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Charlotte von Rothschild (1819-1884)

Charlotte von Rothschild, 'The never-to-be-forgotten Baroness', was the daughter of Carl von Rothschild of the Naples House and his wife, Adelheid Herz, who divided their time between Naples and Frankfurt, where Charlotte was born on 13 June 1819.

On 15 June 1836 she married her cousin, Lionel de Rothschild (1808-1879) in Frankfurt at a lavish family wedding. Only days after her marriage, her father-in-law, Nathan, died, and Charlotte's new husband found himself obliged to take over the heavy responsibilities of running the London business in the new firm N M Rothschild & Sons, which he formed with his three brothers.

Life in London

By June 1838, Lionel had moved with his wife Charlotte (1819-1884) and infant daughter Leonora (1837-1911) from their residence at 10 Hill Street to what was to become their permanent London home, 148 Piccadilly. It was here that the family circle was increased with the birth of Evelina (1839-1866), Nathaniel (1840-1915), Alfred (1842-1918) and Leopold (1845-1917). The couple also spent much time at their country estate, Gunnersbury Park.

For some years, Charlotte felt herself obliged to follow the will of others, not only her husband, but her mother-in-law too, although she was close to the members of her extended family who lived nearby in London. She was an intellectual woman, linguistically gifted, and passionately involved in issues of education, not only for her own children but for the wider community, and provided stalwart suppport to her husband in his lengthy campaign to become the first Jewish Member of Parliament; he took his seat as Liberal Member for the City of London in 1858, 11 years after he was first elected. 

Charlotte drew her friends from a wide social circle: Disraeli was devoted to her and the editor of The Times, John Delane, admired her political and intellectual skills. She was a key player in a number of philanthropic activities, not least of which was the Jews' Free School. Two of her published works, Prayers and Meditations, and Addresses to Young Children, stemmed from her active work at the School.

Charlotte died in London on 13 March 1884.

See also Lionel Nathan de Rothschild »