norman conquest. The authority upon which these
two statements rest is not given. On the contrary,
there is cogent evidence that Jews resided in England
towards the middle of the eleventh century, and prior
to the invasion of William I. By the laws attributed
to Edward the Confessor, it is declared " that the
Jews, wheresoever they be, are under the King's
guard and protection ; neither can any one of
them put himself under the protection of any
rich man without the King's license, for the
Jews and all they have belong to the King;
and if any person shall detain them or their

* "Omnes terras, et tenementas, possessiones, et eorum
peculia, quse reges Merciorum, et eorum Proceres, vel
alii fideles Christiani, vel Judsoi dictis Monarchis de-


money, the King may claim them, if he pleases,
as his own."*

So much for the pre-Norman Conquest Jews of this
country. The few rays of historic evidence which
pierce through that dark unhistoric period, converge
to point out that a few of the dispersed of Judah had
found their way into this country as early as the
Phoenicians; that a good sprinkling of that race settled
here during the Roman occupation, when they chose
the principal garrisoned places of the island for their
local habitation, and their early synagogues ; such as
London, Lincoln, York, Norwich, Leicester. Those
places were selected, after the withdrawal of the
Roman legions, for monastic establishments, to which
were added such institutions as Oxford, Cambridge,
Bury St. Edmund's, &c., &c. As all the intelligence
and learning, such as they were, among the mongrel
and mixed Gentile races, were then confined to those
ecclesiastical and scholastical organizations, some of
the Jews remained in their orginal settlements, and
others repaired to the newly established places of
learning and religion. In those places they lived on
friendly terms with their Christian neighbours ; the
former making grants even of land and other property,
to the abbeys and monasteries of the latter. They

* 22. De Judais. " Sciendum quoque quod omnes Judsei
ubicunque in regno sunt sub tutela et defensione Eegis ligea de-
bent esse, nee quilebet eorum alicui diviti se potest subdere sine
Eegis licentia. Judsei enim et omnia sua Eegis sunt. Quod si
quispiam detinuerit eos vel pecuniam eorum, perquirat Eex si
vult tanquam suum proprium." Spelmari's Concilia Decreta, Sfc.,
vol. i., p. 623.


felt no compunction in holding social intercourse at
their fetes and festivals, when not interfered with by
fanatical or over zealous hierarchs. The Jews had
already well organised schools in London, York,
Oxford, Lincoln, Cambridge, Norwich, Lynn, Bury
St. Edmund's, and other towns. Those schools were
attended by the higher classes of Christians as well as
by the Anglo-Hebrews. Some of those seminaries
were more colleges than mere schools. Besides the
Hebrew and Arabic languages, which were thoroughly
taught in those schools, a sound education was also
given in Geometry, Algebra, Astronomy, Logic,
Music, Chemistry, Medicine, in those Jewish scholastic
establishments ; and the head masters were generally
distinguished rabbis. Not the slightest hint occurs

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Online LibraryMoses MargoliouthVestiges of the historic Anglo-Hebrews in East Anglia. With appendices and an apropos essay → online text (page 1 of 11)