Jacob Judah Leon was born in 1603, a piece of information he gives in the preface to one of his books.1 The place of his birth is still unknown but he was clearly of Spanish-Portuguese origin and most writers restrict themselves to that statement. Others say he was born in Hamburg. In any event, he came at an early age to Holland and spent most of his life there.2
He was a teacher and Rabbi by profession. As such, Leon must be unique in Jewish his? tory, for there cannot have been many Rabbis who became famous not so much for their learning as for a travelling exhibition or show, which was widely exhibited for many years and which received Royal Patronage and approval.
Although the exhibitions were only models of the Temple of Solomon and the Tabernacle of Moses, they had such universal appeal that there was a revival some 85 years after the author's death, when the shows were again a great success and ran?off and on?for years. So successful, indeed, that one man who saw the models was so impressed that he wrote a note about them which made history, albeit Masonic history, and adopted one of the pictorial designs he saw at the show as most suitable as the coat of arms of his Grand Lodge of Free? masons.
Much has been written about the models and a little about Leon himself, but Leon's connec? tion with England, notably the English Royal Family and English Freemasonry, has generally been passed over. The purpose of this paper is to try to restore the balance.
As to his name: Leon is known under several names, all based on the original Hebrew name of Arye, i.e., lion. The name was originally spelt in the Portuguese manner, viz. Lea?, which is the form generally found in the records of the Amsterdam community. Leon was one of a large family of this name and the name, spelt Lea?, occurs frequently in the records of the Amsterdam Jewish community, forming a trap for the unwary.3
Leon was obviously proud of his name and the coat of arms which he adopted for himself proudly displays a lion as a main feature of the design.
But proud as he was of his name, Leon was equally proud of his Jewish ancestry, for it is noteworthy that in all his literary publications Leon invariably adds the word 'Hebreo', thus making his name read 'Jacob Judah Leon, Hebreo'.
In later years the appellation 'Templo' was added to the family name by Leon's descen? dants, notably his son Solomon, a reference clearly suggested by Leon's association with the model of the Temple of Solomon for which Leon had then become famous. Leon himself, however, never used the name Templo on any of his publications and it would seem that it was his son Solomon who first adopted it as part of the family name so that he became known as Solomon Judah Leon Templo.
Throughout the whole of his life Leon's main occupation was that