BEDFORD, English county town. In the Middle Ages a small community existed in Bedford, which housed one of the archae for registration of Jewish debts. Local Jews suffered from violence during the Barons' Wars in 1263 and again in 1274. Three Jews were hanged for coin clipping in 1278. By the time of the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, the community seems to have been almost extinct. Jews resettled in Bedford at the end of the 18th century, and a tiny community existed from 1803 to 1827 and from 1837 to c. 1879. Organized Jewish life was revived briefly in 1903 and again during the
evacuation from London in 1939–45. In 1968 there were 55 Jews in Bedford and in 2004 the population was estimated at 45.
C. Roth, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 29–31; Roth, England, index; M. Lissack, Jewish Perseverance (1851); Rigg-Jenkinson, Exchequer. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: JYB, 2004.
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