Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Starr Definition:

Medieval English law term for legal transactions involving a Jewish person.
In The Starra, author and barrister F. Ashe Lincoln writes:

"The word starr means a contract but by usage has come to denote specific contracts made by the Jews. Star is derived from the Hebrew sh'tarr or shetar, meaning a contract.

"In English legal history, the starrs or starra are the contracts made between the Normans and the Jews in England between the years 1070 and 1290.

"The word starr is, however, used much more widely in our legal history.... It has, in fact, come to be applied to almost all transactions in which Jews are concerned."

Starrs or starra were drafted since the arrival of the Jews in England, at least as of 1066, and were written in Hebrew, Latin and French.

Few originals have survived especially since from time to time, the English and Christian debtors would revolt against the harshness of usury and burn every starr they could find.

They end suddenly in 1290, which was the year of the expulsion of the Jews from England.

Most starrs are associated with the primary business of the Jews in England between 1070 and 1290; lending money on usury terms and attaching the land of the debtor in case of nonpayment. The starr contained the terms of the secured loan and would be enforced by the Exchequer of the Jews.


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