Rothschild, Alfred de (1842 -1918)

Alfred Charles de Rothschild was the second son of Lionel de Rothschild and Baroness Charlotte von Rothschild of the prominent Rothschild family. Alfred attended King's College School, London, and subsequently Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied mathematics for two terms. Here he formed a lasting friendship with the Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII).  He left Cambridge without taking a degree.

At the age of 21, Alfred became a partner at N M Rothschild & Sons at New Court, where he learnt the business of banking from his father and made valuable contacts in European banking circles. In 1868, at the age of 26, Alfred became a director of the Bank of England, the first Jew to be appointed, and after his departure from this position, no other Jew was on the directorate for more than fifty years. His departure from the Bank of England in 1889 was over the purchase of a painting for which he had paid too much money.

Before the First World War he was Consul-General for Austria in London.  Through his diplomatic efforts he endeavoured so much to prevent the First World War.

Upon the death of his father in 1879, Alfred inherited a large estate at Halton in Buckinghamshire. As the Halton estate did not possess a house, Alfred set about building one in the style of a French chateau. Work started around 1880, and was finished in July 1883. Alfred remained at his town house, 1 Seamore Place in London, and only ever used Halton House for social purposes. Both houses formed magnificent backdrops to his exquisite art collections. He was a lavish host, and guests might be entertained by his personal orchestra or circus, of which Alfred was conductor and ringmaster respectively.

In the First World War, Alfred offered the parklands of his estate at Halton to the Army. The excellent communication links at Halton made it an ideal place for billeting large numbers of men.

In 1889, Alfred was appointed as the inaugural High Sheriff of the County of London. He was also a trustee of the National Gallery, and was a founder trustee of the Wallace Collection. He rescued the Gaiety Theatre when it ran into financial difficulties, and managed it successfully in its great years. He was made CVO in 1902, awarded the Legion of Honour by the government of France, and the 1st Class Order of the Crown by the Kingdom of Prussia, and made Grand Cross of the Order of Franz Joseph of Austria-Hungary.

He had an illegitimate daughter Almina from a relationship with Mrs. Marie Boyer Wombwell. In 1895 Almina married George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and became Lady Carnarvon. Alfred provided her with a £500,000 dowry that allowed her husband to maintain the family estate at Highclere Castle.

Alfred died after a short illness on 31 January 1918, aged 75. He was interred in the Willesden Jewish Cemetery in North London.

Seat / Residence(s): Halton House
Stamp(s) Stamp Information
Rothschild, Alfred de (1842 - 1918) (Stamp 1) Title: Rothschild, Alfred de (1842 - 1918) (Stamp 1)
Dimensions (height x width): 42mm x 40mm
Monogram: A de R