About this project


The Medieval Anglo-Jewish Women Project (MAJW) provides resources for study of the lives and representations of Jewish women in medieval England, through the creation of an open and expandable site that compiles information on the hundreds of Jewish women, named and unnamed, who appear in national records 1154–1307 CE. The site currently includes documentation of 817 medieval Anglo-Jewish women, including those who converted to Christianity (at least 87), as mentioned in select manuscripts and the following print sources:
For a list of all currently-cited modern print sources, see the References page.
As work progresses, MAJW aims to include brief biographies and further reading suggestions for each woman (now available for 36 featured women), as well as refined genealogical trees and mapping tools, sample transcriptions and teaching modules, and access to new publications arising from related research. On the immediate horizon is continuing documentation of print sources and manuscript sources that have no print surrogate.


Jews settled in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 CE and were expelled by King Edward I in 1290 CE. National records throughout this period and beyond show legal and government operations that oppressed and structured the lives of English Jews. Because these records were created or archived by Christian courts and scribes, one must caution, they provide a picture curated by Christian authorities, often at painful junctures in women’s lives (e.g., deaths of loved ones, imprisonment, and legal disputes of various kinds). The same records, nonetheless, also provide what we might call cultural data, that is, information on Anglo-Jewish family and social networks, property, business activities, language use, and more.
MAJW supports the recovery of the history of Jewish diasporas, with emphasis on the role of women in diasporic life, even when sources are biased and complex, and even when data must be gleaned from, say, stories of conversion or violent conflict. With data collection and data sharing as core outcomes, MAJW seeks to enable future interdisciplinary research by specialists working in Jewish studies, legal history, cultural studies, and gender studies.


The MAJW site allows access to information on hundreds of individual Anglo-Jewish women and the records that document their lives. Current editorial conventions and cautions around presentation of this data are as follows:
Names: In this dataset, women’s names are spelled in a variety of ways (often moving between Hebrew, Latin, French, or English), and toponyms or identifying relationships may change with different stages of life (e.g., after marriage). MAJW has regularized names in the main headers (to aid searching), and may thus, in cases where editorial judgement dictates that two different names designate the same woman, disambiguate two or more names and make the regularized version the searchable element. Errors of transcription in print sources (say, Anigotta for Avigotta) may be silently corrected. Users who consult source records (print or manuscript) should be prepared to encounter a wide range of variation and to independently investigate cases of conflation or disambiguation. As of March 2024, one can find limited information on name variation at the top of many women’s pages. However, work on this aspect of the data is far from complete. Future versions of this site will include encoding and search functions for all forms of women’s names.
Dates: Cited date ranges are currently for the year (January-December) and (where applicable) legal term. The category Dates mentioned in records refers to any mention of the woman in question, even if that mention occurs after her death or only in relation to a relative. For instance, if a record mentions Cresse son of Genta, MAJW considers this a mention of Genta mother of Cresse and collates it with other mentions of this Genta. Dates, therefore, show a range of influence and family networks, not solely of the activities of a woman.
Relatives: Data for relationships to a woman are available for the following categories: attorney, aunt, brother, brother-in-law, child (gender unknown), cousin, daughter, daughter-in-law, father, father-in-law, granddaughter, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, husband, mother, mother-in-law, nephew, niece, parent (gender unknown), sister, sister-in-law, son, son-in-law, and uncle. These relationships are documented only when they are explicitly mentioned in a source record that also mentions the woman. Because the majority of existing scholarship on medieval English Jews has focused on men, relatively little attention has been paid to male relatives beyond such mentions. Current networks and family trees are thus limited. Further work on male relatives, aided by the existing and new scholarship, will eventually be expressed more completely.
Records: Records document all mentions of a woman in the reviewed sources and provide guidance on where to find those mentions both in print and manuscript. Whenever possible, a location is also recorded, along with the date and general category of legal proceeding (the “business”). Caution must be used with both location and business data as noted below.
Locations: Locations most often refer to the city or county of legal jurisdiction (the Exchequer of the Jews, for instance, heard cases at Westminster but recorded cities or counties of jurisdiction in its records), but they may also refer to the place at which a document was witnessed (when no other location data is evident) or the area under discussion in a given record (e.g., if a document is signed at Westminster but discusses Oxford Jews and Oxford properties, the location will be recorded as Oxfordshire). Further, city and county locations may refer to cases where a woman is not actually present but only mentioned as a relative (e.g., when Genta appears only as Cresse son of Genta, the location will refer to the jurisdiction where Cresse is doing business). Thus, mapped and noted locations currently provide muddy data: they convey more about administrative geographies and family networks than about the location of a given woman’s activities or place of residence. More refined localization and mapping is forthcoming.
Business(es): Business designations within records provide umbrella terms for a wide variety of legal actions. Categories of business may be understood as follows:


These are the team members who have contributed to this project as of March 2024.

Project members

  • Adrienne Williams Boyarin (project lead, data editor, biographies)
  • Stewart Arneil (data editor)
  • Martin Holmes (programmer, data editor)
  • Pat Szpak (site designer)
  • Tracey El Hajj (programmer, data editor)
  • Deniz Aydin (programmer, data editor)

Research assistants (data editors)

  • Alex Brooks (lead data editor 2023-2024)
  • Babak Ashrafkhani
  • Dayne B. Pettyjohn
  • Emma Smith-Carrier
  • Isabelle Burnip-Gerhardt
  • James Potechnykh (lead data editor 2021–2023)
  • Kerri Li
  • Lauren Mannix
  • Monika Arcadi
  • Pascale Cadieux-Johnson (lead research assistant 2021-2023)
  • Sameera Mahara
  • Tanvir Parhar