Leonard Walter Jerome

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Leonard Walter Jerome

  • Birth 3 Nov 1817 Pompey, Onondaga County, New York, USA
  • Death 3 Mar 1891 Brighton, Brighton and Hove Unitary Authority, East Sussex, England
  • Burial Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA
  • Memorial ID 3333

Lawyer, Stockbroker, Thoroughbred Racing Enthusiast. Winston Churchill's maternal Grandfather. Leonard Jerome was the son of Aurora Murray and Isaac Jerome. Leonard was born November 3, 1817, on a farm in upstate Pompey Hills, New York, (near Syracuse), and went on to study law, graduating from Union College in Schenectady, New York. As a young man, he and his brother Lawrence moved to Palmyra, New York, to work in their uncle Hiram's law office, before Leonard set up practice in Rochester, New York. While living in Rochester, Jerome became involved in local politics and the newspaper business. founding the Rochester Daily American. He later sold his interest in the paper and moved to New York City, where he became a notable and flamboyant stock market speculator and promoter, becoming known as "The King of Wall Street". In the process, over his career, Jerome made—and lost—at least three fortunes. A patron of the arts, he was the founder of Manhattan's Academy of Music. It has also been alleged that Jerome had an affair with the famous Swedish soprano, Jenny Lind—for whom his eldest and most famous daughter, Jennie, was named. Leonard Jerome was also an avid sportsman and enjoyed yachting with his friend, William K. Vanderbilt. They, along with their friends and partners August Belmont and William Travers, had a special passion for thoroughbred horse racing, and helped found the American Jockey Club. In purchasing The Bathgate estate and mansion near Old Fordham Village in Westchester County, Jerome was instrumental in building the Jerome Park Racetrack in what is now The Bronx, in conjunction with fellow financier August Belmont, Sr., where the first Belmont Stakes was held in 1867. A resident of Brooklyn, along with William K. Vanderbilt and other investors, he founded the Coney Island Jockey Club, which in 1884 built the Sheepshead Bay Race Track. In 1849, he married Clarissa Hall (1825-1895) with whom he had three lovely daughters who were acclaimed wherever they went, becoming known as 'the Good, the Witty and the Beautiful.' The eldest, Jennie ('the beautiful'), married Lord Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill, the younger son of the Duke of Marlborough, and gave Leonard Jerome two grandsons: Winston Churchill, later Prime Minister of Great Britain, and a second son, John (known as "Jack" in the family). The second daughter, Clara—also known as Clarita-- ('the good') married Moreton Frewen (1853-1924), who had squandered his capital on gambling, sports and a series of failed money-making schemes. The youngest, Leonie ('the witty') married Irish Baronet Sir John Leslie, 2nd Bt. (1857-1944). They had 4 sons, including Shane Leslie, who later converted to Catholicism and became a well-known writer. In later life. Leonie became a good friend to Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught – a younger brother of Edward, the Prince of Wales (who became a great friend, in turn, to Leonie's sister Jennie). Leonard Jerome's wealth afforded his daughters the opportunity to spend much time in Europe, particularly in Napoleon III's France, where they associated with the aristocratic elite of the day. Some interesting historical footnotes: The Jerome Mansion, on the corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street, had a full theatre and even horse stables, as well as a beautiful view of Madison Square Park. It was later sold and housed a series of private clubs. Some of the funds from the sale helped support the country lifestyle of Winston Churchill, prior to his rise to political power. The mansion was torn down in 1967. Jerome Avenue in Brooklyn is named in Leonard Jerome's memory, as is Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. In the Bronx, The Old Bathgate mansion served as a summer home for the Jerome family and their friends. Jerome Park, which was built on the estate, was once the site of a horse racing track, which was replaced by the Jerome Park Reservoir. In the early 1900's, The Old Bathgate mansion would later be razed and replaced by The Kingsbridge Armory. Leonard Jerome died on March 3, 1891, at the age of 73 in Brighton, England. His body was brought home for interment in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.


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  • Maintained by: Pat Finnegan
  • Added: 1 Aug 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3333
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Leonard Walter Jerome (3 Nov 1817–3 Mar 1891), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3333, citing Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, Kings County (Brooklyn), New York, USA ; Maintained by Pat Finnegan (contributor 46603839) .