On March 22, 2002, I found a typewritten "Memorandum for my Children" contained among my grandmother's papers. The memorandum was written by Henry M. Hyams, apparently during the period he was Lt. Governor of Louisiana, between 1860 and 1864, about his family lineage. His father was Samuel Meyers Hyams, Sr., and his mother was Miriam Levy.
The memo in its entirety reads:
"My father, Samuel Hyams emigrated from England to Charleston, S.C. about the year 1765 or 66, and married my mother [Miriam Levy] a year or so afterwards. She was the daughter of Eleazer Levy of Holland, who was a man of great education and highly instructed in the Hebrew, Greek and Latin languages and literature of that day. The family in Holland had some connection with the introduction and discovery of Vaccine distribution of the Government organization, from which it presumed and obtained the soubriquet of "Coo," which was familiarly attached afterward to a sister, said to have been of great beauty and a dashing woman in the Court of Holland, and she became the wife of a very opulent Spanish merchant named De Mendoz [NOTE: Miriam's sister Eva married Solomon de Mendes; it was this couple's daughter, Rebecca de Mendes, who was the mother of Judah P. Benjamin (1811-1884), called the "brains of the Confederacy"]. The issue of this marriage was the mother of J. P. Benjamin, who became later the Attorney General of the Confederate States, but prior to that, he was a distinguished United States Senator from the State of Louisiana, and at this writing, is a prominent member of the Bar of England, being a Queen Councillor and having at all times a retainers fee of from 100 to 500,000 pounds English money.
"During the time [of] the Hyams family, residents of both Spain and Portugal, their women were considered the most beautiful women and naturally attracted the attention of both the Grandees of Portugal and Spain, and intermarriage became [came] naturally between the Portuguese Grandees and the Tadasequa, who were the first of all the army of Spain and considered the first of any note in all Europe, as it is a matter of history that at that day the educated rich and the proud Spanish Grandees, Jews exiled as they were, held in all the Capitals of Europe a social position high above the native Jews and especially in Holland and Germany. From the family and the intermarriage between these Portuguese and the Tadasequa are traced the family of Hyams, which means 'the peace of God be always with this family,' are traced the name of Montijo, which means the same thing as the "Hyams," and was changed because these people became Catholics to save their property and values, and which the Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon the Third, is now considered the head.
"My father's mother was supposed to be German, though her father's father was a Polish officer, the family was either of Riga or Wilna. An insurrectionary and unsuccessful revolt in which he was involved and said to be the Commander of the Revolution, sentenced him to , commutation, however, to expatiation or rather banishment caused him to be sent at once as a refugee over two centuries ago, 1650, to Ireland. His eldest son was born and raised there, as a printer and publisher, which was considered at that time the highest of positions to any one who was not of the purple born. A daughter Catherine, my father's sister, also born in Ireland, who received a finished education, as a linguist and musician at the Convent of Irelandaises in Paris. She was known as the beautiful little Kitty Hyams, afterwards as the pretty little Kittie "Hyde," having been adopted by Lord Hyde, and sent to this country to be educated and converted to Catholicism. In the after years she was attached to the unhappy household and fortunes of the unfortunate Princess De Lamballe and Marie Antoinette. She was the Maid of Honor to the Princess and she performed many secret missions for the royal house. She was especially the favorite of Marie Antoinette and was the confidante during all of her troubles. She was written the memories of the Princess Lamballe and also the secret memories and last moments of Marie Antoinette. She also wrote a work entitled, "Venice under the yoke of France and Austria." At the age of 86 years she visited the United States to visit her brother, Samuel M. Hyams, of New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the father of Lt. Gov. Henry M. Hyams and Samuel M. Hyams of this state. Her style of writing was forcible, and attracted the attention of all the European Governments of that time, caused her to be an exile and driven into Italy, where later on she died. Although residing in foreign lands nearly all of her life, she was exceedingly English in her views and politics; hating Napoleon above all things on earth; in all her writings she fully shows this hatred. She is known as the Marochiness de Solari.
"My father's three brothers all emigrated to South Carolina and died there. All being soldiers in the Revolutionary War; portions of whom now reside there and in Louisiana. Some of my grandfather's family went to the northern portion of the United States locating in Quebec and Montreal, those being known as the Catholic portion of the family, having emigrated from France and being converted to Catholicism during the reign of Catherine de Medici. I remember when as a child being told by my father that his father the Polish General, an exiled soldier, removed from Ireland to England and was considered well read in all the historic law, and especially the Jewish laws known at that time, and was of the ten others who were ordered to visit Lord George Gordon in the tower when Jewish ceremonies required the presence of ten persons and it being well known that this eccentric nobleman had embraced Judaism. The true word of our name was Haim, "The staff of life," from this word it means "Eternal Life." Some ancestors Anglicized it to its present orthography, the same word Montijo means the same translation in Spanish. In France there are many who spell the same name Hein, but from all knowledge we have the name comes from either Portugal or Spain.
"(Signed) Henry M. Hyams
Lt. Gov. of Louisiana"
[NOTE: This memorandum is undated, but since he signed as "Lt. Governor of Louisiana" and held this office only between 1860 and 1864, presumably this was written during that time frame].
NOTE: Re: Catherine Hyde -- sister of Samuel M. Hyams, Sr.: the memoirs of Princess Lambelle and Marie Antoinette which Catherine Hyde (Hyams) edited and annotated and published in 1901 is still available in print, and what I've read is quite fascinating. The work is entitled, "Secret Memoirs of Princess Lambelle." You can find it through Abebooks online, and can even read it online (although it is 363 pages long).