Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild ('Natty') (1840-1915), led the family firm, N M Rothschild & Sons from New Court, St Swithin's Lane as Senior Partner from 1879 until his death. Under his direction, the bank made 70 loans, and was instrumental in establishing the Exploration Company to exploit opportunities in the New World.
In 2015, the Archive commemorated the centenary of the death of Nathaniel and 175th anniversary of his birth with a project to transcribe over 9,000 pages of business letters. The volunteer project was a great success, and now the detailed text of the letters is being made publicly available for the first time.
Between 1906 and 1914 Natty and the Rothschild Partners personally wrote or dictated over 2,000 letters to their French cousins in the Paris bank, M M de Rothschild Frères in the rue Laffitte. The letters reveal much about Natty and his world, and are crucial for understanding the business of the bank during this period, and are even more important as many of the papers of Natty were destroyed (in accordance with his wishes) after his death.
The majority of the letters were sent at the behest of Lord Rothschild, but on occasion letters were signed by his brothers Alfred Charles de Rothschild (1842-1918), (who was to succeed Natty as Senior Partner in 1915), and Leopold de Rothschild (1845-1917). Other letters are signed by Natty’s son (Nathaniel) Charles Rothschild (1877-1923), and Natty’s nephews Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), and Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (1886-1917) and Anthony Gustav de Rothschild (1887-1961). The letters were received by their cousins in Paris, Edouard Alphonse James de Rothschild (1868-1949), Robert Phillippe Gustave de Rothschild (1880-1946) and James Armand de Rothschild (1878-1957).
Today, copies of these letters form a unique and irreplaceable resource for the study of finance and commerce just before the First World War. Throughout his life and through his many guises Natty would have corresponded with some of the most notable people of his time. His business and influence reached across the globe, and his philanthropic endeavours touched and improved the lives of many. The surviving letters to the French cousins are a commentary on the day’s business, reporting on the state of the markets and price of gold etc., but the letters also record the personal achievements and day-to-day family events of the Rothschild family, spread across the great cities of Europe.
The letters shed new light upon business priorities and world events. The 'My Dear Cousins': writing the new century website celebrates the lives of the letter writers, and the events that shaped the business. Researchers will be able to view the detailed text of over 9,000 letters and explore a detailed chronology, and links to further sources.