An Historical Outline
Jews had been in Britain since Roman Times but they apparently assimilated among the rest of the population.
Jews came again following the Norman Conquest in 1066.
Their main task was to act as money-lenders and de facto tax-agents for the king as well as money-collectors and agents of credit for the nobility. This made them very unpopular but most other professions were barred to them. Riots and massacres were carried out against them. A village of probable converts to Judaism was wiped out.
In 1290, at the demand of the Pope, in the reign of Edward-1 it was decided to expel the Jews. Their preoccupation whith money-lending (which may no longer have been necessary) as well as the threat of Jewish influence on the religion of the common people were officially given as reasons.
The Tudor Dynasty
A Civil War known as the Wars of the Roses ended with the accession to the throne of Henry Tudor who became Henry-7 in 1485. The symbol of the Tudor Dynasty and henceforth of England was a red and white rose surrounded by 5 green leaves. [Brit-Am/Hebrew Awareness uses a modified version of this symbol as its main emblem.] The Tudor Rose design according to the Zohar symbolized all the Tribes of Israel only the Tudor Rose has ten colored petals whereas the one described by the Zohar has 12. The Zohar is a mystical Jewish book of great authority. It appeared in Spain in the 1200s though it was based largely on sources from centuries beforehand. Many Religious Jews consider this work inspired, at least to some degree.
Under Henry-7 some Jews who had ben forced on the Continent to covert to Christianity most likely entered the Kingdom of England.
Arthur, the son of Henry-7, was married off to Catherine of Aragon daughter of the King of Spain and niece of the Holy Roman Emperor.
The marriage agreement included a clause inserted by the Spaniards that the banishment of the Jews from England remain in effect. Arthur died shortly after the marriage. His brother Henry became the heir apparent and he married Catherine the young widow of his brother. Henry became Henry-8. He was a scholar and interested in Judaism. Henry commissioned the writing of a copy (which still exists) of the Talmud which was placed in Oxford University.
Henry was also a musician and was influenced by Jewish music. He had a whole group of Marranos (Jewish forced proselytes to Christianity) at his court. The Papal and Spanish entourage protested so the musicians were sent away BUT Henry later had them brought back again one by one. Henry divorced Catherine and made himself head of the Church in England. His legal experts consulted with Jewish converts to Christianity in Italy in an attempt to find Rabbinical (sic) justifications for the divorce of Catherine! After Henry-8 came his son Edward-6, who brought England closer to mainstream Protestantism. Then came his daughter Mary who tried to return the Kingdom to Catholicism. The next heiress was another daughter of Henry, who became Elizabeth-1. Queen Elizabeth waged wars against Spain. Her sailors and agents made contact with Jews overseas. John Dee, a courtier and emissary of Elizatbeth had an audience with the Maharal (Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, in Prague, 1500s) who is considered to have been one of the greatest Rabbis of all time. Elizabeth also hd a Jewish female companion at Court who left the country after refusing to convert to Christianity. Elizabeth herself knew several languages including Hebrew. A Marrano doctor from Spain, resident in London, was accused of trying to poison Elizabeth. He was executed. The charge was apparently false. No anti-Semitic sentiments were expressed, as far as we know, over this affair. This is unusual.
After Elizabeth, came James Charles Stuart who was James-6 of Scotland and also became James-1 of England (reigned 1603-1625). He too may have known Hebrew.
He was succeeded by his son Charles-1 (r.1625-1649) who wished to reign as absolute ruler and turn the religion of the English to something closer to Catholicism. He quarrelled with the Scottish Presbyterians and the English Puritans. A Civil War broke out and Charles-1 was executed for treason. Oliver Cromwell (1599 -1658), leader of the Puritans, became virtual dictator (to some degree) of England. Cromwell described himself as protector of different Protestant groups as well as of the Jews. Cromwell befriended Rabbi Manasseh ben Israel of the Netherlands and together they attempted to have the Jews officially re-admitted to England. This was not successful but legally it was clarified that no prohibition against their return existed. John Sadler, a Member of Parliament and friend of both cromwell and Manasseh ben Israel, wrote "The Rights of the Kingdom" and also made a Parliamentary speech saying that the English were descended from the Lost Ten Tribes. Cromwell appears to have believed the same as evidenced by some of his sayings and speeches. After Cromwell, came his son Richard for a short while and then Charles-2 (1630-1685) son of Charles-1, became King in 1660. Charles-2 had previously been in exile in France and the Netherlands and had become acquainted with Jews. He refused to hear anything spoken against them. It turned out that the de facto acceptance of the Jews returning was the best solution for them. Anything else may have circumscribed their legal rights.