This book proposes that Jews were present in England in substantial numbers from the Roman Conquest forward. Indeed, there has never been a time during which a large Jewish-descended, and later Muslim-descended, population has been absent from England. Contrary to popular history, the Jewish population was not expelled from England in 1290, but rather adopted the public face of Christianity, while continuing to practice Judaism in secret. Crypto-Jews and Crypto-Muslims held the highest offices in the land, including service as archbishops, dukes, earls, kings and queens. Among those proposed to be of Jewish ancestry are the Tudor monarchs Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I, William the Conqueror, and Lord Protector of the Commonwealth Oliver Cromwell, whose ancestor lived in the London Domus Conversorum.
Documentation in support of this revisionist history includes DNA studies, genealogies, heraldry, Norman prosopography, ecclesiastical records, parish birth and burial registers, Star Chamber rolls, merchants’ lists, peerage and baronage databases, biographies of Hebrew professors at Oxford and Cambridge, literary analysis of medieval Latin writers, place-names and the Domesday Book.
The Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales is the third and final book in a trilogy by the same authors. The first is When Scotland Was Jewish (2007). The second is Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America (2012).
Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman is a professor of marketing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey and a professor at the University of Virginia-Wise. She has written widely on genealogy and ethnic identity. Donald N. Yates is an American genealogist, cultural historian and DNA investigator. For more information visit his official site at donaldyates.com
Elizabeth Caldwell Hirschman and Donald N. Yates
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: McFarland (April 29, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.5 x 9.8 inches
The first Jew in Britain whose name is recorded was actually a Jewess, Pomponia Graecina, a member of the Julio-Claudian ruling family who was put on trial in Rome for belonging to a foreign superstition. Her story later morphed into the legend of St. Lucy. Britain’s earliest historian, Gildas, has a North African name and likely was a “semi-convert” of Sephardic Jewish background. In Anglo-Saxon times (when there were supposed to be no Jews in England), the authors point out Eoba, a moneyer who made a gold dinar for King Offa, and Eadwig Basan, a royal scribe whose bookhand became the model for English Caroline script and later the font known today as Times Roman. British Jewish traditions were longer and stronger in Wales, where the Tudors, King Arthur, Saint David and several dynastic mercantile families had their origins. Surveying England and Wales’ hidden Jewish legacy from Julius Caesar’s invasion to the readmission of Jews under Cromwell, this comprehensive guide ends with a chapter on the literary influence of Daniel Defoe, who was descended from the ancient Foa family of Sephardim in Spain, Portugal, France and Flanders.