Teschek/Aaron/Schmelzer/Siebert/Montgome: AARON Family

AARON Family

First Generation


Barney Aaron, ca. 1825.

1. Barney1 Aaron was born in Aldgate, London, England 21 November 1800.(1) Pierce Egan's New Series of Boxiana states that: "Aaron first took a survey of mankind in the parish of Aldgate, not one hundred miles from Duke's Place, on November 21, 1800." An entry in The Jewish Encyclopedia states that he was "born in London, Nov. 21, 1800, at Duke's Place, Aldgate."(2) There is an Aldgate in the London area, as well as nearly 100 miles away in the County of Leicestershire. The Jewish Encyclopedia references Boxiana, which probably refers to Egan's series, so it's information on Barney's birth is probably just a rehash of the earlier source. The term "not one hundred miles" in earlier times was an expression that meant the same as "not far away". Duke's Place was the name of the street in which the Jewish "Great Synagogue" was situated. It was also known as the Duke's Place Synagogue. The parish of Aldgate was "not far away" from Duke's Place. It's more likely that he was born in the Aldgate in London than in the one that was 100 miles away in Leicestershire, but until more information is found that is only a supposition. Barney may have died of heart disease, 11 July 1859, at 3 Boars Head Yard, in Whitechapel, London, England, at 58 years of age.(3) The Jewish encyclopedia states that Barney died in Whitechapel in 1850, yet this 1859 death of "Barnett Aaron" seems, by process of elimination, to be our man. Aaron descendant and researcher Shirley Atkins checked every death record of every Aaron(s) recorded between 1848 and 1861 with the General Register Office (who are the government body responsible for holding the birth, marriage and death certificates and recording the events) and this is the only possibility found during those years. They also checked specifically for Barnett or Barney Aaron from the date on which official records started (in 1837) and there is no other Barney or Barnett Aaron, Aarons, Aron, Ahron or any other permutation that is recorded in either the London or Middlesex areas in that period.

About his place of death, Shirley Atkins has this to say: "Column 2 of the certificate shows place of death as '3, Boars Head Yard'. This address is in the Whitechapel North administrative district. We have so far been unable to discover why Barney was there when he had spent most of his life at No. 1, Cobbs Yard (fairly close geographically) with his wife, Pheobe Lee. However, we are in contact with two very knowledgeable and precise researchers, one of whom specialises in the transcription of the early Hebrew records obtainable from the synagogues, and the other who is (certainly in the UK) regarded as one of - if not the foremost - expert on the early history of boxing. There is some suggestion that 3, Boars Head Yard may have been used as a hospice or place of retirement care for 'damaged' boxers - this requires further research."

His occupation was given as "general dealer". Cause of death was "Diseases of Heart 6 Months, Paralysis 3 days". Age was given as 60.

He married Phoebe Lee, say 1825. The name of Barney's wife thus far comes from only one source -- the 1902 death record of their son Moss Aaron. In both the 1880 and 1900 censuses, Moss states that his parents were both born in England, and his death certificate states that they were born in London specifically. The census records for Barney's son Timothy, however, state that his mother was born in Ireland. In fact, the 1920 census states that both his parents were born in Ireland. If his mother was indeed born there it suggests that Barney married at least one other time to another woman.

Phoebe was born say 1805, in London, England. Her place of birth is taken from the 1902 death record of her son Moss. Barney was a well known Jewish bare-knuckles boxer. The following was written about him in "The Jewish Encyclopedia": "AARON, BARNEY: English pugilist, nicknamed 'The Star of the East'; born in London, Nov. 21, 1800, at Duke's Place, Aldgate; died in Whitechapel, 1850. His career as a pugilist extended over 15 years. When but 19 years old he met and defeated William Connelly (1819), Manny Lyons, Ely Bendon, and Samuel Belasco. He also opposed Angel Hyams and Tom Collins in interrupted contests. In 1823 he met Ned Stockman (May 6), whom he defeated after a battle of 40 rounds; Tom Lenney (August 5 and Nov. 11), and Frank Redmond (Dec. 30). The next year he beat Peter Warren (April 6), but two months later was defeated after 57 rounds by Arthur Matthewson (June 21). He fought Dick Hares (March 21, 1826), who, after 43 rounds, claimed the fight on a foul blow, which was disallowed, the contest being awarded to Aaron. The latter met Dick Curtis at Andover, England (Feb. 27, 1827), and after fighting 50 mins. knocked him out by a blow on the throat. Aaron again fought Frank Redmond, on Oct. 23, and defeated him in 42 rounds. Among other combatants whom Aaron met and fought with varying success were Marsh Bateman (July 4, 1828), Harry Jones (Nov. 21), Jem Raines (May 26, 1829), and Tom Smith (April 1, 1834). Bibliography: Egan Miles, 'Pugilistica', 1880, ii. 504-515 (with port) ; 'Boxiana' (Anon.) ; 'Fistiana' (Anon.)".(4) "The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia", v.1, p.7 also has a short article on Barney Aaron, but contains no more information than the above. Barney was inducted into the "Pioneer" category of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in January 2001. Their website has this to say about him, "Born November 21, 1800 in Goshen of Duke's Palace, Aldgate, England, Aaron was known as the "Star of the East." He was a standout lightweight of English prizefighting from 1819 to 1834 and was regarded as one of the more clever and scientific boxers of his era. He retired at the age of 34 and died in Whitechapel in 1850." This is the first reference I've found to the place "Goshen" associated with his birth. Duke's 'Palace' should probably be Duke's 'Place'(5).

Barney and Phoebe had six boys and two girls. One of their sons -- the fighter 'Young Barney' Aaron -- likely was born with a different name. He may be the son Solomon.

Barney Aaron and Phoebe Lee had the following children:

child + 2 i. John2 Aaron.

child 3 ii. Lewis Aaron.

child 4 iii. Abraham Aaron.

child 5 iv. Joseph Aaron.


Copy of a newspaper clipping of Barney Aaron during his referee years. The caption read: "The veteran champion light-weight pugilist of America, appointed referree of the Smith-Walcott boxing bout in Boston, March 1." Dated probably in the period 1880-1900.

child 6 v. Barney Aaron was born in London, England in 1830 or 1836.(6) No Barney or Barnett Aaron can be found as a son of Barney and Phoebe (Lee) Aaron in the early records, so it seems likely that "Barney" was a nickname and he was originally born with a different name. At present it seems likely that he was originally Solomon, based on the birth date of Solomon and Barney's age at death. A secondary source gives year of birth as 1836, but his obituary said he was 77 when he died in 1907, suggesting a year of birth of 1830, which is when Solomon was born. Barney died before 4 June 1907, on Long Island, New York. His obit in the New York Times was published on June 4th. He was supposedly buried in Washington Cemetery on Long Island, N.Y. One source(7) states that he died June 15, 1907 but based on the date of his obituary this can't be correct. He married Margaret, probably in New York City.(8)

Margaret was born in Ireland. Her place of birth comes from census records of her son Timothy.

Margaret died in 1909, probably in New York.(9) Barney was a bare-knuckles prize fighter like his father, and later a referee, and was survived by a wife and two daughters. The "Encyclopedia Judaica" has the following reference to him: "A number of English fighters bridged the gap between the early and modern eras. Barney ("Young Barney") Aaron (1836-1907) son of Barney Aaron, Aaron Moss, nephew of Daniel Mendoza and Israel ("Izzy") Lazarus (1812-1867); and his sons Harry (1839-1865) and Johnny, who emigrated to the U.S. in the 1850's and 1860's and helped build interest in boxing by giving lessons and putting on exhibitions around the country. "Young Barney" Aaron won the lightweight championship of the U.S. in 1857."(10)

The New York Times for Feb. 16, 1874 has the following: "PICKPOCKETS FOILED "Barney Aaron was riding downtown on a Fourth Avenue car yesterday evening. Mr. Aaron is well known in sporting circles as a pugilist of the first class. He is small in stature, but his science is something wonderful. On the rear platform was Rev. Henry Thorpe, of Pittsburg, an elderly clergyman. Barney and the clergyman got into conversation, and after talking a little while separated, one being on the opposite side of the platform to the other. At Eighteenth street two noted pickpockets, James Henry and William Jackson, got on the car. They are residents of the Fifteenth Ward, and knew Mr. Aaron. They did not think he would interfere with them, and so proceeded to rob the clergyman. Jackson crowded the minister against the car-door, and Henry took his gold watch. They had not calculated on any interference, and were sadly disappointed when Mr. Aaron exercised his science on them with startling results. Mr. Jackson received a slight testimonial of Mr. Aaron's esteem in the jaw, which tumbled him over the dashboard into the street. Mr. Henry attempted a feeble resistance, but to no purpose. Mr. Aaron took the watch, which had been wrung from Henry's hand, and by a manual application sent Henry to join Jackson. After arranging his disturbed sealskin coat, Mr. Aaron handed the recovered watch to Rev. Mr. Thorpe remarking, 'Here's your 'super,' old man. Don't you never stand on a car platform again. You're the worst old sucker I've met in a year.' Mr. Aaron was at the corner of Broadway and Houston street last night, and looked refined and virtuous."(11)

He apparently returned to England to fight at least once, according to an advertisement obtained by Shirley Atkins, another Aaron descendant. On Monday 20th January 1873 he was listed to appear in a "Grand Assault of Arms" together with a large number of other pugilists, at the Lambeth Baths, Westminster Bridge Road, London, as a benefit for Bob Travers and Jem Dillon.

His obituary was in the New York Times for June 4, 1907, p.7: "BARNEY AARON DEAD AT 77 "Famous Bare-Knuckle Pugilist Fought Last Fight Seven Years Ago "Barney Aaron, 77 years old, whose most famous bare-knuckle fight was with Arthur Chambers at Mississippi City in 1878, lies dead in a Long Island institution. He was the last of the old breed of bare-knuckle fighters. He is survived by a widow and two daughters--but 'by no man of his weight who licked him,' say his friends. "Aaron learned his art - or science - of fighting from his father in England where he was born. He fought there until the seventies, whipping every other Englishman of his weight in sight, and then he came to America, of course. His most famous fight at Mississippi City was a 17-round set-to, which he won. "For several years after that his business was to stand up in Harry Hill's Houston Street pit and meet all comers. For a while, too, he followed the same business at Owney Geoghegan's resort on the Bowery. In his later years Aaron worked about the race tracks, where he called out the winners, for which the bookmakers chipped in and paid him. Seven years ago Aaron, being then 70 years old, a sort of veteran ring-dodgers' reunion was held in the Broadway Athletic Club. Doony Harris, another old man of the ring, said he would fight his elder, Aaron. Doony lost his temper and started in to make a sight of Barney. The referee had to whistle off the bout to keep old Barney from knocking Doony out altogether. That was Barney's last fight. About a year ago a breakdown, due more to old age than anything else, caused him to go to the sanitarium where he died."(12)

His obituary is likely incorrect when it states that he came to this country in the 1870s, as other sources mention specific fights in America in the 1850s. His obituary states that he was survived by a widow and two daughters, but their names are unknown at present.

On a website at myfamily.com hosted by members of the family of Barney's adopted son Timothy, the following biography of Young Barney Aaron is posted:

AARON, BARNEY (1836-1907). Bareknuckle boxer. World lightweight champion, 1857.

"Young Barney" Aaron was the son of Barney Aaron, a Jewish welterweight in England, who was called the "Star of the East' by British boxing fans. Born of an Irish mother, the younger Aaron came to America at the age of nineteen with his father in 1855 and later became the first Jewish boxing champion in America. He had fought every challenger in England in his own weight class and always won.

His first American bout was with a young mulatto named Johnny Robinson on 9 July 1856 at Riker's Island in New York City. He won the decision after a gruelling eighty-round contest and was then regarded as one of the most talented lightweights in the country. On 1 April 1857 he enhanced his growing reputation as a boxer by defeating the highly regarded and much publicized Bill Evans, who was then the lightweight champion of the South. The match took place in New Orleans, and Aaron, who won the decision after eleven rounds, afterwards was considered the top contender in the lightweight division. His ranking earned him a match with Johnny Moneghan of Liverpool, England, who then was claiming the American lightweight championship. He beat Moneghan in an eighty-round decision in Providence, Rhode Island, on 28 September 1857 and was named champion in the lightweight division, thus becoming the first Jewish boxing champion in America's history.

The following year, on 18 October 1858, he was charged with a foul during his fight with Patrick "Scotty" Brannagan of Brooklyn, New York. The fight was held in Long Point, Canada, and, despite a furor caused by the decision, Aaron lost the championship that he had held for little more a year. Aaron spent the next eight years in forced retirement because nobody dared to fight him. He was feared in the ring because of his quickness and boxing skills, but owing to pressure from the boxing world, finally he was signed to fight Sam Collyer for the American lightweight championship. The match was held on 20 June 1866 at Pohick Landing, Virginia. Collyer was six years younger than Aaron and Aaron's eight-year layoff took its toll. Aaron lost a forty-seven round decision, and Collyer was named champion. In a rematch on 13 June 1867, held at Aqua Creek, West Virginia, Aaron re-gained his championship title, beating Collyer by a decision. The fight with Collyer was a bloody rematch of the Pohick Landing bout and lasted for sixty-seven rounds - one hour and fifty-five minutes. Later the same year Aaron decided to retire from boxing and his title was claimed by Sam Collyer and Billy Edwards. He then opened an instructional prizefighting gymnasium in New York City.

Aaron remained active in the boxing world and returned to the ring in 1878, defeating Arthur Chambers in a bare knuckle seventeen-round match in Mississippi City. For many years his business was to stand up in Harry Hill's Houston Street pit in New York City to take on all who challenged him. He did the same at Owney Geoghagan's resort in the Bowery. He also worked at horse race tracks calling out the winners for bookmakers. When he was seventy years old he fought his last fight when he attended a reunion of veteran boxers at the Broadway Athletic Club where he fought an exhibition match with another old-timer, Dooney Harris. Aaron is buried in Washington Cemetery, Long Island. He was elected to the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967, one hundred years after regaining his lightweight title from Collyer. His total American record included only six official fights, of which he won four, all by decision. He lost only one by decision and drew in the other bout.

Aaron died in early June, 1907, in a Long Island sanitarium. He was survived by a widow and two daughters but "by no man of his weight who licked him," said his friends.

Bibliography: The statistical record for Aaron is contained in Bert Sugar et al., eds., The Ring Record Book and Boxing Encyclopeda and Record Book (New York, 1982). Short sketches of the boxer appear in Ralph Hickok, Who Was Who in American Sports (New York, 1971), and Roy Silver et al., The Encyclopedia of Jews in Sports (Richmond, 1965). The New York Times obituary, 4 June 1907, p.7.

child 7 vi. Solomon Aaron was born in London, England 8 October 1830. The International Genealogical Index records a Soln. (presumably an abbreviation for Solomon) Aron or Aaron, son of Barney Aron or Aaron, as being born in London on this date, specifically in the "New Synagogue". It seems likely that this "Solomon" is the son who later became the fighter 'Young Barney' Aaron, but more research is needed to ascertain this. He is listed as Solomon in the 1841 and 1951 censuses.

child + 8 vii. Moss Aaron was born about 16 August 1838.

Table of Contents graphic Return to Table of Contents or Index

Go to Next Page GraphicGo to Next Page

Go to Previous Page GraphicGo to Previous Page