Belaset daughter of Berakhyah son of Moses of Lincoln

Referred to in records as: “Belaset”.

Brief biography

One of the most well-known Hebrew documents that survives from thirteenth-century England is a 1271 premarital agreement (shidduch) between Belaset, the daughter of Berakhyah (also called Benedict) son of Moses of Lincoln, and Benjamin son of Joseph. The two parties were the parents of betrothed children: Judith, Belaset’s daughter, and Aaron, Benjamin’s son. The shidduch was drawn up four years before the planned wedding, and, in it, Belaset confirms a deposit on Judith’s dowry that includes 20 marks and a Bible. She agrees to transfer possession of the Bible to Benjamin for the benefit of her future son-in-law, and she specifies its contents: twenty-four books in one volume, properly corrected, with vocalization and Masora, on calf parchment with six columns on each sheet and, separately, the Targum for the Pentateuch and Haphtarot, with all written in it. This impressive volume is framed as Belaset’s property and designated by her as an item she gives for the sake of the [betrothed] children (both of them). She stipulates further that, should the marriage not happen, Benjamin has to return … the aforementioned book that she handed over to him or he will pay her six marks for the book. Three years later, Belaset appears in the Plea Rolls of the Exchequer of the Jews in a memorandum of receipt for a fine of 10s. paid at Lincoln. It is tempting to think that this fine also had something to do with wedding preparations: one can certainly imagine the need for license to hold the event or transfer property to the children. Belaset’s daughter Judith (who would likely be called Judea in Latin documents), however, does not appear in later records.
Further reading
  • Adler, Michael, The Jews of Medieval England, London: Jewish Historical Society of England, 1939.
  • Olszowy-Schlanger, J., ed. Hebrew and Hebrew-Latin Documents from Medieval England: A Diplomatic and Palaeographical Study. Volume 1. Turnhout: Brepols. 2015, pp. 300–301 (no. 66).
  • Williams Boyarin, Adrienne, The Christian Jew and the Unmarked Jewess: The Polemics of Sameness in Medieval English Anti-Judaism. The Middle Ages Series. University of Pennsylvania Press. 2021, p. 121.

Dates mentioned in records






View networkView family tree (experimental)


Putative social network for Belaset daughter of Berakhyah son of Moses of Lincoln (experimental feature)
Belaset Unnamed Judith Aaron Benedict Unnamed
Putative family tree for Belaset daughter of Berakhyah son of Moses of Lincoln (experimental feature)