December 18 - 1655 - The Whitehall Conference Declares Jews Can Return to England
Oliver Cromwell, who led the Parliamentary side of the English Civil War, helped execute King Charles I, and became Lord Protector himself, upended the very nature of English politics and society. An odd preoccupation that Cromwell and many of his Puritan supporters shared was a commitment to returning Jews to England. King Edward I had ordered all Jews to leave the country in 1290, which meant there was no Jewish community in England. Yet Cromwell's desire to bring about a new religious order and more worldly political and economic concerns meant he was eager to have Jews return. His chief advisors were unsure, as clergy were concerned with bringing in non-Christians to a Christian nation, merchants did not want more competition from the Jewish traders Cromwell was talking to, and radical Puritans thought Jews coming into England would bring about the Second Coming of Jesus. So they found a lawyerly answer.