All About History
The House of Rothschild
The extended Rothschild family counts many fascinating figures among its members
Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) Perhaps the world’s richest man in his day, Nathan established the British branch of the family bank and helped fund Britain’s successful war effort to defeat Napoleon. He also financially backed Britain’s efforts to end slavery. His business success established his family as the greatest of Europe’s investment bankers. Lord Walter Rothschild (1868-1937) Lacking the talent for finance, Walter Rothschild left the family business to go into zoology, often hooking zebras up to a carriage and driving them through London. He also helped create the Balfour Declaration, establishing support for Palestine as a Jewish homeland in 1917. Dame Miriam Rothschild (1908-2005) Inheriting a love of fleas from her entomologist father, Miriam became the world’s leading expert on them. She also worked as part of the Engima code-breaking team at Bletchley Park during World War II, campaigned to legalise homosexuality and better conditions for lab animals. Victor Rothschild (1910-90) Victor served in top financial positions and as a Labour peer, advising Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher’s governments. During World War II, MI5 recruited him as a spy. After his death, several former KGB agents accused him of being a Russian mole linked with Kim Philby’s Cambridge Five. Pannonica de Koenigswarter (1845-1917) Sister of Miriam, Pannonica was named after a species of moth discovered by their father. She fought for the Free French Army in 1935, before moving to New York City in the 1950s and befriended musicians including Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell and Charlie Parker, earning her the nickname ‘the Jazz Baroness’.