Simon Belmont (1789-1859)

Simon (Schönberg) Belmont, of Alzey, Rhenish Hesse

He was born into a Jewish family at Alzey in Rhenish Hesse, Germany. Hesse was occupied by France in 1792 and in 1808 Napoleon decreed that all Jews who did not have surnames should adopt one. His family were already using the surname Schönberg and they didn't need to Frenchify it to "Belmont" (which still meant "beautiful mountain" but in French) but perhaps Simon chose to do so to keep political favor as from that time the family became known as the Belmonts. Simon was secretary of the local Synagogue at Alzey to whom his grandfather had bequeathed 30,000 Florins as a fund to pay for congregational expenses and to provide dowries for poor girls. Simon himself was invariably described as a businessman and/or lawyer but by 1825 he was unable to pay for the tuition of his 12-year old son. Simon's stepfather's half-sister, Eva, was married to Amschel Mayer Rothschild, eldest son of the founder of the Rothschild Bank and Simon's mother now persuaded the Rothschilds to take on her grandson (August Belmont) as a trainee. August went on to represent the Rothschilds in New York and died with a $10 million fortune. Simon lived long enough to see his son's success.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 17/07/2019 and last updated on 14/06/2021.