When Parliament Opened The Oath

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150 years ago, on 26th July 1858, the first Jewish MP sat in Parliament. It reminds us that our open and inclusive society was only achieved after a series of significant and hard fought changes. This was one of them.

Lionel Rothschild was elected as MP for the City of London 11 years before. However, he refused to take his seat because Parliament prescribed a Christian oath. Instead he campaigned for change, in order that he could declare his loyalty, but as a Jew. After many set backs and his re-election as MP several times the campaign ultimately won.

It was supported in the House of Commons by future Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who was a Christian but of Jewish lineage.

And so, a century and a half ago, Lionel Rothschild took his oath in accordance with Jewish traditions, with a covered head and holding the Old Testament. It was a major step towards today's religious freedom.

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