75 Years Ago First Jew Allowed to Sit in Commons

It was seventy-five years ago this week that Queen Victoria gave the Royal assent to the bill admitting Jews for the first time to the House of Commons.

On Monday, July 26, 1858, after a long debate, Baron Lionel de Rothschild, wearing his hat, swore the prescribed oath on the Old Testament only, and took his seat. Disraeli, although a Jew racially, was a member of the Church of England.

He had been elected for the City by a large majority in 1847 and, after his election had been disallowed, again in 1850, 1852, 1854 and twice in 1857.

The Act under which he was admitted was a characteristically British compromise. It did not face the question of the admission of Jews outright, but allowed each House of Parliament to frame the conditions of its own oath.

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