Exeter is a town in S.W. England. Before the expulsion of the Jews in 1290, Exeter was the most westerly Jewish community in England. The first mention of Jews there is in 1181. Only one Exeter Jew, Amiot, is mentioned as contributing to the Northampton Donum of 1194, but subsequently, Exeter became the seat of one of the archae for the registration of Jewish debts.
In 1275, the local chirographers, both Jewish and Christian, were accused of forgery but were acquitted. At an ecclesiastical synod held at Exeter in 1287, the church restrictions regarding the Jews were reenacted. On the eve of the expulsion of 1290, the community numbered nearly 40 householders, who possessed considerable debts and a large quantity of corn.
At the beginning of the 18th century, some Italian Jews were living at Exeter, including Gabriel Treves and Joseph Ottolenghi (later of South Carolina). The conversion of Ottolenghi to Christianity about 1735 caused considerable controversy. Exeter subsequently became a center of peddling activities. The synagogue still standing was built in 1763.
In 1968, 20 Jews lived in Exeter, apart from a number of Jewish students at the university. In the mid-1990s and 2000s, the Jewish population numbered approximately 150. There is an Orthodox synagogue, which today holds monthly services.
Adler, in: Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and Art, 63 (1931), 221–40; Rigg, Exchequer, index; Roth, Mag Bibl, index; idem, Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 59–61. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: JYB, 2004.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.