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(Continued from Vol. XVI, jp. 649.) 


At the time of the Restoration there were some thirty- 
families of Jews in England 1 , and these naturally awaited 
with expectation the promise of the king, given through 
General Middleton, " to abate that rigour of the law which 
was against them," and welcomed the declaration of a 
Liberty to tender Consciences which had been made at 
Breda. But they had many enemies to reckon with — 
religious fanatics at a time when no one was thought 
religious unless fanatical, and trade rivals who, thinking 
that every transaction of the newly-settled foreign mer- 
chants was a loss to themselves, looked with a jealous 
eye on the large and increasing foreign and colonial trade 
of the Jews, especially that with the recently-acquired 
colonies in the West Indies. Accordingly it creates no 
surprise to find that a number of petitions were presented 
to the king and the Privy Council praying that the laws 
against the Jews should be enforced, and that, if necessary, 
new ones should be enacted. At the meeting of the Privy 
Council on November 30 such a petition from Sir William 
Courtney and others was read, and it is plain from the 
Council's minutes that several other petitions had also 
been received. The petition of Sir William Courtney is 
probably the document preserved in the State Papers 
under the title " Remonstrance concerning the Jews," and 
dated November, 1660. It recites, apparently taking 
Prynne's Demurrer as a guide, the mischief said to have 

1 See the Da Costa lists published in Wolf's Jewry of the Restoration, p. 4. 


been done by the Jews in former times and their banish- 
ment under Edward I, and how they have " by little and 
little and by degrees crept and stolen into England again, 
and together, some as Jewes aliens and others as English, 
are become of late exceeding numerous, and how they 
became so is conceived to be by the means of the late 
Usurper, who most apparently did protect and countenance 
them in their affairs and actions," and suggests the issue 
of a commission to inquire into their state, the imposition 
of heavy taxes, seizure of their property, and their banish- 
ment for residing here without a licence from the crown 1 . 
The Council having heard this petition read resolved that 
it, together with others on the same subject, should be 
taken into consideration again on December 7. On that 
day there were read at the Council a petition of the 
merchants and tradesmen of the City of London for the 
expulsion of the Jews, and also a petition of Maria Fer- 
nandez Carvajal (widow of Antonio Fernandez Carvajal 
already mentioned, who had died in November, 1659) and 
other merchants, Jews by birth, for his majesty's protection 
to continue and reside in his dominions. The latter petition 
has unfortunately been lost; the former is probably the 
petition of the Lord Mayor and Aldermen preserved in 
the Guildhall archives ; it requested the king " to cause the 
former laws made against the Jews to be put in execution, 
and to recommend to the Two Houses of Parliament to 
enact such new ones for the expulsion of all professed 
Jews out of your Majesty's dominions, and to bar the door 
after them with such provisions and penalties as in your 
Majesty's wisdom shall be found most agreeable to the 
safety of Religion, the Honour of your Majesty, and the 
good and welfare of your subjects V The Council, judging 
the business of very great importance, referred all the 
petitions to the consideration of Parliament, desiring advice 
therein, and ordered them to be delivered to a member of 

1 S. P. Dom. Car. II, vol. XXI, p. 140 ; Calendar, 1660, p. 366. 
a Bemembrancia, vol. IX, p. 44. 


the House of Commons to be accordingly presented to the 
Parliament 1 . Though the Privy Council did not itself 
come to any decisive conclusion on the subject, it seems 
that the intention was to uphold the king's promise and 
not to molest the Jews, for on December 17 Mr. Hollis, 
no doubt under orders from the Council, presented the 
above-recited order to the House of Commons as specially 
recommended to them for their advice therein, touching 
Protection for the Jews. The House thereupon decided to 
take the business into consideration the next morning 2 . 
The next morning, however, the matter seems to have been 
shelved, for there is no entry in the journal of anything 
having been done, and a few days afterwards (Dec. 24) 
Parliament was dissolved without ever having given their 
advice on the Jewish problem as they had been requested 
by the Council. From the general temper of the House 
of Commons on religious questions during this reign it is 
clear that no relaxation of the law was to be effected by 
legislation in favour of the Jews, and the subject was not 
again brought forward in Parliament for a period of more 
than ten years. The position of the Jews, though unsatis- 
factory, was by no means intolerable; the laws against 
Recusants were not very strictly enforced against them, 
and their place of worship, if they had already one, was 
not known, and they therefore escaped all proceedings for 
taking part in illegal forms of public worship. On the 
other hand, the new Navigation Act had securely closed all 
the colonies and plantations against foreign merchants and 
factors, but this obstacle was surmounted by applying for 
and in many cases obtaining letters of denization from the 
king 11 . As early as the year 1662 they were emboldened 

1 Privy Council Register, Charles II, vol. II, pp. 57, 67. 

2 Com. Journal, vol. Ill, p. 209. 

s The Navigation Act is 12 Car. II, cap. 18. See sec. 2, which, being 
passed by the Convention Parliament, was expressly confirmed by the 
following Parliament. See 13 Car. II, cap. 14. Mr. Webb, in an appen- 
dix to the Question, &c, gives a list of 105 Jews who received letters of 
denization in this and the following reign, and this list is not exhaustive. 


to erect a synagogue. There is the doubtful reference to a 
synagogue in The Great Trapanner of England Discovered, 
published in 1660, which has already been referred to; but 
in a letter dated April 22, 1662, and written by Jo. Green- 
halgh to his worthy friend Thomas Crompton, minister of 
Astley chapel, we have the description of a visit to the 
Jews' synagogue and the form of worship held there. It 
is plain that the synagogue was a separate building formed 
no doubt out of a private house and arranged in very much 
the same manner as synagogues are at the present day, the 
service also being very similar, lasting some three hours 
and conducted wholly in Hebrew. It was necessary to 
observe the strictest secrecy, nor was any one admitted to 
the building, which was in " a private corner of the city," and 
had three doors, one beyond another, except very privately. 
Mr. Greenhalgh himself had some difficulty in going to it. 
He had an idea that the Jewish merchants in the city must 
have some place of meeting together for divine worship, 
and was curious to see it. " Whereupon as occasion offered 
me to converse with any that were likely to inform me, 
I enquired hereof, but could not of a long time hear or 
learn whether or where any such thing was ; " but, having 
taken to the study of Hebrew, he obtained as a teacher a 
learned rabbi named Samuel Levi, who gave him a ticket 
of admittance to the synagogue. We may judge the size 
of the congregation by the writer's statement that in the 
synagogue he counted "about or above a hundred right 
Jews and one proselite amongst them 1 ." It soon became 
no longer necessary to maintain this strict secrecy. In 

There is a curious petition for naturalization of about this date (1661) of 
Jacob Joshua Bueno Henriques among the State Papers Colonial, vol. XV, 
No. 74. He says he had heard of a gold mine in Jamaica, and desired per- 
mission to go there and develop it, giving the king ten per cent. He also 
asks for naturalization for himself and his brothers Joseph and Moses, and 
that they may follow their own laws and have synagogues. (See Calendar, 
S. P. Colonial, 1661-8, p. 48, and Jews in the British West Indies, by Dr. Frieden- 
wald : pub. American Jewish Hist. Soc, No. 5, p. 45 seq.) 

1 Ellis's Original Letters, and series, vol. IV, Letter cccix, pp. 3 -2a. 


the absence of any documentary evidence it is not safe to 
assume that a special dispensation was given by the king 
to the Jews by reason of that dispensing power which he 
conceived to be inherent in him, but it may well have been 
given, and if not it is most reasonable to suppose that 
reliance was placed on the king's declaration to all his 
loving subjects, which, as before stated, was published on 
December 26, 1662. At any rate it is quite certain that 
the worship of the synagogue, which had hitherto been 
conducted with the greatest privacy, was shortly after this 
time no longer concealed, but open to the public ; and for 
a time at any rate without any evil consequences to the 
worshippers. On October 14, 1663, Samuel Pepys and his 
wife and his friend Mr. Rawlinson paid a visit to the 
synagogue after dinner, where they were present at what 
was evidently the afternoon service for the rejoicing of 
the law. There was no difficulty as to admission, and no 
attempt at concealment. The clerk of the acts of the 
navy remarks upon the disorder, want of attention and 
confusion in the service, and observes that he could not 
" have imagined there had been any religion in the whole 
world so absurdly performed as this 1 ." It was in the 
course of this year that the hitherto isolated Jewish 
families formed themselves into a community. Henceforth 
regular records were kept; the synagogue, in addition to 
being made public, was renovated and improved, and in 
1664 a lease was taken; in September, 1663 the Finta, or 
contributions of the individual members of the synagogue, 
was fixed, and in the following November the Ascamoth, 

1 Diary of Samuel Pepys, Oct. 14, 1663, Wheatley's edition, vol. Ill, 
p. 303. This description of a visit to the Synagogue gives an impression 
•which was shared by other Christian obsarvers ; see the autobiography of 
Henry Newcome, M.A., a.d. 1686, "June 26. We went to the Jews' Syna- 
gogue. I could not have believed, but that I saw it, such a strange 
worship, so modish and foppish ; and the people not much serious 
in it as it is. And I was affected to think, that many likely men of 
understanding should be without Christ, and live in the denial of him." 
Chetham Society's Publications, vol. XXVII, p. 262. 


or code of laws to govern the newly-founded community, 
was drawn up; it was published in April, 1664, and in 
the same month a Haham, or Chief Rabbi, was appointed ; 
the whole organization being completed by April 19, 
1664*. It was not likely that the public exercise of a 
strange religion should long remain unnoticed, and the 
passing of the Conventicle Act, which expressly declared 
that the Elizabethan legislation against Recusants was still 
in force and ought to be put into execution, invited an 
attack upon the Jews. It was not long delayed. The 
Conventicle Act came into force on July 1, 1664. And 
immediately afterwards we hear of a Mr. Rycaut molesting 
the heads of the congregation, suggesting that they were 
liable to all sorts of penalties and forfeitures, and what 
was worse, the Earl of Berkshire, the second son of that 
Earl of Suffolk in fear of whom the Jews had fled the 
country in the reign of James I, who held a high position 
at court, being a gentleman of the bedchamber and privy 
councillor 2 , intervened, saying he was verbally authorized 
by the king to protect them, but threatening that unless 
they came to a speedy agreement with him, he would 
himself prosecute them and procure the seizure of their 
estates. In these circumstances the wardens of the syna- 
gogue, the first that had been yet appointed, took the only 
course open to them, and petitioned the throne direct. 
With great wisdom they omit all mention of the religious 
question and the infringement of the newly-enacted law, 
but say they know of no law to hinder their residence in 
the kingdom, and ask to be allowed to remain under the 
protection of the law until his majesty should think fit to 
order them to depart, and promise to be loyal and obedient 
subjects of the king. The petition was referred to the 
Privy Council on August 22, 1664. A most generous 
answer was returned. The king declared that he had 

1 (Master's History of the Ancient Synagogue, pp. 7, 9-11, 17 ; Wolf's Jewry of 
the Restoration, pp. 13-15. 

2 See Cockayne's Peerage, vol. I, p. 343. 


given no orders for molesting or disquieting the petitioners, 
and that they might " promise themselves the effects of the 
same favour as formerly they had had, so long as they 
demeaned themselves peaceably and quietly with due obe- 
dience to his Majesty's Laws, and without scandal to his 
government 1 ." The concession was of great importance; 
it was a formal recognition of a system of public worship 
which had been established for more than a year in open 
defiance of the Elizabethan statutes enforcing uniformity, 
and was given at the very time when Parliament had 
declared that those statutes should be carried out, and 
had even added to their severity by the enactment of the 
Conventicle Act. The king's claim to grant dispensations 
from penal laws had not yet been questioned in Parliament, 
and this particular dispensation granting the Jews the 
same favours they formerly had had, and by implication 
including the right of public worship which they had of 
late openly exercised, was never disputed in the legislature. 
Even assuming an express dispensation had been given to 
the Jews after Christmas, 166a, the new declaration was 
necessary to enable them to escape the severe penalties of 
the new Act which had just come into force. 

For some years the synagogue was kept open and the 
services regularly held without molestation. On February 6, 
167^, the House of Commons thought fit to take this matter 
into their consideration. There was a scheme on foot to 
prevent the growth of Roman Catholicism, and in case 
legislation should be introduced, it was thought a good 
opportunity to aim a blow at Judaism also. It was ac- 
cordingly ordered "that a Committee be appointed to 
inquire into the causes of the growth of Popery ; to pre- 
pare and bring in a bill to prevent it, and also to inquire 
touching the number of the Jews and their Synagogues, 
and upon what terms they are permitted to have their 
residence here, and report it with their opinions to the 

1 S. P. Dom. Car. II, ent. Book 18, pp. 78-9 ; Calendar, 1663-4, p. 672. 


House 1 ." Either from want of time or knowledge, or 
because the subject was not thought of sufficient impor- 
tance, the part of the reference relating to the Jews does 
not seem to have been proceeded with; the Committee's 
report, which was presented to the House on February 17, 
dealt only with the causes of the increase of Popery, and 
it was resolved that an address requesting a proclamation 
for the banishment of priests and Jesuits, and the enforce- 
ment of the laws against Recusants, should be drawn up 
and presented to the king ; whose answer to this address 
excepting those who served his father and himself faithfully 
in the late wars has been already mentioned. 

For the time being, then, the Jews were left undisturbed ; 
nor were they concerned with the publication of the Declara- 
tion of Indulgence in the spring of 167a, for, for nearly 
nine years before that time they had openly exercised the 
right of public worship which was conferred by that in- 
strument on all Nonconformists except Papists. But the 
cancelling of the declaration in the following year gave 
occasion for a new attack upon the synagogue ; the organ- 
izers of it no doubt argued that the withdrawal of the 
general indulgence of itself annulled the particular dis- 
pensation granted to the Jews, which, though previously 
acted upon, was evidenced and confirmed by the king's 
answer to their petition given on August 22, 1664. Ac- 
cordingly, at the winter quarter sessions of 1673 a ^ the 
Guildhall, the leaders of the Jewish community were in- 
dicted of a riot for meeting together for the exercise of 
their religion in Duke's Place, and a true bill was found 
against them by the grand jury. The Jews again peti- 
tioned the king, referring to the favourable reply they 
had received in 1664; and, as was seen in the first of these 
articles, on February 11, 167 f, an order was made by the 
King in Council "that Mr. Attorney General do stop all 
proceedings at law against the Petitioners who have been 

1 Com. Jour., vol. IX, p. 198. 


indicted as aforesaid and do provide they may receive no 
further trouble in this behalf 1 ." 

The method by which the Attorney General is able to 
stop proceedings in a criminal trial is by entering a nolle 
prostqui — a course which before these times was not un- 
usual in the case of informations or prosecutions commenced 
by a representative of the crown. About this very time' 
the system was extended to indictments or prosecutions 
commenced by any member of the public without the 
necessity of any intervention or permission from the re- 
presentative of the crown as a convenient way of exercising 
that dispensing power which the king thought inherent in 
his office a . It is somewhat remarkable that though Par- 
liament was sitting at the time, and the king's power of 
suspending penal statutes in matters ecclesiastical had 
recently been questioned, no protest against this particular 
dispensation in favour of the Jews was made in either 
House; this may, however, be accounted for by the fact 
that Parliament was prorogued within a fortnight of the 
issue of the Order in Council, which may not have been 
generally known till some time afterwards. The measure 
of favour now shown the Jews was a distinct advance 
upon the proceedings of 1664. In the earlier year a vague 
promise of protection had been given upon condition that 
the laws of the land were duly obeyed. The formal Order 
in Council made ten years later effectually saved the young 
community from the consequences of undoubted infringe- 
ments of the laws then in existence. The king could not 
make the celebration of an unauthorized religious service 
legal, but he could and did, by the exercise of his dispensing 

1 Hag., Cons. Cas., vol. I, Appendix, p. 2. 

5 In Goddard v. Smith (1764), 8 Mod. Rep., p. 264, Chief Justice Holt 
says that it began first to be practised in the latter half of King Charles 
the Second's reign, but that on informations it had been frequently done, 
and he ordered precedents to be searched if any were in Mr. Attorney 
Palmer's or Nottingham's time. And on another day he declared that in 
all King Charles the First's time there is no precedent of a nolle prosequi 
on an indictment. 

P a 


power in this formal way, render those who took part in it 
immune from the penalties of the law which they were 
habitually violating. Indeed, shortly after this event, the 
leaders of the community thought themselves so far secure 
that during this year they took the lease of a house in 
Creechurch Lane for a term of twenty-five years, and 
established there a larger and more commodious syna- 
gogue 1 . Nor was their confidence without justification, 
for no further attack was made upon them during the 
remainder of the reign. 

It is well to pause here and glance at the progress 
made since the king's return. The resettlement, towards 
which, in spite of several sustained but unsuccessful at- 
tempts, no real advance had actually been made during 
the Commonwealth, was now actually effected, and, if the 
policy of Charles were confirmed by his successors, legally 
complete. At the time of the Restoration, Jews, though 
they might enter the country as freely as other aliens, 
were yet in no better legal position than they had been 
in the days of James I ; they were subject to heavy fines 
if they did not regularly attend the Christian services of 
their neighbours, and were under still severer penalties 
debarred from setting up a synagogue of their own. It 
was impossible to establish a settled community or even 
to meet together for Jewish religious purposes except 
under the cover of the strictest secrecy. Those who were 
here are rightly called by Mr. Wolf Crypto-Jews, for they 
were unable to openly profess their allegiance to Judaism. 
The king, who in his exile had promised to abate the rigour 

1 Gaster's History of the Ancient Synagogue, p. 7. Creechurch Lane is in 
close proximity to Duke's Place, but the extreme accuracy required in an 
indictment shows that in 1673 the house of prayer was at Duke's Place 
itself. Neither Pepys nor G-reenhalgh indicates the locality of the syna- 
gogue, but it was probably the same house in Duke's Place which was 
still used in 1673. In the old synagogue in Duke's Place, according to 
Greenhalgh, the women worshipped in an inner room ; in the newer 
synagogue in Creechurch Lane there was a separate gallery and entrance 
for ladies. 


of the law that was against them, proved as good as his 
word. At the very beginning of his actual reign we have 
the earliest reliable evidence of a meeting-place for public 
worship according to Jewish rites. At first these services, 
though open to all Jews, were carefully concealed from the 
general public ; yet after a lapse of three years it was pos- 
sible to hold them openly; and the criminal proceedings 
which were threatened, or actually took place in conse- 
quence, were prevented or rendered abortive by the inter- 
vention of the king, and by the year 1674 the community, 
already firmly established, was able to obtain a long lease 
of a house, and especially reconstruct it for the purposes 
of a synagogue. No less than seventy members of the new 
congregation were granted during the reign letters of deni- 
zation, and thus acquired the rights of English citizenship. 
Questions concerning the customs and rights of Jews, as 
would necessarily happen as soon as an actual settlement 
took place, now for the first time were discussed and de- 
cided in the courts of law — for instance, it was held that 
a Jew should be sworn on the Old Testament in legal pro- 
ceedings whether at common law or in chancery ; that it 
was right to alter the venue in a case where a Jew would 
be a necessary witness so that it should not be heard on 
Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and that a Jew might main- 
tain an action in this country unless expressly prohibited 
by the king from carrying on trade here 1 . Under the 
aegis of the king, and protected by the exercise of his 
dispensing power, a Jewish community had been practi- 
cally established, requiring only the like recognition and 
protection from succeeding monarchs to make itself per- 
manently and legally secure. 

On February 6, i68£, Charles II died, and his brother 
James was proclaimed king. The new sovereign was from 
the first determined that the crushing disabilities under 

1 See the cases of Robeley v. Langston (1667), a Keble, p. 314 ; and Anon. 
(1683), 1 Vern., p. 263 ; Barker v. Warren (1675), a Mod., p. 271 ; and case 
in Lilly's Practical Register, vol. I, p. 4 (1684). 


which his fellow Papists laboured should no longer press 
upon them, and was quite willing to give similar relief to 
other Dissenters. In his speech made to the Privy Council 
at the time of his proclamation as king he promised " to 
preserve the government both in Church and State as it is 
now by law established," and to defend and support the 
Church of England. On March 5, to the great grief of 
all Protestants, mass was publicly said at Whitehall 1 , but 
in his speech at the opening of Parliament on May 22, the 
king repeated the promise he had made to preserve the 
government both in Church and State. This assurance, it 
is plain, did not give universal satisfaction, for, fashionable 
as it was in those early days of his reign to profess un- 
bounded confidence in the king, there was still some mis- 
giving and jealousy of the royal power in religious matters 
which was bound to find expression. On May 27, the 
grand committee for religion reported that they had agreed 
upon two resolutions, of which the second was " That the 
house be moved to make an humble Address to his Majesty 
to publish his royal Proclamation for putting the laws in 
execution against all Dissenters whatsoever from the 
Church of England." This resolution gave great offence 
at court, and the court party in the House managed to 
defeat it by moving the previous question, which was 
carried, and the following motion was then unanimously 
adopted: "That this house doth acquiesce, entirely rely, 
and rest wholly satisfied in his majesty's gracious word and 
repeated Declaration, to support and defend the Religion 
of the Church of England, as it is now by law established ; 
which is dearer to us than our lives 2 ." Though no pro- 
clamation was issued, an attempt was a short time after- 
wards made to enforce the penal laws against the Jews ; 
for one Thomas Beaumont issued process under the statute 
made in the 23rd year of Queen Elizabeth, which inflicted 

1 Evelyn's Memoirs, vol. I, p. 551. 

* Commons Journals, vol. IX, p. 731 ; Pari. Hist., vol. IV, p. 1357. 


a penalty of £%o a month for non-attendance at church, 
against no fewer than forty-eight Jews, of whom thirty-seven 
were arrested " as they were following their occasions on the 
Royal Exchange " ; whereupon Joseph Henriques, Abraham 
Delivera, and Aaron Pacheco, the overseersof the Jewish syna- 
gogue, presented a petition to the King in Council praying 
" his Majesty to permit and suffer them as heretofore to have 
the free exercise of their religion, during their good be- 
haviour towards his Majesty's Government." King James, 
following his brother's example by a formal Order in 
Council, exercised his dispensing power in favour of the 
Jews by ordering the Attorney-General to stop all the 
proceedings against them ; " His Majesty's intention being " 
(so the order runs), "that they should not be troubled Upon 
this account, but quietly enjoy the free exercise of their 
religion, whilst they behave themselves dutifully and 
obediently to his government 1 ." 

This Order in Council was made on November 13, 1685, 
at the very time when Parliament, newly reassembled after 
the suppression of Monmouth's rebellion, was questioning 
the power of the king to retain in his service Roman 
Catholic officers who had served against the rebels by 
granting them dispensations from the Test Act. In his 
speech to both Houses, at the resumption of the session on 
November 9, James openly expressed his intention of con- 
tinuing them in their employment, saying : " And I will deal 
plainly with you, that after having had the benefit of their 
service in such time of need and danger, I will neither ex- 
pose them to disgrace, nor myself to want of them, if there 
should be another rebellion to make them necessary for 
me 2 ." On November 14 the House of Commons resolved 
to present an address dealing with this matter which, when 
finally drawn up and adopted, ran as follows : " We further 
crave leave to acquaint your Majesty that we have with all 
duty and readiness taken into consideration your Majesty's 

1 Hag., Cons. Gas., Appendix, p. 3. 

2 Commons Journals, vol. IX., p. 756 ; Lords Journals, vol. XIV, p. 73. 


gracious speech to us, and as to that part of it relating to 
the officers in the Army not qualified for their employments 
according to an Act of Parliament made in the twenty -fifth 
year of the reign of your Majesty's Royal Brother of blessed 
memory, intituled an Act for preventing dangers which may 
happen from Popish Recusants, we do out of our bounden 
duty humbly represent unto your Majesty, that these officers 
cannot by law be capable of their employments ; and that 
the incapacities they bring upon themselves thereby can 
no ways be taken off but by an Act of Parliament : There- 
fore out of that great deference and duty we owe unto your 
Majesty who has been graciously pleased to take of their 
services to you, we are preparing a Bill to pass both Houses 
for your royal assent to indemnify them for the penalties 
they have now incurred. And because the continuance of 
them in their employments may be taken to be a dispensing 
with that Law, without Act of Parliament (the consequence 
of which is of greatest concern to the rights of all your 
Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects and to all the laws 
made for the security of their religion) we therefore, the 
knights, citizens, and burgesses of your Majesty's House of 
Commons, do most humbly beseech your Majesty, that you 
would be graciously pleased to give such directions therein, 
that no apprehensions or jealousies may remain in the hearts 
of your Majesty's good and faithful subjects." A motion 
was made that the concurrence of the Lords be desired to 
the said Address, but was rejected by 21a votes to 138. 
And so, as had happened in the year 1673, the denial of 
the dispensing power of the Crown was embodied in a re- 
solution of the Lower House only. The Lords, however, 
did not desire to be left behind in this matter, for on 
Thursday, November 19, they resolved " that Monday next 
be appointed for reading and considering His Majesty's 
speech." But in the meantime the king, who had been 
highly incensed with the Commons Address when presented 
to him, and had expressed dissatisfaction and surprise at 
their want of confidence in him, prorogued Parliament, 


which never met again for the transaction of business 
during his short reign 1 . 

The struggle was now transferred from the Parliament 
House to the Law Courts. A decision that the king had 
power to dispense with the penalties inflicted by the Test 
Act was obtained 2 , and James proceeded to make the utmost 
use of this judgment in his favour, but not content with 
granting dispensations wholesale, at length in April, 
1687, he published a Declaration for liberty of conscience, 
suspending all the penal laws, and remitting all penalties 
incurred under them ; allowing the free exercise of every 
form of religion, and announcing that the oaths of 
supremacy and allegiance, and the recently enacted tests, 
should no longer be required to be taken or subscribed by 
any person, " and further declaring that this royal pardon 
and indemnity should be as good and effectual to all intents 
and purposes as if every individual person had been therein 
particularly named or had particular pardons under the 
great seal." A year afterwards this Declaration of Indul- 
gence was reissued, and ordered to be read in all churches, 
but now the storm, which had long been brewing, at length 
burst, and James was driven from his throne. 

1 Commons Journals, vol. IX, pp. 758, 759, 761 ; Lords Journals, vol. XIV, p. 88. 

a The case is Godden v. Hales, which was decided in Easter term, 1686. 
The action was brought against Sir Edward Hales to recover a penalty 
of £500 incurred by holding the office of colonel in the army without 
having taken the oath required by the Test Act. The defendant, in answer, 
pleaded a dispensation from the Crown. Sir Edward Herbert, Lord Chief 
Justice of the Common Pleas, after taking time to consult the other 
judges, declared that he and all the other judges (except Street and 
Powell, who doubted) were of opinion (1) that the kings of England are 
sovereign princes ; (2) that the laws are the king's laws ; (3) therefore it 
is an inseparable power in the kings of England to dispense with penal 
laws in particular cases, and upon particular necessary reasons ; (4) that 
of those reasons and those necessities the king himself is sole judge ; 
(5) that this is not a trust invested in or granted to the king, but the 
ancient remains of the sovereign power and prerogative of the kings of 
England, which never yet was taken from them nor can be. And there- 
fore, such a dispensation appearing upon record, judgment ought to be 
given for the defendant. See 2 Shower, p. 475 ; XI St. Tr., p. 1 166 sea.. 


Until after the decision of Godden v. Hales in Easter 
term, 1686, the king had probably not gone beyond the 
law, though he had undoubtedly stretched his prerogative 
to its furthest limits, but his proceedings after that time 
are rightly regarded as wholly illegal. A special dispensa- 
tion to a particular person or persons is very different from 
a general indemnity to all who might violate and incur 
penalties under the penal laws. However much we may 
at the present time approve of the wording and the sub- 
stance of the declarations of indulgence, we cannot forget 
that if toleration was to be established, it could be secured 
only by an Act of the legislature, and not by the king 
alone usurping the authority of Parliament. James's hopes 
of success had lain in uniting all the dissenting sects 
against the Established Church, but the great mass of 
Dissenters were as vehement in their opposition as church- 
men, partly because they regarded the indulgence offered 
them as illegal and unconstitutional, and a direct infringe- 
ment of the liberties of the people and their right of 
legislation, and partly because they feared that the real 
object of placing the members of the different sects on the 
same footing as members of the Church of England, was, 
after destroying the supremacy of the Established Church, 
to afterwards gradually transfer it to the adherents of the 
Church of Rome. The Jews did not avail themselves of 
the Declaration of Indulgence, but for different reasons 
from their nonconformist brethren. They were satisfied 
with the dispensation granted them by Charles II, and 
confirmed by James II in November, 1685, for it enabled 
them to escape the penalties of recusancy, and also to hold 
public worship in accordance with the rites of their religion ; 
nor had they any desire to take any part in the political 
life of the country, which under the Declaration of 
Indulgence they might have done. For not only were 
they for the most part aliens and wholly absorbed in 
commercial enterprises, but one of the ascamoth or laws 
of the synagogue strictly forbade its members from 


taking any part in politics * — a very wise provision in the 
then condition of the newly-organized community. The 
position of the Jews therefore remained throughout 
the reign the same as it had been under Charles II, but 
lapse of time and the confirmation of the dispensation 
given by Charles and his successor rendered their settle- 
ment more secure, and their community was rapidly 
increasing, and still enjoying the royal favour, as is proved 
by the fact that thirty-four of its members were granted 
letters of denization by James II during his short reign. 

The Revolution of 1688 did not affect the status of the 
Jews. It was indeed recognized that it was necessary to 
reward in some way the loyalty to the constitution of the 
Dissenters, who, in spite of the indulgence offered them by 
the deposed king, had joined entirely in the resistance to 
the illegal attacks on the rights and privileges of the 
Established Church, but it was determined that the tolera- 
tion to be granted should be strictly limited. The penal 
laws might be divided into two classes ; first those winch 
compelled attendance at church, and punished the holding 
of religious services not in conformity with the ritual laid 
down in the book of common prayer, secondly those which 
disabled all who did not profess the doctrines of the Church, 
and join in communion with it, from sitting in Parliament, 
or holding any political or municipal office or any place of 
profit under the Crown. The gratitude felt by churchmen 
to their nonconformist brethren for the support rendered to 
the Church in her hour of need, was not strong enough 
to create any desire to admit them to any share of political 
power, and it was thought that sufficient generosity was 
shown in granting freedom of worship to Protestant 
Dissenters, and relief from the penalties incurred by 
absence from church. No attempt was therefore made to 
mitigate any of the laws falling under the second category, 
nor were any of those belonging to the first class amended 
or repealed, but, in accordance with a mode of legislation 
1 Gaster, The Ancient Synagogue, p. 88. 


which seems peculiarly dear to the English people, the 
effect of disobedience was annulled by exempting Dissenters 
from the penalties they would have otherwise incurred. 
This was done by means of the statute (i Will. & M., cap. 18) 
entitled " An Act for exempting their Majesties' protestant 
subjects dissenting from the Church of England from the 
penalties of certain laws," and generally known as the 
Toleration Act. In spite of its high sounding title the 
toleration granted was strictly limited to Protestant 
Nonconformists, who might take the new oaths of allegiance 
and supremacy, and subscribe a declaration against tran- 
substantiation ; though Dissenters, such as Quakers, " who 
scruple the taking of any oath," were allowed instead to 
subscribe a declaration of fidelity to the throne, and also 
a profession of their Christian belief, and it was also pro- 
vided " that neither this Act nor any clause, article, or thing 
herein contained, shall extend or be construed to extend to 
give any ease, benefit, or advantage to any papist or popish 
recusant whatsoever, or any person that shall deny in his 
preaching or writing the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, as 
it is declared in the aforesaid articles of religion." Dissenters 
entitled to the benefit of the Act were enabled to have 
their places of worship certified, and persons who should 
disturb the services held there were made liable to penalties. 
At the same time it was made clear that there was no 
intention to allow any relaxation of the strict observance 
of the Sunday, for by section 16 "all the laws made and 
provided for the frequenting of divine service on the Lord's 
Day, commonly called Sunday, shall be still in force, and 
executed against all persons that offend against the said 
laws, except such persons come to some congregation or 
assembly of religious worship, allowed or permitted by 
this Act." Yet, such as it is, the Toleration Act is not 
unjustly regarded as the charter of freedom of conscience 
in this country, for it in practice gave all the liberty which 
at the time it was intended to allow. Nonconformity was 
still regarded in theory as a crime, but exceptions were 


introduced, which in the course of time became so numerous 
as to eat up the rule. The true effect of the Toleration 
Act is well expressed by Lord Mansfield in his speech in 
giving judgment in the House of Lords in the case of the 
Chamberlain of London v. Evans in the year 1767 ; he says, 
that in former days nonconformity was " in the eye of the 
law a crime, every man being required by the canon law, 
received and confirmed by statute law, to take the sacrament 
in the church at least once a-year, . . . but the case is quite 
altered since the Act of Toleration ; it is now no crime for 
a man, who is within the description of that Act, to say he 
is a Dissenter ; nor is it any crime for him not to take the 
sacrament according to the rites of the Church of England ; 
nay, the crime is, if he does it contrary to the dictates of 
his conscience. . . . The Toleration Act renders that which 
was illegal before now legal ; the Dissenters' way of worship 
is permitted and allowed by this Act; it is not only 
exempted from punishment, but rendered innocent and 
lawful; it is established; it is put under the protection 
and is not merely under the connivance of the law. . . . 
Dissenters, within the description of the Toleration Act, 
are restored to a legal consideration and capacity ; and an 
hundred consequences will from thence follow, which are 
hot mentioned in the Act. For instance, previous to the 
Toleration Act, it was unlawful to devise any legacy for 
the support of dissenting congregations, or for the benefit 
of dissenting ministers ; for the law knew no such assem- 
blies and no such persons ; and such a devise was absolutely 
void, being left to what the law called superstitious pur- 
poses. But will it be said in any court in England, that 
such a devise is not a good and valid one now ? " but then 
he adds later, " the case of ' Atheists and Infidels ' " (among 
whom Jews are included) " is out of the present question ; 
they come not within the description of the Toleration 
Act 1 ." 

1 Cobbett's Pari. Hist., vol. XVI, pp. 313-27. 


The benefit of the Toleration Act was extended to 
Unitarians in the year 1813, and to the Koman Catholics, 
who had received considerable measures of relief by 
statutes passed in 1778, 1791, 1829, in the year 1832, and 
finally to the Jews in the year 1846, but until the reign 
of Queen Victoria there had been no legislative enactment 
exempting the Jews from the penalties of the penal laws, 
which were finally repealed in the years 1844 and 1846 1 . 

1 In 1812 three of the most intolerant Acts passed in the reign of 
Charles II, namely, the Act against Quakers, the Five Mile Act, and the 
Conventicle Act, were repealed by the Places of Religious Worship Act, 
1812 (52 Geo. Ill, cap. 155), which also ma'le it necessary, under a penalty 
of £20, to certify and register all places for religious worship of Protestants, 
at which more than twenty persons should be present. 

In 1813, S3 Geo. Ill, cap. 160, admitted Unitarians to the benefit of the 
Toleration Act, by repealing the last two lines of sect. 17, which exclude 
any person who shall deny the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. 

The Acts relieving Roman Catholics are (1) Sir George Savile's Act 
(18 Geo. Ill, cap. 60), which exempted Roman Catholics who took the 
prescribed oath, expressing allegiance to King George and disclaiming 
the Stuarts and the deposing power of the Pope, from many of the 
disabilities and penalties imposed since the Revolution by 11 & 12 
Will. Ill, cap. 4. Catholics were henceforth allowed to purchase and 
inherit land, and the provisions allowing a Protestant kinsman to enter 
and enjoy the estate of a Catholic heir, and imposing perpetual imprison- 
ment for keeping a Roman Catholic schorl, were repealed, (a) The 
Roman Catholic Relief Act, 1791 (31 Geo. Ill, cap. 32), which among 
other things exempted all persons who should make a declaration pro- 
fessing the Roman Catholic religion, and take the prescribed oath of 
allegiance to the king and the Hanoverian succession, from all penalties 
for not resorting to the parish church, and from being prosecuted for 
being a Papist, or for hearing or saying mass, or taking part in any other 
ceremony of the popish religion, provided that all places of worship 
should be certified, and provided also " that all the laws made and 
provided for the frequenting of divine service on the Lord's Day, com- 
monly called Sunday, shall be still in force, and executed against all 
persons who shall offend against the said laws, unless such persons shall 
come to some congregation or assembly of religious worship permitted by 
this Act or by the" Toleration Act, i.e. a Roman Catholic or Protestant 
Nonconformist chapel. (3) 43 Geo. Ill, cap. 30, substitutes the declara- 
tion and oath prescribed in the Catholic Relief Act of 1791 for the oath 
prescribed in Sir George Savile's Act of 1778. (4) The Roman Catholic 
Relief Act, 1829 (10 Geo. IV, cap. 7), admitted Roman Catholics to full 
political rights, with certain exceptions, by exempting them from the 
provisions of the Test Acts and the Corporation Act. (5) The Roman 
Catholic Charities Act of 1832 (2 & 3 Will. IV, cap. 115) extended to Roman 


No relief was formally given to enable Nonconformists 
to fill municipal, political, or military offices, from which 
all who did not take the Communion according to the rites 
of the Church of England were excluded ; but after the 
beginning of the reign of George II such offices were 
practically thrown open to Protestant Dissenters by passing 
annual Indemnity Acts, the first of which is 1 Geo. II, 
st. 2, cap. 23, in favour of those who had omitted to qualify 
themselves under the Corporation and Test Acts. At 
length in the year 1828 the statute 9 Geo. IV, cap. 17, sub- 
stituted a Declaration, " upon the true faith of a Christian," 
not to disturb or injure the Established Church for the 
Sacramental test, thus sweeping away all the political 
disabilities of Protestant Nonconformists, and in the follow- 
ing year the obligation to make a Declaration against 
transubstantiation was repealed, and Papists also, under 
certain conditions, were admitted to full political rights by 
the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1829. 

It is somewhat remarkable that, until the year 1846, no 
legislative relief from the penal laws, except in so far as 
some of them had been repealed in the year 181 a and the 
year 1844, was granted to the Jews. — The repealing Acts 
were not intended to benefit the Jews ; but were made in 
favour of Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics re- 
spectively. — Indeed the statute passed in the last-mentioned 
year, which is entitled "An Act to repeal certain Penal 
enactments made against Her Majesty's Roman Catholic 
Subjects," expressly restricted the repeal of many of the 
statutes it dealt with, to the extent to which they related 
to or in any manner affected Roman Catholics. The Com- 
mission for revising and consolidating the criminal law, 
which was appointed in February, 1845, recommended in 
its first report, published three months afterwards, that the 

Catholics the benefit of the Toleration Act, by making them subject to the 
same laws as Protestant Dissenters "in respect of their schools, places 
for religious worship, education, and charitable purposes." (6) 7 & 8 
Vict., cap. ro2, expressly repealed many of the penal enactments, so far as 
they " relate to or in any manner affect Koman Catholics." 


clauses in the Uniformity Acts by which a penalty is 
inflicted for repairing to other places of worship than 
churches, and also those inflicting penalties on Roman 
Catholics, Dissenters, and Jews for professing, exercising, 
or promoting any religion other than that of the Established 
Church, and also the Laws of Recusancy, be repealed, and 
further that the religious worship of the Jews be protected 
in like manner as that of Roman Catholics and Dissenters. 
These recommendations were carried out in the following 
year by the Act to relieve Her Majesty's Subjects from 
certain penalties and Disabilities in regard to Religious 
opinions (9 & to Vict., cap. 59). At length, therefore, after 
the lapse of more than a century and a half, the Jews were 
formally, by a solemn Act of the legislature, admitted to 
the benefits of the Toleration Act, and their religion was 
no longer merely connived at, but was placed under the 
protection of the law. During this long period the Jewish 
question was frequently brought to the notice of Parlia- 
ment, and the Jews had always both friends and enemies 
in that assembly; but the Jewish question never became 
a burning question of the day \ The enemies of the Jewish 
religion, having the letter of the law in their favour, did 
not feel the necessity of taking any legislative action, 
though they may have deplored their inability to enforce 
the penal laws against the Jews. The friends of the Jews, 
on the other hand, did not care to introduce remedial 
measures, which would have certainly been opposed and 
possibly if not probably defeated, because in fact the Jewish 
religion, though not sanctioned by Parliament, had under 
the king's dispensing power, as exercised by the Orders in 
Council in 1674 and 1685, all the protection that was 
necessary. The synagogue was always open ; its wor- 
shippers were not prosecuted, and a considerable and 

1 An exception should perhaps be made of the events following the 
ill-fated Naturalization Act of 1753, but even then the right of public 
worship and the practical freedom from the penalties of recusancy were 
never seriously brought in question. 


increasing Jewish community gradually grew up both in 
London and the principal commercial centres. Every year 
the position became more secure, and premature attempts 
at legislation would have only endangered it. 

It cannot, however, be disputed that the Jews were 
deliberately excluded from the Toleration Act, for almost 
immediately after its passage their status was the subject 
of discussion in the House of Commons. In order to 
provide funds for the reduction of Ireland, which still held 
out for the Stuart king, and the vigorous prosecution of 
the war against France, 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, recom- 
mended 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 rule of the House then was that no petition 
against a bill imposing a tax would be entertained, or if 
presented entered upon the Journals of the House. This 
rule, founded on the assumption that as a tax extended 
over all parts of the kingdom, no individual should be 
allowed to treat it as a special grievance to himself, was 
not rescinded until 1842, when standing order 8a, discon- 
tinuing the former usage and enabling the House to enter- 
tain such petitions, was passed. Consequently the petition 
and the debate upon it are not mentioned in the Commons 
Journals. 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 pro- 
ceeded 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 1 . On Nov. 
19 the petition was delivered by Mr. Paul Foley, member 
for Hereford, and afterwards Speaker ; and a debate as to 
whether it should be received ensued. It was questioned 
whether the Jews were subjects of the king having the 
right to petition Parliament, and stated that, if they were, 
they had no more right than their fellow subjects, and 
could not petition against an Aid. Sir Thomas Lee said : 
"Pray let not such petitions be received. You will not 
receive it from others, pray begin not with the Jews." 
And though Mr. Foley answered these arguments by de- 
claring " I think that for the honour of the House you are 
to hear what they will say. When you lay a general tax 
on a whole kingdom, you can receive no petition against 
it, because all are represented here, but when there is a 
particular tax on men they may petition." Mr. Speaker 
Powle stated that he never knew a petition against a Bill 
before the House was seised of it, and it was decided not 
to receive the petition 2 . On Dec. 30 the Bill was read a first 

1 See the Greenutich Hospital News-letter, 3, No. 77, Nov. is ; Gal. S. P. Dow., 
1689, p. 318 ; and Luttrell's Diary, vol. I, p. 303. 

8 Cobbett's Pari. Hist., vol. V, p. 444, and Gray's Pari. Debates, vol. IX, 
pp. 437-8. 


time, and it was resolved that it should be read a second 
time, but it went no farther, for men saw how dangerous 
a precedent it would be to single out for special taxation 
a small, defenceless, and wholly unrepresented class, which 
was unable to bear the burden sought to be imposed upon 
it. The projected tax was accordingly withdrawn K 
Therefore the Jews did not become subject to a separate 
system of taxation, as in our West Indian colonies. They 
were, however, expected to bear the burdens of the country 
in the same way as their neighbours, and about this very 
time great disappointment was expressed that they were 
not ready to advance or lend, on the security of the new 
taxes, large sums of money for the purposes of the Govern- 
ment, and the Lord Mayor was actually requested by the 
Earl of Shrewsbury, then Secretary of State for the North, 
to send for their elders and principal merchants, and to 
impress upon them the great obligations they were under 
to the king for the liberty and privileges they enjoyed, 
and endeavour to induce them to raise the sum of £13,000, 
which they had offered to provide, to £30,000, or at the 
very least £20,000 2 . It is probable that the response to 
this appeal did not come up to the expectations of the 
Government, and that it was partly in consequence of this 
that the exemption from certain of the alien duties, which 
had been granted in the reign of James II, and continued 
since the Revolution, was finally withdrawn by an Order 
in Council made in the October of this year 3 . 

On other occasions also the permanent settlement of the 
Jews here was recognized by Parliament, and they are 
more than once expressly mentioned in Acts of Parliament, 
The first of these Acts is 6 & 7 Will, and Mar. cap. 6, entitled 
"An act for granting to His Majesty certaine rates and 
duties upon Marriages, Births, and Burials, and upon 

1 See Macaulay's History, ch. xv ; Commons Journals, vol. X, pp. a8i, 319; 
Calendar S. P. Dom., Dee. 31, 1689, p. 374 ; Greenwich Hospital News-Utter, 3, 
No. 83. 

2 S. P. Calendar, Feb. 10, 1690. 3 See Tovey*s Anglia Iudaica, pp. 287-95. 

q a 


Batehelors and Widowers, for the terme of 5 years, for 
carrying on the War against France with Vigour." It 
imposed a duty of two shillings and sixpence upon the 
marriage of every person not in receipt of alms, and addi- 
tional taxes in case of the marriage of persons of rank or 
property, and contained a proviso that Quakers, Papists, 
and Jews, and any other persons living together as man 
and wife, should be liable to the duties they would have 
been obliged to pay, if they had been married according 
to the law of England, but at the same time the Act was 
not to be construed as in any way making good or effectual 
any such marriage. 

Again a few years later, in the spring of 1698, when " the 
Act for the more effectual suppressing of Blasphemy and 
Profaneness" was before Parliament, and an amendment 
was inserted after its return to the Lords, by which all 
persons openly professing the Jewish religion would have 
been made liable to the severe penalties it imposed; the 
House of Commons recognized the right of the Jews to 
remain here and continue the exercise of their religion by 
rejecting the amendment by a substantial majority. This 
incident is thus described by Narcissus Luttrell in his Diary, 
under the date March 22, 169I : "The Commons yesterday 
divided about a clause in the bill against prophanesse, 
relating to the Jews, who deny Jesus Christ ; 144 were for 
it, and 78 against it : so the clause was added that the Jews 
shal not be molested V 

The next occasion on which this subject was raised in 
the legislature was in the year 1702, when the Act to oblige 
the Jews to maintain and provide for their Protestant 
children was passed. The way in which this statute was 
put in operation has already been described in the second 
of these articles, and calls for no further comment, but it 

1 The Commons Journals give the numbers as 140 and 78. In reality no 
clause was added, but the words which had been struck out by the Lords 
■were restored to the Act. See the second of this series of articles, J. Q. R., 
vol. XIII, pp. 275-80. 


may be advisable to recall the circumstances which led to 
its enactment. A few years earlier the Commons had 
rejected the Lords' amendment to the Act against Blas- 
phemy and Profaneness, on the express ground that it would 
drive the Jews out of the country, and so deprive them 
of the means of being rightly instructed in the principles of 
the true Christian religion. It soon became clear that this 
desire of gaining proselytes would not be gratified to any 
great extent if the converts were exposed to financial ruin, 
nor, as there was not in those days a rich and highly 
endowed society for the promotion of Christianity among 
the Jews, were the conversionists prepared to support 
a burden which they had reasonable hopes of removing to 
other shoulders. In the year 1701 a case arose which gave 
an opportunity for introducing legislation. In May of that 
year Mary Mendez de Breta, a girl nearly eighteen years 
of age, who had been brought up as a Jewess, embraced 
the Christian faith, and was baptized by Mr. Thorold, 
a minister of the Church of England. Thereupon her 
father, Jacob Mendez de Breta, disowned her for his 
child, turned her out of doors, and refused to allow her 
any maintenance, and she, being afraid of her father's 
anger, applied to the Lord Mayor for protection, and at 
his order the churchwardens of St. Andrew's Under- 
haft, in whose parish the father lived, provided for her 
and maintained her at the charge of the parish. The 
churchwardens lodged a complaint against the father at the 
Quarter Sessions at the Guildhall, and an order was made 
under the Relief of the Poor Act of Elizabeth that the 
father should allow her twenty shillings a-month for her 
maintenance, but this order was subsequently quashed by 
the Court of King's Bench, on the ground that there was 
no jurisdiction to make it \ A petition was then presented 

1 See the Inhabitants of St. Andrew's Underhaft v. de Breta, Lord 
Kaymond's Reports, vol. I, p. 699. Before the Committee of the House of 
Commons it was stated that the allowance for maintenance was twenty 
shillings a-week. Commons Journals, vol. XIII, p. 799. 


to the House of Commons by the ministers, churchwardens, 
and overseers of the poor of the above-mentioned parish 
and the five neighbouring parishes, stating that most of the 
Jews in London lived in their parishes, and that, " though 
they enjoy the protection of the government and the free 
exercise of their religion and grow rich, yet they bear such 
a hatred to our national religion, that in case any of their 
children embrace the same, they utterly disown them and 
treat them with great cruelty ; an instance whereof appears 
by the daughter of Jacob Mendez de Breta, a rich Jew 
in St. Andrew's Underhaft, who being converted to the 
Christian Faith, he utterly disowns her for his child and 
refuses to maintain her; so that she is now kept by the 
said parish for her encouragement, suitable to her educa- 
tion," and praying that a bill might be brought in to oblige 
Jacob Mendez de Breta in particular and the Jews in 
general to maintain and provide for their Protestant 
children, The petition was at once referred to a Committee. 
The Committee heard a large number of witnesses on both 
sides, including the father himself, who said that Mary was 
not his daughter, but with two or three more children had 
been laid at his door in Portugal, and that he had main- 
tained them purely out of charity, and further that he had 
never owned her as his daughter, but had always treated 
her as a servant, and that if she was entered in the parish 
books for the poll-tax as his daughter it was without his 
knowledge or consent. The Committee, however, found 
that the allegations in the petition were fully proved, and 
recommended that a bill be brought in according to the 
prayer of the petition. When the bill was read a second 
time a petition from several Jews, merchants in London, 
was presented against it, and after certain amendments had 
been made in the Commons, it was passed in the Lords 
without any amendment and almost without debate 1 . 
On other occasions occurring at frequent intervals before 

1 Commons Journals, vol. XIII, pp. 748, 798-800, 813, 839, 848, 886, 889, 
895, and Lords Journals, vol. XVII, pp. 125, 126, 128, 131, 148. 


1 846 Parliament took cognizance of the presence of the Jews, 
generally with the view of mitigating in their favour new 
enactments which would have otherwise pressed heavily 
upon them, but it will for our present purpose be sufficient 
to enumerate briefly the principal of these occasions. For 
instance, in the year 172a, in order to place a check upon 
the Jacobites, many of whom were Roman Catholics, it was 
enacted by 9 Geo. I, cap. 24, that all persons owning land, 
who refused or neglected to take the oaths appointed for 
the security of the king's person and government, which in- 
cluded the oath of abjuration as framed in the reign of 
James I, and ending with the words " on the true faith of 
a Christian," should register their names and real estates 
before a fixed day, or in default should forfeit their lands. 
But, in the following year, an amending Act, 10 Geo. I, cap. 
4, was passed, which allowed persons professing the Jewish 
religion to take the oath without the final words, in like 
manner as Jews are admitted to be sworn to give evidence 
in Courts of Justice. 

Again in the year 1 740 an Act was passed enabling all 
persons who had settled for a period of seven years in any 
of the British colonies in America to be naturalized, under 
certain conditions, without the necessity of obtaining a 
private Act of Parliament, by which naturalization was 
granted in those days, but it contained a proviso that all 
such persons should first receive the Sacrament of the 
Lord's Supper in some Protestant and reformed congrega- 
tion in Great Britain or one of the colonies, except the 
people called Quakers, "or such who profess the Jewish 
religion." It was also further provided that Jews taking 
the necessary oaths for the purposes of this Act might 
omit the words " on the true faith of a Christian," in the 
same way as they were enabled to do under 9 Geo. I, cap. 
24 K Thirteen years later Lord Hardwicke's Act for the 
better preventing of clandestine marriages (26 Geo. II, 

1 13 Geo. II, cap. 7, repealed by the Naturalization Act, 1870 ; see 
especially sees, a and 3. 


cap. 33), which made null and void all marriages solemnized 
without the publication of banns or licence, expressly 
excepted marriages amongst the people called Quakers or 
amongst the persons professing the Jewish religion, and 
most of the subsequent marriage Acts have contained 
similar exceptions. In the same year was passed the famous 
Jew bill (36 Geo. II, cap. 36), which permitted persons 
professing the Jewish religion to be naturalized by Act of 
Parliament without having previously taken the Sacra- 
ment. The Act passed through the House of Lords with 
great ease, but when it came down to the House of Com- 
mons met with strong opposition; indeed it would have 
possibly been wrecked in the Lower House, had not some 
of the enemies of the Government slackened their efforts 
against it, in the belief that it would cause widespread 
unpopularity throughout the country against the party in 
power. Nor was this belief ill-founded, for the storm of 
prejudice and fanaticism that arose during the recess 
compelled the Government to pass as their first effective 
measure of the next session an Act repealing the obnoxious 
Jew bill. For more than seventy years the Jews were not 
specially mentioned in any Act of Parliament, but they 
were again expressly excepted from the provisions of the 
marriage Acts of 1834, 1836, and 1840, and the Registration 
Act, 1836, provided for the due registration of Jewish 
marriages by the Secretary of a synagogue certified by the 
President of the London Committee of Deputies of the 
British Jews. 

This brings us down to the years 1845 an ^ 1846, when 
the measures of relief were granted, and the Jewish reli- 
gion finally admitted to the benefit of the Toleration Act. 
Till then the immunity of the Jews from the consequences 
of the penal laws had rested on the royal dispensations 
granted by the king in Council in answer to the petitions 
of Abraham Deli vera and others in 1674, and of Joseph 
Henriques and others in 1685, and the preceding summary 
of Parliamentary enactments concerning the Jews shows 


that the legislature tacitly acquiesced in this particular 
exercise of the dispensing power formerly claimed by the 
Crown, nor was there any individual bold enough to chal- 
lenge it by persisting in a prosecution in a court of law. 
This fact is not without significance, when it is remembered 
that the laws against recusants, though by no means uni- 
formly enforced, had not become quite obsolete, even at the 
time when they were finally repealed. The Criminal Law 
Commissioners, in their first report published in 1845, 
mention a considerable number of convictions, followed by 
actual imprisonment of the offenders, which had recently 
to their knowledge taken place in different parts of the 
country 1 . Though never questioned in a court of law, the 
immunity of the Jews did in truth rest upon sufficiently 
sure foundations. It could not indeed be proved that any 
charter or formal document of exemption had been exe- 
cuted in their favour, but the fact of the dispensation was 
sufficiently evidenced by the story of the proceedings taken 
against them on two important occasions in two different 

There can be little doubt that in the reign of Charles II, 
when the Jews re-established their community here, the king 
still retained the power of dispensing with laws, though 
subject to certain limits, which even in those times could 
not be precisely defined, but which it was generally 
acknowledged that James II had in the latter part of his 
reign undoubtedly transgressed. Accordingly it was not 
absolutely condemned by the Declaration of Rights, but it 
was thought sufficient to declare that " the pretended power 
of dispensing with laws or the execution of laws, by regall 
authoritie, as it hath beene assumed and exercised of late, is 
illegall." To prevent such abuse in the future, the Bill of 
Rights absolutely abolished the power, except in such cases 

1 See first report of Her Majesty's Commissioners for revising and 
consolidating the criminal law, note on pp. 32-3, and also Lord Brougham's 
remarks, Mans. Pari. Debat., vol. 59, p. 815 (1841), and id., vol. 85, p. 1264 


as should be specially provided for by statute, and con- 
tained a special saving clause, providing no charter, grant, 
or pardon granted before October 33, 1689, should be in 
any way impeached or invalidated. Though the Jews 
had no formal charter in their possession, they could claim 
the final words of the Order, in Council of 1685 — "His 
Majesty's intention being that they should not be troubled 
upon this account, but quietly enjoy the free exercise of 
their religion, whilst they behave themselves dutifully and 
obediently to his government" — as a grant within the 
meaning of the proviso '. 

When the facts are properly analysed, it is difficult to 
suggest any other foundation for the freedom of the Jews 
to establish synagogues, and to absent themselves from 
church, than the exercise of the dispensing power of the 
Grown. From this an anomalous consequence of no small 
practical importance resulted, namely, that there never was 
any necessity to certify or register a synagogue in the 
same way as places of religious worship belonging to 
other Dissenting bodies. The benefit of the Toleration 
Act of 1688 was confined to persons who attended divine 
service at some place permitted by the Act, and no place for 
religious worship was permitted by the Act until certified 
to the Bishop, Archdeacon, or Quarter Sessions, and duly 
registered or recorded, and the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 
1 79 1 contained similar provisions for the certification and 
registration of Roman Catholic places of worship. Further- 
more, the second section of the Places of Religious Worship 
Act, 1813, which is still in force, imposed a penalty of 
twenty pounds upon every person permitting a congregation 
or assembly for religious worship of Protestants, at which 
more than twenty persons should be present, to meet in 
any place occupied by him before it had been duly certified. 

1 For the dispensing power see the cases of non-obstante, 12 Rep., fo. 18 : 
Thomas v. Sorrel (1674), Vaughan, p. 330, and G-odden v. Hales (1686), 
2 Shower, p. 475, and XI St. Tr., p. 1,166, with the notes, especially those 
at pp. 1,187 and 1,251, and generally Broom's Constitutional Law, pp. 492-506 ; 
Anson's Parliament, pp. 311-17 ; and Burnet's Reign of James II, pp. 458-60. 


In the year 1855 the Act for securing the liberty of reli- 
gious worship (18 & 19 Vict., cap. 86) considerably modified 
this stringent provision, by excepting from its operation 
assemblies for religious worship conducted by the incum- 
bent of the parish, or a person authorized by him, and con- 
gregations meeting in a private dwelling-house, or meeting 
occasionally in a building not usually appropriated to reli- 
gious worship. The second section of the same Act, by pro- 
viding that the expression in the Act of 1846, Her Majesty's 
subjects professing the Jewish religion, in respect of their 
places for religious worship, shall be subject to the same 
laws as Protestant Dissenters are subject to, shall mean 
are subject to for the time being after the passing of this 
Act, seems to imply that at that time it was necessary to 
certify a Jewish synagogue. But it is certain that there 
was no provision for certifying a synagogue before 1846, 
and it is hardly consonant with the true principles of the 
interpretation of statutes to extend the scope of a highly 
penal section of an Act of Parliament in this indirect way, 
especially by an enactment entitled " An Act to relieve Her 
Majesty's subjects from certain penalties and disabilities 
in regard to religious opinions," the manifest intention of 
which was to grant relief from former burdens, but not to 
impose any new obligations. However, by the Places of 
Religious Worship Registration Act, 1855 (18 & 19 Vict., 
cap. 81), a Jewish synagogue may be certified in writing to 
the Registrar-General of births, deaths, and marriages, and 
will then be registered in due time. Although, as has been 
said, this course is optional and not compulsory, it is to be 
recommended, because it ensures the following advantages. 
A building so certified is exempt from uninvited interfer- 
ence by the Charity Commissioners, and is also, if exclu- 
sively appropriated to public religious worship, not liable 
to be rated for parochial or municipal purposes \ In 

1 See 16 & 17 Vict., cap. 137, sec. 62 ; 18 & 19 Vict., cap. 81, sec. 9 ; 
and 32 & 33 Vict., cap. no, sec. 15, as to the provisions of the Charitable 
Trusts Act ; and as to the exemption from rates, 3 & 4 Will. IV, cap. 30 ; 
5 & 6 Will. IV, cap. 50, sec. 27 ; and 38 & 39 Vict., cap. 55, sec. 151. 


addition, a synagogue not certified is not entitled to any of 
the advantages conferred by the legislature in 1846 : a gift 
or legacy to it is void, nor can contracts to hire seats in it 
be enforced, or disturbers of the service be punished. 

With the mention of this somewhat curious anomaly, the 
consequence of this method in which full legal recognition 
has been given to the Jewish religion, it is time to bring 
the foregoing inquiry to a close; nor is it necessary to 
recapitulate at any length the conclusions already arrived 
at. In the year 1290 the Jews were banished from the 
kingdom by royal edict, but this edict, now lost, would not 
avail to absolutely exclude from the country centuries 
afterwards Jews in no way connected with the former 
bondsmen of the king. From time to time isolated Jews 
came and lived in England, but the severity of the laws 
enforcing uniformity of religion was sufficient to prevent 
the formation of a Jewish community, and as late as the 
reign of James I the Jews that were here fled the country 
through fear of the commissioners appointed to execute the 
laws against Jesuits. The treaty with Spain in 1630 made 
it somewhat easier for Jews to settle here, by allowing them 
to evade some of the penalties imposed on recusants, but 
this advantage, such as it was, was lost by the outbreak of 
the war with Spain in 1656, though restored after the 
return of Charles II. Availing themselves of this ad- 
vantage a small number of Jews settled in the country in 
the reign of Charles I, and at the time of the execution of 
that king a formal request was made for the recognition 
of the Jewish religion, but it was not successful, and being 
renewed seven years later, in spite of the fair words used 
and the courtesy shown to Menasseh, it again proved a 
failure. During Cromwell's regime nothing was done; 
but there is evidence that the Protector allowed some half- 
dozen families of persons he knew to be Jews to remain in 
the realm, but this' was a special favour which did not 
enable them to form a distinct body or set up a synagogue. 
During his exile Charles II made a formal promise to 


relax the law in their favour ; but no legislation was intro- 
duced, nor, if introduced, would it have had a chance of 
success. But the promise was fulfilled. A considerable num- 
ber of Jews received the rights of citizenship; a distinct 
Jewish community arose, and a synagogue was established. 
At first the services were kept strictly secret, for fear of the 
enforcement of the penal laws, but, under the protection of 
the king's dispensing power, before the end of 1663 it was 
possible to hold them with open doors, and the attacks made 
upon the Jews were successfully repelled. On the acces- 
sion of King James II a further and last attempt was made 
to visit with the rigour of the law the still young and 
struggling community, which was again saved by the exer- 
cise of the dispensing power of the Crown. After the 
Revolution the power of dispensation was swept away, but 
it was expressly provided that charters or grants already 
made should not be held invalid, and the formal Order in 
Council of November 13, 1685, granting the Jews the free 
exercise of their religion, was thus confirmed. At length, 
in 1846, after an interval of more than a century and a 
half, the Jewish religion, the profession of which had been 
frequently recognized by the legislature, was formally made 
legal by Act of Parliament. 

H. S, Q. Henriques.