PLYMOUTH, port and naval base in Devon, S.W. England. One of the earliest provincial Jewish communities after the Resettlement was established there and the beautiful synagogue, dating from 1761, is the oldest in England outside London. In the 18th century, Plymouth's Jewish inhabitants, mainly Ashkenazim from Poland and Germany, included silversmiths, merchants, petty traders, old-clothes men, opticians, and pen cutters. Jews were also active as suppliers of stores and clothing for the navy and a subsidiary congregation was formed at Plymouth Dock (Devonport). By the end of the Napoleonic Wars there were about 30 Jewish licensed navy agents. The community was one of the four most prominent in Britain until 1815, when its importance declined. In the early 20th century the Jewish population numbered 300 and in 1969 it was 225 (out of a total population of 212,000). The 2002 British census found the declared Jewish population to be 181. There was an Orthodox synagogue.
D. Black, The Plymouth Synagogue (1961); C. Roth, The Rise of Provincial Jewry (1950), 91–93; Roth, England 230–1, 241; JYB.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.