WINCHESTER

WINCHESTER, cathedral city in Hampshire, S. England. Jews are first mentioned there in 1148 when, in the survey of city property, Benedict and Ursulinus are recorded as tenants of the bishop. A community subsequently grew up and was possibly visited by abraham ibn ezra , who mentions the city in his astronomical writings. It was the only large town in England where there were no anti-Jewish disorders in 1190, but a blood libel resulted in some disturbance two years later. It ranked fourth in the Donum. During the 13th century the community was one of the most important in England and an archa was situated there. The Jewish quarter was in the heart of the city (the present Jewry Street). The constable of Winchester Castle was also Keeper of the Jews. A tower in the castle was known as the Jews' Tower – either because Jews were permitted to take refuge there or because it was used for their periodical imprisonments. The community experienced a series of child-murder accusations between 1225 and 1235. It may have been in connection with one of these that in 1235 the leading member of the community, Abraham Pinch, was hanged in front of the synagogue which he himself maintained. The most tragic event occurred in 1262, when Simon de Montfort sacked the Jewish quarter in Winchester. Among outstanding local capitalists in the second half of the 13th century was Licoricia, who was murdered in 1277; her son Benedict was among the Winchester Jews hanged in 1278 on a charge of coin clipping. Benedict fil' Abraham of Winchester, on the other hand, was the only known English Jew in the Middle Ages to be admitted to the Merchant Guild (1268). Another son of Licoricia, Asher, scratched an inscription, recorded by John Selden, on the wall of his dungeon in Winchester Castle, where he was imprisoned when the Jews of England were arrested in 1287. About this time, the principal Winchester synagogue was confiscated. Approximately 16 local Jewish householders remained by the time of the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, their wealth valued at £44. No organized Jewish community has existed there in recent times. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: JC (Sept. 16, 1892), 14; Abrahams, in: JHSET, 2 (1894–95), 102; Stokes, ibid., 10 (1921–23), 193–4; Adler, ibid. (1928 31), 171–2; idem, in: JHSEM, 4 (1942), 1–8; C. Roth, Jews of Medieval Oxford (1951), index, S..V. Winchester, Licoricia, David, etc.; Roth, England, index; Turner, in: Hampshire Review, 21 (1954), 17–21. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: H.G. Richardson, English Jewry Under the Angevin Kings (1960), index; R.B. Brown and S. McCartney in JHSET 39 (2004), 14–34; S. Bartlet in Jewish Culture and History 3(2) (2000), 31–54; P. Allin in JHSET 27 (1982), 32–39; J. Hillaby and R. Sermon in Trans. Bristol & Gloucs. Archaeol. Soc. 122 (2004), 142–143. (Cecil Roth / Joe Hillaby (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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