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

The Rothschild Coat of Arms

There are different versions of the Rothschild coat of arms, and it has appeared in various forms over the years. Described below are the origins of the coat of arms, and an explanation of some of the symbols depicted.

Patent for the first Rothschild coat of arms, 1817

The title of nobility granted to the Rothschilds by Austria permitted the use of the 'von' in the name and stems from an Order in Council of Francis I of 21 October 1816.  The design submitted by the brothers for their Arms was accompanied by a letter of explanation in Salomon's hand. The proposed design included:

First quarter, an eagle sable surcharged in dexter by a field gules (referring to the Imperial and Royal Austrian Coat of Arms); Second quarter, gules, a leopard passant proper (referring to the English Coat of Arms); Third quarter, a lion rampant (referring to the Hessian Electoral Coat of Arms); Fourth quarter, azure, an arm bearing five arrows (a symbol of the unity of the five brothers). In the centre of the coat a shield gules. Right hand supporter, a greyhound, a symbol of loyalty; left supporter, a stork, a symbol of piety and content. Crest: a coronet surmounted by the lion of Hesse.  

The Rothschilds asked for separate patents of nobility for each of the four brothers as they lived in different countries. The separate patents were granted, but the design was considered too grand.  The response to the application had a 'suitable' design attached to it, without the coronet, heraldic animals supporting the shield, or the lion and leopard.  Also, the arm grasped just four arrows.  A letter in the Archive from Amschel to Salomon and Nathan in November 1816 reads, ".....James and Carl received the nobility.  It is a pity that Nathan did not want it."  

English grant of arms, 1818

The grant to Nathan and his heirs, and also to his brothers and their heirs, refers to Nathan's brothers as 'de' Rothschild. It was accompanied by the following armorial design:

Azure, a lion passant guardant erminois grasping five arrows the pheons downwards, or, and for the crest on a wreath of the colours, out of a crown vallery gules a demi lion erminois holding between the paws five arrows as in the arms.

Austrian Barony granted by Imperial Decree, 1822

The design for the arms was modified at this stage: the seven-pointed coronet was restored, the lion was granted, there were five arrows, the lion and unicorn as supporters, three helmets and a latin motto. The lion was an important concession as far as the brothers were concerned, and they felt that its inclusion in the English Arms was a triumph which helped in the negotiations with the Austrian Heralds.  The Barony was granted to the five brothers and their heirs and descendants of both sexes. The description of the Arms is as follows:

Arms: A pointed gold and blue quartered shield with a red central shield, in the middle of which is a right-facing shield; above right on a golden shield is a simple black eagle with open jaws, red outstretched tongue, wings spread, taken from the Arms; above left and below right in the two blue fields comes out of each edge of the shield a bare arm, the hands of which hold five white-feathered arrows with the points downwards; below left on a golden field is an upright natural Lion with open jaws, red outstretched tongue.

Crest: The shield is surmounted by a baronial crown, wound round with small pearls and decorated with five large pearls, topped with three crowns which are surrounded with, on the right, black and gold and on the left blue and silver covering, on top of noble "tournament-style" helmets; from the crown positioned above the visor of the helmet in the centre stands the eagle as described above, the helmets on the right and left are turned towards one another, from the crown on the right helmet floats a golden star between two alternately coloured gold and black buffalo horns, from the crown on the left helmet come three ostrich feathers, viz. two blue and one silver.

Supporters: In the foreground as supporters are, right, an upright golden lion with open jaws, red outstretched tongue, and holding the shield with the forepaws; left a silver unicorn, likewise supporting the arms with front feet.

Motto: Beneath the shield are written on a flowing red and white band the Latin words: 'Concordia, Integritas, Industria' (Harmony, Integrity, Diligence).

Detail of five arrows from a Rothschild family coat of arms

Detail of five arrows from a Rothschild family coat of arms

The Rothschild family arms

The Rothschild family arms