views updated May 29 2018


EXETER , town in S.W. England. Before the expulsion of the Jews in 1290, Exeter was the most westerly Jewish community in England. The first mention of Jews there is in 1181. Only one Exeter Jew, Amiot, is mentioned as contributing to the *Northampton Donum of 1194, but subsequently Exeter became the seat of one of the *archae for the registration of Jewish debts. In 1275 the local chirographers, both Jewish and Christian, were accused of forgery but were acquitted. At an ecclesiastical synod held at Exeter in 1287, the church restrictions regarding the Jews were reenacted. On the eve of the expulsion of 1290, the community numbered nearly 40 householders, who possessed considerable debts and a large quantity of corn. At the beginning of the 18th century some Italian Jews were living at Exeter, including Gabriel Treves and Joseph Ottolenghi (later of South Carolina). The conversion of Ottolenghi to Christianity about 1735 caused considerable controversy. Exeter subsequently became a center of peddling activities. The synagogue still standing was built in 1763. In 1968, 20 Jews lived in Exeter, apart from a number of Jewish students at the university. In the mid-1990s and 2000s the Jewish population numbered approximately 150. There is an Orthodox synagogue, which today holds monthly services.


Adler, in: Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, 63 (1931), 221–40; Rigg, Exchequer, index; Roth, Mag Bibl, index; idem, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 59–61. add. bibliography: jyb, 2004.

[Cecil Roth]


views updated May 23 2018

Exeter (Roman), Isca Dumnoniorum, was successively fortress of legio II Augusta from the mid-50s to the mid-70s then civitas-capital of the Dumnonii. The fortress baths were excavated west of the cathedral in the 1970s; little else is known of the base. The civil basilica was constructed over the baths, and a civil bath-house is known. The 2nd-cent. earthen defences enclosed 93 acres and were refurbished in stone in the 3rd cent. Some houses have been excavated, but comfort and degree of Roman culture do not seem to have been high.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary


Exeter was refounded as a fortified town (burh) by Alfred. It rose to be one of the leading English towns of the 10th–12th cents., apparently through the tin trade, acquired a bishop's see (1050) and, after a rebellion against the Normans, a castle (1068). It declined in the 13th and 14th cents., though this did not prevent a total rebuilding of the cathedral, ‘the Decorated cathedral par excellence’. The Reformation was unpopular in Exeter, though the city resisted a siege by catholic rebels (1549). From the 15th to the 18th cents. Exeter throve as a cloth-making and cloth-trading town; when the textile industry declined, it became a social and servicing centre instead. It never really industrialized, and has remained a modest-sized regional centre. Since 1942 it has suffered grievously from both air raids and insipid post-war redevelopment.

David M. Palliser


views updated May 14 2018

Exeter City on the River Exe; county town of Devon, sw England. Many ancient buildings remain, notably the Norman cathedral (c.1275), the 12th-century Guildhall and the remains of Roman walls. Exeter University was established in 1955. Industries: tourism, textiles, leather goods, metal products, pharmaceuticals. Pop. (2000 est.) 112,400.