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Marie-Louise Eugénie de Rothschild (née Beer) (1892-1975)

Marie-Louise Eugénie Beer, Mrs Lionel de Rothschild (1892-1975) was descended from a family of Berlin financiers. Her grandmother, Régine Bischoffsheim (1825-1893) of the German-Belgian Jewish banking family married the financier Julius Alfred Beer (1828-1913). Julius Beer's uncle was the composer Jacob Liebmann Beer (known as Giacomo Meyerbeer) (1791-1864), one of most frequently performed opera composers during the nineteenth century. Régine and Julius had three children: Amélie Wilhelmine Liliane (1850-1924), Guillaume Louis (1854-1913) and Edmond Raphaël (1857-1912). Edmond Raphaël married Alice Kohn (1861-1957). They had three children, Michel (1885-1957), and two daughters who both married into the Rothschild family. Gabrielle Régine (Nelly) Beer (1886-1945) married Robert de Rothschild (1880-1946) in 1907, and her sister Marie-Louise Eugénie Beer married Lionel Nathan de Rothschild in 1912, after a courtship in which he pursued her across Europe in a range of automobiles.

Marriage to Lionel de Rothschild

After Lionel had purchased Exbury in 1919, she spent so many happy hours in the garden he created by her husband. Though she claimed no horticultural expertise, she had an instinctive feeling for nature, and after Lionel's early death in 1942 her love for the natural world deepened into a determination to carry on his work as a lasting memorial to his great achievements in horticulture. She had the rare distinction of being a mother who was always in demand by her two sons and two daughters. She had her own establishment at Exbury, but her company was always sought at the homes of her children, Rosemary, Edmund, Naomi and Leopold. To them a party of any sort was in-complete without the presence of ‘Ma’, and their friends all adored ‘Mariloo’; indeed her son Leopold named one of the engines of his Exbury Steam Railway after her pet name.

She was famous for her recollections of the innumerable and fascinating stories of the gardening weekends at Exbury in the years between the wars, when not only great gardeners were invited, but also leading men and women of the time. In her later years, she was quite content to walk the gardens quietly and learn more and more about her beloved rhododendrons. Her experience and knowledge were put to use by the Royal Horticultural Society when they invited her to sit on the Rhododendron Committee, which gave her immense pleasure. Marie-Louise died on 17 May 1975 at the age of 83. On a beautiful spring day she was buried, at her expressed wish, in her beloved village of Exbury.

See also Lionel Nathan de Rothschild »