Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history: plans of New Court

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

The Natural World

Rothschilds and horticulture, zoology, botany, agriculture, ecology and conservation.

Horticulture and Rothschild gardens

The passion for gardens took hold on the Rothschild family, proving a more enduring interest than banking for many. Rothschild gardens in England and continental Europe mixed formal design with exuberant planting of trees and flowers, in a style characteristic of the late Victorian/Edwardian era. A love of exotic plants necessitated the building of huge heated greenhouses, allowing skilled Rothschild horticulturalists to create new hybrids, many named after the family. The creation and maintenance of an exquisite garden was part of the portfolio of interests that enabled the Rothschilds to take their place as country squires. It was expected of them as responsible estate managers, and was another way in which they could display their wealth, fashionable taste and attention to detail; a finely planned garden could be used to entertain both friends and business contacts, and a good kitchen garden ensured a generous table.

One of the finest Rothschild gardens created was at the Exbury estate of Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942). For more information see Exbury Gardens. Visit our online exhibition Rothschild Gardens to discover more about the Rothschilds and their horticultural creations. For a detailed account of the history of selected Rothschild gardens and estates, see Rothschild Gardens by Miriam Rothschild, Kate Garton and Lionel de Rothschild (London: Gaia Books, 1996).

Natural History

Among the Rothschild family, an interest in the natural world has perhaps been most clearly manifested among the descendants of Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915). The collection of taxonomic specimens of his elder son, Lionel Walter (1868-1937) was the largest ever assembled by one individual. It formed the raw material for the publication of over 800 scientific papers and the description of several hundred previously unknown species, many described in his own periodical 'Novitates Zoologicae', published for 45 years. Walter's Zoological Museum at Tring (now the Natural History Museum, Tring) survives as a legacy of this remarkable collection.

Walter's younger brother, Charles (1877-1923) was a keen entomologist and lepidopterist. Among his achievements was the publication of a paper identifying the flea responsible for the spread of plague. This interest in parasites was passed on to his daughter, the late Dame Miriam Rothschild (1908-2005), who catalogued her father's collection of 10,000 fleas, given to the Natural History Museum in 1913, and became a leading authority in the field of bird parasites. Her work with Theresa Clay, 'Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos', published in 1952, became a seminal text. Among her discoveries was the mechanism by which fleas jump. Miriam's brother, Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990) became a specialist in the scientific study of fertilization in plants and animals. In France, Maurice Edmond Charles de Rothschild (1881-1957) organised a zoological expedition to Africa 1910-1911 and wrote scientific papers.

List of Rothschild fauna: 'Rothschildi' »

List of Rothschild flora: species and cultivars »

Agriculture 

The gradual acquisition of country estates by members of the Rothschild family led many of them to take an interest and a pride in agriculture. At Tring Park, Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915) bred prize-winning Shire horses, Dairy Shorthorn and Jersey cattle, Hampshire Down sheep and poultry. Tring was among the first estates in Britain to keep detailed milk-yield records as a guide to the improvement of the herd. A few miles away, Alice de Rothschild (1847-1922) at Waddesdon, equally enthusiastic on stock-breeding, was a regular prize-winner at agricultural shows. In France, Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) was orchestrating a major agricultural experiment in his support for the pioneering Jewish colonies in Palestine. 

Wine

The Rothschild name has been associated with the world's greatest wines for almost a century and a half. The spirit of innovation that characterises the family's financial enterprises is evident equally in their winemaking; with the grands crus of Château Mouton Rothschild and Château Lafite, Rothschild wines can be said truly to embody all that is wonderful about the fruit of the vine. Read more about the Rothschild family's wine businesses here »

Ecology and Conservation

When Albert von Rothschild (1844-1911) bought the Langau estate in western Austria in 1880 he was shocked by the damage done to the landscape by timber felling to meet the demands of Viennese builders. He set about reversing the situation, embarking on massive replanting and encouraging the return of the native plants and wildlife, setting a pattern which others were later to emulate. Today the Albert Rothschild-Bergwaldreservat Dürrenstein, set aside as a wilderness conservation area, is a tribute to his ecological foresight.

In England, the fascination of Charles Rothschild (1877-1923) with the natural world led him into a pioneering concern for the protection of the environment which bore fruit in his foundation in 1912 of the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves. Ahead of its time, the Society campaigned for the identification of areas of significant natural habitat, to which Charles contributed a survey of nearly 300 areas in Great Britain. The Society's work continues today as The Wildlife Trusts. Charles' daughter the late Dame Miriam Rothschild (1908-2005) continued his work, and the redevelopment of a natural habitat became her crusade in the 1970s. As a wildflower and grass gardener she grew over 120 native wild species at her home in the English Midlands, and encouraged many others to follow her lead. 

David de Rothschild (b.1978), the youngest son of Sir Evelyn de Rothschild is an adventurer, ecologist, and environmentalist. He founded Voice for Nature to create a positive impact for nature.

Walter's museum at Tring in the 1920s.

Walter's museum at Tring in the 1920s.

African butterflies described by Walter in Novitates Zoologicae in the 1890s.

African butterflies described by Walter in Novitates Zoologicae in the 1890s.