Monday, 24 December 2007

A 1661 petition against the Jewes

Petition Against the Jewes, Presented to the Kings Majestie and
the Parliament
London, 1661

With Cromwell dead and the English monarchy
restored in 1660, many changes made under the
Commonwealth were reversed. Violet, London
goldsmith, sometime Alderman of the Corporation of London, and belligerent
pamphleteer with nativist and hard currency bees in
his bonnet, was determined that Cromwell’s very
recent readmission of the Jews should be high on the
“to undo” list. For the new regime’s benefit, he refers
back to Manasseh’s meetings in London in 1655-6:
“Upon several days hearing, Cromwel and his Councel
did give a Toleration and Dispensation to a great
number of Jewes to come and live here in London,
and to this day they do keep publick Worship in the
City of London, to the great dishonour of Christianity,
and publick scandal of the true Protestant Religion,
and to the great damage of the Kingdome, especially
our Merchants, whose Trade they engross, and eat the
childrens bread: and in the Barbadoes they do so
swarm, that had not care bin taken to banish them, in
twenty years they would eat out the English: but by
the care of this blessed Parliament they are within a
year to be banished thence.”

Violet’s petition backfired. The King let it be known that he was more
interested in measures to protect the Jews than expel
them. The threatened Barbados community was
reprieved, and, when New York soon became an
English possession, these domestic and colonial
precedents were applied there as well

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