views updated May 21 2018

Gloucester (Roman) was successively a Roman legionary fortress and the colonia of Glevum. The earliest Roman military site, of c. ad 50, was at Kingsholm by an old channel of the Severn. The move to the present site took place in the mid-60s with the building of a legionary fortress (garrison uncertain). This was turned into a colonia for legionary veterans under Nerva (96–8). As at Colchester the military buildings were converted to civil use: the headquarters building became the forum, and barracks became housing. The colonia retained the legionary defences, fronted in stone as a mark of status. This gave a defended area about half that for towns of comparable rank, but there were extensive suburbs, in one of which has been found a tilery with products bearing stamps, some referring to the municipality and its magistrates. Another fronted a major Severn-side quay. As elsewhere, well-appointed houses became more common at Gloucester in the 3rd and 4th cents. Some were occupied into the early 5th cent., but there is no evidence that the town was still in being when it fell to the Anglo-Saxons after the battle of Dyrham in 577.

Alan Simon Esmonde Cleary


Gloucester revived as a royal and ecclesiastical centre in the 7th cent., and as a fortified and planned town (burh) in the 9th. Situated at the lowest point bridgeable on the Severn (until 1966), it was long an important inland port. The medieval town was dominated by St Peter's abbey (created the cathedral in 1541) and the Norman castle: the Norman kings wore their crown at Gloucester annually and the town then ranked among the ten richest in England. It remained prosperous until the 15th cent., but in Tudor and Stuart times suffered an economic decline and developed a radical tradition. It held out for Parliament in a siege of 1643, perhaps the turning-point in the first civil war, and was punished for it after 1660. In 1780 Robert Raikes started the national Sunday school movement there. From the 1820s there was rapid industrial growth, lasting until the mid-20th cent.

David M. Palliser


views updated May 23 2018


GLOUCESTER , county town in N. England. Its Jewish community is first mentioned in the financial records of 1158–59. It was again mentioned in connection with an alleged ritual murder in 1168. The Jewry was situated in the present East Gate Street, the synagogue being on the north side. Josce of Gloucester, a prominent financier under Henry ii, apparently financed an illegal raid on Ireland. Under John, the community suffered greatly from royal exaction. Gloucester possessed an *archa. It was one of the dower-towns of Queen Dowager Eleanor from which the Jews were expelled in 1275. The members of the community, first transferred to *Bristol, were afterward scattered. A small community was reestablished at the close of the 18th century but decayed in the middle of the 19th century. The last survivor died in 1886.


J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England (1893), 45–47, 376; Rigg-Jenkinson, Exchequer, passim; H.G. Richardson, English Jewry under Angevin Kings (1960), passim; C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 67–70; Roth, England, index.

[Cecil Roth]


views updated May 18 2018

Gloucester County town of Gloucestershire on the River Severn, w England. It was the Roman city of Glevum and acted as capital of Mercia in Saxon times. There is an 11th-century cathedral where Edward II is buried. A market town, its industries include agricultural machinery, aircraft components, railway equipment, and fishing. Pop. (1997 est.) 109,300.