Alfred Charles de Rothschild (1842-1918)
Alfred Charles de Rothschild was the fourth of five children of Lionel and Charlotte de Rothschild and was born in London on 20 July 1842. He spent his childhood in the family homes at 148 Piccadilly and Gunnersbury. As a young man, Alfred attended King's College School, and subsequently Trinity College, Cambridge where he studied Mathematics for two terms. It was at Trinity College that Alfred formed a lasting friendship with the Prince of Wales, (later King Edward VII), mixing with the Prince of Wales's circle rather too much for his mother's liking. It was at Cambridge that Alfred took up acting. He left Cambridge without taking a degree.
Banker and diplomat
At the age of 21, Alfred became a partner at N M Rothschild & Sons at New Court. It was here that he learnt the business of banking from his father and made valuable contacts in European banking circles. Alfred's wide social circle formed a useful source of information, much appreciated by the Paris House in particular, and also supplied a long list of private clients, including many from the world of entertainment. The finances of Nellie Melba, Adelina Patti, Arthur Sullivan and Henry Irving all received a boost through the benign intervention of Alfred.
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 appointment, no other Jew was on the directorate for more than fifty years. His abrupt departure from the Bank of England in 1889 came about over a slightly unorthodox situation, when Alfred was accused of investigating the private account of an art dealer who he suspected of charging him a price 'out of all proportion to decency!' However, the matter was resolved with exchanges of apologies on both sides in 1894.
Alfred served as British delegate at an international conference on bimetallism in November 1892. Before the First World War he served as Consul-General for Austria in London, following in the footsteps of previous members of the Rothschild family who had served in this role. Alfred liked to move in diplomatic circles and was keen that his voice should be heard in policy discussions. He arranged numerous meetings to promote Anglo-German relations, and facilitated a series of informal meetings between ministers and contacts at the German Embassy with a view to Anglo-German rapprochement; The Times of 24 December 1919 made public a letter from Alfred to the German Emperor in Berlin in which he attempted to broker a deal to prevent war.
With his two brothers, Alfred was an active partner in the business at New Court, although both he and his younger brother Leopold were in the shadow of their older brother, Nathaniel (‘Natty’), 1st Lord Rothschild, Senior Partner. When Lord Rothschild died in 1915, Alfred took over as head of the business, although in poor health and no longer actively interested in the firm. Ably supported by his nephews, Lionel and Charles, Alfred struggled on at New Court through the First World War which he had tried so much to prevent through his diplomatic efforts. At his insistence, the gallery at New Court was packed with sandbags to protect the Bullion Room below from zeppelin attacks, and an air raid shelter was built in the corner of the Drawn Bond Department. The Royal Mint Refinery, owned and run by the Rothschilds since 1852, was converted to munitions production, and a special system designed to relay air raid warnings to New Court. Alfred, along with many other members of the family sent parcels of food and luxuries to troops at the front.
Halton House and 1 Seamore Place
Alfred was fastidious in dress, an aesthete and connoisseur, and expansive in his hospitality. He often wore a scarlet carnation of a particular hue, one for the morning and one for the evening, all the year round, and was known as ‘a very dapper little man.’ He travelled in style, with two valets and in his own private railway carriage, and at Halton he kept a garage of the latest and most expensive automobiles. He enjoyed life and living and he was much loved, although he could be autocratic and candid in his disapproval of anything that offended his artistic eye.
Upon the death of his father in 1879, Alfred inherited a 1,400-acre estate at Halton in Buckinghamshire. As Alfred lacked a country retreat and the Halton estate did not provide one, Alfred set about building a house in the style of a French chateau. Work started around 1880 and Halton House was finished in July 1883. Alfred also possessed an imposing town house in Mayfair, at 1, Seamore Place. The house had wonderful uninterrupted views of Hyde Park. Both Alfred’s houses formed magnificent backdrops to his exquisite art collections.
He was a lavish host; it was said there was no more popular a host in Mayfair than Alfred de Rothschild. Alfred received many visitors at Halton and Seamore Place. He did not confine his hospitality to his own class. Every day good food was sent from the kitchens, always the very best of his cook's efforts, to his many friends, and he sent many supplies to the poor and needy. One commentator said that Alfred kept at least “four chefs in his kitchen all ready to supply and carry out the newest and daintiest ideas.”
At Halton, Alfred kept a private zoo and circus. There were performing monkeys, ponies, dogs, gazelles and trained tumblers and acrobats, and his guests might be entertained by his personal orchestra, which Alfred liked to personally conduct, with a diamond-tipped baton. Alfred regularly entertained his many friends from the theatrical world, including Lily Langtry, Adelina Patti (who only ever appeared at Alfred’s house in a private capacity and at no other house in London), and many acting luminaries and impresarios. Dame Nellie Melba was a close personal friend and she spent some time at Halton in 1913 and before her triumphant season of 1914. Alfred also moved in royal circles, counting the Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Victoria as a personal friend. In 1884, the Prince paid Alfred the great honour of first visiting him at Halton House. He stayed two days, during which he shot on the bird-rich drives and was guest of honour. At a very grand dinner party, Alfred arranged for a Mr Charles Bertram, a ‘prestidigitator’ to amuse the Prince and the distinguished company.
Alfred was a benevolent landlord. Sir Algernon West recorded in his diary for 1895 that “in the cold bitterness of winter mornings he [Alfred] sent a cart round every morning with hot coffee and bread and butter to every labourer on his estate”. At New Court Alfred was no less generous; he and his brothers would give a gift of 6000 pheasants to the employees of the London Omnibus Company at Christmas time. It was an old custom before the motor bus going back to the 1870s, when the Rothschilds used to drive into the City from their family home at Gunnersbury in a drag or phaeton. The London omnibus drivers rejoicing in such a show of horseflesh, used to give them road, so that they rarely needed to break pace and in return the brothers sent them pheasants every Christmas. The busmen acknowledged the gift by attaching the Rothschild racing colours of dark blue and yellow to the whips.
When war broke out in 1914, Alfred offered the parklands of his glorious estate at Halton to the Army. The excellent communication links at Halton made it an ideal place for billeting large numbers of men, and within a few months, the 21st Yorkshire Division were billeted at Halton, the first of many units to pass through its gates. Despite his attempts to avert war, Alfred counted Lord Kitchener amongst his closest friends, and in his will left £25,000 to the Lord Kitchener National Memorial Fund.
Alfred was a close personal friend of Disraeli (later the Earl of Beaconsfield), who lived at Seamore Place towards the end of his life. Alfred was one of the organisers of Disraeli’s funeral through London and hence to High Wycombe in 1881. In 1889, Alfred was appointed as the inaugural High Sheriff of the County of London. Alfred was a generous benefactor to Art and Theatre. A lifelong patron of the arts, and a discerning collector, Alfred was a trustee of the National Gallery, (he also donated money to the National Art Gallery for acquisitions and advised on purchases) and he was a founder trustee of the Wallace Collection. He was a usual figure at First Nights at Drury Lane, The Lyceum and Covent Garden. He was also a director of the Royal General Theatrical Fund. On Wednesday 19 April 1893 Alfred entertained his relation Lord Battersea (who had married Alfred’s cousin Constance de Rothschild in 1877) in his box at the Haymarket Theatre for the “brilliant” first night of Oscar’s Wilde second London play, ‘A Woman of No Importance’”. Alfred took on the Gaiety Theatre when it ran into financial difficulties and under his patronage, the theatre thrived. He was made CVO in 1902, awarded the Légion d'Honneur 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. Alfred de Rothschild had an illegitimate child from a relationship with Mrs. Marie Boyer Wombwell. In 1895, aged 19, their daughter Almina married George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and became Lady Carnarvon, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Alfred provided Almina with a £500,000 dowry that allowed her husband to maintain the family estate, Highclere Castle.
Death and legacies
Alfred suffered from life-long hypochondria, which often manifested itself in seemingly eccentric behaviour. He had all the water he used in his London house brought up in special cars each day from his wells on his estate at Halton; this was perhaps a sensible option given the quality of London water at the time. At his lavish banquets he was known to eat just dry toast. In later life Alfred did not enjoy good health and he died after a short illness on 31 January 1918, aged 75. He was interred in the Willesden Jewish Cemetery in North London.
Upon Alfred’s death, Halton passed to his nephew, Lionel. It was subsequently sold to the War Office and was later occupied by the Royal Air Force; it remains in their possession today as RAF Halton. He left the Carnarvons (including Almina’s two children, Henry, Lord Porchester and Lady Evelyn Herbert), large bequests as well as gifting to Almina personally 1, Seamore Place, and its contents.
Very few of Alfred's private papers survive. It is assumed that much was destroyed by his executors upon his death. Correspondence with Sir William Harcourt can be found in the collections of the Bodleian Library, and correspondence with Lord Rosebery can be found in the Manscript Collections of the National Library of Scotland. Further private papers, which had been at Tring Park, Alfred's childhood home, were destroyed during the Second World War. A small collection of nineteen letters from Adelina Patti and her husband Ernesto Nicolini to the London bank and to Alfred de Rothschild, written between 1888 and 1895, and concerning instructions for their account with the London bank, N M Rothschild, loans, the purchase of property and news of their tours, will be found in 000/31.
Receipts for household expenditure, originally preserved in the bank's records, will be found in The London Banking house, Estates Department, Halton estate and 1 Seamore Place, XII/42/1-14. The receipts relate to both Halton and Alfred's London residence, 1 Seamore Place. The receipts concern general domestic and estate expenditure for Halton estate, including garden accounts, private accounts, letters and receipts for accounts with coach builders, nurserymen, builders and decorators, engineers, fuel merchants, farm suppliers, chandlers, chimney sweeps, ironmongers, Horwood & James (solicitors), the Post Office Telephone Service, insurers, corn and seed merchants, caterers, timber merchants, builders' merchants, household provisioners, butchers and other grocery suppliers, gun suppliers, tailors and railway and canal companies. It is likely that these general household expenses were paid from New Court accounts, hence their retention in the bank's records. Further sundry receipts may also be found in Alfred Charles de Rothschild, executors' papers, sundry correspondence and receipts, 000/174/A and 000/174/B. Alfred was a regular guest at the Punch magazine ‘Punch Table’, (originally a lunch where it quickly became the custom to discuss the contents of the week's main political cartoon), where he contributed ideas, which were then developed into cartoons by Punch’s artists. A volume entitled My Contributions to Punch, containing cuttings of the contributions made by Alfred, 1891-1896 will be found in the Ascott Collection I, 000/924/22/1.
For further information about life at Halton, see Beechwoods and Bayonets: the Book of Halton Andrew Adam (Buckingham: Barracuda Books, 1983) and The Story of Halton House: Country Home of Alfred de Rothschild, Beryl E. Escott (Halton House, 2008, fourth edition), copies of which are available in the Reading Room.
Few of Alfred's business papers survive; see The London banking house, Partners' Room, Alfred de Rothschild for further information about surviving business papers. His part in connection with diplomacy is described by T. G. Otte in He interviews the Ambassadors: Alfred de Rothschild, High Finance and High Politics in Victorian Britain, available in the Reading Room.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, artefacts, bamboo riding crop, n.d.
000/1516/1, 1 item
Bamboo riding crop, with ivory foot. Gold band engraved ‘Alfred de Rothschild Halton Tring’.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, artefacts, silver cigar case, n.d.
000/447, 1 item
Silver cigar case inscribed ‘Alfred de Rothschild’.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, artefacts, silver vesta case, 1885
000/516, 1 item
An enamelled silver vesta case engraved on reverse 'A de R 1885' in the form of a facsimilie Great Eastern Railway first class return ticket St Pancras - Newmarket.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, Catalogue of Collections, 'Catalogue of Works of Art Vol I and Vol II' ('Davis' catalogues), 1884
000/2281, 4 volumes (2 sets)
Catalogue of the Works of Art forming the collection of Alfred de Rothschild: Volume I: Pictures, Volume II: Sevres, China, Furniture, metal Work and Objets de Vitrine. Charles Davis, 147 New Bond Street, London, 1884.
One set available in the Reading Room
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, Catalogue of Collections, 'Collections de Mr Le Baron Alfred de Rothschild Seamore Place et Halton ', 1901
000/2430, 1 volume
Large blue leather volume, Collections de Mr Le Baron Alfred de Rothschild Seamore Place et Halton Maison A.D. Braun & C. Paris, Dornach and New York, Braun, Clément & C. Succrs, (Épreuve Inaltérable Imprimée au Charron Reproduction Interdite 1901). The volume contains large plates depicting photographs of paintings from the collection of Alfred de Rothschild, including works by Boucher, Drouais, Gainsborough, Greuze, Reynolds, Romney, Rubens, Teniers, van Dyck and Watteau. The volume appears to have been privately published by Alfred, and bears the inscription ‘For Lady Feo's kind acceptance in remembrance of ten very pleasant days spent at Halton, Alfred de Rothschild, 28 March 1901’. It bears a bookplate with the arms and motto 'En Dieu Est Tout’) and the family name ‘Alington’. These are the arms of Humphrey Napier Sturt, 2nd Baron Alington, whose wife was Lady Feodorowna Yorke (1864-1934).
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, sundry family correspondence, c.1860-1871
000/40, 73 items
The Rothschild Archive London holds little private correspondence of Alfred Charles de Rothschild, with the exception of the few items listed here, written to his parents whist a student at Cambridge. This collection of letters from Alfred to his parents Lionel and Charlotte and his brothers date from c.1860-1871. The letters about university life are not particularly enlightening. Many letters make reference to social gatherings and events, and talk of horse-racing news and the successes of Rothschild horses. Letters to his brother Leopold make brief reference to business; some letters to Leopold are also addressed to his Alfred's cousin Ferdinand.
Summary transcripts available
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, 'Special' correspondence, 1869-1917
000/182, 56 items
Miscellaneous ’Special’ correspondence of Alfred de Rothschild concerning business matters, his art collections, museums and philanthropy. This small collection of 58 items, including letters, printed matter and newspaper cuttings were formerly in packet 645, retained in the NMR vault. These items were retained because they were some significance to Alfred, and include letters from statesmen, thanking Alfred for his help in various matters, and copies of letters he sent to the Royal family.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, sundry correspondence, 1891; 1902
000/230, 000/1518, 4 items
The Rothschild Archive London holds little private correspondence of Alfred Charles de Rothschild, with the exception of the few items listed here:
- Two letters written from 1, Seamore Place, Mayfair to Dr Fuller, 1891 (000/230);
- Letter from Alfred de Rothschild to ‘Robson’, 10 April 1902. The letter refers to ‘Colonel Cooper’ and the re-arrangement of Alfred's drawing room at 1, Seamore Place. (000/1518)
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, correspondence with the Governor of the Bank of England, 1894
000/2307, 1 item
n 1868, at the age of 26, Alfred de Rothschild became a director of the Bank of England, the first Jew to be appointed, and after his departure from this appointment, no other Jew was on the directorate for more than fifty years. His departure from the Bank of England in 1889 followed a bizarre incident, described in The Rothschilds: A Family of Fortune, Virginia Cowles (London, 1975): “Alfred was not only a partner at New Court but a Director of the Bank of England, an appointment he had been given in 1868 because the Governor felt it would not be a bad thing to keep in close touch with the Rothschilds. The relationship came to an abrupt end of 1889, however, over a slightly unorthodox situation. Alfred had paid a very high price for a French eighteenth-century painting after being assured by the dealer that he, too, had been forced to pay an excessive sum for it and was making only a marginal profit. A day or two later Alfred discovered that the dealer had an account with the Bank of England. He could not resist taking a peep to see what, in fact, the man had given for the painting. He was outraged when he discovered that he had been charged a price 'out of all proportion to decency!' He spread the story about London and, not surprisingly, got the sack from Threadneedle Street.” However, the matter was resolved with exchanges of apologies on both sides in the early 1890s.
- Copy letter dated 27 April 1894 from Alfred de Rothschild to the Governor of the Bank of England concerning "our little controversy" that is "now at an end."
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, sundry estate papers, account with NMR, 1918-1938
000/150, 2 boxes
NMR Deceased Accounts: papers relating to Alfred de Rothschild (1842-1918): The contents of Packet 645, deceased account, Alfred de Rothschild: correspondence with Messrs N M Rothschild & Sons and papers concerning donations to charities and beneficiaries, under the terms of the will of Alfred de Rothschild. The papers are arranged in year folders: 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1938. Most of the correspondence is routine requests to draw cheques and other payments.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, sundry estate papers, 1915-1929
000/78, 3 boxes
Papers concerning the stock holdings of Alfred de Rothschild including press cuttings concerning stocks and shares in 1915 and papers concerning the death of Alfred’s brother, Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915).
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, music book, 'Valses', 1901
000/2528, 1 volume
Soft-bound blue leather volume entitled 'Valses', containing 12 printed music scores with manuscript additions, bound together. It is possible that the volume is from the music room of Halton House. The title page bears the manuscript inscription "Herrn Baron Alfred De Rothschild, von Carl Heubert 30 May 1901". Alfred was patron of the famous Carl Heubert Hungarian Band. Heubert had also been the leader of the Vienna Orchestra. Guests at Halton were entertained by Alfred's private orchestra, which Alfred liked to personally conduct, with a diamond-tipped baton. The first piece in the volume, 'Accelerationen', by Johann Strauss bears the manuscript inscription (in Heubert's hand) "Conducted by Herrn Baron Alfred de Rothschild the first time at Halton House, Mai 30th 1901". The pieces in the volume are: Accelerationen (Johann Strauss); Bürgerweisen (Johann Strauss); Carnavals Botschafter (Johann Strauss); Juristen-Ball-Tänze (Johann Strauss); Die Guten Alte Zeiten (Josef Strauss); Fantasiebilder (Josef Strauss); Wiener Bonbons (Johann Strauss); Dorfschwalben aus Österreich (Josef Strauss); Wien, mein Sinn (Johann Strauss); Hofballtänze (Johann Strauss); Lava-Störme (Johann Strauss); Bürgersinn (Johann Strauss).
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, musical events, sundry papers , 1856
000/375/10, 1 item
Programme for an "Amateur concert in aid of funds of the Jewish Emigration Loan Society at Sussex Hall, Leadenhall Street on Thursday June 5 1856". 'Miss Evelina de Rothschild' [Alfred's sister, Evelina (1839-1866), who was later to marry Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1865] was a vocalist and 'Mr Alfred de Rothschild' and 'Miss Evelina de Rothschild' were instrumentalists. A chorus of the children of the Jews' Free School and the choirs of the Metropolitan Synagogues also performed.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, portrait photograph, c.1910
000/222, 1 item
Black and white portrait photograph of Alfred de Rothschild (1842-1918), showing him in old age, c.1910.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, carte de visite of Rossini, c.1866
000/692, 1 item
Carte de visite photograph of the composer Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1792-1868) signed with inscription on verso to Alfred de Rothschild. Photograph by Erwin Freier, Paris, c.1866, showing a full length standing portrait of the composer with cane and top hat in hand, signed on the mount, 'G. Rossini', and additionally inscribed and signed in ink on verso: "Souvenir de Reconnaissance offert à mon jeune amis Monsieur le Baron Alfred de Rothschilld, G.Rossini, Paris, 26 Jan. 1866" [with a drawing of a muscial bar containing a chord].
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, sundry papers, lease of Austrian Consulate premises, 1896-1908
000/114/1, 1 file
Alfred de Rothschild liked to move in diplomatic circles, and arranged numerous meetings to promote Anglo-German relations. His part in connection with diplomacy is described by T. G. Otte in 'He interviews the Ambassadors: Alfred de Rothschild, High Finance and High Politics in Victorian Britain', (available in the Reading Room). After he had served as British delegate at an international conference on bimetallism in 1892, Alfred later facilitated a series of informal meetings between ministers and contacts at the German Embassy with a view to Anglo-German rapprochement. Before the First World War he was Consul-General for Austria in London.
These papers concern the lease of Austrian Consulate premises at 22 and 23 Laurence Pountney Lane, and Lease for 457 Mansion house ('where the Consular Archives are kept'): correspondence; copy of lease dated 18 November 1896 from Richard A.Notley to Baron Alfred Charles de Rothschild for offices in No.22 and 23 Laurence Pountney Lane; Copy of an Indenture dated 19 December 1903 1896 from Richard A.Notley to Baron Alfred Charles de Rothschild for offices in No.22 and 23 Laurence Pountney Lane; copy of an Agreement dated 31 July 1889 between Mansion House Chambers Limited and Baron Alfred Charles de Rothschild for letting office Nos, 206, 207, 208, 209 and 210, being part of Mansion House Chambers.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, 70th birthday celebrations, 1912
000/624/1, 2 items
Alfred de Rothschild's 70th birthday celebrations, 1912: menu card for a dinner given by Alfred at the Ritz, London, to his friends at New Court to celebrate his 70th birthday, 26 July 1912; Alfred's reply to Nauheim (acting as chairman) who gave a speech at Alfred’s 70th birthday dinner. Alfred suffered from life-long hypochondria; at his lavish banquets he was known to eat just dry toast. In later life Alfred did not enjoy good health and he died after a short illness on 31 January 1918, aged 75. He was interred in the Willesden Jewish Cemetery in North London.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, executors' papers, sundry correspondence and receipts, 1875-1942
000/174A, 000/174/B, 2 boxes
Papers retained in the New Court vault concerning legal matters during Alfred’s lifetime and papers relating to the administration of his estate by his executors and legal representatives after his death: correspondence and receipts:
- Correspondence files including copies of Alfred's will, and Articles of Partnership, N M Rothschild & Sons between Alfred, Leopold, Charles and Lionel de Rothschild, dated 11 October 1915, and sundry coirrespondence coincerning the administration of Alfred's estate, 1910-1942.
- Sundry Receipts: the series of receipts include receipts for the purchase of works of art, Sévres, jewellery, objets d’art, books and manuscripts, building and maintenance work at Halton House and 1 Seamore Place, insurance policies, domestic household expenses, fuel, provisions and catering, wines and spirits, clothing, motor cars, vet and animal bills, sundry medical expenses etc. 1875-1924.
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, executors' papers, sundry schedules and inventories, 1866-1919
000/174/C, 1 box
Papers retained in the New Court vault relating to the administration of tje estate of Alfred Charles de Rothschild by his executors and legal representatives after his death: sundry schedules and inventories of the possessions and estate of Alfred de Rothschild:
- List of Pictures in the possession of Alfred de Rothschild Esq. some at Seamore Place and others at Halton being part of the collection formed by Mr Alexander Baring who afterwards became the first Lord Ashburton, 1866. This slim red volume is conatined in an envelope marked ‘C. Allard Jones by New Court, St Swithin’s Lane, EC.’ (000/174C/1)
- The Estate of Alfred C de Rothschild Esq. deceased. 1 Seamore Place, W. Messrs Christie’s Inventory of the contents of 1 Seamore Place, 1918. (000/174C/2)
- Halton. Schedule of Furniture, etc. Inventory taken by Messrs Knight, Frank & Rutley, Auctioneers and Valuers, 20 Hanover Square, London, W., 1918. (000/174/C/3)
- The Estate of Alfred C de Rothschild Esq. deceased. Halton House, Tring. Inventory with manuscript annotations by the Alliance Assurance Company Limited, marking for insurance purposes, items in the possession of 'Major Lionel Nathan de Rothschild at Exbury, Park Street, Gunnersbury and New Court', 1919 [Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) was one of Alfred's principal beneficiairies]. (000/174C/4)
Alfred Charles de Rothschild, secondary sources, ' Israel: the Jewish magazine', 1901
000/1604, 1 item
Extract from Israel: the Jewish magazine, vol. 5, no.51, May 1901, article 'At "Mr Alfred's"'. Adelina Patti's report of a dinner given by Alfred de Rothschild at which she was praised by the then Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). Adelina Patti (1843-1919) was an Italian-French 19th-century opera singer, earning huge fees at the height of her career in the music capitals of Europe and America. She first sang in public as a child in 1851, and gave her last performance before an audience in 1914. Along with her near contemporaries Jenny Lind and Thérèse Tietjens, Patti remains one of the most famous sopranos in history, owing to the purity and beauty of her lyrical voice and the unmatched quality of her bel canto technique. Patti and her husband were members of Alfred's social circle as well as being clients of the business and receiving the benefit of Alfred's financial advice. A small collection of nineteen letters from Adelina Patti and her husband, Ernesto Nicolini to the London bank and to Alfred de Rothschild, written between 1888 and 1895, and concerning instructions for their account with the London bank, N M Rothschild, loans, the purchase of property and news of their tours, will be found in 000/31.