The Sassoons



George Sassoon writes: I couldn't resist sending you a copy of this, in view of the village's name, Hilton.  I often wondered about my own surname - ShShVN means "rose", "beautiful", something like that in Hebrew.  Then a friend of mine went to Erevan in Armenia, and sent me a postcard of an equestrian statue of "David of Sassoon" in one of the main squares. He heard that whenever the Turks came to massacre the Armenians, David would come down from the mountains with the "men of Sassoon" and massacre the Turks.  So he is a national hero.  Maybe there is a WAISer who can fill me in on this aspect of my family's history? Possibly not my family, who were originally from Baghdad, according to historians.

RH: In Google there are many entries for George's famous father Siegfried. I came upon this: The family were Sephardic Jews who claimed to be descended from King David and who had wandered for centuries from Palestine to Spain and Syria. Siegfried Sassoon's part of the family had first flourished in Baghdad and then in the city of Bombay. The family were very wealthy and endowed hospitals, libraries, and synagogues. Siegfried Sassoon's paternal grandfather Sassoon David Sassoon was the first of the family to arrive in England in 1858, attracted by the cotton trade. Siegfried Sassoon's father was Alfred Ezra, and his great-uncle Arthur was part of the intimate circle of the Prince of Wales with skills in riding and hunting. An uncle of his was the sculptor Hamo Thorneycroft (1850-1925). His mother was Georgiana Theresa née Thorneycroft who was a talented artist.

RH: Thorneycroft made the huge statue of King Alfred in Winchester, deservedly known as Alfred the Great (849-899).  More about him some time later. David Sassoon as a hero who fought the Turks, Alfred was a hero who fought the Danes. I wonder if Thorneycroft thought of this?

I said: An uncle of Siegfried Sassoon was the sculptor Hamo Thorneycroft (1850-1925). His mother was Georgiana Theresa née Thorneycroft who was a talented artist. Thorneycroft made the huge statue of King Alfred in Winchester, deservedly known as Alfred the Great (849-899).  More about him some time later. David Sassoon as a hero who fought the Turks, Alfred was a hero who fought the Danes. I wonder if Thorneycroft thought of this?  Apparently the sculptor's name is commonly misspelt, since George Sassoon writes: If I may correct your spelling, the name is Thornycroft (without an e). It being my middle name, after my grandmother, I frequently have to make this clear.  We still have some of her pictures. The Thornycrofts were originally a Cheshire family.  One of the Thornycrofts also did the statue of Boadicea on the Thames bridge near the Parliament buildings.  They were also naval architects, invented the tubular boiler, and launched destroyers sideways across the Thames, the river not being wide enough.



Ronald Hilton 2005

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last updated: April 13, 2005