Personalities of the exclusion period

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Some Jews in Oxford during the Period of Exclusion (1290-1656).

Despite claims of a secret cadre of Jews being sheltered by the University the teaching of Hebrew (Christian Hebraists functioned independently within this and other universities), extremely few details of Jews in Oxford are known during the 14th, 15th and much of the 16th centuries.   From the 1590s onward there are several Jews operating or visiting Oxford. (See accompanying entry on Exclusion Period in Oxford for more details.)


Alexander Arniedi, an Italian Jew taught Hebrew in Oxford in the 1630s.

Antonio Maria de Verona, the Italian Cabbalist and physician (and longstanding convert) visited Oxford in 1626

Cirques Jobson A Levantine Jew from Syria, Jobson opened the second coffee house in Oxford in 1654, where the Queen’s Lane Coffee Shop still trades in coffee and light meals. It is believed that he later migrated to London where he participated in the introduction of the coffee house there.

“Jacob, a Jew” [according to Anthony à Wood] In 1651 Jacob, a Jewish immigrant from Lebanon opened the first coffee house in Britain, in Oxford, in part of the Angel Inn. The coffee house was located where The Grand Café trades as a coffee house, still. The first coffee house located outside of the Levant (coffee drinking as we know it having been an Arabic/Ottoman development) was established in Venice in 1647. Jacob’s coffee house in Oxford is believed to have been the first European coffee house after Venice.

Jacob Barnett, a Jew of unknown nationality, taught Hebrew at Oxford c.1609-1613 as a practicing Jew. During 1613, however, he became embroiled in controversy when he reportedly agreed to convert, then did not appear for his very public Christening in University Church. He narrowly avoided execution but through intervention by fellow academics, was instead banished from Britain.James Levita possibly the same person known as James Wolfgang below, taught Hebrew at Oxford around 1600. James Wolfgang, a Jewish convert (also?) taught Hebrew at Oxford shortly after 1600.

Philip Fernandus, a learned Polish Jew (converted to Christianity) taught in both Oxford and Cambridge in the 1590s. In 1598 he applied to the London Domus Conversorum for support.

Juan Louis Vives, lectured on Philospohy at Corpus Christi from 1523 – 1527.  It is thought he was a Crypto-Jew, having escaped Spain after his parents were executed at the hands of the Inquisition.   Se separate article.

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Our aim is to raise the profile of the history of Jews in Oxford from earliest records through to the modern day.

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