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Oliver Cromwell

(1599 - 1658)
By Cecil Roth

Oliver Cromwell was Lord Protector of England, 1653–58. Cromwell was primarily responsible for the readmission of the Jews to England. His Puritan views, based mainly upon the Old Testament, and his tolerant nature predisposed him to regard the Jews with favor; he was also quick to realize the material advantages of readmitting them. It was to Cromwell that Manasseh Ben Israel presented his Humble Addresses and petitions concerning the return of the Jews to England, and he was responsible for convening the Whitehall Conference on December 18, 1655. When it became apparent that readmission would only be recommended under the most unfavorable conditions, Cromwell dissolved the conference after its fourth meeting. It was expected that he would issue a favorable reply to Manasseh Ben Israel on his authority. However, given public opinion, Cromwell preferred to adopt an informal arrangement. The London Marrano community had to be satisfied with a favorable reply to a modest petition in which they merely requested authorization to establish a cemetery and continue their freedom of worship. Cromwell's sympathies were manifested in the pension of £100 granted to Manasseh Ben Israel. His favorable attitude toward the Jews was so marked that, according to his enemies, Jews regarded him as their Messiah.


L. Wolf, Manasseh ben Israel's Mission to Oliver Cromwell (1901); Roth, in: JHSET, 11 (1924–27), 112–42; Roth, England, 156ff.; idem, Essays and Portraits in Anglo-Jewish History (1962), 86–107; Katz, England, 107–40, index; T.M. Endelman, The Jews of Britain, 1656–2000 (2002), 15–27; E. Samuel, "Oliver Cromwell and the Readmission of the Jews to England in 1656," in: At the Ends of the Earth: Essays on the History of the Jews in England and Portugal, (2004), 179–89; C. Hill, God's Englishman: Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (1972); ODNB online.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.

Photo: Gaspar de Crayer, Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.