Solomon Surname Meaning, History & Origin
The early spelling of the name was Salomon and this spelling continues to be found in France and Germany and also in Argentina. Three Salomon brothers established the Wall Street trading house of Salomon Brothers (now defunct) in New York in 1910. The Salomon spelling is said to be Sephardic, the Solomon spelling Ashkenazic. The Arabic version of the name is Suleiman.
Solomon Resources on
- Ezekiel Solomon
My Jewish-Canadian grandfather.
- The Solomon Family
Solomons in England, St. Helena, and South Africa.
England. Solomon in England is very much a Jewish
surname; but there was an English outpost of the name in
Cornwall. The surname there probably derives from Salomon, a 5th
century Cornish warrior prince of legend. He was also baptized
into the Christian faith and revered as such.
Thomas Solomon can be found at St. Columb in Cornwall in the 1660’s and
the name gets more numerous there in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Other Solomons were to be found at Goran and Mevagissey nearby.
Mary Pedlar’s 1955 booklet The
Pedlar Solomon Family of Cornwall described the family that
emigrated to Canada in the 19th century. Perhaps the best-known
Cornish Solomon was Bert Solomon, one of the greatest
rugby players of his era.
Among the early Jewish Solomons was Samuel
Moss Solomon, born in London in 1769, who was a pencilmaker in
Spitalfields. He and his family departed for Australia in 1833
and that was where the later Solomons were to make their mark.
Michael Meyer Solomon was born in 1791, either in Holland or
(it is quite not clear which). He arrived in London as a young
man and prospered as a Leghorn hat manufacturer in Bishopsgate,
prospered so much that he became the first Jew to be admitted to the
freedom of the city of London. Of his eight children, three –
Abraham, Rebecca, and Simeon – achieved some renown as painters. Simeon Solomon
was perhaps the most talented. But he was the one whose life
turned out the worst.
A Solomon stockbroking family in London, said to have been among “the
upper echelons of English Jewish society,” produced Harold Solomon, a
brigadier general in World War One. His wife Flora Solomon (nee
Benenson), perhaps more famous than him, outlived him and raised Peter
Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International.
America. The first Solomons in America were said to
have come from Bodmin in Cornwall and arrived in Virginia in the early
Solomons spread to North Carolina and Georgia. There was a later
side-branch in Georgia, known as the Solomon Brothers, who undertook
train robberies, shootings and thefts until they were finally gunned
down by law enforcement officers in 1913. Daniel Worth’s 55 page
booklet My Solomon Ancestors,
written in 2005, recounted the family history. .
to family tradition, Jacob Solomon was a Dutch Jew who had come to
Lancaster, Pennsylvania sometime in the 1740’s. Myer
migrated from there to Baltimore in 1793 and started a dry goods
business on Market Street. His brothers
Isaac and Levy joined him. A later
Isaac Solomon began a canning factory on Solomon’s
Island off Maryland after the Civil War.
William S. Solomon married Eliza Myers in Zion German church in
1820. Their son William was an early settler in Florida, arriving
in the boom town of Key West around 1850.
Another recipient of Dutch Jews was the port of Charleston in South
Carolina. Joseph Solomon, a merchant, had arrived there from
Amsterdam before the Revolutionary War, Chapman Solomon by 1783.
Chapman’s family later moved to New Orleans and then to Texas.
Solomon was a German Jewish merchant who had arrived in Canada in the
and was a fur trader based on Mackinac island in Michigan.
His son William grew up there and acted as an
interpreter for the Indians of the Upper Lakes; his grandson Lewis Solomon
wrote a narrative of the family history.
South Africa. The line in
England went from
Nathaniel to Saul Solomon. In the early 1790’s
Saul Solomon was on his way from London to India when he became ill and
was put ashore on the island of St. Helena. He became a merchant
there and was friends with Napoleon during his time of exile.
nephew, also named Saul Solomon, grew up in Cape
Town and became an influential
newspaper publisher there. Saul’s
Gladstone wrote a biography of him and Allan Solomon’s 1988 book The Solomons covered the family from
St. Helena times.
Australia. The Solomon
family got off to a bad start in Australia. In
1817 Emanuel was convicted in England of larceny and sentenced
to seven years transportation there. Later,
he prospered as a land developer in
Adelaide, establishing Solomontown near Port Pirie.
His nephew Judah was for a short time the mayor
of Adelaide and Judah’s son Vaiben the Premier of South Australia in
Samuel Solomon was the only person to have served in the Boer War and
War One and Two, where he was a chaplain for the Salvation Army.
The Solomon successes had prompted his father Samuel
Ross and the remainder of the family in England to embark for Australia. They arrived in Sydney on the Enchantress
in 1833. In 2012 hundreds
came together in Melbourne for a great Solomon reunion. It was
estimated that there were 5,000 descendants of Samuel Ross Solomon were
living at that time.
Another early Solomon in Australia was the London criminal Isaac (Ikey)
Solomon, eventually tired and transported to Tasmania in 1831. He
was widely regarded as the model for the character Fagin in Charles
Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist.
New Zealand. Solomon
in New Zealand is a Maori name, first adopted by Tommy Solomon in the
1900’s. Sir Mark Solomon represents the
fourth generation of these Maori Solomons.
The Wisdom of Solomon. Solomon succeeded David as the King of Israel. The Hebrew
Bible credits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem and
portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power.
In one account, known as the Judgment of
Solomon, two women came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel over which
true mother of a baby. When Solomon
suggested they should divide the living child in two with a sword, one
said she would rather give up the child than see it killed. Solomon
declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, and
baby to her.
Bert Solomon the Rugby Player. Bert Solomon
was born at Treleigh in west Cornwall in 1885, one of several children born
into a poor but close-knit mining family.
He left school at 12 and found an unskilled job in a local bacon
factory. During his teenage years he was
introduced into the world of racing pigeons by his father.
Pigeon-fancying became his prime
interest. But he was somehow persuaded
to join the local rugby club and try his hand.
his exceptional rugby talent emerged for all to witness and by the
time he had reached 21 he had become a seasoned county player. His skills were extraordinary.
He was said to have invented and perfected
the dummy. In the 1908 county
championship final against Durham he almost single-handedly won the
He was capped by England
against Wales in 1910 but declined further international caps. He also declined a hefty fee to play Rugby
League in the north of England.
solitary character who liked nothing better than his pigeons. Sometimes he refused to play for his team
Redruth if his pigeons were still out; and he often had to be cajoled
playing. Such was his skill that he apparently made a difference
of a thousand
in the crowd.
Simeon Solomon the Painter. Simeon
Solomon was the eighth and last child born to
merchant Michael Solomon and his artist wife Catherine.
As a student at the Royal Academy, Simeon was
introduced to members of the Pre-Raphaelite painting school, as well as
poet Swinburne. His first exhibition
was at the Royal Academy in 1858. He continued to hold exhibitions of
at the Royal Academy between 1858 and 1872.
His association with Swinburne led to his illustrating
Swinburne’s Lesbia Brandon in 1865.
However, his budding career was cut short in
1873 when he was arrested in a public toilet in London and charged with
an attempt to commit sodomy. He was a
marked man and further arrests followed.
In 1884 he was committed to the workhouse where his life and
blighted by alcoholism. Twenty years
later, he died from complications brought on by this alcoholism.
Solomon’s Island. Originally known
as Bourne’s and Somervell’s Island, Solomon’s Island in Maryland took
from a 19th century Baltimore oyster packer named Isaac Solomon who
a cannery there shortly after the Civil
was he who gave the island its
new name, advertising his
canning establishment as “Solomons
operated a fleet of
schooners which plied between there and the mainland.
1870 the community received official recognition when the United States
Service opened an office.
home still stands
on the front of the island.
The Narrative of Lewis Solomon. Lewis Solomon’s
narrative began as follows:
Lewis Solomon – spelled L-e-w-i-s, though they call me Louie. I
was born on
Drummond Island in 1821, moved to St. Joseph Island in 1825, back to
Island again, and then to Penetanguishene in 1829.
father’s name was William Solomon,
Government interpreter. His father, Ezekiel Solomon, was born in
the city of
Berlin in Germany, came to Montreal and went up to the “Sault.” My father was appointed Indian interpreter by
the British Government and was at Mackinaw during the War of 1812, then
to Drummond Island with the British forces, and afterwards to
Nathaniel, Phoebe, and Saul Solomon. In
the early 1790’s a ship bound for India dropped
anchor off the Port of Jamestown on the island. A young man was carried
to die. The ship sailed on and the young man, Saul Solomon, remained
not to die
but to become one of the most influential men on the island. Within a few years Saul was joined in St
Helena by his brothers, Benjamin, Edward, and Charles.
had come from a respected Anglo-Jewish
mercantile family who had lived in Kent for many generations. They had
substantial interests, not only in England, but also on the Continent.
or thereabouts his father Nathaniel visited Leyden in Holland where he
in love with, and married a young Dutch girl named Phoebe de Mitz. She was just fourteen years old at the time. Yet Phoebe returned with him as a bride to
England and, by the time she was forty, had produced eighteen children.
death Phoebe moved to London where she lived on in some style until her
Saul and Georgiana Solomon. In Cape Town in 1873, Georgiana Thomson, a recent arrival from Scotland, met Saul
Solomon, the proprietor of the Cape
Argus, a member of the legislative assembly for Cape
Town, and a noted liberal and philanthropist.
found themselves in close
accord, both intellectually and emotionally, and, despite a
difference in age (she being twenty-nine and he fifty-six), they were
at his home at Clarensville on Sea
Point the next year. The marriage
out to be a happy one, producing four sons and two daughters.
her marriage into the extended Solomon
family, Georgiana became a member of a circle of educated, enlightened,
politically active women at the Cape.
She would speak at temperance meetings and was elected president
World’s Temperance Union at the Cape.
Sharing her husband’s commitment to moral reform, she became
president of the Social Purity Alliance in Cape Town and campaigned
successfully against an attempt to reintroduce the Contagious
In 1888, following
a breakdown in Saul Solomon’s health (in which the drowning of their
daughter in 1881 had been a contributory factor), the family left for
England. Four years later, Saul Solomon
her alone to bring up the children in England. She
continued to watch political
developments in South Africa closely and lived
- Haym Salomon was a Jewish immigrant
to New York at the time of the Revolutionary War who became the prime
financier of the American side.
- Saul Solomon was a newspaper publisher in the Cape colony in the late 1800’s and one of
its early civic leaders.
- Flora Solomon was an activist
for women’s rights in England in the 1930’s.
- Russ Solomon founded Tower
records, a worldwide music store empire, which, however, collapsed in 2006.
Select Solomon Numbers Today
- 4,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 16,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
- 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
Select Solomon and Like Jewish Surnames
The Jews were banned from England in 1290 and did not return there until the 1650’s, sometimes in the form of Portuguese traders. They were to make their mark as merchants and financers in London and many families prospered. There was another larger Jewish influx in the late 1800’s.
In America the early settlement of Sephardic Jews was in Charleston, South Carolina. In the 19th century Ashkenazi Jews started to arrive from Germany. Later came a larger immigration from a wider Jewish diaspora. Between 1880 and 1910 it is estimated that around two million Yiddish-speaking Jews, escaping discrimination and pogroms, arrived from the Russian empire and other parts of Eastern Europe.
Some Jewish surnames reflect ancient Biblical names, such as Cohen and Levy. Some have come from early place-names where Jews resided, such as Dreyfus (from Trier), Halpern (from Heilbronn) and Shapiro (from Speyer). Many more surnames came about when Ashkenazi Jews were compelled by Governments to adopt them in the early 1800’s. The names chosen at that time were often ornamental ones – Bernstein or Goldberg or Rosenthal for example. Then the name could change on arrival in America at Ellis Island. And finally anti-Semitism perceived could cause further changes to conceal Jewishness.
Here are the stories of some of the Jewish surnames that you can check out here.
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