This portrait of Baron Lyon de Symons was once owned by Mrs H B Lewis-Barned. Before marriage she was Emily Eliza Lyon de Symons, a grand-daughter of Baron Lyon de Symons via his youngest son Aaron. The painting is now owned by her great-grandson who has been in contact with us. We first saw this portrait as a black and white image from ref 147. Some details of the Lewis-Barned family can be found here.   The Pressburg Cup of silver-gilt made in Nuremburg about 1600 with the mark Hans Petzolt. It is engraved around the lip with a Hebrew inscription which records its ownership by the Burial Society of the Jewish community of Pressburg (modern Bratislava) in 1739-40. It is among the earliest silver cups used for this purpose, and is a rare piece of Judaica. Photographed by Julian Land at the British Museum 9 Jul 2015 in the exhibition of the Waddesdon Bequest of Baron Ferdinand Rothschild MP 1839–1898. It nicely symbolizes the milieu in which Baron Lyon de Symons was born.   Portrait of Fanny Emma Nunes 1818-71 who was a grand-daughter of Baron Lyon de Symons via his daughter Henrietta de Symons 1785-1870. She married Sidney James Phillips (see note 11 below). The image was provided by the owner - a descendant of Emma - via Claire Myers who shares a common Lindo ancestor with Emma.


 Baron Lyon de Symons was born in Bratislava which lies quite close to Vienna and Prague and was the capital of Hungary in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The birthdate of Baron Lyon de Symons is shown in ref 80 and in ref 147 as 1743 but 1741 and 1744 can also be found. His father was Samuel Michael Lazar Pressburg (see note 2 below) who was an affluent Austrian banker and Government agent in Vienna and perhaps this helps explain how Simon Barrow of Bath later became a special diplomatic envoy between the Prince Regent and the Austrian Court.

Baron Lyon de Symons was a wealthy diamond merchant, and was a leader of London's Ashkenasi Great Synagogue which he served as Treasurer in 1790 (see note 10 below). He seems to have had a celebrity clientele (see note 7 below). He was married to Polly Goldsmid and was father-in-law of Simon Barrow of Bath (see note 1 below). Baron Lyon de Symons was also known as Judah Low Pressburg (see note 8 below). He had 2 sons (see note 4 below) and 6 daughters including Henrietta, Tryphena and Frances. A daughter of Henrietta is shown above, a son of Frances was Sir Barrow Helbert Ellis the namesake of Barrow Helbert Ellis Lousada who in turn descended from Tryphena (the wife of Simon Barrow of Bath).

His date of death is given in ref 147 as 1814, but shortly before this he appeared in bankruptcy proceedings (see note 9 below).



1. The marriage of Simon Barrow of Bath to Tryphena Esther Lyon de Symons is recorded as #1451 in Bevis Marks Records 2 and this record shows Baron Lyon de Symons as 'Judah bar Simon alias de Symons'. This of course leads us to wonder whether the ancestry of father-in-law and son-in-law is connected for there are clues (other than the obvious one) to this effect. But this marriage record raises a question on who the Baron's father was - see note 2 below for a resolution of this.

2. Some of the ancestry of Baron Lyon de Symons can be found on the Schoenberg family tree (see ref 148) and this like other sources takes Samuel Pressburg to be his father, in contradiction to note 1 above. We resolve the contradiction by observing notes 3, 4 and 5 clearly show Samuel as the father whilst observing that note 6 casts a doubt over the sole contradictory evidence in note 1.

3. Wolf Liepmann was founder of the Westminster Synagogue, and it was in his wake (according to ref 147 p199) that his 2 'nephews', one of whom was Baron Lyon de Symons, came to London. As the wife of Samuel Pressburg is generally given the name Fradchen Liebmann and sometimes Fratia Liepmann, it seems safe to conclude Wolf Liepmann was a brother-in-law of Samuel Pressburg who was thus father of the 'nephews'. Ref 122 records that Wolf Liepman d1773, founder of the Westminster Synagogue, came to London in the mid-1700s and his two 'nephews' from Vienna followed, they being 'sons' of Samuel Pressburg, the affluent Austrian banker and Government agent.

4. The 2 known sons of Baron Lyon de Symons were Samuel b1788 #120 (who married the widowed sister of Simon Barrow) and Aaron b1794 #564. As Aaron has the conventional name of the maternal grandfather Aaron Goldsmid d1782, it follows that Samuel was the name of the paternal grandfather.

5. Ref 188 lists at #231 as a member of the Great Synagogue in 1781-2 R. Leib b. Samuel Pressburg de Symons, of Vienna. This is essentially the identical name R. Leib Pressburg given to Baron Lyon de Symons by ref 147 whose author Cecil Roth is the author of ref 188. Ref 189 lists the last 3 children of Baron Lyon de Symons ie Matilda, Frances and Aaron under the father Mr. Leib son of Shmuel Pressburg de Symons of Vienna citing ref 188 but replacing the initial 'R' by 'Mr'!

6. BMR Records 2 notes in its Introduction that for between 30 Nisan 5555 and 8 Elul 5571 no Ketubot was available (the relevant volume having disappeared) and the information for this period was elsewhere derived. Thus the data for #1451 (see note 1 above) was derived from the Mahamad's Record of Licences and not the Ketubot. We suggest that in the additional transcription an error occurred - one possibility is that Judah bar Samuel was read as Judah bar Simon, and another is that Judah bar Samuel bar Simon was originally written and the middle name was inadvertently omitted in the transcription. Note 5 supports the second alternative for it shows all 3 names. Furthermore, we considered whether a Simon could have been the father of the Baron who was born in 1743 (or thereabouts - for dates other than 1743 can be found). Simon Michael Pressburg could not have been the father since he died in 1719. But he may have had a grandson also named Simon. However under Ashkenasi naming rules (ref 35 p20) the grandson Simon must have been born after the grandfather died hence after 1719 which means he would have fathered the Baron in his early 20s which was of course possible but perhaps unlikely.

7. In 1791 he was involved in the recovery of the jewellery collection of Madame du Barry, former mistress of Louis XV, but she did not long survive to enjoy the recovered jewellery. This anecdote is recounted in and a fuller account may be found here and is uploaded (15MB). The fuller account shows he spoke French but stops short of revealing whether he got a reward - for this matter was not settled by the time of Madame du Barry was guillotined in 1793. He appears on a list of possible contacts for Mozart's visit to London in 1764 (Susser Archive ref 122).

8. Edgar Samuel advises that the name Lyon or Loew or Leb is an equivalent for the Hebrew name, Judah, on the basis of Jacob's blessing at the end of Genesis, where he compares his son Judah with a lion. The name Judah Low Pressburg thus contains an element of redundancy. The German name for Bratislava - his birthplace - is Pressburg and the Hungarian name is Poesing. We can not yet explain the name 'Lyon de Symons' except 'Lyon' is a reference to 'Judah' as just explained, and 'Symons' seems to be a reference to his grandfather (in that he was on occasion named in effect Judah bar Samuel bar Simon - see note 5 above). 'Lyon' and 'de' seems to make for a French connection here (see also note 7), or perhaps a Belgian connection (Belgium pre-Napoleon being part of the Spanish Netherlands), but so far we cannot link this to his ennoblement.

9. A search of the National Archives Index will reveal the matter of Lyon De Symons of Billiter Square, London. The details are contained in the files of the Office of the Commissioners of Bankrupts and Court of Bankruptcy. We have not yet examined them. He is described as merchant (dealer and chapman), bankrupt, with date of commission of bankruptcy 19 Dec 1812.

10. Ref 147 describes some of his contributions to the synagogue and community life.

11. The portrait below is of Sidney James Phillips 1817-1902 who was married to Fanny Emma Nunes, and the image below has the same origin as her portrait above. After she died in 1871 he married the hitherto unmarried Fanny Esther Barrow 1821-1911 the 4th daughter of Tryphena Esther Lyon de Symons and Simon Barrow of Bath. He therefore had the distinction of marrying 2 grand-daughters of Baron Lyon de Symons!