Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Yoshkes of medieval England

One of the interesting Jewish historical sources is the published volumes of the Calendar of the plea rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews preserved in the Public Record Office. Okay, it's tedious. But interesting. These are basically public legal and financial records from medieval England, translated from the Latin, and as indicated by the title, the records concerning Jews are extracted. Here's a note from Vol. I:

This note, from 1218, refers to Rabbi Josce (Josce Presbyter), who shared a name with his grandfather, known in English records as Rubigotsce. Joseph Jacobs identified the grandfather as Rabbi Joseph Bechor Shor (!). I think that's much too speculative, but I mention it as a curiosity.[1] That said, this family was definitely French, and they even maintained ownership of a house in Roeun, where the family originated.

Another recurring name in the sources is "Josce fil Copin," (Joseph ben Jacob, Yoshke ben Koppel if for some reason we're trying to make it sound more Yiddish).

Note that this Josce Presbyter's son-in-law is also named Josce. Guess they hadn't heard of the tzavaah of R. Yehuda Hachassid.[1] Yes, I'm kidding.

Also note that one of the attourneys is called Abraham ben Muriel.

[1] For his reasoning see his The Jews of Angevin England pg. 409-411.
[2] His ethical will, which prohibits marrying a person sharing a name with your parent; he died in 1217. #26.


  1. I'm thinking Josce might mean Yosé as opposed to *Yozé.

  2. Me too, but it made a catchier title. Got to attract attention, you know.

  3. According to Norman Golb on page 373 the Rubigotsce family was only connected with Rouen.



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