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OLD JEWRY, ST. LAWRENCE CHURCH, MANSION
HOUSE, LONDON STONE, ETC.
Old Jewry, the Original Burial-place of the Jews - Expulsion of
the Jews – Doctor Lambe and the Duke of Buckingham St. Olave's Church — St. Lawrence Jewry — St. Thomas of Acon - Gilbert à Becket - Mercers' Company — The Poul. try - Mansion House — Stocks Market — Sir John CutlerBucklersbury - Indian Houses — St. Stephen's Walbrook London Stone - Prior of Tortington's “ Inne."
To the west of Lothbury is the Old Jewry, so intimately associated with the persecution of the Jews in England during the reign of our Norman sovereigns. Previously to the reign of Henry the First, the only burial-place which the bigotry of our ancestors permitted to the Jews in England was in London, whither, in the words of Holinshed, they were “constrained to bring all their dead corpses from all parts of the realm.” It was not till the year 1117, that they “obtained from King Henry a grant to have a place assigned them, in every quarter where they dwelled, to bury their dead bodies.” In the Old Jewry was their great synagogue, and in this quarter they
continued to increase and multiply till 1283, when John Perkham, Archbishop of Canterbury, commanded the Bishop of London to destroy all the Jews' synagogues in the metropolis. Seven years afterward, Edward the First, on his return from France, issued his famous edict which drove the Jews from the kingdom. The number thus expelled is said to have been fifteen thousand and sixty. Whether rightfully or wrongfully, they were accused, not only of having practised usury to a ruinous extent, but also of having adulterated the coin of the realm. Suddenly, then, their persons were seized in every part of England; their property was confiscated, and a moiety of it only bestowed on those who consented to embrace Christianity. To the honour of the Jews be it spoken, that, notwithstanding the temptation of retaining possession of their darling gold, only a few were to be found who consented to purchase their lives, and all that makes life palatable, at the expense of their conscience. Two hundred and eighty were hanged in London alone. The remainder, after having been stripped of their possessions, were driven forth to seek asylums in other countries. It was not till the seventeenth century that the Jews again appeared in any numbers in England.
The “ Jewerie,” as it was styled, appears to have extended along both sides of what is now Gresham Street, from St. Lawrence Lane and the church
of St. Lawrence on the west, to Basinghall Street and the Old Jewry on the east, and southward between the Old Jewry and Ironmonger Lane as far as Church Court. The detestation in which, in the olden time, the Jews were held by the common people of England led to more than one furious attack on their colony in the “ Jewerie." In 1262, a quarrel having taken place in one of the neighbouring churches between a Christian and a Jew, in which the Christian was mortally wounded, the Jew flew for refuge to his own people, but, having been overtaken by the neighbours of the deceased, was summarily put to death. Not satisfied, however, with this act of revenge, the infuriated mob poured into the “ Jewerie,” and indiscriminately pillaged and slew every Jew whom they met. In 1264, a Jew having been convicted of exacting usurious interest from a Christian, another irruption took place into their colony, when their synagogue and other valuable property were destroyed.
But the Old Jewry has other interesting associations besides its connection with the Jews. Here, in the fifteenth century, the unfortunate Henry the Sixth had a mansion, which he styled his “principal palace in the Old Jewry.” It was a large stone building, commonly called the “Old Wardrobe," and when Stow wrote had only recently been demolished.
Tradition informs us that at the corner of Old
Jewry and Cheapside stood the house in which Thomas à Becket first saw the light. Here, too, it was that the infamous Doctor Lambe was beaten and trampled to death by an exasperated mob. This aged and disreputable mountebank, who united in his own person the professions of a physician, a caster of nativities, and a fortuneteller, had been guilty of a long catalogue of crimes. In 1607 he had been found guilty of sorcery and witchcraft, practised on the body of Thomas, Lord Windsor, and, agreeably with the terms of his sentence, was undergoing imprisonment in the King's Bench Prison, when he committed a still more serious offence, in which a little girl of eleven years of age was his victim. For this latter crime he was sentenced to death, but in consequence of his possessing some secret and powerful influence at court, which the world attributed to the unpopular favourite, the first George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, he obtained a pardon. His death took place in the manner we have stated, on the 13th of June, 1628. Not that the mob troubled themselves much about his vices or his crimes : his chief offence in their eyes being his connection with the detested Buckingham. Yet, though men spoke of him as the “duke's devil," it may be questioned whether Buckingham ever even set his eyes on the wretched mountebank. Carte, for instance, affirms that they never met, and Carte's assertion
is in a great degree borne out by a fact which not long since came to light, that Lambe was at one time actually engaged in a conspiracy against the duke's life. At all events, Lambe owed his fearful death to the current belief of his intimacy with Buckingham. Almost at the last gasp, he was rescued by the authorities from the hands of the infuriated populace and carried into the adjoining Compter in the Poultry, but he survived only till the following day. It was certainly a remarkable coincidence, as noticed by Lord Clarendon among other “predictions and prophecies,” that Doctor Lambe should have correctly foretold both the time of his own death, and that of Buckingham. It was another striking coincidence, that, on the day on which Lambe was torn to pieces by the mob, Buckingham's picture fell down in the High Commission Chamber at Lambeth; an incident, which, in a superstitious age, was eagerly hailed as a prognostic of his fall.
On the west side of the Old Jewry stands St. Olave's Church, another of Sir Christopher Wren's structures, erected shortly after the destruction of the old church by the fire of London. Stow records the names of several persons who were buried in this church between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries, but whose monuments no longer exist. Among them may be mentioned a monument to Giles Dewes, servant to Henry the Seventh and Henry the Eighth, who died