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Bury St. Edmunds


BURY ST. EDMUNDS , English country town in Suffolk, East Anglia. A Jewish community developed there in the later 12th century, under the aegis of its famous monastery, where Jews were allowed to deposit their deeds and money and send their families for refuge in time of danger. During the slack rule of Abbot Hugh (1173–80) the monastery fell deeply into debt to a group of Norwich Jews. His successor, Abbot Samson, set about freeing it from its debts. In 1181 the Jews were accused of ritual murder and on Palm Sunday 1190, 57 Jews were killed in a massacre. Shortly afterward, Samson procured a royal writ to expel the survivors on the grounds that all inhabitants ought to be vassals of St. Edmund – the first occurrence of its kind in England. The whole episode became famous through Carlyle's account in Past and Present (1843). No basis exists for the suggestion that Moyse's Hall was the medieval synagogue.


J. Jacobs, Jews of Angevin England (1893), 59–61 passim; Gollancz, in: jhset, 2 (1894–95), 116–22; Haes, ibid., 3 (1896–98), 18–35; Roth, England; H.G. Richardson, English Jewry under Angevin Kings (1960), 43–44; 80–81. add. bibliography: H.E. Butler (ed.), Jocelin of Brakelond: Chronicle (1949); A.P. Bale, in: S. Delany (ed.), Chaucer and the Jews (2002), 185–210; R.S. Gottfried, Bury St. Edmunds and the Urban Crisis, 1290–1539 (1982); J. Hillaby, "The Ritual Child-Murder Accusation: Its Dissemination and Harold of Gloucster," in: jhset, 34 (1996), 86–90.

[Cecil Roth /

Joe Hillaby (2nd ed.]

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