Leonard Walter Jerome was a Brooklyn, New York, financier and the maternal grandfather of Sir Winston Churchill

Leonard Walter Jerome was born 3 November 1817 in Pompey, Onondaga County, New York, United States to Isaac Jerome (1786-1866) and Aurora Murray (1785-1867) and died 3 March 1891 Brighton, Sussex, England, United Kingdom of unspecified causes. He married Clarissa Hall (1825-1895) 5 April 1849 in Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, United States.

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.


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. He was a patron of the arts, and joined in the founding[citation needed] of 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 demolished in 1967.

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:

  1. Clarita Jerome (1851-1935) - known as Clara, married Moreton Frewen (1853–1924), fifth son of Thomas Frewen MP, a charming spendthrift who ran up huge debts trying to operate a ranch in Wyoming, and through gambling, sports, and women. They had two sons, Hugh and Oswald, and one daughter Clare Sheridan.
  2. Jeanette Jerome (1854-1921) - known as Lady Randolph Churchill, was an American-born British socialite, the wife of Lord Randolph Churchill and the mother of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.
  3. Camille Jerome (1855-1863) - died young - age 8
  4. Leonie Blanche Jerome (1859-1943) - married Sir John Leslie (1857–1944), an Irish baronet, whose family estates covered 70,000 acres (280 km2). They had four sons. For many years, she maintained a liaison with Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn.

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

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


Offspring of Leonard Walter Jerome and Clarissa Hall (1825-1895)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Clarita Jerome (1851-1935) 15 April 1851 Rochester, Monroe County, New York, United States 20 January 1935 Brede, East Sussex, England, United Kingdom Hugh Moreton Frewen (1853-1924)
Jeanette Jerome (1854-1921) 9 January 1854 Brooklyn, New York, United States 29 June 1921 Westbourn Street, Paddington, England, United Kingdom Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill (1849-1895) George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West (1874-1951) Randolph Henry Spencer-Churchill (1849-1895) George Frederick Myddleton Cornwallis-West (1874-1951) Montagu Phippen Porch (1877-1964)
Camille Jerome (1855-1863)
Leonie Blanche Jerome (1859-1943)



Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General