Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland
John Toland (1670-1722)
General Editor: J.N. Duggan

Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1670-1722). General Editor: J.N. Duggan. Click to browse the online edition.

Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland
by
John Toland (1670-1722)

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About the Author

John Toland (1670-1722) was an Irish-born scholar and philosopher of international renown. In his considerable volume of writings, he challenged political and ecclesiastical authority and was a prolific writer on important political and religious issues of his day.

John Toland was born in Donegal, Ireland to a Gaelic-speaking Catholic family on November 30th 1670. He converted to Protestantism at the age of 14. He is chiefly remembered today for what was in fact his first work, Christianity Not Mysterious (1696) - a book which was denounced in the English and Irish Parliaments and publicly burned in Dublin.
Reasons for naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland, On the same foot with all other Nations. Containing also A Defence of the Jews against All vulgar Prejudices in all Countries.

First published in 1714, shortly after the succession of George I to the British throne, Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland is widely seen as a landmark work in the movement for emancipation and equal citizenship of the Jewish people.

While some would argue that the case being presented by Toland is best understood in the context of British political life of the time, it is generally agreed that it represents a remarkable work: one that, in many ways, is well ahead of its time.

Toland's work has been seen as influential on a number of fronts. It shows Toland as a skilled and fearless commentator; one who accepted nothing at face value but always brought an independent mind to bear on any issue he tackled:

"A dog will run at a stone, when he dares not attack the man that threw it."

"I am not ignorant how much the world is governed by prejudices, and how farr some, who wou'd not be counted of the vulgar, are yet sway'd by vulgar errors. ... But one rule of life, which is willingly admitted, nay, and eagerly pleaded by all Societies in their own case (tho miserably neglected in that of others) is, not to impute the faults of a few to the whole number."

The Foreign and Protestants Naturalization Act of 1709 allowed immigrants to claim British citizenship upon swearing an oath of allegiance to the British throne, and taking the sacrament in a Protestant church. In this pamphlet Toland is calling for the same privileges to be extended to the Jews.

This edition of John Toland's pamphlet has been faithfully reproduced from the original with an Introduction, editor's notes and a Chronology of Toland, his life and times. Previously available only in facsimile editions, the text has been reset using a modern typeface but with original spelling, emphasis and formats preserved.


Reasons for Naturalizing the Jews in Great Britain and Ireland by John Toland (1670-1722)
Non fiction, essay, political science. 68 pages. Paperback.
First published in London in 1714. This edition published in Ireland in 2012 by The Manuscript Publisher
ISBN: 978-0-9571157-8-1

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Reviews for this Book

Toland was one of the most enigmatic Irishmen ... He was widely regarded during his life and long after as a philosopher, renegade and maverick. Many of his ideas are considered radically ahead of their time and the publishers argue that his pamphlet on the Jews of Ireland and Britain is an example of this. It was written in 1714, in the aftermath of the establishment of the Hanoverian succession, in which the British parliament naturalised the family and its descendants, and of the earlier 1704 Act which facilitated the naturalisation of the Huguenot protestants forced to flee France. At a time when it was unthinkable in most European countries that Jews be considered citizens, Toland used these two precedents to argue on behalf of British Jews. - Books Ireland, March 2013

Only the horrors of Nazism could eclipse from our memories the horrors of European and, in particular, British Jewish history. Brought to England by William the Conqueror in 1070, they were tolerated - although, on default of any payment, they were promptly arrested, with their wives, children and servants - until the reign of Richard I, when they were murdered under charges such as "bewitching the King". 500 jews, besieged in a tower of the Royal Palace, their ransom having been refused, and to avoid greater cruelty from their enemies, killed their wives and children and then burnt themselves and the tower. Measures to force Jews to ransom themselves included one eye being pulled out and every day, a tooth. Under the pretence of stealing and crucifying a child - a frequently used pretence - eighteen were hanged. It got steadily worse. 700 were hanged under King Henry III, then, 260, after being drawn at horsetails. Their synagogues were pulled down, 16,511 were banished and their houses sold to enrich the exchequer. After 220 years, Cromwell allowed them back, and under Charles II, all their children under six were detained in 'convert-houses'.
Apart from these gory tales, Toland's 1714 appeal argued that Jews created as well as managed business. Expelling them cost Spain and Portugal dearly, while Holland gained, benefitting from irrigation, learning, population increase and in Amsterdam and the Hague "whole streets of magnificent buildings". They would not be a financial drain as they always took care of their own poor. They had no history of proselytising, either violently or non-violently. The author John Toland, the first man to be called a freethinker, was born into an Irish-speaking Donegal family. After his first book was banned and burnt in Dublin, he left Ireland, became a Whig and was close to the Hanovers. Long an advocate of 'general naturalisation', his arguments are as valid now as in his day. - Books Ireland, May 2013
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