Leonard Jerome

Leonard Jerome

Leonard Jerome
Born Leonard Walter Jerome
(1817-11-03)3 November 1817
Pompey, New York
Died 3 March 1891(1891-03-03) (aged 73)
Brighton, England
Education Union College
Spouse(s) Clarissa Hall (1825-1895) (m. 1849–91)
Children Jennie Jerome
Parent(s) Aurora Murray
Isaac Jerome
Relatives Winston Churchill, grandson

Leonard Walter Jerome (3 November 1817 – 3 March 1891) was a Brooklyn, New York, financier and maternal grandfather of Winston Churchill.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Sporting activities 3
  • Marriage and family 4
  • Legacy 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Leonard Jerome was the son of Aurora Murray (1785 - 1867) and Isaac Jerome (1786 - 1866). Isaac was a descendant of Timothy Jerome, a French Huguenot immigrant who arrived in the New York Colony in 1717. Jerome was born on a farm in the Central New York town of Pompey, near Syracuse. He originally enrolled in Princeton University, then known as the College of New Jersey, as a member of the Class of 1839, before leaving for Union College, where he studied law and set up a practice in Rochester, New York. He later moved to New York City, where he became a stock speculator and promoter.

The Jerome Mansion at 26th Street and Madison Avenue, c.1878


Jerome was a flamboyant and successful stock speculator. He made and lost several fortunes, and was known as "The King of Wall Street". He held interests in several railroad companies and was often a partner in the deals of Cornelius Vanderbilt.[1] He was a patron of the arts, and founded the Academy of Music, one of New York City's earliest opera houses.

During the New York Draft Riots, Jerome defended the New York Times office building with a Gatling Gun.[2] Although he had significant holdings in the Times,[3] he was not the majority shareholder as is sometimes erroneously claimed.

The Jerome Mansion, on the corner of Madison Avenue and 26th Street, had a six-hundred-seat theatre, a breakfast room which seated seventy people, a ballroom of white and gold with champagne- and cologne-spouting fountains,[4] and a view of Madison Square Park. It was later sold and housed a series of private clubs. The mansion was torn down in 1967.

Sporting activities

Jerome was an avid sportsman. He enjoyed yachting with his friend, William K. Vanderbilt. They shared a special passion for thoroughbred horse racing and helped found the American Jockey Club.[5]

In the late 1860s, Jerome was part of several hunting trips in the American West. These trips were guided by Buffalo Bill Cody.

In 1866, Jerome bought the estate and mansion of James Bathgate near Old Fordham Village in what was then rural Westchester County, but is now The Bronx. Jerome and financier August Belmont, Sr. built Jerome Park Racetrack on the Bathgate land; the first Belmont Stakes was held there in 1867. Jerome and his brother Lawrence had a wide boulevard made from Macombs Dam to the track, which city authorities attempted to name "Murphy Avenue" after a local politician. This incensed Jerome's wife so much that she had bronze plaques saying "Jerome Avenue" made up and bolted into place along the road, forcing the city to accept the name.[5] The racetrack was acquired and demolished by the city in 1894, to make way for Jerome Park Reservoir. The Bathgate mansion served as a summer home for the Jerome family. In the early 1900s, the mansion was razed and replaced by the Kingsbridge Armory.

Jerome became a resident of Brooklyn. He, Vanderbilt, and other investors founded the Coney Island Jockey Club which in 1884 built the Sheepshead Bay Race Track.

Marriage and family

Jerome married Clarissa Hall (1825–1895) in Palmyra, New York on 5 April 1849, and they had four daughters together. One daughter, Camille, died at age eight. The other three – Jeanette, Clarita, and Leonie – became known, in some quarters, as "the Good, the Witty and the Beautiful". Leonard Jerome's wealth afforded his daughters the opportunity to spend much time in Europe, where they associated with the aristocratic elite of the day. All three married British or Anglo-Irish husbands:

Jerome was also rumored to be the father of the American opera singer Minnie Hauk.[6] He also had an affair in the 1860s with Mrs. Pierre Lorillard Ronalds, then separated from her husband. Mrs. Ronalds later lived in London, where she remained a friend of Jerome's daughter Jennie.[7]

Leonard Jerome died at the age of 73 in Brighton, England. He is buried in the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.


Jerome Avenue in the Bronx, Jerome Avenue in Brooklyn, Jerome Park Reservoir, and the Jerome Stakes are all named after him.


  1. ^ Burrows & Wallace
  2. ^ Baker, Kevin, "Violent City: A Five-day Battle for New York Reveals the Birthing Pains of Our Democracy", American Heritage Magazine, February/March 2003, Volume 54, Issue 1
  3. ^ Burrows & Wallace, page 890
  4. ^ Burrows & Wallace, page 960
  5. ^ a b Burrows & Wallace, page 954
  6. ^ Anne Sebba, American Jennie, Norton, 2008, page 13
  7. ^ Ainger, Michael (2002). Gilbert and Sullivan – A Dual Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 129.  
  • McNamara, John "History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names" (1993) Bronx County Historical Society ISBN 978-0-941980-16-6

External links