William Prynne: Fighter Against Readmission

From a 1992 issue of Gothic Ripples, published by Colin Jordan

By the mid 17th century, England had been without Jews (apart from a few infiltrators posing as Gentiles) for over 350 years, since their banishment by good King Edward I in 1290. This had been inspired by their persistent wrongdoing, including extortionate money-lending and clipping the gold and silver coinage. The banishment had been greeted with universal rejoicing by the thankful English people.

Cromwell wanted to accede to Jewish appeals for readmission, spiced with financial assistance for his cause, but was sensitive to public opposition to the idea, plentifully shown during an assembly to discuss the subject which he convened. So he abstained from any formal revocation of the banishment, and instead allowed Jews to enter the country on the sly, contrary to the law; and this has remained the position up to today, various parliamentary measures in the past 200 years giving recognition to this return by stealth without ever formally repealing the expulsion.

William Prynne was a distinguished lawyer of Lincolns Inn, London, in the forefront of resistance to Cromwell’s proposal for readmission. His book Demurrer was published in 1655. In it he cited various authorities for his contention that the expulsion had been by royal decision in Parliament, not royal edict outside Parliament; even though in those days of royal government an edict was fully as much a promulgation of law as a statute enacted in Parliament.

He cited in support of this Henry de Knyghton, a Canon of Leicester in Richard II’s reign (1377 – 1399) whom he termed “a most diligent Antiquary” and quoted him as speaking of “the same Parliament that the Jews were exiled.” Next he cited “Our learned John Bale” that “by the publick Edict of the Parliament assembled in London, and by a publick decree; They were all commanded to depart the Realm with their goods...” Next he cited Raphael Holnshed’s Chronicles, Vol. 3, p. 285: “In the same year was a Parliament holden at Westminster... It was also decreed that all the Jews should avoid out of the Land... and so herupon were the Jews banished out of all the King’s Dominions: and never since could they obtain any priviledge to return hither again.”

Prynne then, on pages 48 and 49, summarized his knowledge as follows:–

1. That all the Jews were then banished out of England, never to return again, at the special instance, and request of the Commons in two several Parliaments, as an intollerable grievance and oppression under which they groaned.

2. That the principle grounds of this their perpetual banishment were, their infidelity, Usury, forgeries of Charters, clipping and falsifying of monies, by which they prejudiced the King and kingdom and much oppressed and impoverished the pople [sic].

3. That this their banishment was so acceptable to all the people, who oft-times pressed it in Parliament that they gave the King a Fifth and Fifteenth part of their moveables to speed and execute it.

4. That this their banishment was by the unanimous desire, Judgement, Edict, and Decree both of the King and his Parliament; and not by the King alone: and this Banishment, total, of them all, and likewise final, Never to return into England. Which Edict and Decree not now extant in our Parliament Rolls (many of which are lost) not printed Statutes; yet it is mentioned by all these Authorities.

He added to this his important conclusion (p. 50) that the banishment is of permanent effect, and not restricted to the Jews involved in 1290:–

So none banished the Realm by judgement or Act of Parliament, can, may or ought, by the fundamental and known common Laws of England, to be restored and recalled again, but only by a like judgement, Act and Restitution in full Parliament...

Therefore the Jews being so long since by Judgement, Edict and Decree both of the King and Parliament for ever banished out of England (never since repealed or reversed) neither may, nor can by Law be readmitted, reduced into England again, but by common consent and Act of Parliament: which I conceive they will never be able to obtain.

The Jews in England, if not the whole of Britain, today are illegal immigrants. The enforcement of the Expulsion is the only satisfactory solution to Britain’s grievous Jewish Problem.

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