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Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836)

Nathan Mayer Rothschild was born in Frankfurt at the house of the Hinterpfann on 16 September 1777. In the intervening 59 years, Nathan Mayer Rothschild - the name he never changed in spite of honours offered and declined - led his brothers to the pinnacle of the financial world.

Nathan almost burst out of Frankfurt, the first of his brothers to found a branch of the family firm, to settle in England in 1798, initially as a textile merchant in Manchester and subsequently as a London bill broker nonpareil. His marriage in 1806 to Hannah, daughter of Levi Barent Cohen, gave him a position in society and a range of business contacts which might have taken him years to achieve alone. Building on this foundation and wedding it to the Rothschild network, Nathan was credited by his brothers with securing for them the best opportunities to achieve their position in the world of finance.

Nathan was a popular 'Manchester man', an indulgent father, a respectful husband, an admired (if occasionally feared) brother. He was a larger than life figure on the London exchanges, giving himself totally to his business, permitting no half measures. His brusqueness and off-handedness were legendary, and his tactics were examined and re-examined time and time again. No one knew quite how he became so supreme in his world, but all recognised the fact.

Nathan's London House, N M Rothschild, dealt in bullion and foreign exchange, and his remarkable successes in these fields earned him the contract from the British Government to supply Wellington's troops with gold coin in 1814 and 1815, leading up to the Battle of Waterloo. He issued 26 British and foreign government loans between 1818 and 1835 and in 1824 floated the Alliance Assurance Company.

Moving to New Court, St Swithin's Lane in London in 1809, Nathan initially raised his family there too, but by 1816 had found a villa at Stamford Hill to provide more space and better air. In 1825, the family's town home was established at 107, Piccadilly and in 1835, Nathan took on Gunnersbury Park in west London. In June 1836 Nathan travelled to Frankfurt for the wedding of his son Lionel to his niece Charlotte. Nathan died in Frankfurt on 28 July 1836.

Nathan and Hannah Rothschild

Nathan married Hannah Cohen, daughter of Levi Barent Cohen, in 1806, eight years after his arrival in this country. Cohen had faith in his new son-in-law's. Hannah was one of Nathan's closest associates, being consulted on business matters as well as taking care of the household and family. Nathan wanted his family to have all the benefits of English society, and Hannah, who enjoyed the same upbringing - lessons in music, art, literature, Hebrew and French - saw to it that her children were educated privately and the girls in particular studied music and art. In marrying Hannah, Nathan achieved a certain social standing in an instant, and she was not one to be held back from forging links with the great and the good to the benefit of their social standing and the business. In his will, Nathan ordered his children to follow their mother's advice, and to consult her before they took any decision of moment.  When he died, Hannah spoke of the loss of her best friend.