Magdalene College Cambridge and British Jewry

The essay examines the role of Magdalene College Cambridge, mostly through some of its prominent members, in the recognition of Britain's Jewish community, from their return to England in the sixteen-fifties, through the intermittent campaigns for the concession of civil and educational rights during the following two centuries. The careers of some of the College's Jewish members from the mid-nineteenth century and into the twentieth century are surveyed in the second half of the study, to give some flavour of individuals and, more generally, to indicate that their experiences of Magdalene seem to have been much the same as those of their non-Jewish contemporaries.

The essay was begun in the aftermath of the massacre of over one thousand Israeli citizens by Hamas on 7 October 2023. In the months that followed this terrorist attack, anti-Semitic incidents in Britain were reported to have sharply increased. In some parts of the country, notably in London, where the Jewish population has always been concentrated, Jews came to feel threatened, so much so that some questioned their place in the United Kingdom.[1] It seems appropriate for long-established institutions, such as Cambridge colleges, to examine the history of their interactions with British Jewry, in the hope of building better understanding for the present and the future upon remembered heritage. In offering this unofficial exploration, I emphasise that the material is in no way intended to bear upon the global public debate about subsequent Israeli military operations in Gaza.[2]

Three further points should be noted at the outset. First, in writing about Magdalene College Cambridge, the essay spreads its net wide, citing the opinions expressed by some individuals before they became associated with the College, as well as discussing campaigns and careers that necessarily followed their time as students. Second, while the essay conveys the general assumption that there is much to celebrate in the Magdalene record towards Britain's Jewish community, it also attempts to confront underlying themes of prejudice, especially those expressed in the outright anti-Semitism of two distinguished Honorary Fellows, Rudyard Kipling and T.S. Eliot,  as well as occasional casual lapses into negative stereotypes, such as the handful of derogatory diary entries made by a notable Master, A.C. Benson, who was in fact notably generous to Jewish students. Third, it should be made clear that this study deals with one thread in the outreach of a Cambridge college, and in no way implies that Magdalene's relationship with British Jewry represents a privileged element in its historical experience. Similar essays would no doubt be written on the study of other cultures and faiths. Indeed, one welcome aspect of recent scholarship has been the rediscovery of Thomas Walker Arnold (1864-1930), a Scholar and Honorary Fellow of the College, who set out to make the English-speaking world aware of the spirituality of Islam and the richness of Islamic art.[3] Another member of the College, Harold MacMichael, also published pioneering (although now largely superseded) scholarship on Sudanese Arab culture.

A related Note considers the parallel but distinct subject of the role of members of Magdalene College in shaping British policy towards Palestine in the last years of the Mandate.[4]

Definition and Context

Defining Jewish identity  A brief word on the definition of a Jew seems required, if only to challenge stereotypes. In Modern British Jewry, Geoffrey Alderman adopted a wide-ranging definition, regarding "as Jewish any person who considered or considers himself or herself to be such, or was or is so regarded by his or her contemporaries".[5] A few points about the Jewish experience over the past three and a half centuries may also be useful, although I do not claim to offer deep analysis. However, it is reasonable to note the most obvious implication of the Alderman definition: generalisations have glossed over considerable differences among Jewish people. Briefly, it may be noted that the first immigrants to England were Sephardim, from Portugal, Spain and Italy.[6] However, by 1800 (and in a total population of perhaps 30-40,000) they were already outnumbered by Ashkenazim from Holland and Germany, who spoke Yiddish, a hybrid of German and Hebrew. In London, Ashkenazi Jews established their own congregations, but other factors subsequently also contributed to the increase of synagogues and the diversification of religious practice. These ranged from the loose internal organisation of British Jewry – the office of Chief Rabbi effectively only emerged in the mid-nineteenth century, and incumbents did not command every congregation – to the prohibition on the use of transport on the Sabbath, which meant that synagogues had to be within walking distance.

In smaller towns, this did not usually cause problems but, by the nineteenth century, London was Europe's largest conurbation, covering a large area. As the Jewish population spread, so did their need for new places of worship, and these tended to reflect both the social class of their members and their varying attitudes to issues such as forms of worship and assimilation within wider British society. (Thus west London synagogues tended to be more progressive than those in the traditional heartland of the East End.)[7] It will become apparent that the Jewish members of Magdalene noted in this essay were atypical of the community as a whole. They generally came from a prosperous and anglicised minority and, where evidence allows comment to be made, they seem to have disproportionately belonged to progressive synagogues or – increasingly through the twentieth century – to have repudiated their Judaic heritage altogether.[8]

It was probably fortunate that the major issues of Jewish civil, educational and political equality had been resolved by the eighteen-sixties, for the last decades of the nineteenth century saw large-scale immigration of Polish and Russian Jews fleeing Tsarist persecution.[9] This influx complicated the attitudes of the indigenous population (their lack of welcome hardly justified calling them a host community): Jews were now seen as very rich, which was true only of a small minority, and also as very poor, which was sadly true of a considerable majority. Internal tensions within British Jewry were further complicated by the emergence of the Zionist movement. The comfortable families who provided British Jewry with its natural leadership leaned towards social assimilation and strongly resisted the creation of what they saw as an alternative national identity, while oppressed and frequently unemployed young Jews felt less instinctive loyalty toward Britain and were attracted by the vision of their own homeland.[10] Decades of conflict within British Jewry over the issue were effectively quelled by the Shoah, known to the wider world as the Holocaust, which seemed to leave no doubt about the need for a Jewish national state. The partition of Palestine and the independence of Israel were recognised by the United Nations in 1947-8. In the decade of the twenty-twenties, opinion polling indicates that the majority of British Jews – as many as four-fifths – actively support the right of Israel to exist, not least because many of their families and friends have settled there.[11] As a distant external observer, I conclude that many dislike recent developments in Israeli politics and have no enthusiasm for the country's current prime minister.

The 2023 Israeli invasion of Gaza has placed many British Jews in the untenable position of being censured for events for which, by definition, they cannot possibly be answerable. It should be stressed that one of the examples of unacceptable prejudice cited by the University of Cambridge in its endorsement of the definition of anti-Semitism is: "Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel." University campuses should be oases of understanding and tolerance. Since they also function as theatres of passionate affirmation, elements of dialogue and sympathy are too easily pushed aside.[12] To comprehend the accommodation that evolved between the sixteen-sixties and the eighteen-sixties, we need to start by stripping away both the divisive internal dissensions within British Jewry and the monolithic external perceptions of Jewish people that have been essentially the long-term result of the large-scale immigration of refugees from eastern Europe a century and a half ago.

Religion Yet to step back to an era before the complications of mass immigration and the complexities of Zionism is most certainly not to move into a simpler and more welcoming world. Rather, we return to a time when England was a Christian country in a sense that has long since ceased to have anything more than a general cultural connotation.[13] A large part of intellectual endeavour at Cambridge was devoted to the study of religion, and to the training of Anglican Protestant clergy. Here, my lack both of knowledge and indeed of sympathy limits comment to outline remarks, some of which may be revised by those better placed to engage with the discourse of earlier times. Suffice to suggest that Judaism played a central but awkwardly ambivalent role in Christian theology. "Certainly God's design was, that that nation should be honoured above all nations in the sight of the heathen, for the excellency of their laws, and the dignity of their constitution," declared the Master of Magdalene, Daniel Waterland, in 1731.[14] It was central to the Christian religion that the Jewish people had been chosen to receive the Messiah, but equally crucial that they had refused to acknowledge Him when he appeared. They were duly condemned by Hezekiah Burton,[15] a late-seventeenth century Magdalene theologian of some standing, who denounced their obstinate inconsistency: "the Jews acknowledge God, owning and submitting to his Laws and Ordinances by Moses; but the fuller and clearer Discovery of God's Will by Christ, they will not own. … That which was wholly made up with Types and Shadows, Ceremonies, and Out-sides, and political Constitutions, and was followed with present and temporal Rewards, was preferred by them before the substantial, the inward, the invisible, the not only political, but personal Righteousness, which is brought in by the Gospel."[16] Although praised by the College History as a "pious and upright man" whose theology was marked "by the use of reason and conscience", Burton was certainly not prepared to accept the Jewish repudiation of Jesus as a mere difference of opinion. He believed in a God who exerted "Acts of Power … for the Protection and Preservation of his obedient Subjects, or for the punishment of the Refractory and Rebellious", as – so Burton claimed – He had "remarkably " shown at the sack of Jerusalem in 70CE, "when the Jews who believed and obeyed the Gospel, were saved from that Ruine in which the unbelieving and disobedient were involv'd".[17] As late as 1909, the Master of Magdalene, Stuart Donaldson, could write disapprovingly of the "constant antagonism of the Jews" towards the Church in third-century North Africa, and transcribe with apparent approval the views of the Christian writer Tertullian who, in effect, believed that the miseries suffered by Jews served them right.[18]

Daniel Waterland was Magdalene's most distinguished eighteenth-century theologian, and certainly its most prolific.[19] Much of his intellectual activity was devoted to the refutation of Arianism, a fourth-century heresy which held that Jesus, as the Son of God, was a subordinate and therefore inferior being.[20] Hence Waterland's writings were peppered with generalised references to "the Jews", who similarly denied the divinity of Christ. However, he adopted a more positive view when he attacked Deism and attempts to design a alternative rationalistic belief system: "the present unbelievers are setting up what they call natural religion, to rival supernatural; human reason in the heart of man, in opposition to divine reason laid down in the word of God; or to say all in short, Pagan darkness in opposition to Scripture light." In order to defend Christianity as a revealed religion, it was necessary to appeal to the prophecies of the Old Testament as well as to their fulfilment in the New. That meant rebranding the people who had received the original messages to portray them as a worthy channel for the dissemination of divine guidance. Hence "it is not a fair account of the Jews, to call them a contemptible people, from the testimony only of a few prejudiced writers, their bitterest adversaries, and too much given to romancing". Waterland had the Roman historian Tacitus in his sights here, preferring instead to cite his Jewish contemporary, Josephus, who "has well vindicated his nation … from such unworthy reproaches, and has abundantly shown how much the Jews were respected and honoured, even in the decline of their state, among the heathen countries of greatest figure and fame: and Scripture itself bears testimony to the times going before."[21] Waterland was also capable of adopting an empathetic approach to the dilemmas facing Jesus in living on Earth as a Jew, for instance in his review of the debate over the date and significance of Last Supper. Scholars had puzzled – and would continue to argue into recent times – about Christ's decision to feast his disciples in the week of Passover but apparently not on the actual day of the festival. Was this another attempt to challenge and revise Jewish practice, or was it – as Waterland speculated – "that our Lord kept no Passover; properly so called, but had a supper, and afterwards instituted the Eucharist, the mystical or Christian Passover"?[22]  

It is possible to float an intriguing speculation at this point, one that could help to explain Waterland's insistence that the Jewish people had been "respected and honoured" in Roman times. One of the first Jewish residents of Cambridge about whom we have much information was Israel Lyons, who supported himself by working as a silversmith, but who also taught Hebrew to the more serious students, for at least forty years before his death in 1770. According to the antiquary William Cole, in 1732 Lyons was living at the Great Bridge Foot in a lane called the Pond Yards. In the eighteenth century, Magdalene Bridge was known as the Great Bridge, to distinguish it from the only other local river crossing, the Small Bridges at Silver Street. A narrow lane ran along the south side of Magdalene's First Court, and further buildings were jumbled alongside the Cam. The pondyards had been the original name for the Magdalene College gardens. The ponds had been filled in around 1586, and it is intriguing that the name survived a century and a half later for what must have been the former access road. Magdalene acquired this area in 1793 and, eighty years later, swept away the urban muddle to form River Court. Thus Israel Lyons may be regarded as the first Jew whom we know to have lived within the modern-day Magdalene campus. He may well have been resident before Cole noted him in 1732. Cole became an undergraduate at Clare in January 1733. Although his family came from nearby Babraham, he had spent the previous five years at Eton, and was probably not familiar with the town until shortly before he matriculated. Israel Lyons, who taught Hebrew, and Daniel Waterland, who studied Hebrew, were living within a few yards of one another – for, until 1837, the Master lived in apartments on the north side of First Court. Perhaps Waterland's respectful allusion to the Jewish people in 1731 was the product of discussions with his Jewish neighbour?[23]

Cambridge scholars apparently never appreciated that the religion of the high priest and chief priests who were the villains of Matthew's gospel had been replaced after the disaster of 70CE by rabbinical Judaism, which emphasised the teaching, the recitation and the expounding of Scriptures. In practice, the relationship between rabbis and their congregations might well resemble that between an Anglican clergyman and his parishioners, but the theoretical structures were very different. The Torah, Judaism's sacred Scriptures, and the Talmud, the commentaries upon Torah that had emerged in subsequent centuries, were both regarded as divinely inspired. However, since they evolved in very different circumstances – the Talmud had attempted to adapt Jewish practices to the constraints of exile – they contained apparently contradictory commandments and precepts, producing scope for disagreement in their interpretation. These fissiparous tendencies became especially apparent during the nineteenth century. The Anglican Church was to some extent protected against challenges to the literal truth of the Bible that wafted across the North Sea by protective layers of English chauvinism but, even so, it was shaken by the publication of Essays and Reviews in 1860. British Judaism was even more open to the disturbing Reform influences from Germany, the more so as the community was then being reshaped by immigration from central and eastern Europe. Yet Robert Grant, who was sympathetic to Judaism, could refer to a rabbi as "a Priest of the Jewish persuasion", while Charles Kingsley, who thought he was sympathetic, could dismiss eighteen centuries of Jewish survival after the sack of Jerusalem as entirely devoid of spiritual achievement. Nor is there any indication that Magdalene preachers ever commented on the implications of naming the College after a patron saint who was a Jewess. Mary Magdalene's ethnicity, like her gender, was a subject of no interest.[24]

Two further reflections are appropriate at this point. First, Magdalene figures, from John Sadler in the sixteen-fifties to Robert Grant in the eighteen-thirties, who discussed "the Jews" were indeed referring to a community that was homogenous in its religious beliefs, although characterised by social divisions and sharp inequalities in wealth. However, from the late nineteenth century, as men of Jewish ethnicity became members of the College, it is important to bear in mind that they almost certainly did not represent the full spectrum of increasingly divided Jewry. More or less of necessity, the intake was skewed towards those who were fully anglicised and hence sufficiently adaptable to come to terms with Cambridge values and routines. At least one early recruit was a convert to Christianity, while others had repudiated most or all of the faith of their forefathers.

The second point, which emerged uncomfortably during research for this essay, is that statements made in support of Jews were often based on assumptions that were, in reality, anti-Semitic. This was particularly true of Christian apologists who hailed them as a chosen people and honoured them as the medium through which the world received the Old Testament. Unfortunately, this deference to the distant past conveyed implications of censure in relation to the actual present, since contemporary Jews had – in the eyes of these disapproving theologians – failed to discharge their mission and recognise Jesus as the promised Messiah. Not surprisingly, there were several examples of this ambivalence from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but it would surface again through the world view of C.S. Lewis in the mid-twentieth. I was encouraged in the acceptance of my own unease by discovery of the theoretical structure proposed by Bryan Cheyette in his discussion of the ideas (and prejudices) of Rudyard Kipling. Cheyette preferred to speak of a broader "Semitic discourse", in which non-Jewish critics and commentators have pursued analyses whose common feature was the differentiation of Jews from the rest of humanity. Hence, "the boundaries between 'anti-' and 'philo-' are more blurred than is usually assumed". I return to Cheyette's approach below in discussion of Kipling, but it is worth noting here as a means of comprehending constructions that are rooted in pre-Enlightenment thinking.[25] One possible way of accommodating this paradox may be to vary the terms that classify attitudes to Jews. The adjective "anti-Semitic" appears to have originated in English in response to the pogroms in late-nineteenth-century Russia. This spawned "philo-Semitic" as its antonym. There is much to be said for the complaint made by a reviewer in 2009 that "[p]hilo-Semitism is a somewhat misleading term which, as it is currently used by historians, could do with temporary banishment."[26] It may be more helpful to place "philo-Judaic" in apposition to "anti-Semitic": some Christian activists expressed respect for the religion of the Old Testament without appreciating that, in many respects, it too had evolved over the centuries. In some cases, they regarded their professed sympathy as entitling them to condemn its modern-day adherents for falling short of their own preconceptions. 

Hebrew without the Hebrews In 1535, Henry VIII's reforming minister, Thomas Cromwell, had decreed that, in addition to Latin and Greek, Cambridge colleges must also provide teaching in Hebrew. Thus, upon its refoundation in 1542 – and with a notoriously small endowment – Magdalene inherited this responsibility. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the Cambridge curriculum was dominated by mathematics, with the study of Latin and Greek playing subordinate roles. Yet a sturdy minority also engaged with Hebrew as means of comprehending the Old Testament. We might pose two questions of these studies: how far did they result in sympathetic understanding of Judaism as such, and to what extent did they bring aspiring Hebraists into contact with Jews? To the first question, the answer has to be "not very much": Jewish beliefs and practices were of interest only as stepping stones to the celebration of the perceived truths of Christianity which, by definition, meant that they were generally belittled and rejected. As to the second, the verdict must be "hardly at all". Jews, of course, had been expelled from England in 1290 and were not officially readmitted until 1656 – but, even after that date, they did not feature on the social radar of Cambridge academics. The exceptions among Hebraists with some Magdalene affiliation were Hugh Broughton, who debated with rabbis in Germany, and John Sadler, whose role is discussed in the next section. (The possibility that Daniel Waterland engaged with his River Court neighbour, Israel Lyons, is mentioned above.)

Unfortunately, for reasons discussed below, not much is known about how successfully Magdalene discharged its responsibility to teach Hebrew, although the College had enough distinguished products to suggest that, by and large, it made the attempt. Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses records the arrival, in 1565, of Gaspar Habecius, a graduate of Marburg University, a German Protestant institution, who taught Hebrew in Cambridge.[27] However, he probably did not remain in the College for long, for he did not teach Hugh Broughton, an impressive Hebraist who graduated from Magdalene in 1570. Broughton was a restless and argumentative character, who soon moved on to Fellowships at Christ's and St John's, before travelling to Germany, where he spent several years. One of the challenges in studying Hebrew at Cambridge in Elizabethan times was that it had to be treated as a dead language, for the expulsion of England's Jews by Edward I meant that there were no scholars available who were familiar with the Torah and its various interpretations. But in Germany Broughton was able to meet and dispute with rabbis, contact that equipped him to debate with – and, in his opinion at least, out-argue – rival scholars on points of grammar and transliteration. Broughton certainly declined to comport himself as a humble seeker after knowledge, especially where religion was concerned. Acknowledging one of his rabbinical contacts as a scholar of "great pains and wit", he also insisted that he was "only to be followed when he is on our side". Indeed, he hoped to produce missionary literature in Hebrew to convert German Jews to Christianity, but James I refused to finance the project. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography regards him as "the most proficient English Hebraist of his day", but it was not surprising that he was excluded from the team that produced the Authorised Version of the Bible in 1611 – one of the few committees in British history to have produced an elegant document – and it was equally predictable that he censured their translation.[28]

Magdalene has an even slighter claim upon another notable Hebrew scholar. Brian Walton was a sixteen-year-old boy from Yorkshire when he joined the College in 1616, as a sizar, a poor student who undertook menial tasks to work his way through university. Two years later, Walton moved to Peterhouse, from where he graduated in 1620. He may have begun his Hebrew studies at Magdalene, but it seems that he only became an expert in the whole range of ancient Oriental languages during the sixteen-forties, when he took refuge with Charles I at Oxford. Although he remained a Royalist at heart, Walton persuaded the Cromwellian regime to support (although not to finance) a Polyglot Bible, which presented Scripture texts in no fewer than nine languages. He achieved the remarkable feat of assembling and steering a team of scholarly translators, while at the same time he arranged an ambitious scheme to finance the project by hustling for subscriptions. With impressive speed, all six volumes were published between 1654 and 1657. Walton survived just long enough after the Restoration to produce a substitute preface, which scrapped the original dedication to the Lord Protector, explaining that Cromwell had threatened to suppress the project unless his name appeared on the title page.[29] Both in organisation and scholarship, the Polyglot Bible was a remarkable triumph. However, although its appearance coincided with the return of openly practising Jews to London, there is no indication that Walton consulted rabbis nor indeed that he encountered any of them at all. In this, as is discussed below, he differed from another Magdalene scholar, John Sadler, whose contacts with Jews would play a role in the re-establishment of the community in England.

With Richard Cumberland, Magdalene's claims to Hebrew scholarship are on firmer ground. He was formally admitted to the College in 1649, although he may not have arrived until the following year. He comes across as an attractive personality, who lived a long and useful life. At the age of 60 he opened one of England's first newspapers to learn that he had been appointed Bishop of Peterborough, while at 83 he taught himself Coptic in order to read a Bible in that language that had been presented to him. He won a College Scholarship in 1650 and became a Fellow of Magdalene three years later. Although he soon cruised along the usual stepping stones of a clerical career, he warmly maintained the friendships he had made at Magdalene with Hezekiah Burton and Samuel Pepys. Indeed, it was to Pepys – coincidentally President of the Royal Society at the time – that, in 1685, he dedicated one of his enduring publications, thanking the diarist for "that good Affection being begun in your Youth, thirty Years ago, in Magdalen-Colledg[e] in Cambridg[e] [which] you have continued to this day … [a]nd I may justly reckon, that nothing can break that Friendship". Entitled An Essay towards the Recovery of the Jewish Measures and Weights, Cumberland's research set out to define what was meant by terms like cubit and shekel that were scattered through the Bible without explanation.[30] The project presumably began when he was a Fellow of Magdalene, and he specifically drew upon his student training as a mathematician in his research. After his death, his son-in-law published a collection of his research memoranda which further demonstrated the depth of his knowledge of Hebrew in abstruse discussions of specific terms. Cumberland had also been working on a chronological table of world history, from the time of the Flood, which he dated to 2348 BCE, although he calculated that Noah survived for another 244 years.[31] 

These achievements in Hebraic scholarship were impressive, but they may have been isolated mountain peaks that emerged from a low plateau.[32] It was a measure of Waterland's commitment to teaching that he produced a detailed guide to undergraduate life, his Advice to a Young Student. Waterland made demands upon his pupils in all aspects of their lives, but he was surprisingly relaxed about the study of Hebrew, even though it was a subject that, he acknowledged, "must be owned to be extremely necessary to a Divine". He recommended that "you may conveniently defer the learning of it till you have taken a degree; for then you may lay aside all other studies for a few months, till you make yourself master of it."[33] It seems unlikely that many intending young clerics stayed on in Cambridge for a fourth year, and most of those heading for ordination probably saw themselves as working clergymen rather than as future theologians. For the average student, the problem with Hebrew was one of a disproportionate investment of mental effort for relatively small returns. Latin and Greek were, in some sense, kindred languages to English, which handled vocabulary and grammatical concepts in an intelligible manner.  But the study of Hebrew involved not only involved grappling with an unfamiliar script but also engagement with alien approaches: as Hezekiah Burton complained, "in the Scripture (there being a great scarcity of Words among the Jews) one Word has many Significations, and in that more than in other Languages".[34] Students who did not plan to enter the Church had no incentive to engage with Hebrew at all: Samuel Pepys, a secular careerist, who was at Magdalene from 1651 to 1654, took no interest in the language, and (as outlined below) he was perplexed when he visited a synagogue. In the nineteenth century, the Church of England belatedly decided to raise the standards of entry into its ministry, but the bishops tacitly concentrated on the basics. In 1843, the University of Cambridge instituted two certificate examinations, one in Theology and the other in Hebrew, which were designed to allow intending clergy to bypass further tests when they presented themselves for ordination. By 1850, over two hundred were sitting the Theology examination each year, but the Hebrew paper was a failure: in 1854, it attracted just two candidates, one of whom left the examination room after half an hour.[35] While excellence in the Classics might be rewarded in competitions for prestigious University medals, the only prize accessible to a student Hebraist was the Tyrwhitt Scholarship, established in 1818 "for the sole encouragement of a general study of the Hebrew language in the University". Since it was not lavishly endowed, awards were made at either £20 or £30 a year, far short of the cost of studying at Cambridge.[36] Mynors Bright of Magdalene won the Scholarship in 1843, and went on to become a Fellow, serving for twenty years (1853-73) as President, the College's equivalent of Vice-Master. Ill health limited his mobility and he was practically confined to his rooms in the Pepys Building, where he sought to pass on his knowledge of Hebrew to undergraduates: "he lectured regularly to a few men, who kept the lectures more from the evident pleasure it gave to Bright than from any strong desire to emulate the distinction he had gained as Tyrwhitt prizeman".[37]

Overall, there is some sense – not just at Magdalene but across the University in general – that the study of Hebrew was almost an underground activity, determinedly pursued by a few enthusiasts who left little trace in examination records or publications. One piece of intriguing evidence is the survival, in the College's Old Library, of a copy of the Genoa Psalter, the first polyglot printed book. It dates from 1516, but internal evidence suggests that it came to Magdalene sometime soon after 1600. How it was acquired is not known.[38] However, while it is likely that there was a consistent engagement in Magdalene with the language of the Old Testament, it has to be concluded that it was the study of Hebrew without the Hebrews. Hugh Broughton engaged in debate with rabbis in Germany, but there is no indication that any subsequent Magdalene Hebraist sought contact with synagogues or engagement with Jewish scholars (although Waterland may have done so). Yet, back in the sixteen-fifties, what seems to have been a friendship between two very different religious enthusiasts, one of them a Hebrew scholar and Master of Magdalene, had helped to bring about the founding episode in the history of Anglo-Jewry.   

Jewish Civil Rights 1649-1857

Menasseh ben Israel,  John Sadler and the return of practising Jews to England  Menasseh ben Israel was a prominent rabbi in Amsterdam who wished to see a Jewish community  settled in England. John Sadler was Master of Magdalene, and also an influential official in the Cromwellian regime, who shared his aim for very different reasons. Both had a millenarian view of the world. Menasseh believed that the completion of the Diaspora would be followed by the coming of the Messiah:[39] hence, he wanted to see his people return to the country from which they had been expelled in 1290.[40] Sadler was inspired by prophecies predicting that the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity would be the precursor of the Second Coming: "It is so Cleare; and so full in the Scriptures," he insisted.[41] But to achieve that glorious outcome in England – and Sadler assumed that England would be the place where the Millennium would come about – he needed Jews to convert. Here was the basis of a working partnership, one that has been credited with persuading Oliver Cromwell to agree to their readmission in 1656.[42] Sadler undoubtedly respected the rabbi: as early as 1649, he described him as "a very learned Civill Man, and a Lover of our Nation." During Menasseh's prolonged and often frustrating visit to England, this regard seems to have grown into a real friendship.[43] Hence the comfortable legend that a Master of Magdalene College played a key role in the readmission of Jews to England.[44] 

Essentially, this benign picture stands the test of time, but it does merit some sceptical interrogation. First, although John Sadler was the Master of Magdalene, he was not a product of the College nor, in any sense, a natural choice as the institution's head.  He had been admitted to the notoriously Puritan Emmanuel College in 1630, and it was there that he imbibed his Hebrew, becoming a Fellow in 1639. During the unstable decade that followed, he relocated to London, where he successfully trained (and practised) as a lawyer.[45] In 1649, he defended the execution of Charles I in a book entitled Rights of the Kingdom, entitlements which, he explained, included the option of decapitating an unsatisfactory monarch. His opinions secured him a favourable place in the new revolutionary regime: before the end of 1649, he had been appointed Town Clerk of the City of London, and he was soon deeply involved in Cromwellian government. But, while he was flourishing in everyday life, the tailpiece to the lengthy title of his book ("with an Ocasional [sic] Discourse of Great Changes yet expected in the world") proclaimed his enthusiasm for millenarian principles.  Not surprisingly, an excursion into the realms of prophecy led him deep into the Old Testament. He proved unexpectedly sympathetic to the Jewish people, specifically challenging the blood libel that Jews committed ritual murder: "Wee say, they crucified a child, or more. They doe deny it: and we prove it not."[46] "They are yet Zealous in Their Way, nor doe they wholly want [i.e., lack] ingenuous able men …. The more I think upon the Great Change, now comming on Them, and All the World; the more I would be Just and Mercifull to Them, to All."[47]

It might have seemed that the Sadler of the late sixteen-forties had severed his connections with Cambridge, but with the new decade came a fresh opportunity for his advancement. In 1650, heads of colleges were among the dignitaries required to pledge allegiance to the revolutionary system of government that had scrapped the monarchy and the House of Lords. Edward Rainbow, the Master of Magdalene, could not reconcile his conscience to taking the oath, and he was ejected from his post.[48] John Sadler was appointed as his successor by parliamentary ordinance. From a twenty-first century perspective, this makes him sound like a political commissar imposed from above, and there is a sense in which that was true. However, there was nothing new about political intervention in the filling of academic posts. The College's Visitor, the Earl of Suffolk, endorsed Sadler's selection, although probably more to preserve his own rights than to legitimise the intruder's position. Given the demands upon him in London, it is unlikely that the new Master resided much, but that, too, was not abnormal. The constitution of Magdalene had been designed to take account of a quasi-external headship, providing for a deputy, styled the President, to take charge of the day-to-day running of the institution. Thus when the young Samuel Pepys got drunk in Hall in 1653, he was formally reprimanded by a gathering of Fellows convened by Sadler's substitute, Joseph Hill. From the fact that both Sadler and Hill were ousted from Magdalene at the Restoration, we may assume that the President acted not just as the Master's deputy but also as his lieutenant.[49] 

In any case, a Master of Magdalene could exercise considerable authority even in his absence. Sadler's London home was in Salisbury Court, off Fleet Street. One of his neighbours was a tailor called John Pepys. John had a teenage son, Samuel, who seemed promising University material, but the cost of studying at Cambridge must have been a handicap. In the summer of 1650, young Pepys was intended for Trinity Hall, probably through a family connection. However, in October, he was admitted at Magdalene, although he did not arrive until the following year. October 1650 was also the month that Sadler took up the office of Master. A month after Pepys first "put on his gown", in March 1651, he was elected to a Magdalene Scholarship. It is likely, if incapable of proof, that it was Sadler who poached the awkward young man who would become perhaps Magdalene's most famous product. Another of Sadler's Salisbury Court neighbours was Richard Cumberland, already an undergraduate at the time of the new Master's appointment.[50] The circumstances of Sadler's imposition upon Magdalene may seem unsavoury, but we should not overlook the possibility that his learning might have qualified him for such an appointment anyway, and that he probably treated it as something more than a sinecure. All we can say is that Richard Cumberland was setting the foundations of a learned career as a Hebraist during the decade of John Sadler's Mastership.[51] Therefore, Magdalene can legitimately claim Sadler, even though it was as a London-based administrator and politician that he played his part in the readmission of Jews to England.

But exactly what part did John Sadler play in the resettlement? He was a member of the Council of State, and served on commissions and committees dealing with such subjects as law reform, the advancement of learning and the supervision of lunatics. He 'represented' Cambridgeshire in the parliament of 1653, although as he was nominated by Cromwell himself, he cannot be said to have drawn upon a local power base. In 1654, when the Jewish question came to the fore, he was even functioning as the Lord Protector's private secretary. Hence, when we encounter Sadler's name on documents arguing for the resettlement, we cannot be sure whether he was the driving force or merely a cog in the machine. Certainly, he did handle petitions in favour of readmission in 1654 and acted as a channel of communication with Menasseh. It was through Sadler that the handful of Jewish families already living unobtrusively in London received permission to hold private services, a device that avoided direct negotiations with the rabbi that would have drawn  attention to what was still a controversial concession. In 1655, when a gathering of learned divines at the Whitehall Conference failed to endorse the Jewish pleas, the rumoured trend towards toleration was strongly attacked by the lawyer William Prynne. Prynne was a formidable controversialist who basked in the glory of martyrdom, since Charles I's regime had punished his outspokenness by cutting off his ears. Ostensibly, Prynne's Short Demurrer concentrated on legal and constitutional objections to the immigration of Jews, but the reference in its subtitle to "Their Ill Deportment, Misdemeanours, Condition, Sufferings, Oppressions, Slaughters, Plunders" indicated a lack of enthusiasm for them as a people. With the Council moving towards formal readmission, Prynne's charges of ritual murder were unhelpfully timed, and Sadler was commissioned to tell Menasseh that a public answer needed – and detailed refutation was quickly forthcoming.[52] Although it has been suggested that Menasseh ben Israel must have learnt English to live for a time in London,[53] it is important to remember that English was not an international language in the seventeenth century: Sadler may well have played a vital role in negotiations with Menasseh simply because he could converse in Hebrew. Nor should we forget that England in the mid-sixteen-fifties was, to an unusual extent, under the absolute rule of one man, Oliver Cromwell. Indeed, Cromwell circumvented opposition from his own Council by declaring that since Jews had been expelled from England in 1290 by royal edict, he could as simply readmit them on his own authority. It has been suggested that the Lord Protector was primarily motivated by the desire to import a caste of entrepreneurial merchants who had played a prominent part in making Amsterdam a successful trading city: negotiations had begun as early as 1651. In that case, allowing Sadler to take the credit may simply have been a piece of political window-dressing: in the political and religious atmosphere of 1656, it would have been hard for critics to object to a policy allegedly adopted to hasten the Second Coming.[54] Indeed, when Richard Cromwell attempted to take his father's place after the Lord Protector's death in 1658, Sadler briefed him about the origins of Mennaseh's mission, hinting that the rabbi had been encouraged to visit England "to discuss their admission and a certain liberty of commerce in some of our isles".[55] From the perspective of the Magdalene story, it is tempting to conclude by endorsing the comment of the historian Cecil Roth that it was "significant that Sadler was subsequently regarded as being the person mainly responsible for the Resettlement".[56]

Samuel Pepys and the failure of cultural interaction After graduating from Cambridge in 1653, Samuel Pepys returned to London. Most of his Magdalene contemporaries became clergymen or lawyers but, in the cruel term of a recent biographer, Pepys had to settle for the role of "dogsbody" to a wealthy and powerful cousin, Edward Mountagu, who also obtained a post for him as a government clerk. (In 1660, his "honoured maister" deftly abandoned his Cromwellian past to strike a deal with Charles II, who made him Earl of Sandwich: Pepys discovered that he, too, was a royalist, and prospered mightily.) But the most dramatic episode experienced by Samuel Pepys in those years before he became a diarist in 1660 was not political but surgical. He suffered such agonies from a stone in his bladder that in 1658 he submitted to the hazards of an operation. Happily, the desperately dangerous procedure, of course conducted without anaesthetic, was a success, and for several years Pepys marked the anniversary by hosting a celebration, a reunion of those who had nursed him through the crisis.[57] About eighteen months after his surgery, a Jewish merchant called Antonio Ferdinando Carvajal underwent the same procedure, but with a tragically different outcome. On 1 December 1659, Pepys reported to Mountagu that earlier that day he had visited "the Jewish Synagogue in London" where "I heared many lamentacions made by Portugall Jewes for ye death of Ferdinando ye Merchant, who was lately cutt (by the same hand w[i]th my selfe) of ye Stone". Pepys insisted that he was there "for observacion sake", but it seems clear that he had attended a memorial service. In short, in an era of intolerant certainties, he had made something like an interfaith gesture.[58]

Unfortunately, this promising essay in ecumenical courtesy was undermined by an unusual defect (by the standards of the time) in Pepys himself. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he was not much captivated by the minutiae of religion. In his twenties, he hardly ever took Holy Communion. In the next decade, when his position as a rising government official required punctilious church attendance, he invariably showed himself to be more interested in the presentation and argumentation of the sermon than in the rituals of the service. As a result, his return visit to the synagogue in 1663 resulted in a failure of perception that stemmed from both a lack of information and an absence of sympathy.

Pepys and his wife were invited to attend a Jewish service, not by any member of the congregation, but by Daniel Rawlinson, landlord of the Mitre Tavern, a major hostelry in Fenchurch Street. Pepys lived nearby in Seething Lane, and the synagogue was not far away, located in a house in Creechurch Lane.[59] Rawlinson was a substantial businessman, who acted as an unofficial banker and also provided investment advice. Presumably he had links with the London Jews which gave him an entrée into their rituals. It was unusual for Elizabeth Pepys to accompany her husband on his inquisitive jaunts, which suggests that the excursion was intended to be inclusive and certainly non-threatening – although Pepys noted that the Jewish women were "behind a lattice out of sight". The date was the fourteenth of October, the holiday of Simchat Torah, the Rejoicing of the Law, an important event in the Jewish calendar. Throughout the year, congregations hear readings from the Torah (the first five books of the Old Testament, known in the Christian tradition as the Pentateuch). Where resources permit, synagogues store duplicate scrolls in a revered Ark, thus making it easier to combine readings during a service. Week by week, the texts are read until, at the close of Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), the last text from Deuteronomy is heard and, to emphasise the eternity of the teaching, the congregation immediately switches back to the opening of Genesis. At this point, Simchat Torah, Jews celebrate the gift of the Word of God.  It is the one occasion when all the scrolls are removed from the Ark and carried around the synagogue in open delight. The men take turns to carry the heavy weight, displaying their joy by swaying, leaping and dancing. (One modern Jewish information website likens the procession to a "conga line".)

Properly briefed on the significance of the ceremony, Pepys might have appreciated that Judaism is a religion of the Book, a faith that seeks to understand the universe by interrogating texts and traditions – obviously from a very different standpoint than his scientific friends of the emerging Royal Society, but adopting the same approach of reverent debate that Pepys so relished from the London pulpits. Instead, his own inability to witness Simchat Torah as anything other than pantomime left him shocked and alienated. However basic their engagement with Hebrew might have been, some of his student contemporaries at Magdalene could have explained to him that the Torah was the core of the Christian Old Testament. Pepys seems to have been unaware of even this basic fact: "some things stand up, which I believe is their Law, in a press to which all coming in do bow; and at the putting on their vayles do say something, to which others that hear him do cry Amen, and the party do kiss his vayle. Their service all in a singing way, and in Hebrew." He appears to have grasped that the "vayles" (the tallit) were prayer shawls worn by male adults in the synagogue, although his usually habitual curiosity did not prompt to ask why. Pepys enjoyed relaxing with music: he sang, played instruments and even composed, but it would appear that the chanting of the synagogue did not appeal to him. His incomprehension of the central ritual was plain. "And anon their Laws that they take out of the press are carried by several men, four or five several burthens in all, and they do relieve one another; and whether it is that every one desires to have the carrying of it, I cannot tell, thus they carried it round about the room while such a service is singing."  He did approve of the gesture of loyalty shown by the congregation: "in the end they had a prayer for the King, which they pronounced his name in Portugall [i.e. Portuguese]; but the prayer, like the rest, in Hebrew." But he had no idea that Simchat Torah was a happy occasion because Jews, like Christians in their different way, rejoiced at having received a pathway to salvation. "But, Lord! to see the disorder, laughing, sporting, and no attention, but confusion in all their service …. I never did see so much, or could have imagined there had been any religion in the whole world so absurdly performed as this." He left "with my mind strongly disturbed" and determined to "forswear ever seeing them more". It is a sad entry in his diary, and it hints too at something darker: as so often in the European tradition, antipathy verged upon anti-Semitism, with Pepys concluding that the Jews he had witnessed were "more like brutes than people knowing the true God".[60]

Pepys had no need to resolve never to attend a Jewish ceremony again, for in 1664 the Synagogue was closed to tourists. However, in February 1666, he heard a report about excitement among London Jews that seems to have reinforced his suspicions about their thought processes.  A rabbi in Smyrna (modern Izmir) called Shabbetai Zvi had declared himself to be the Jewish Messiah. His claims were accepted by one wealthy London Jew who was placing large bets that Sabbatai would "be within these two years owned by all the Princes of the East, and particularly the grand Signor as the King of the world, in the same manner we do the King of England here". The Jewish grapevine obviously stretched across Europe, although it had yet to convey the news that the Messiah's attempt to take Constantinople by storm had failed. (It would soon culminate in the humiliation of his forced conversion to Islam.) Having so recently, as they would have seen it, completed the Diaspora by returning to England, the London Jewish community may have been receptive to news of a Messiah. Pepys, too, might well have reflected on similar phenomena, such as the Fifth Monarchists, who flourished on the hallucinatory fringes of English Protestantism. Nor was he immune from the influence of signs and portents himself. He called the report from Smyrna "very strange; and certainly this year of 1666 will be a year of great action; but what the consequences of it will be, God knows!"[61] A few months later, much of London burned down, but a fire in a bakery seems to provide a rational explanation.

Pepys recorded one further comment on the fate of Jews. In 1661, England acquired the North African port of Tangier through a marriage treaty with Portugal. The town was intended to become a hub for English commerce, doubling as a naval base to combat the piracy that disrupted Mediterranean trade. These hopes were disappointed. A breakwater was required to provide shelter for warships, and its construction was both slow and costly. A local Moorish potentate blockaded the town, cutting off access to its hinterland. In 1683, Pepys was sent out as part of a mission charged with secret orders to abandon Tangier. He quickly formed a hostile opinion of the English governor, Percy Kirke, a corrupt and ruthless thug who had set about enriching himself on his appointment the previous year. Condemning Kirke's "tyranny and vice" as "stupendous", Pepys noted his cruel treatment of Tangier's Jews. As, perforce, a transnational community, Jews often spoke several languages, and their merchants were useful in Tangier as interpreters. However, Kirke had driven them out, "without, or rather contrary to, express orders from England, only because of their denying him, or standing in the way of, his private profits". Pepys recorded a particularly horrific example of the governor's cruelty. "He made a poor Jew and his wife, that came out of Spain to avoid the Inquisition, be carried back, swearing they should be burned; and they were carried into the Inquisition and burned."[62] Pepys lived in an age of casual brutality – at the age of fifteen he was among the crowd in Whitehall that had watched the beheading of Charles I – and he often recorded horrific events in a neutral tone, making it difficult to assess his personal response. In this case, he probably used the phrase "poor Jew" in economic rather than sentimental terms, but it is possible to detect a note of sympathy that had been absent in his description of Simchat Torah.   

Peter Peckard and Jewish naturalisation, 1753 In 1753, Parliament passed an act permitting the naturalisation of foreign-born Jews in order to secure their rights to own property. Citizenship would be extended on an individual, case-by-case basis, but there were some restrictions on the right to vote, while the expense involved would obviously limit the numbers who might apply. Yet, although the legislation represented little more than a token concession, it proved to be explosive. A similar bill in 1751 had been defeated, despite ministerial support, following public protests – and, in Georgian England, protest was always likely to be violent. The "Jew Bill" of 1753 was probably badly timed. It is possible that the calendar reform carried through the previous year, which famously removed eleven days from the month of September, had unsettled popular trust in their rulers, as country folk coped with the need to adjust traditional landmarks in the farming year to the new dates. In the towns, there were fears that workmen might be undercut by imported Jewish cheap labour. "A torrent of anti-Semitism flowed from the press." Inconveniently, a general election was in the offing. Public opinion, in the modern sense, did not greatly influence eighteenth-century government, but the prospect of public disorder was unwelcome. The act was quickly repealed.[63]

The episode generated a considerable amount of pamphlet and pulpit literature. Among the latter was a sermon preached by a young Oxford graduate, Peter Peckard, who defended the legislation.[64] Peckard's arguments merit discussion in this study, but they need to be put into two different contexts.  First, although he no doubt displayed courage in so publicly opposing angry public feeling, his sermon presumably made little impact, for it is not mentioned in academic studies of the episode.[65] Second, at the time of his sermon, Peckard had no connection with Magdalene and little prospect that any such association would materialise. (However, since he was then a curate in nearby Huntingdonshire, during 1753 he turned his Oxford degree into a Cambridge MA – the process was called "incorporation" – and his sermon on Jewish naturalisation was published by Cambridge's University Press.) Despite having lost an arm in accident in early life, he served at some point in his early life as an Army chaplain, and it seems to have been through an officers' mess that he came to know Sir John Griffin Griffin, a general who inherited the Essex mansion of Audley End and with it the right to appoint the Master of Magdalene. (He later became the first Lord Braybrooke.) In 1781, Sir John's choice fell upon Peckard. Third, we should note that the new Master of Magdalene turned his pulpit artillery against the system of plantation slavery in the West Indies, winning himself an honourable place in world history as the inspiration of the campaign against the slave trade.[66] Thus his 1753 sermon was in no sense a product of the College that he later – almost thirty years later – came to head. Moreover, while some link between his early sympathy for Jews and his subsequent passionate assertion of the humanity of Afro-Caribbean people may reasonably be assumed, it is not so easy to demonstrate the connecting intellectual path.

In his Advice to a Young Student, Daniel Waterland had offered tips to trainee clergyman on how to take notes of sermons in order to understand their structure and evaluate their arguments. Peckard might well have applied such a technique in preparing his own pulpit oratory, for the internal organisation of his contribution to the debate remains baffling. "Earnest, but rational" was Peckard's formula for the ideal sermon, but an intelligible thread of argument would have been useful too.[67]  However, two features stand out from a review of the arguments that he employed. The first is that he said nothing either about the contemporary Jewish community in England, nor in praise of Jews as a people: thus it may be termed philo-Judaic rather than philo-Semitic. The omission seems curious, although it may have represented a recognition that anti-Jewish hysteria was so virulent that it was best to discredit the prevailing prejudice, as he attempted, by arguing that the outcry was unchristian rather than by defending its victims. After his death in 1797, several hundred of Peckard's books came to Magdalene, including a number of Hebrew lexicons (and even a teach-yourself guide to the language) that confirm his status as an Old Testament scholar. One particularly intriguing item is a large tome by Moses Lowman entitled A Dissertation on the Civil Government of the Hebrews. An intriguing combination of scriptural studies with political science, Lowman's book had been published in 1740, and it is probable that Peckard had acquired his copy at about that time.[68] Hence, when he preached his 1753 sermon, Peckard was probably well equipped to speak with informed sympathy of Jewish society and traditions, but he chose not to make a positive case for the people he was defending.

The second feature of Peckard's arguments is that some of them, at least, seem contrived and unpersuasive: it is difficult to believe that they carried much weight. Of course, it is always dangerous for twenty-first century readers to pass judgment upon eighteenth-century logic: a contention that is unconvincing today may have made much more impact then. Nonetheless, there is an air of point-scoring about some of the material, no doubt a feature of contemporary pulpit oratory, and perhaps to be expected from a young cleric who – we may conclude from the fact that his discourse appeared in print – was out to make an impression. Peckard began with an appeal to the forbearance of St Paul in his dealing with his fellow Jews. It was fair enough to point out that Paul "was a stranger to all malicious and revengeful thoughts with regard to the crucifiers of his Lord and Master, and the severe persecutors of himself." Yet the moral drawn by the preacher here seems oddly rationalistic: "we may reasonably conclude, that tho' the murther of our Saviour, and the circumstances of cruelty and injustice which attended it, be as much as ever to be abhorred; yet that we at the distance of so many ages do not feel it in so tender a manner as those persons who liv'd at the very time." Here Peckard seemed strangely unaware of the extent to which, for many believers, Christ's Passion was an immediate and terrible experience of an intensity that was in no way diminished by the passage of centuries: even a century later, a Fellow of Magdalene could be horsewhipped because his pro-Jewish sentiments allegedly insulted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Peckard's challenge must surely have fallen wide of the mark among many contemporary religious enthusiasts: "if they [the early Christians] notwithstanding their more lively sensations still liv'd and convers'd charitably with the Jews, what can be said in our justification if we shew them any malicious treatment?"  In any case, the naturalisation legislation had been about conferring the rights of citizenship, not legalising the courtesy of polite conversation.[69]

Peckard was on stronger ground when he invoked the basic principles of the Sermon on the Mount. "Whatever evil treatment the Jews may have shewn to Christ and his holy faith, by the fundamental precepts of our religion we are absolutely and expressly prohibited from returning them evil for evil; by the fundamental precepts of our religion we are expressly commanded to love our enemies, and to do good even to them that hate and persecute us." Unfortunately, this declaration did nothing to challenge age-old negative perceptions of the Jewish people as the murderers of Christ.  Peckard himself poured scorn upon any notion that England's Jewish minority harboured plans to enslave free Britons: "As to those childish alarms that we shall bring in men, who will ride over our heads, and in time abolish Christianity; they are so exceedingly ridiculous, as not to deserve a mention, were it not intended by it to censure the villanious [sic] intention with which they were originally propagated."[70]

Notably, Peckard did not point out – as surely he might have done – that there was no parallel between the arrogant high priests of first-century Jerusalem and the meek rabbis of eighteenth-century London. It might be objected that it would have been too much to expect a mid-eighteenth-century Anglican clergyman to have publicly defended Judaism but, to quote the Magdalene historian John Walsh, as a theologian, Peckard "travelled light". He doubted the immortality of the soul, dismissed original sin and regarded the doctrine of the Trinity as a disavowal of the monotheism inherited from the Old Testament, perhaps the most notable Jewish contribution to world theology.[71] Peckard's later campaign against the slave trade would lead to his friendship with the author and former slave Olaudah Equiano, but there was apparently nobody in his life who played the role of Menasseh ben Israel in shaping the opinions of John Sadler.[72] In true eighteenth-century fashion, Peckard collected ecclesiastical preferments, but his trophies were Huntingdonshire parishes and stalls in provincial cathedrals. Sadler had been London's Town Clerk, Waterland acquired a City rectory and his denunciation of the slur that Jews were a "contemptible people" was delivered to the clergy of Middlesex. By contrast, Peckard avoided London and hence probably had no contact with its Jewish community, still the only notable concentration in Britain.

Oddly intruded into the flow of Scriptural argument was a denunciation of political unrest. "The Legislative power of this nation hath thought proper to establish a Law, by which some national priviledges are conditionally conferr'd upon the Jewish people. So long as these conditional priviledges continue to be conferr'd upon them by that legal sanction, every clamorous attempt of private persons to contradict and defeat the purposes of that law, is no better to be thought of than a species of Rebellion." Tactically placed at the end of a sentence, the climactic word would doubtless have woken the congregation had they dared to slumber. It was just eight years since the Jacobite uprising of 1745 had threatened the foundations of Hanoverian Britain. Indeed, there were coded denunciations in Peckard's sermon which suggested that he saw the outcry against the naturalisation legislation as a device by the opposition Tories to regroup and capture public support after the collapse of their attempt to install the Stuart pretender. Peckard was certainly ambivalent in his attitude to the legitimacy of political opposition. Where the law created problems, he accepted that "a proper, modest representation of those grievances, is very justifiable" but he condemned "senseless clamours, to raise a spirit of raging persecution and seditious discontent, where no grievance exists". He suspected that "a bad design" was "the foundation on which this turbulent behaviour is built", a course of action that was "exceedingly criminal". This was the attitude "which has been too generally shewn with regard to the late law pass'd in relation to the Jews".[73]

Next he switched to history. It was "very true" that English law had traditionally discriminated against Jews. "Very severe laws indeed, subjecting them to pain and disgrace, and to all that is disagreeable and shocking to human nature." However, there was no reason to confuse prejudice with precedent: "because our ancestors some centuries since happened to be Brutes, and furious unchristian Zealots, is that a reason that we their descendants should continue to be of the same devilish complexion?" In any case, anti-Semitic legislation was no relic of the good old days, but dated from "the times of England's most abandon'd Slavery: when a miserable subjection to the See of Rome had corrupted the consciences of men, and the absolute dominion of the Pope had sanctified every persecution that could encrease his own temporal wealth and power".[74]

Having delivered the predictable anti-Catholic comment, Peckard now moved towards the climax of his discourse, turning his fire against those who "would offer mighty privileges and extraordinary honours to every Jew on his conversion to Christianity, but would persecute him to the utmost to the very moment of his conversion. But this scheme, methinks, looks like – it is an odious term – but it looks like bribing men into Christianity. This was the method of Conversion made use of by the Devil himself; it was he who first said, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." This led Peckard into a declaration that, almost three centuries later, retains the ring of nobility: "whoever presumes to make use of force in matters of Religion, or justifies any degree of persecution for difference of opinion, not only does what he has no right to do, but does what is directly contrary to the whole tenor and genius of the Gospel of Christ: and that whoever would obtain an external profession of Christianity by annexing to it riches or honour, or any other temporal advantage, mistakes entirely the intent of our holy Religion; which would open to itself a way to the hearts of men by a rational conviction, founded on the principles of goodness and truth, but sets no esteem upon a purchas'd or an extorted profession."[75] Here we seem to catch the liberal and tolerant tone of the nineteenth century. Yet with his final exhortation, Peckard headed backwards one hundred years, to use a formula that would have been familiar to Pepys and Sadler. "Who shall presume to enter into the councils of the Most High? or dare to say the time is not come in which he will again extend his mercies to the children of Israel?" Those two contrasting eras, of Cromwellian certainty and Darwinian doubt, somehow fused together in Peckard's closing words: "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved. How then shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him, if they are for ever by violent and persecuting men to be driven from all possible opportunities of believing?"[76]

A modern historian has argued that the anti-Semitic outburst of 1753 "had no long-term consequences for the Jews of England".[77] This may explain why Peckard did not return to the subject after his appointment as the Master of Magdalene in 1781. His predecessor, the Honourable Barton Wallop, had acquired the post through nepotism – literally, as he was the nephew of a previous Visitor – despite the plausible objection that he was almost illiterate. Eight years after taking over, Peckard recalled that the College "really was in a state very near to ruin". Fortunately, an energetic partnership with the President, the Yorkshire Evangelical Samuel Hey, succeeded in turning the institution around, both financially and in the quality of it students.[78] In short order, his new position carried with it a turn as Vice-Chancellor of the University, and he used the prominent platforms that the office afforded him to launch an unheard-of campaign against slavery and the slave trade. The first intimation came in a sermon preached in 1783, entitled The Nature and Extent of Civil and Religious Liberty. From a modern point of view, we might well expect this discourse to have included some consideration of the claims of British Jewry, still deprived of some basic civic rights. From the fact that the discourse was an annual commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, it was no surprise that Peckard delivered some predictably unkind remarks about the Church of Rome, but it was the scandal of Caribbean slavery that constituted his primary target. Other attacks on the institution followed over the next twelve years. It might seem that he had entirely forgotten the stand he had taken in defence of Jewish civil rights thirty years earlier. In fact, he drew upon his skill as a Hebrew scholar to counter the argument that plantation slavery in the West Indies was validated by Biblical references to bondsmen. In an extended pamphlet of 1788, Am I not a Man? and a Brother?, he argued that regulations for the treatment of slaves in the Old Testament were "directions arising from Local circumstances of the Jews [which] existed only in the existence of those circumstances, and were to end with them."[79] But, essentially, and even if never made explicit, Peckard's campaign for the Afro-Caribbean victims of slavery represented a simple extension of a basic Christian principle. In 1753, he had insisted that, in God's eyes, "there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him". In 1790, he extended the point to its logical conclusion. "For though his Gospel was to the Jew first, yet was it equally, in its original intent and destination, to the Gentile also; that is, to the Whole Race of Mankind, in what degree soever they may be distinguished from one another by the accidental circumstances of Climate, of Form, or of Complexion."[80] Peter Peckard was a striking personality, someone who was in many ways atypical of his time. One unifying theme in his long and active life was his rejection of all forms of racism, and here we may reasonably link his early sympathy with Britain's Jews and his later crusade against slavery.

Robert Grant and Jewish civil liberties  Robert Grant entered Magdalene in the autumn of 1796, at the age of sixteen. He had been born in Bengal, the child of a Highland Scot who had become an Evangelical Christian while working as an official of the East India Company.[81] Grant arrived in England at the age of ten, to be reared as a member of the radical Protestant wing of the Church of England. As an undergraduate, it is unlikely that he had much direct contact with the Master of Magdalene, who was now in his mid-seventies and also double-jobbing as Dean of Peterborough: Peckard died – in College – during Grant's second year. The young anglicised Scot had a brilliant academic career and was elected a Fellow of Magdalene in 1802. It is very possible that, at some stage, he read Peckard's 1753 sermon in defence of Jewish civil rights – the copy in the Old Library probably came with the bequest of the Master's books – but, if Peckard's pulpit oratory planted a seed in his thinking, it took several decades to mature, as he admitted when he confessed his reluctance to take up the issue in 1830.

Between 1830 and 1834, Robert Grant sought to persuade Parliament to remove barriers to the integration of Jews into civil society. The unreformed House of Commons rejected his bill in 1830, but it was carried in 1833 and 1834, after the passage of the Reform Act, only to be blocked by the House of Lords. Historians have associated his campaign with an organisation called the Philo-Judean Society, formed in 1826 as a breakaway from the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews. Ostensibly dedicated to the legal emancipation and social integration of Jews, the Philo-Judean Society has been condemned as a "sinister" body that aimed to kill Judaism with kindness. Certainly, by 1829, the Bevis Marks Synagogue adopted the innovation of a weekly sermon, designed to resist Philo-Judean attempts at conversion.[82] However, the Society did fight for Jewish civil rights, and was responsible for a petition to Parliament in July 1827 calling for the repeal of "oppressive" laws. "Interestingly, this effort at Jewish emancipation antedated by a full year any public activity on the part of British Jews themselves."[83] It is not clear how far Robert Grant was involved in its activities.  He did not take part in its theatrical annual meeting that was reported in the press in 1828, and it is noteworthy that "he argued his case on secular, liberal, grounds" in the House of Commons.[84]

It is to these arguments that we should now turn. Grant's parliamentary campaign began in February 1830 with the presentation of a petition from prominent Jews. He explained why this was the first occasion in eighty years that they had approached the legislature. For most of that time, Jews had been on exactly the same footing of discrimination as Dissenters and Roman Catholics. Formally, all three groups had been excluded from various public offices which required the swearing of an oath of fidelity to the Church of England. However, in a very British compromise, an annual act of indemnity had been passed that effectively turned a blind eye to their inability to subscribe to Anglican supremacy. However, in 1828 the Test and Corporation Acts had been repealed, ending the bar on Nonconformists, while Catholic Emancipation the following year had allowed members of the Church of Rome to be elected to parliament. Unfortunately, the compromise formula adopted to permit these concessions had required the oaths of office to be sworn "on the true faith of a Christian". Since Jews could not conscientiously accept this, the wave of reform had inadvertently raised fresh barriers against them. Grant praised the signatories of the petition: "a more loyal, peaceable, and industrious community of men did not exist". In a coded allusion to the concession of Catholic Emancipation the previous year – a surrender, if a statesmanlike one, to the threat of insurrection in Ireland – he added that Britain's Jews "were too well conducted, and at the same time too few, too powerless, and too peaceful, to regard the attainment of civil privileges by any other means with approbation". Doing "spontaneous and uncompelled" justice to such a worthy but vulnerable community would be a particularly meritorious act. He closed with a wider reminder of past injustices. "Christian Europe had been lavish to extreme prodigality of its injuries to this persecuted race, but he hoped the Legislature would then do its part towards wiping away the stigma of cruelty."[85]

On 5 April, he followed up the petition with a motion designed to test the waters for an attempt at legislation. He began by explaining that his connection with the question was accidental. On learning that the issue was to be raised, "he had been led to turn his attention to it – not without prejudices, which, however, calm reflection had completely dissipated". Once "convinced of the justice and policy of the measure", he had felt unable to refuse to fight for it. Grant was a skilled lawyer, and he built his case by deftly leading MPs through centuries of Anglo-Jewish history. He spoke highly of Jews as a people: "as a sect the Jews were known by the whole world to be the most ancient. Their religious and political principles were upon record – their habits were recognised as peaceable and industrious. … They lived usefully and peacefully under the Constitution; but all it had of grace, of favour, of privilege, or protection, was denied to them, while they had to groan under all that remained in it of what was illiberal and oppressive." Bizarrely, "the effect of Catholic Emancipation had been, to aggravate the evils under which they suffered": he referred to the case of a young man who had been on the point of being called to the bar when Parliament had imposed the "the true faith of a Christian" requirement upon new barristers.  

Grant dismissed the objection that "we should not hastily make any innovation on a state of things thus time-honoured", arguing rather that he wanted to follow up "the principle of the Legislation of the two last years … to its proper extent, and place the Jews on such a footing as would enable them freely to enjoy their political and civil rights." He discussed at some length (and with the splitting of several hairs) the claim that the constitution was founded upon the Christian faith and that, accordingly, non-Christians could not be admitted to Parliament. He did accept that the law protected the "Sacred Scriptures" because they formed "part of the State religion of the country", but he pointed out that "a large part of those very Scriptures were supported in their sacred character by those very people in whose favour he was at that moment addressing the House, and from their ancestors had we derived our knowledge of them". Later in his speech, he returned to this theme: "the most eminent divines of our Church had admitted that the system of Judaism stood in such a relation to the Christian religion as was not found and could not be found to exist between Christianity and any other religion. The very foundations of our religion were in the religious books of the Jews – in those books its principles were to be discovered, and the sincere professor of Christianity was deeply implicated in the past history, and in the future estimation of the Jewish people." The two belief systems were mirror images one to the other: "Judaism was infant Christianity, and Christianity was adult Judaism".  But he made relatively few direct allusions to the tenets of Judaism. Indeed, far from idealising British Jewry, he openly accepted the argument that there was "something so demoralising in the state of some of their body that they were not fit to be invested with civil privileges". He accepted that "the charge was well founded with respect to the lower classes of the Jews", with the obvious implication that only prosperous and respectable members of the community would benefit from the removal of legal obstacles.    

"There were no citizens more remarkable for their probity, integrity, and high-mindedness than the higher classes of the Jewish body." Once again, he alluded to the circumstances of Catholic Emancipation, in effect upbraiding MPs for having made an unpopular concession to the threat of violence: "he could not state that the Jews formed the great majority of the population of a country bordering upon a state of civil war, from an antiquated system of oppression and misgovernment; he could not assert that the safety of the whole empire was at stake in the result of this question; he had nothing to offer but their weakness, whose cause he advocated, and for whom he claimed protection." A generous concession would bring its own reward. "The Jews spoke, as it were a universal language, and they would spread the story of British liberality in the remotest corners of the globe. Hitherto they had known Christianity only as the pretext for savage persecutions, and they would celebrate the change, not merely with empty praises, but with the solid advantage of commercial preference." He closed by asking the House for "leave to bring in a Bill to Repeal the Civil Disabilities affecting British-born subjects professing the Jewish religion."[86]

Grant briefly replied to the ensuing debate, claiming to have won the argument and noting that every speaker had praised the Jewish community. "The great objection of those who opposed the Motion seemed to consist in the phrase, 'they are Jews; we are Christians.' Now, in his opinion, the very reason for admitting the objects of his Motion into a full participation of the civil rights of their countrymen was, that they were Jews, and that we were Christians." He deplored any possibility of replicating the dreary controversy over Catholic Emancipation with another thirty years of sterile argument. (In this, he was to prove depressingly prophetic.) Once again, he challenged MPs to follow through the principles they had so recently conceded in the face of Irish unrest. "Were they to say to the Jews, 'You have as strong claims upon us for emancipation as the Catholics had, but we will not grant it to you, because you are not so powerful as they were?'." Grant secured permission to introduce his bill by 115 votes to 97.[87]

The majority was hardly large enough to guarantee that the proposed legislation would pass through all its Commons stages, even before it might face the hurdle of the Lords. On the evening of its Second Reading, MPs presented petitions on the subject, mostly favourable, including one heavyweight document signed by 14,000 respectable (and non-Jewish) residents of the City of London. However, attention seemed to focus upon a counter-petition from a Mr Levi (or Levy), who claimed that British Jews were "indifferent to the result of the application now made to Parliament in their behalf, and to feel no desire for a relief from the disabilities under which they labored". Nobody seemed to know anything about the petitioner, and it was even claimed that his view had been misrepresented, that it was simply the case that none of his friends "desired any elective franchise – they wished only for security to their property". The incident is revealing mainly for the way in which Grant responded, making light of the matter. He not only referred to the support for his bill from Jews "who were distinguished by their wealth, their respectability, and their attachment to their religion", but offered to share with the House a communication "from a Priest of the Jewish persuasion … [who] placed the question on prophetical grounds". Facetiously, he added that "the petitioner's deductions would be found to be sounder than those of his opponents, inasmuch as he contended for humanity and good feeling in opposition to bigotry and exclusion". This did not suggest either a profound knowledge of Judaism or much genuine respect for its beliefs.[88] However, realising that he now faced much stronger opposition to his bill, Grant contented himself with asking the House to agree to its Second Reading, leaving the details to be worked out at committee stage. His critics refused to fall for the ploy, and the proposal went down to defeat by 228 votes to 165.[89]

The next two years were dominated by the question of parliamentary reform, and it was not until the session of 1833 that Robert Grant returned to the question of Jewish civil rights, this time addressing a modernised and more sympathetic House of Commons. As in 1830, he argued his case predominantly in secular terms and the tones of modernity. Again, he spoke of Jews as a worthy and a kindred people. "They were not a narrow and unknown sect, the birth of yesterday. Their principles were well known, and their sacred books were venerated by ourselves. Throughout their whole history they had distinguished themselves as an orderly, industrious, obedient, and religious people. Their morals were unimpeachable; the principles of their morals and of our own were the same." Given that they shared the loyalty and the probity of the wider community, it made no sense to exclude them from serving in the Army and Navy to defend the country, or to ban them from making or enforcing the laws.

In 1833, Grant seemed better informed about the beliefs and practices of Judaism than had been suggested by his highly approximate and facetious allusion to a "Jewish priest" three years earlier. (He even made a jocular reference to the quality of Jewish cookery, which suggested social contact with community leaders.) However, his handling of one argument against emancipation suggests a curious failure to consult the people he sought to champion. Since 1830 a fresh objection to the concession of civil rights had emerged: "It was said, that the Jews were preoccupied with a spirit of patriotism, not towards the country which afforded them protection, but for a distant country, towards which they looked for restoration at some period undefined and hidden in the mysteries of futurity; and, therefore, that the country of their casual residence should not admit them to its bosom on a principle of equality with other subjects." The evidence that he cited to counter this allegation was curiously chosen. In 1806, Napoleon had summoned a council of Jewish notables to answer a series of questions regarding the role of their community in post-revolutionary France. Its members, both laymen and rabbis, were selected by the Emperor's own prefects, and the assembly's officers were appointed by the government. To enhance its prestige and vaunt his own, the Emperor decreed that it should be styled the Great Sanhedrin, a revival of a Judaic supreme council that had lapsed over a thousand years before. The notables duly and dutifully provided answers that endorsed the regime's aim of assimilating Jews into wider French life.  On the question of dual allegiance, they obligingly explained that "as long as the Messiah, our Redeemer, is not come, the king under whose protection we live must be esteemed as a king of Israel; and the country in which we live and are maintained, and under the shadow of whose government we enjoy security and comfort, must be considered in the same light as the land of our forefathers." As an experienced barrister, Grant must surely have realised that, if he had presented such evidence in a court of law, opposing counsel would have torn its provenance to shreds. But he covered his source with the assertion that, although Jews were "scattered people", "experience proved, in every instance, that where they had been allowed, they had become a part of the people among whom they dwell." Although claiming reluctance to "drag the House through a long historical detail", he roamed through Egypt and Babylon to China in antiquity, before touring Prussia, France and Holland in more recent times, dropping in on Gregory the Great and Charlemagne on the way. The curious omission in his argument seems to have been his reliance upon obviously constrained expressions of loyalty to the State by French Jews when he might have been better served by quoting the opinions of their British counterparts, who would certainly have stressed their loyalty to the country in which they lived. Even Samuel Pepys in his disapproving incomprehension had noted with approval synagogue prayers for Charles II. Grant must have known Jeremiah's advice to the Jews who had been exiled to Babylon: "seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace." The House of Commons would surely have purred with polite pleasure had he pointed out that Britain was a much more attractive focus for loyalty than Babylon.

Grant closed by contrasting the sense of obligation that Christians ought to feel towards the people of the Old Testament with the prejudice that so many of them actually entertained. "It should never be forgotten that an immense debt of gratitude was due from the nations of Christendom, and from the professors of Christianity, to the Jews, and it behoved us to discharge that debt in the true spirit of Christianity, in accordance with the divine and charitable precept of doing to others as we would be done by." In Grant's eyes, it was absurd to allow petty feelings of anti-Semitism to override these timeless obligations. "If you do not like the Jews, that may be a very good reason for banishing them [from] the country, but it is bad logic to say, 'we dislike the Jews in private life, and, therefore, will not admit them into public offices'." His speech was loudly cheered and his motion – that it was "expedient to remove all civil disabilities at present existing affecting his Majesty's subjects of the Jewish religion" in order to place them on the same footing as the Catholics – was approved without a formal division. "The 'Ayes' resounded through the House; the 'Noes' were few."[90]

The identification of Robert Grant with the Philo-Judeans has had the effect of characterising his campaign as an insidiously conversionist form of anti-Semitism. The extended survey offered here of the arguments he employed would surely suggest rather that he adopted the position of a mainstream early-nineteenth-century liberal. Indeed, he fought for Jewish rights alongside Henry Brougham and Thomas Babington Macaulay, both of them icons of contemporary progressive thinking, for whom the Jewish question was a touchstone for new ways of thinking.[91] No doubt, as an Evangelical, he hoped for the conversion of the Jewish people: Christianity was inherently a proselytising faith, and all committed adherents would take the same view. It may well be that Grant hoped that political equality would encourage social assimilation, thereby making the transition from Judaism as painless as the magical process that somehow wafted prosperous Nonconformists into the Church of England. But it does not follow that the existence of those hopes and expectations necessarily motivated the rights-based campaign that dominated Grant's parliamentary activities through three sessions over five years.[92] For its time, "Judaism was infant Christianity, and Christianity was adult Judaism" was a remarkably open-minded exposition of the inter-relationship of the two faiths. It was only later, in the theorising of Charles Kingsley or the triumphalism of C.S. Lewis, that its negative implications for the older faith would become apparent. 

In fact, after his major speech in April 1833, Robert Grant rarely felt the need to argue his case to a reformed House of Commons which was evidently as sympathetic to his arguments as its unreformed predecessor of 1830 had been hostile. He did invoke religious imagery in briefly commending the Third Reading to MPs in July 1833, likening its supporters to "the good Samaritan, who did not refrain from relieving the man at the way side because he was an alien, and professed another creed". There was a touch of triumphalism in his appeal for an outcome "on the basis of charity, and in accordance with those great principles on which the Christian religion was founded, namely, of glory to God, and good will to men". The device was both safe and effective, for the bill sailed through by 189 votes to 57, its opponents largely confined to the residual lump of Anglican supremacists, who included an unappealing young fogey called W.E. Gladstone. However, in the Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury secured a two-to-one majority to stop its further passage.[93] Robert Grant returned to the charge in the 1834 session, again formally moving the stages of his bill without bothering to argue for it. At the Third Reading in June, he briefly observed that "he did not recollect any measure of importance having gone through the House with so little opposition": Gladstone was one of fourteen irreconcilables who once again attempted to block it. Those would be Grant's last words in the House of Commons for, soon after, he was appointed Governor of Bombay. He died in the land of his birth four years later.

The parliamentary campaign continued until 1836 but then lapsed for over a decade. It is possible that Grant's initiative was premature: had there been an interval after the upheavals of 1828-9, it might have been easier for Anglican reactionaries to accept Jewish emancipation as a minor tailpiece once the bitterness and controversy over Catholic Emancipation had died down.[94] If that was the case, the objection perhaps tends to indicate that he acted out of a sense of principle that overrode political tactics. Perhaps, too, there was some validity to the reservations of the mysterious Mr Levi: Jewish grievances operated more at the theoretical than the practical level. Take, for instance, the right to vote. Until the introduction of the secret ballot in 1872, elections were conducted openly, with votes polled in what was often a confrontational environment with potential for disorder. Returning officers were empowered to make electors swear that they possessed the appropriate residential or property qualifications, and as the oath contained a Christian formula, it caused problems for Jews. But most Jewish voters lived in large urban constituencies, where returning officers had no interest in slowing down the poll and thus risk provoking allegations of partisanship that might spark violent protest. In any case, the oath was dropped in 1835. Other barriers similarly fell, or were stormed, one by one. The first Jewish barrister was called to the bar in 1833. As tradition dictated, Queen Victoria's Coronation in 1838 was marked by the distribution of honours to prominent civic officials. When the Sheriff of the City of London became Sir Moses Montefiore, it was difficult to believe that there was any practical bar against Jews holding municipal office. The last legal obstacle in local administration was removed in 1845 – by a Conservative government headed by Sir Robert Peel, who had voted against Grant's bill – and in 1855 London elected a Jewish Lord Mayor. John Sadler, a City official exactly two centuries earlier, would surely have approved. Jewish MPs took a little longer. When Lionel de Rothschild was elected in 1847, the House of Commons sought to modify the oath so as to admit him, but yet again the Lords blocked the reform. Eventually, in 1858, a formula was found that gave each House the right to determine its own membership, and de Rothschild took his seat. It helped that he had been elected by the City of London, and was not the eccentric choice of some out-of-the-way backwater.[95]

Arthur Cohen, the first Jewish graduate of Cambridge University  It will be no surprise that Oxford and Cambridge resisted the piecemeal campaign towards more open admissions. In the mid-nineteenth century, Oxford remained an Anglican oasis (or desert), since all students had to attest to their acceptance of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England on entering the University. Cambridge was slightly more flexible, only imposing formal subscription to the tenets of the Church as a condition of taking a degree. Thus Catholics, Nonconformists and Jews could study at Cambridge and even take final examinations, but were conscientiously barred from formally graduating. In practice, the opposition of their Church meant that Catholics rarely braved the Protestant environment, while few Jews could have afforded the cost.[96] However, the small Cambridge loophole did create a possible opportunity for a propaganda coup. The University's most prestigious degree was the Mathematical Tripos: indeed, until 1823 it had been the only route to Honours. There was fierce competition to secure a place among the Firsts (who were called Wranglers), the more so as – until 1909 – candidates were not simply classed but ranked in order. The identity of the Senior Wrangler was of interest not only in Cambridge, but was reported in the national press. Sir Moses Montefiore preferred to achieve emancipation by piecemeal flanking moves rather than through the confrontational process of legislation.[97] In 1837, a London Jew, James Sylvester of St John's College, had emerged as runner-up in the Mathematics Tripos, but had been unable to take his degree. Montefiore had a nephew, Arthur Cohen, who had already proved himself to be a brilliant mathematician while studying at University College, London.[98] If young Cohen could go on to head the Mathematical Tripos, both family pride and political strategy could be served. Just as the City of London had effectively (if a little slowly) settled the question of Jewish MPs by electing a Rothschild in 1847, so the University of Cambridge would surely have to bow before the absurdity of a Senior Wrangler who was not permitted to take the degree that he had so brilliantly earned.

The scheme nearly fell at the first hurdle. Then as now, admission to Cambridge was through a college, but none seemed willing to accept Arthur Cohen. Specific approaches were rejected by Trinity – the University's academic powerhouse – and by Christ's. (The problem with Trinity is difficult to understand, as the college had admitted Alfred Hyman Louis in 1847. He became the first Jewish President of the Union in 1850, but left Cambridge without taking degree examinations – and, of course, without a degree.)[99] Eventually, Montefiore secured the support of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband, who helped secure Cohen's admission at Magdalene: the young man matriculated in the autumn of 1849, on the eve of his twentieth birthday. This was something of a surprising development, for Magdalene was not a dynamic college, and its Master, George Neville-Grenville, was anything but a progressive.[100] However, the Magdalene decision can be placed in a context of multiple personal strategies and ambitions.

In a gross abuse of patronage, Neville-Grenville had been appointed Master of Magdalene in 1814 by his father, the second Lord Braybrooke. He was just twenty-four years old at the time, and the Visitor blatantly ignored the provision in the College statutes which specified an age limit of "thirty or thereabouts".[101] In 1846, the Master was also appointed to the prestigious Deanery of Windsor. The Dean of Windsor does not feature very prominently in the modern Anglican world, but in Queen Victoria's reign, the position ranked high in the Church of England because the incumbent was effectively the personal spiritual adviser to the sovereign – and her husband. The Fellows of Magdalene soon became restive at having a virtually absentee Master, and Neville-Grenville duly offered to resign. However, he was blocked by his brother, the third Lord Braybrooke, who was now the hereditary Visitor. Braybrooke had earmarked the post for one of his younger sons, Latimer Neville, who was only nineteen in 1846. Thus, out of family loyalty, Neville-Grenville had to hang on to Magdalene until his nephew could graduate (he secured Second Class Honours in Classics in 1849), get himself ordained and mature towards an approximate age of thirty. Unfortunately, Neville-Grenville's health was in decline. By 1850, although still only sixty years of age, he was "a wreck" – making his determination to hang on to his Cambridge job all the more scandalous. Latimer Neville eventually took over in 1853, at the age of 26.[102]

In his role as a seat-warmer, George Neville-Grenville needed the goodwill of the Queen's husband. In 1847, Prince Albert had been elected Chancellor of Cambridge University.[103] The Prince's new office was primarily ceremonial, but it gave him the right to ask questions, float ideas and generally galvanise those dons who knew that the institution must change. Albert soon requested – and almost equally rapidly received – a detailed tabulation of the teaching activities and resources of the University and the various colleges. This alone would have been alarming for Magdalene, one of the smallest colleges and the most poorly endowed. The Chancellor wanted to see new subjects introduced – geography, modern languages, history of art.  With its small Fellowship, Magdalene did a competent job in teaching the basics of the core Cambridge curriculum – mathematics, Latin and Greek, some Hebrew – but there simply would not be enough money to hire a wider range of instructors.[104] Academics, of course, were skilled at delaying tactics and rearguard actions, but there were enough genuine reformers in the University to ensure that the machinery creaked and whirred into action over the next couple of years to examine the possibility of introducing new Honours degrees in Natural Sciences and Moral Sciences (philosophy).[105]

As it happened, the Prince was also pressing forward another project, a trade fair that would showcase British art and British manufactures.[106] This bore fruit in the Great Exhibition of 1851, which came to be regarded as symbolic of the high-water of mid-nineteenth-century national self-confidence. However, his initial proposals were not received with much enthusiasm, notably from the government which declined to provide the money. Much depended on a speech that Albert was due to deliver to an influential audience at the Mansion House in March 1849, setting out his plans and appealing for support. Among the notables who heard his address was Sir Moses Montefiore, who promptly subscribed £100.[107] His munificence (and the prospect that it might be increased) gave Sir Moses a claim upon the Prince Consort. Albert seems to have had no previous contact with Jews, even during his brief adventure as a student at the University of Bonn, but the basis of a deal was emerging.  George Neville-Grenville needed Prince Albert's support while he kept his nephew's seat warm. Magdalene would require the Chancellor's goodwill to survive the threat of innovation. It was in Albert's interest to cultivate those who might help him finance his exhibition project. Sir Moses Montefiore was keen for Arthur Cohen to study at Cambridge. The elements combined, and the gates of Magdalene were opened.

Arthur Cohen was admitted to Magdalene as a Fellow Commoner, a category of privileged undergraduate that was nearing its end. In exchange for paying higher fees, he wore an ornate academic gown with a cap (nicknamed a mortar board after the plasterer's accessory) which was decorated with a gold tassel. This was known as a tuft, and ambitious social climbers who sought out the company of Fellow Commoners were dismissed as tuft-hunters, an expression which – although old-fashioned – survives to this day. Cohen's status entitled him to dine at High Table and – so a subsequent episode seems to indicate – he was popular with the Fellows. He certainly fitted in on class lines. "In manner and bearing he was a grand seigneur … he spoke with somewhat of a drawl".[108] However, there are many unanswered questions surrounding the squeezing of a practising Jew into an Anglican society, most of them unanswered because they have never been asked. It seems that Arthur Cohen was given a dispensation from compulsory attendance at Chapel[109] – itself a remarkable concession – but we have no information about diet, a point of some importance since Moses Montefiore was a strict observer of kosher regulations. (However, the issue may not have been so important for Arthur Cohen: in later life, his family tried to exercise control over what he ate, not on religious grounds but because he was prone to gout.)[110]

Nor do we know what arrangements were made for attendance for Cohen to worship in his own faith. A synagogue had been established in 1847, possibly meeting at the Hobson Street home of Lazarus Cohen, a local tobacconist. Numbering fifteen families, the congregation had acquired the requisite Ark and the scrolls of the Torah.[111]  By 1851, the synagogue had relocated to rented premises behind the Round Church.[112] In Victorian times, Cambridge Jews did not support a rabbi, relying on laymen to run their synagogue until well into the twentieth century. It is not known whether Arthur Cohen worshipped with them. The Cambridge congregation would certainly have represented a very different environment from the classical temple of the Great Synagogue which his family attended in London.  While Magdalene may have tactfully protected him from immersion in Christian ritual, there was no such flexibility in the University curriculum. Cambridge students were required to pass a test, the Preliminary Examination, known as the Little-Go, and usually taken in first year. Lumped in with a mishmash of basic mathematics, New Testament Greek and some Latin was a set book, Paley's Evidences of Christianity, an attempt to defend doctrine with rational argument. Paley had been added to the syllabus in 1823 to ensure that Cambridge graduates who went into the Church – as very many did – would have a fund of knock-down arguments to recycle from the pulpit. While some – notably, and perhaps surprisingly, Charles Darwin – regarded Paley as a valuable training in the use of argument, the text was certainly not prescribed with any intention of encouraging independent thought. Cohen took a perverse pride in his examination answers on Paley, since they simply required rote-like regurgitation.[113]

In an affectionate memoir published seventy years later, his daughter Lucy mildly commented that Magdalene was a "strange" choice for an ambitious examination candidate, for the College was "in those days more celebrated for its racing than its learning". A.C. Benson (Master of Magdalene 1915-25) obligingly checked Arthur Cohen's college bills, and concluded that "he must have entertained his friends liberally". One near-contemporary suspected that he was to some extent on the rebound from the intensity of studying at London University: "the social side of his life at College must have been more or less of a new thing to him, and probably full of charm". He tried rowing, although – contrary to family tradition – he was not selected for any Magdalene boat. Cohen also spoke in the Union, where H.M. Butler, later Master of Trinity, recalled him as "a most prominent character, handsome, dignified, impressive". He became the second Jewish President of the Cambridge Union, but did not hold the office until the Easter Term of 1853, after he had taken his final examinations.[114] It is likely that the "handsome Jew", as he was known, was to some extent the victim of ethnic stereotype. Not only wealthy but popular – one contemporary recalled that "his sunny, genial nature made him beloved of all' – Arthur Cohen probably had no alternative but to combat the caricature of the Jew as avaricious and miserly by adopting an outgoing lifestyle. Yet he seems to have been a willing victim. "He always spoke with enthusiasm of his University life, the discussions with his contemporaries, the breakfasts and the wine parties, often telling how after the latter he would sit up into the small hours of the morning, working at his mathematics, a wet towel round his head."[115]

Magdalene had not produced a Senior Wrangler since 1778, but this need not have proved an insuperable problem. Arthur Cohen almost certainly hired the services of one of the mathematical coaches who operated as independent agents on the fringe of the University. He was tipped for the top spot but – to quote the tactful words of Lucy Cohen's near-contemporary source again – "probably the consciousness of great mathematical power encouraged him in delaying a little too long the hard working at mathematics". In later life, he admitted that his academic work had been too spasmodic. Had he been an ordinary undergraduate, perhaps he might have been placed under pressure to work more seriously, but a Fellow Commoner had in effect bought his way out of regular student discipline. Arthur Cohen did indeed coast to First Class Honours, but only as Fifth Wrangler.  Objectively, it was not a bad performance – there were 36 Wranglers below him, and over one hundred candidates in the two lower classes – but his failure to top the Tripos was a blow to the Jewish elite: Lionel de Rothschild angrily blamed Cohen's addiction to "light literature and rowing". Many people are plagued by an insecurity dream, the night-time recurrence of some disturbing episode at time of stress. Arthur Cohen became a successful lawyer who carried a heavy burden in many crucial cases. However great the courtroom pressure, he would dream of his failure to become Senior Wrangler.[116]

No doubt the notoriously dysfunctional work-life balance of contemporary Magdalene had cost Arthur Cohen his chance of academic celebrity, but the march of liberal reform nonetheless enabled the College to give Cambridge its first Jewish graduate. In 1850, a Royal Commission had been established to investigate the two ancient universities. As always, the process of change was slow, and it took six years before Parliament imposed a new settlement. Religious tests were no longer to be required from graduands, except for those taking degrees in Divinity. Ever obstructive, at the last minute the House of Lords insisted that only graduates who adhered to the Church of England could become members of the Senate, the body that ultimately governed the University, while restrictions remained for a further fifteen years on the allocation of Fellowships and other college offices.[117] But the way was now clear for Arthur Cohen to take his degree. On a July day in 1857, a batch of Cambridge men was shepherded through the Senate House formalities, observed by Joseph Romilly of Trinity, a University official called the Registrary (who had collected their fees). In his diary, he recorded that one of the BAs "was a Jew (Cohen – 5th Wrangler in 1853)".[118] His emphasis perhaps indicated not disapproval but recognition that the event was a landmark. Romilly favoured the admission of Jewish MPs to the House of Commons. When a University petition expressed "consternation and alarm" at the innovation, he dismissed such alarmist sentiments as "felt by very few". He was also irritated by fund-raising sermons designed to raise money for the conversion of the Jewish people.[119] The real point about that moment when Arthur Cohen knelt for the conferral of his Cambridge degree is that hardly anybody took any notice. Indeed, the newsworthy angle as perceived by one London daily newspaper was the negative way in which the event was portrayed by a minor Church publication, the "Clerical Journal, a paper rabid against the Jews, and which never omits an opportunity of sneering at them". Reporting that at the July conferring, "a gentleman who denies the Lord Jesus Christ took a degree in regular academic order", the Clerical Journal complained that Arthur Cohen had "received all the educational advantages which Cambridge had to confer at a time when her bigotry and exclusiveness were the themes of those who had no practical acquaintance with her system". The only consolation that this obscure paper could offer its readers was that an insidious plot to make the University look ridiculous had been foiled by Cohen's final stumble in the Tripos. "Hopes were even entertained that he might achieve the highest honour, and that we might witness the spectacle of a senior wrangler who could not be admitted to a degree. Matters, however, did not fall out thus."[120]

The horsewhipping of Edward Dodd[121] Three years after he broke new ground by becoming the first practising Jew to take a Cambridge BA, Arthur Cohen revisited Cambridge, and was welcomed back to Magdalene. Why he was in Cambridge and precisely how he was entertained remain mysteries, but he shared a meal with the Fellows – whether an informal lunch or dinner in Hall is not recorded – and his presence was acknowledged with a rare interfaith gesture, from the Reverend Edward Dodd, who was asked to say grace. Dodd was the Vicar of nearby St Giles' church and, like all Fellows in that era, he was a bachelor, who had rooms in First Court. On formal occasions, such as the nightly Hall dinner, Magdalene used (and still uses) a Latin grace which had probably been in use since monkish students first occupied the site in 1428. This offers thanks for the bounty of food, a pledge of gratitude that concludes with a lengthy invocation "per Jesum Christum Dominum and Servatorem Nostrum" (through Jesus Christ Our Lord and Saviour). This was obviously an awkward formula for a practising Jew, but the excision of those concluding words would render the grace meaningless. It is more likely that Dodd invoked a shorter formula, possibly "Benedictus benedicat" ("May the Blessed One give a blessing"), which appears to have been used in some Cambridge colleges during vacations, when few people attended Hall.[122] Both politely broad and conveniently vague, its use would nonetheless have been a striking gesture in the Anglican atmosphere of the time. Dodd, who was an outspoken person, may have acted on his own initiative, since there is some indication that the Master, Latimer Neville, did not approve. Nor, as it soon became apparent, did the Reverend J. Sumner Brockhurst.

A former student at St John's College who had transferred to Emmanuel, Sumner Brockhurst wrote poetry and unperformed plays. He also suffered from mental health problems, which sometimes manifested themselves in violent outbursts. His career as a schoolmaster and his prospects of a comfortable appointment in the Church were both terminated by two convictions for assault, one of which led to a term of imprisonment.[123] In the winter of 1860-1 he was living at the vicarage in Hinxton, a village ten miles south of Cambridge, where he was perhaps minding the parish for an absentee incumbent. From there, in December 1860, he published two hundred pages of verse entitled Who is on the Lord's Side?: An Effort in Rhyme to Affirm a Reason Against a Jew's Holding Office as a Legislator in England. A subtitle demanded: What think ye of Christ? Thus he was hardly in a neutral frame of mind when he heard, during a visit to the University shortly afterwards, of a strange episode that had happened at Magdalene "but the other day". The tale had presumably grown in scandalised telling: "a Fellow had actually omitted from the grace the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and had said, when asked for his reason, that it was on account of the presence of a Jew at the table." (The guest was "a wealthy fellow-commoner": this could only have been Arthur Cohen.) Brockhurst felt a duty to take retaliatory action. "Christ died for all men, and I say that the man who would omit the name of Christ in asking a blessing on a College dinner must be lost indeed".  There followed several confrontations with a distinctly flustered Dodd at which he demanded a grovelling recantation. When these initiatives failed, Brockhurst decided to horsewhip the offender, "a rather strong reproof from one clergyman to another", as a local newspaper remarked with heavy irony. He subsequently flaunted his resolution before a disapproving University disciplinary enquiry. "I ask any gentleman, actuated by the principles of honour and virtue, whether he would not have acted as I did if the honour of his wife or daughter had been brought into question? How much more reason, then, had I for acting as I did when my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ was insulted?"

In mid-Victorian Magdalene, Hall was at five o'clock in the afternoon. Concealing a horsewhip under his coat, Brockhurst waited in Second Court, watching the screens passage for his prey to finish his evening meal. Dodd duly emerged at twenty to six, and Brockhurst followed into First Court, calling him by name as he reached the middle. Dodd would have been wearing his gown and, on a January evening, probably an overcoat as well. "His back was towards me; but I did not want to strike him there, so struck him sideways, on the arm," Brockhurst exultantly proclaimed, revelling in his determination to inflict the maximum pain and humiliation. "Of course I was prepared for anything that might follow," he continued, adding with evident bemusement, "excepting what did follow – that the person I struck took little or no notice, but walked on". As Dodd explained, "I thought it my duty as a member of the academic body to remain perfectly passive". From the Kitchens in one direction and the Porters' Lodge in the other, College servants rushed to the scene. "I was afraid I should have to deal with them, and that their interference might prevent my giving him, what I was determined to do, a good thrashing," Brockhurst related, as he told the disciplinary hearing how he had deterred any intervention. "I said I was a University man, and they were not to meddle with me".  Instead, staff members formed "a sort of small semicircle" and watched "while I administered 12 or 14 stripes." College employees were notoriously ill-paid. Their sympathy for one of their own dons cannot be doubted, but they could not be expected to tackle an excitable man armed with rawhide. Nonetheless, they may well have queried Brockhurst's extravagant notions of the membership privileges of Cambridge University.

In response to Dodd's complaint that the assault had been "one of the greatest indignities one man can put upon another", the University's disciplinary process was promptly set in motion. The members of the academic court of enquiry assured Dodd that "your conduct under circumstances of remarkable provocation exhibited in an eminent degree the utmost Christian forbearance, and is deserving of the highest approbation". In practice, there was not much that they could do against Brockhurst, but they strongly censured his assault, adding that "the reasons alleged in justification are totally insufficient".[124] It was something of a step forward that the University of Cambridge should have officially decreed that one of its members should not be horsewhipped for making an ecumenical gesture towards a Jew.

Arthur Cohen was to go on to a highly successful career as a lawyer. In 1879, he became the University Counsel, and he continued to give useful legal advice to Magdalene – presumably free – until shortly before his death in 1914. In 1883, the College instituted a new category of distinction, that of Honorary Fellows. Arthur Cohen was one of the first batch of four to be elected. Eight decades after his formal graduation, Cohen's memory was invoked when an Orthodox synagogue was consecrated in nearby Thompsons Lane in October 1937, and the official guests were entertained to tea in the College Hall. Magdalene was hardly a stellar academic organisation in Victoria times, but it was definitely not overtly anti-Semitic.

Prejudice and collegiality: Magdalene, Judaism and Jews since 1860

The scourging of Edward Dodd may be taken to represent the close of two centuries of Magdalene association with the struggle for the civil rights of British Jews. John Sadler, Peter Peckard and Robert Grant made the case, first for the admission of Jews to the country and then for their inclusion within the nation. There were at least amicable gestures from Daniel Waterland and Edward Dodd, both of whom had been educated at the College and who spent their careers within its walls. In addition to the creditable story of associated individuals, the institution itself, for whatever motives, admitted the first Jewish student to graduate from Cambridge. Arthur Cohen's subsequent links with his College constituted not merely a good example of what is now called alumni relations, but they also tick at least some of the modern boxes of diversity and inclusion. Yet we must avoid the temptation to create a picture of rosy complacency. Those who argued for the right of Jews to be Jews nonetheless hoped that social and political assimilation would be a step towards eradicating the very beliefs that had for two thousand years defined Jews in their Jewishness. Where there was cultural engagement, it has to be placed side-by-side with disapproving incomprehension: Richard Cumberland explored Old Testament mensuration but Samuel Pepys was alienated by one of the happiest events in the synagogue year. In the century and a half since 1860, darker threats have emerged, and these must now be pursued and confronted.

Accordingly, this section is arranged more thematically than the narrative coverage of the two preceding centuries. No attempt is made at an exhaustive coverage of every Jewish member of the institution. Such an exercise would probably be futile in any case, since Cambridge has never engaged in an apartheid-style tagging of the ethnicity or beliefs of its students (or staff). Like the rest of the University, Magdalene expanded considerably after the First World War, although in comparative terms it remained one of the smaller colleges. The Jewish Chronicle fairly frequently reported examination successes, probably at the prompting of proud parents, recording the names of students who – like most Cambridge graduates – went on to useful and successful careers, without necessarily making much impact in the public sphere. Even if a full inventory of Jewish students could be compiled, there would be something distastefully artificial in arranging them like stamps in an album: the essential normality of Jewish participation in Cambridge life is incompatible with a trophy approach. Hence the account offered here makes no attempt to assess numbers, and the individuals who are mentioned should be regarded as symbols rather than tokens.

It would be naïve, even myopic, not to recognise that prejudice against Jewish people and Judaism has been deeply woven into British life and attitudes. The historian who does not immediately perceive anti-Semitic tendencies and attitudes in any institution will be well advised to go back and look more closely. Yet here there is a countervailing danger, of exaggerating the import of what have been throwaway remarks that belong to an era before political correctness. Hence, to evaluate what may be mere scraps of evidence, we must confront the issue of context. Facing a committee of the United States Congress on 5 December 2023, the Presidents of two leading American universities were asked whether on-campus calls for the extermination of Jews constituted a disciplinary offence in their institutions. One replied that "it depends on the context", the other that the University's response would be "context-dependent". These answers caused both consternation and outrage, and both Presidents quickly resigned. This bizarre episode makes it appropriate to reaffirm that, since 1945, anti-Semitism must be considered within one context, and one context only. That context is spelt out in the alphabet of horror: Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, Chelmno, Dachau, and so the grim list continues. It is entirely right to remember that the Holocaust targeted other groups whose ethnicity or sexuality made their continued existence on the planet distasteful to Nazism: Jews do not own the tragedy. Yet the central fact remains: the Shoah was an industrial-scale project involving multiple killing camps that were intended to eradicate the Jewish people. The dominating nature of that crime naturally overshadows virtually everything that went before. Should an anti-Semitic remark from the eighteen-fifties be vertically integrated on a timeline that runs direct to the 1942 Wannsee conference that endorsed the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", or should such distant comments be pigeon-holed horizontally to illustrate the robustly tactless values of the mid-Victorian era?

Take, for example, a comment by Alfred Newton, one of the more noteworthy products of nineteenth-century Magdalene. One of the founders of the modern study of ornithology, who became Professor of Zoology in 1866, Newton had entered the College in 1848 and remained within its walls for the next sixty years, except when he was touring Europe and North America in search of new species.[125] In 1864, he visited Norway, but he did not like the people. "The merchants are as boorish as Germans, and the lower classes as extortionate as Jews. They all spit infinitely worse than Yankees."[126] Here, then, are three comparisons based upon negative perspectives of group or national characteristics, in which it might seem that Jews are not especially singled out for censure. However, closely examined, these condemnations have very different implications. It was not unreasonable to compare a Scandinavian people to the Germans. Citizens of the United States would eventually wean themselves from the practice of public expectoration. But the perceived faults of Jews were unique and, presumably, immutable. Newton, as will be discussed, would later be responsible for one of the one of the few failures in the Jewish student experience at Magdalene.

From the second half of the nineteenth century, there also emerged complicating geographical contexts. In the logic of overdue fairness, the concession of the right to sit in the House of Commons in 1858 and the final removal of all barriers at Cambridge and Oxford twelve years later ought to have secured the full equality of Jews as British citizens. Had the community remained stable in composition and numbers, perhaps they would have been set on the road to assimilation, both in culture and perhaps in religion. In fact, instability in eastern Europe not only triggered large-scale immigration but also propelled the plight of Russian Jews on to the domestic political agenda.[127] During a brief side-career as a Liberal MP, Arthur Cohen had to confront the implications of national outrage – engaged sympathy that spread far beyond his own community – at the pogroms.  Strikingly, in 1882, he opposed a motion calling upon the British government to intervene with the Tsar. Cohen welcomed the mobilisation of civil society – "all classes, creeds, and Parties" – in protest meetings but, as an authority on international law and "[a]s an Englishman and as a Member of Parliament", he doubted the propriety of the national legislature passing judgment upon the internal affairs of another country. Since there were no Treaty obligations that would require or even entitle Britain to take action, the motion was "inconsistent with precedent, with international usage, or with the dignity of Parliament". He drew some hostile reaction when he claimed that "there was no evidence proving that the Russian Government had instigated those persecutions", but he was probably on firmer ground in warning the Jewish community "that the adoption of this Motion would seriously endanger and prejudice the position of their coreligionists in Russia".[128] A.C. Benson would be irritated by Israel Zangwill's insistence on pleading the cause of Russian Jews in 1914. By the nineteen-twenties, the external perspective shifted from Russia to the dual focus of Germany and Palestine. Thus at just the point when the gradual liberalisation of religious attitudes ceased to concern itself with alleged Jewish disloyalty arising from a messianic attachment to Jerusalem, there intruded secular demands for solidarity with oppressed co-religionists overseas. (Russian intolerance would give Magdalene one of its most notable scholars: David Keilin – who is discussed later – was awarded a research studentship in 1916 at the start of a distinguished career that would make him one of the formative influences in the development of modern biochemistry.)

Charles Kingsley and the limits of philo-Judaism  The year 1860, when Arthur Cohen was welcomed back to Magdalene with the courtesy of an ecumenical grace, was also the year that saw the return of another notable member of the College to Cambridge. Charles Kingsley had spent three and a half energetic years as an undergraduate at Magdalene between 1838 and 1842, relying upon a late burst of intensive study to carry him to First Class Honours in Classics. He had then thrown himself into a combined clerical and literary career, not even bothering with the formality of converting his Bachelor of Arts degree into a Cambridge MA .[129] His appointment in 1860 as Regius Professor of History came out of the blue. Two points should be made about the job. The first is that the adjective "Regius" indicated that it was a Crown appointment, which meant that Kingsley was chosen by the politicians – especially the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, probably with some prompting from Prince Albert. Second, in British universities at least, the discipline of History only began to combine rigorous criticism with archival research towards the end of the nineteenth century. In 1860, History was not regarded as a serious academic subject.  Kingsley's addiction to moralising declamation drew large audiences of undergraduates, but won him no donnish respect.[130] At the time of his appointment, he was better known as a novelist. Nor was his theoretical contribution to the understanding of the past very constructive. He would soon make clear that he saw race as one of the motivating forces of History. Modern political debate tends to be promiscuous in throwing the term "racist" at figures from the past, but there is no doubt that the label fits Kingsley. He supported the South in the American Civil War and publicly defended Governor Eyre's brutal repression in Jamaica. The people of Borneo he dismissed as "beast life", while Irish Catholics were "human chimpanzees". He was shocked by the poverty that he encountered in rural Ireland on a visit in 1861, but engaged in classic victim-blaming: "I don't believe they are our fault".[131] However, there was at least a partial contrast in his attitude to, and portrayal of, Jews.

In most of Kingsley's fiction, there were few allusions to Jews, although most of them were casually offensive. Thus in The Water Babies (1863), a deeply disturbing story bizarrely inflicted upon children, there are just two references, one to a character who is "as rich as the Jews" and the other to the alleged dishonesty of Jewish pedlars: two conflicting stereotypes, one of wealth and the other of poverty, neither of them important to the narrative. Jews had featured more prominently in Hypatia, written ten years earlier, if only because the narrative is set in late-Roman times. One Jewish character, "old Miriam", was portrayed as a scheming hag, but her son, Raphael Aben-Ezra, has been called "the most lifelike character in the book". This was because Kingsley based Raphael on Alfred Hyman Louis, the Jew who had studied at Trinity between 1847 and 1850. The two had not overlapped at Cambridge, but Kingsley had encountered Louis, and his quest for religious reassurance, through the Christian Socialist movement in the early eighteen-fifties, a friendship which helped him create a semi-fictional character who resembled "a world-weary undergraduate". Like Louis, Raphael eventually decides to become a Christian, thereby underlining his status as a good guy.[132] The portrayal of Raphael Aben-Ezra was the first indication of positive interaction between a member of Magdalene College, Cambridge and a living, breathing Jew since the partnership between John Sadler and Menasseh ben Israel two hundred years earlier.

In October 1852, Kingsley had received an unexpected fan letter from an admirer who wanted to offer "my heartfelt thanks for your writings, which in a time of struggle and inward conflict have so often strengthened and rejoiced my heart". The writer was Adolph Saphir, a Hungarian Jew whose family had converted to Christianity and sent him to Scotland to train as a Free Church minister.[133] Kingsley replied, expressing "delight at finding that my writings have been of use to any man, and above all to a Jew". He may even have foreshadowed the cliché "some of my best friends are Jews", explaining that: [f]or your nation I have a very deep love" coupled with a firm belief "that you are still 'The Nation' and that you have a glorious, as I think a culminating part to play in the history of the [human] race. Moreover, I owe all I have ever said or thought about Christianity … to the study of the Old Testament, without which the New is to me unintelligible; and I cannot love the Hebrew books without loving the men who wrote them." In his own estimation, at least, Kingsley valued Jews more highly than Blacks or Celts or Dyaks. Unfortunately, Kingsley expected his chosen people to discharge an impossibly contorted role.

He was delighted to learn that Saphir intended to become a missionary to his own people, and dangled a mighty destiny before him: a "Christian Jew" was needed "to interpret the New and the Old Testaments both, because he alone can place himself in the position of the men who wrote them, as far as national sympathies, sorrows, and hopes are concerned –  not to mention the amount of merely antiquarian light which he can throw on dark passages for us, if he chooses to read as a Jew and not as a Rabbinist." There may be an echo here of the religious doubts that had plagued Kingsley during his student years. If so, he placed a considerable burden upon his correspondent by the projection of his own concerns. Kingsley urged Saphir "and every other converted Jew, not to sink your nationality, because you have become a member of the Universal Church, but to believe with the old converts of Jerusalem, that you are a true Jew because you are a Christian; that as a Jew you have your special office in the perfecting of the faith and practice of the Church". Saphir could rise to a challenge that no Gentile, whether Englishman, German or Scot, could possibly confront, the attempt "to see all heaven and earth with the eyes of Abraham, David, and St Paul".[134]

As an example of Kingsley's special talent for mindless exhortation, this is resoundingly impressive, but it was also internally conflicted. If there was a Jewish "nationality" (and presumably Kingsley had his own reasons for avoiding alternative terms such as "race" or "people"), then its identity across countries and continents was defined by its dogged adherence to the ancient faith of Moses and the Old Testament patriarchs. In short, Saphir was being asked to straddle two mutually incompatible identities. Three years later, in a letter to a Wesleyan minister, Kingsley displayed a much less charitable attitude to the Jewish people: they had failed in New Testament times to grasp the role offered to them and had been punished accordingly. The Epistle to Hebrews had warned them "that if they did fall back from the Christian development of their national covenant and life, into their old Jewish superstition and brutal worldliness, they would perish with their nation; that a great historic crisis, a one last opportunity for the Jewish nation, was at hand, and if they lost that, the destruction was hopeless." The warning was ignored, the punishment came to pass, with Jerusalem and its religion being destroyed in 70 CE, "and the Jews remaining spiritually dead to this day".[135] This was an insensitive dismissal of eighteen centuries of religious life, but it revealed that the line between philo-Judaic sentimentality and anti-Semitic condemnation was a thin one.[136]

The Magdalene Jews, 1870-1914  Between 1870 and 1896, Magdalene admitted approximately five hundred students. Four of these (and possibly more) were Jews.[137] At first sight, this looks like tokenism, but such condemnation may be unfair. Cambridge was still overwhelmingly an English institution, attracting few students from the rest of the United Kingdom, let alone from overseas. In 1891, the population of England and Wales was a shade under thirty million; there were around 45,000 Jews in Great Britain, around one-seventh of one percent of the total. The numbers here are too small to support any exacting statistical interpretation, but two points are clear. The first is that Magdalene did not bar Jews: whether this was the case at other colleges only specific studies could establish. The second is that the handful of Jewish students whom it admitted came from moneyed families. Magdalene admitted between fifteen and twenty-five new students each year. Contrary to legend, most of these were moderately serious students and by no means all came from privileged backgrounds. Nonetheless, until the eighteen-nineties, a substantial minority of these were sons of wealthy families who had neither the intention nor the capacity to pass examinations. Their aim was to sample the University experience, which generally included hunting and carousing, and they moved on after a year or so.[138] Three of Magdalene's four late-Victorian Jewish undergraduates conformed to this pattern. Not until 1910 did a middle-class Jew enter the College, and it was almost certainly only in the nineteen-twenties that a more humble lad arrived on scholarship funding.

Sydney Stern, the perpetual student who bought a peerage Sydney James Stern was one of just thirteen freshmen admitted to Magdalene in October 1870.[139] His German-born father, David de Stern, had settled in London in 1833 and founded the banking house of Stern Brothers, which specialised in meeting the borrowing requirements of the Portuguese government. The year before Sydney Stern came to Cambridge, his father had received a Portuguese viscountcy, which no doubt added to the young man's acceptability to snobbish Magdalene as an undergraduate trophy.[140]  He was twenty-six, notably older than his contemporaries.

Sydney Stern's entry in Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses would seem to suggest that he was one of the wealthy young men who briefly sampled university life but left without tackling any of its academic hurdles. In fact, a startlingly different impression emerges from the reminiscences of E.R. Yerburgh, who entered Magdalene in 1879, nine years after Stern, and whose impressions of his contemporaries are discussed below. Yerburgh recalled that the College was "a very free and easy place": students who could not pass examinations "were allowed to stay as long as they liked" provided "they were decent and respectable members of society" – a coded reference to the wealthy and well-connected. Yerburgh cited a striking example. "There was a millionaire undergraduate, Baron de Stern[,] who had been up for years but very seldom resided. He used sometimes to come up for a week and then go down again. I believe that he kept his name on the books for more than eight years and during that time he never went in for, or passed, any examination."[141] This obviously refers to Sydney Stern, and creates an insoluble mystery. Why was he spending time as a student at Magdalene until he was in his mid-thirties? Of course, he was prosperous enough to pay room rent for accommodation that he rarely used. His father's death in 1877 presumably drew him more deeply into the family bank, which would explain why his visits by Yerburgh's time were sometimes very brief. Was he doggedly attempting to tackle the set curriculum for the general degree? Perhaps he was engaged in some guided course of private reading: he would later show enthusiasm for agricultural education and an engaged knowledge of Irish history, but neither subject was deeply studied at Cambridge. Maybe Sydney Stern simply returned for the hunting: he was a member of the Four-in-Hand Club, a society of wealthy daredevils dedicated to driving four-horse vehicles.[142] Perhaps he was simply living the life of a fun-loving bachelor. What does seem clear is that, while Magdalene in the eighteen-seventies was to a considerable extent anti-intellectual, it was not anti-Semitic.  

In 1877, Sydney Stern inherited his father's Portuguese title and, no doubt, an increased role in the Stern Brothers, of which he became the head following his uncle's death a decade later. He made several attempts to enter parliament as a Liberal MP, eventually capturing the marginal seat of Stowmarket in Suffolk at a by-election in 1891. The Liberal party had split in 1886 as a result of Gladstone's sudden determination to grant a devolved legislature ("Home Rule") to Ireland. The defection of the Liberal Unionists had cost the party not only some of its most talented politicians, but also many of its wealthiest backers. At the time of Stern's election, party organisers faced the challenge of financing an upcoming general election campaign, which came about in 1892. Their problem was solved when they learned that Sydney Stern wished to add a British peerage to his Portuguese title. Another obscure backbencher, a Lancashire MP called James Williamson, cherished a similar ambition for ermine. Both were minded to be generous. The party leader, the upright Mr Gladstone, was persuaded to make the necessary promises: Stern and Williamson, as the Liberal Chief Whip recalled in 1894, "received assurance that their desires to enter the House of Lords would at the conclusion of the present Parliament, if not earlier, be gratified".[143] When Gladstone retired in 1894, his successor, Lord Rosebery, was angry on learning of the obligation that he had inherited. Williamson's seat was not very safe, and Stern had held Stowmarket in the 1892 general election with a majority of 144 in a poll of over 9,000 voters. This made it impossible to grant them the peerages that they had bought until Parliament was dissolved, because an already weak government could not risk the by-elections. Hence both the fact and the timing of the Stern-Williamson deals were embarrassing to Rosebery, a long-time supporter of House of Lords reform who attempted to make the role and power of the upper chamber an issue when the 1895 general election was forced upon him. The conferring of titles upon two virtually unknown Liberal MPs on the eve of polling naturally stimulated speculation about a corrupt deal, while the involvement of "an enormously wealthy Jew" – to quote an Irish Nationalist newspaper – provoked anti-Semitic undertones. By some magic process, Rosebery had sailed to the top in politics without getting his hands dirty, and he reacted with injured naivety to the discovery that leadership involved hard choices. Not only did he make clear that the two nominations were Gladstone's responsibility and not his own, but he unleashed a bitter complaint in a speech to a Liberal conference in Huddersfield the following year at the position in which he had been placed.[144] This was unfair to Stern – after all, in politics, a deal is a deal even if it does exude an unsavoury smell – and Rosebery's counter-attack probably explains why the newly-minted Lord Wandsworth – the title that he chose – would never cut much of a figure in the House of Peers.

To have taken part in the inauguration of the corrupt practice of the sale of honours is hardly an enviable niche in History. But perhaps Stern's reputation has been unduly traduced. If it was dishonourable to buy a peerage, it was surely doubly reprehensible of the Liberal party organisers to sell, and the mighty moralism of Mr Gladstone does not sit well with his connivance at the bargain. Since Lord Wandsworth never married, his title died with him in 1912, and he took with him to the grave the stigma of having been "a lavish contributor to the party funds". Yet he had become something of a philanthropist with his vast wealth – he left over £1.5 million – and his final gesture was impressive. Much of his fortune was to go to the founding of a boarding school where useful skills would be taught to the orphaned sons of farmers.[145] Two points may be made about his chosen memorial. First, his munificence was not channelled within his own community, and hence was a riposte to the common anti-Semitic slur that Jews took care of their own. The orphanage project was focused on the future of the British countryside, not the vision of a Promised Land. Second, his commitment to an educational project focused on the bottom of the social pyramid, not the top.  Yet the fact that he left nothing to his Cambridge college does not mean that he had disliked the experience, for, in that era, it was unusual for alumni to make such bequests.[146] However, it should be noted that, in the changed environment of 1912, he was not remembered in Magdalene.[147]

Frederick Beer It is probably revealing that no evidence survives of the academic career of Frederick Arthur Beer, who entered Magdalene in the autumn of 1878, because he probably did not aspire to achieve any such thing. But we do have a glimpse of him through his contemporary, E.R. Yerburgh, which, although brief, does at least illustrate the constraints of perception. More than thirty years after he left Cambridge, Yerburgh compiled reminiscences of his College contemporaries. After five years in London training to become a solicitor, he had decided to enter the Anglican Church, probably because his father and most of his male relatives were clergymen. For this, he needed a degree. Hence, at 23, he was slightly older than his contemporaries when he became an undergraduate at Magdalene in 1879, a year after Julius Beer, an age difference that gave him added confidence in celebrating some of them and dismissing others. In true Victorian fashion, he drew upon stereotypes. Thus a shy Protestant landowner from County Roscommon was "not at all like an Irishman, as he was very quiet and retiring". Another scion of the squirearchy was "a typical Yorkshireman, a very sturdy good fellow but very dull".[148] We must allow for the filter of cultural perception but, even so, Yerburgh's portrayal of his Jewish contemporary merits quotation and analysis.

"There was a man called Julius Beer, a Jew. He was enormously rich. His father was the owner of The Observer. He was a very harmless, good-natured individual. I knew his family fairly well but he never had any position or influence in the College." We may start by noting that Yerburgh got the name wrong: it was Frederick Arthur Beer who was admitted to Magdalene in October 1878, the son of the better-known Julius Beer. His German-born father had made a fortune on the London Stock Exchange and converted to the Church of England, a detail that Yerburgh, as an intending clergyman, might have registered. Julius Beer's purchase of The Observer in 1870 could perhaps be taken as an early example of Jewish influence in the media, but there is little evidence that he regarded the paper as anything other than a business investment – nor did Sunday newspapers carry much political weight in Victorian times.[149] A later source described Frederick Beer as "small and dapper", with a "wispy gentle smile". Julius regarded his son as a weakling and treated him with contempt, making the young man "timid and over-sensitive".[150] This is consistent with Yerburgh's description of "a very harmless, good-natured individual". The staccato nature of his recollections makes it difficult to know whether Yerburgh believed that Beer "never had any position or influence in the College" because he was a Jew, but we can form enough of a picture of him to assume that he was a diffident young man, lacking in confidence and anxious to fit in. He was not the product of a major public school, nor did he keep horses. Yet he was apparently not ostracised by the dominant hunting and drinking set. By contrast, the Waller brothers, thoroughly British sons of a London builder, were "enormously rich and enormously vulgar", causing eyes to roll when they imported van-loads of furniture "of the most costly description" from Maples, a specialist London store. "No one would have anything to do with them in Magdalene, so they made friends outside the College." "No one" in this context means "nobody who mattered", but there is a notable contrast between the barriers of class, which could not be crossed, and those of ethnicity, which were evidently negotiable.

There is, too, another explanation for Yerburgh's recollection that Frederick Beer made little impact on his contemporaries. Yerburgh arrived at Magdalene in October 1879; Julius Beer, Frederick's father, died on 1 March 1880. He had retreated to Mentone in the south of France, which suggests a serious illness, the more so as he had made his Will the previous November. Frederick Beer did not graduate, and almost certainly left Cambridge when he inherited his father's business interests. He could only have overlapped with Yerburgh for two Terms, and he may well have been called away to his father's deathbed during the Lent Term.  Undergraduate communities were hierarchical: freshmen, for instance, were expected to wait for more senior students to take the initiative of calling upon them, and third-year men were more likely to become officers of College societies. Even if Frederick Beer had been a more imposing figure with a more assertive personality, he would not have been a leader among his Magdalene contemporaries.[151]

In 1887, Frederick Beer married Rachel Sassoon, a member of a very rich Bombay Jewish family, which had originated in Baghdad. Beer's mental and physical health soon declined, and in 1891 his wife took over the running of The Observer, becoming the first woman editor of a major British newspaper. In 1898, she secured and published the confession of Esterhazy, the French officer whose forged document had secured the conviction of Alfred Dreyfus for espionage, one of the most sensational anti-Semitic scandals in European history. This considerable scoop was followed by tragedy. Frederick Beer's ill health was caused by syphilis, and he had infected Rachel. He died in 1901; she survived for a quarter of century, but required close nursing support.[152]

Walter Rothschild and Alfred Newton: a Magdalene failure As already noted, Mayer de Rothschild had become the first member of the family to study at Cambridge, entering Magdalene in 1837 before decamping to Trinity. Three more Rothschilds followed to Trinity between 1859 and 1862, much to the disgust of Sumner Brockhurst, although in their cases he expressed his disapproval in rhyme rather than rawhide. But in 1887, Magdalene secured the biggest prize in the dynasty, the Honourable Lionel Walter Rothschild, eldest son of the first Baron Rothschild, whose peerage he would inherit in 1915. Walter, as he was known in his family, was withdrawn from Cambridge by his father after two years and sent to work in the family business. His Magdalene experience seems to have been an odd mixture of the positive and the negative, and the absence of any longer-term continuing relationship between the institution and one of its wealthiest students is striking. Perhaps the saddest element in the story is that there seems to have been a personality clash between an enthusiastic student and a disapproving (and, arguably, jealous) academic, which destroyed what could have been a fruitful research partnership. 

A modern biography sheds new light on Walter Rothschild's undergraduate years.[153] Like Frederick Beer, he was overshadowed by his father and would become a shy and withdrawn individual. His character was also shaped by an overly protective mother, who ensured that he was not sent away to public school. Lord Rothschild had studied at Trinity and expected his son to follow him there. Unfortunately, Trinity imposed an entrance examination, which Walter either failed or could not tackle, at least in part because the Cambridge curriculum required some basic knowledge of Greek, a subject that he had not studied. As a boy he was able to indulge an enthusiasm for zoology by collecting unusual animals – he took his dingo for walks along the seafront at Brighton – as well as specimens of birds and insects. By the time of his undergraduate years, the collection was already impressive. In 1889, the year he took Walter away from Cambridge, Lord Rothschild added a building to the family's Tring Park estate for his son to store his books and specimens.

Walter Rothschild planned to study Zoology at Cambridge through the Natural Sciences Tripos. The innovation of 1851 had gradually attracted students, and by the late eighteen-eighties around one hundred candidates presented themselves each year. However, there were none from Magdalene. The College offered no teaching in the subject, and had neither the space nor the cash to provide laboratory facilities.[154] Presumably Magdalene was chosen for Walter Rothschild because it had low entrance standards, provided a suitable environment for a wealthy young man – and had no prejudice against Jews.[155] However, its Fellowship did include the pioneer ornithologist, Professor Alfred Newton – his casual dismissal of the people of Norway has already been discussed – who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of birds. Professors played a relatively small role in nineteenth-century Cambridge and were usually remote from undergraduates, but Newton was keen to share his knowledge and transmit his enthusiasm. Realising that he was a hopeless lecturer, he held forth at one o'clock, hoping that the call of lunchtime would keep audiences away. However, on Sunday evenings he kept an open house in his apartments in Magdalene's Old Lodge, welcoming students from across the University if they shared his "birdy" enthusiasms. Newton exercised considerable influence over budding zoologists, and Walter Rothschild was one of them. Initially, the professor was impressed by his latest acolyte: "young Rothschild must have sharp eyes", he commented when the freshman identified a rare Chilean species among a collection of waterfowl. He gave his new protégé the free run of the treasure of his extensive personal library. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography records that Newton "widened [Rothschild's] zoological horizon and stimulated his ambition to achieve something noteworthy in zoology". If anything, the impact was too great, for it would soon rebound to create deeply entrenched donnish resentment at the grandiose projects of a moneyed interloper. Darwin's theory of evolution was, of course, now mainstream scientific thinking. Even as a teenager, Walter Rothschild had become interested in the way bird species became subtly modified in isolated island environments. Indeed, he had acquired a flock of pet kiwis, and was so fond of them that he brought them to Cambridge.[156] When Newton showed him specimens from Pacific archipelagos that illustrated island-by-island micro-evolution in action, his enthusiasm was so aroused that he began to dream of establishing a large-scale collection of insular fauna from around the world. Students often conceive such fantasies, but a Rothschild was in a position to make his a reality. He commissioned a specimen collector to visit the Chatham Islands four hundred miles off the coast of New Zealand, and then sent him to work his way through the islands of Hawaii (then usually called the Sandwich Islands), establishing the foundations of a massive private collection. Miriam Rothschild, Walter's biographer, argues that Newton resented this large-scale invasion of his own special sphere of interest, and she charts the breakdown in relations between them. Writing in 1921, when Rothschild had become a major figure in British Jewry, Newton's biographer did not allude to the disagreement, but made clear that his subject could be, to say the least, uncharitable. "Being endowed with a very highly critical faculty, Newton was naturally somewhat intolerant of the less considered judgments of others."[157] Reared on a country estate, Newton had no compunction about shooting birds to provide specimens for scientific study, but he objected to large-scale avian slaughter for the sake of a private collection. The two continued to correspond, but Rothschild – whose childhood, it should be remembered, had made him a sensitive individual – was hurt by the gradual realisation that his hero had turned against him. In 1891, Newton wrote to him: "there is no need of controversy between us though I can’t agree with you in thinking that Zoology is best advanced by collectors of the kind you employ. No doubt they answer admirably the purpose of stocking a Museum; but they unstock the world – and that is a terrible consideration."[158] Far from applauding Rothschild's plans to publish a book about Hawaiian birdlife, Newton grumbled that the project would push aside the long-term project of another scholar: "courtesy expects a certain amount of deference to be awarded to the man who is first in the field and is doing his work to the best of his ability".[159] The carping denigration was not explicitly anti-Semitic, but Newton's attitude did reveal resentment – "sheer envy" Miriam Rothschild called it – against a young man with access to money that far exceeded any research funding that had ever been available to the professor himself.   

Walter Rothschild was awarded an honorary doctorate by a German university in 1898. In 1907, he published Extinct Birds, an attempt to list all lost species in a single volume – one in which he occasionally quoted Professor Alfred Newton. A Fellowship of the Royal Society followed in 1911.[160] Despite his retiring personality, inheritance of his father's peerage in 1915 made him generally regarded as the leader of British Jewry. When the British government wished to signal its support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine, it did so in a letter addressed by the Foreign Secretary to Lord Rothschild, at his London address in Piccadilly. This document, of course, was the Balfour Declaration of 1917: Rothschild himself was a Zionist, although possibly a reluctant one.[161]

Reference works and thumbnail biographies generally included "educated at Magdalene College Cambridge" in any mention of Walter Rothschild. His association with the institution was no secret. Yet, despite his intellectual and social distinction, it seems that no attempt was ever made from Magdalene to rebuild bridges. In 1904, Stuart Donaldson and A.C. Benson joined the College and set about arousing it from its half-century of slumber under Latimer Neville. Skill was required to avoid confrontation with the products of the old regime, and the newcomers established their continuity credentials by electing grandees from the past to Honorary Fellowships. Since Newton became even more inflexible in his final years, it would hardly have been worth the battle to overcome his predictable objections to any renewal of contact with Rothschild. But the old professor died in 1907, and still the breach remained unhealed. Donaldson was perhaps not the obvious Master to extend a credible olive branch. As discussed earlier, his work on the history of the Early Church in North Africa revealed a narrow theologian shaped by conventional prejudices: he was one of only two heads of colleges who attended a celebration in Cambridge of the centenary of the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews.[162] Benson succeeded him in 1915, but his ten-year Mastership was overshadowed by world war and his own mental illness. The loss of that particular Rothschild relationship seems to have resulted from the resentment of a cantankerous academic at the over-enthusiastic invasion of his field of study by a fabulously wealthy student. It may well be that latent anti-Semitism contributed to the continuation of the gulf.

Curiously, one approach was made to Walter Rothschild, but it was something of a pro forma kind. During the Donaldson era, Magdalene acquired its own playing fields. Early in 1911, old members of the College were invited to subscribe to a fund for the construction of a pavilion. The fund-raising venture was not a great success. There was no "alumni relations" culture in that era, and the dons did not even maintain a register of addresses. By the end of the year, about thirty veterans had responded, mostly with very small donations, and the total raised was £96 (and sixpence). One of the larger contributions came from "Hon. Walter Rothschild", who sent a cheque for £10. It was no doubt a decent, even a loyal, gesture but, by Rothschild standards, it was a mere token, a signal that he probably did not wish to be approached to support any more serious project.[163]

Yet in 1896 a cousin, George Anselm Rothschild, followed him to Magdalene. G.A. Rothschild was a member of the branch of the family that had remained on the continent, based in Vienna. He graduated in 1899, presumably having taken the formal curriculum more seriously than Sydney Stern or Frederick Beer. No information has emerged about his undergraduate experience. Presumably he enjoyed his time at Magdalene, for in 1911 he became the largest alumni donor to the pavilion fund, contributing £20, more than one fifth of the total.[164]

From Stepney to No Man's Land: Leonard Stern  In the second half of the nineteenth century, Magdalene's Jewish students were acceptable because they were wealthy. Leonard Herman Stern, who joined the College in 1910, was the first member of the emerging Jewish middle class.[165]  In 1915, he would also become one of Magdalene's earliest casualties on the Western Front, someone who was naturally honoured but was also genuinely popular: contemporaries described his "fine stature and genial appearance". On meeting him in 1910, A.C. Benson thought Stern "the frankest, most cordial, most sensible creature".[166] A product of University College School, an elite London day academy, he won an Entrance Scholarship in Classics, which was supplemented by an award from a Jewish source – probably not sufficient to finance his Cambridge studies, but enough to make him less of a burden upon his family. His father, Joseph Frederick Stern, was the minister at the East London United Synagogue, a congregation with links to both the Progressive and Reform movements in British Judaism. He was an innovator, who broke down the traditional gender barriers to introduce a mixed choir, and sought to shift synagogue worship from Hebrew to English.[167] (Like most products of the Jews' College, he was styled "Reverend" rather than "Rabbi", part of an external process that sought to assert an equivalence between Judaism and the Anglican establishment – but also a reflection of contemporary pressure to place limits on the use of the historic term.) His enthusiastic involvement in social work, a quality transmitted to his son, earned him the nickname of "the Jewish Bishop of Stepney". 

Twenty years earlier, the image of Magdalene had been dominated by memories of a minority of super-rich undergraduates, more interested in their horses than their books. The arrival of Donaldson and Benson in 1904 had accelerated a change towards a more serious ethos. Both were former housemasters at Eton – Donaldson never transcended the role – and the College community that they sought to create was one that was essentially composed of Anglican gentlemen. Most of their students still came from public schools, although not always the most ancient and famous, but the values system could encompass boys from suitable day schools. By 1910, the archetypal Magdalene undergraduate was patriotic both for his country and for his College, keen on organised games – "keen" was a moral buzzword – serious about his studies but with no trace of repellent intellectualism. The ideal also included service to those less fortunate: the College had formally adopted a boys' club in Camberwell, although it proved difficult to encourage undergraduates to volunteer to become helpers in the desert lands of south-east London. But Leonard Stern devoted his vacations to running the Stepney Jewish Lads' Club, and he also became a scoutmaster in Sir Robert Baden-Powell's new adventure movement for boys.  "One of the happiest days of his life was when, as an undergraduate at Cambridge, he acted as host to a party of lads from Stepney and gave them an insight into the charm and inspiration of university life."[168] He conformed to the ideal Magdalene model, but in a parallel Judaic manner. He was remembered as a popular President of the Cambridge Hebrew Congregation: his "sound common sense enabled us to tide over the many difficulties with which a congregation are beset. We always appreciated the pleasant way in which he read the services and several chants will always be associated with his name."[169] Leonard Stern threw himself into College and University activities too. He played Rugby for Magdalene and was awarded his "colours" in 1912 – a symbolic, almost tribal ritual of inclusion that marked him as a first-choice, first-term player.  The College Magazine listed him as one of the four members of the XV who were "the hardest workers in the scrum".[170] In due course, Leonard Stern was co-opted into Benson's essay-reading group, an inner circle of the chosen few called the Kingsley Club. In 1914, he read a paper on "Resident Aliens", which presumably discussed Jewish immigration and the challenges of assimilation. "He takes an extraordinarily tolerant and far-sighted view of the whole question," commented the College Magazine.[171] The club was limited to twelve members, and through Benson they had privileged access to distinguished figures, such as G.K. Chesterton. During his first year, Stern also spoke twice in the Union.[172] Later he supported the College's own fledgling debating society. In the Lent Term of 1914, he successfully opposed a motion asserting that "Eugenics were too disgusting to be practicable", his speech "showing a deep and comprehensive knowledge of the subject".[173] In the longer sweep of twentieth century history, there is a grotesque innocence about a practising Jew defending eugenics. For all his potential distractions, he was a serious student too, taking a First in the Classics in 1913 and staying on for a further year to read History.[174]

Although he achieved only a lower second in History, Leonard Stern was surely entitled to spend the summer of 1914 relaxing while he considered the options for his future. Instead, within weeks of his leaving university, Europe crashed into war.  Since he had been a member of his school cadet force, and had joined the Officers' Training Corps at Cambridge, Stern was – to quote a fellow member of the East London Synagogue – "among the first of our coreligionists who eagerly and spontaneously rallied to the banner of our beloved king and country". He not only enlisted himself, but also helped organise the mass recruitment of scout troops and boys' clubs as well. Given their social background, most Magdalene undergraduates effortlessly acquired commissions, but the Army initially intended to give him merely his OTC rank, Sergeant. He tried to dodge even that degree of distinction, pleading that another recruit who had served in the South African War was better qualified. The winter of 1914-15 was no time for modesty, and efficient young officers were vitally needed: Second Lieutenant Leonard Stern was soon on his way to Flanders.[175]

He arrived at Neuve Chapelle just after the unsuccessful British attempt to break through enemy lines in mid-March 1915: the village had been hammered and, as he reported to a friend back home, "not a house remains intact". It was his "first taste of the real business" of trench warfare, "and proportionately nasty…. had I appeared one-fifth as funky as I felt, I should have been disgraced for ever". Even at quiet times, the Germans fired stray bullets, and used star shells after dark to keep the Tommies awake. "Men tend to fire too high at night, and consequently bullets intended for the trenches whiz over the heads of folk behind them – six inches is quite as close as I like them. … I couldn't help imagining how hard a bullet is when stopped by the human head". On 9 May, the generals launched a fresh attack, intended to capture the nearby Aubers Ridge and punch the dreamed-of hole through enemy lines as a prelude to sweeping the Hun all the way back to Berlin.  Aubers Ridge would turn out to be the kind of engagement from which military high commands invariably say that useful lessons had been learned – in plain English, a total disaster. Lieutenant Stern was detailed to lead a bombing party, men whose task was to crawl through No-Man's-Land and lob hand grenades into the German trenches. His "zeal and initiative" ensured the successful completion of the mission but he was killed as he made his way back to report. "He fell gallantly," his commanding officer wrote. "He had a dangerous job, and went through with it, setting a fine example to his men. … We have lost a promising officer." The second-in-command added his tribute: "He met his death leading his men in the true British way." It was intended as a noble epitaph, but of course it was double-edged. Had Leonard Stern been a Cornishman or a Scot, a Methodist or a Freemason, his "British" credentials would probably have been taken for granted. Perhaps there was a felt need to accord posthumous national affirmation to a man whose middle name, "Herman", indicated recent immigration (and assimilation) from Germany. However, it is hard to resist the conclusion that the comment referred to the fact that Leonard Stern was a Jew.

His body was never recovered.[176] His parents erected a memorial to him in the East London Synagogue. The inscription, in Hebrew and English, was topped with a pediment, in which was carved the arms of Magdalene, and the College motto, Garde Ta Foy.[177] As is often the case between French and English, Garde Ta Foy can convey a range of nuances: keep your promises, defend, protect or preserve your religion. The memorial is not just evidence of a young man's enthusiastic identification with his College, for who could have more right than a Jew to proclaim fidelity to an age-old and frequently threatened faith? In his memorial sermon, his father J.F. Stern made the point explicit. "As became a [S]cholar of Magdalene College, he kept loyal to his faith. And like a true son of the University of Cambridge, he feared God and honoured the king, cultivated virtue and was zealous for good discipline."[178] Benson, too, mourned the young man whom he had regarded as a "friend", calling Leonard Stern "an excellent scholar with many interests, who ran a boys club in Stepney for the fun of it…. the world is the poorer."[179]

A.C. Benson: an Edwardian case-study Most thematic studies relating to Magdalene College, Cambridge will at some point focus upon Arthur Christopher Benson, who was elected to a Fellowship in 1904 and began a ten-year term as Master in 1915. Benson channelled a great deal of money to the College, attempted to stamp his personality upon it, and produced a massive body of writing, which constitutes a historical quarry that is hard to avoid although not always profoundly rewarding to explore. His works of light fiction and studies in trite philosophy were held in low regard by critics at the time (although their condemnation was not shared by his huge and profitable middlebrow readership) and are now generally forgotten. If he is remembered at all, it is for the sentiments of Land and Hope and Glory, the words he wrote for Elgar's stirring tune. These brand him as an imperialist and, by extension, may make him suspect as a racist. In fact, his opinions were complex and he had something of a Little England disdain towards the British Empire.[180] Given that he managed to combine the compulsive scribbling of authorship with the creation of a diary of four million words, he provides an obvious source in which to search for contemporary attitudes towards Jews. His positive attitude towards Leonard Stern makes a promising curtain-raiser to the enquiry, although it may be more revealing to note that Magdalene admitted about three hundred undergraduates in the decade before the First World War, and the minister's son from Stepney seems to have been the only Jew.[181] The blunt truth is that Benson lived most of the first forty years of his life in environments where he rarely encountered people from divergent backgrounds. His father, Edward White Benson, was a career clergyman who became Archbishop of Canterbury. He was sent to Eton, progressed to King's College at Cambridge – then an extension of Eton – and then, apparently for want of any alternative, he subsided into an eighteen-year teaching career – at his old school. Neither at Lambeth Palace nor at Eton College was he likely to meet people of Jewish descent or Jewish faith: these miniature enclosed worlds were not so much anti-Semitic as non-Semitic. His Fellowship at Magdalene gave him arm's-length access to the London cultural scene, where he encountered some Jewish intellectuals and writers. Even so, there was no deep engagement. Benson was essentially an observer of life, too timid to paddle in the ocean of existence: characteristic phrases in his writing were contained in his description of Life, From a College Window, and his occasional wistful evocation of joyful events, "and I not there".

When the Archbishop died in 1896, filial piety required A.C. Benson to write his father's biography, but there were problems. E.W. Benson had been the parent from Hell. Biographers need to cut through documentary material to get to grips with the real person. A.C. Benson had never got close in life, and had little chance of doing so in bereavement. Worse still, he had disappointed his father, first by failing to take the place of a favoured elder brother who had died young, and then by deciding against a career in the Church of England. It had been widely assumed that an Archbishop's son would go for ordination after taking his BA. Benson had spent a postgraduate Term at King's reading divinity, but found that theology got in the way of his amorphous notions of Christianity. This, too, made him a less-than-ideal guide to the concerns of a man who headed the Anglican Church. It was all the harder to separate the wood from the trees since he tackled the task while carrying the grinding workload of an Eton master. Benson seemed to throw in every document and detail into his sixteen-hundred page, two-volume door-stopper, a massive do-it-yourself kit in which the reader was left to search for his own E.W. Benson. Yet it is possible to detect one nuanced theme of selection. Benson played down his father's support for the London Society for the Promotion of Christianity Among the Jews. Rather, he chose to include a pleasant cameo of the Archbishop's visit in 1889 to the country home of Sebag Montefiore, son of Sir Moses, where Edward White Benson enjoyed "the beautiful Hebrew Grace" offered at dinner.[182] Benson may have heard about Sumner Brockhurst's attack on Edward Dodd from his uncle Henry Sidgwick, who had been a Fellow of Trinity at the time of the horsewhipping. Even if he did not know the tale of the scourging of Dodd, A.C. Benson was signalling a change in attitudes towards Jews. In 1861, a clergyman had been assaulted for indulging in the courtesy of offering an ecumenical grace. Less than thirty years later, the Primate of All England himself could politely bow his head to words of thanks in Hebrew.

There seem to have been few references to Jews in Benson's diaries, although they are revealing.[183] A.C. Benson's two younger brothers both rebelled against their father, each in his own way. Hugh became a Catholic priest, Fred made himself into a popular novelist: his butterfly characters, Mapp and Lucia, retain their devotees a century later. Benson worried about Fred's parasitic, pleasure-loving existence, and was especially critical of him in the summer of 1910 for decamping to Cromer, where he had been "very idle" (as he usually was). The Society hostess Lady Battersea was a Rothschild by birth who was also known by her married name, Constance Flower. She and her husband had bought a holiday cottage at Overstrand – it was enlarged some way beyond cottage dimensions by Sir Edwin Lutyens – and other Jewish holiday-makers were drawn to the area. A.C. Benson seems to have thought of the north Norfolk coast as a hedonistic Hebrew ghetto. Fred cherished the fantasy that his East Anglian idyll had taken him back to Nature. Benson recorded that his brother was "very full of the charms of simplicity, & of simple people, by whom I fear he means wealthy & en[n]obled Jews, who are frankly vulgar…. However clever & accomplished Jews are, they are never quite Gentlemen".  Benson was particularly scornful of Sir George Lewis, and there can be little doubt that Lewis was not a gentleman. He was a product of the Jewish professional middle class, a solicitor who was particularly skilled at extricating clients from embarrassing scandals. Edward VII had insisted on making him a baronet, a reward for helping the heir to the throne evade a court appearance after he had become entangled in the sordid Tranby Croft baccarat scandal in 1891, back in his halcyon days as Prince of Wales. The concept of a gentleman was all-pervasive but ill-defined, but it was generally associated with breeding.[184] The Montefiores and the Rothschilds may have qualified – Arthur Cohen, it will be recalled, was a "grand seigneur", which presumably placed him in an even higher category of super-humanity. But most Jewish families were excluded from the circles that produced gentlemen, so – however unkind – Benson's sweeping condemnation may have been correct.

Perhaps we should not read too much into an isolated and irritated comment. Nonetheless, it indicates that he was susceptible to casual – and, to the modern mind, unpleasant – stereotypes, as may also be seen in two allusions to the artist William Rothenstein. On meeting him at a Cambridge dinner party in 1906, Benson described Rothenstein as "a very ugly little Jew with a donnish countenance". In a sense, Benson used his private diary to reshape the events of his sometimes frustrating daily life, recording them in a way that placed himself in control of episodes that had stoked his sense of insecurity or inadequacy. Hence his characterisations of the people he encountered could be pungent and often came from unexpected angles. What did he mean by giving Rothenstein "a donnish countenance"? Was it a dismissal – although he lived among academics, Benson was ambivalent towards the species – or a grudging compliment to the masked excellence of the inner person? Ten years later, when he was considering commissioning a portrait of himself, he dismissed the artist as "a little ugly viperous Jew".[185] The problem here is to decide whether the offensive adjective was reinforcing or distinguishing: did Benson imply that all Jews were reptilian, or was he simply saying that Rothenstein was a person of Jewish ethnicity who happened to remind him of a small snake? Sadly, the overwhelming probability favours the former interpretation, a casual recourse to an anti-Semitic trope.[186] Yet, despite this private condemnation (and Benson the diarist was anything but charitable), he was able to correspond with Rothenstein amicably and even on confidential terms. For instance, if Benson had difficulties with Jews, he had a far larger problem with women, which he shared with Rothenstein in 1916:  "It is the female relatives who make truth so difficult both for painter and biographer."[187] 

There is one further example of Benson's use of a pejorative description of Jewishness, but this time in the context of an array of cameos of a group of prominent writers, most of them dismissively caricatured in words. One month after the outbreak of the First World War, he was summoned to a high-level gathering of literary men (no women attended) convened by the government to consider how to counter German propaganda which, it was feared, was winning the battle for American public opinion. Given that creative talents do not always work in harmony, the session proved remarkably positive, with general support for a proposal to establish an information bureau, for which the various authors agreed to write. The only disruptive element in the meeting was the Zionist activist Israel Zangwill, whom Benson crudely described as "hideously ugly with long teeth, a mixture of negro & Jew". Zangwill delivered "an interminable speech about the Jews & their importance as journalists" and proposed "that a petition to the Czar might be signed for the liberty of the Jews".[188] His intervention was not well received. When he finally sat down, Robert Bridges remarked "like a good-natured uncle 'I wish we had the Czar here'." 

Two issues arise out of Benson's diary entry. The first relates to his description of Zangwill, the second to his response to the plea to speak out in support of Russian Jews. A century later, we are likely to feel uncomfortable that Benson should call somebody "hideously ugly with long teeth, a mixture of negro & Jew", which not only repeats but compounds the stereotype applied to Rothenstein. In the pages of his diary, Benson converted himself from a humble observer to a controlling puppet-master, capturing the other participants in thumbnail descriptions, most of them unflattering:  H.G. Wells was "fat, brown and perky, very smart", G.K. Chesterton "enormous, steaming with sweat", Arnold Bennett "very pert, & looking every inch a cad". (A cad was the antithesis of a gentleman: the category was equally undefined, but you knew one when you met one.) Moreover, we need to face the fact that Israel Zangwill did have a very striking appearance, one that stood out all the more within what was still a predominantly Anglo-Celtic population. Modern liberal societies have problems in categorising people who look different. Decade by decade, phrases are evolved – coloured people, visible minorities – which are intended to convey respect but are quickly dismissed as coded badges of discrimination. The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography described Zangwill as "angular, tall, gaunt, and bespectacled". An early biographer, who was both a friend and a co-religionist, more bluntly referred to his "grotesquely Jewish appearance".[189] Benson's description was superficial and tasteless, evidence of the casual anti-Semitism that was endemic in British society. In some of his contemporaries, such prejudice would develop into full-scale attitudes of hostility and discrimination. Benson as diarist probably used the stereotype of Jewishness in a more casual fashion, as simply one more weapon in his armoury of pithy denigration.

His impatience at Zangwill's contribution to the proceedings merits more sympathy. Two weeks before the meeting, Israel Zangwill had publicly welcomed rumours that the Tsar was about to concede civil rights to his Jewish subjects, a development that would reassure "those who, like myself, believe that the Entente with Russia was too high a price to pay even for safety against the German peril". His letter to The Times was poorly worded – he had even confused "Balkan" with "Baltic" – and he was roundly denounced for believing that "the interests of his Russian compatriots are more important than those of the land of his adoption and of the British Empire". The Chief Rabbi and the editor of the Jewish Chronicle promptly engaged in damage limitation, distancing themselves from Zangwill and insisting, as Dr Hertz put it, that "my people at this terrible hour are fully mindful of their supreme duty".[190] Indeed, Zangwill's statement was doubly ill-timed. In the opening weeks of the war, there were still hopes that sheer weight of numbers would enable the 'Russian steamroller' to smash through the Eastern Front, at which point the German invasion of France and Belgium would simply crumble, and the war might indeed be over by Christmas. By the end of August, there were vague reports of intense fighting in East Prussia. It hardly seemed the appropriate moment to lecture an ally on human rights. Then, on 2 September, the day of the gathering of the literary men, The Times reported a bleak communiqué from Petrograd under the headline "Heavy Russian Losses". Army headquarters announced a major setback. "Thanks to their highly developed railway system, very superior German forces concentrated from all parts of the front and flung themselves against about [sic] two of our Army Corps. These were exposed to extremely violent fire from big guns, which inflicted large losses." Three generals had been killed.[191] For so secretive an autocracy to make such a confession was a clear indication that Russia had suffered a major disaster. As details emerged of what became known as the battle of Tannenberg, it became clear that the entire Russian Second Army had been destroyed. Benson and his fellow writers would have seen that news as they headed for the meeting. No wonder they were disgusted at Zangwill's obsessive intervention.

Given the millions of words that Benson spewed forth, all his attitudes and his platitudes, it is noteworthy that there should be so little in his writings about Jews. His negative comments were unpleasant examples of ethnic stereotype, but they were by no means factually unjustified when applied to Lewis and Zangwill. In any case, they should be put alongside his evident goodwill towards Leonard Stern. And there is one further enigmatic story that may place Benson in a positive light. Early in his Mastership, a Polish Jew called David Keilin arrived in Cambridge. A promising young biochemist who had left Tsarist Russia to study in Paris, Keilin had been invited to Cambridge to work with G.H.F. Nuttall, who held the Chair of Biology and who had succeeded the veteran Alfred Newton as Magdalene's Professorial Fellow. In October 1916, Benson notified the newcomer that he had been awarded a two-year research studentship at Magdalene.[192]  No doubt Nuttall was the moving force behind the initiative, but that can hardly be the whole story. Although the University had adopted the designation of "research student" in 1894 (the category was open-ended as there was no PhD until 1919), Magdalene was overwhelmingly an undergraduate college.[193] A research studentship sounds a startling innovation, especially at a time when Magdalene's always fragile finances had been disrupted by the wartime exodus of undergraduates. It is likely that the award to Keilin, like much of the other expenditure around the College, even including salaries, was funded by Benson himself.[194]  Jews might never be one-hundred percent gentlemen, but they were nonetheless welcome in Benson's Magdalene.

Barometers of prejudice: Rudyard Kipling and T.S. Eliot  It was almost certainly on Benson's initiative that Magdalene decided in 1913 to go outside the usual realms of academic distinction and establish an Honorary Fellowship that would recognise a popular author with no University degree. The choice fell upon Thomas Hardy. The relationship was symbolised by the inclusion of Benson's successor as Master, A.B. Ramsay, as one of the pall-bearers at Hardy's funeral in 1928, and its importance to Hardy was indicated by his legacy of manuscripts of his poems to the College.[195] Four years after his death, this unofficial cultural slot was filled by the choice of Rudyard Kipling as Hardy's successor. Kipling's election was welcomed as an expression of openness: Magdalene, said The Times, "has not only done an honour to itself" but "may have done something to express the modern University spirit by drawing into an academic fold the almost violently unacademic master of all the arts of writing, who has enriched the English language with a manifold and multicoloured treasury, heaped up from all parts of the British Empire."[196] In the event, ill health prevented Kipling from playing more than a small part in the life of the College. In 1933, he was unable to attend a Feast, but sent a specially written poem instead. Within four years of Kipling's election, the Master of Magdalene was once again a pallbearer in Westminster Abbey. In 1937, Carrie Kipling funded a Fellowship in her husband's memory and, as with Hardy, there were gifts of manuscript versions of some of his poems.[197] Two years later, Magdalene secured a third distinguished Honorary Fellow from the world of literature, T.S. Eliot. In terms of what might be called the "mainstream" narrative, Magdalene's initiative was a wholly benign endeavour. In the case of Kipling, an institution usually regarded as unworldly and privileged had reached out to a hugely popular writer, bringing both credit and benefit upon itself. For its recipient too, the gesture conveyed deep meaning: once, after dining on High Table, Kipling exclaimed that "it must be wonderful to deal with these young men: one could do so much with them!" Eliot also enjoyed engagement with undergraduates, sometimes responding to ponderous student propositions with answers "of a profound simplicity that could easily make the questions seem a little clumsy, but given with so charming a smile and such delicate humour that no one could ever feel 'put down' by his presence."[198] Magdalene has good reason to feel grateful to them both.

Unfortunately, from the perspective of this essay, there is a major problem. Both Kipling and Eliot expressed highly prejudiced and insulting opinions about Jews. If the Magdalene story is to claim credit for those who supported their civil rights, and the institution itself to be commended for admitting the University's first Jewish graduate, then the fact that it conferred its highest distinction upon men who held such obnoxious views must be placed in an alternative column. Kipling, indeed, may be termed a fully-fledged anti-Semite, who was even reported to have credited the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Far from regarding Jews as victims, Kipling saw them rather as relentless aggressors, whose "machinations" were behind such undesirable episodes as the Bolshevik revolution.[199] In an unpublished poem, "The Burden of Jerusalem", he complained that Gentiles "[m]ust bear the weight of Israel’s hate" – a striking inversion of reality.[200]

Yet, at this point, it is important to take account of the recent study of Kipling's anti-Semitism by Bryan Cheyette, which certainly offers a severe analysis of the portrayal of Jews in his fiction. Nonetheless, Cheyette warns against filtering our understanding of Kipling through subsequent denunciations of his racism – an approach that "can lead to an overly teleological version of Kipling which gives the politics and context of the European continent in the late 1930s an undue prominence".[201] An example might be Kipling's description of the Near East as "all microbes & Jews & germs", precisely the kind of dehumanising vocabulary later used by the Nazis to justify mass murder. In fact, the comment, made in a private letter, formed part of an enquiry to his doctor about precautions required during a forthcoming visit to Egypt and Palestine, a risky excursion for someone with his poor health. Jerusalem was an insalubrious city, and many of its Jewish inhabitants were destitute. The phrase is unpleasant, but it dates from 1929, when the dangers of Nazism were not yet fully evident or generally appreciated.[202] Cheyette argues that the view from hindsight "flattens out" Kipling's use of what he prefers to call "a Semitic discourse", a mental picture that (as already partially quoted) spans an "ambivalence … where the boundaries between 'anti-' and 'philo-' are more blurred than is usually assumed".[203] Indeed, when liberal writers like J.A. Hobson had blamed Jewish financial power for embroiling Britain in the 1899-1902 Boer War, Kipling favoured Jews as allies and supporters working to strengthen the Imperial weak link in South Africa. Kingsley had switched from friend to foe because the Jewish people refused to accept the Resurrection; Kipling abandoned them when – after 1919 – he concluded that they were a threat to the British Empire.  Cheyette's emphasis upon an all-embracing "Semitic discourse" may perhaps be linked to Kipling's early life, much of which – it should never be forgotten – was spent in India.  In addition, as he showed in "The Burden of Jerusalem", he had an extensive knowledge of the Old Testament. It may be that the galaxies of strange peoples, Canaanites, Philistines and the rest, who seemed puzzlingly alien in the largely homogenous society of Britain, came to life against a background of India's mixed population, on a subcontinent where prophets and holy men abounded. Jews formed a tiny thread in that tapestry. In Lahore in his late teens, Kipling encountered an artisan, a tiler by trade, who led a small community of his co-religionists at the city's synagogue. Whenever the "good little Jew" called to fix the roof, Kipling's Muslim bearer "spat loudly and openly on the verandah". It was probably in Lahore that he learned of the warning in the Quran that Jews aimed "to abet disorder on the earth: but God loveth not the abettors of disorder". It was this verse that inspired one of his few published expressions of anti-Semitism outside his fiction: "Israel is a race to leave alone. It abets disorder." It appeared in his autobiography, posthumously published in 1937.[204]

T.S. Eliot attempted to defend Kipling. "I am not aware that he cherished any particularly anti-Semitic feelings," he wrote in 1943.[205] The denial was poorly worded: it would surely have been preferable to have pleaded that Kipling only occasionally voiced his antipathy to Jews, but to have acknowledged that when he did, his hatred was visceral. Much the same might be said of Eliot.[206] There was a deeply unpleasant poem of 1920, about the canals of Venice as seen by an unappealing American tourist (a "Chicago Semite"): "The rats are underneath the piles / The jew is underneath the lot."[207] It would be forty years before editions of Eliot's verse even troubled to capitalise the J-word. In part, the prejudice stemmed from – or was pseudo-intellectually justified by – Eliot's theoretical conception of an ideal society. "The population should be homogeneous; where two or more cultures exist in the same place they are likely either to be fiercely self-conscious or both to become adulterate. What is still more important is unity of religious background; and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable."[208] It is noticeable here that Jews lose out all round: whether they practised their religion or abandoned it for a secular way of life, to Eliot they still represented an alien force that would somehow undermine, or even contaminate, the majority culture, like the rats under the buildings of Venice. Worse still, this was no passing speculation in some private letter, but a considered statement in a public lecture delivered at the University of Virginia in 1933, at a time when the most cursory newspaper reader would have been aware of the menace of Nazism.

Eliot's Boston Brahmin background had probably made him disdainful of Jews. He had encountered "the clever Jew undergraduate mind at Harvard" in the years when the University's increasing Jewish enrolment was becoming controversial.[209] Eliot settled in England and became a British subject in 1927. It has been suggested that his anti-Semitism represented an attempt at casual conformity with the prejudices of the upper classes with whom he aimed to assimilate.[210] The most generous defence would plead that Eliot, like many other denigrators of Jews, simply did not think through the implications of his prejudice, as seems clear from the impossible position he assigned to them in his University of Virginia lecture. In "Little Gidding", the last of his Four Quartets, Eliot perceptively pointed out that "last year's words belong to last year's language / And next year's words await another voice". Two years after its publication in 1942, the term "genocide" was coined, with particular and immediate reference to the attempt to eradicate Judaism by exterminating the Jewish people. Another voice had indeed emerged and the discourse could never be the same again. In 1951, Eliot felt obliged to defend himself. "He had no bias against the Jewish people and was not anti-Semitic. If that impression had gained ground it was because his poetry had been misinterpreted."[211] It may be noted that After Strange Gods, his University of Virginia lectures, was one of the few volumes whose republication he refused to permit.

Kipling and Eliot jointly represent a blemish in the story of Magdalene and British Jewry. However, the College certainly did not confer Honorary Fellowships upon them in response to elements in their thinking and writing that only later became controversial. A.B. Ramsay, Benson's successor as Master, courted Kipling for several years, before persuading him to accept a formal association. An impressive classical scholar, Ramsay shared with Kipling an unlikely if juvenile enthusiasm for spoof Latin verse, which included the production in 1920 of a hoax book of Horatian odes.[212] Ramsay probably aimed to advertise Magdalene's Empire credentials by securing Kipling alongside Sir Edwin Lutyens, the distinguished architect who had agreed to design new College accommodation at the same time as he created an imposing capital for the Raj at New Delhi.[213]  Ramsay also played a part in the wooing of Eliot. In May 1936, Eliot visited Cambridge to examine a doctoral dissertation in English Literature, a new experience that left him "almost as nervous as the candidate".  His host, a Fellow of Trinity, took him to visit Little Gidding in Huntingdonshire where, in the early seventeenth century, the Ferrar family had established an Anglican spiritual community. Eliot, who proclaimed himself a Royalist and an Anglo-Catholic, was captivated by the "very strong atmosphere of holiness" in the small parish church, which would inspire "Little Gidding", the culmination of Four Quartets. That evening, he was a guest at a Cambridge dining club, where he was seated next to the Master of Magdalene who, he noted, was "incredibly knowledgeable about claret".[214] It is likely that Eliot talked about his excursion, giving Ramsay the opportunity to tell him that Maria Ferrar, a descendant of the family, had married Peter Peckard, the Master of Magdalene whose defence of Jewish civil rights was discussed earlier. Through this connection, a notable collection of Ferrar family correspondence was preserved in the College.[215] Ramsay may well have mentioned too that Magdalene had also produced Henry Dunster, the first President of Harvard, where Eliot had taken his degree. The upshot was that Eliot became a frequent visitor to the College in the two years before his election as an Honorary Fellow.[216] Thus counterfeit Horace and seventeenth-century spirituality built the bridges that led to the association of Rudyard Kipling and T.S. Eliot with Magdalene. Far from endorsing anti-Semitism, the College at that period welcomed Jewish scholars and students. 

Magdalene Jews 1916-1944 Once again, it must be emphasised that there is no simple way of counting the number of Jews who studied at Magdalene in the era of the two world wars, not least because some may have moved away from their heritage and ceased even to regard themselves as Jewish.[217]  Nonetheless, those who can be identified point to the existence of a supportive institution, and this section seeks to reconstruct something of their achievements.

"I have idea for new experiment!": David Keilin One of David Keilin's earliest memories was his family's forced departure from Moscow, his birthplace in 1887, as a result of a Tsarist pogrom. They settled in Warsaw, where his father owned property: he was educated at a Polish-language academy, and also learned to speak French, an elite language in the Russian Empire in those days.[218] This enabled him to enrol, in 1904, at the University of Liège where he planned to study medicine, but his own poor health – he was severely asthmatic – ruled out his initial career choice, while general scientific pre-med studies steered him in other directions. He moved on to the Sorbonne, where he began to build a reputation in entomology and parasitology. In 1915, he was invited to Cambridge to work with G.H.F. Nuttall, the University's Professor of Biology who – as noted earlier – was a Fellow of Magdalene. In effect, Keilin was a double refugee, who had emigrated from Russia but found his new life in France disrupted by the German invasion. As noted above, he was rescued by the award of a two-year research studentship at Magdalene, probably personally funded by A.C. Benson. He expressed his thanks to the Master in elegant French: "Je suis profondément touché de cette marque de sympathie envers moi en m'accordant le Research Studentship qui me permettra de joindre le College et l'Université."[219] Dynamic but small in stature, he would acquire fluent English, which he spoke "with a delightful and characteristic Polish accent", although he never mastered the use of articles before nouns. Colleagues were amused when he announced, as he often did: "I have idea for new experiment!"[220]

Nuttall and Keilin spent the First World War studying head lice – not some ivory-tower exercise in escapism during a global crisis, but an attempt to deal with one of the pests that compounded the misery of life in the trenches. In 1925, he discovered cytochromes – incidentally inventing the name – vital proteins although not easy for non-scientists to comprehend. Put over-simply, they are pigments which enable cells to function.[221] In 1931, he succeeded Nuttall both in the Chair of Biology and as a Professorial Fellow of Magdalene, the latter giving him a say in the governance of the College.[222] In the cold world of modern higher education, it is common for academics to work for institutions but to be given no incentive to identify with them. By contrast, Magdalene enfolded this Polish Jew and made him one of its own. An obituary tribute in the Magdalene College Magazine called him "a most remarkable and lovable person, patient and wise, with so great a spirit in so small a frame". Vital though he was to the work of the University's Molteno Institute, which undertook research in parasitology, he took a full part in College life, showing an interest in the research of younger colleagues across a whole range of disciplines. John Walsh, a junior History Fellow in the nineteen-fifties, was studying the role of religion in nineteenth-century England. One evening, in the Combination Room after Hall, Professor Keilin quietly but insistently questioned him about his work: "after starting from a position of ignorance and beginning with simple questions, he narrowed down his field of fire like an expert artillery man and began to hit the really important issues".[223] Keilin's admirers marvelled that he was never awarded the Nobel Prize, but he did receive the Royal Society's highest award, the Copley Medal.[224]   Magdalene marked his seventieth birthday by making him an Honorary Fellow in 1957.[225]

Between two world wars  During the interwar period, like the University in general, Magdalene grew in numbers, although it remained one of the smallest colleges in Cambridge. Between 1919 and 1939, it admitted around 1,400 students. Jews constituted about one percent of them, if anything a slightly higher proportion than their share of the whole British population. There seems no indication of either tokenism or prejudice. Perhaps in response to increasing numbers, the College adopted a system of file-cards on which to record information about students. Details were basic: name, home address, school attended, examination results, with some very occasional additional detail. There was no mention of religion, no hidden code (such as, to invent a hypothetical example, a tell-tale letter 'J'), nothing that might indicate either an admissions quota or any determination to impose unequal and unsympathetic treatment.[226] 

Magdalene's History Fellow, Frank Salter, represented a new breed of don, a Congregationalist, who maintained his Nonconformist identity in what was still an Anglican cocoon. A fervent Liberal, he wanted to make students aware of modern political and social issues. Previous generations of Cambridge academics had not been – shall we say? – obsessed with sharing their knowledge in print. By contrast, in 1921, Salter published Karl Marx and Modern Socialism, in which he hailed the author of Das Kapital as "a very lovable, very exasperating but essentially real, though often wrong-headed, enthusiast" – a description that his Magdalene colleagues might sometimes have attributed to the author himself. He based his analysis firmly upon the fact that Marx was a Jew – the son of a convert to Christianity and an atheist himself, but, nonetheless, someone for whom an academic career was blocked by Prussian anti-Semitism. In short, Marx was "a Journalist who would have liked to have been a Don". In the academic year 1922, Salter arranged for Harold Laski of the London School of Economics to deliver two series of extra-curricular lectures in the Hall of Magdalene. Laski had repudiated his family's Judaism and he was not yet the voice of Marxist revolution inside the Labour party. Nonetheless, in lectures that were "brilliant, eloquent, and delivered without a note", he spoke on topics that ranged beyond abstract theory. "Parliamentary government since 1914", his theme in the Michaelmas Term of 1923, could only be a controversial subject, as the House of Commons sought to reassert its sovereignty after Lloyd George's semi-autocratic regime: during the unfolding of his course, Britain was plunged into an unexpected general election campaign that presaged the return of its first Labour government. After Christmas, Laski turned to nineteenth-century French and German social thought.[227] Kingsley Martin, future editor of the New Statesman and then a research student at Magdalene, returned from a year at Princeton in 1923 to find that the lectures were "a subject of controversy at every High Table in Cambridge". As a bye-fellow, Kingsley Martin had the privilege of dining with the Fellows of his College, and we may guess that that Laski's left-wing opinions caused dyspepsia at Magdalene High Table – but his account suggests that donnish disapproval was anti-socialist rather than anti-Semitic. However, it is possible to catch an element of wider Cambridge resentment against an outsider in Kingsley Martin's recollection that Laski "lectured to experts on their own subjects, and seemed not even to notice that they resented his anecdotes about famous people even more than his politics".[228]

Harold Laski may be regarded as one of Britain's most prominent Jewish intellectuals in the first half of the twentieth century, even if fame did not always cling to him for the best of reasons.[229] In 1930, Magdalene had an even briefer contact with the greatest Jewish mind of the epoch. On 5 June, the University conferred an honorary degree upon Albert Einstein. After the ceremony, Einstein was among the guests entertained at a reception "in the beautiful gardens of Magdalene College" which were "crowded with a thousand people, mostly in academic dress, and brilliant with silk hoods and scarlet gowns … a picture wonderful to be seen." In a scene of "unusually decorous gaiety", selected students were mobilised to act as waiters, and the mathematician Dennis Babbage, later President of the College, would recall, with diffident pride, that he handed the guest of honour an ice-cream.[230]

Thus far, Magdalene's small number of Jewish students had resembled the College's intake in general, comprising young men from family backgrounds that ranged from the comfortably prosperous to the astronomically wealthy. Although they never amounted to a torrent, numbers increased after the First World War and they spanned a broad range of abilities and achievements. Cambridge as a whole was both expanding and improving. In Edwardian times, fewer than half the undergraduate population studied at Honours level; one-third took the undemanding Pass degree, while around one in five left without graduating at all.[231] In the nineteen-twenties, as might be expected of an elite university, the balance shifted towards the pursuit of Honours. Pass degrees were now a second-best consolation prize, and even the occasional undergraduate who aimed to shine as an athlete, cricketer or oarsman was put under pressure to satisfy the examiners at some rudimentary level. The trend towards more intense undergraduate study was matched by a new emphasis on research, thanks to the creation of the PhD degree in 1919. The Jews of Magdalene typically spanned the student profile, some achieving brilliant academic results, others struggling to make even the basic grade.

Magdalene's Jewish mathematicians In both social and academic terms, Samuel Verblunsky, who arrived in 1924, broke new ground. His parents had been born in Russia and his father was a tailor in the East End.[232] A mathematics prodigy and a product of the Central Foundation School in Islington, he had (like Arthur Cohen) already achieved a BSc, with First Class Honours, from London University when he won an Entrance Scholarship to study mathematics.[233] Supported by College prizes and benefactions, he took Firsts in both parts of the Mathematical Tripos, with a distinction (a "starred First") in Part II, before proceeding to study for a PhD. By the time the doctorate was completed in 1930, he was already publishing path-breaking papers. The College Magazine, usually more at home chronicling sporting triumphs, admiringly reported in 1929 that he had communicated a paper entitled "The sum of an oscillating series" to the Cambridge Philosophical Society, which was effectively the University's research seminar in advanced mathematics.[234]  The College also recognised his potential. No doubt his advancement was assisted by the fact that Magdalene's mathematics don, A.S. Ramsey, was a very senior Fellow and a longtime stalwart of the institution.[235] In 1928, Verblunksy was elected to a bye-fellowship, which gave him a small stipend, free accommodation and dining rights at High Table. In 1930, he won a coveted University award, the Allen Scholarship, thought to be only the second time that the prize had gone to Magdalene.[236] That same year, he became a Research Fellow. Just as the Research Studentship for David Keilin was a novelty, so the notion of helping to fund a young scholar for three years of postdoctoral research was a cautious venture on to new ground. Cambridge High Tables were mannered coteries of privilege, and there was some concern about admitting Verblunsky to the club.  He had, of course, struggled through his studies on a very small income, and some Fellows were alarmed when they learned that their new recruit had never used a telephone or taken a ride in a taxi. If this was coded anti-Semitism, it was overcome, for Verblunsky was duly elected. One episode from his years as a young don is recorded.  In the eighteen-eighties, a small electricity generating station had been built across the Cam from the College garden, on land belonging to St John's – an unfriendly gesture that soured relations between the neighbouring institutions for the next seventy years. When the coal-fired power station was not showering Magdalene with soot, it emitted a hum that resonated through the College. Verblunsky pleaded to be allocated accommodation away from the nuisance: "when the buzzing reaches a certain intensity, creative effort on my part is impaired, so that if I am to invent any more theorems, the noise must not be too loud".[237] In 1933, at the conclusion of his Research Fellowship, he accepted a post at Manchester College of Technology (later UMIST), later moving to a lectureship at Queen's University, Belfast.[238] In 1951, Queen's appointed him Professor of Mathematics. He remained in Northern Ireland after his retirement in 1970, dying – a bachelor – at the age of ninety in 1996. Mathematicians acquire immortality in their subject if some problem or device is named after them.  Verblunsky is remembered for the Verblunsky Theorem, while an obituary notice identified no fewer than ninety learned papers, all of them recent, that discussed Verblunsky coefficients, plus a further ten that referred to Verblunsky parameters.[239] Somehow he found time for another enthusiasm, History, and was a devoted reader (and re-reader) of Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Magdalene welcomed and supported other Jewish mathematicians and physicists in the nineteen-thirties. In 1931, Reuben Louis Goodstein won an Entrance Scholarship from St Paul's School in London.[240] His family were Russian Jews, who were based for much of the nineteen-twenties in Danzig (now Gdansk), a free city under League of Nations protection. He not only secured First Class Honours in his BA, but his performance in Part II was described as "unusually good", since he tackled the advanced papers after just one year in what was normally a two-year course. Although he began postgraduate work, Goodstein encountered financial problems when cigarette factories owned by his father in Germany were seized by the Nazis, forcing him to seek an academic appointment. Magdalene, which had awarded him a research studentship, also supplied a reference: well-meaning but not profoundly informed, the testimonial relied upon the opinion of his supervisor, the distinguished mathematician, E.L. Littlewood of Trinity, for its assessment of his research skills. Describing Goodstein as "a man of very marked ability … a clear and hard thinker … quick to pick out the essential points of a problem and able to expound them lucidly", it expressed confidence that "he would prove to be an able and interesting teacher of Mathematics". Presumably it helped him to gain a teaching post at the University of Reading. In 1948, he was appointed Professor of Mathematics at Leicester, and was believed to be the first specialist in mathematical logic to be recognised with a Chair in a British university. Leicester was still a small University College, whose undergraduates studied for London external degrees. Goodstein was Dean of Science in the years immediately before the achievement of full University status in 1957, and he was later appointed as Pro-Vice-Chancellor in 1966. He was described as "an intensely private person" with a very traditional conception of a university, for instance opposing student participation in committees. In 1957, Cambridge awarded him one of its higher doctorates, the DSc. Like Verblunsky, he has a theorem named after him.

The physicist Maurice Goldhaber is discussed in the next section. With David Bernard Schultz, wider questions arise, since his decision to change his name to Scott evidently marked an intention to distance himself from his Jewish background.[241] From a family of furriers who lived in Golders Green, he attended the City of London School, where he excelled both at Rugby and chess. In 1934, Schultz became the third Jew in a decade to win an Entrance Scholarship to read Mathematics at Magdalene, and duly achieved a starred First – as well as the chairmanship of the University Chess Club.[242] The College awarded him a research studentship to support postgraduate study that led to the University's Rayleigh Prize. He may have encountered financial problems, although it was probably marriage to his Cambridge girl-friend in 1939 that led him to switch briefly into school-teaching before securing a lectureship at Queen Mary College in the University of London. His chess-playing brain marked him out for secret code-breaking at Bletchley Park: many of his closest associates only learned of his work there through an oration delivered by a colleague at his funeral in 1993. After the war, he held university posts both at Aberdeen and at King's College, London.[243] In 1962, he became the founding Professor of Mathematics at the new University of Sussex, with responsibility to build a department, design its curriculum and recruit its staff. He contributed energetically to Senate debates on wider University policy ("his undiplomatic manner was not to everybody's taste", an obituary remarked), opposing pressures to separate teaching from research. His latest appointment gave him the opportunity to pursue an enthusiasm for opera, since Glyndebourne was only just down the road. In retirement, he became chess correspondent of the Independent, and it was while pondering a move on the board that he suffered the heart attack that killed him. He had designed his farewell – a funeral ceremony on Quaker lines, after which mourners were enjoined to honour his memory by consuming Madeira cake, washed down with Madeira.[244]

Some Jewish students of the 1920s and 1930s If these mathematicians were atypical of interwar Magdalene, it was less because they were Jewish and rather more thanks to the brilliance of their examination results. In the nineteen-twenties and -thirties, the College still tended to encourage decent young men, usually from public schools, who were good all-rounders, making the most of University life if rarely excelling in any aspect of it. Some of its Jewish undergraduates conformed to that model. Edward Ralph Smouha – known as "Teddy" – was the son of an immigrant from Iraq who had become a successful textile manufacturer in Manchester. Joseph Smouha became wealthier still by draining swampland outside Alexandria in Egypt on which he built a satellite community of high-prestige homes.[245]  Teddy, who arrived from Cheltenham College in October 1926, was mainly interested in athletics. Two years later, the College Magazine congratulated him on "putting up a very good race" against Oxford in the 220 yards, a prelude to winning a bronze medal as part of the men's 4 x 100 metres relay team at the Amsterdam Olympics later that summer. His student career was less impressive. His attempt to read Economics got off to a bad start when he suffered serious concussion a few weeks into his first term, perhaps by playing Rugby. He was only able to begin serious work in the Lent Term of 1927, a delay that offered a plausible excuse when he failed Part I that summer. Magdalene gave him a last-chance ultimatum: pass an examination in Economics by December or be sent down. He survived and managed to obtain a Third in the subject in 1928. He then switched to Law, managing another Third (at his second attempt) in the summer of 1929. He would later become a Wing Commander in Royal Air Force Transport Command.

Clifton College, a public school that encouraged Jewish pupils, contributed at least four undergraduates to Magdalene during the interwar period: Leslie Barnett Prince in 1919, Vivian Steinart in 1924, Clifford Cohen in 1928 and Bernard Waley-Cohen five years later.[246] Leslie Prince, who arrived in 1919, enjoyed his time at Magdalene, where he played in the College's first-ever golf tournament. He was not an outstanding student. Indeed, he was part of one of the last student cohorts required to sit a mechanical examination in Paley's Evidences of Christianity. Seventy years earlier, Arthur Cohen had taken a perverse pleasure in regurgitating Paley's simplistic arguments, but Prince was initially unable to enter into the role of Christian apologist, and only passed at his second attempt. He subsequently found History an equally demanding subject, and retreated in his third year to a Pass degree in Law. After Cambridge, Leslie Prince trained as an accountant, and it might seem easy enough to dismiss him as an anonymous worthy who became, in the cliché, "something in the City". In fact, he became very many things in the City of London, its Sheriff, Master of a livery company and – in particular – a key member of its Finance Committee, setting business rates and overseeing the Corporation's extensive property portfolio.[247] He was closely involved in the imaginative sale of London Bridge to Lake Havasu City in Arizona (the Americans were not tricked into believing they had bought Tower Bridge) and he was one of the champions of the Barbican Arts Centre, a project that the hard-nosed businessmen of the Common Council were only narrowly persuaded – largely thanks to his enthusiasm – to approve. He was active in supporting Jewish causes, especially welcoming wartime refugees, while his "warm and distinctly eccentric nature" manifested itself in generosity both to his school and his college. For Magdalene, he established a fund that made grants for student educational travel, and also supported minor improvements. In 1983, it was used to rescue River Court from its previous role as a car park, paying for ornamental replanting. A few weeks after his death the following year, a Magdalene contingent gladly travelled to London to join the celebration of his life. On discovering that the Liberal Synagogue in St John's Wood was located across the road from Lord's, they speculated that Leslie Prince would have skipped his own memorial service because "almost certainly he was watching cricket in a better place".[248]   

Vivian Steinart, who was born in Salford, came to Magdalene in October 1924. He was not an academic high-flier. Indeed, he failed his first year Law examinations in 1925 (they were "Prelims" which did not fortunately did not count), and was lucky to pass in Part I the following year. The Easter Term of 1926 was dominated by Britain's only General Strike, which ran from 4 to 12 May – a key period in examination preparation. Steinart was one of many students who became involved, some supporting the strikers but most acting as volunteers to keep basic services going. Vivian Steinart almost certainly took the government side, and probably returned to Manchester during the crisis.[249] He must have come back to Cambridge shortly before the Part I examinations, and crammed enough Law into his head to manage a Third. He took Part II in the quieter times of 1927, but still did not rise above Third Class Honours. It was enough to launch a career and, in the nineteen-thirties, he became a partner in a Manchester law firm. Like Leonard Stern, Vivian Steinart engaged in social work, as an officer of the Jewish Lads' Brigade. Steinart claimed that the Brigade aimed to create a "Jewish atmosphere", providing basic religious instruction for boys whose families had broken their links with the synagogue. More practically, it operated as "a sort of job centre" and also exercised a form of social control. If a youngster showed signs of anti-social behaviour, a Brigade officer would visit his parents, sometimes intervening to put an end to destabilising abuse such as wife-beating. Steinart would later claim that "in those days literally you never saw a Jewish child in the courts".[250] He served as president of Manchester Reform Synagogue and, in the nineteen-fifties, as chairman of the local branch of the Anglo-Jewish Association.[251] Clifford Cohen read Law, practising as a barrister until 1939: his war service is discussed in the next section. During his three years studying Law at Magdalene in the mid-nineteen-twenties, supervisors and examiners would have hardly have guessed that he would one day become a judge. He failed his initial qualifying examination, rose to a Third in Part I but his record card laconically described his performance in Part II with the code "All. Ord." [allowed the Ordinary degree]. He had failed to reach the Honours standard and was sent on his way with the empty trophy of a Pass degree. However, he qualified as a barrister and practised on the north-eastern circuit. In 1952, he became a judge in the north of England, where he soon became known for his friendly good humour. County courts dealt with small claims and debt cases. "In dealing with debtors he would often order them to pay as little as a shilling a month, realizing that a man who was out of work with a large family could not pay more."[252] (This approach, of course, was at some variance with traditional Jewish stereotype.) Bernard Waley-Cohen read History, and has been claimed as one of the founders of an early incarnation of Varsity, the Cambridge student newspaper – although the prehistory of that publication is obscure. Like Steinart, he was not a brilliant student. He achieved a Third in his first-year examination in 1934, but the entry on his record card for Part I the following year is mysterious: "all[owe]d proceed" seems to have meant "better luck next time". However, fortune did not smile upon when he took Part II in 1936, and he left Cambridge without a degree. Although he came from one of Britain's wealthiest Jewish families, he was directed to make his own career, and went into the City on graduating. Poor eyesight ruled out active service in the Second World War, but he was a member of the Home Guard, and worked at the Ministry of Fuel and Power, where Harold Wilson was a colleague. In 1960, he became one of the youngest ever Lord Mayors of London. The Times rightly called him "a proud Englishman of the Jewish faith".[253] Despite his disappointing academic track record, he remained an enthusiastic member of Magdalene, and the College Magazine proudly reported his election as Lord Mayor and the subsequent conferral of a baronetcy upon him.[254]

Geoffrey Blok: whose failure?  Geoffrey Blok (from 1942, Block) was a student at Magdalene College, Cambridge from 1933 to 1937.[255] Unusually, a considerable amount of material exists both about his experience as a Jewish student activist and his very different later career. Notably, a failure in his relationship with his Director of Studies suggests that he underperformed academically, making him a case study of the pressures upon Jewish identity in twentieth-century Britain.[256] Born in 1914, Geoffrey Blok was the only son of a noted intellectual couple who were active in London-based Jewish organisations. His mother, Buena Sarah (née Pool), was a brilliant graduate of University College, London who had published scientific research papers and also lectured on Jewish topics. His father, Dr Arthur Blok, was an electrical engineer employed as a civil servant at the Patent Office who was a Zionist and prominent in the Jewish advocacy and welfare organisation, B'nai B'rith. In 1924-5, he was seconded by the British government to establish the first technical college in Palestine.[257] No doubt Geoffrey Blok's family wanted him to excel: Jewish parents are not unique in being ambitious for their children. At Cambridge, he followed in the family tradition, becoming active in the Schechter Society, a discussion group that was the forerunner of the University's Jewish Society.[258]

Geoffrey Blok won as an Entrance Scholarship in History from St Paul's School in December 1932, and came into residence the following October.[259] He opted for Part I of the Modern and Medieval Languages Tripos which – unlike most subjects – could be taken at the end of first year. He then switched to History, with the obvious intention of devoting two years of profound study to the mastery of a syllabus that most undergraduates covered in one, with the aim of achieving First Class Honours in his finals. Cambridge History students were expected to read tomes in continental languages: it is unlikely that many did so and, hence, a candidate who had taken Part I in French and German would have additional opportunities to impress the Tripos examiners. The first part of the plan worked successfully. In the summer of 1934, Geoffrey Blok achieved a First in French and an Upper Second (II / i) in German. Notably, he also scored distinctions in oral examinations in both languages. Unfortunately, at that point, the strategy began to come apart. In his second year, he obviously took his foot off the accelerator. Final examinations probably seemed a long way off. More to the point, by October 1934 the threat to German Jewry from the Nazis was becoming ever more insistent, repellent and menacing. Blok became increasingly active in the Schechter Society, holding a series of offices and eventually serving as President during his final undergraduate term.[260]

His disappointing second year worsened Geoffrey Blok's already awkward relationship with the College's History Fellow, F.R. Salter. Salter knew what it was like to belong to a minority group: he was a stout Congregationalist in an Anglican community, and an active Liberal in Magdalene's Tory micro-world.   A disciple of Gladstone stranded incongruously in the twentieth century, he had even stood (unsuccessfully) for parliament.[261] As his Magdalene obituary made clear, Frank Salter was a person of "charm, humour and real kindliness", who could be an inspirational teacher – but there were flaws.[262] As his championing of Laski had demonstrated, he was certainly no anti-Semite,[263] but his affection for humanity in general could be punctuated by a distinct intolerance towards those who ventured to disagree with him. He was stronger on principle than proportion. A.C. Benson, who had recruited Salter from Trinity, quickly found him "bluff and provocative ... intensely conscious of righteousness and just judgement". His huge frame could also be unintentionally intimidating, while his "exuberance and quick appraisal of what people were like (and he was nearly always right) could lead him in to remarks which to some seemed unjustifiably intrusive, implying criticism a little too near the bone". His "precipitancy of speech" sometimes caused lasting resentment.[264] It is likely that that this happened in his relationship with Geoffrey Blok.

Copies of two letters held by the Magdalene Archives throw some light on the relationship between Frank Salter and Geoffrey Blok. The first was sent to Blok himself following a disappointing second-year examination performance in 1935. The second, written two years later, was a reply to an unidentified correspondent who had requested a report on the young man's employability.[265]  In 1937, Salter praised Blok's "excellent moral character" and strong;y recommended him: "his shrewdness, enterprise and gift for languages would certainly carry him far". The young man had made an active contribution to the undergraduate community. Although he was "obviously not an athlete" – a knee injury ruled out most games – Geoffrey Blok had taken up rowing, a strenuous activity regarded as a badge of college patriotism. Salter was strong on social work, and he praised Blok for twice taking "an active part" in training camps for the unemployed. He homed in on another important point too: Geoffrey Blok did not simply interact with his fellow Jews through the inter-collegiate Schechter Society. Salter's obituary would note that, in addition to seeming to know everything about his students, "his perceptive eye was quick to memorise who walked about together". He had observed that Blok "got on well with a clever group of contemporaries who liked and respected him". This was almost certainly an allusion to a coterie of students around the dominant personality of John Bennett, a History Scholar a year ahead of Blok, who achieved the remarkable feat of a starred First in both parts of the Tripos. A grammar school boy from Romford, Bennett was the key figure in a group of undergraduates who reacted against the conformist and public-school ethos of nineteen-thirties Magdalene, some of them middle class – like Geoffrey Blok – others rebels against their own privileged backgrounds. They called themselves the Adullamites, after the Biblical cave of the discontented, and claimed to be members of a revolutionary organisation, STRACA, the Society for Tendentiously Resisting All Constituted Authority.[266] Assertive characters with apparently contrasting approaches to their studies, Blok and Bennett might easily have been rivals, but in the conservative atmosphere of interwar Magdalene, the two young men found values in common.

However, Salter openly confessed that he had not warmed to the young Jewish high-flyer. "I was never much attracted by him, probably through my own fault and certainly not through any anti-Semitic prejudice". He found Blok "rather 'jaunty' with the appearance at any rate of being pleased with himself". The older man was sufficiently troubled by his own negative impression – he admitted that the barrier between them helped explain "why he did not get intellectually as far as might be expected" – to make a longhand addition to the typed text: "I fancy his 'conceit' is a mannerism, possibly a form of self defence. But it is a drawback."

Salter's intolerance was evident in his severe comments on Geoffrey Blok's performance – "definitely not good" – in College examinations at the end of his second year. Translated into the standards of the History Tripos, he would have been lucky to have obtained an Upper Second ("a very low 2.1"). His answers on Medieval History were "definitely poor". On a paper about the Modern State, "you gave the impression ... of trying to cover up by clever writing a somewhat inadequate supply of actual material".  Salter's criticism verged upon brutality. It was one thing to complain that "you have rather let things slip this year ... although a relaxation from your strenuous first year was to some extent legitimate, you have over done it. You will certainly have to work tremendously hard and unremittingly for the next twelve months". At this point, a sympathetic teacher should surely have softened the reprimand, offering encouragement and support. Salter, after all, was renowned for his paternalistic interest in his undergraduates, there were never more than a couple of dozen young men studying History, while an Entrance Scholar would normally be regarded as an asset to be nurtured and developed. In fact, he adopted a precisely opposite tone, bluntly advising Blok to switch back to the Modern Languages Tripos. The advice came in a killer blow:  "I am still not sure how much aptitude you have for historical thinking, whereas it is quite clear that you have real linguistic ability". In slightly patronising tones, he added that, "if you regret the idea of giving up History", there would be opportunities to study historical themes in Part II Modern and Medieval Languages through literature and political theory.[267]

Not only was this harsh advice, it was also not very sound. If Geoffrey Blok had indeed wasted his second year, then he would simply tackle the Part II syllabus on the same basis as other undergraduate historians, cramming the work into his last three terms. It was hardly fair to dismiss a young man's aptitude for historical thinking when it was admitted that he had managed to bluff his way to the equivalent of an Upper Second, however weak, in the practice papers. Even Salter grudgingly accepted that his overall performance in the second year examinations was "able up to a point but not distinguished". A more positive attitude might have taken that as something on which to build in his final year. Most notable of all was the absence of any sign of empathy, some understanding that a young man from a family active in Jewish affairs was likely to be distracted from his books by the persecution of his people that was unfolding in Germany. Firm and friendly advice might have confronted the issue, telling Geoffrey Blok that the way to help his co-religionists was to work for the best degree he could achieve as a step to a career in which he might exercise influence on behalf of European Jews. 

Geoffrey Blok resisted the pressure to change back to Modern Languages, but it could hardly have helped his third-year studies to know that his Director of Studies had no confidence in his ability: Salter concluded that he was "never any[where] near getting a first in [H]istory because ... he rather rushed at the subject without adequate humility of approach". Blok remained active in the Schechter Society, even hosting a meeting of the discussion group in his Magdalene rooms shortly before his Part II examinations in 1936. He graduated with an Upper Second (II / i), and also won a College essay competition,[268] his effort for the latter perhaps a riposte to Salter's lack of faith in him. Although Geoffrey Blok took his BA that summer, he returned for a fourth year of study, probably as a vehicle for his increasing activism in the Jewish student movement. From Salter's 1937 letter of reference, it is clear that the outcome was disastrous – he failed the examination he had entered for – but his choice of subject was not revealed.[269] Characteristically, Salter hoped the setback might reduce Blok's self-conceit. It is sad that so experienced a don should have perceived the possibility that the affectation of superiority was a cover for insecurity without connecting this to the likely challenges involved in the young man's sense of identity.  Arguably, it is never easy to be Jewish, but the mid-nineteen-thirties were a time of particular menace. The personal gulf between Salter and Blok was more complex than the petty resentment of Professor Alfred Newton that had alienated Walter Rothschild from Magdalene, but it was perhaps equally damaging. Like Arthur Cohen, Geoffrey Blok had evidently assumed that he could cruise towards examination triumph. Cohen had found Magdalene too relaxing and distracting; for Blok, the censorious Nonconformist disapproval of his Director of Studies made the College unduly discouraging. It is sad that Salter did not succeed, and may not even have attempted, to overcome the barrier.

Geoffrey Blok was by now active in the Inter-University Jewish Federation (IUJF), for whom he co-authored a report on Jews in British higher education. It seems that he studied at the London School of Economics from 1937 to 1939, organising fund-raising in support of a Jewish Students' Common Room.[270] In the IUJF, he was first elected to the grandiloquently titled office of Honorary Foreign Secretary, a post that apparently carried a remit to defend communities abroad. In November 1937, there was criticism of Jewish medical students in Poland, who were reported to procure corpses for dissection from non-Jewish sources, a practice that aroused dark echoes of the blood libel, the virulent (and enduring) medieval belief that Jews committed ritual murder of Christian victims. Geoffrey Blok explained to readers of The Times that "strict Jewish law forbids the desecration of a human body". However, in 1929 the Polish government had legislated to permit the seizure for medical research of "corpses of any religious community, even without the consent of the relatives. The Jewish religious authorities willingly enjoined acceptance of the Bill on their flocks. Their attitude was that though Jewish teaching does not permit the dissection of dead bodies, if the law of the State requires it[,] it must be obeyed, for obedience to the State is a prime maxim of Jewish law." Blok praised "the ready cooperation of the Jewish authorities", insisting that the dissection issue had "ceased to be a just cause of ill-will ... for it is no longer true that Jews do not allow Jewish bodies to be used for dissection". There was perhaps a certain element of special pleading in his account, but it was effective in emphasising that Jews were both law-abiding and rational people.[271]

Elected chairman of the IUJF at its annual conference in December 1937, Geoffrey Blok promptly issued a plea on behalf of David Frankfurter, who was serving a prison sentence in Switzerland for the assassination of the local Nazi chief, Wilhelm Gustloff. Frankfurter had been studying in Germany when Hitler came to power and, as Geoffrey Blok reminded the readers of the Manchester Guardian, he "could not bear the sufferings and humiliation of his brethren". The death penalty had been abolished in the canton of Berne where Frankfurter was tried, and he had been sentenced to eighteen years' imprisonment. In the face of Nazi anger that he had not been put to death, there was little chance of clemency, but the IUJF conference responded to concerns about Frankfurter's health by calling for remission. "Without identifying itself in any way with his act" – so Blok insisted – the IUJF wished to show that "Jewish youth has not forgotten the man who was moved to carry out his purpose solely through brooding over the terrible injustices inflicted upon his people".[272]

There is some mystery surrounding Geoffrey Blok's wartime experience. In 1942, he changed his name by deed poll, making a single-letter amendment to Geoffrey Block.[273] Although this minor alteration was no doubt convenient, it is possible that he was redefining himself, moving away from the shadow of his father, who was becoming one of the patriarchal figures in British Jewry: it does not seem that Geoffrey Block was subsequently prominent in any Jewish organisation.[274]  A brief biographical note in 1960 stated that he served in the Royal Artillery throughout the Second World War,[275] but it seems he worked in Intelligence, not –  like some of his Cambridge contemporaries –  at Bletchley Park, but in the field. In 1944, he was a Corporal in one of the Special Wireless Sections of the Royal Signals, where his fluency in German would have qualified him to listen in to enemy communications. He may have also been involved in specialist work on aircraft recognition, the vital split-second decision that determines whether an approaching aeroplane is friend or foe.[276]  Personnel engaged in sensitive Intelligence activities were banned from discussing their wartime experiences for two decades after 1945, and the reference to service with the Artillery – to which Geoffrey Block's unit was perhaps assigned – was probably a cover for secret work. It is noteworthy that he apparently did not rise above the rank of Corporal. In the First World War, it had been practically automatic that Cambridge products – whether or not they were graduates – were offered commissions. World War Two was fought on slightly more democratic lines, but Geoffrey Block was evidently not seen as officer material. Possibly this reflected endemic anti-Semitism, but it may be that his sometimes off-putting personality ruled him out. Perhaps his language skills made him too good at the job he was doing to risk promotion. Army careers did not always reflect fairness and merit.

For a quarter of a century after the Second World War, Geoffrey Block contributed to public debate on a wide range of issues. In contrast to his activities in the late nineteen-thirties, he concentrated on domestic subjects, such as house-building and tourism. His perspective was also unexpected. In postwar Britain, there was an exceptionally close association between Jews and the Labour Party: of twenty-eight Jewish MPs (a record number) elected to the House of Commons in 1945, twenty-six were Labour.[277]  It might have seemed that Geoffrey Block conformed to a standard profile of a Jewish socialist intellectual. He had studied at the London School of Economics, powerhouse of the British Left. He often favoured collectivist policies, for instance criticising the Attlee government for its alleged failure to mobilise national resources for house-building and later arguing for State regulation of caravan sites on health grounds. He even had a flat in Hampstead. However, by the early nineteen-fifties, he was working for the Conservative Political Centre (CPC), and in February 1955, he was appointed head of its home affairs department.[278]

The CPC had been established after the party's heavy defeat in 1945 to undertake policy research and provide political education: in short, it was designed to give the Tories the kind of informed firepower that Labour received from the Fabian Society. Geoffrey Block produced a series of publications that were admired even by political opponents.[279] "One does not usually look to party publications for a clear analysis of such a complex problem", the Liberal Manchester Guardian commented of his 1954 pamphlet on town planning.[280] Britons on Holiday (1963), which emphasised the importance of the tourist industry, was an example of think-tank research that broke new ground in the policy agenda.[281]  Four years later, on the eve of a general election that would end thirteen years of Tory government, he produced a history of the Conservative party, and guide to its philosophy, A Source Book of Conservatism.[282] The book was something of an elegy for the middle-of-the-road Toryism that was now swept aside by Harold Wilson. In later years, Geoffrey Block became an occasional commentator on legal and constitutional issues, for instance opposing the use of the referendum to settle the question of British membership of the European Economic Community. It was indeed true that the statesmen of yesteryear had talked about holding national plebiscites on controversial subjects like Irish Home Rule and the powers of the House of Lords, but – he insisted – the real precedent was that none of them had ever gone through with the threat.[283] It was in character that, in 1985, when he was retired and into his seventies, he should have become a contestant on BBC radio's general knowledge quiz, Brain of Britain.[284]

His private life, his beliefs and personal religious practice remain largely unknown. His postwar career was barely noted by the Jewish Chronicle: he seems to have been reported as attending only one event associated with the faith in which he had been raised.[285] Two final reflections seem permissible. First, Geoffrey Block had moved a considerable distance from public involvement with the issues that had concerned Geoffrey Blok, even if his private opinions and loyalties may have remained unchanged. Second, no doubt his intellect had matured during the three decades since he had shrugged off Frank Salter's disapproval, but the quality of his published work and the respect it commanded cast doubt on the claim that he lacked "aptitude ... for historical thinking". It is difficult not to regret that his ability was not more fully harnessed at Magdalene.  

Derek Ezra followed in 1936: a product of Monmouth School, he graduated on the eve of war in 1939, having scored Firsts in all three of his History examinations. He served as an Intelligence Officer at Eisenhower's headquarters, SHAEF, before working his way up through the ranks of the postwar National Coal Board, becoming Chairman in 1971. Ezra sought to run the industry through informal partnership with the unions, a strategy that did not appeal to Margaret Thatcher, who eased him out in 1982. The Liberal Party, of which he had been a member since Cambridge days, nominated him for a peerage.[286] With Derek Ezra, we must once again confront a basic question about Jewish identity. "Son of Sephardi Jew from Bombay Given Life Peerage", trumpeted a Jewish news agency, but its report also acknowledged that he was "not an observant Jew", although he was claimed by implication through his support for Jewish causes.[287] Did spurning the synagogue and turning from the Torah mean that a person ceased to be Jewish? The question took on a new relevance in the nineteen-thirties. European popular culture had long nurtured prejudices against the Jewish people. Now powerful forces arose that sought not their assimilation, but their annihilation.[288]

Fleeing and Fighting Fascism  When Maurice Goldhaber enrolled to study science at the University of Berlin in 1930, he found it "a very stimulating place".[289] Although staff members like Max Planck and Albert Einstein rarely talked to students, their presence at seminars was "an inspiration" in itself. He attended a course in nuclear physics: it only took up one hour a week for a single semester, "sufficient for the nuclear physics known at the time". But, during his three years as an undergraduate, exciting developments in the world of physics were taking place against a backdrop of frightening threats in the domain of politics. One day, lectures were cancelled when Nazi students staged a riot. Goldhaber took refuge in the library, where he read a report that an American scientist had produced a small sample of heavy water – thus proving that isotopes could be separated. He began to plan a postgraduate project that would attempt a similar separation by bombarding hydrogen atoms with gamma rays. Of course, by the time he took his degree in 1933, there was little prospect that a Jew would be allowed to study in Hitler's Germany. He turned to Cambridge, where he was promptly accepted by Ernest Rutherford as a research student at the Cavendish Laboratory. Goldhaber arrived in August, when important people were generally away, and began to navigate the unfamiliar landscape of an ancient English university. Not surprisingly, his key problem was money: Cambridge was expensive and he felt that he could not afford the expense of college fees. Fortunately, there was a cut-price backdoor route into the University, a provision for the admission of non-collegiate students, who lived in digs around the town and were spared college expenses and the concomitant temptations to high living. It took its name, Fitzwilliam House, from a small headquarters building in Trumpington Street.[290] However, a taciturn senior researcher at the Cavendish advised him to think again. "If I were you I would join a college; they do things for you." Goldhaber consulted a friendly research student, David Shoenberg, who had arrived in England with his Russian-Jewish family at the age of three. Shoenberg recommended approaching his own college, Trinity, along with St John's – and Magdalene. The first two made sense: they were large and well-endowed, capable of finding the space and the resources to welcome a homeless wanderer. But the inclusion of Magdalene – small, notoriously poor and regarded as intellectually undynamic – seems puzzling. Goldhaber thought his new friend had chosen colleges that were handy for the Cavendish, which was then located in Free School Lane. In reality, Cambridge is a compact place, and internal distances are usually mentally constructed obstacles – but Magdalene was one of the furthest colleges from the Cavendish, and Shoenberg seems to have passed over the cluster of institutions within a short stroll. The most likely explanation is that Magdalene, the home of Keilin and Verblunsky, was seen as an institution that was friendly to Jews – perhaps more so than some of its glamorous rivals.

Maurice Goldhaber headed first to Trinity, where he was told that there was no room. St John's, his next port of call, did things by the book. No decisions could be taken in the depths of the Long Vacation: he would be notified in October. This was obviously too late and certainly too risky for someone trying to regularise his membership of the University. Goldhaber crossed the bridge, and was ushered into the presence of the Senior Tutor of Magdalene, to whom he delivered his now well-rehearsed plea. V.S. Vernon-Jones was hardly a promising prospect. The son of a Welsh clergyman called Jones, he had somehow become double-barrelled as a result of his passage through Eton and King's, followed by election to a Magdalene Fellowship as far back as 1900. Although noted for quirky humour, his judgement was notoriously wayward and his bad-tempered obstinacy over small points could make him a difficult colleague. In short, "V-J" was something of a dinosaur, and nothing would have been less surprising than his curt dismissal of an upstart Jew. Instead, his notorious unpredictably placed him on the side of the angels.[291]  Decoding his visitor's Germanic accent, he remarked: "Ah, you are a refugee: I suppose we ought to have one." Goldhaber could hardly believe what he had heard: he had suddenly become a member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. But Vernon-Jones had not exhausted his power to amaze. "I suppose you have no money", he remarked, as he authorised a grant of £100.[292] When Goldhaber completed his PhD in 1936, Magdalene proceeded to elect him to a two-year bye-fellowship. (Ironically, his official title was the Charles Kingsley Bye-Fellow.) At its expiry, he accepted an appointment in the United States, although it is clear that he never lost his affection for the College that had adopted him, in later life joking that his acceptance had been an early example of affirmative action.

The persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany aroused general disgust among Cambridge students, a sentiment by no means confined to the Jewish minority. For instance, In the Cambridge Union, the university's debating society, adolescent humour tended to laugh at much that would now be regarded as politically incorrect. However, Hitler's advent to power curbed jokes based on alleged Jewish stereotypes. On one occasion, probably at the time of the 1936 Arab uprising in Palestine, a student speaker tried the restraint of the House with an unduly serious speech, in which he extravagantly praised Jewish support for the British authorities. The young orator singled out the bravery of a paramilitary unit whose motto, so he reported, was "Charge and charge again". Union members seethed with suppressed mirth at the ambiguity of meaning in the word "charge", but good taste restrained comment. Their frustration was relieved by an intervention from Bernard Waley-Cohen of Magdalene, who rose to suggest that there was some mistake: the motto of a Jewish unit would surely be "No advance without security".[293] A twenty-first century reading of the incident may uneasily conclude that a Jew could only gain acceptance in the Cambridge of the nineteen-thirties by accepting a form of colonisation, involving the humiliation of parroting the prejudices of the majority. I would view the intervention in a more positive light, as an example of the way that Jews show their contempt for the Jewish joke through an assertion of ownership.[294] Moreover, I had the pleasure of meeting Bernard Waley-Cohen: he was no Uncle Tom.

Within a few years of that cameo, nobody in Cambridge was joking about the fate of German Jews. In October 1937, the Vice-Chancellor led a large attendance of University dignitaries at the consecration of the Orthodox synagogue in Thompsons Lane to show solidarity in the face of Nazi persecution. The Chief Rabbi, Dr J.H. Hertz, presided over the ceremony, which was attended by prominent members of British Jewry, such as Lionel de Rothschild, the son of a former Magdalene student, who had taken his own degree at Trinity. Before the consecration, distinguished guests were entertained to tea in the Hall of Magdalene College, "where" – The Times reported, with slight inaccuracy –"Arthur Cohen, the first Jew to enter Cambridge University over 80 years ago, was an undergraduate."[295] Opposition to anti-Semitism in Germany had by now spread far beyond the University's small Jewish community. In February 1938, the President of the Union, John Simonds of Magdalene, convened a meeting of University political societies across the ideological spectrum to protest against Nazi persecution. Guest speakers included the editor of the New Statesman, Kingsley Martin, the Magdalene historian of the early nineteen-twenties. The proceedings were wound up by a Union committee member, Aubrey Eban of Queens', later better known as Abba Eban, foreign minister of Israel. Simonds was not Jewish, nor is he known to have been influenced by Jewish teachers or inspired by Jewish friends. He was, simply and admirably, one of the young Cambridge men who were determining their response to the increasingly likely threat of war. John Simonds was a rare undergraduate debater who could approach the heights of oratory, and a contemporary remembered his stirring denunciation of a motion in favour of pacifism. "Was there no lesson to be learned from the persecution of the Jew in Germany, the fate of the intellectual in Italy or the invasion of Abyssinia?", he asked rhetorically. "The will to war can only be combatted by the will to resist war."[296]  John Simonds was killed at Arnhem in 1944.   

An online biography states that Emanuel Barnett Lyons joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) as a trainee pilot while he was an undergraduate at Magdalene shortly before the outbreak of war in 1939.[297] He was promptly called up for pilot training. Lyons was posted to RAF Turnhouse (now Edinburgh Airport). His log books recorded a series of "dog-fights" against German intruders, encounters which accorded him the status of a Battle of Britain pilot. In July 1941, he moved to Manston, the front-line fighter station in Kent, where he took part in missions providing cover for Bomber Command raids on targets in northern France. From there, he was transferred to North Africa, where his diary noted laconically of one mission that three fellow pilots "did not return". In February 1945, he took charge of a squadron based in Holland, now with the rank of Acting Squadron Leader. Their Hawker Tempest single-engine fighters were effective in low-level attacks, particularly the "rat scramble", the ambushing of the Luftwaffe's new Messerschmitt 262 fighter jet as it was coming in to land and incapable of accelerating to escape. In response, the Germans protected their airfields by creating "flak lanes" of intensive ground-based fire that inflicted heavy casualties on the Tempests. On 11 April, within four weeks of the end of the war, Lyons led an attack on an airfield at Fassberg, ninety kilometres south of Hamburg and deep inside Germany. Flak shattered the canopy of his cockpit, the debris causing a head wound. Despite his injury, he was able to fly his damaged plane two hundred miles back to base, an achievement for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross:  the award was actually gazetted on VE Day. There were Dutch pilots attached to his squadron and he was later also awarded the Netherlands Flying Cross in recognition of his skill in leading them back to safety. In 1947-8, he served as Treasurer of the Jewish Ex-Servicemen's Association.[298] There is no evidence that he returned to study at Cambridge.

The barrister Clifford Cohen joined the Territorial Army in 1939, and by the beginning of 1940 he was a second lieutenant in a recently raised unit, the 1st Tyneside Scottish Battalion of the Black Watch. Although his unit had received only basic training – little more than how to fire a rifle and throw a hand-grenade – they were sent across the Channel with the British Expeditionary Force, charged with support duties such as guarding airfields  and prisoners. The situation changed dramatically in May 1940, when French forces collapsed before the German onslaught. Cohen was responsible for keeping the battalion on the move as they fell back towards the coast, an increasingly difficult task as the highways became clogged with civilian refugees. His map-reading skills found routes around bottlenecks, and he chose to manoeuvre his men at night. Near Arras, about one hundred kilometres from the coast, the Tyneside Scottish were ordered to stand and fight, in the hope of delaying the oncoming German armour and cover the retreat of the bulk of the British Expeditionary Force to Dunkirk, whence some of them might be evacuated to England. Cohen's unit was outnumbered, and his men had no heavy weapons: legend claimed that he broke a walking stick – probably an officer's baton – on a Nazi tank.  Almost the sole survivor of the battalion, he continued to resist with rifle fire until he was eventually forced to surrender. His coolness and his courage led to the recommendation of the Military Cross, although he did not receive the medal until 1946, after almost five years as a Prisoner of War. With the surname Cohen, he was singled out for sadistic treatment by his captors. Indeed, the senior British officer in his POW camp formally ordered him not to attempt to escape, fearing that, if he were recaptured, he would be put in front of a firing squad. He was repeatedly threatened with deportation to the gas chambers. For eighteen months, he was held in handcuffs. This was a violation of the Geneva Convention, rules of war that the Nazis did not regard as applicable to Jews. This torture left him with swollen wrists, a severe challenge for a judge who had to make hand-written notes as cases progressed.[299] In addition to receiving the Military Cross, he was appointed an Honorary Colonel in the Black Watch.

Braham Myers won an Entrance Exhibition in Classics in December 1938 but, by October 1939, when he arrived in Cambridge, war had broken out and it would have been obvious that his studies would be interrupted.[300] His family owned a clothing factory in Leeds, where they manufactured that vital accessory to the Yorkshireman's uniform, the flat cap. Braham Myers was born in the spa town of Harrogate, but he would later become a member of the city's Sinai Synagogue, a Reform Judaism congregation established in 1944. In 1941, he joined 318 Battery, 80th Field Regiment Royal Artillery.  Like Clifford Cohen, he somehow found himself in a Scottish unit, composed of Glasgow Territorials who formed part of the 52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division. There followed two years of tough training in the Highlands, to equip the gunners for mountain warfare. The training was real enough, but it also formed part of Fortitude North, an elaborate deception plan to disguise the destination of the Normandy landings by persuading the enemy that the Allies intended to strike in Norway. It was a classic example of the ironies of military planning that his unit eventually saw action in one of the flattest areas of western Europe. In October 1944, they landed in Belgium, where 52nd Lowland Division was tasked with clearing the Scheldt to open the port of Antwerp. There followed dogged fighting to capture the island of Walcheren and push the Germans back across the estuaries that slice through the Netherlands. By mid-February 1945, the capture of the small town of Afferden on the eastern bank of the Maas (Meuse) established a toehold in a narrow band of Dutch territory close to the country's eastern border. Here the unit encountered stiff resistance from Germans determined to defend their own homeland. A few days after his twenty-fourth birthday, Gunner Myers was reconnoitering a forward position when he stepped on an anti-personnel mine. The explosion shattered the lower part of his right leg.

There followed amputation, hospitalisation, convalescence, rehabilitation, a lengthy period with predictable disappointments and setbacks.  There was a waiting list for a properly engineered prosthetic limb, and an early improvised attempt at what he called a "peg leg" disintegrated as he was trying to board a London bus: with philosophical good humour, Braham Myers attributed the disaster to the well-meaning efforts of an eye specialist who had been drafted to help amputees. "Losing a leg never held me back," he insisted. In comparison with the heroic drama of his war service, a mild element of uncertainty about his student career is hardly of great moment. His result in the first-year Classics examination was a disappointing Lower Second (II / ii), but in fairness there were a number of distractions in June 1940: the crisis of Dunkirk was more engrossing than the Trojan Wars. As befitted the holder of an Entrance Scholarship, Myers gained a First in Part I Classics the following year, shortly before he was called up. Biographical sketches state that he eventually returned after the War to complete his degree, switching to History. However, his record card indicates that he had taken his BA under special wartime regulations in 1942. It is possible that he spent some time in Cambridge as part of the process of returning to normal life, and he may have been unofficially associated with his College. Braham Myers certainly remained loyal to Magdalene. "The friends he made here were his friends for life," said an obituary in the College Magazine.  He worked in the family business, eventually becoming its managing director. In the early nineteen-fifties, he joined BLESMA, the organisation that supports limbless ex-service personnel. His business experience made him a good choice to become Employment Secretary of the Leeds branch, finding jobs for men who were determined to show that they could overcome their injuries. At the age of 86, Braham Myers returned to Afferden, coming to terms with his past as he stood in the field that had once been sown with mines. As he thought of friends who had died in Bomber Command, he insisted that he was "lucky to be alive". Four years later, and by now in his nineties, he attended a Magdalene reunion. The programme included presentations in Ramsay Hall by the BBC foreign correspondent John Simpson (J.C.F. Simpson of the 1963 vintage) and by Professor Helen Cooper, who held the University's Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature – for the College was now co-educational. The day culminated with afternoon tea in the cloisters of the Pepys Building. As ever, Braham Myers was enthusiastic in his response: John Simpson had been "thrilling" while "Professor Cooper's lecture [on Hamlet] was one of the best I ever heard .… In addition, what a splendid tea!" He died in 2021, three months after his one hundredth birthday.  

It is generally accepted that Nazi persecution gave Britain, in the words of C.N.L. Brooke, "the finest fruit of Jewish and continental learning and scholarship". However, it is less clear that Cambridge directly gained (or accepted) many established intellectuals during the nineteen-thirties: Brooke himself specified just five names, two of whom moved on during that decade, a third would leave in 1951, while a fourth was actually recruited from Leeds in 1949.[301] At a slightly later stage, Magdalene did welcome two more refugees from European fascism, in addition to Goldhaber and Goodstein who have already been mentioned. In later life, Edgar Feuchtwanger, who entered the College to read History in 1944, had a remarkable story to tell.[302] Jewish refugee narratives commonly use the figurative expression that Jews fled from Hitler:  in Feuchtwanger's case, this was literally true, for the Führer lived just one hundred yards from his childhood home. The Feuchtwangers were Munich haute bourgeoisie, his father a prosperous publisher until the Nazis put him out of business. In 1929, the increasingly well-funded National Socialist Party underlined the alleged statesmanlike potential of its leader by relocating Hitler to a fashionable address, an apartment on Prinzregentenplatz, within sight of the family's apartment on Grillparzerstrasse. At first, the interloper seemed only a minor nuisance: for instance, the milkman was sometimes unable to deliver their daily supply because it had been commandeered by their Nazi neighbour. Yet, even as a small boy, Edgar Feuchtwanger could sense the tension that menaced a Jewish family. At the age of eight, he came close to a direct encounter, crossing Prinzregentenplatz just as Hitler emerged from his building, wearing the familiar raincoat and a trilby hat that somehow underlined his innate absurdity. Politely acknowledging the 'Heil Hitlers' of a small crowd, he looked directly at the small boy with an oddly benevolent look. "If he had known who I was, it would have been quite different." As a Jew, Feuchtwanger was barred from joining the Hitler Youth, but at school there were endless Nazi demonstrations which required hours of stiff-arm salutes.  Feuchtwanger got through them by resting his arm on the shoulder of the boy in front of him. As he entered his teens, the pace of events quickened and the sense of crisis deepened. He witnessed Hitler leaving home in an open car to accept the homage of the crowds after the Anschluss that swallowed Austria.  He saw Mussolini being driven to his walk-on role in the conference with Chamberlain that butchered Czechoslovakia. And then, in November 1938, came Kristallnacht.

The Feuchtwangers ceased to be mere spectators. His father was imprisoned in Dachau, all the more terrifying an experience because he was the brother of Lion Feuchtwanger, a writer of European stature, who had angered the Nazis by publishing a novel that mocked a Hitler-like rabble-rousing leader. Somehow his captors failed to make the connection, and Edgar's father was freed after a few weeks. He now used their extensive connections to make arrangements for his fourteen-year-old son to emigrate, accompanying Edgar by train to the Dutch border where he left the teenager to travel on alone to contacts in England. The parents followed in the summer of 1939. Of course, they were fortunate to be able to get out: most German Jews had no such access to escape routes – and one of Edgar Feuchtwanger's aunts would die in a concentration camp. They were lucky, too, in their English contacts, who steered Edgar into winning a scholarship to one of the country's leading public schools, Winchester, a handy stepping stone to Cambridge.[303] After graduating in History in 1947, he began to study for a doctorate in nineteenth-century British political history. So deeply – and, indeed, so broadly – did he immerse himself in the subject that he would become perhaps the only modern-day scholar to have written biographies of both Gladstone and Disraeli. Disraeli's pragmatism he regarded as the key to the success of Britain's Conservative party, and he used the columns of The Times to warn Tories not to swing too far to the right.[304] By the early nineteen-fifties, he was teaching in Southampton University's Department of Adult Education, making the sideways move to the History Department in 1959. It might be thought that the historian of Victorian England whose teens had been so traumatised would have turned his back upon the land of his birth, but instead he cast himself in the role of an interpreter. Books on Bismarck and the influence of Prussia traced the roots of Germany's Nazi crisis, while he also counselled understanding and sympathy towards Adenauer's resurgent West Germany.[305] As he explained in 2014 public lecture, whatever his particular research interests, Southampton University students wanted to learn about the fascist dictators and "the most obvious member of staff" to inform them was the lecturer whom the undergraduates called "The Bloke who Lived Opposite Hitler".[306] In 2021, he was awarded the OBE for services to British-German understanding.

Elected a Professorial Fellow of Magdalene in 1964, Uberto Limentani may have seemed a delayed-action refugee, but he brought with him a dramatic story that he was usually too diffident to relate.[307] He had been born in 1913 into a Jewish family who were thoroughly assimilated into the Milanese upper-middle class. He imbibed a love of literature from his father, but his parents insisted that he must pursue a career as a lawyer. He recalled one incident from his student days. On a visit to Venice, he was impressed by the sight of a gleaming white cruise liner in port. It was a British ship, the Arandora Star, and young Limentani briefly fantasised that he might one day enjoy a luxury holiday on board. He qualified in Law in 1938, the year in which the virus of anti-Semitism south of the Alps, long latent, flared into full-scale persecution, and Italian Jews were barred from all professions. The following year he left for Britain, securing entry by persuading an immigration officer that he was a tourist. In London, he made contact with anti-Fascist exiles who pointed him towards the BBC. His calm and exact enunciation made him an ideal broadcaster, while his literary skills equipped him to write his own scripts too. When Mussolini declared war in June 1940, Uberto Limentani assumed that his work for the BBC Italian Service would become even more important and even valued. Instead, he was interned as an enemy alien along with thousands of his fellow-countrymen. The BBC certainly did need him, but in the chaos of war, nobody could locate a man stuffed into a horse-box at Lingfield racecourse with a dozen other detainees. He soon found himself at Liverpool, and waiting to board a ship grey-painted for camouflage. It was the Arandora Star, and the voyage would be anything but a luxury cruise.  

Twelve hundred internees, Italians and Germans, were packed aboard, along with Prisoners of War, soldiers to guard them and crew. The soldiers let slip that they were going to Canada, but the voyage proved to be short. Early in the morning of the second day, off the north coast of Ireland, the ship was torpedoed. The U-boat was returning from a patrol and had just one torpedo left: its commander could not resist such a high-profile kill. Panic ensued. "I was always able to act with a certain coolness," Limentani recalled, "… reflecting before taking each decision." He waited on board for as long as he could, before slipping into the water. A mighty ship sinking beneath the waves was a ghastly but compelling sight, but he knew he had to get well clear to avoid being sucked under during the final plunge. As the end approached, sea water flowed into the boilers and they exploded. Limentani found himself struggling among corpses and patches of boiling oil. Clinging to a piece of wreckage, he recited lines about shipwreck from the poet Manzoni, and recalled Dante's picture of a castaway desperately hoping for a glimpse of the shore. He could not remember how that verse continued, but cheered himself with the assurance that he would look it up when he got home. Although it was early July, the North Atlantic was bitterly cold, and prospects of surviving for long in the water were bleak. Eventually he managed to clamber into a lifeboat, despite the objections of a British officer who wanted to save the soldiers and leave the internees to their fate. About seven hours after the torpedo attack, HMCS St Laurent arrived on the scene and rescued over eight hundred survivors – an astonishing achievement for a tiny destroyer. But another eight hundred lives had been lost. From hospital in Scotland, Uberto Limentani managed to contact the BBC, to learn that his colleagues had given up searching for him as he had been mistakenly listed among the dead. He recalled being escorted by a soldier on a tram ride along Edinburgh's Princes Street to be put on a train south. "I reached London on the evening of 31 July and on the following morning I resumed my work at the BBC. Here, I continued to broadcast for the next five years … for the duration of the war."[308]

Uberto Limentani remained in Britain after the War, although he would frequently revisit his homeland – not surprising, since in 1946 he was appointed to teach Italian at Cambridge, where he could share his love of literature, especially Dante. Calling himself a "library rat", he acquired a rare breadth of knowledge, defying the growing pressure for narrow specialisation in order to acquire an understanding of Italian culture that spanned centuries. In 1962 he was appointed to the Chair of Italian, and this was followed by his election as a Professorial Fellow of Magdalene. The Italian Republic would award him two of its highest distinctions. On his retirement from the professorship, the College made him an Honorary Fellow.  Among his colleagues, Uberto Limentani was noted for his "unusual self-control": The Times noted that "he was provoked to indignation only by well-meaning attempts to find any good in Fascism." (The only sport that appealed to him was the mannered art of fencing.) His "slightly formal correctness" made him a "gentle, courteous, and almost ghostly presence" in Magdalene. His Jewish identity was an equally unobtrusive but nonetheless fundamental aspect of his personality. One colleague recalls that, on the rare occasions when Limentani was the senior Fellow dining in Hall, it was tacitly accepted that he should not be called upon to read the Latin grace.

As David Keilin had shown, Professorial Fellows could make a warm and positive contribution to the life of Magdalene, but their responsibilities at University level set them slightly apart from the nuts-and-bolts tasks of operating its machinery. They did not accept office as Dean, Bursar or Tutor and, hence, they never formed part of the informal cabinet that ran the College from day to day. However, on one occasion, he did intervene, and with chilling authority. Fellows of colleges are elected for fixed terms, subject to renewal. In a harmonious society, there is usually no problem about extensions to tenure but, on one occasion, half a century ago, two senior College officers raised objections to the retention of a disruptive individual. Their target was good-hearted and occasionally even proved himself to be surprisingly useful, but it could not be denied that he was also boisterous, immature and sometimes downright infuriating. Respectable and responsible dons thought the College would be better off without him, and they mustered the support of about half the members of the Governing Body to block his re-election. The rest felt that the sanction was disproportionate, but they were undoubtedly placed on the defensive, for they could neither deny nor excuse their colleague's shortcomings. In both professional and personal terms, Uberto Limentani shared not one single quality with the accused, but he counter-attacked with unexpected intensity. He knew what it was like to be despised and driven into exile. "What these people forget is that they are dealing with another human being," was his quietly passionate dismissal of the censorious hierarchy. The outraged prosecution was subtly turned into an outrageous persecution. Both sides drew back: nothing was to be gained from splitting a small group of academics pledged to work together over what was, frankly, a secondary issue. Formulae were found that reprimanded the delinquent but maintained his association with the College. It all happened many years ago, and the lesson was baked into the brickwork that such a controversy must never divide colleagues again. But, while the details may happily lie buried, it is important to recall that a Jewish refugee became the voice of an institution's conscience.[309]

Since 1945 Once again, my coverage of the period since the Second World War is thematic and necessarily sketchy. In an increasingly secular age, it is harder – indeed, intrusive – to identify people by ethnicity and religion: characteristic and suggestive surnames appear in donors' lists or among reports of alumni deaths, but often confirmation is lacking.[310] Christian attitudes became less important, but theological discussion, especially between the faiths, mutated into unwonted subtlety, demanding more sensitive analysis than I can supply. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 underlined the increasing centrality of issues relating to Palestine in Jewish consciousness. Here, the recent past merges into the present, raising questions beyond the scope of this essay.[311] There is, too, the practical problem that assessments of the achievements of people active within living memory are necessarily provisional and may be invidious. Hence the names mentioned in this section are intended to be indicative rather than exhaustive. Nonetheless, something of the Jewish thread in the Magdalene experience may be captured through some of the individuals involved.

As his surname testified, Stephen Sebag-Montefiore was born into the Anglo-Jewish elite. A collateral descendant of Sir Moses Montefiore, he spent his early years in India where he was reared in "a rare hybrid of Jewish and English traditions". (He inherited some extrovert characteristics from his eccentric and explosive father, who was nicknamed Colonel Blood.) Sebag-Montefiore received a public school education at Wellington, where a leg injury on the Rugby field required surgery that left him with a mobility problem and a weak heart. Maybe this pointed him towards studying medicine at Magdalene: he had already taken an initial step, passing his first MB examination before he arrived in 1944. Until the nineteen-sixties, Cambridge medics spent three years studying appropriate subjects in the Natural Sciences Tripos before moving on for a further three years of training at a teaching hospital, usually in London. Sebag-Montefiore left Cambridge with a Lower Second (II /ii) in 1947, and duly qualified in 1950. Initially, he became a general practitioner in Kensington, although he was associated with Bevis Marks, Britain's oldest synagogue, on the other side of London. Known as "an old fashioned sort of doctor who regularly visited patients day or night with his black bag", he later branched out to train in psychiatry. A clinic at Bart's and a practice in Harley Street attracted high-profile custom: Peter Sellers was among those who consulted him. Perhaps he set out to prove that, although he was a Jewish psychiatrist, he was no humourless Sigmund Freud. "Don't worry – that's perfectly normal," was his bluff response to admissions of fantasies and confessions of guilt by patients, who found him reassuringly unshockable. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, who both sought his help, made a Sebag-Montefiore figure the central character in a sketch called "Perfectly Normal": Moore recited increasingly outrageous inner desires while Cook boomingly reiterated the "Don’t worry" formula.[312] Brian Sandelson, who came to Magdalene in 1946 from Clifton College, read Part I History before switching to Law, becoming a solicitor in London.  He was active in Jewish organisations and served from 1950 to 1954 as President of the World Union of Jewish Students.[313] Donald Roodyn read Natural Sciences at Magdalene from 1949 to 1952 and was active in the University's Jewish Society. After graduating in Biochemistry, he remained in Cambridge to work for a PhD, and the College elected him to a bye-fellowship two years later. Doctoral dissertations are often on very abstruse subjects: Roodyn's, entitled "Studies in rat liver nuclei", was surely one of the least likely to attract a popular readership.[314] He moved on to University College, London, where he edited the scientific journal Subcellular Biochemistry.[315]

There were Magdalene Jewish sportsmen as well. John Pinto, a former pupil of St Paul's School, won a Blue for boxing as a third-year undergraduate in 1948: he was a bantamweight. The previous year, he had been elected secretary of the University Amateur Boxing Club, but had suffered "the misfortune of being unable to box against Oxford who could not find an opponent light enough for him". He was invited to train with the British Olympic boxing squad in preparation for the London Games of 1948, but was not included in the final team.  M.C. Jaffé wielded the sabre in the 1954 Cambridge fencing team.[316] By contrast, Ben Sunlight, who entered Magdalene from Clifton College in 1955, would go on to study at the Central School of Art and Design and work in contemporary painting. His father's family had emigrated from the Russian empire in the late nineteenth century, settling in Manchester where they adopted a surname said to have been derived from Port Sunlight. Ben's father, Joseph Sunlight became an architect and prosperous property developer. His mother, Edith Forshaw, came from an Anglican family.[317]

With Brian Smouha, who joined Magdalene from Harrow in 1959, we encounter one of the last examples of a type of undergraduate who was being phased out of Cambridge by the increasing emphasis upon intellectual merit. He had inherited his father's talents as a sprinter, and was part of a team that broke the world record in the men's 4 x 220 yards relay. He became President of the Cambridge University Athletics Club and also represented Great Britain.  Unfortunately, his achievements on the track were not matched by equal success in the examination room. A Third in Part I of the Law Tripos flashed a warning that may not have been heeded. In his Finals, he failed to qualify for Honours and was awarded an Ordinary degree, a piece of paper that – by 1962 – barely qualified as a consolation prize. Yet Brian Smouha went on to a spectacular career in the normally unglamorous field of chartered accountancy, specialising in bank audits as a partner in Deloitte. In 1983, he became the lead liquidator winding up the affairs of the Banco Ambrosiano, working on behalf of one hundred banks as he unmasked the massively indebted financial institution whose chairman, Roberto Calvi, had been found mysteriously hanged from London's Blackfriars Bridge. In 1991, there followed an equally murky assignment, in which Smouha headed a team of five hundred accountants dissecting the affairs of the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, a massive private bank that had evaded inadequate regulatory systems to engage in widespread fraud that was, by its nature, difficult to detect. Smouha's team managed to recover a substantial amount of the missing money in an operation that became a textbook study. He rounded off his professional life with a term as an adviser to the World Bank in Washington.[318] For somebody who had – in effect – crashed in his degree examinations, Brian Smouha achieved a remarkable career.

Tony Bayfield, who entered Magdalene in 1965, came from a very different background, the State school in Romford that had earlier produced J.S. Bennett. He also engaged more intensively with the Law Tripos, intending to become a solicitor.[319]  Very soon, however, he responded to the encouragement of Mickey Dias, his Ceylon-born Director of Studies, and contemplated an academic career, an ambition confirmed by a third-year special subject in Criminology which tempted him to pursue research into the causes of crime. Yet, to his own bemusement, in the autumn of 1968, a few months after taking his BA, he found himself at Reform Judaism's Leo Baeck College, preparing to become a rabbi.[320] It was a culture shock. "I was no longer at Magdalene College, Cambridge, no longer in the rationalist, post-religious environment of a late twentieth-century English law faculty. In fact I wasn't in England's green and pleasant land at all, but in the displaced persons camp of the most despised and rejected of peoples – German Jewry." Thus began a long exploration and interrogation of his heritage, coupled with attempts to comprehend its place in British culture and society. In 2019, interim conclusions of a continuing journey appeared in Being Jewish Today: Confronting the Real Issues, a book which is insightful, elusive, moving and witty.[321] Tony Bayfield was head of the Movement for Reform Judaism in Britain from 1994 to 2011 and later its President. He also served as co-President of the Council of Christians and Jews, the first member of Reform Judaism to hold an office that had previously been an Orthodox monopoly. In 2006 he became only third Jew to be awarded a Lambeth Doctorate in Divinity, a distinction at the personal nomination of the Archbishop of Canterbury.[322] Another lawyer of the 1965 vintage was Stephen Waley-Cohen, Sir Stephen since inheriting his father's baronetcy in 1991. A genial Old Etonian, he was elected to the Union Committee. He became London theatre owner, and producer of The Mousetrap, the Agatha Christie murder mystery which had already become the longest-running stage play in British theatre history before he even came to Cambridge. He channelled part of the profits to a charitable venture, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, which aimed to introduce children from disadvantaged backgrounds to live performances: it has taken hundreds of thousands of them to West End theatres in its first twenty-five years. From 2007 to 2021, he was chairman of the Council of RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). Michael Estorick entered Magdalene in 1970 from Haberdashers' Aske's School and read History. He describes himself as coming from "generations of completely un-religious/un-observant Jews": although he spent two of his undergraduate years living in a Magdalene hostel in Thompsons Lane, he never once set foot in the Orthodox Synagogue. "I have always felt Jewish, whatever that means (I’m not sure I do)," he commented in 2024, adding that despite having no "religious knowledge, belief or feeling, I would never call myself anything other than Jewish". His only experience of anti-Semitism in Cambridge came when he was put up for membership of the Pitt Club, an exclusive organisation with its own premises that operated at some remove from the mainstream of student life. His nomination papers were duly displayed for the perusal of members, one of whom inscribed them with the anonymous comment "not another". (However, he subsequently became a member.)[323] In 2024, Michael Estorick is President of the Eric & Salome Estorick Foundation, which preserves and displays the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art assembled by his parents, and he has been very much the driving force behind the project since it opened to the public in 1998. The futurist paintings, many of them challenging, are displayed in an unexpectedly serene corner of Islington, an early nineteenth-century house that he chose as the gallery's permanent home.[324] 

Christians and Jews – again  For more than forty years after the Second World War, the relatively small society of Magdalene High Table included a Jewish Professorial Fellow, first David Keilin and then Uberto Limentani. Between 1954 and 1963, the College was also home (on weekdays – he continued to live in Oxford) to C.S. Lewis, a Christian apologist who held the University's Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature. At this point, this essay encounters a problem. C.S. Lewis still commands fervent admirers; I am not one of them. The conventional narrative of his life relates that he initially rejected religious belief, but was converted to Anglican Christianity in his late twenties, becoming a prolific author of missionary apologetics, alongside his literary criticism and his fantasy fiction. In the last decade of his life – coinciding with his Magdalene years – he became the friend and eventually the husband of Joy Davidman, an American divorcee from a secular Jewish background, who had made a similar journey from atheism (in her case, seasoned with Communism) to Christianity. Lewis supported his stepson when he decided to explore his mother's heritage, a decision that is taken as evidence of his sympathy for Judaism, although it would surely have taken a very blinkered form of bigotry to have attempted obstruction.

It has recently been argued that Davidman steered Lewis towards the opinion that "the only living Judaism was Christianity", which sounds suspiciously like a theory conveniently invented to make sense of his own personal life and then projected as a narcissistic world view. I cannot trace the source of the quotation, and hence I am unable to offer any evaluation of its context.[325] Nonetheless, taken as it stands, the six-word statement causes concern. It is understandable that the polite sentiments towards Jews expressed by John Sadler in the sixteen-fifties were a cover for the aim of converting them to Christianity and so hastening the Second Coming. Yet to encounter the same thinking in the nineteen-fifties seems objectionable and smugly triumphalist.  In his introduction to Davidman's 1954 work, Smoke on the Mountain, Lewis had tentatively argued that "the converted Jew is the only normal human being in the world". He was pointing to the paradox that, thanks to the efforts of St Paul, a gospel preached by a Jew to his own people became the religion of the rest of the Roman Empire. The implication – with Lewis as with Kingsley a century earlier – was that those Jews who did not accept the new dispensation were somehow obstinate and deserving of condemnation. Yet it is only fair to point out that, as early as 1933, Lewis denounced not merely the "iniquity" of Hitler's persecution of German Jews, but also the "absurdity" of the racist notions behind it. Since he rarely focused upon Judaism, he may not have appreciated the collateral damage inherent in his theorising.[326] Indeed, a cursory review of his religious writings would suggest that Lewis was not much interested in the Jewish identity before he met Davidman. There are, as might be expected, some sympathetic passages on Judaism in his 1958 Reflections on the Psalms, but one comment jars. "The ancient Jews, like ourselves, think of God’s judgement in terms of an earthly court of justice. The difference is that the Christian pictures the case to be tried as a criminal case with himself in the dock; the Jew pictures it as a civil case with himself as the plaintiff. The one hopes for acquittal, or rather for pardon; the other hopes for a resounding triumph with heavy damages." From a Jewish writer, that might be taken as an ironic protest against the burden of being born, unasked, into a Chosen People. As a reflection offered by a propagandist for Christianity, it touches uncomfortably upon pejorative stereotype.[327]

Compared with his fiction and his literary criticism, Lewis probably now seems unimportant as a Christian apologist. Even in his religious writings, he had notably little to say about Judaism and the Jewish people. More surprising is the relative silence of another notable Magdalene personality, Michael Ramsey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1961 to 1974. Ramsey had literally grown up with the College: he was the son of A.S. Ramsey, the mathematics don who had nurtured talents like Verblunsky and he studied at Magdalene as an undergraduate where he took a First in Divinity in 1927. He had returned in 1950 as a Professorial Fellow – he had been appointed to the Regius Chair of Divinity – but was called away two years later to become Bishop of Durham.  He would later become an Honorary Fellow. As Primate, he did indeed exchange courtesies with prominent members of the Jewish community and, on 27 February 1972, these led to the first official meeting between the head of the Anglican Church and the Chief Rabbi, Dr Immanuel Jakobovits. Some 'firsts' happen so embarrassingly late that they barely merit celebration: even Owen Chadwick, Ramsey's sympathetic and authoritative biographer, thought the encounter overdue.   

Chadwick was able to relegate the question of Ramsey's attitude to non-Christian religions to a relatively brief appendix. The World Congress of Faiths, founded in 1936, promoted the idea of dialogue across religious divides, and the questioning theological spirit of the nineteen-sixties attracted adventurous Anglican clergymen to its ranks. "Ramsey would have nothing to do with it. In 1969 they invited him to be present – not to preach at – an All Faiths service at the West London [S]ynagogue and he refused." His paternalist and saintly aura cloaked a very political prelate: Ramsey had been marked out as a future Liberal Prime Minister by the veteran Asquith when he was President of the Cambridge Union in 1926. His address on national television in 1965 condemning the unilateral declaration of independence by the Rhodesian settlers was a notable example of his concern for justice in this world. In refusing, four years later, to engage in an interfaith gesture, he explained that he did not see 'religion' as "a kind of banner under which we should all unite as if it contained the essence of what is good versus 'irreligion' as its opposite. Not all religion is good.... So far from regarding religion as a uniting banner, I believe that some rationalistic and non-religious modes of thought are as relevant as some religions are." He would work with other belief systems "in a human rights platform, but not on the basis of 'religion'".  Ramsey was already committed to a very broad ecumenical strategy within the Christian world. He issued a joint declaration with Pope Paul VI, and became the first Anglican prelate since the Reformation to preach in a Catholic cathedral, although at a safe distance, in New York. He cultivated friendships with Orthodox Patriarchs and even negotiated a merger with the Methodists, although this failed to gain acceptance from his own Church. Plunging into the wider universe of interfaith dialogue would probably prove a step too far. So far as Judaism was concerned, it was perhaps possible to envisage a working party of modernist clerics and progressive rabbis who might probably – if slowly – have suggested more spiritual ways of thinking about the God that both groups worshipped. But such a venture would have been shunned by most Orthodox Jews while its findings would hardly have shaken the traditional Anglican vision of an Old Man in the Sky. Thus an exchange of ideas with Judaism would have offered only small and delayed returns. But interfaith dialogue could not be seen simply as Anglicans talking to Jews. Once a concept of the collectivity of monotheistic religions took hold, the question of Islam could hardly be evaded. Here, conflict of belief would be compounded by fluidity of structure. Not merely was Islam – like Christianity – a divided faith, most notably between Sunnis and Shi'as, but its diverse segments had no equivalent of Popes or Patriarchs or bishops with whom authoritative conversations might be initiated. While the journey from Lambeth Palace to the West London Synagogue at Marble Arch may have seemed a small step, it implied a much longer journey to an undefined and possibly unreachable destination. However, in one area Archbishop Ramsey did break new ground in relation to the Jewish people. In March 1964, he publicly asserted that it was wrong to blame them for the crucifixion of Jesus. It was a humane gesture, probably triggered by similar moves within the Vatican Council which would be formally endorsed by the Pope the following year, although it is difficult not to wish that the exoneration had come several hundred years earlier. Yet even this apparently harmless and indeed obvious concession provoked anger among the small community of Arab Anglicans in Israel and Jordan.[328]

If the generals refuse to lead, the infantry must step in. Marcus Braybrooke, from Cranleigh School, spent four years at Magdalene between 1958 and 1962, achieving the rare feat of a Double First, in Part I History and Part II Theology.[329] He had visited Israel before coming to Cambridge and, on graduating, as part of his path to ordination in the Church of England, he spent a year at the Madras [Varanasi] Christian College, where he acquired a respect for Hindu mysticism. He went on to combine parish and diocesan work with active participation in the World Congress of Faiths. He also served a term as Executive Director of the Council of Christians and Jews and, in 1995, published How to Understand Judaism, a bold initiative indeed by an Anglican clergyman. In the mid-nineteen-eighties, he acquired "a very special dialogue partner". After many years of earnest attendance at the Assembly of British Reform Rabbis, Tony Bayfield began to feel something was lacking. The meetings discussed liturgy, but not the theology behind the rituals. He turned to interfaith dialogue in an attempt "to clarify what it was I believed",[330] and so began a collaboration with Marcus Braybrooke. The two were amused by the "quirk of fate" that they had attended the same college for, as Tony Bayfield would recall, Magdalene in the nineteen-sixties was "as unlikely an alma mater for ground-breaking theology as one could imagine".[331] They were by no means the only participants in the debates that followed – and both were concerned to reach out to Islam as well – but they became co-editors of a 1992 book of essays that grew out of discussions conducted over a four-year period at the Sternberg Centre for Judaism, the Reform campus in Finchley.[332]

The notion of interfaith dialogue might conjure an image of well-intentioned people exchanging benign platitudes. In fact, the exchange of views could be robust, as Tony Bayfield showed in his "Response" to Marcus Braybrooke's Christian-Jewish Dialogue: the Next Steps, published in 2000. Braybrooke had concluded that the interfaith discourse had reached a "plateau" and needed to break new ground. Bayfield offered a "deeply felt shopping list", which challenged Christians both to acquit his people of "deicide" – despite Ramsey's exoneration, some still blamed Jews for the Crucifixion – and to realise that parts of the New Testament are "anti-Judaic".  He also insisted that Christians also needed to recognise that the founder of their religion was Jewish, not simply in the sense of being a carpenter from Galilee, but by accepting that, in much of his teaching, he drew on the faith of his upbringing.[333] Boldly, Tony Bayfield opened his salvo by quoting a joke: you could tell that Jesus was Jewish, because he went into the family business and his mother thought he was God. For his part, he accepted that Jews needed to take Jesus more seriously, if only because he had founded a very successful religion. But his most forceful demand was for parity of esteem. "We need to know that you acknowledge that ours is a valid, independent faith, a living tradition, a source of revelation and just as good a religion as Christianity. ... We are sick to death of … hearing that Jesus came to fulfil Judaism, to complete it, to take it to new heights and then to be treated to interminable homilies about the Pharisees being vanquished six-love, six-love in argument. Enough of 'Judaism, religion of law, nasty boo hiss' and 'Christianity, religion of love, hip hip hooray'."[334]

The Pharisees intruded upon the discussions in an unexpected way. During the Sternberg Centre meetings, Tony Bayfield had become conscious of an all-embracing but somehow unobtrusive element in the discourse. It was an Orthodox Jewish participant, Rabbi Norman Solomon, who first pointed to the effect of debating in the English language. Concepts that might be elusive in Hebrew or Greek were expressed in a secular, almost mechanical language, which meant that they were not just translated but also subtly transmuted: the medium was the massage. The unidentified third element in this Christian-Jewish exchange was modernity, the all-pervasive post-Enlightenment value system underlying and infusing the words they employed. This immersive and subversive context produced at least one seismic challenge to basic assumptions. Even the primitive historical analysis of Charles Kingsley had identified the sacking of Jerusalem in 70CE as a landmark event. As far back as 1684, Hezekiah Burton had emphasised its traumatic effect upon the Jewish faith. Theologians and historians had gradually come to appreciate that with the destruction of the Temple, the authoritarian priestly religion of the Old Testament had been succeeded by a more consensual Judaism guided by teachers. Recent scholarship had highlighted the role of the Pharisees in the crisis decades of first-century Roman Palestine, and in particular through their emphasis upon the concept of life after death. It began to become clear why it had been so necessary for Christian Scriptures to portray this intellectually dynamic group as confused and confounded. Marcus Braybrooke's historical training led him to consider the possibility that the Pharisees had not simply revived Judaism after the catastrophe of 70CE, but rather that they had in fact revised it into something wholly new. Tony Bayfield was shaken by the suggestion "that two religions – Christianity and rabbinic Judaism – were born, roughly at the same time, in those turbulent decades in Jerusalem some two thousand years ago." It was a perspective which meant that the Jewish faith could no longer be dismissed as unconsummated Christianity, nor could Christianity be faintly patronised as the daughter of Judaism. Rather the two religions would have to be regarded as siblings, both born in the first century of the Common Era. If true, this would face Jews with the "shocking and disturbing" implication that they could no longer claim exclusive ownership of the Old Testament: "if we are siblings, both born after the completion of the Hebrew Bible, then everything that precedes our birth … must be shared."[335] The point to be noted here is that the dialogue between Marcus Braybrooke and Tony Bayfield took place within an entirely different intellectual discourse to that between Menasseh ben Israel and John Sadler three and a half centuries earlier. The Cromwellian bureaucrat and the Dutch rabbi exchanged views a century before the Enlightenment, two hundred years before the beginnings of modern Biblical criticism, and they probably talked in Hebrew, sharing their viewpoints within the straitjacket of its conceptualisation of religious terminology.

Thus, as the twenty-first century began, the modernity that sustained interfaith dialogue seemed to open unsettling new perspectives. However, there was one positive aspect to the new openness. In contrast to thirty years earlier, when Archbishop Ramsey had flatly refused to engage with other religions, there was now a sympathetic awareness of the importance of interfaith discussion in the highest levels of the Anglican Church. Dr Rowan Williams (Archbishop of Canterbury, 2003-12) even informally referred to Judaism as Christianity's "most significant other". When Dr Williams announced his retirement, Tony Bayfield , by then a co-President of the Council of Christians and Jews, hailed him as "a close friend … of the Jewish people", a prelate who insisted "that the relationship between Judaism and Christianity is of crucial importance".[336] 

Rowan Williams was leaving Lambeth Palace to become Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 2016, he called upon the British government to take action in response to the rise of anti-Semitism on university campuses, criticising what he termed the "muted" response of some institutions to episodes of provocation. He wrote in sympathy to an undergraduate at the University of York, describing the young man's description of abuse he had endured as "truly appalling stuff" – but sadly all too common. He drew a direct link between Jew-baiting and Islamophobia, urging a total ban on "scapegoating and demonising other religious communities, especially Jews … anyone with even the least bit of historical sense ought to hear the echoes of past bigotry and violence towards Jewish people in Europe." He insisted that "no degree of opposition" to the actions of the government of Israel "can possibly justify the appalling language I have seen used about Jews in general".[337] The following year, the Master of Magdalene spoke out again, acknowledging on the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that there had been a dark side to its founder, Martin Luther. (Luther was an extreme example of philo-Judaic benevolence that had mutated into virulent anti-Semitism: when Jews refused to convert to his reformed faith, he called for the destruction of their homes and their synagogues as a first step to driving them out of Europe altogether.) While Lord Williams accepted that it would be simplistic to claim that Luther caused Hitler, he did insist on facing the fact that his intolerance was "part of the story that leads to Germany in the 1930s". Nor did the dismal trail end with the Nazis. In an oblique reference to controversies surrounding Britain's Labour Party, he spelled out the nature of the virus. "There’s something that still makes people think that Jews, as a body, are guilty, dangerous and polluting, and there’s a sort of worldview of Jewish conspiracy and Jewish influence which leads to the kind of mindless stupidity of popular anti-Semitism on the right, but also on the left sometimes."  In 1649, John Sadler had reproved Christians for alleging that Jews crucified children in ritual murders. Three and a half centuries later, his successor as Master of Magdalene warned: "Sadly anti-Semitism is not a problem of the past. It is a real, urgent, present issue."[338]


It is a measure of the penetration of Old Testament imagery into the English language, for all its modernity, that an authoritative statement on any subject is liable to be described as carved on tablets of stone. This preparation of the essay has certainly revealed much that has surprised its author, but the finished product is offered not as a revelation but as a reconnaissance. Accordingly, it closes not – as might be expected – with a summary of conclusions, but rather with a suggested agenda of alternative ways in which the information assembled might be considered, and also how it might be developed and extended. Loosely stated, the argument of the essay is that, over three centuries, Magdalene College, Cambridge can claim a generally positive and sometimes even proactive relationship with British Jewry. It is hardly surprising that there have been blemishes. In terms of the recognition of literature and the building of bridges to wider communities, the conferral of Honorary Fellowships upon Kipling and Eliot were admirable gestures – but it is a matter for profound regret that both these distinguished personalities entertained crude anti-Jewish prejudices. Magdalene probably knew little of their shortcomings when it elected them, but we may also suspect that Magdalene might not have been troubled had any such objection been raised. Nonetheless, there is persuasive evidence that most Jewish students enjoyed their experience of college life, but two failures in the relationship between undergraduate and don stand out. Neither Alfred Newton's apparent jealousy of Walter Rothschild nor F.R. Salter's intolerant attitude to Geoffrey Blok can be described as specifically anti-Semitic in their motivation but, in both cases, an empathetic understanding of the pressures upon young Jewish men from high-achieving families might have provided them with a more rewarding student experience. It may be some consolation that these two negative episodes were separated by almost fifty years.

Of course, others may interpret the overall evidence in other directions, preferring to see a story presented here as positive as one that is in reality characterised by paternalism, conversionism and much outright misunderstanding. Here, it is useful to repeat the concern of Bryan Cheyette that philo-Semitic (or, as I prefer, philo-Judaic) and anti-Semitic attitudes both belong to "a much broader history of differentiating Jews racially from other human beings", with the concomitant if shocking implication that the boundaries between them "are more blurred than is usually assumed".[339] Outsiders who adopted a polite and admiring attitude towards Jews may have been projecting their own notions on a community whose experience of discrimination did not necessarily make them respond as their well-wishers would have liked. The result was that those – especially committed Christians – who expressed themselves in benevolent terms were often faced either with the need to revise their preconceptions or with the temptation of condemning Jews for failing to live up to their expectations. This seems to have been the experience of Kingsley in relation to the Resurrection and of Kipling in regard to the British Empire. This essay is agnostic in regard to both, but neutrality towards both faith and flag cannot exempt its assumptions and the evidence it cites from the scrutiny of those who may suspect that it presents an unduly generous picture.  The breath of the material adduced also calls for the assessment of specialist examination, bearing in mind that both theologians and literary critics are liable to claim that words do not always mean what they seem to say.

It will also be apparent that the institution of Magdalene College, Cambridge is discussed in what may seem a relaxed manner. Cambridge colleges are usually defined in terms of their buildings and the people who occupy them at a particular time. The concept may become impossibly nebulous when it is extended in defiance of place and time, and the imprecision is hardly overcome by tacit assumptions of intellectual osmosis among its members and the telepathic transfer of sentiments across the span of time. John Sadler probably poached the young Samuel Pepys from Trinity Hall, but he did not succeed and probably did not even attempt to transmute his sympathy for Judaism. Peter Peckard spoke out for Jewish civil rights almost three decades before he was appointed Master of the College, when his commitment to human rights exploded in a different direction, against plantation slavery. Robert Grant may well have read Peckard's 1753 sermon in his student days, but he was initially reluctant to take up the emancipation issue when it was urged upon him in 1830. In more recent times, Tony Bayfield recognised the incongruity of two clerics embarking upon interfaith dialogue from a shared background of an institution imbued by conservative theology. Arguably, the institution, the bricks-and-mortar, finite College of real-live people, only took two decisions that specifically favoured Jews as Jews: the admission of Arthur Cohen in 1849 and of Maurice Goldhaber in 1933. The first stemmed from Neville-Grenville's desire to please (or placate) Prince Albert, the second from the charming whimsy of Vernon-Jones (although, in this case, it is possible to suspect an affectation of eccentricity). Nor is it a straightforward matter to generalise about the experience and the achievements of Jewish members of the College, not least because they have been Jewish in different ways. Magdalene Jews have belonged to different synagogues or to none at all, while even the common element in the eyes of outsiders, their ethnicity, was open to contest, with the Orthodox taking a narrow view based on matrilineal descent. All of these reservations may be freely conceded, but colleges do celebrate their veterans, their connections and their landmarks as part of shared institutional self-definition. In the case of British Jewry, Magdalene in entitled to appeal to its record not merely in its own congratulation but as a gesture of support for the right of Jews to belong as an integral part of the United Kingdom community – a right which exists, irrespective of the terrible and tragic problems of Israel and Palestine, but one which, in 2024, many of them feel is under attack.

Two further points arise from placing the essay in a longer and broader context. The first is that it contains relatively few Jewish voices. Until the end of the nineteenth century, the study essentially focuses on the attitudes of non-Jews to the exotic minority that had arrived in their country. Little attempt has been made to take the story beyond 1970, where it trenches upon the lived experience of those who are – it may be hoped – still active and moving their lives forward. One possible way to extend the project would be to invite Magdalene's Jewish members to contribute accounts of their own experiences, an approach that would both confront and measure the pervasive undertone of anti-Semitism that may be safely assumed to have lingered even in modern secular Britain. Here it may be noted as a general point that the engagement between Jews and the University of Cambridge has tended to involve more compromises by the former than concessions from the latter. It is no doubt fortunate that, certainly until recent times, formal University teaching rarely took place on Saturdays, avoiding most issues relating to activity on the Sabbath.[340] However, questions such as diet remain largely unexplored.[341] It may be that, for all the honoured memory of the landmark created by the graduation of Arthur Cohen in 1857, Cambridge has in practice been more accessible to anglicised and adaptable Jews than to the community as a whole, while it may have continued to be, however unwittingly, repellent to some of the most Orthodox. One striking feature of the outline survey of Jewish members of Magdalene in the half century from 1919 offered above is how similar they seem to the undergraduate body as whole: most came from second-rank public schools, took their studies seriously (with various degrees of success) but also engaged in sport and other activities. By the same token, they were hardly representative of British Jewry as a whole. However, there are questions here that only Jews themselves can answer, and perhaps that only Jews can closely define.

In common with all other Magdalene-related material on, this essay is the result of purely personal investigation, and is neither commissioned by the College nor intended to speak on its behalf.[342] However, while this exploration is entirely unofficial, it closes with a call to other institutions – Cambridge colleges as well as universities on both sides of the Atlantic – to examine their pasts to measure how far they and the people associated with them have worked for the civic inclusion of Jewish people. Where, as in the Magdalene case, bold and benevolent endorsements can be traced, even these need to be interrogated to clarify the assumptions and motives behind them. Episodes of prejudice and contempt should be faced, not in terms of apology or cancellation, but in order to recognise that intelligent people have been, and can be, susceptible to the toxic mythologies of group hatred. The Magdalene story is predominantly positive, but no doubt there is much that is yet to be told.


I appreciate the friendly interest in the Magdalene material on shown by many members of the College, but (as always) I must stress that my various narratives and speculations are the result of a personal interest in Cambridge history and are neither commissioned nor endorsed by the institution.

Around thirty Internet essays and notes relating to the history of Magdalene College are listed on:

ENDNOTES  I owe particular thanks to Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield for his encouragement and support in this project. He has guided me through unfamiliar material. I remain solely responsible for its misunderstandings and infelicities. I am grateful to Katy Green and Grace Collingwood of the Magdalene College Archives, and to Terry Barringer, Eamon Duffy, Michael Estorick, Stuart Goss, Peter Grubb, Ronald Hyam, Andrew Jones, David Alan Richards, Tom Spencer, Stephen Waley-Cohen and Graham Zellick for their help and comments. 

[1] Concerns among British Jews were surveyed by the Jerusalem Post, 18 December 2023:

[2] In 2020, the University of Cambridge adopted the definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. The University also endorsed the free-speech rider recommended by the UK Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016: "It is not anti-Semitic to hold the Israeli government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli government's policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest anti-Semitic intent.": The Home Affairs Select Committee commented: "It is important that non-Israelis with knowledge and understanding of the region should not be excluded from criticising the Israeli Government, in common with the many citizens of Israel who are amongst its strongest critics, including human rights organisations in that country.":

[3] Thomas Walker Arnold won an Entrance Scholarship to Magdalene in Classics from the City of London School in 1883. His Third in 1886 was a poor result, which may perhaps be partly explained by his decision to cox the College Boat in 1885. However, he became interested in Oriental Languages, and spent a postgraduate year in Cambridge, learning Arabic and Sanskrit. In 1888, he was appointed to teach at the Anglo-Oriental College in Alighar (later Aligarh Muslim University), an institution founded by Syed Ahmad Khan to introduce Indian Muslims to Western learning. Arnold fell under the spell of Islamic culture, even adopting local dress. In 1898, he moved to a professorship at Lahore, returning to Britain after six years to play an influential role both in the India Office and the School of Oriental Studies at London University. In 1896, he published The Preaching of Islam, which a recent study by Dr Kathleen Watt has described as "a new departure in British Islamic scholarship". Nineteenth-century British commentators had portrayed Islam in military and political terms, an understandable approach when viewed through the filter of the British Raj. Arnold entirely rejected this framework, insisting "Islam was spread primarily by peaceful propaganda" and that it was inherently sympathetic to toleration of other faiths.  He extended his studies far beyond India, taking an interest in the Islamic experience in Spain as well as in missionary activities in China. His 1928 work, Painting in Islam, is said by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography to have "laid the foundations for the scholarly study of the history and technique of Islamic art". That same year, he also published a pamphlet, The Islamic Faith, which was aimed at a popular readership, whom he urged to abandon the term "Muhammadanism". He never converted to Islam, but he certainly moved a long way from his Nonconformist background, which may have been in the Plymouth Brethren. Dr Watt concluded that "Arnold's personal configuration of intellectual, religious and political precepts, and its manifestation in his academic, practical and political roles, aptly demonstrate the ambiguities of European perceptions of Islam". Similar approaches have become controversial in the modern academic debate over 'Orientalism', although Arnold most definitely did not imply that Islamic culture was inferior to that of the West. (He was not mentioned in Edward Said's 1979 book of that title.)  Arnold's advocacy did coincide with a shift in overall British policy that began to see Muslims as a counterweight to the Indian National Congress, but there is no reason to attribute this divide-and-rule policy to him.  Magdalene made him an Honorary Fellow in 1917, a distinction that he valued more than the knighthood he received four years later. K. Watt, "Thomas Walker Arnold and the Re-Evaluation of Islam, 1864-1930", Modern Asian Studies, xxxvi (2002), 1-98; H.A.R. Gibb / C. Woodhead, "Arnold, Sir Thomas Walker (1864–1930)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[4] "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: the Palestine connection":

[5] G. Alderman, Modern British Jewry (rev. ed., Oxford, 1998), 1. This a broader approach than the definitions in Israel's Law of Return, which (as I understand it) gives the right of settlement in the country to anyone with a Jewish grandparent, plus converts and non-Jewish spouses, but excludes ethnic Jews who have converted to another religion.

[6] This outline follows Alderman, Modern British Jewry, 1-50.

[7]  Arthur Cohen, who is discussed below, rejected much traditional practice but remained faithful to the Orthodox synagogue, explaining: "I don't believe in reforms in ritual brought about by merchants and city men."'

[8] The Zionist campaigner Chaim Weizmann was ambivalent about the likely assimilation of late-nineteenth century Jewish immigrant communities. He envisaged a time when "the second or third generations, which will have adapted themselves with incredible rapidity and skill to the structure of the new life, and will have lost their identity almost beyond recognition" and could "foresee them under changed names, figuring in the honors [sic] lists of Oxford and Cambridge, and making genuine contributions to English life." His younger son studied at Cambridge. C. Weizmann, Trial and Error... (New York, 1949), 90-1.

[9] Immigration after c. 1880 largely created the Jewish communities of Scotland and Ireland: K. E. Collins with E. Borowski and L. Granat, Scotland's Jews… (rev. ed., 2008, published by Scottish Council of Jewish Communities: and D. Keogh, Jews in Twentieth-Century Ireland … (Cork,  1998), 6-25. Scottish universities did not impose religious tests for graduation: an American Jew qualified in medicine at Edinburgh in 1779. The city had a synagogue as early as 1817. Dermot Keogh estimated that the Jewish population of Ireland, concentrated in Dublin, did not exceed 350 before 1880.  

[10] Alderman, Modern British Jewry, 220ff. Zionism caused other and more complicated divisions, which mostly lie beyond the focus of this essay. Some Orthodox rabbis believed that the eventual return of their people to Palestine could only be God's work and should not be attempted by human agency. Others interpreted the prayer "Next year in Jerusalem" as embodying a spiritual concept rather than a geographical location. Among Zionists, too, there were sharp distinctions of aim and emphasis. Some aimed at a return to Palestine; others would have accepted a settlement in East Africa or Argentina. Some dreamed of a rabbinical theocracy, others of an equal and democratic society. These themes sometimes clash in modern Israel.

[11] The UK's Jewish population in 2021 was about 40 percent lower than in 1945, although in all such statistics the imprecision of definition should be borne in mind. The Wikipedia article on the British Jews has much useful information:

[12] In March 2024, a survey of 19 leading UK universities, members of the elite Russell Group, found that 33 anti-Semitic incidents had been reported during the twelve months before the Hamas attacks of 7 October 2023, and 176 in the three months that followed. Regrettably, Cambridge was one of five universities that declined to reveal data. Daily Telegraph, 30 March 2024.

[13] So, of course, were Scotland and Ireland, in different forms. But neither Scotland nor Ireland engaged much with Jewry before the 19th century.

[14] W. Van Mildert, The Works of Daniel Waterland ... (10 vols, Oxford, 1823), viii, 17 (1731).

[15] A heavyweight figure in contemporary ecclesiastical affairs, Hezekiah Burton became a student at Magdalene in 1647, at the age of 15. He was elected to a Fellowship in 1651, and survived the upheavals of the Restoration of Charles II, leaving Magdalene for a career in the Church in 1667. He died in 1681, and his Discourses were published posthumously. Biographical information is taken from Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses [cited as Venn and consulted via] and from P. Cunich, et al., A History of Magdalene College Cambridge... (Cambridge, 1994), [cited as History].

[16] H. Burton, Several Discourses ... (London, 1684), 414.

[17] History, 129 (chapter by Peter Cunich); Burton, Several Discourses, 402-3. It is generally accepted that the Jewish Church in Jerusalem withdrew from the city before the assault by the Romans in 70CE which destroyed the Temple. In fact, by losing its base in the holy city of Judaism, the Jerusalem Church declined in importance, and Christianity became Pauline in character. D. McCulloch, A History of Christianity … (London, 2010 ed., cf. 1st ed. 2009), 106-11.

[18] "The Mosaic dispensation, with its rites of circumcision, observance of the Sabbath, and so forth, was only transitory, and finds its completion in the spiritual kingdom of Christ: the Messiah has already come, as definitely prophesied: the blindness of the Jews in refusing to accept these facts is due to pride and ambition. Let them take warning. The chastisement which has fallen on them as a nation since they rejected Christ, is a proof of the Divine displeasure and of the truth of Christianity." S.A. Donaldson, Church Life and Thought in North Africa A.D. 200 (Cambridge, 1909), 110. Donaldson made his endorsement clear in his conclusion: "We of the twentieth century have surely much to learn from the North African Church of A.D. 200." He particularly admired the Carthage Church for its "respect for duly constituted authority" (he was a former Housemaster at Eton), "and, last but not least, from the recognition of the supreme claims of Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God" (191). Donaldson was Master of Magdalene from 1904 to 1915.  

[19] Daniel Waterland was an impressive figure, a rare example (in any era) of an academic who excelled in scholarship, teaching and administration. He entered Magdalene in 1699 (at the age of 16), became a Fellow in 1704, proved to be a sought-after Tutor, and served as Master from 1714 until his death in 1740. He took over a College in financial difficulties, revolutionised its record-keeping, thereby increasing its effective income, and attracted new benefactions. His collected works were reprinted four times between 1823 and 1856. B.W. Young, "Waterland, Daniel (1683–1740)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[20]  McCulloch, A History of Christianity, 213-22.

[21] "The Wisdom of the Ancients borrowed from divine revelation" in Van Mildert, The Works of Daniel Waterland, viii, 4, 17 (1731).

[22]  Van Mildert, The Works of Daniel Waterland, vii, 46; McCulloch, A History of Christianity, 91-4.

[23] T. Cooper / P. Carter, "Lyons, Israel, the elder (d. 1770)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Many of Waterland's books came to Magdalene's Old Library. It may be that some annotation may one day establish that there was contact with Lyons.

[24]  There is very little specific information about Mary Magdalene in the Gospels. It is assumed that she was Jewish, and that she probably came from Magdala, a fishing village on the Sea of Galilee. Until 1948, this was the site of an Arab village, al-Majdal, and it now forms part of the Israeli municipality of Migdal. I understand that the derivation may be from a word meaning "tower". Names, of course, take on meanings of their own (e.g. the State of New Jersey owes no allegiance to the Channel Islands), and there is no implied connection between Magdalene College and Magdala / Migdal.

[25] Cheyette's essay appeared in J. Montefiore, ed., In Time's Eye... (2013), and is further discussed below. I am grateful to David Alan Richards for drawing it to my attention.

[26] A. Hamilton in Heythrop Journal (2009):

[27] Venn can supply no details, and Magdalene archives are thin for that period. His surname was probably Habeker, and there is no reason to suppose that he was Jewish.

[28] G.L. Jones, "Broughton, Hugh (1549–1612)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; History, 74.

[29] D. S. Margoliouth / N. Keene, "Walton, Brian (1600–1661)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Richard Hollinworth, a student at Magdalene in the 1620s, presented an earlier polyglot Bible, the "Plantin Polyglot", printed in Antwerp. It is held in the College's Old Library.

[30] R. Cumberland, An Essay towards the Recovery of the Jewish Measures and Weights… (London, 1685), unpaginated preface; J. Parkin, "Cumberland, Richard (1632–1718)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[31] R. Cunningham, ed. S. Payne, Origines Gentium Antiquissimæ; or, Attempts for Discovering the Times of the First Planting of Nations... (London, 1724).  Another Magdalene contemporary, Francis Tallents, had produced A View of Universal History in 1685.  This listed events from the creation of the world until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70CE, arranged in parallel columns on sixteen large engraved folios. "The State of the Church, and of the Jews" has priority. Yale University has digitised the opening folio, which can be magnified for detailed exploration: It is unlikely that such a project could have been attempted without a knowledge of Hebrew. Tallents had trodden an inverse path from that of Brian Walton, enrolling at Peterhouse  in 1637, but transferring to Magdalene by the time of his graduation in 1641. He became a Fellow of Magdalene shortly after, but appears to have left Cambridge by 1652. C.D. Gilbert, "Tallents, Francis (1619–1708)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[32] But the Magdalene College Old Library holds around 50 volumes that either contain Hebrew material or complete Hebrew texts. Most are Bibles, usually but not always the Old Testament alone, with a number of collections of psalms. There are also lexicons and study guides. Magdalene was still collecting Hebrew material in the first half of the nineteenth century. In 2021, three titles had not been identified. A spreadsheet may be accessed via

[33] Van Mildert, The Works of Daniel Waterland, vi, 321-2. In 1794, the brilliant Magdalene mathematician Edward Waring doubted the value of studying ancient languages at all. He conceded that "[t]he greatest use of learning Greek, Hebrew, &c. is the acquiring a critical knowledge in the sacred writings". However, he saw no point in reading, for instance, scientific works in ancient Greek since they had all been translated into English and brought up to date: "will any one waste his time in studying a.language merely for the words contained?" In Waring, we may detect an early example of the feud between science and the humanities that has sometimes erupted in academic life. He even dismissed the familiar argument that learning a second language would help students to understand their own. "The reading of books in one language will little assist the learning to spell or write in another;  as the learning of hebrew to spell in the greek, of the greek in the latin, and of the latin in the English." Waring held the Lucasian Chair of Mathematics from 1760 until his death in 1798, although in his later years he drew his salary in Shropshire. E. Waring, An Essay on the Principles of Human Knowledge (Cambridge, 1794), 222-3, 133.

[34] Burton, Several Discourses, 163.

[35] D.A. Winstanley, Early Victorian Cambridge (Cambridge, 1955), 174. Winstanley observed that "the Bishops can hardly be blamed for thinking that a man could be a very efficient clergyman without a knowledge of Hebrew."

[36] J.R. Tanner, The Historical Register of the University of Cambridge... (Cambridge, 1917), 267-9; Cambridge University Calendar (1865), 229-32.

[37] Biographical information from Venn. The comment from Magdalene College Magazine, March 1910, 69 [cited as MCM], should be weighed against the fact that the author was very clearly not a highly committed student himself. Two later Magdalene products won Tyrwhitt Scholarships, J.R. Lumby in 1861 and A.T. Warren in 1887. Between 1878 and 1894, the University offered an Honours degree in Semitic Languages. In addition to Hebrew, candidates were examined in Arabic and Syriac. It produced 23 graduates, none of them from Magdalene. The degree was subsumed into the Oriental Languages Tripos, in which students could opt for two languages, thereby making possible the more logical combination (for an intending theologian) of Hebrew and Aramaic. F.R. Hall, the Rector of Fulbourn, wrote in 1848: "Lectures, upon any subject, whether fifteen or twenty in the year, are little worth without examinations. The pupils are inattentive or if any attend, they soon let slip what they hear. When will Hebrew, and Hebrew literature, and Theology generally be duly attended to in the Universities of the Church of England?" Cambridge Independent Press, 17 June 1848. 

[38] C. Sutherland, "The Genoa Psalter":

[39] In Amsterdam in 1644, Menasseh ben Israel had taken evidence under oath from a Jewish traveller, Antonio de Montezinos (Aaron ha-Levi), who insisted that he had encountered a tribe in the interior of South America who practised Jewish rituals and were descendants of Reuben, son of Jacob and Leah in the Book of Genesis. This was taken to establish that one of the Ten Lost Tribes of the Old Testament had ranged as far as the Americas. Menasseh accordingly turned his attention to England. Sadler in 1649 accepted that the evidence came from "a Grave, Sober Man" but cautiously indicated the need for it to "be better confirmed". D.S. Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603-1655 (Oxford, 1982), 140-1.

[40] A recent authoritative biography, S. Nadler, Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam (New Haven, 2019) adds little to previous accounts of Sadler, but confirms the congruence between Menasseh's messianic views and those of his Puritan interlocutors. He seems to have assumed that readmission to England would tick the Scottish and Irish boxes, a reasonable approach in the light of Cromwell's attempt through the 1653 Instrument of Government to create an integrated British Isles state.

[41] Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603-1655, 103. Matt Goldish has recently discussed other collaborations between Menasseh ben Israel and Christian theologians in "Could Early Modern Messianic Movements Cross Religious Boundaries?", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, lxi (2018), 124-46, esp. 131-6. There is much on this intriguing subject that I have been unable to consult, including the fascinatingly titled R.H. Popkin, "The Lost Tribes, the Caraites, and the English Millenarians", Journal of Jewish Studies, xxxvii (1986), 213-27.

[42] It is generally accepted that small numbers of Jewish traders had settled in 16th-century London. Known as Marranos, they practised their faith in secret. Most were expelled after a dispute within the community in 1609. C. Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford, 1941), 135-44. Ireland's small Jewish community claims William Moses Annyas Eanes (later Ames), Mayor of Youghal, County Cork in 1555, as a Marrano, an identification that Roth (140) endorsed, and cf.

[43] Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603-1655, 191. Cecil Roth, an important historian of British Jewry, wrote that the two men were "on terms of real affection". After the rabbi's death, Sadler lobbied for his widow to receive financial support. C. Roth, A Life of Menasseh ben Israel… (Philadelphia, 1945 ed., cf. 1st ed., 1934), 252; L. Wolf, ed., Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell... (London, 1901), lxxxvii. See also N. Osterman, "The Controversy over the Proposed Readmission of the Jews to England", Jewish Social Studies, iii (1941), 301-28, esp. 324-5.

[44] T.M. Endelman has summarised much recent scholarship, stressing that Anglo-Jewish historians had "mythologize[d]" 1656, representing it "as a symbol of English liberality and tolerance, in general, and sympathy for Jews, in particular", as if only a short leap was needed to full civic emancipation 200 years later. Endelman,

"The Jews of Great Britain (1650–1815)", Cambridge History of Judaism, vii, 949-71. E. Glasier, Judaism without Jews: Philosemitism and Christian Polemic in Early Modern England (Basingstoke, 2007) traces the evolution of the historiography.

[45] Venn; R.L. Greaves , "Sadler, John (1615–1674)",  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; History, 128-31, 133-5.  For a recent view, see P.K. Jain, "John Sadler (1615-1674): Religion, Common Law, and Reason in Early Modern England", Columbia University Journal Of Politics & Society (2015): john-sadler.pdf. There is a copy of Rights of the Kingdom in Magdalene College Old Library.

[46] Quoted by Wolf, ed., Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell, 166.

[47] Quoted by N. Sokolow, History of Zionism: 1600-1918 (2 vols, London, 1919), ii, 176.

[48] R. S. Ferguson / W. Gibson, "Rainbow [Rainbowe], Edward (1608–1684), bishop of Carlisle", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; History, 128-35.

[49] S. Wright, "Hill, Joseph (1625–1707)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[50] C. Tomalin, Samuel Pepys... (London, 2002), 35-7.

[51] Several of the Hebrew titles in the Magdalene College Old Library were printed in London in the early 1650s. They lack inscriptions but were perhaps acquired by Sadler. London printers would have had good reason to cultivate the goodwill of the City's Town Clerk.

[52] Katz, Philo-Semitism and the Readmission of the Jews to England, 1603-1655, 194-5; Wolf, ed., Menasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell, lviii, lxxii-lxxiii. Osterman, "The Controversy over the Proposed Readmission of the Jews to England" discussed Prynne.  

[53] Roth, A Life of Menasseh ben Israel, 42.

[54] Cecil Roth speculated that Cromwell wanted Jewish merchants in London to replicate the impact they had made in Amsterdam. "Were they persuaded to settle in London, they might do as much there as well. Fugitives from Spain and Portugal would transfer their capital thither, instead of to the Low Countries, and perhaps some of the Amsterdam colony might be persuaded to follow them. With them they would bring, not only their wealth and their ability, but also their world-wide commercial connexions, which must inevitably enrich their country of residence." However, he acknowledged that it was "impossible to fathom the entire complex of reasons that drove Cromwell himself in this direction": C. Roth, A History of the Jews in England (Oxford, 1941), 157-8. I have not delved deeply into Cromwell biography, but note that two recent scholars, Barry Coward and John Morrill, both incline to a religious rather than an economic explanation: B. Coward, Oliver Cromwell (Harlow, 1991), 137-8; J. Morrill, "Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[55] Nadler, Menasseh ben Israel: Rabbi of Amsterdam, 204.

[56] Roth, A Life of Menasseh ben Israel, 336. But Roth did not mention Sadler in his essay "The Resettlement of the Jews in England in  1656" in V.D. Lipman, ed., Three Centuries of Anglo-Jewish History (Cambridge, 1961), 1-25.

[57] Tomalin, Samuel Pepys, 44-7, 58-65.

[58] W.S. Samuel, "Carvajal and Pepys", Miscellanies (Jewish Historical Society of England), ii (1935), 24-9.  Carvajal had been a key figure in the resettlement.

[59] The Synagogue was replaced in 1701 by Bevis Marks, still the home of an Orthodox community and unofficially regarded as the premier institution of British Jewry. Although Pepys lived within walking distance of the Synagogue, the visitors emphasised their status by travelling in a coach.

[60] R. Latham and W. Matthews, eds, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, iv (London, 1971), 335 (14 October 1663); With no knowledge in Hebrew, Pepys does not seem to have collected material on Judaism. However, the Pepys Library does contain an anti-Semitic ballad: "A new Song, shewing the crueltie of GERNUTUS, a JEWE, who, lending to a merchant an hundred crowns, would have a pound of his fleshe, because he could not pay him at the time appointed. To the tune of Black and Yellow." The story is assumed to have inspired Shakespeare's portrayal of Shylock. Gernutus is outwitted by a magistrate who makes Portia's proviso: the usurer may enforce his bargain by taking a pound of the debtor's flesh, but not a drop of his blood. The ballad opens: "In Venice towne not long agoe / A cruel Jew did dwell / Which lived all on usurie / As Italian writers tell." Gernutus is likened to "a filthy heap of dung". T.S. Eliot would touch on a similar theme. The text is given in:  

[61] R. Latham and W. Matthews, eds, The Diary of Samuel Pepys, vii (London, 1972), 47 (19 February 1666); The "grand signor" was presumably the Ottoman Emperor.

[62] J. Smith, ed., The Life, Journals, and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys ... (London, 1841), 402, 433.

[63] P. Langford, A Polite and Commercial People... (Oxford, 1989), 224-5.

[64] The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible… (Cambridge, 1753). There is a copy in Magdalene College Old Library.

[65] E.g. T.W. Perry, Public Opinion, Propaganda, and Politics in Eighteenth-century England: a Study of the Jew Bill of 1753 (Cambridge, Mass, 1962), and general histories.

[66] J. Walsh, "Peckard, Peter (bap. 1717, d. 1797)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[67] J. Walsh, "Peter Peckard: Liberal Churchman" in J. Walsh and R. Hyam, Peter Peckard ... (Magdalene College Occasional Papers, no. 16, 1998), 5.

[68] M. Lowman, A Dissertation on the Civil Government of the Hebrews: In which the True Designs, and Nature of Their Government are Explained. The Justice, Wisdom and Goodness of the Mosaical Constitutions, are Vindicated: in Particular, from Some Late, Unfair and False Representations of Them... (London, 1740). Moses Lowman was not a Jew.

[69] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 3, 7. There seems to be an echo here of Alexander Pope on genteel preaching 20 years earlier: "To rest, the cushion and soft dean invite / Who never mentions Hell to ears polite."

[70] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 11, 23.

[71]  Walsh, "Peter Peckard: Liberal Churchman",1, 8.

[72] Peckard's friendship with Olaudah Equiano has been described by Professor Ronald Hyam in

[73] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 11-13.

[74] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 13-14.

[75] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 20-1. The quotation from the Devil is in Matthew iv, 9.

[76] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 27.

[77] T.M. Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830... (Philadelphia, 1979), x.

[78] History, 182-9; M. Forbes, Beattie and his Friends (London, 1904), 247. Unlamented, Barton Wallop died in his late thirties.

[79] Am I not a Man? and a Brother? (Cambridge, 1788), 37. Peckard's name did not appear on the title page. In an anonymous preface, he wrote: "Various reasons make me wish to be unknown, that are not of any consequence but to myself." The table of admissions to Magdalene in History, 305-6, may suggest that his 1783-4 assault on slavery had reduced student numbers.

[80] Peckard, The Popular Clamour against the Jews Indefensible, 27; P. Peckard, The Neglect of a Known Duty is Sin (Cambridge, 1790), 21. Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield points out to me that Peckard's allusion to Jew and Greek is derived from Galatians, iii, 28.

[81] E.J. Rapson / K. Prior, "Grant, Sir Robert (1780–1838)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Robert Grant was accompanied to Magdalene by his brother Charles, who later became Colonial Secretary (as Lord Glenelg). His Evangelical principles led him to defend indigenous peoples against British colonists, which made him unpopular. He probably also suffered from narcolepsy, which reduced his efficiency and exposed him to ridicule. At Cambridge, the brothers ran neck-and-neck for academic prizes.

[82] Alderman, Modern British Jewry, 59-60; Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830, 78-85.  The Jewish counter-measure was widely reported, e.g. Bath Chronicle, 18 June 1829.

[83] Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830, 79 and cf. C.S. Monaco, "The Extraordinary Movement of the Jews of Great Britain 1827–1831", Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, viii, 2009, 337-59.

[84] Endelman, The Jews of Georgian England, 1714-1830, 83. The annual meeting of the Philo-Judean Society for 1828 was reported in The Times, 25 May. Speakers, mostly clergymen, made clear their aim to convert the Jewish people. A flamboyant (and six-foot-three tall) Ulsterman, the Reverend Hugh M'Neile, closed his address with a Crucifixion gesture, throwing out one arm ("that arm which suffered on the cross") with a plea to God to "sink Rome", and the other accompanied by the appeal "Lord, lift thine arm to save Jerusalem!" He was loudly applauded.

[85] Hansard, 22 February 1830, 796-9.  The petition was signed by 597 British-born Jews.  Grant's parliamentary campaign was discussed by M.C.N. Salbstein, The Emancipation of the Jews in Britain... (London, 1982), 63-4, 69-72, 88-9. It has been argued that Jews benefited from the informal nature of Cromwell's decision to permit them to operate a synagogue in 1656, since this meant that they were not treated as a specific category by the law. However, they lost out because the reforms of 1828-9 did not explicitly provide for them. In addition, the long wars against France between 1793 and 1815 had slowed immigration from the continent, shifting the balance of population within British Jewry to the locally born, which tended to highlight their civic inequality.  V.D. Lipman, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858 (New York, 1990), 4; Alderman, Modern British Jewry, 6-7.

[86] Hansard, 5 April 1830, 1287-1303. Grant's description of Jewish global influence was an example of a philo-Judaic sentiment that could easily shade into an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

[87] Hansard, 5 April 1830, 1334-6

[88] Hansard, 17 May 1830, 767-74, 784. Among prominent members of the Board of Deputies, there were doubts about the tactical sense of making "the Right of sitting in Parliament" a "conspicuous" feature of relief legislation. Salbstein, The Emancipation of the Jews in Britain, 63.

[89] Hansard, 17 May 1830, 784-814.

[90] Hansard, 17 April 1833, 205-21; vote at 244, and cf. Jeremiah, xxix, 7. For Napoleon's Sanhedrin:

[91] Macaulay delivered his maiden speech in the 1830 debate. Intriguingly, all three – Brougham, Grant and Macaulay – were products of complex Anglo-Scots backgrounds.

[92] Of a slightly later period, W.D. Rubinstein and H.L. Rubinstein have written: "Whatever private hopes and expectations the conversionists entertained for the religious future of Jewry, they fought for the rights of Jews as Jews." "Philosemitism in Britain and in the English-speaking World, 1840-1939: Patterns and Typology", Jewish Journal of Sociology, xl (1998), 5-47, esp. 35.

[93] Hansard, 22 July 1833, 1081; Roth, A History of the Jews in England, 249-52.

[94] The point was considered by Salbstein, The Emancipation of the Jews in Britain, 71.

[95] Alderman, 54; Roth, A History of the Jews in England, 252-4; 257-63. A second Jewish MP, David Salomans, was briefly elected for another popular constituency, Greenwich, in 1851-2, and again from 1859 to 1873. He was the first Jewish Lord Mayor of London.

[96] Ged Martin, "Cambridge, Catholicism and the Irish":  Magdalene had admitted Charles Acton, a future Cardinal, in 1819.

[97] G. Alderman, "Montefiore, Sir Moses Haim (1784–1885)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[98] F.Mackinnon / P. Bartrip, "Cohen, Arthur (1829–1914)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[99] An obituary stated that three colleges refused to admit Cohen: The Times, 4 November 1914.  Alfred Hyman Louis was later baptised into the Church of England by F.D. Maurice, later received into the Catholic Church by Cardinal Manning but eventually returned to Judaism. He has been claimed as the original of Raphael Aben-Ezra, a character in Charles Kingsley's novel Hypatia. A R. Vogeler, "Louis, Alfred Hyman (1829–1915)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In October 1837, Mayer de Rothschild had been admitted to Magdalene as a Fellow Commoner; five months later he moved ("migrated" in Cambridge terminology) to Trinity. In the 1850s he commissioned the building of Mentmore. His daughter married Lord Rosebery. For a general overview, Cecil Roth, "The Jews in the English Universities", Miscellanies (Jewish Historical Society of England), iv (1942), 102-115, esp. 111-12 for Cambridge.

[100] George Neville-Grenville is briefly mentioned in R. Thorne Griffin, "Richard [formerly Richard Aldworth Neville], second Baron Braybrooke (1750–1825)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[101] The provision was briefly outlined in the Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire, iii:

[102] I outline this episode (and also attempt a partial defence of mid-19th-century Magdalene) in

[103] Winstanley, Early Victorian Cambridge, 106-21. St John's College opposed the Prince. This probably explains why apparently no attempt was made to see whether Cohen might follow in the footsteps of Sylvester.

[104] Winstanley, Early Victorian Cambridge, 200-15.

[105] The new subjects were introduced in 1851, but initially attracted few candidates.

[106] D. Bennett, King Without a Crown (London, 1977), 198-206.

[107] L. Loewe ed., Diaries of Sir Moses and Lady Montefiore... (2 vols, Chicago, 1890), ii, 19.

[108] The Times, 4 November 1914.

[109] R. Hyam, Magdalene, Anti-Slavery and the Early Human Rights Movement... (Magdalene College Occasional Paper No. 35, 2007), unpaginated.

[110] L. Cohen, Arthur Cohen: a Memoir (London, 1919), 105. His daughter described Arthur Cohen's views on religion in later years: "he admired the old customs and the old people who had not adopted modern ways, although he could not himself be trammelled by all their forms and traditions. He was too much of a philosopher to consider these as essential to religion, but he always retained a sentimental feeling for them. He generally observed in some way or other the week of Passover and the Day of Atonement, when he often fasted partially, and generally attended synagogue. I think he would go hoping for more than he found, and the older he got the more irksome and superfluous the constant repetitions became to him." Despite his doubts, Cohen remained a member of the traditional synagogue to which his father had belonged. In 1897 he wrote of an untraced article on Passover, "it warms my Jewish blood, and makes me feel I belong to a peculiar race, of which, and of whose history I am proud.... I am convinced that Judaism will never be the future religion of a monotheism which is to supplant Christianity. It is essentially a religion for a particular race; deprive it of this characteristic and of its historic garment, you make it cool, lifeless, and insipid." Cohen, Arthur Cohen: a Memoir, 24.

[111] H.P. Stokes, Studies in Anglo-Jewish History (Edinburgh), 1913, 233-5; Victoria County History of Cambridgeshire, iii, 138.  The career of Lazarus Cohen is explored in "Lazarus Cohen: a Jewish trader in Victorian Cambridge":

[112] Cambridge Independent Press, 2 February 1851. Disagreement within the Cambridge Jewish community led to a court case that year, in which two local residents "of the Jewish persuasion" had disputed responsibility for payment of rent for the synagogue. One of them had removed "the roll of the law, and other things appertaining to the Jewish mode of performing divine worship, which, however, had been restored upon the payment of a certain sum". Cambridge Independent Press, 3 May 1851. It is perhaps difficult to believe that so aristocratic a figure as Arthur Cohen could have been a member of the congregation at the time: a Montefiore would have paid the rent and settled the matter. There is a note by Cecil Roth on the early history of the Cambridge Jewish community at:

[113]Cohen, Arthur Cohen: a Memoir, 13. I discuss the mechanical use of Paley in  Published in 1794, Paley's Evidences of Christianity was a product of the 18th-century Enlightenment, and became dated after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859. However, it survived as a set book for the Cambridge Pass degree until the early 1920s.

[114] Cohen spoke 5 times in the Cambridge Union as an undergraduate. He argued for the "alteration of the suffrage" in March 1850, and supported a motion describing the policy of Richard Cobden and his allies as "upright, consistent and commendable" in May 1852. Earlier that month he had supported the claim that the "hesitation" of Lord Derby's minority administration to clarify its policy towards Free Trade was "particularly unworthy of those men who violently attacked Sir Robert Peel" during the repeal of the Corn Laws six years earlier. On each occasion, he was on the losing side. He also spoke on two foreign affairs issues, supporting Palmerston's confrontational policy towards Greece (the Don Pacifico affair) in November 1850, and denouncing Louis Napoleon (who had recently proclaimed himself Emperor) in February 1852, the latter his sole experience of victory in the division. His undergraduate political profile was thus of an advanced Liberal and assertive patriot. In those days, the Mathematical Tripos was held in January of a student's fourth year. Cohen remained in residence for the Lent and Easter Terms of 1853, possibly engaged in preliminary reading for the Bar: he was admitted to the Inner Temple in November. Speaking in the Union was probably now part of his preparation for a career as a barrister. In March, he supported the claim that "the Principles of Democracy are most conducive to the intellectual and material advantage of a Nation". The following week, he proposed a motion which resoundingly claimed that the "Foreign Policy of the English [sic] Government  ought to be exerted in favour of Constitutional Government abroad, and ought not to be merely neutral, or inactive". Both motions were defeated. Nonetheless, he had made sufficient impact to be elected President for the Easter Term. (He had been Secretary in the Easter Term of 1852.) He found it difficult to confine himself to the chair, and on five occasions stepped down to join in the debate. In April 1853, he opposed the ballot, an exception to his general advanced views. He also spoke for the claim that "the late Sir Robert Peel was one of England's most enlightened statesmen, and most conscientious patriots". In May, he defended the "principles of Competition, assailed by the Christian Socialists", and opposed the claim that "in the present condition of England, may be traced symptoms of National Decay". There was one intriguing topic in late April on which he did not speak, and neither did anyone else. A motion was moved by George Bulstrode of Emmanuel, later a clergyman (who spent much of his career as a curate, suggesting a lack of influential patrons), urging that "such an alteration be made in the Oath administered to Members of Parliament, to permit a conscientious Jew to take his seat". Evidently, opponents felt reluctant to address their negative sentiments to a Jewish President, and members proceeded to divide after Bulstrode's speech, backing the motion by a narrow majority of 19 votes to 17. The Union then occupied a converted chapel in Green Street, attendances were rarely large and Cohen was the only Magdalene activist. Contemporaries included William Vernon Harcourt (who moved a motion of censure against Cohen for his handling of the Union's finances when he was Secretary), the Stephen brothers, Leslie and James Fitzjames, H.C .E. Childers, later Chancellor of the Exchequer, H.M. Butler, later Master of Trinity, the lawyer Vernon Lushington and the theologian F.J.A. Hort. Cohen no doubt attended other debates in which he did not speak, but it is doubtful that his involvement in the Union seriously affected his studies. His obituary in The Times (4 November 1914) said that, as a courtroom performer, he was "smooth and persuasive ... and it was difficult not to be carried away, for the moment, by the most fallacious argument in his mouth". However, "he did not readily adapt himself to interruptions", which seems a curious failing in a former student debater.

[115] Replying to a letter of condolence from S.A. Donaldson on her father's death in 1914, Lucy Cohen wrote: "My father had, perhaps, a greater feeling for Cambridge and his life there, than for any other place." MCM, December 1914, 339.

[116] Cohen, Arthur Cohen: a Memoir, 13-18 for Cohen at Cambridge.

[117] Winstanley, Early Victorian Cambridge, 221-88. For the final phase of the campaign against religious tests, from 1862 to 1871, D.A. Winstanley, Later Victorian Cambridge (Cambridge, 1947), 36-90.  Winstanley did not mention the Jewish dimension of the remaining exclusions, notably the inability of N.E. Hartog, Senior Wrangler in 1869, to accept a Fellowship at Trinity.

[118] M.E. Bury and J.D. Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diary 1848-1864 (Cambridge, 2000), 287 (6 July 1857). Some reference works still quote Lucy Cohen's misdating of the degree ceremony to 1858.

[119] Bury and Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diary 1848-1864, 34, 128, 308.

[120] Clerical Journal, undated, in Morning Chronicle, 27 July 1857. The article was also reprinted in Cambridge Independent Press, 1 August, perhaps to compensate for its failure to mention the landmark event at the time. The Jewish Chronicle [cited as JC] reported Cohen's graduation on 24 July 1857. Reports in the Jewish Chronicle are mostly referenced from the online index and content has not been consulted.

[121] I plan to add a longer Note to Martinalia discussing Brockhurst's assault on Dodd. This summary is based upon The Times, 4 February 1861 and contemporary issues of the Cambridge Independent Press; Bury and Pickles, eds, Romilly's Cambridge Diary 1848-1864, 378-9.

[122] I owe this suggestion to Professor Ronald Hyam.

[123] He served a month in prison in 1847 for assaulting two London policemen who had remonstrated with him for urinating in a doorway. He was briefly incarcerated in 1848 for punching a sexton at a church in Devon, but released after his fine was paid by public subscription.

[124] The court of discipline was known as the Sex Viri (six men). The revised pronunciation of the Latin [sex weary] led to the addition of a 7th member in 1939, to create the Septem Viri. The Sex Viri suspended Brockhurst from his degrees for four years. This did not affect his status as a clergyman. However, it is possible that he supported himself by privately tutoring pupils for University admission, and a 4-year degradation would have affected his income. I cannot trace him after 1863, when he went bankrupt. Dodd died in 1868.

[125] D.E. Evans, "Newton, Alfred (1829–1907)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Strictly speaking, in his later years Newton did not live within the walls of Magdalene but in an adjoining house that he created out of the back rooms of the former Master's Lodge. The premises were incorporated into the College as student rooms in 1926. From childhood, Newton had a mobility problem , and his travels were courageous expeditions. In "A.C. Benson and Cambridge: II, 1885-1925", I argue that Benson was unfair in his portrayal of Newton, who died in 1907, three years after Benson came to Magdalene: Newton was one of the first scientists to accept Darwin's theory.

[126] A.F.R. Wollaston, Life of Alfred Newton (London 1921),  92.

[127] Given that the Jewish community in Britain numbered fewer than 40,000 people in 1858, even a small trickle of immigrants could affect its overall character. Lipman, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858, 12-38, pointed out that as early as 1881, around one-quarter of British Jewry, now numbering about 60,000, was of recent Russian-Polish origin. Lipman concluded that the appearance of anti-Semitism during the 1870s (when the term was coined) was "a reminder to British Jews that political emancipation had not solved all problems in their relations with the rest of British society. The events in Eastern Europe which came to a head in 1881 were to provide an even greater challenge."(38) It may be doubted whether Cambridge would have been aware of the nature of Jewish immigration in the late-nineteenth century, or of its very localised impact.

[128] Hansard, 3 March 1882, 57-9. Cohen represented Southwark from 1880 until 1888. This was the only occasion on which he spoke on a Jewish issue.

[129] N. Vance, "Kingsley, Charles (1819–1875)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. W.H. Bateson of St John's, who coached Kingsley for the Tripos, lamented that "I was unable to induce him to apply himself with any energy to his classical work, until quite the close of his undergraduate career".  F.E. Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: his Letters and Memories of his Life (2 vols, London, 1894 ed., cf. 1st ed. 1877), i, 40-1. O. Chadwick, "Charles Kingsley at Cambridge", Historical Journal, xviii (1975), 303-25 remains perceptive, but did not discuss his attitude to Jews.

[130] One of Kingsley's student fans later recalled that "often, as he told a story of heroism, of evil conquered by good, or uttered one of his noble sayings that rang through us like trumpet-calls, loud and sudden cheers would break out irresistibly – spontaneously; and wild young fellows' eyes would be full of manly, noble tears. And again and again, as the audience dispersed, a hearer has said, 'Kingsley is right – I'm wrong – my life is a cowardly life – I'll turn over a new leaf, so help me God.' And many a lad did it too. Kingsley preached without seeming to do so. History was his text." He was, indirectly, the victim of one of Cambridge's most legendary academic put-downs. W.H. Thompson, the acerbic Master of Trinity, sat disapprovingly through the Inaugural Lecture of his successor, J.R. Seeley, before remarking: "who would have thought that we should so soon have been regretting poor Kingsley!" Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: his Letters and Memories of his Life, ii, 118-19; A.C. Benson, The Leaves of the Tree... (London, 1911), 347.

[131] Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: his Letters and Memories of his Life, i, 340; ii, 111. Professor Ronald Hyam provided a masterly analysis of Kingsley's racism in Britain's Imperial Century 1815-1914 ... (London, 1976, and subsequent editions). In 1866, Kingsley wrote that "the differences of race are so great, that certain races, e.g. the Irish Celts, seem quite unfit for self-government". Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: his Letters and Memories of his Life, ii, 200.

[132] S. Chitty, The Beast and the Monk: a Life of Charles Kingsley (London, 1975), 153. S.E. Baldwin, Charles Kingsley (Ithaca, NY, 1934), described Raphael Aben-Ezra as "a convincing figure and probably the most commanding one in the story"... "a noble Jew", adding that he was persuaded by his friend and fellow Christian Socialist F.D. Maurice that the character must be Jew converted to Christianity. The character of Raphael Aben-Ezra was analysed by A.J. Hartley, The Novels of Charles Kingsley.... (Folkestone, 1977), 88-90: Hartley emphasised that the character was portrayed as retaining "something of his Jewishness" after his conversion, a combination that Kingsley was to urge upon Saphir (below). Kingsley's biographers have generally ignored his views on Judaism, which admittedly formed a small part of his interests. Kingsley drew relatively rarely upon Jewish experience in his historical writing. One interesting exception was his point that the doctrine of the divine right of kings could not be defended from Jewish history, since this was determined by "a primeval and divinely revealed law, to which kings and people were alike subject". C. Kingsley, The Roman and the Teuton (London, 1906 ed., cf. 1st ed., 1864), 248-9.

[133] E.I. Carlyle / R. Brown, "Saphir, Adolph (1831–1891)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Saphir's letter is in G. Carlyle, "Mighty in the Scriptures": a Memoir of Adolph Saphir.... (London, 1893), 100-1 (21 October 1852).  He  may have been responding in particular to a passage in chapter 29 of Kingsley's novel of 1850, Alton Locke:  "The great idea that the Bible is the history of mankind's deliverance from all tyranny, outward as well as inward; of the Jews, as the one free constitutional  people among a world of slaves and tyrants; of their ruin, as the righteous fruit of a voluntary return to despotism; of the New Testament, as the good news that freedom, brotherhood, and equality, once confined only to Judaea and to Greece, and dimly seen even there, was henceforth to be the right of all mankind." In his letter to Kingsley, Saphir described his family as German, but they lived in Budapest.

[134] Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: his Letters and Memories of his Life, i, 280-1 (1 November 1852).

[135] Kingsley, ed., Charles Kingsley: his Letters and Memories of his Life, i, 344 (April 1855). His Methodist correspondent is unidentified. It may be unfair to group these two statements together. In his detailed and fast-paced essay in The Victorian Christian Socialists (Cambridge, 1987), 35-57, E.R. Norman illustrated the difficulties in integrating Kingsley's opinions into a theoretically satisfactory unity. Kingsley threw out a stream of thoughts, but he was not a thinker. However, Owen Chadwick insisted that "[t]o understand Kingsley you must take him as a whole": Chadwick, "Charles Kingsley at Cambridge", 321. B. Colloms, Charles Kingsley ... (London, 1975), 132-3 linked Kingsley's exhortation to Saphir to the story of Raphael Aben-Ezra.

[136] It may be useful to compare Kingsley's views with those of the contemporary Regius Professor of History at Oxford, Goldwin Smith. Smith believed that hostility to Jews across Europe was motivated by economics not religion, and that it was entirely justified. His essay, "The Jewish Question", is virulently anti-Semitic, and profusely footnoted. G. Smith, Essays on Questions of the Day... (rev. ed., London, 1894, cf. 1st ed. 1893), 241-84. E. Wallace, Goldwin Smith: Victorian Liberal (Toronto, 1957) ignored his attacks on Jews, but see C. Holmes, "Goldwin Smith (1823‐1910): a 'liberal' anti-Semite", Patterns of Prejudice, vi (1972), 25-30. Both Kingsley and Smith were mid-Victorian liberals, but the development of their ideas on specific questions differed sharply. Unlike Kingsley, Smith had supported the North in the American Civil War, and had also taken a prominent role in the campaign to prosecute Governor Eyre, whose repression in Jamaica Kingsley defended. Kingsley died in 1875, before Irish Home Rule became a dominant issue in British politics. Goldwin Smith, who survived until 1910, also took the view that the Irish were incapable of self-government. It may at least be noted that Jews apparently did not feature in Kingsley's racist hierarchy, Norman, The Victorian Christian Socialists, 56.

[137] There is a table of undergraduate admissions in History, 305-6. As emphasised earlier, ethnicity and religion were not recorded and there may have been more Jews than those I have identified. An intriguing example is Frederick Hartmann, admitted to Magdalene in 1880. He was from Eton and was named by E.R. Yerburgh (below) as one of the young men wealthy enough to keep horses in Cambridge. He was the son of Frederick Hartmann, a calico printer of Accrington in Lancashire, who inherited the business from his father-in-law, Frederick Steiner. Relying on surnames in probate records to identify wealthy Jews, the historian William Rubinstein remarked: "In a surprising number of cases it has not been possible to ascertain with certainty whether the person listed was definitely Jewish." He included James Rubinstein with a double question mark (??), indicating an absence of any information. James Hartmann's funeral in 1887 was conducted by Anglican clergy. A lively local publication, Amazing Accrington, Summer 2018, states that Steiner and Hartmann came from Alsace. The conjunction of the two surnames may be suggestive, but neither Steiner nor Hartmann is an exclusively Jewish name, and no other evidence has been traced. W. Rubinstein, "Jewish top wealth-holders in Britain, 1809-1909", Jewish Historical Studies, xxxvii (2001), 133-61, esp. 134, 148; Blackburn Standard, 12 March 1887.

[138] "Magdalene College Cambridge in Mid-Victorian Times":

[139] Venn; Cambridge Independent Press, 15 October 1870.


[141] MCM, 2000-2001, 87.  At the same time as Sydney Stern's father had become a Portuguese viscount, his uncle (the other half of Stern Brothers) received a barony. Uncle Hermann survived until 1887, which probably explains Yerburgh's subsequent confusion about titles. To be "up" was to be a student in the University, hence "come up" for the action of travelling to Cambridge.

[142] On his election to Parliament, the Daily Telegraph noted Sydney Stern's Mayfair residence, country estate in Essex, membership of the Four-in-Hand Club and the fact that he was "educated at Magdalene College Cambridge". Daily Telegraph, quoted Bury Post, 12 May 1891. Two years earlier, at a rowdy public meeting in the village of Bradfield St George, Stern had delivered "a discursive view of the ramifications of Irish history", starting in the 12th century, before asserting that the Liberal party "desired to accord justice to Ireland. 'Bosh' responded the audience. Was it supposed the Irish would cut their own throats? asked Mr Stern. Most decidedly they would was the reply." Bury Post, 28 May 1889.

[143] H.J. Hanham, "The Sale of Honours in Late Victorian England", Victorian Studies, iii (1960), 277-89. The quotation comes from a letter written by the Liberal Chief Whip to Gladstone's successor, Lord Rosebery, in 1894. J. Orbell's article on the Stern family in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography adds little.

[144] R.R. James, Rosebery... (London, 1963), 380-1; Freeman's Journal (Dublin), 1 July 1895. Rosebery's Huddersfield speech was reported in The Times, 30 March 1896.

[145] The Times, 12 February 1912. Lord Wandsworth had also supported a London charity, the Home for Aged Jews. The school became Lord Wandsworth College.

[146] Benefactions to the remote and abstract concept of the University were even less common, at least until the nineteen-twenties. The University's decision in 1917 to reject a bequest to establish a prize in Arabic because the testatrix wished to make Jews ineligible was commendable. In appreciation of this gesture of principle, the Jewish Chronicle organised an appeal and raised a similar sum for the prize. See "The Cambridge Arabic Prize, 1917":

[147] The obituary in the MCM, March 1912, 50-1, was transcribed from The Times.

[148] Yerburgh's memoirs were published in MCM, 2000-2001, 81-9. Among his dislikes was Lord Hawke, later captain of the Yorkshire and England cricket teams. Not surprisingly, the passage of time produced occasional inaccuracies. Among Yerburgh's friends was George Ogilvy Haig "who gave the most delightful dinners. ... and lived very extravagantly". He was the brother of Sir Douglas Haig, but Yerburgh was mistaken in believing that the future Field Marshal had been a student at Trinity, a confusion with yet another sibling.

[149] The Observer has been described as "a rich man's toy": S. Jackson, The Sassoons (London, 1968), 79.

[150] Jackson, The Sassoons, 79-80.

[151] Yerburgh's claim that he knew the family is puzzling. Frederick Beer had few relatives. Yerburgh had perhaps encountered them in London while training to be a solicitor.

[152] V. Curney, "Beer [née Sassoon], Rachel (1858–1927)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. She left a legacy to her nephew, Siegfried Sassoon, that enabled him to purchase a country estate.

[153] M. Rothschild, Walter Rothschild... (London, 2008), 70-9, for his time at Cambridge. See also K. Jordan / V.M. Quirke, "Rothschild, Lionel Walter, second Baron Rothschild (1868–1937), zoologist", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. 

[154] A few colleges (e.g. St John's and Sidney Sussex) built laboratories, but the obvious need for centralised facilities contributed to the growth of the University as an institution.

[155] On health grounds, Walter Rothschild had been educated at home, and hence lacked the rote knowledge of Latin and Greek instilled by the public schools. He passed the University's retrospective matriculation test, the Previous Examination (or "Little-Go") in June 1888, but only in the Third Class. The Times, 18 June 1888.

[156] The kiwis may explain why, as a freshman, Rothschild lived in lodgings in Jesus Lane: the son of a peer might have been expected to be offered one of the larger College sets. It is not known how the kiwis were cared for. When they eventually shuffled off this mortal coil (kiwis did a lot of shuffling), it seems that they were stuffed and presented to museums. Lodging houses were required to impose a curfew upon their student inmates, and Rothschild described sprinting through the streets in evening dress after a dinner party to avoid being locked out, hoping to evade the proctors as he was not wearing his gown.

[157] Rothschild, Walter Rothschild, 76-9; Wollaston, Life of Alfred Newton, 242.

[158] Newton to Rothschild, 16 December 1891, Rothschild, Walter Rothschild, 77.

[159] Rothschild, Walter Rothschild, 78. The Hawaiian study appeared as The Avifauna of Laysan between 1893 and 1900.

[160] From 1894, his Tring museum published its own academic journal, Novitates Zoologicae, which he co-edited.  Rothschild sat in the House of Commons from 1899 to 1910, but rarely spoke.

[161] Rothschild lobbied the British government in the Zionist interest: Weizmann, Trial and Error, 203-5.  L. Stein, The Balfour Declaration (Jerusalem, 1983), 182-3 suggested that Walter Rothschild came late to Zionism, and that he was following his father's wishes. The Balfour Declaration is discussed in "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: the Palestine connection":

[162] Cambridge Independent Press, 19 February 1909. 

[163] MCM, March 1911, 173, December 1911, 25. Most of the cost of the pavilion was met by large donations from the Master and Fellows, which probably meant the private purse of A.C. Benson. The playing fields, off Milton Road, were sold for building in the 1980s for £4.1 million.

[164] MCM, December 1911, 25. Baron Rothschild died in Vienna in 1934. He had been confined to a nursing home for many years. The Times, 7 January 1934. In 2010, the Rothschild connection was renewed with the election of Professor Emma G. Rothschild to a Fellowship. An authority on the history of economic thought, she is Joint Director of the Centre for History and Economics and holds a Chair at Harvard.

[165] Information about L.H. Stern comes from The Times, 15 May 1915 (summarised in MCM, June 1915, 381-2) and from press cuttings at

[166] The extract from A.C. Benson's diary, 19 October 1910, was kindly supplied by Professor Eamon Duffy.

[167] The formation of the mixed choir triggered a secession that formed the Stepney Orthodox Synagogue in 1896:

[168] From an obituary sermon preached by his father: "Parents and Children": a Sermon Preached at the East London Synagogue, Stepney (1915), 24.

[169] "Before 1939 – and indeed after the war – traditionalist and reform Jews managed to worship together, on orthodox lines, in the Cambridge synagogue." Presumably this coalition required diplomatic management. R. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: the First Hundred Years", in W. Frankel, ed., Gown and Tallith … (London, 1989), 13-37, esp. 33:

[170] MCM, December 1913, 213. Playing Rugby for Magdalene was a duty rather than a pleasure. In the 1911-12 season, the team lost 13 of its 19 matches (with one draw), scoring 178 points against 386. Further humiliation was spared because 7 matches were cancelled "through our inability to raise a XV". As a freshman, Stern was described as having "usually played well", although he was credited with hard work rather than intelligence. He continued to turn out. MCM, March 1912, 62.

[171] MCM, March 1914, 252.

[172] In January 1911, he spoke against a motion stating that "the Government's schemes of defence are inadequate to the needs of the country". In February, he opposed "this House views with alarm evidences of Degeneracy in the National Character".

[173] MCM, March 1914, 252. The motion was proposed by W.R. Henn, later commander of the police force in Alexandria, Egypt, and Chief Constable of Gloucestershire. There seems an odd reversal of expected positions in the debate.

[174] Raphael Loewe identified him as the "L.S." who contributed Latin verses to the 20th anniversary celebration of the Cambridge Hebrew Congregation in 1909: the minyan were praised ("floreant decemviri"), but I do not think that Stern had arrived in Cambridge so early. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: the First Hundred Years", 23.

[175] London Gazette, 5 February 1915, 1222 for his commission.

[176] Leonard Stern's name appears on the memorial to the fallen at Ploegsteert (Plug Street).

[177] Illustrated in MCM, 2013-14, 71.

[178] "Parents and Children": a Sermon Preached at the East London Synagogue, Stepney (1915), 24.

[179] Benson's comments were in a letter to a friend, 17 May 1915, kindly supplied by Professor Eamon Duffy.

[180] I have discussed Benson in "A.C. Benson and Cambridge: ii, 1885-1925":

[181] Raphael Loewe estimated that there were 20-30 Jewish students in residence at Cambridge in the years before 1914. At that time, the University comprised 21 colleges and societies, but Magdalene, one of the smallest of them, accounted for no more than 3 percent of the student population. The Jewish Year Book (1907), 158, reported that Cambridge had a Jewish population of 50. Since 1888, the synagogue had occupied central premises in Great St Mary's Passage, off King's Parade. There were 30 seat holders, and (from 1899) it was run by undergraduates, with services arranged according to Term dates. This was a clear indication of the weakness of the Jewish community in the Town. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: the First Hundred Years", 13-37.  

[182] A.C. Benson, The Life of Edward White Benson… (2 vols, London, 1899), ii, 274.

[183] I am grateful to Professor Eamon Duffy for supplying the references to Lewis and Zangwill. The extracts are dated 19/21 September 1910 and 2 September 1914.

[184] The undefined complexity of the term may be seen in Benson's assessment of Cyril Alington, headmaster of Shrewsbury: "he is, as they say, not quite a gentleman" – but he was the obvious candidate to become headmaster of Eton in 1917. D. Newsome, On the Edge of Paradise... (London, 1980), 338.

[185] Information kindly supplied by Professor Tom Spencer.  The Art UK website has a self-portrait of Rothenstein at Rothenstein's family were Jewish immigrants, but his religious make-up was complicated: his mother was Orthodox, his father became a Unitarian and, in his early teens, he attempted to convert to Christianity. R. Speaight, William Rothenstein... (London, 1962), 1-6.

[186] But the description of Rothenstein should perhaps also be set alongside Benson's description of Winston Churchill after a close encounter in 1915: "a horrid little fellow ... like some sort of maggot.... He looks like a drug-taker". Newsome, On the Edge of Paradise, 326.

[187] Speaight, William Rothenstein, 272; W. Rothenstein, Men and Memories...1900-1922 (London, 1931), 275.

[188] Partly quoted, Newsome, On the Edge of Paradise, 312.

[189] W. Baker, "Zangwill, Israel (1864–1926)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; J. Leftwich, Israel Zangwill (New York, 1957), 109, quoting Professor Leon Kellner. The Art UK website has a striking portrait of Zangwill by W.R. Sickert:

[190] Zangwill was attacked by J.E.C. Bodley, a prominent intellectual whose two-volume study, France (1898), was regarded as the authoritative explanation of the relationship between the Revolution of 1789 and the Third Republic. Bodley not only reproved Zangwill for disloyalty to Britain, but also alleged that Jewish-owned newspapers in the United States were anti-British. The Chief Rabbi and the editor of the JC quickly responded, the latter insisting that if Bodley entertained "the least doubt as to whether the Jews of this country without distinction of class or origin are with England in her righteous struggle as British citizens first and throughout, he is labouring under the gravest error…. the Russian and Polish aliens who have been admitted during recent years to this country and who at the moment are enlisting to the fullest possible extent so that they may fight side by side with Britain in the common cause." Zangwill's response was trite and smug. "Since the Russian Jews are England's allies in this war … why should a mention of their interests expose me to Mr. Bodley’s labels? Rather does his indifference to the interests of an oppressed race seem to me 'anti-British'." The Times, 19, 21. 22, 28 August 1914. The intrusive speech that Benson sat through was a rehash of arguments that Zangwill knew were widely criticised.

[191] The Times, 2 September 1914. The battle of Tannenberg was fought in what is now Poland, about 500 kilometres east of Berlin.

[192] Keilin replied, thanking him in elegant French. Keilin's record card in the Magdalene College Archives merely refers to a £20 Exhibition. This further suggests that Benson's munificence was a private gesture.

[193] The first piece of formal postgraduate research from Magdalene was almost certainly A.W. Tedder's winning entry for the Prince Consort Prize in History in 1913. He was later Marshal of the Royal Air Force and Chancellor of the University.

[194] On becoming Master in December 1915, Benson had decided to claim only basic expenses, allowing the stipends of two other College officers to be raised in response to wartime inflation. This still left a surplus for other College purposes. His own income from writing was £5,000. There can be little doubt that either his restraint or his generosity funded Keilin. Newsome, On the Edge of Paradise, 329. History, 283, attributes the encouragement of Keilin to Benson's munificence.

[195] M.E.J. Hughes and H. Brink-Roby, "Literary Magdalene: Thomas Hardy": I have been unable to consult the discussion of Hardy's interest in Jewish subjects by T. Armstrong, "Hardy, Zionism and Providential History", The Thomas Hardy Journal, xv (1999), 73-9.

[196] The Times, 20 April 1932. The Liberal Manchester Guardian also approved the gesture, 2 May 1932.

[197] J. Lewins, "Kipling and 'The Coll': Rudyard Kipling's connection with Magdalene", MCM, 1992-3, 19-24. Kipling had first visited Magdalene in 1908, to inspect the Pepys Library. He had nonplussed the custodian by asking what sort of ink Pepys had used.

[198] Obituary notice by Francis Turner in MCM, 1964-5, 14-15. Eliot wrote of meeting Magdalene undergraduates over sherry in 1948, "including a sweet little black prince from Uganda". This was H.H. E.F. Mutesa II, Kabaka of Buganda, known in Magdalene as "King Freddie":

[199] A. Lycett, Rudyard Kipling (London, 2000 ed., cf. 1st ed. 1999), 673.

[200]  "The Burden of Jerusalem" is reproduced in "Israel" here was used as a poetic shorthand for the Jewish people and (of course) could not have referred to the State established in 1948. Fortunately for Kipling's reputation, his widow decided to suppress it to avoid "controversy" – a decision endorsed by Winston Churchill, who was hardly a master of sensitivity. It appears to have been written after 1933, and the only dilemma it created for Kipling was whether he disliked Jews more than "Huns". I quote two unsavoury stanzas: "We do not know what God attends / The Unloved Race in every place / Where they amass their dividends / From Riga to Jerusalem; But all the course of Time makes clear / To everyone (except the Hun) / It does not pay to interfere / With Cohen from Jerusalem." I am grateful to David Alan Richards, President of the Kipling Society, for his help In locating this item, and for his advice on Kipling generally.

[201] B. Cheyette, "'A Race to Leave Alone': Kipling and the Jews", in J. Montefiore, ed., In Time's Eye... (Manchester, 2013), 250-83, esp. 252. A possible defence of Kipling's use of anti-Semitic terminology might be that he sought to capture the demotic language of ordinary people. Cheyette argued that his use of "Jew-boy" was not only offensive (which is uncontestable) but that it was also "quite specific" to his "self-consciously illiberal and racialised vocabulary" – and not widely found in Victorian fiction. This may be so, but Kingsley did use the term in Alton Locke, a novel also set among the poor. Cheyette, "'A Race to Leave Alone'", 254, 179.

[202] Lycett, Rudyard Kipling, 751.

[203] Cheyette, "'A Race to Leave Alone'", 253, 255.

[204] R. Kipling, Something of Myself ... (London, 1937), 53, 224.

[205] C. Ricks, T.S. Eliot and Prejudice (Berkeley, 1988), 26. Ricks discussed Eliot's anti-Semitism, 25-76, esp. 26.

[206] And has been said, notably by A. Julius, T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form (Cambridge, 1995).

[207] "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar": T.S. Eliot Collected Poems 1909-1962 (New York 1964), 32-3 (from a 1920 collection).

[208] T. S. Eliot, After Strange Gods… (London, 1934), 19-20. In a letter of 27 August 1933, Eliot referred to "a couple of months work… to make something more interesting" out of the University of Virginia lectures for publication. His comment was clearly no casual aside: It was frankly acknowledged as "justly notorious" by the Master of Magdalene, Lord Williams of Oystermouth, in MCM, 2015-16, 72. Craig Raine has defended the statement that "reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable" [my italics], arguing that it meant that "Eliot was quite prepared to accept limited numbers of free-thinking Jews". C. Raine, In Defence of T.S. Eliot (London, 2000), 322.  

[209] Julius, T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form, 147. The Jewish percentage of Harvard entrants rose from 7% in 1900  to 21% in 1921, at which point the President proposed  to introduce a quota: M. Feldberg, "Anti-Semitism in the U.S.: Harvard’s Jewish Problem": At Yale, the Jewish share of the student body had risen from 2 percent in 1901 to 7.5 percent in 1921: Jews would constitute nearly one-seventh of the entry in 1925. In longer perspective, the increase and overall size represented the process of second-generation assimilation following the large-scale immigration from Europe in the late-nineteenth century. Far from Yale having reached "the saturation point", the numbers simply reflected the relative concentration of Jews in southern New England and the State of New York. However, some Yale academics began to talk of quotas. In 1922, the Dean of Freshmen reported that Jewish students "give very little trouble" and generally scored slightly higher marks than their classmates. Nonetheless, he regarded them as mostly "personally and socially unacceptable" and condemned them as "a foreign body in the class organism". The Yale debate on quotas was influenced by two elements that contrasted with Cambridge. The first was that some senior academics saw Yale's mission as the training of citizens rather than the support of academic high-fliers. This led to the subjective projection of a WASP identity that did not welcome Jews. Magdalene similarly emphasised the education of good all-rounders and decent chaps, but this ethos could accommodate Jewish students from second-rank public schools. The second was that Yale gave some limited preference to applicants from its home city of New Haven, where Jews were about one-eighth of the population. Local Jewish students generally lived at home to save money. This meant that they were "rarely involved in any campus disturbance", but they were also held to make little contribution to student life, which mostly took place in the residences. As so often, it will be apparent that much of the criticism of Jews was contradictory. The near-total separation of the University from the Town meant that such issues did not arise in Cambridge. D.A. Oren, Joining the Club: a History of Jews and Yale (New Haven, 1985), esp. 42-5. It is worth noting that numbers were never so large at Cambridge.

[210] Ricks, T.S. Eliot and Prejudice, 28n., on this defence.

[211] The report from the JC (London) was reprinted by the Australian Jewish Herald, 30 March 1951, available through the National Library of Australia's online newspaper archive, Trove.  Eliot's denial was issued after a poetry reading at the Institute of Contemporary Arts at which Emanuel Litvinoff read "To T.S. Eliot", which protested at being relegated to "a billet somewhat lower than the rats" and closed with this appeal: "Let your words tread lightly on this earth of Europe lest my people’s bones protest." Craig Raine has invited critics to consider the possibility that Eliot was "a man very occasionally guilty of sporadic, unconsidered anti-Semitism, which he would strenuously deny if asked to consider his position. As he did." C. Raine, T.S. Eliot (Oxford, 2006), 152. Eliot's position seems to echo the attitude of another literary figure, Harold Nicolson, who wrote in 1945: "Although I loathe anti-semitism, I do dislike Jews." H. Nicolson (ed. N. Nicolson), Diaries and Letters 1939-1945 (London, 1970 ed., cf. 1st ed., 1967), 473.

[212] In 1920, Ramsay and Kipling were part of a team of distinguished writers who produced a literary parody in the form of a lost book of Horace, which covered contemporary topics, such as the corrupt politics of Lloyd George. Ramsay, who was a distinguished Latin poet, translated three of Kipling's odes. D.K. Money, "Ramsay, Allen Beville (1872–1955)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; D.A. Richards, Kipling: a Bibliography (New Castle, Delaware / London, 2010), item A332.  Although A.B. Ramsay was undoubtedly a reactionary, he had no connection with the Conservative MP Archibald Ramsay, a virulent anti-Semite who was interned during the Second World War.

[213] "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: the origins of the Lutyens Building":

[214] Letter of 26 May 1936: The PhD candidate passed.


[216] MCM, 1964-5, 14-15. Ramsay had wished to name the Magdalene building designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens in honour of Henry Dunster, although this was probably because he did not wish the College to commemorate his predecessor A.C. Benson, who had been his antagonist at Eton. (The Fellows insisted on 'Benson Court'.) Another useful connection was Eliot's friendship with a Fellow of Magdalene, the literary critic, I.A. Richards. However, Richards, who had formally proposed Kipling's Honorary Fellowship, spent much of 1936-8 teaching in China. Julius criticised Richards for contending (in his Practical Criticism, 1930) that poetry should be read exclusively in its own terms, which he interpreted as meaning that Jews must swallow insulting descriptions of themselves. Julius, T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form, 54. This may incidentally have meant that Richards did not advocate challenging the content of Eliot's verse, but does not establish that he was an apologist for anti-Semitism.

[217]  Eric Mosbacher provides an example of the uncertainty of classification. He came to Magdalene from St Paul's School in London, read Modern Languages and became one of Britain's most notable translators. He was an archetypal Hampstead intellectual, who had even been "born into a long-lost Forsythian haute bourgeoisie" in Frognal. He translated Jewish authors, such as Sigmund Freud, and books on Jewish issues, including the Dreyfus case and Georges Friedmann's The End of the Jewish People? (1967). He took an interest in the origins of Jewish surnames. In his Cambridge days, the JC claimed him by reporting his examination results. Yet, at his death in 1998, no obituary described Mosbacher as Jewish. His wife, and writing partner, was born Katya Gwenda Zeldman, the tenth child of an East End family – conventionally strong signals of Jewish ethnicity. But she repudiated her background (and made it mysterious), calling herself Gwenda David. Thus Mosbacher looks like somebody who might reasonably have been regarded as Jewish in his undergraduate days, but who disclaimed the label in later life, perhaps in deference to his wife's rebellion. The Times, 10 July; Guardian, 17 July 1998, 29 March 2002. The JC does not seem to have reported his death, and he has no entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. There was a brief obituary in MCM, 1997-8, 24-5.

[218] C.F. Lindsey, "Keilin, David (1887–1963)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; T. Mann, "David Keilin. 1887-1963",  Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, x (1964), 183–205; E.F. Hartree, E. F., "Obituary Notice: David Keilin (1887-1963)", The Biochemical Journal, lxxxix (1963), 1–5; The Times, 2, 6 March 1963.

[219] A facsimile of the letter, dated 12 October 1916 and addressed to "Mon cher Master", was published in MCM, 1986-7, 39. Keilin used the English terms "Research Studentship" and "College" (without an accent). He acknowledged that he owed the award to Nuttall's support. 

[220] Max Perutz, The Times, 6 March 1963.

[221] Keilin's own remarkably clear description of his work is quoted in M.E.J. Hughes, et al., eds, Figures of Speech: an Anthology of Magdalene Writers (Cambridge, 2000), 242-4.

[222] MCM, February 1932, 26.

[223] MCM, 1989-90, 48.

[224] MCM, December 1952, 3-4 reported Keilin's Copley Medal "the Royal Society's highest award to one of its fellows". It added that he had retired from his Professorship "but he will happily continue his close connection with the College, now as an Emeritus Fellow". His Honorary Fellowship came five years later.

[225] In 1961, Magdalene elected Harold Samuel (later Lord Samuel of Wych Cross) to an Honorary Fellowship presumably in recognition of his support for the arts. He was not a Cambridge graduate. Standard biographical sources do not mention his obviously Jewish family background, perhaps a tactful omission because he was a very wealthy property developer: The Times, 25 November 1961, 1 September 1987; E. Erdman, "Samuel, Harold, Baron Samuel of Wych Cross (1912–1987)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; see also JC, 4 September, 9 October 1987. In more recent times, the College benefited from the munificence of a philanthropic American couple, Raymond R. Sackler and his wife Beverley, who supported a number of educational causes in the United Kingdom. (Barred from American medical schools by quotas on Jewish applicants, he had begun his training in Scotland.) The couple accepted Honorary Membership of Magdalene in 1999. For some years, Magdalene offered the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Senior Research Fellowship in various scientific and medical fields. In 1997, three months after Raymond Sackler's death, the New Yorker alleged that Purdue Pharma, a company of which they were part-owners, had contributed to America's opioid epidemic, and that commercial decisions taken by Sackler himself had increased the dangers of addiction. As of 2024, the controversy continues, along with litigation. P. R. Keefe, "The Family That Built an Empire of Pain", New Yorker, 23 October 2017; MCM, 2017-18, 51.

[226] I am grateful to Katy Green and Grace Collingwood of the Magdalene College Archives for supplying details of students from this period, and to Professor Tom Spencer for his help, especially in extracting reports from the MCM. Material quoted from the Archives is obvious in the text, and is not separately referenced.

[227] F.R. Salter, Karl Marx and Modern Socialism (London, 1921), vii, 1; MCM, December 1923, 19; March 1924, 57. M. Newman, "Laski, Harold Joseph (1893–1950)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. In his biography of Laski, Newman stated that he held a "part-time appointment" at Magdalene for two years. M. Newman, Harold Laski ... (Basingstoke, 1983), 68. The American Jewish Post, 21 July 1922, called Laski's appointment as "Special Lecturer on Political Science" at Magdalene "a signal honor ... almost unique that so young a man should occupy as distinguished a position at Cambridge". This was laying it on a bit thick. In the early 1920s, Laski pictured society as a complex mesh of loyalties to subordinate entities, such as churches and trade unions. His thinking would have been close to Salter's Liberalism. Their ideas would soon diverge.  The experiment was only possible because of the open-mindedness of the Master, A.C. Benson. Under his two successors, the reactionary A.B. Ramsay (1925-48) and the Conservative politician Henry Willink (1948-67), such ventures would have been unlikely. "I fear that Magdalene has not shown any similar enterprise since," Kingsley Martin lamented in 1966.

[228] K. Martin, Harold Laski... (London, 1953), 48-9.   In a later reminiscence, Kingsley Martin acknowledged that Laski's "lectures amounted to little in substance if one tried to write them down, but they made every student excited about the subject". K. Martin, Father Figures ... (Chicago, 1970 ed., cf. 1st ed., London, 1966), 94-5.

[229] During the 1945 general election campaign, the Labour leader Clement Attlee famously advised Laski that "a period of silence on your part would be welcome". As Laski was the party chairman at the time, the rebuke was severe.

[230] The Times, 6 June 1930; MCM, June 1930, 174. The garden party was on 5 June 1930, and will surely justify a centenary re-enactment in 2030. I owe this item to Professor Tom Spencer.

[231] G. Johnson, University Politics... (Cambridge, 1994), 11.

[232] MCM, 1996-7, 20;; The Times, 25 July 1930. A note by a former colleague in MCM, 2010-11, 53-4 stated that Verblunsky had been born in Lemberg (now Lviv, Ukraine). He seems to have enjoyed telling the story of his admission to Magdalene, and his appreciation for Vernon-Jones (a minority enthusiasm) extended to goodwill towards Welsh people generally.

[233] The Central Foundation School, opened in 1866 as The Middle Class School of London, specialised in providing educational opportunities for boys (and, later, girls too) from Jewish immigrant families. Fees were low.

[234] MCM, December 1929, 124. In addition to his Scholarship (worth £80 a year) and College prizes for examination successes, Verblunsky received £60 in benefactions from student support funds. The College continued to pay him an annual grant of £80 as a graduate student.

[235] A.S. Ramsey, father of a subsequent Archbishop of Canterbury, should not be confused with A.B. Ramsay, appointed Master in 1925, although he often was.

[236] MCM, March 1930, 145.

[237] MCM, 1996-7, 20. Verblunsky was perhaps intriguing to get himself moved to the recently converted Mallory Court hostel (now Mallory B) which was across the street and did not form part of the main College buildings. In addition to its (slight) remoteness from the power station, it also had a primitive central heating system.

[238] The Times, 20 March 1934, 17 November 1939.

[239] Could (and should) more have been done to keep Verblunsky in Cambridge? His achievement was spectacular, but it may be worth noting that he won the University's Rayleigh Prize, but not the even more prestigious Smith's Prize. The Times, 9 March 1929. His winning essay for the Rayleigh Prize was entitled 'The summation of trigonometrical integrals' (information from Professor Tom Spencer).

[240] Obituary in Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society, xx (1988), 159-66:; The Times, 16 June 1933; 27 June, 30 September 1935; 22 April 1966; 20 April 1985. He was known as Louis Goodstein. The Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History (2011) adds that in 1970 he joined a committee seeking to help Jews in Arab countries.

[241] Obituary in the Independent, 18 December 1993:; The Times, 23 June 1937; MCM, December 1938, 345.

[242] MCM, February 1936, 244, hailed him as the "outstanding player" in the Magdalene chess team, and reported his presidency of the University Chess Club in December 1936, 251.

[243] MCM continued to report his career, notably his award of the Berwick Prize for younger mathematicians by the London Mathematical Society in 1951 (1952, 5, and cf. June 1947, 7 and Michaelmas 1954, 18).

[244] Meyer H. Abrams spent a year at Magdalene in 1934-5 preparing for graduate work under the supervision of I.A. Richards. His scholarship was funded by the prestigious (and highly competitive) Charles and Julia Henry Fund. The son of a house painter of eastern European Jewish origin, Abrams had gained admission to Harvard in 1930 and decided to study English Literature. He later explained that, since job prospects in the Depression were bleak, "I thought I might as well enjoy starving, instead of starving while doing something I didn’t enjoy". In 1953, he published The Mirror and the Lamp, which proposed a new critical framework for approaching Romantic literature. He spent most of his career at Cornell. MCM, 2014-15, 58;

[245] Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History. In 1961, the Smouha family secured an award of £3.1 million in compensation for the seizure of their Alexandria property by the Egyptian government.

[246] Clifton College had established a Jewish boarding house in 1878. Lipman, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858, 30, 41. A fifth Jewish student from Clifton, Brain Sandelson, entered Magdalene in 1946.

[247] MCM reported his election as Sheriff of the City of London (Michaelmas 1954, 18) and as Master of the Farriers' Company (October 1956, 7).

[248]   Obituary by D.J.H. Murphy in MCM, 1984-5, 36-7. The Times, 16 April 1971 reported the Barbican decision. For the golf tournament, MCM, June 1920, 91: his handicap was 9. His charitable activities were frequently reported in the JC, which carried an obituary on 23 August 1985.

[249] Steinart's student file-card in the Magdalene archives has the shorthand comment "allowed strike" attached to entry for the Easter Term of 1926.  This indicates that although he did not spend the required number of nights in Cambridge to 'keep' the summer Term, the College made the political decision to ignore his absence during the General Strike.

[250] T.M. Plant, "British Jewish Youth Movements and Identity, 1945-1960" (PhD thesis, University of Southampton, 2013), 121-4, 82n., 100. Dr Plant made effective use of an interview with Steinart in the Manchester Jewish Museum Oral History Collection. Founded in 1895, the Jewish Lads' Brigade was modelled on the Church Lads' Brigade, an Anglican youth organisation that was prominent before the founding of the Boy Scouts. It provided boys with uniforms (an attraction) "plus a dose of the martial virtues and a whiff of the open air". JLB "regiments" were patriotic and anglicising units that were not always closely linked to the local synagogue. By 1970, it could be said that "their intrinsically Jewish content is nominal". C. Bermant, Troubled Eden… (New York, 1970 ed., cf. 1st ed. London, 1969), 88-9.

[251] Plant, PhD thesis, 256; The 82nd Annual Report of the Anglo-Jewish Association ... 1953-1954 / 5713 – 5714, 16.

[252] The Times, 24 August 1972. Cohen could be sharp with criminals who thought they could manipulate the system. A convicted thief who pleaded that he could not afford to pay a fine was asked if his wife had a fur coat. The malefactor incautiously agreed that she did, to be told by Judge Cohen, "She doesn't now".

[253] A.J. Kershen, "Cohen, Sir Bernard Nathaniel Waley-, first baronet (1914–1991)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; The Times, 4 July 1991. The surname was formally hyphenated in 1950.

[254] MCM, 1960-1, 6; 1961-2, 6.

[255] A longer study, "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: Geoffrey Blok (1933-7)" appears in the martinalia section of   

[256] I am grateful to the College archivist, Mrs Katy Green, for providing me with material about Geoffrey Blok from the Magdalene Archives.

[257] Palgrave Dictionary of Anglo-Jewish History;, The Palestine correspondent of a New York Jewish newspaper thought Dr Blok had "assimilated the best traditions of British administration without losing his interest in things Jewish". New Palestine, 13 March 1925. The Haifa Technion is now also known as the Israel Institute of Technology. Arthur Blok was also an enthusiastic collector of marine and freshwater shells, and is regarded as an important figure in conchology.

[258] The Schechter Society had been formed in 1902. Soon after Blok's time, it merged with other student organisations to form the Cambridge University Jewish Society. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: the First Hundred Years", 13-37, esp. 19; JC, 24 May, 6 December 1935; 31 January, 20 March, 19 June 1936.

[259] He was awarded a £60-a-year Scholarship in December 1932.  This was renewed at the end of his second year. The Times, 17 December 1932, 17 December 1932; 27 June 1935.  Many professional middle-class Jewish families in London sent their sons to the prestigious St Paul's School, which did not operate classes on Saturdays. F.R. Salter (himself a Congregationalist), Magdalene's Director of Studies in History, was a former pupil. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: the First Hundred Years", 18.

[260] JC, 24 May, 6 December 1935; 31 January, 20 March, 19 June 1936.

[261] Salter contested the Borough of Cambridge in 1924, and came bottom of the poll. Asquith spoke for him in the Town Hall after being entertained to dinner in the Magdalene Combination Room, where "much champagne" was consumed:

[262] One of his students, Kingsley Martin, often acerbic in his personal assessments, regarded Frank Salter as an "excellent" teacher of History. Martin, Harold Laski, 48.

[263]   In his 1921 book on Karl Marx and Modern Socialism, Salter wrote with empathy of the difficulties faced by the young Karl Marx. Even as the atheist son of a Jewish convert to Christianity, he faced institutional prejudice as an ethnic Jew. Salter closed his book with a quotation from Mazzini: "Wheresoever a man is tortured through error, injustice or tyranny, that man is your brother." (256)

[264] Newsome, On the Edge of Paradise..., 263; MCM, 1967-8, 3. According to legend, Frank Salter once decided to stage a dramatic walk-out from a College meeting after being outvoted on an issue of principle. The venue was a handsomely panelled room. Two identical doors were set into the woodwork, one of which gave access to a cupboard. To emphasise his moral outrage, Salter angrily slammed the door behind him on his departure. Unfortunately he had chosen the wrong exit, and had to be rescued by his colleagues. There is a photograph of Salter as a young man in I was one of the last undergraduates to encounter Frank Salter, when he was in his late seventies and only occasionally appeared in Magdalene. I recall him with affection.

[265] The letters were dated 25 June 1935 and 21 September 1937. They are unsigned, but internal evidence strongly suggests that they were written by Salter.

[266] MCM, 1967-8, 2; R. Hyam, Understanding the British Empire (Cambridge, 2010), 269-72.                            

[267] Magdalene renewed his Scholarship, which was subject to confirmation at the end of his second year. The Times, 27 June 1935. But he was required to come into residence for part of the Long Vacation to catch up with his studies.

[268] The Times, 22, 27 June 1936.

[269] Salter seems to have believed that Blok was aiming at a career as a financial journalist. It is possible that he opted to take the Economics Tripos, which required hard work and technical competence.

[270] JC, 12 March, 14 May 1937; 22 April, 6 September 1938, 15 August 1939. The 12-page report, G.D.M. Blok and H.C. Schwab, A Survey of Jewish Students at the British Universities, was published by the Inter-University Jewish Federation in 1938. I have been unable to consult it.

[271] The Times, 26 November 1937. One source for the blood libel in medieval Europe was the murder of a child in Norwich in 1150, which local clergy alleged was a ritual killing by Jews. E.M. Rose, William of Norwich.... (Oxford, 2016).

[272] Manchester Guardian, 17 January 1938. The killing of Gustloff was later used as a pretext for Kristallnacht. Frankfurter was released from prison shortly after VE Day in 1945.

[273] London Gazette, 20 October 1942, 4574.

[274] Over forty years later, he was reported as attending an event in JC, 6 February 1987.

[275] G.D.M. Block, Free and Sober... (London, 1960), 2.

[276] In 1945, Geoffrey Block published The Wings of Warfare … (London, 1945). The book dealt with military aircraft engaged in the Western theatre of war, i.e. not the Russian front or the Far East. I have been unable to consult it.

[277] A 27th Jewish MP was a Communist. G. Alderman, Modern British Jewry (Oxford, 1998 ed., cf. 1st ed. 1992), 335.  The 28th was Daniel Lipson, the Independent member for Cheltenham, who had been first returned at a by-election eight years earlier after the local Conservative Association had refused to endorse him, allegedly because of an anti-Semitic whispering campaign. Lipson had only recently joined the Conservatives from the Liberal party, via support for the National Government, and this may have been an element in opposition against him. The voters of Cheltenham obviously did not share the prejudice of the Tory grandees, since they greatly increased his majority in 1945, against the Labour tide.

[278] The Times, 10 February 1955. Block succeeded Peter Goldman, another Cambridge-educated Jew from a slightly later student generation. Goldman became the Conservative candidate in the 1962 Orpington by-election, usually regarded as the start of the "Liberal revival": a Tory majority of 14,000 was overturned and a Liberal MP elected by 7,000 votes. Standard accounts play down prejudice against the Tory candidate's ethnicity. Another Jewish Conservative intellectual from the same period was Keith Joseph, who became one of the architects of Thatcherism. The CPC was merged into Conservative Central Office in 1968: P. Norton, "The Role of the Conservative Political Centre, 1945-1968", in S. Ball and I. Holliday, eds, Mass Conservatism... (London, 2003), 183-99.

[279] His war service and subsequent career are discussed in more detail in "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: Geoffrey Blok (1933-7)":

[280] Manchester Guardian, 2 March 1954.

[281] The Times; Manchester Guardian, 2 September 1963.

[282] Manchester Guardian, 25 June 1964. Unlike most general histories, A Source Book of Conservatism did not mention that Disraeli was Jewish. In 1960, Block had received the OBE "for political services": The Times, 11 June 1960.

[283] The Times, 28 March 1972, and see also 6 November 1966; 25 May 1967. 

[284] The Times, 21 March 1985. He was described as "former political adviser". It seems he did not get beyond the first round.

[285] JC, 6 February 1987.

[286] M. Adeney, "Ezra, Derek Joseph, Baron Ezra (1919–2015)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

[287] Under Ezra, the British coal industry had become a major supplier to Israel, but there is no reason to assume that this was anything other than a business strategy.

[288] Lipman, A History of the Jews in Britain since 1858, ch. 8 discussed the various external pressures that affected British Jewry between 1918 and 1939.

[289] M. Goldhaber, "Reminiscences from the Cavendish Laboratory in the 1930s", Annual Review of Nuclear and Particle Science, xliii (1993), 1-25 (edited version in MCM, 1994-5, 50-2).  He was admitted to Magdalene as Moretz Goldhaber, with an address in Cairo where his family had business interests. His record card is unusually sparse and does not mention financial support from Magdalene.

[290] The venture was a rare example of Cambridge naming an institution after an individual without receiving a benefaction: the project took its name from its proximity to the Fitzwilliam Museum. In 1966, it became a full College.

[291] I offer a brief sketch of Vernon-Jones in endnote 34 of

[292] £100 in 1933 would be worth about £9,000 in 2024.

[293] Geoffrey de Freitas in P. Cradock, ed., Recollections of the Cambridge Union ...  (Cambridge, 1953), 137. I have not been able to date the debate, but it is not clear that it took place during the Arab uprising of 1936.

[294] David P. Goldman noted this in his discussion of T.S. Eliot's anti-Semitism. "It is generally assumed that anti-Semites hate Jews not for what Jews actually are, but for what they imagine Jews to be ... [but] Eliot, by contrast, hated the Jews for what they really are. In particular, he abhorred Jewish irony. Jewish humor has many facets, but its ultimate source is the paradoxical encounter of infinite God and finite man, in which there always lurks an element of the absurd." Goldman gave an example himself by claiming that "the canonical definition of anti-Semitism is hating the Jews more than is absolutely necessary". (2021).  Rabbi Tony Bayfield has similarly referred to "self-deprecating Jewish humour which has become universally familiar in recent decades". T. Bayfield, in M. Braybrooke, Christian-Jewish Dialogue ... (London, 2000), 113.

[295] The Times, 22 October; JC, 29 October 1937.

[296] The Times, 1 March 1938; Lord Dunboyne in Cradock, ed., Recollections of the Cambridge Union, 162-3.  Simonds spoke in a 1937 debate against the pacifist Labour peer, Lord Ponsonby, whose views he described as "this conjuring trick of non-violence". Ponsonby's argument, that a nation without armed forces would never be attacked, has been described by a Magdalene historian as "crackpot". T.E.B. Howarth, Cambridge Between Two Wars (London, 1978), 219. Simonds came to Magdalene from Winchester to read History, but switched to Part II Law, graduating with a Lower Second (II / ii) in 1937. 

[297] There is no file-card for him in the College archives. This may be because he had entered the College in 1938, would not have taken Part I of any Tripos, and his record was perhaps discarded when he decided not to return to Cambridge after the war. The possibility that he had planned to come into residence in October 1939 but was called up seems to be ruled out by the definite statement of his membership of the College in

[298]; London Gazette, 8 May 1945, 2416; JC, 7 February 1947, 16 January 1948. Lyons died in 1992. His medals and logbook were auctioned in 2016:

[299] A brief obituary in The Times, 24 August 1972 may be supplemented by a longer account at  from an unidentified but authoritative source.

[300] I have compiled the section of Braham Myers from various sources, including: The Times, 17 December 1939;; Bradford Telegraph and Argus, 24 October 2019; MCM, 2020-1, 79; Magdalene Matters, November 2011, 8. My account of 80th (Lowland – City of Glasgow) Field Regiment, Royal Artillery is taken from the Wikipedia entry. Other sources may throw light both upon his war service and the possibility of his subsequent return to Magdalene.

[301]  C.N.L. Brooke, A History of the University of Cambridge, iv: 1870-1990 (Cambridge, 1993), 505-6. Brooke seems to have padded out his list. The biochemist Ernst Chain took a post in Oxford in 1935. The economist Peter Baurt moved to London in 1937. The lawyer David Daube accepted a Chair at Aberdeen in 1951. The medieval historian Walter Ullmann only became a Fellow of Trinity in 1949. Brooke did not mention G.R. Elton, who came to England from Prague at the age of 18 in 1938 (as Gottfried Ehrenberg), served as a sergeant in the Eighth Army, studied at the University of London and became a Fellow of Clare in 1949. He was Regius Professor of Modern History from 1983 to 1988, a short tenure that understates his impact upon the Cambridge History Faculty. Raphael Loewe referred in passing to "[t]he increasing trickle to Cambridge of German-Jewish research students" in the 1930s, but he was mainly interested in the undergraduate body.  There was strong Cambridge support for the formation, in May 1933, of the Academic Assistance Council, which supported refugee academics. However, as Lord Rutherford pointed out in 1935, over 600 university teachers had by then fled Germany, a number greater than the entire academic staff of Cambridge University. One third of 155 temporary appointments arranged in the United Kingdom were made by colleges of the University of London; Cambridge made 30, Oxford 15, seven went to Scotland and the rest were scattered around the provincial universities and university colleges, the "Redbrick" sector of higher education being then relatively small. Others were appointed to posts in industry or research, but the majority moved on, mostly to the United States. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: The First Hundred Years" in Frankel, ed., Gown and Tallith..., 13-37, esp. 25; N. Bentwich, The Rescue and Achievement of Refugee Scholars... (The Hague, 1953), 11-13; Alderman, Modern British Jewry, 273.

[302] Edgar Feuchtwanger passed History examinations all three years with an Upper Second (II / i).

[303] New York Times, 2 July 2016; Edgar Feuchtwanger gave an interview about his experiences in 2012 ( and published a book, Hitler, My Neighbor: Memories of a Jewish Childhood, 1929-1939 in 2017.  Feuchtwanger's career was not reported in the JC.

[304] "The hallmark of modern Conservatism, as it evolved in the course of the nineteenth century, has been great tactical flexibility and an empirical approach to the problems of the day." The Times, 4 August 1956.

[305]  "There is in Germany a widespread determination to forget about the past or to remember only the mistakes and failings of other nations," he conceded in 1953. "Pride in the great national achievement of reconstruction has replaced the desire to learn the lessons of defeat. Yet these and other disquieting tendencies do not justify the drawing of obvious parallels to the conditions, of the Weimar Republic. The Second World War and its aftermath have made a profound and lasting impact on the German mind, even if this is not always apparent on the surface." The Times, 18 September 1953.

[306] He was speaking at a University of Southampton Humanities Alumni Lecture in 2014.

[307] It eventually appeared in MCM, 1989-90, 41-8, from an interview given by Professor Limentani in Italian, translated by Denis Murphy. The account which follows is based on MCM, 1989-90, 10-13 and The Times, 26 August 1989.

[308] I once asked him what it was like to speak into a microphone, not knowing whether family and friends could hear him, or were even alive. He gave a slight self-deprecating shrug and, as always, briefly pondered his reply. He explained that he ended each broadcast with a simple "Good night", but on important anniversaries, such as his mother's birthday, he would elaborate this with a slight flourish: "I wish you good night." I cherished the thought of Mussolini's Intelligence service trying to work out if this was some coded signal to anti-Fascist partisans.

[309] The quoted sentence appeared in the obituary in MCM, 1989-90, 11, but, at that time, it was still necessary to obscure the context. Uberto Limentani died during a visit to Italy in 1989, and was buried in a Jewish cemetery in his home city of Milan.

[310] Raphael Loewe estimated that "a minority only of those students who must be reckoned to possess Jewish status" associated with University Jewish organisations and activities after 1945. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: the First Hundred Years", 28.

[311] The role of two members of the College in shaping British policy in the last decade of the British Mandate is discussed in a companion study, "Magdalene College Cambridge Notes: the Palestine connection":

[312]  Obituary in BJPsych Bulletin, 2015, 318:

[313] Google Books gives him as the author of Palestine: Documents, Speeches and Statements, published by Cambridge University Jewish Society in 1946. I have been unable to trace this publication.

[314] JC, 23 December 1949, 27 June 1952, 9 July 1954; The Times, 2 July 1954.

[315] Donald Roodyn had attended Mercers' School, an independent academy in Holborn run by a City livery company. It closed in 1959. Roodyn died in 1985.

[316] JC, 12 March 1948, 2 April 1954; The Times, 15 March 1954; MCM, June 1947, 9; June 1948, 6.

[317]; JC, 5 July 1957.  His exhibitions were reported in MCM, 1974-5, 117, and his death in 2001-2, 54.  Thumbnails of his paintings may be seen on:

[318] The Times, 28 June 1962, 19 March 1997; Daily Telegraph, 27 July 2023.

[319] Tony Bayfield was one of the organisers of the Magdalene College Refugee Fund, which raised money in support of an orphanage in Morocco. He also captained the Table Tennis Club. MCM, 1966-7, 9.

[320] His son Daniel followed him to Magdalene, "determined to underscore his father’s error of judgment", and has become a successful KC.

[321] T. Bayfield, Being Jewish Today: Confronting the Real Issues (London, 2019), esp. 54-5, and see JC, 11 September 2019:  

[322]  The Lambeth doctorate was awarded "in recognition of his leadership in inter faith relations through lecturing, writing, teaching and in particular his work as a President of the Council of Christians and Jews": It was conferred by Dr Rowan Williams, later Master of Magdalene. In 2011, Tony Bayfield was also awarded the CBE "[f]or services to British Reform Judaism".

[323] I am grateful to Michael Estorick and Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen for their informative comments.


[325] I am unable to consult P.H. Brazier, A Hebraic Inkling: C. S. Lewis on Judaism and the Jews (Eugene, Oregon, 2021), but have benefited from the thoughtful review article by Leslie Baines of Missouri State University in Journal of Inklings Studies, xii (2022), 259-66, which takes the quotation from Brazier.

[326] These points are made by K. Lindskoog, "C. S. Lewis’s Anti-Anti-Semitism in The Great Divorce", originally published in Lindskoog's collection of essays, Surprised by C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, and Dante (Macon, Ga., 2001):

[327] C.S. Lewis, Reflections upon the Psalms (New York, 1958), 10. There is a more sympathetic discussion of Judaism at 45ff. A comment upon the idea of immortality, in an essay not published in his lifetime, also offers an oblique example of his attitude to Judaism. "The religion which, of all ancient religions, is most specifically religious, that is, at once most ethical and most numinous, is hardly interested in the question. Believing, as I do, that Jehovah is a real being ..., I cannot sufficiently admire the divine tact of thus training the chosen race for centuries in religion before even hinting the shining secret of eternal life. He behaves like the rich lover in a romance who woos the maiden on his own merits, disguised as a poor man, and only when he has won her reveals that he has a throne and palace to offer. For I cannot help thinking that any religion which begins with a thirst for immortality is damned, as a religion, from the outset. Until a certain spiritual level has been reached, the promise of immortality will always operate as a bribe..." The imagery is curious. C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1970 ed.), 131.

[328] O. Chadwick, Michael Ramsey: a Life (Oxford, 1991), 406-7, 222. In Nostra Aetate (1965), the Roman Catholic Church acknowledged that "the Jewish authorities … pressed for the death of Christ", but insisted that the Crucifixion "cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures."

[329] The Times, 27 June 1960; 25 June 1962.

[330]; M. Braybrooke, Christian-Jewish Dialogue... (London, 2000), xiv; Bayfield, Being Jewish Today, 39-40.

[331] T. Bayfield, Deep Calls to Deep... (London, 2017), 2.

[332] T. Bayfield and M. Braybrooke, eds, Dialogue with a Difference… (London, 1992).  The editors joked that they derived their rapport from their common experience of Magdalene (5-6).

[333] This point had been anticipated by an earlier member of the College. In 1908, Robert Keable had become the first Magdalene undergraduate to achieve First Class Honours in the Historical Tripos. After a brief career as an Anglican clergyman and missionary, he became a writer, whose novels were denounced by conventional critics as immoral. He died in Tahiti in 1927. In a posthumously published theological essay, The Great Galilean (London, 1929, Keable explored "the internal spiritual conflict" that had shaped the preaching of Jesus: he "was almost certainly a Jewish boy, and He breathed, at any rate, a Jewish atmosphere". He pointed out that Jesus would have been familiar with the Jewish faith in a Messiah who would return to lead their nation, but was fascinated by the Gospel redefinition of that belief into a spiritual concept. (Keable, The Great Galilean, 134ff.).

[334] T. Bayfield, "Response", in Braybrooke, Christian-Jewish Dialogue, 113 -26, esp. 113-15, 121-4. Bayfield was scathing about conversionist activities. "We Jews are few in number – less than 14 million of us the world over. We worry ourselves sick about Jewish numbers and Jewish survival. The last thing that we need is to add to those worries through fear of Christian missionary activities so often aimed at our most vulnerable adherents. ... Kindly lay off and state unequivocally and once and for all that you do not need or want Jews to convert to Christianity." (115-16). This, of course, was a blanket condemnation of most philo-Semitic / philo-Judaic activists in earlier centuries. Robert Keable had also commented that "the religious Jew always comes before us as a hard man, a little repellent in his human relationships". Keable, The Great Galilean, 73.

[335] Bayfield, "Response", in Braybrooke, Christian-Jewish Dialogue, 115. Two decades later, in Being Jewish Today, 291-2, Tony Bayfield noted the importance of the Pharisees but placed them within an overall continuity.

[336] JC [2011], undated:

[337] JC, 24 November 2016: The University of York apologised to the student for the abuse he had received, and paid compensation:

[338] Jewish News, 31 October 2017:; See also The Times, 24 November 2017.

[339]  Cheyette, "'A Race to Leave Alone': Kipling and the Jews", 255.

[340]  Israel Abrahams, who was Reader in Talmudic and Rabbinic Literature from 1902 to 1925, introduced arrangements to enable Jewish students to avoid taking examinations on the Sabbath: candidates sat papers the day before or after other students, but were held, incommunicado, at his home. Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: The First Hundred Years", 18. Clear and uniform procedures for examination rescheduling across the sector were recommended in Understanding Jewish Experience in Higher Education, a report by the Parliamentary Taskforce on Anti-Semitism in Higher Education: The Taskforce was established in 2022, but – curiously – its very full report is not specifically dated. It was published before the Hamas attack on Israel in October 2023.

[341] Loewe, "Cambridge Jewry: The First Hundred Years", 20-22 deals with the question of diet, drawing upon his father's memories of early 20th-century student life. Initially, small groups of undergraduates would share Sabbath meals in rotation in undergraduate rooms. Gradually, collective arrangements were made, either with sympathetic local cafés or, after 1937, through the Thompsons Lane Synagogue. 

[342] Like other Cambridge colleges, Magdalene has robust anti-harassment policies, which declares as "unacceptable" all "offensive references to a person's race, ethnicity, skin colour, religion or nationality, dress, culture, background or customs": 09/magdalene_college_student_harassment_and_sexual_misconduct_policy_0.pdf.