Despite its proximity to London, Surrey was home to relatively few Jews until the twentieth century. However, there is some evidence of Jewish communities in Guildford and Kingston-upon-Thames before the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290 by Edward I.
Following the readmission of Jews into England by Oliver Cromwell in 1656, Jewish communities were re-established in London, and the Surrey Quarter Sessions records of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries contain a number of references to Jews living in the areas of Bermondsey, Newington and Southwark. During the nineteenth century, Surrey was home to a number of prominent Jewish families, including the Sassoons of Ashley Park and the De Worms family who lived in Pirbright and Egham.
Other notables included Sir Moses Haim Montefiore (1784-1885) who was a captain in the Surrey Militia from 1810 to 1814. In February 1885, the first successful labour registry in England was established at Egham by Nathaniel Louis Cohen (1847-1913), philanthropist and resident of Englefield Green. In 1914, Leopold Salomons (c.1841-1915), JP, of Norbury Park, Mickleham, gifted Box Hill to the nation.
The Second World War saw the development of Jewish communities in towns such as Staines, Dorking, Woking, Epsom and Addlestone, as the result of evacuation from London. Many of these communities are still in existence although numbers have fallen. (The establishment of more temporary refugee communities in Surrey is discussed later). Then, as now, those Jews living in Surrey belonged for the most part to institutions such as the United Synagogue (founded in 1870), and the Federation of Synagogues (founded in 1890), whose administrative centres and cemeteries were, and are still, located north of the Thames.
Today, there are the following active communities in Surrey: Guildford (Orthodox – independent); Kingston (Liberal Judaism); Kingston, Surbiton and District (United Synagogue); Richmond (United Synagogue); Staines (United Synagogue); Sutton and District (United Synagogue); and Weybridge, North West Surrey Synagogue (Movement for Reform Judaism).
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