© Marcus Roberts (2012)


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The Jews of the town also found themselves prey to accusations of coin clipping. In 1278 three Jews were hanged for the offence at the Tower of London, during the general anti-Jewish purge of the time.

In an interesting case of 1283 three Bedford Jews, Jacob, Bennet and Joce Batecok all admitted to a fraud against three foreign merchants in the town. They had conspired with a Gentile, William Le Gaoler, to lead the foreign merchants to believe that they could supply them with silver plates of fused coin clippings. The sting lay in that the plates did not exist and the merchants had to give a deposit of 40 marks and a promise of 30 sacks of wool to the three Bedford Jews. Naturally coin clippings were dubious merchandise and perhaps the conspirators hoped that the merchants would fear to report the fraud once they discovered there was no silver. The case may well be commentary on the desperate straits that Jews found them selves in the close of the 13th century assuming the confessions can be taken at face value.

Another mile-stone in the persecution of the Bedford community was in 1285 when Queen Eleanor, notable for her anti-Semitism, was consigned all the debts of the Bedford and Cambridge. The chests had been carried away to Ely.

By the expulsion of 1290 the Bedford community had dwindled almost to extinction. Just two Bedford properties remained and are listed in 1290; these belonged to Cok fil Benedict and Pictavus. The fate of the two sons of Pictavus is known - Benedict was baptized at Ely and Jacob was hanged for felony. There are no traces of the medieval Jews in Bedford to be found.

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