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English Jewry is Organised:
The Ordinances of the Jews, 1194

All the debts, pledges, mortgages, lands, houses, rents, and possessions of the Jews shall be registered.  The Jew who shall conceal any of these shall forfeit to the King his body and the thing concealed, and likewise all his possessions and chattels, neither shall it be lawful to the.Tew to recover th-e.thing concealed.

Likewise six or seven places  (1) shall be provided in which they shall make all their contracts, and there shall be appointed two lawyers that are Christians and two lawyers that are Jews, and two legal registrars, and before them and the clerks of William of the Church of St. Mary's and William of Chimilli, shall their contracts be made.

And charters shall be made of their contracts by way of indenture.  And one part of the indenture shall remain with the Jew, sealed with the seal of him, to whom the money is lent, and the other part shall remain in the common chest: wherein there shall be three locks and keys, whereof the two Christians shall keep one key, and the two Jews another, and the clerks of William of the Church of St. Mary and of William of Chimilli shall keep the third.  And moreover, there shall be three seals to it, and those who keep the seals shall put the seals thereto.

Moreover the clerks of the said William and William shall keep a roll of the transcripts of all the charters, and as the charters shall be altered so let the roll be likewise.  For every charter there shall be threepence paid, one moiety thereof by the Jews and the other moiety by him to whom the money is lent; whereof the two writers shall have twopence and the keeper of the roll the third.

And from henceforth no contract shall be made with, nor payment, made to, the Jews, nor any alteration made in the charters, except before the said persons or the greater part of them, if all of them cannot be present.  And the aforesaid two Christians shall have one roll of the debts or receipts of the payments which from henceforth are to be made to the Jews, and the two Jews one and the keeper of the roll one.

Moreover every Jew shall swear on his Roll, that all his debts and pledges and rents, and all his goods and his possessions, he shall cause to be enrolled, and that he shall conceal nothing as is aforesaid.  And if he shall know that anyone shall conceal anything he shall secretly reveal it to the justices sent to them, and that they shall detect,and shew unto them all falsifiers or forgers of the charters and clippers of money, where or when they shall know them, and likewise all false charters.

(1) Probably London, Lincoln, Norwich, Winchester, Canterbury, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Hereford, or Bristol.

[Editors note: This important document marks the beginning of a new regime for the Jewry leading on to the Exchequer of the Jews of the thirteenth century (ably described bv Dr. C. Gross in the Papers of the Anglo-Jewish Exhibition).  Hitherto while the King made use of the Jews as indirect tax-gatherers no formal expression had been given to the fact.  Two events seem to have determined the Norman officials to recognise formally the position of the Jews and to create a special branch of the Treasury to control Jewish usury.  In the first place the enormous windfall that came to the Exchequer with the death of Aaron of Lincoln must have opened the eyes of the Treasurer to the possibilities of Jewish usury, and at the same time forced him to open a special account  (the Saccarium Aaronis)  for  the large  business which it brought in its train. Secondly, the massacres of  1189-90, while further enforcing the the lesson of Aaron of Lin coln, brought out the necessity, of some check and record of  Jewish business to protect both the king and the debtor.  Within five years the Organisation of the Exchequer of the  Jews was so far advanced that all the Jewish items of the Pipe Rolls were removed from them.]


Source: Roger de Hoveden, iii. 266, ed. Joseph Jacobs, The Jews of Angevin England: Documents and Records (London, 1893), p. 156-59.

Scanned by Elka Klein

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© Paul Halsall, January 1999


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