The English Rothschilds
Among the Rothschild family, an interest in the natural world has perhaps been most clearly manifested among the descendants of Natty, 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 administered by the Natural History Museum) 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. Between 1938 and 1956, he published extensively on the subject, culminating in his book, 'Fertilization' (1956).
The French Rothschilds
Maurice Edmond Charles de Rothschild (1881-1957) was the second son of Edmond de Rothschild and was born at Boulogne-sur-Seine on 19 May 1881. He followed his father into membership of the Academy of Fine Arts, in recognition of his collecting tastes which he had honed during a short spell as a picture dealer. Together with Henri Neuville, Maurice organised a zoological expedition to Africa 1910-1911 and wrote scientific papers.