Welcome toThe Rothschild Archive'swebsite

Sources for business history

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

Jewish causes

Brought up in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt, Nathan Mayer Rothschild and his brothers were imbued with a strong sense of the tradition of Zedaka, which places expectations on members of the community to work for social justice by offering material support for those in need. As the family's wealth and influence grew, so did their commitment to this principle, along with their ability to apply it in more ambitious ways.

See our online exhibtion Faith & Charity here »

Amschel Mayer von Rothschild Foundation for Poor Jews, Frankfurt

The Amschel Mayer von Rothschild Foundation for the Jewish Poor in Frankfurt was set up in 1857 under the terms of the will of Amschel Mayer (1773-1855) with an initial capital of 1,200,000 gulden. The interest on the capital was disbursed weekly amongst the Jewish poor, with differing amounts being granted to groups depending on their circumstances. Provision was also made for any remaining sums of the interest to supply fuel in the winter months. By 1885 the Foundation was administered from 145-149 Judengasse, and then in the restored Rothschild family home at 147-148. In 1940, the assets of the Foundation were seized by the State.

Georgine Sara von Rothschild Foundation, Frankfurt

Georgine Sara von Rothschild (1851-1869) was the daughter of Willy Carl (1828-1901), head of the Frankfurt house. She died at a young age, and the foundation named after her was established by her parents who contributed 30,000 gulden yearly to sustain it. The Institution for Sick Foreign Jews was further endowed by Willy Carl: in his will he left a sum of two million marks to enable the institution to continue its work. The hospital created by the original endowment stood on the Unterweg, and by 1878 had moved to 97 Roderbergweg, where it was described as, 'a splendid building in a.simple, noble style'. The Rothschilds' childrens' hospital also stood on Roderbergweg. In spite of Aryanisation during the Second World War, the foundation was reconstituted in 1976, pursuing its original aims. In 1931, Georgine's sister, Adelheid (1853-1935), made a donation to enable further development of the hospital, which was described as of modem appearance, providing 50 beds and a range of specialist departments.

The Jewish Board of Guardians (now Jewish Care)

The Jewish Board of Guardians developed out of the Conjoint Board of the three City Synagogues, the Great, Hambro' and New Synagogues. Its formation established a permanent working arrangement between them. The Rothschilds' commitment to the Board goes back to these early days, since it was very much as a result of the continued efforts of Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) that the Conjoint Board was set up in 1834. In 1857 there was a move to expand the existing Conjoint Board to give them an independent staff to deal with the foreign poor. The Hambro' and New Synagogues objected to this proposal, but in 1858 a conference of six representatives from the Synagogues was held, at which Sir Anthony de Rothschild (1810-1876) represented the Great Synagogue, to discuss the appointment of a Conjoint Board of Guardians to relieve the strange and foreign poor. The resolution was approved at the conference and 18 months later operations of the Board of Guardians began. Among the first donations to the Board of Guardians were £50 from Baroness Mayer de Rothschild (1820-1894), £15 from Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879), then Head of the Bank and £100 from N M Rothschild & Sons which was the highest contribution along with David Benjamin's. Ferdinand de Rothschild was Treasurer of the Board from 1868 to 1874. Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915), was a member of the Sanitary and Legislative Committees of the Board of Guardians, as well as its Treasurer from 1874 to 1879. Leopold de Rothschild (1845-1917) was Treasurer, 1879-1917. Lionel de Rothschild was Treasurer, 1917-1941. Both the late Mr Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009) and the late Mr Leopold de Rothschild (1927-2012) served on the Board and its committees.

There were various ancillary health services connected with the Jewish Board of Guardians.  It made use of the home for Jewish convalescents founded by Louisa, Sir Anthony's wife, while food for invalids was supplied by Baroness Charlotte's Invalids’ Kitchen.  Baroness Charlotte also enabled the Rev. A L Green to present to the Board 10 sewing-machines for the girls' workroom for dressmaking in 1861. From 1867 she further provided an annual subsidy of £100 (later £200) to the Board. In the 1960s the Board of Guardians was renamed the Jewish Welfare Board, and subsequently became Jewish Care.

Jewish Ladies' Benevolent Loan and Visiting Society, London

The Jewish Ladies' Benevolent Loan and Visiting Society was founded in 1844 and was always based in London's East End. The Society was created to encourage the visits of Jewish ladies to poor members of their community to advocate prudence and economy and, where appropriate, to advance interest-free loans which were paid back in weekly instalments. These loans enabled many people to purchase equipment, such as sewing machines, in order to establish themselves in a trade and make their own living. The structure of the Society developed to include a relief fund and a savings bank. In 1890, 51 individuals were beneficiaries of the Society's work. It had much support from Rothschild ladies; Louise, Lady Anthony de Rothschild (1821-1910) served as president.

Jewish Orphanage, Frankfurt

In 1876 Baron Wilhelm Carl (1828-1901) and his wife Hannah Mathilde (1823-1924) established a Jewish Orphanage in Frankfurt to be run on strictly Orthodox lines. Their daughter, Adelheid (1853-1935), and her husband Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) later made provision for a new building on the Roderbergweg. The children of the orphanage, like those attending the Philanthropin school in the city, found support from the family in 1938, when their evacuation to Haifa was arranged through the English Rothschilds.

Jewish refugees in the Second World War

It was Yvonne de Rothschild (1899-1977), wife of Anthony de Rothschild (1887-1961), Senior Partner of the London firm of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, who first began to realize the implications of the European situation in the early 1930s. By the autumn of 1933, Yvonne had become president of a society 'to aid German Jewish women children'. She organized a fund-raising women's lunch at the Savoy Hotel on 10th December at which Lady Violet Bonham Carter was the main speaker. This was only the beginning, a few months later Yvonne persuaded the distributors of The House of Rothschild, a contemporary cinema picture starring George Arliss, to give the proceeds of the first night to her society. She collected all the great names of English Jewry and scored a financial triumph. A year later, she repeated the success with an Eddie Cantor first night. Through Yvonne, Anthony supported these efforts, co-ordinating activity for the Central British Fund for Jewish Relief & Rehabilitation and other efforts through the bank’s office at New Court, in the City.

The Central British Fund for Jewish Relief and Rehabilitation was formed under the name of the Central British Fund for German Jewry in 1933 for the purpose of assisting the Jews in Germany after the advent of Adolf Hitler. In October 1934. it was incorporated under the Company's Act 1929, as a Company limited by guarantee having no share capital. It was governed by a Council which consisted of well-known members of the Jewish community
in Great Britain who by virtue of their contacts with other Jewish organisations co-ordinated the work of all the Jewish bodies which have been interested in assisting the Jewish victims of racial and religious persecution. The scope of the activities of the Central British Fund for German Jewry was expanded in 1938 to include the Jews of Austria, and after the outbreak of the war to include those Jews from other Eastern and Central European countries who came under Nazi domination. The name of the Fund was changed in 1944 to the Central British Fund for Jewish Relief and Rehabilitation.

In the late 1930s, Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990) received thousands of letters begging for help. He took an active interest in the Central British Fund for German Jewry, and in 1938 wrote a letter to The Times, calling the attention of the British public to what was happening in Germany. Later that year he led the establishment of Lord Baldwin's Fund for German Refugees and in May 1939, put to auction at Christie's his most valuable picture - The Braddyll Family by Joshua Reynolds - and donated the proceeds to the Baldwin Fund. Other family members supported activities to alleviate the plight nof jewish refugees. James de Rothschild (1878-1957) arranged for an entire orphanage to be transported from Frankfurt and accommodated at his estate at Waddesdon.

Jewish Religious Society, Frankfurt

In an attempt to preserve orthodoxy amongst the Jewish community in Frankfurt, the Jewish Religious Society (Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft) was established in September 1850, with founder members from among some of the most prominent and wealthiest families of the city. Wilhelm Carl von Rothschild (1828-1901) provided significant financial support, so much so that by 1853, the Society had already built a school and a synagogue, the cornerstones of community life. The Society administered a number of Rothschild charities and Wilhelm Carl left substantial funds so that its aims could be continued. Some of the funds were to be used to support Talmud scholars and needy widows in Palestine.

Jewish Womens' Home in Bad Nauheim, Frankfurt

The Jewish Women's Home in Bad Nauheim, just outside Frankfurt, was one of six institutions naming Mathilde von Rothschild as its founder. She established the home, with 50 beds, in 1905 on Frankfurter Strasse, Bad Nauheim, to enable Jewish women and girls to take a cure for heart diseases and rheumatism. A small charge was made, but the majority of the costs were borne by the foundation.

Mathilde von Rothschild Foundation for the Poor, Frankfurt

In 1914, Mathilde von Rothschild (1852-1924) established a foundation to provide for poor members of the Jewish community residing in Frankfurt who could no longer provide for themselves. The foundation was established with 250,000 marks to provide a place of residence, medical requirements, the means for the individual to establish a living, or provide a dowry. The foundation was Aryanised in 1940.

Norwood (Jewish Charity), London

The Jews' Hospital and Orphans Asylum was founded in 1807, one of the oldest charitable institutions of the Jews in England. The initial appeal for funds for a Jewish Hospital had been made by the brothers Benjamin and Abraham Goldsmid in 1795.  The first hospital was opened in Mile End Road, London. In 1876, it merged with the Jews' Hospital Asylum, founded in 1831, to form the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum. The foundation stone to the Norwood site was laid by Sir Anthony de Rothschild (1810-1876) on 6 June 1861, in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people. Sir Anthony served as President, and strong support for the organisation came from Charlotte, Baroness Lionel (1819-1884) and, later, her son Leopold (1845-1917). Having served on the committee of Norwood for several years, Anthony Gustav de Rothschild (1887-1961) became President in 1918, remaining in post for 43 years. His son, Evelyn de Rothschild (b.1931) became Norwood's Chairman in 1995.

Philanthropin (Jewish School), Frankfurt

In the wake of an Edict of Toleration issued in 1782 by Emperor Joseph II, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) attempted to set up a Jewish school, the Philanthropin, in 1792. There was conservative opposition to this initially, but the school was finally established. Anselm von Rothschild (1803-1874), a grandson of Mayer Amschel was educated there. In November 1938, the Philanthropin became a target of the Nazi administration. Some of the boys who attended the school as day boys lived in the Flersheim Sichel-Stiftung, an orphanage run by Hugo and Lilly Steinhardt. Hugo was sent to Buchenwald after Kristallnacht and his release was dependant on another country taking him and the boys. A letter in 1939 to 'Lord Rothschild, London', found its way to James de Rothschild (1878-1957) who sent an agent to Germany to conduct negotiations. Thirty boys, plus the Steinhardts, made their way to James' estate at Waddesdon, where they took up residence in an estate house called the Cedars, from where they took their collective name, 'The Cedar Boys'.

Rest Home for Poor Jews at the Bad Soden Spa, Frankfurt

In 1885, Mathilde von Rothschild (1832-1924) organised the provision of 37 beds in a rest home in Bad Soden, just outside Frankfurt, to enable poor members of the Jewish community to take the waters there. This so-called 'Kuranstalt' was one of six to pay tribute to Mathilde von Rothschild on her death. The house taken over by the foundation was known as the Philosophenruhe on Dachbergstrasse in Bad Soden. In 1912, almost three hundred patients were able to spend between four and six weeks taking the cure. Along with other Jewish institutions, the 'Kuranstalt' was destroyed by the Nazis in 1938.

Royal Commission on Alien Immigration, London

In 1902, the British Government appointed a Royal Commission on Alien Immigration to look into the problems associated with unrestricted immigration. London had seen a dramatic rise in population following the pogroms in Russia and elsewhere. Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915), was appointed to the Commission. Over 23,000 questions and answers were recorded by the Commission, which finally found that no case had been established for the total exclusion of alien immigrants. Lord Rothschild put forward positive and outspoken resistance to proposals against restriction in a supplement to the main report of the Commission.

United Synagogue, London

In 1870, Sir Anthony de Rothschild (1810-1876) became the first President of the United Synagogue, formed from the Great, the Hambro and the New synagogues, a position he held until his death. The movement towards the creation of the United Synagogue can be traced back to 1834, when, on the initiative of Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836), the Great, Hambro and New synagogues agreed to a treaty, whereby the responsibilities for the support of the growing Jewish population could be shared between them. These synagogues became known as 'Conjoint Synagogues'.  Nathan served as warden of the Great Synagogue in 1818 along with his brother-in-law Solomon Cohen. After Anthony de Rothschild, the presidency of the United Synagogue was then held by successive generations of the family: Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915) - President 1876-1915; Leopold de Rothschild (1845-1917) - President 1915-1917; and Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) - President 1917-1942.

Wilhelm and Mathilde von Rothschild Old People's Home for Jewish Gentlewomen, Frankfurt

The daughters of Wilhelm Carl von Rothschild (1828-1901), Adelheid (1853-1935) and Minka (1857-1903), together with their mother Mathilde (1832-1924), established an Old People's Home for Jewish Gentlewomen in memory of their father in 1903. The home, with 25 places, was situated on the Zeil, the fashionable Frankfurt street on which the family themselves owned property. To be eligible, the applicant had to have a spotless character. The building on Frankfurt's Zeil was provided out of the foundation's capital, and a sum for running costs was also included, and later enhanced by a donation from Adelheid in 1929. This enabled a further property to be acquired on Liebigstrasse. The assets of the foundation were seized in 1940.

Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) was the youngest son of James and Betty de Rothschild. He bore the Hebrew name Benjamin. He was born in Paris on 19 August 1845. Edmond joined the Paris Banking House in 1868 becoming a director of the Est railway company and other family concerns (making journeys to Bukhara to examine the potential of the oilfields of the area), and devoting himself to art, culture and philanthropic interests.  In 1877, he married Adelheid (1853-1935), the daughter of Wilhelm Carl Rothschild (1828-1901).

Jewish colonies in Palestine

In the late 19th century Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) supported land purchases in Palestine and Israel. His large donations lent significant support to the movement during its early years, which helped lead to the establishment of the State of Israel. In the 1880s Edmond’s philanthropy funded Jewish settlements. Rishon le Zion was followed by others bearing the names of his parents. Edmond stimulated the economic development of the settlements by investing in new crops, such as grapefruit and avocado, and industrial enterprises such as silk production. Two major wineries were opened in Rishon le Zion and Zikhron Ya'akov. Edmond paid his first visit to the colonies in 1887, to inspect the progress that had been made in the first five years. In 1899, responsibility for the Rothschild settlements was transferred to form the Palestine branch of the Jewish Colonisation Association, which had been founded in 1891 and thereafter the JCA began to also assist the Jewish settlement in Palestine. In 1924, the JCA branch dealing with colonies in Palestine was reorganised to become the Palestine Jewish Colonisation Association (PICA), under the direction of Edmond's son, James de Rothschild (1878-1957). When Edmond died in Paris in 1934, he left a legacy which included the reclamation of nearly 500,000 dunams of land and almost 30 settlements. In 1954, his remains and those of his wife Adelheid were interred at Ramat Hanadiv in Zikhron Ya'akov. In his will of 1957, James de Rothschild instructed that PICA should transfer most of its land in Israel to the Jewish National Fund. 

Page from a seventieth birthday address to Wilhelm Carl von Rothschild from the Israelitische Religiongesellschaft in Frankfurt in 1898.

Page from a seventieth birthday address to Wilhelm Carl von Rothschild from the Israelitische Religiongesellschaft in Frankfurt in 1898.

Synagogue key presented to Lionel de Rothschild Esq on the occasion of his opening of the Brondesbury Synagogue on 9th April 1905.

Synagogue key presented to Lionel de Rothschild Esq on the occasion of his opening of the Brondesbury Synagogue on 9th April 1905.