Return to the Forum homepage


Nathaniel Mayer (Natty) de Rothschild (1840-1915)

Nathaniel Mayer ('Natty') de Rothschild, 1st Lord Rothschild was the eldest son of Lionel and Charlotte de Rothschild and was born in London on 8 November 1840. He was a shy and reserved child, possessing few of the social skills of his siblings. Natty progressed to Cambridge after an education with private tutors, but he did not sit his final examinations. The time was not spent in vain: he joined the circle of friends of the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII.

He made a love match with his cousin, Emma Louise, whom he married in her home city of Frankfurt on 17 April 1867. The couple were both concerned with welfare issues for their employees at Tring, and in the wider world. Natty held honorary positions in virtually every institution of Anglo-Jewry. He showed a particular interest in housing in the East End of London, through the 4% Industrial Dwellings Company.

Natty took over the senior partnership of the London House from his father who died in 1879. Under Natty, the bank made 70 loans, and was instrumental in establishing the Exploration Company to exploit new mining opportunities in the New World.

Like his father, Natty was an MP, gaining Aylesbury for the Liberals in 1865. A baronet in succession to his uncle Anthony from 1876, Natty became the first Jewish peer in 1885, retaining his own name in his new title - Lord Rothschild of Tring.

The elder statesman of the City of London was seen as cautious and forbidding, but in the presence of children, especially his own grandchildren, his face lit up and he was at once playful and carefree. Natty died in London on 31 March 1915.

The 70th Birthday Testimonials presented to Natty

The first Lord Rothschild took his responsibilities and duties as head of the family and as lay head of Anglo-Jewry seriously. Throughout his life, he and his wife Emma, Lady Rothschild (1844-1937) made donations and endowments (totalling many millions of pounds in today's money) to a staggering range of charities, organsisations, societies and groups encompassing health, education, social welfare, and leisure activities, both Jewish and non-Jewish alike.

On the occasion of Lord Rothschild's 70th birthday, on 8 November 1910, he received many testimonials and votes of thanks from the committees, trustees and boards of organisations that enjoyed his patronage and support, including:

The London Committee of the Deputies of British Jews
The Jews' Free School
The Board of Jewish Guardians
The Jewish Association for the Protection of Women and Girls
Tring Estate staff
The Tenantry of the Bucks Estate
The Council of the United Synagogue
The Great Synagogue
The inhabitants of Tring

Browse the Testimonials Gallery to view these miniature works of art. (Please note that reproduction of these images is forbidden without the express written permission of The Rothschild Archive London)