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Anthony Gustav (Tony) de Rothschild (1887-1961)

Anthony Gustav de Rothschild was born in London on 26 June 1887, the third and youngest of the three sons of Leopold de Rothschild (1845–1917) and Marie Perugia (1862–1937). He was educated at Harrow School and Trinity College Cambridge where he earned a Double First in history and was a tennis blue. Joining the family firm at New Court, Anthony travelled to China in 1911 and then went to South America in 1913-1914 with his brother Evelyn Achille (1886-1917) on behalf of the New Court Partners. On 30 May 1917, Evelyn and Anthony were both formally admitted into the family Partnership.

At the outbreak of the First World War Anthony and his brother Evelyn joined the British Army. Serving with Royal Bucks Hussars (Buckinghamshire Yeomanry), Anthony was wounded during the Battle of Gallipoli; he was mentioned in despatches and rose to the rank of Major. Tragically his older brother Evelyn Achille was killed in Palestine in 1917. On 5 December 1920, Captain Anthony de Rothschild unveiled the War Memorial in the churchyard of All Saints Church at Wing, Buckinghamshire honouring his brother and his Wing comrades.

Anthony married Yvonne Cahen d'Anvers (1899-1977) of the Bischoffsheim family on 10 June 1926. The couple had three children; Renée Louise Marie, Mrs Peter Robeson (1927-2015), Anne Sonia (1930–1971) and Evelyn (b. 1931).  In town the family lived in elegant style at 42 Hill Street, Berkeley Square and in the country at Ascott, the large country estate Anthony inherited from his father Leopold. At Ascott, Anthony was a judicious collector of Chinese porcelain, and added to his father’s collections with the acquisition of a vast array of books, English furniture and paintings. In 1937, in memory of his mother, who died that year, he donated the Anthony van Dyck painting, Abbé Scaglia adoring the Virgin and Child to the National Gallery. Anthony liked exotic luxury automobiles; in 1934 he purchased a Hispano-Suiza K6 and a J12 model for himself and his wife. Both cars can now be found in private collections.

Anthony also inherited his father’s passion for the turf, which he pursued with vigour from his Southcourt Stud at Ascott and Palace House, Newmarket. Among his racing success, he won the 1919 Grand Prix de Paris with Galloper Light and the 1926 1,000 Guineas Stakes with Pillion. He was later to find success with Midstream whose wins include the Criterion Stakes, and who was the Leading sire in Australia in 1948, 1951, 1952.

Business at New Court

The period through which Anthony guided the London house could not have been more arduous; he was a partner for nearly 50 years, from 1917 until 1961. In the 1930s, Anthony took a personal interest in the business of the Royal Mint Refinery. The interwar years, dull times for merchant banks, were largely dominated at New Court by the operation to support the Creditanstalt in which the Viennese House was heavily involved. In 1942, after the early death at 60 of his brother Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942), Anthony found himself Senior Partner of N M Rothschild & Sons, leading the business almost single-handedly until the late 1950s. In 1953 N M Rothschild & Sons led a syndicate that formed the British Newfoundland Development Corporation to undertake mineral exploration in Labrador, Canada and to develop the Churchill Falls hydro-electric station. Ill-health forced Anthony to pass much of the responsibility for the running of the business at New Court to his nephew, Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009) in 1958. 

Philanthropy

In 1933, Anthony and Yvonne de Rothschild were among several prominent Jewish founders of the Central British Fund for German Jewry, the principal British refugee relief agency providing emergency relief to persecuted persons following the Nazi rise to power. Anthony supported these efforts, co-ordinating activity through N M Rothschild & Sons’ offices at New Court. In December 1938 Anthony was appointed chairman of the Emigration (Planning) Committee and remained active with the Central British Fund until ill-health forced him to stand down in 1957. It has been estimated that the Central British Fund rescued 65,000 people from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, including 10,000 through the Kindertransport.

In 1941 the German Luftwaffe bombed the Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London and Anthony brought a group of elderly pensioners to live at Ascott for the remainder of the war. Anthony continued the Rothschild family’s tradition of commitments to a number of Anglo-Jewish institutions; he was an active, life-long President of Norwood (then the Jews' Hospital and Orphan Asylum), and of the Jews' Free School. From 1948 to 1956 he was Chairman of the Governors of St Mary's Hospital, Paddington; The Anthony de Rothschild Lecture Theatre, at St Mary's Campus, Imperial College School of Medicine in London is named in his honour. In 1949 Anthony de Rothschild donated Ascott House to the National Trust. The donation also included the surrounding 261 acres (1.06 km2) of land plus an endowment for its upkeep.

Anthony Gustav de Rothschild died on 5 February 1961, after a period of ill-health. He is remembered as 'not only a charming companion, but a man of high principles and great integrity.'

Archive sources 

For private papers of Anthony de Rothschild, registered into NMR file series XI/35 see Partners' Room, Anthony Gustav de Rothschild »

A collection of private correspondence, volumes, printed material, photographs and artefacts produced or collected predominantly by Anthony Gustav de Rothschild (1887-1961) and  his wife Yvonne, Mrs Anthony de Rothschild (née Cahen d’Anvers) (1899-1977) will be found in 000/2628, Named Collections: The Ascott Collection IV. The collection includes papers of Anthony de Rothschild relating to his time at Harrow and later at Cambridge, private diaries and correspondence, papers concerning his work as Chairman of the Central British Fund during the Second World War, and his public work with St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington. The collection includes a small amount of material relating to the Ascott estate, including original photographs of the property by Bedford Lemere. The collection includes items relating to the marriage of Anthony and Yvonne in 1926, including testimonials they received and papers of Yvonne, Mrs Anthony de Rothschild. A large number of papers relate to the First World War service of Anthony de Rothschild and that of his brother Evelyn Achille de Rothschild (1886-1917), including correspondence, printed material and sundry artefacts (including medals awarded posthumously to Evelyn Achille de Rothschild), and material relating to the conflict collected by Anthony after the war. 

Anthony Gustav de Rothschild, press cuttings, 1919

000/830, 1 item

Newspaper article entitled ‘The Democratic Mr Anthony’, from B’ Nai B’rith News, September 1919.

Anthony Gustav de Rothschild, sundry photographs, c.1950-1953

000/283, 000/823/1-2, 6 items

Sundry black and white photographs of Anthony Gustav de Rothschild:

  • Framed black and white print and two unframed prints of a photographic reproduction of the portrait by William Dennis Dring of Anthony Gustav de Rothschild seated At A Desk in the Partners’ Room, Old New Court, (original portrait now in the NMR collection);
  • Informal photograph of Anthony Gustav de Rothschild, with a pet dog, possibly taken at Ascott,dated in manuscript on reverse, 1953;
  • Two prints of a formal studio portrait photograph of Anthony Gustav de Rothschild,, three-quarter profile, wearing pin stripe three-piece suit, in late middle age, (together with a negative of the same). Photographer unknown, c.1950.

Anthony Gustav de Rothschild, 'The Anthony de Rothschild Collection of Chinese Ceramics', catalogue, 1996

000/832, 000/2305, 0001409, 0002134, 2 sets of 2 volumes, 1 box

Two duplicate sets of the two-volume catalogue The Anthony de Rothschild Collection of Chinese Ceramics, by Regina Krahl (London: Eranda Foundation, 1996). Half title, title printed in blue and black, colour photographic frontispieces and plates tipped-in throughout. Text in English. Original cloth, slipcase. Limited edition of 750 copies. The work is a finely illustrated catalogue of a select collection of Chinese ceramics, dating from the Han to Qing periods. Anthony de Rothschild inherited the works of art at Ascott from his father and added to the collections with the acquisition of a vast array of books, English furniture, paintings, and more than 400 pieces of Chinese ceramics. The ceramics remain on display at Ascott House. A collection of transparencies and images used in the volumes will be found in 000/1409 and 000/2134.