Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-768dbb666b-l8xdn Total loading time: 1.404 Render date: 2023-02-02T22:47:38.539Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Article contents

The Checkered Career of “Jew” King: A Study in Anglo-Jewish Social History

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2009

Todd M. Endelman
Affiliation:
Department of History, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405
Get access

Extract

Contemporary Jewish historiography has tended to ignore the private side of the struggle for Jewish integration into European society in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Instead, most work has concentrated on public efforts to achieve acceptance and respectability—programs to modernize Jewish education, reform Jewish worship, normalize Jewish occupations, and apply critical standards and methods to Jewish scholarship. In particular, historians have focused their attention on that small group of notables who managed the affairs of the organized Jewish community, that is, those wealthy Jews who everywhere directed the campaign for emancipation and the modernization of Jewish life and later the defense of Judaism in the face of a renewed antisemitism.Needless to say, this group hardly constituted a majority of the community in any locality and in many places probably not even a majority of the Jewish haute bourgeoisie. Yet many of these well-to-do Jews who took no active part in communal affairs were as eager as the communal notables to gain acceptance for themselves outside the Jewish community. Indeed, in most cases their ties to Judaism and the Jewish community were weaker; conversely, their desire for integration into non-Jewish spheres usually stronger.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Association for Jewish Studies 1982

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1. Katz, Jacob, Jews and Freemasons in Europe, 1723–1939(Cambridge, Mass., 1973), p. 24.Google Scholar

2. For the character of Anglo-Jewish communal life in the Georgian period and the legal status of English Jews, see Endelman, Todd M., The Jews of Georgian England, 1714–1830: Tradition and Change in a Liberal Society(Philadelphia, 1979), pp. 10,24–25,45, 113, 122, 131–32, 142–48.Google Scholar

3. The exact date of Jacob Rey's birth is unknown. According to Israel Solomons, Rey was admitted to the charity school of the Spanish and Portuguese Jews in 1764 and was about eleven years old at the time. Notes and Queries, 10th ser. 9 (1908): 428. Solomons made this statement on the basis of a minute book of the charity school that was in his possession in 1908 and was sold subsequently to the library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The library, however, has been unable to locate the minute book for me. In any case, a birth date of 1753 would fit well with other clues we have about his age at different dates. Thus, around 1804, he wrote that he was “in the evening of his life”—i.e., about fifty years old if we assume that he was born around 1753. [John King], Oppression Deemed No Injustice Towards Some Individuals, Illustrated in the Late Treatment of Mr, John King under a Commission of Bankruptcy (London, [ca. 1804]), p. 27. As to the place of Jacob Rey's birth, there is a list of aliens in the Mansion House Sessions Book for 1796 (i.e., from the period of intense xenophobia and invasion hysteria associated with the revolutionary wars on the Continent) that includes the name John Rey. [Vivian D. Lipman, “Sephardi and Other Jewish Immigrants in England in the Eighteenth Century,” in Migration and Settlement: Proceedings of the Anglo-American Jewish Historical Conference…July 1970 (London, 1971), p. 61.] No address, occupation, age, or place of birth is indicated. Nor is there any reason to believe that King would have given his name in such a peculiar fashion—half-English and half-Spanish. Nevertheless, there is a small possibility that this John Rey indeed might have been the same person as John King.

4. Authentic Memoirs, Memorandums, and Confessions Taken from the Journal of His Predatorial Majesty, the King of the Swindlers (London, n.d.), pp. 27–28; “John King,” The Scourge 1 (1811): 1.

5. For this aspect of Jewish immigration to England, see Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, p. 341, n. 5, and Lipman, “Sephardi and Other Jewish Immigrants,” pp. 42–43.

6. Picciotto, James, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, ed. Finestein, Israel (London, 1956), p. 162.Google Scholar

7. Israel Solomons, Notes and Queries, 10th ser. 9 (1908): 428.

8. In 1775, in a Portuguese letter to the wardens of the Sephardi charity school, he signed his name “Jacob Rey,” but the English translation of the letter, which was inserted in the records at the time, was signed “John King.” Ibid.

9. Authentic Memoirs, p. 28; “John King,” The Scourge1 (1811): 2; The Gentleman'sMagazine, vol. 94, pt. 1 (1824): 184.

10. Robinson, Mary, Memoirs of Mary Robinson–“Perdita”(London, 1895), pp. 80–81.Google Scholar

11. Captain Gronow, an observer of upper-class comings and goings in the Regency period, devoted a chapter in his memoirs to “Jew Money Lenders,” in which he made the link between Jewish usury and Jewish deviousness in other fields. “…If he [the Jew] can become the agent of any dirty work, [he] is only too happy to be so, in preference to a straightforward and honest transaction…a class of traders who in all parts of the world are sure to embrace what may be termed illicit and illegitimate commerce.” Rees Howell Gronow, Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, 2d rev. ed. (London, 1862), p. 183.

12. Walpole, B.C., The Life of the Late Right Honorable Charles James Fox(New York, 1811), p. 29.Google Scholar

13. Steinmetz, Andrew, The Gaming Table: Its Votaries and Victims, 2 vols. (London, 1870), 1: 113–17. According to Steinmetz, there were only half a dozen gaming houses in London in the 1780s but nearly fifty by 1820 (1: 122). This passion for gambling, it should be noted, was fueled by the agricultural prosperity of these years, which swelled the rent rolls of the gentry and aristocracy.Google Scholar

14. Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, pp. 212–13. Fox was £50,000 in debt before he came of age; in the winter of 1773–1774, his debts amounted to £ 140,000; at his father's death later that year, they were over ë154,000. He referred to the antechamber in his house in St. James's Place as the Jerusalem Chamber because it was so frequently filled with Jewish moneylenders. John W. Derry, Charles James Fox (London, 1972), p. 50; Steinmetz, The Gaming Table, 1: 309 and 316. A number of contemporary sources relate the following story regarding Fox's involvement with Jewish moneylenders. Charles's elder brother Stephen, heir to the title and property of their father Lord Holland, was in poor health and himself without an heir, so it was believed that Charles might succeed eventually to the title. This probability gave hope to Fox's creditors that they would be paid some day. When a son was born to Stephen, Charles was called out of the Jerusalem Chamber, where a number of his Jewish creditors were gathered, to be told the news. When he returned, the Jews noticed a look of disappointment on his face and exclaimed, “Vas is de matter? Vas is de matter, Master Fox?” “Bad enough, indeed,” replied Charles, “here is a second Messiah come to plague you all.” Walpole, Charles James Fox, pp. 28–29. The story also appears in Edward Gibbon, The Letters of Edward Gibbon, ed. J. E. Norton, 3 vols. (New York, 1956), 1: 382, and Horace Walpole, The Letters of Horace Walpole, Fourth Earl of Oxford, ed. Mrs. Paget Toynbee, 16 vols. (Oxford, 1904), 8: 367 and 370.

15. This engraving is reproduced in Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, and in Eduard Fuchs, Die Juden in der Karikatur: Ein Beitrag zur Kulturgeschichte(Munich, 1921), p. 46.

16. Gronow, Reminiscences, p. 182; Erskine, Thomas, Reflections on Gaming, Annuities, and Usurious Contracts, 3d ed. (London, 1777), p. 14.Google Scholar

17. For a fuller treatment of this theme, see Endelman, Todd M., “L'activité économique des Juifs anglais”, Dix-Huitième Siècle 13 (1981): 113–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

18. Notes and Queries, 10th ser. 9 (1908): 428.

19. Barnett, Lionel D., ed., Bevis Marks Records: Contributions to the History of the Spanish and Portuguese Congregation of London, vol. 2, Abstracts of the Kelubot or Marriage-Contracts of the Congregation from Earliest Times until 1836(Oxford, 1949), p. 103.Google Scholar

20. Blyth, Henry, Hell and Hazard, or, William Crockford versus the Gentlemen of England(Chicago, 1970), p. iv. On this theme, see also the examples cited in Gordon Rattray Taylor, The Angel Makers: A Study in the Psychological Origins of Historical Change, 1750–1850, 2d ed. (New York, 1974), pp. 99–100.Google Scholar

21. King, John, Thoughts on the Difficulties and Distresses in which the Peace of 1783 Has Involved the People of England, 5th ed. (London, 1783), pp. 2–5. The most high-born defaulters in late Georgian England were the Prince of Wales and his brothers. In 1789, the Prince and the Dukes of York and Clarence asked Abraham Goldsmid to raise money for them in Europe through his correspondents there. Simeon and Abraham Boas of the Hague agreed to advance them 350,000 guilders for twelve years at five percent interest, the loan to be repaid in four annual installments beginning December 1, 1801. The Boas brothers received the joint bond of the three princes, payable to them and vesting in them power of attorney to divide the security into shares of one thousand guilders each. The Boas brothers sold the entire bond. For two years, however, they received no money from the princes so that they had to pay the interest themselves to the shareholders out of fear that the credit of their house would suffer. Eventually they were forced to stop payment and became bankrupts. When French troops overran Holland in the winter of 1794–1795, they seized all of the Boases' property including the princes' bond. Soon after both Simeon and Abraham took their own lives. When the Prince of Wales again approached Goldsmid some time later to negotiate a loan for him on the Continent, he wisely declined. Robert Huish, Memoirs of George the Fourth, 2 vols. (London, 1831), 2: 137; Arthur Aspinall, ed., The Correspondence of George, Prince of Wales, 1770–1812, 8 vols. (London, 1963–1971), 2:49.Google Scholar

22. King, Thoughts on the Difficulties and Distresses, p. 4; Erskine, Reflections on Gaming, p. 31. Between 1714 and 1833, the rate of interest was fixed by law at five percent, but, according to Jeremy Bentham, writing in 1787, nobody lent at that rate. The lowest usual rate, upon the very best security, was eight percent, with nine and ten percent even more common. Interest frequently went as high as thirteen and fourteen percent. Jeremy Bentham, A Defense of Usury, 2d ed. (Philadelphia, 1842), pp. 52–54.

23. “John King,” The Scourge 1 (1811): 3.

24. The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 94, pt. 1 (1824): 184; John Taylor, Records of My Life, 2 vols. (London, 1832), 2:341.

25. King, John, Fourth Letter from Mr. King to Mr. Thomas Paine at Paris(London, [1795]), p. 6; Gronow, Reminiscences, pp. 183–8; Charles James Feret, Fulham Old and New, 3 vols. (London, 1900), 3: 91–92.Google Scholar

26. King, John,” The Scourge1 (1811): 14; “Charles King,” The Scourge1 (1811): 412–13; Authentic Memoirs, pp. 3536, 86–87.Google Scholar

27. Southcott, Joanna, An Account of the Trials on Bills of Exchange wherein the Deceit of Mr. John King and His Confederates, under the Pretence of Lending Money, is Exposed, and Their Arts Brought to Light(London, 1807);Google ScholarHarrison, J.F.C.., The Second Coming: Popular Millenarianism, 1780–1850(London, 1979), pp. 128–29.Google Scholar

28. Times, December 25, 1790, p. 3; “Charles King,” The Scourge1 (1811): 457; Place, Francis, The Autobiography of Francis Place, ed. Mary Thale (Cambridge, 1972), p. 238; Pierce Egan, Finish to the Adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic in their Pursuits through Life in and out of London(London, 1830), p. 179; Moses Hebron [pseud.], The Life and Exploits of Ikey Solomons(London, [1829]), pp. 6–9. For a more sober account of Ikey Solomons, see J. J. Tobias, Prince of Fences: The Life and Crimes of Ikey Solomons(London, 1974). A general introduction to Jewish crime in London during this period may be found in Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, chap. 6.Google Scholar

29. Place, Autobiography, pp. 174,238.

30. , Endelman, The Jews ofGeorgian England, pp. 110–11.Google Scholar

31. For a discussion of this point, see Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, chap. 1.

32. The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 98, pt. 2(1828): 82; The Town and Country Magazine 19 (1787): 297–98; Authentic Memoirs, pp. 233–34.

33. Authentic Memoirs, pp. 233–34.

34. The Town and Country Magazine 19 (1787): 298.

35. , Taylor, Records of My Life, 2: 344.Google Scholar

36. The Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 98, pt. 2 (1828): 82; George Edward Cokayne, ed., The Complete Peerage, 13 vols. (London, 1910–1959), vol. 7, ed. H.A. Doubleday and Howard de Walden(1929), p.425.

37. For more on the extramarital sexual activity of the Anglo-Jewish notability, see , Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, pp. 130–31.Google Scholar

38. [John King], Letters from Perdita to a Certain Israelite and His Answers to Them(London, 1781). The blackmail attempt is described in Authentic Memoirs, pp. 106–12, and in “John King,” The Scourge1 (1811): 13.Google Scholar

39. Authentic Memoirs, pp. 59–60, 73–76, 80–83; “Characteristic Portrait of a Modern Apostate,” TheScourge10(1815): 219.

40. “Characteristic Portrait of a Modern Apostate,” The Scourge10(1815): 219; Gainer vs. Lady Lanesborough, I Peake, pp. 25–26; Taylor, Records of My Life, 2:342; [John King], Oppression Deemed No Injustice Towards Some Individuals, Illustrated in the Late Treatment of Mr. John King under a Commission of Bankruptcy(London, n.d. [ca. 1804]).

41. , Taylor, Records of My Life, 2:341.Google Scholar

42. Place, Autobiography, p. 236; Paul, Charles Kegan, William Godwin: His Friends and Contemporaries, 2vols. (London, 1876), 1: 146–47, 157.Google Scholar

43. Kegan Paul, William Godwin, 1: 146–47, 154–57

44. , Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, pp. 251–54.Google Scholar

45. Place, Autiobiography, p. 237.

46. John King, Mr. King's Apology, or, A Reply to His Calumniators, 5th ed. (London, 1798), pp. 43,45–46.

47. King, John, Mr. King's Speech at Egham, with Thomas Paine's Letter to Him on It, and Mr. King's Reply, 10th ed. (Egham, 1793), pp. 89.Google Scholar

48. King, Thoughts on the Difficulties and Distresses, passim.

49. Alger, John Goldworth, Napoleon's British Visitors and Captives, 1801–1815 (New York, 1904), p. 102;Google Scholar Lucyle Werkmeister, A Newspaper History of England, 1792–1793 (Lincoln, 1967), pp. 32–33; King, Mr. King's Apology, pp. 36–37.

50. King, Mr. King's Apology, pp. 1–28; Werkmeister, Newspaper History of England, pp. 24,32–33,113–15,146.

51. King, Mr. King's Speech.

52. King, John, Third Letter from Mr. King to Mr. Thomas Paine at Paris (Egham, [1793]).Google Scholar

53. King, John, Fourth Letter from Mr. King to Mr. Thomas Paine at Paris(London, [1795]).Google Scholar

54. Place, Autobiography, p. 236; King, Mr. King's Apology, pp. 36–37.Google Scholar

55. Rex vs. Gilham, I Espinasse, pp. 285–86. In Rex vs. Gilham, King was called as a witness regarding the financial misdeeds of another party. He was sworn on the New Testament, and after he began giving testimony the defense attorney stopped him and began raising questions about whether King was a Jew, and, if so, whether his oath was binding since he was sworn on the New Testament. Lord Kenyon ruled that King's testimony was admissable since King now considered himself a member of the Church of England and bound by the precepts of that religion.

56. , King, Mr. King's Apology, pp. 38–41.Google Scholar

57. , Endleman, The Jews of Georgian England, pp. 282–84.Google Scholar

58. , Southcott, Account of the Trials on Bills of Exchange, p. 32.Google Scholar

59. Hyamson, Albert M., The Sephardim of England: A History of the Spanish and Portuguese Jewish Community, 1492–1951(London, 1951), p. 270.Google Scholar

60. Dictionary of National Biography, s.v. “Levi, David.”

61. Levi, David, Dissertations on the Prophecies of the Old Testament, rev. ed. with an introduction by John King, 2 vols. (London, 1817).Google Scholar

62. Rubens, Alfred, “Portrait of Anglo-Jewry, 1656–1836”, Transactions of the Jewish Historical Society of England 19 (1955-1959): 39.Google Scholar

63. MS 111, entry for June 1, 1824, Archives of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, London.

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

The Checkered Career of “Jew” King: A Study in Anglo-Jewish Social History
Available formats
×

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

The Checkered Career of “Jew” King: A Study in Anglo-Jewish Social History
Available formats
×

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

The Checkered Career of “Jew” King: A Study in Anglo-Jewish Social History
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *