Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: catalogues of bank files

Sources for art history: Catalogue of the pictures of Alfred de Rothschild 1901

Sources for yachting history: Plans for Nathaniel von Rothschild's yacht Veglia 1905

Sources for natural history: Walter 2nd Lord Rothschild and his zebra carriage: c.1910

Sources for global financial history: Map of lines of the Brazil Railway Company: c.1920

Sources for business history: index cards to bank files

Sources for social history: Rothschild Hospital Paris: 1920s

Sources for business history: detail of a Rothschild bond coupon

Sources for architectural history: Halton House: 1890s

Sources for the history of travel: Lionel de Rothschild's tours of Spain: 1909

Sources for local history: Tring Park: c.1900

Sources for Royal history: shooting party with Edward Prince of Wales: 1893

Sources for political history: Lionel de Rothschild: first Jewish MP: 1858

Sources for sporting history: St Amant winner of the Derby: 1904

Sources for local history: gardeners at Aston Clinton: 1899

Sources for Rothschild family history: Lionel de Rothschild's yacht Rhodora: 1927

Sources for London history: entrance to New Court: 1965

Sources for design history: plans for Lionel de Rothschild's Rolls-Royce: 1930

Sources for business history: Rothschild gold bars produced by the Royal Mint Refinery: 1930s

Sources for business history: letters of August Belmont Rothschild Agent in New York: 1860s

Rothschild clients

The management of private investments was the foundation upon which Rothschild banking was built. Since the formation of the first partnership, the Rothschild banking houses managed the assets of, and provided credit to, a small and distinguished clientele, which included Royalty, politicians and noted persons of the day.

Evidence of Rothschild business with a wide range of clients survives in the collections of the Archive. Here is just a sample of the client list of the Rothschild business houses.

Prince William IX Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel (1743-1821) – the first Rothschild client

At the age of 20, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) established a business as a dealer in coins and bills, in the Judengasse, in Frankfurt. He won the patronage of the immensely wealthy Crown Prince Wilhelm I of Hesse (1743-1821), who had also earlier patronised his father. His coin business grew to include a number of princely patrons, and then expanded through the provision of financial services. In 1769, Mayer Amschel gained the title of 'Court Agent', managing the finances of Wilhelm I who became Wilhelm IX, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel on the death of his father in 1785. In 1806, Napoleon invaded Hesse in response to Wilhelm IX's support for Prussia. On the advance of Napoleon's army, Wilhelm IX was forced to go into exile in the Duchy of Holstein. The dilemma of how to conceal his coffers from the occupying forces was solved by Carl Friedrich Buderus (1759-1819), his financial adviser, who recommended that all his stock be confided to the House of Rothschild because they were best placed to protect his funds, and he thus entrusted part of his vast fortune to Mayer Amschel Rothschild for safekeeping. Mayer turned to his son, Nathan, in London. Nathan invested £550,000 of Wilhem IX's funds in British government securities and bullion. These investments proved extremely lucrative and, by the time Wilhem IX returned from exile, had accrued considerable interest. The investments proved extremely lucrative,and the Rothschilds' reputation for trustworthiness and astute financial management was firmly established. 

Randolph Churchill, (1849-1895), politician 

The father of Winston Churchill was an intimate of the Rothschild family. He formed a close association with Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild, on whose behalf he reported on the development of the mining industry in South Africa. Churchill was a frequent guest at Rothschild houses. The Rothschilds made extensive loans to Churchill.

Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield (1804-1881), British statesman and Prime Minister 1874-1880

Benjamin Disraeli became a friend of the Rothschilds in 1840s through his political views and also his place in society as a writer. He formed a deep and lasting friendship with Baron Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879), supporting and encouraging him when he fought for admission to the House of Commons in 1840s and 1850s, and became a close friend of the family, present at all of the Rothschild weddings and funerals. Disraeli purchased Hughenden Manor, one mile north of High Wycombe, in 1848 and in his will, stated that Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915) and Leopold de Rothschild (1845-1917) were to be Trustees of the Estate.

Alexander Herzen, (1812-1870), Russian socialist and writer 

Acknowledged his contacts with the Rothschild family in his autobiography, My Past and Thoughts, but failed to indicate the extent of his investments made on the advice of James de Rothschild. Recent research reveals that he bought substantial property in France as well as investing heavily in American stock. 

Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), US President, 1829-1837

Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836), founder of the London house, collected portraits of heads of states for which he was financial agent. A portrait of Andrew Jackson by R E W Earle,(which now hangs in the bank in New Court), was a gift to Nathan Rothschild in 1836 and arrived at New Court just eight days before Nathan died in Frankfurt. From 1834 to 1843, N M Rothschild acted as Banker to the US Government in Europe.

William Lavino (1846-1908), journalist

Lancashire-born William Lavino spent many years in France, developing an unrivalled understanding of that country that was to be put to the service of Great Britain. Having begun his working life in commerce, he took up journalism in 1874 becoming Paris correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and then moving to Vienna in 1878. On the recommendation of Lord Rosebery, husband of Hannah de Rothschild, Lavino joined The Times in 1892 which he represented first in Vienna and then, from 1903, in Paris. Lavino relied on the Rothschild banks manage his portfolio and to arrange credit facilities for him as he travelled around Europe.

Dame Nellie Melba (1861-1931), opera singer

A frequent guest at Alfred de Rothschild’s house parties at Halton, where she shared a table with, among others, Winston Churchill, Nellie Melba was first Australian to achieve international recognition as a soprano. Biographers of the diva have suggested that her income from investments made on the advice of her friend, Alfred de Rothschild, "eventually made the money she earned from singing a comparatively minor matter.”

Prince Metternich, (1773-1859), Austrian statesman 

Metternich was a recipient of personal and national financial advice and support from the Rothschild family. In 1827 the Rothschilds arranged a substantial private loan to him of 500,000 gulden to help him purchase the estate at Plass. In the 1830s Metternich dined regularly with Salomon von Rothschild at his Hotel zum Römischen Kaiser, where he admired the services of the French chef. Evelina de Rothschild met the Metternichs during her honeymoon stay at Schillersdorf in 1865. Prince Metternich was accustomed to rely on the Rothschild courier network to ensure safe and secure delivery of his mail.

Moses Montefiore, (1784-1885), philanthropist 

Moses Montefiore was a brother-in-law by marriage to Nathan Rothschild. A revered figure in the Jewish community in Great Britain, he challenged the causes of oppressed Jewries abroad. He made numerous journeys to the Middle East over the Damascus Blood Libel (1840), to Rome over the Mortara affair (the abduction of a Jewish child by Catholic conversionists, 1859), to Russia (1846 and 1872), to Constantinople and Morocco (1863–4), and seven times to the Holy Land (1827, 1838, 1849, 1855, 1857, 1866, and 1875), each time supported morally and financially by the Rothschilds.

Adelina Patti, (1843-1919), opera singer 

A friend of the Rothschilds, Patti – whom Verdi declared to be the finest singer he ever heard - was also assisted financially by the family, including the provision of a loan of 4,000 Fr by the Paris house during a tour of Argentina in 1889.

Louis Philippe I, (1773-1850), King of the French, 1830-1848

The King of the French from 1830 to 1848 as the leader of the Orléanist party was an esteemed Rothschild client. Services from the Rothschilds include the provision of a specially-designed carriage on the Rothschilds’ railway, the Chemin de fer du Nord. The Rothschilds remained loyal to the Orleans family after the 1848 revolution which removed Louis Philippe from the throne.

Queen Victoria and her family

Queen Victoria and her family relied on the many services provided by the Rothschilds for their clients, the monarch herself appreciating in particular their discretion. These services encompassed the provision of chocolate for her mother’s breakfast, a courier service, which she recommended to her uncle Leopold, King of the Belgians, as “perfectly safe and very quick”, loans to her husband Albert, for the construction of Balmoral Castle, and a watchful eye over the finances of her son, the future Edward VII.

Cecil Rhodes, (1853-1902), South African businessman and politician

Rhodes visited London in July 1887 and secured the backing of Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild for De Beers in its bid for the French Diamond Company. Support for Rhodes had been encouraged by Randolph Churchill who had been acting as consultant to Rothschilds, assessing the prospects of gold and diamond mining in South Africa. Lord Rothschild later disagreed with Rhodes and his policies, although he was an executor of Rhodes's will and was instrumental in creating the Rhodes Scholarships from the estate.  

Giacomo Rossini (1798-1868), composer

The great composer, Rossini, was a friend of Baron James de Rothschild (1792-1868) whom he accompanied to Frankfurt to attend the marriage of Lionel and Charlotte de Rothschild in 1836.

Johann Strauss senior, (1804-1849), composer  

The financial arrangements for the 1838 tour of England of Johann Strauss senior were taken care of by Lionel de Rothschild.

Dukes of Wellington

The Rothschild brothers rose to prominence in European finance thanks in large part to their skill in providing funds to the Duke of Wellington on campaign against Napoleon, culminating in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The links between the families continued, not least because Nathan’s son, Lionel de Rothschild, acquired as a London home the neighbouring property to the Duke’s Apsley House, Piccadilly.

Prince William IX Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel

Prince William IX Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel

Halton House where Alfred de Rothschild entertained private clients of the London bank

Halton House where Alfred de Rothschild entertained private clients of the London bank