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The Jewish Arcae


In September, 1194, Richard I, having returned from a disastrous captivity, sent itinerant justices around the country to reclaim and reorganise royal rights. According to Roger of Hoveden, they were instructed to put into writing all lands, housestae Mariae Ecclesia and William de Chemilli, such contracts should be made. The charter embodying the contract was to be made in the form of a chyrograph, of which one part was to be kept should remain in the area [area = chest = huche]. The area was to be secured by three locks: the Christians were to have one key, the Jews a second and the two Williams a third, and they should each of them seal the lock the key of which they heldt by the Jew, sealed with the seal of him to whom the money was lent, rents and possessions of the Jews. They should also provide six or seven places in which the Jews should make all their contracts, and appoint two law-worthy Christians, two law-worthy Jews and two law-worthy writers before whom, together with William de Sanc: the other par. The clerks of the two Williams should keep a roll of the transcripts of all charters: they were exhorted to keep the roll up to date, in return for which they were to receive one penny for evor. Five or more of the appointed oery charter made, twopence going between the writers, the total payment of three-pence being levied equally from the debtor and creditfficials were required to be present at each transaction, and the three groups, the Christians, the Jews and the keepers of the rolls were each to maintain a roll embodying payments made to the Jews.

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1 Chronica Rogeri de Hoveden, ed. Stubbs, vol. III, p. 266.

2 A deed attested by witnasses, which, when containing mutual covenants, was usually made in the form of a part and counter part, between which was drawn the word ‘Chyrographum’; the document was then cut asunder, through the word, in an indented manner. The authenticity of the document was proved by fitting the two parts together.

3 Cf. the pioneer work of Jacobs: The Jews of Angevin England, pp. 3–6, and the recent scholarly work of Roth, History of the Jews in England, 2nd ed., pp. 1–17.

4 Cf. Jacobs, op. cit., pp. 14–15, 28–29, 38–45, etc., Knowles, Monastic Orders in England, pp. 353–4, and the well-known account by De Brakelonde Jocelyn: Jocelini Cronica (Memorials of Edmunds St., vol. 1, 210): Roth, op. cit.

5 Cf. Rymer, Foedera, 1, 51 (Richard I) and Rot.Cart. 1, 66 (John) referring to a charter of Henry I.

6 Roth, op. cit., p. 29.

7 Gross, The Exchequer of the Jews of England, p. 20. In addition to those listed above, arcae existed at Bedford, Berkhampsted, Colchester, Devizes, Exeter, Hereford, Huntingdon, Leicester, Marlborough, Stamford, Sudbury, Wallingford, Warwick, Wilton, Worcester and York. Gross, op. cit., p. 20, n. 47.

8 Select Pleas, Starrs and other Records, ed. Rigg, p. 85 (hereafter called ‘Select Pleas’). The policy of having numerous local arcae contrasts with the Statute of Acton Burnell, 1283, from the provisions of which Jews were excluded, and which set up three registries for debts, before the Mayors of London, York and Bristol: Plucknett: Legislation of Edward I, p. 138. The three registries were later supplemented by others under the authority of the Statute of Merchants, 1285.

9 Roth, op. cit., p. 28.

10 Calendar of the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews, vols I, II and II, hereafter referred to as Cal.Plea Rolls.

11 Cf. Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 82; III, p. 42. Select Pleas, p. 11; Close Rolls, 1265, p. 42.

12 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 82.

13 Cf. Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 153, II, p. 43: cf. also I, 150, for an interesting case of the Lord Edward and the Lord Edmund securing the appointment of a clerk in the London Jewry: Select Pleas, p. 81.

14 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 71. It seems that there was a distinction between the clerks writers to the Area and the Clerk of the Escheats: cf. Roth, op. cit., p. 110.

15 Select Pleas, p. 81.

16 Cf., for example, Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 308.

17 Cf. Roth, op. cit., p. 273: for the text of the Articles, cf. Select Pleas, p. lv.

18 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, 77: by tally here is probably meant the counterpart of a chyrograph.

19 Cal.Plea Rolls, 1, 84.

20 Ibid., I, 106.

21 Ibid., I, 127.

22 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, 146: in 1270 he held money to be paid to Isaac of Bedford Ibid., 220; cf. also Ibid., III, p. 322.

23 Ibid., I, 188.

24 Ibid., I, 168.

25 Ibid., I, 300.

26 Ibid., p. 92: the chyrographers were fined a total of fifty marks for losing the chyrograph.

27 Ibid., p. 93: it is interesting to note that Roger de Newark was acting as attorney against Jews in actions for detention of gages in 1276. Cal.Plea Rolls, III, pp. 150, 151.

28 Select Pleas, pp. 65–8: cf. also Cal.Plea Rolls, I, pp. 71, 75, 150, and II, p. 193.

29 Select Pleas, p. 4.

30 Select Pleas, pp. lviii-lix.

31 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 17.

32 Gross, op. cit., p. 18.

33 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 77.

34 Ibid., I, p. 311.

35 E.g., Select Pleas, pp. 117–8.

36 Select Pleas, pp. 8–10.

37 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 84.

38 Select Pleas, p. 14.

39 Cal.Plea Rolls, I, p. 138.

40 Close Rolls, 1250, p. 382.

41 Select Pleas, p. 67, shows that to make a chyrograph in a form contrary to the Statute of Jewry might lead to the same result.

42 M. Adler, Jews of Mediæval England, p. 94.

43 Stokes H. P., Jews in England, p. 185.

44 Transactions, Jewish Historical Society of England, VIII, p. 19.

45 Op. cit., pp. 252–79.

46 Cal.Plea Rolls, III, 230–38.

47 Cf. Select Pleas, pp. 9, 10, 14.

48 Adler, op. cit., p. 217.

49 Select Pleas, p. 66.

50 Cal.Plea Rolls, III, p. 196.

51 Transactions of Jewish Historical Society, V, p. 248.

52 On the expulsion of the Jews and the property found in their possession, see Abrahams, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England, II, pp. 76–105.

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