Gostyń was among the biggest and the most Polish in its character towns in south-west Wielkopolska. Similarly to Kościan and some other towns, Gostyń introduced a „de non tolerandis Judaeis” law (no tolerance for Jews), which, through the centuries, was causing many problems connected with settlements of the Jews in there, making it rather impossible. Yet, it does not mean that there were no Jews who came to town and tried to find the place there. In the half of the 18th century Jan Nawrocki, a convert who bought a house in Gostyń in 1749, was a city surgeon[1.1]. A couple of years earlier, in 1742 there emerged an argument with Jewish butchers who tried to compete with the guild from Gostyń. The information about this argument can be found in one of the city registers, in which the certified copy of the petition submitted by local craftsmen to the contemporary owner of the city is kept.
Your Highly Enlightened and Honourable Ladyship, Duchess Wiśniowiecka, the Great Kraków Castellan, the most Merciful and Gracious Lady Benefactor. With the most modest, humble and meek request and petition arriving by Your Honourable Royal feet we, the butchers from Gostyń, lay hereby as the lowest sevrants. Being poor and wretched, repressed in the merciless time of present hardship and the reign of cruel and pitiless to all people death, struggling to contribute to the honour of providing for the tribute established in the agreement with the law, only by the Gostyń’s proximity, as if almost in its suburbs, we herein request to Your Royal Highness. Jews the butchers inhabiting unusually the yards and inns: grabonowska, krajewska, strzelecka and golska, who had beene newly accepted and maintained by gentlemen, lords owners and herein named lands’ heirs. We request that Our Highly Enlightened Ladyship and her honourable eye look at the very munificent generosity of the most honourable father commissioner, in its part to the butchers directed. Be Her Highly Enlightened and Honourable Duchess Wiśniowiecka merciful to our misery, as a necessity was there that some were forced to leave the town, and the rest has almost ceased doing their craft as only one with two of the other part practiced their craft of butchery after the commonalty enslaving them till the arrival of the most honourable chamberlain of Poznań to the Gostyń land. Having a faith in our request being to Your Highly Enlightened and Honourable Ladyship directed, we, having a permission of His Honoured Mr Trąpczyński, request that Your Highly Enlightened and Honourable Duchess, the Most Merciful and Gracious be so pitiful to let us be touched by beneficence of Her said generosity, in which shadow little nestlings find shelter, as in the unworthy, as always, our prayers to the God's Majesty, also here we do not cease to pray for the endless good health and the greatest success and well-being of Her Highly Enlightened and Honourable Duchess Wiśniowiecka – we, her humblest servants and always loyal subjects - butchers from Gostyń. [1.2]
The result of submitting the petition is unknown. Yet, the Jews still sat in the local inns, until they settled in Piaski Wielkopolskie, when the town was created after the permission given by the king, Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1775.
The situation in Gostyń changed after the collapse of the Republic of Poland, after its complete partition, when Wielkopolska was taken over by Prussia. The General Statute issued in 1797 abolished all previous limitations and enabled Jews to settle in towns, which had been previously closed to them. To Gostyń they came already at the beginning of the 19th century. The first one was Abraham Perlinski, a tradesman, who, having in mind the interests of his co-believers participating in horse fair taking place at that time in Gostyń, opened an inn, in which the Jews could stay and have kosher meals. The next one was Abraham Bucki, also a tradesman, and other merchants after him. Soon, they started to grow in position in the economical life of the town[1.3].
In 1834-35 Jews from Gostyń were awarded 10 naturalization certificates (given to 8 tradesmen, 1 teacher and 1 shochet). In 1843 there were 12 Jews with such certificates, and 34 could pride themselves on their tolerance certificates. In 1847 25 Jews had naturalization certificates, and 37 tolerance ones[1.4].
[1.1] W. Jeszke, Szpitalnictwo, lekarze i stosunki sanitarne w powiecie gostyńskim od czasów najdawniejszych, Poznań 1948, p. 120.
[1.2] D. Czwojdrak, Z dziejów ludności żydowskiej w południowo-zachodniej Wielkopolsce, Grabonóg 2004, p. 31.
[1.3] A. Heppner, I. Herzberg, Aus Vergangenheit und Gegenwart der Judeun und der jüdischen Gemeinden in den Posener Landen, Koschmin-Bromberg 1909, p. 417.
[1.4] S. Kemlein, Żydzi w Wielkim Księstwie Poznańskim 1815-1848, Poznań 2001, p. 188, 190.
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