Basic facts concerning Oliver Cromwell and the resettlement of Jews in England

(1) There were Marranos in England before Cromwell.
(2) The Puritan government failed to extend Jews the privileges they sought.
(3) Royalists were perfectly ready to ally with Jews where they thought they could benefit (and the converse, likewise).
(4) The Jewish population of England was negligible prior to the Restoration of Charles II, after which it markedly increased.

More below. (Continue reading.)

On the Royalist position on Jews:
My purpose in this paper is to set forth the position of the Royalist faction in respect to the political work of Menasseh ben Israel. The Royalist attitude toward the readmission of Jews may be divided into two periods: A) from the beginning of the civil war until 1655 and B) from 1655 to the Restoration of Charles II. During the first period the Royalist attitude was decidedly negative but during the second period there was a tendency toward the positive. [. . .]

The relative silence after the Whitehall deliberations, which testified, as it were, to their failure, awakened doubts and caused consternation in the Jewish groups, who were concerned with this political action - this in fact at the very outset among the Amsterdam community and its leaders.25 The opportunity of the Royalists came and they knew how to exploit the condition thus created.

For both sides, the time was ripe for negotiations. The Amsterdam Jews started negotiations with General Middleton, one of the leaders of the Royalist camp. Their first words were that Menasseh ben Israel's dealings with Cromwell were neither satisfactory nor acceptable to them, and they were prepared to place their services at the disposal of the Royalist camp. General Middleton conveyed this information to Charles II. Inasmuch as the need of financial aid was urgent, Charles authorized General Middleton, that on his way to Danzig and Poland in connection with his political mission, he should collect money from the Scottish merchants in Poland; that he should also linger in Amsterdam for the purpose of obtaining a loan from the Jews;26 and that he should inform the Jewish leaders in Amsterdam that because of their services, Charles II did not view the Jews as his enemies: "How graciously we accept those their professions and that wee are very farr from that prejudice to them as to look on them as Enemys." However, Charles did not want the Jews to be content with promises and general declarations alone; if they would prove their love for the Royalist cause by "mony, arms and ammunition": "as may be an argument in better times to us to avow and declare our Resolutions in their favour." In return for this service, authorization was given General Middleton to assure the Jews that with the Restoration, Jews would be admitted under government protection; and there would be a repeal of all the laws against the Jews in all the English dominions: "They shall finde that when God shall restore us to the possession of our Rights and to that power which of right doth belong to us, wee shall extende that protection to them which they can reasonably expecte and abate that Rigour of the Lawes which is against them in our several Dominions." He also guaranteed that the money furnished by the Jews was only a loan and would be returned to them after the Restoration.

Aside from the official letter which was General Middleton's authorization, Charles II issued a second letter which was brief and personal in which he expressed unusual caution in granting promises to the Jews. [. . .]

The results of this negotiation are not known, excepting Charles II's attitude toward the Jews after the Restoration: the confirmation of privileges despite the various petitions which sought to expel them,27 testifies to the fact that he received acknowledged service from the Jews while he was in exile. General Monk, who restored him to power, was the personal friend of Coronel, the Jew, who, owing to his service to Charles II, was made a knight after the Restoration - at the price of his Jewishness.28

[M. Wilensky. The Royalist Position concerning the Readmission of Jews to England. The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Series, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Apr., 1951), pp. 397-409]
On the Jewish population of England:
it was resolved in the autumn of 1689 to raise an additional supply of two million pounds. On November 7, the Committee of the whole House, which was sitting to consider the means of raising this sum, recommended that a tax of one hundred thousand pounds be laid upon the Jews, and a bill for that purpose was ordered to be brought in. On November 11 the Jews presented a petition to the House of Commons against the proposed tax. [. . .] The petition gave a very interesting account of the condition of the Jews in England at this time: stating that about the year 1654 there came six Jew families into this kingdom, which since the Restoration of Charles II had been increased to the number of between three and four score families, who had settled in the cities of London and Westminster, under the public faith and protection of King Charles II; that many of them had been made denizens by the last two kings, and that though one half of them had moderate or indifferent estates, the other half consisted partly of persons assisting the better sort in the management of their commerce, and partly of poor people maintained by their richer brethren, and in no ways chargeable to the parish; that they paid all the taxes and fulfilled all the duties imposed upon them, and by their large commercial transactions they greatly enriched the nation, and increased the revenue from Customs: that they were wholly unable to pay the large sum proposed to be levied upon them, and could not expect any assistance from their brethren abroad; so that if the tax were proceeded with they would be utterly ruined. Though not mentioned in the petition, the rumour was spread abroad that the Jews would be forced to leave the country, and that they would remove themselves and their effects into Holland, rather than submit to the imposition.

[Henry Straus Quixano Henriques. The return of the Jews to England: being a chapter in the history of English law. Macmillan and co., limited, 1905. pp. 116-117.]

On the Whitehall deliberations:
So much has recently been written about the conference and the events which led to it, that it will be sufficient here to extract from the old Parliamentary History the Narrative published by order of Cromwell and his Council1.

" Whitehall, December 4.

"Divers eminent Ministers of the Nation, having been called hither by Letter from the Lord Protector, were present with his Highness and the Council in the Council- Chamber; when the following Proposals, made by certain Jews, of whom Rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel, of Amsterdam, was the Chief, were read to them.

"' These are the Graces and Favours which, in the Name of my Hebrew Nation, I Menasseh Ben Israel do request of your Most Serene Highness, whom God make prosperous, and give happy Success to, in all your Enterprises, as your humble Servant doth wish and desire.

"' I. The first Thing I desire of your Highness is, That our Hebrew Nation may be received and admitted into this puissant Commonwealth, under the Protection and Safe- guard of your Highness even as the Natives themselves. And, for greater Security in Time to come, I do supplicate your Highness to cause an Oath to be given (if you shall think it fit) to all the Heads and Generals of Arms to defend us upon all Occasions.

"' 2. That it will please your Highness to allow us public Synagogues, not only in England, but also in all other Places under the Power of your Highness; and to observe in all Things our Religion, as we ought.

"'3. That we may have a Place or Coemitery, out of the Town, to bury our Dead, without being troubled by any.

"' 4. That we may be permitted to traffic freely in all Sorts of Merchandise, as others.

"' 5. That (to the end those who shall come may be for the utility of the People of this Nation, and may live with- out bringing Prejudice to any, and not give Offence) your Most Serene Highness will make Choice of a Person of Quality, to inform himself of and receive the Passports of those who shall come in; who, upon their Arrival, shall certify him thereof, and oblige themselves, by Oath, to maintain Fealty to your Highness in this Land.

"' 6. And (to the Intent they may not be troublesome to the Judges of the Land, touching the Contests and Differ- ences that may arise betwixt those of our Nation) that your Most Serene Highness will give License to the Head of the Synagogue, to take with him two Almoners of his Nation to accord and determine all the Differences and Process, conformable to the Mosaic Law; with Liberty, nevertheless, to appeal from their Sentence to the Civil Judges; the Sum wherein the Parties shall be condemned being first deposited.

"'7. That in case there have been any Laws against our Jewish Nation, they may, in the first Place and before all Things, be revoked; to the end that, by this Means, we may remain with the greater Security under the Safeguard and Protection of your Most Serene Highness. "'

Which things your Most Serene Highness granting to us, we shall always remain most affectionately obliged to pray to God for the Prosperity of your Highness, and of your illustrious and sage Council, that it will please him to give happy Success to all the undertakings of your Most Serene Highness. Amen.'

"The Ministers having heard these Proposals read, desired Time to consider of them, and the next Day was spent in Prayer and Fasting.

"Dec. 7. This Day, in the Afternoon, a Conference was held with the Ministers about these Proposals, in the Presence of his Highness the Lord Protector, the Lord President Lawrence, Lord Lambert, Lord Fiennes, and divers more of the Council, with the Lord Chief Justice Glynn, and the Lord Chief Baron Steel. Of the Ministers there were Dr. Thomas Goodwin, Dr. Wilkinson, Dr. Tuck- ney, Mr. Manton, Mr. Nye, Mr. Bridge, and many others; but nothing being concluded on, another Conference was appointed to be held on the next Wednesday. Accord- ingly,

"Dec. 12. The Conference was renewed in a Withdrawing Room in the Presence of the Lord Protector, where a Committee of the Council were met by the greatest Part of the Ministers and other Persons, approved by his Highness to take the said Proposals into Consideration; but nothing then resolved upon.

"Dec. 14. There was another Conference on the same Subject. And,

"Dec. 18. The Committee broke up without coming to any Resolution or even a further Adjournment.'

"The Narrative concludes with this Remark, 'That his Highness, at these several Meetings, fully heard the Opinions of the Ministers touching the said Proposals; expressing himself thereupon with Indifference and Moderation, as one that desired only to obtain Satisfaction in a Matter of so high and religious a Concernment; there being many glorious Promises recorded in Holy Scripture, concerning the Calling and Convention of the Jews to the Faith of Christ. But the Reason why nothing was concluded upon was, because his Highness proceeded in this, as in all other Affairs, with good Advice and mature Deliberation."'

[H. S. Q. Henriques. The Jews and the English Law. IV. The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 14, No. 4, (Jul., 1902), pp. 653-697]
We thus see that, months after the holding of the Whitehall Conference, the position of the Jews remained exactly the same as it had been in the time of Charles I. We see from the evidence that Robles had been settled here before the Commonwealth had been established, and some of the Crypto-Jews had been settled here even longer. Moreover no change took place in the condition of the Jews until after the Restoration.

[H. S. Q. Henriques. The Jews and the English Law. V. The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 16, No. 2, (Jan., 1904), pp. 330-350]


Anonymous said...

Reading this reminded me of one of your older posts where you succinctly summarized that blowhard Mencius Moldbug's tens of thousands of words of Talmudic sophistry in one sentence: "Bring back monarchy so I can be a court Jew."

Jim Bowery said...

I'm particularly interested in any migrations consequent to the Spanish Inquisition and most particularly the expulsion of 1492. Part of my reasoning is that it seems to me the pattern of royal behavior transitioned from Henry VII to Henry VIII in a manner symptomatic of Jewish virulence. Most particularly, the change of tax policy between Henry VII and Henry VIII during which the baronage was released from taxation on their retinue. This had far reaching political economic consequences that, I suspect, contributed to later financial difficulties.

n/a said...


According to "Jewish Virtual Library":

The first evidence of Jews in Tudor England after the expulsion is in 1494. Under Henry VIII and Edward VI, small numbers of Spanish and Portuguese Conversos (Jewish converts to Christianity) worshiped secretly as Jews in London and Bristol. Henry VIII used Jewish scholars to justify his divorce from Catherine of Aragon and his marriage to Anne Boleyn. In 1588, the Converso Dr. Hector Nunes was lauded as a hero for being the first to warn of the sailing of the Spanish Armada.

Tanstaafl said...

Another basic fact about the resettlement of jews in England: big big big mistake.

Anonymous said...

"The Moral Menace of Roman Law and the Making of Commerce: Some Dutch Evidence"

Journal article by James Q. Whitman; Yale Law Journal, Vol. 105, 1996.

...outlines how the Dutch in the 15th & 16th century shifted their legal/moral approach from Aquinas' just price principles to the more "liberal", if you will, of Roman law.

"The theory of just price, which played a long and centrally important role in Christian thought, held that all goods had an objectively correct price, and that it was sinful to profit by buying or selling at any price other than the correct one. At the heart of this theory was a view of the world that, in essence, lives with full emotional force for Americans only in the law of insider trading: the view that it was fundamentally wrong for one contract partner to get the better of another by selling high or buying low.(57) This view is difficult for us to grasp: To us, such behavior between trading partners is unproblematically permissible in almost all contexts, and we have a hard time grasping the moral depth of the problem in the law of the older Christian world. Yet in the law of earlier centuries, this question was as bitterly troubling as is the question of insider trading now; and it carried with it the same vague anxieties about the market that inform our public debate about insider trading--the same firm, but inarticulate, conviction that evil is afoot in the market.

As a number of medieval historians have emphasized, this was a matter on which Roman and Christian traditions sharply differed. Both Roman and Christian traditions started from the assumption that all goods had, by some measure, an objectively correct price (as everyone started from that assumption until the marginalist revolution). But Roman and Christian texts differed sharply on the question of whether it was permissible to deviate from that correct price. On the most liberal end of the spectrum, readers of Roman texts found a famous, and to traditional minds highly sinister, classical pronouncement: "with regard to price, contract-parties have the natural right to overreach each other."(58) Alongside this classical rule, however, came a later and more restrictive rule: the famous late-antique doctrine of laesio enormis, which allowed a seller to rescind the sale of a tract of real property for less than half its true value.(59) In the European tradition, jurists extended the rule of laesio enormis beyond the case of real property, and beyond the class of sellers, making of it a general limitation on the principle of caveat emptor (and caveat vendor) wherever misrepresentations led to mispricing of at least half the true value of the subject goods. After late antiquity, the Roman legal tradition thus continued to permit deviations, but only as long as they did not exceed half the correct price."


Anonymous said...


Similar changes took place in Dutch society's view of bankruptcy.

"Something happened, then, in the Dutch law of overreaching, something that reflected a substantially changed attitude toward hard bargaining, and a substantially wider vernacular circulation of Roman rules. But if something happened in the Dutch law of overreaching, something even more dramatic happened in the Dutch law of bankruptcy. It is in the law of bankruptcy that we see Roman law at its most immoral, by the measures of the day. And it is in bankruptcy that we most clearly see Dutch law taking a new, Romanizing path.

To European authors everywhere in the seventeenth century, the declaration of bankruptcy was the single most scandalous phenomenon of commercial society. We may quote authors Italian, French, English, or German, all of whom regarded the declaration of bankruptcy as a ghastly evil...

In particular, they took a dramatically more liberal attitude toward a Roman practice called cessio bonorum:(110) the practice of ceding all one's goods, much as in a modem liquidation, in order to gain immunity from the normal sanction against insolvents, imprisonment. Cessio bonorum was permitted by a Roman statute whose ancient history is still rather mysterious; we remain unsure whether it was the work of Julius Caesar or Augustus.(111) Whatever its true origins, early-modern Europeans did not doubt that it had been created by one of these luminous emperors, as an act of princely grace toward debtors, and had been further extended by later ancient emperors.(112) Cessio bonorum permitted debtors to escape imprisonment through a public ceding of all their goods, saving a few life necessities, to their creditors.(113)

Like other ancient legal institutions, cessio bonorum was revived in the later Middle Ages, as commercial life and knowledge of Roman law grew. But although cessio bonorum was revived in the Middle Ages, it was revived in a strikingly circumscribed form. Medieval legal practice permitted cessio bonorum, which had unimpeachable authority as a Roman institution, but insisted on adding to it heavy sanctions of dishonor. As early-sixteenth-century canon lawyers explained it, a debtor insolvent through no fault of his own could receive a full discharge by declaring cessio--but only if he performed his cessio, as the canonists put it, vituperose, "amidst shame.(114)"

These changes happened first and only in Holland in the 16th century. Whitman does not suggest why. However, it is coincident with the Spanish expulsion.


Anonymous said...

The following paper may be of interest -- “This Green and Pleasant Land: Britain and the Jews” -

Anonymous said...

Just price

"In Aquinas' time, most products were sold by the immediate producers (i.e. farmers and craftspeople), and wage-labor and banking were still in their infancy. The role of merchants and money-lenders was limited. The later School of Salamanca argued that the just price is determined by common estimation which can be identical with the market price -depending on various circumstances such as relative bargaining power of sellers and buyers- or can be set by public authorities[citation needed]. With the rise of Capitalism, the use of just price theory faded[citation needed].

The School of Salamanca is the renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria. Francisco had Jewish converso ancestry.[4]"