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JOSEPH JACOBS Little St. Hugh of Lincoln: Researches in History, Archaeology, and Legend The case of William of Norwich in 1144 may well have been the first reported instance of ritual murder in England, or anywhere else for that matter, but surely the most famous alleged occurrence of Jewish ritual murder in England is that of Hugh of Lincoln in 1255. One reason for this is that the story was immortalized in ballad form. The ballad entitled "Sir Hugh, or, the Jew's Daughter" is number 155 in the standard canon of English and Scottish ballads compiled by Francis James Child (1825-96). The English and Scottish Popular Ballads was published from 1882-98. The ballad is frequently used as a source for scholars interested in reconstructing the events surrounding the murder of little Hugh. Samples of that scholarship include Francisque Michel, Hugues de Lincoln: Recueil de Ballades Anglo-Normade et Ecossoises Relatives au Meurtre de cet enfant commis par les Juifs en MCCLV {Paris: Silvestre, 1834}; James Orchard Halliwell, Ballads and Poems respecting Hugh of Lincoln, A Boy alleged to have been murdered by the Jews in the year MCCLV {Brixton: for private circulation only, 1849}, which relies heavily on Michel's 1834 work; Abraham Hume, Sir Hugh of Lincoln or an Examination of a Curious Tradition respecting the Jews with a notice of the Popular Poetry connected with it {London: John Russell Smith, 1849}; Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, vol. 3 {New York: Cooper Square Reprinted from Joseph Jacobs, Jewish Ideals and Other Essays (New York: Macmillan, 1896), pp. 192-224. 41 Joseph Jacobs Publishers, 1962}, pp.233-54; and Gavin I. Langmuir, "The Knight's Tale of Young Hugh of Lincoln," Speculum 47 (1972): 459-82. Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916) was an active folklorist in England in the last decade of the nineteenth century with a special interest in Jewish folklore. His essay on Little St. Hugh, written in that period, remains one of the most thorough studies of the incident. For more about Jacobs' contributions to folklore, see Brian E. Maidment, "Joseph Jacobs and English Folklore in the 1890s," in Studies in the Cultural Life of the Jews in England, ed. Dov Noy and Issachar Ben-Ami, Folklore Research Center Studies 5 (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1975), pp. 185-96; and Gary Alan Fine, "Joseph Jacobs: A Sociological Folklorist," Folklore 98 (1987): 183-93. For a touching personal reminiscence of Jacobs by his daughter, see May Bradshaw Hays, "Memories ofMy Father , Joseph Jacobs," The Horn Book Magazine 28 (1952), 385- 92. For other considerations ofritual murder by Jacobs, see "St. William of Norwich," Jewish Quarterly Review 9 (1897): 748-55; and "The Damascus Affair of 1840 and the Jews of America," Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society 10 (1902): 119-28, the latter essay written after he emigrated to the United States. o yonge Hugh of Lincoln, sleyn also With cursed lewes, as it is notable, For it nis but a litel whyle ago; Pray eek for VS, we sinful folk vnstable That of His mercy God so merciable On vs His grete mercy multiplye, For reuerence of His mooder Marye. Amen. Thus sings and prays Chaucer at the end of his Prioress's Tale, which is supposed to deal with the cause celebre of Hugh of Lincoln.l This is not the fact, since he locates his tale "in Asie in the gret citee./1 But the invocation to the 42 Little St. Hugh of Lincoln little Hugh at the end, marked as it is with signs of the most earnest and naIve piety, is even more significant of the general and thorough-going belief in the martyrdom of the little lad of Lincoln. And indeed we know from the widespread and popular ballads devoted to this subject that the case must have made a profound sensation in England, and remained as a standing example in the folk mind of Jewish cruelty and fanaticism. Such a case as this, therefore, well deserves the attention of the Jewish Historical Society of England . We may be tolerably confident at the start of our inquiry that we shall not be so easily convinced of any specific Jewish cruelty and fanaticism in the case. On the other hand, as Englishmen, we shall not be too ready to accuse the Englishmen of the thirteenth century of any deliberate falsification of evidence, or malversation of justice. They were thinking and acting under the prejudices of their time...


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