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Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942)

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild was the eldest of the three sons of Leopold and Marie. He was born on 25 January 1882. Lionel was educated at Harrow and Trinity College Cambridge before taking his place as a partner at New Court. In 1912 he married Marie-Louise Beer the sister of Nelly de Rothschild (née Beer) who had married Robert de Rothschild in 1907.  Lionel and Marie had four children; Rosemary, Edmund, Naomi and Leopold.  Along with Robert, Nelly and their children, Lionel and his family enjoyed long summer holidays touring Europe on his yacht, The Rhodora.

Business at New Court

The official insistence that he remain at New Court to direct the affairs of the London House did not prevent Lionel Nathan de Rothschild from serving his country with distinction during the first world war.  He served in the reserves as a major in the Buckinghamshire Yeomanry and managed the City of London's recruiting office, earning an OBE and a 'valuable services' mention. Between the wars, the bank was led by Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), who became Senior Partner in 1923. Under Lionel, the bank began a steady transition towards advisory work and finance raising for commercial concerns, including successful bond issues for the London Underground, and issuing shares in the UK business of F.W. Woolworth.

Private passions

Lionel was closely attached to the Vale of Aylesbury, serving as MP from 1910 to 1923.  Selling Halton House in 1918 which he inherited from his uncle Alfred, Lionel developed his estate of Exbury in Hampshire.  Exbury became the focus of his life, the scene of his many triumphs in rhododendron hybridization, many specimens being named after family and friends.

A founder member of the Roads Beautifying Association, Lionel sought to combine two of his pleasures: horticulture and motoring.  A third diversion, yachting, he also combined with horticulture, collecting seeds and plants on longer journeys.  He was a keen photographer and early experimenter with film. Lionel de Rothschild died at his London address, 18 Kensington Palace Gardens, on 28 January 1942, three days after his 60th birthday.  

For business papers of Lionel, papers of the Jewish War Services Committee 1915-1919, papers concerning his parliamentary career, and private papers and receiots retained in NMR files see Partners' Room, Lionel Nathan de Rothschild »

See also Named Collections, The Exbury Collection » for further papers of Lionel de Rothschild, including the Rothschild Collection of Autochromes taken by Lionel.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), artefacts, presentation synagogue key, 1905

000/1962, 1 item

Members of the Rothschild family supported synagogues across London, offering both financial and practical assistance. In the mid-19th century the Jewish population in north-west London was increasing. In 1900 the first meetings of Brondesbury Synagogue were held, and in 1905 a new synagogue was constructed in Chevening Road. Its catchment area was Cricklewood, Willesden, Willesden Green and Brondesbury. Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), performed the official opening ceremony of the new Brondesbury Synangogue on 9 April 1905, and was gifted this decorative enamelled presentation key, in a blue silk lined leather box. In 1923 a new synagogue, the Willesden Green and Cricklewood Synagogue, was opened on Walm Lane to ease overcrowding in the Brondesbury Synagogue. It became a constituent synagogue of the United Synagogue in 1931 and changed its name to Cricklewood Synagogue. The original 1905 building, was destroyed by arson in 1965, but then rebuilt. It was sold in 1974 to Iman Al-Khoei Foundation and is now a Shia mosque.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), artefacts, ‘La Perla del Mediterraneo’, 1907

000/2121, 1 item

Plaque designed by René Lalique and awarded to Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) who, in his English boat Flying Fish, won the ‘La Perla del Mediterraneo’ competition in, 1907. 

The plaque is a high carat gold and enamel Plaque, made using the lost wax process, designed and signed by René Lalique, with a scene of a power boat (the Flying Fish) at sea creating a wake, with a coastal view beyond, within the sky is a large natural pearl mounted within three flying fishes in low relief (thus creating a visual reference to the name of the boat), the sea in dark blue enamel and the sky and wake wave in light blue enamel, the whole scene within a double-rope border connected to an anchor in the lower left corner, along the base in low relief: PERLA DEL MEDITERRANEO 1907, signed R Lalique in dark blue enamel, 17.8 cm wide x 12.2 cms, housed in a fitted brown velvet-lined morocco case embossed in gold lettering Perla de Mediterraneo 1907, the case 22 x 16.4 cms.

The ‘Pearl of the Mediterranean’ was a prestigious speed boat race of ten laps of ten km each that took place in the waters of Mondello, Addaura and Acquasanta, Italy on 28th April 1907. Attracting Sicilian aristocrats and wealthy sportsmen from Italy, France and England, competitors paid an entrance fee of L.100 for admission to the race, the prize of which was the coveted  Lalique plaque in gold and enamel, with a stunning pearl valued at L.8,000. Watched by hundreds of spectators from the elegant hotels and terraces of Palermo, the race took place on a fine spring day. With clear skies and calm waters, Lionel’s boat, Number 4, The Flying Fish (entered in the ‘Racers’ category) led for all 10 laps recording a total time of 2 hours, 18 minutes and 50 seconds at an average of 560 Km/h.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), artefacts, motor-boat racing medals, c.1910

000/2121, 6 items

Six gold medals in leather cases: motorboat racing awards to Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942). Six gold medals in six red leather cases comprising a group of six 15 carat gold Medallions, one side modelled in low relief with two power boats racing at sea, one in the foreground, the reverse stamped British Motor-Boat Club and engraved beneath with date and Championship inscriptions, all relating to Lionel Nathan de Rothschild’s motor boat, within a low relief laurel garland, 4.4 cm diameter.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), correspondence, Buckinghamshire charities, 1911-1915

000/891, 1 file

Correspondence of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) regarding Buckinghamshire charitable concerns, 1911-1915. 

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), correspondence, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, 1930-1932

000/2165, 1 file

Photocopies of letters from the archives of The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.The letters relate to Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) and his work with the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, when George Forrest died whilst on a plant hunting expedition in China. The letters refer to bringing back his seed collections to the UK.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) and Marie-Louise Beer (1892-1975), wedding testimonial, 1912

000/1656, 1 item

Framed testimonial from shopkeepers including Asprey & Co., Garrard & Co. and Veitch J & Sons presented to Lionel and Marie-Louise on the occasion of their wedding, 8 October 1912. The testimonial accompnaied a gift of a pair of silver gilt vases. 

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942) and Marie-Louise Beer (1892-1975), wedding testimonial, 1912

000/1960, 1 volume

Testimonial from the ‘Constituents and friends of the mid division of Buckinghamshire’ to Lionel and Marie-Louise on the occasion of their wedding, 8 October 1912.

Lionel de Rothschild, (1882-1942), horticultural papers, George Forrest photographs, c.1919

000/2341, 3 files

Set of 65 mounted photographs, taken by the Scottish botanist George Forrest (1873–1932) on plant-hunting expeditions, in China, c.1919. Many of the plates have manuscript annotations and captions. Forrest became one of the first explorers of China's then remote southwestern province of Yunnan, generally regarded as the most biodiverse province in the country. Forrest made his first to Yunnan in 1904, and became perhaps the foremost collector of Yunnan flora, amassing hundreds of species of rhododendron, and other shrubs and perennials, making seven trips to Yunnan, collecting samples and seeds for the Herbarium and for avid collectors willing to pay for new species to add to their collections. In total, he brought back over 31,000 plant specimens, many of which were avidly collected by Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, who contributed to, and sponsored many of Forrest's expeditions. Forrest's team lead collector was Zhao Chengzhang, who appears in some of the photohgraphs. 

Lionel de Rothschild, (1882-1942), horticultural papers, awards and competitions, 1930-2005

000/2227, 1 box

Papers of Lionel de Rothschild and his son, Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2007) from Exbury concerning horticultural matters. Most of the papers are Royal Horticultural Society plaques, certificates and awards for growing and showing orchids and cymbidiums, awarded to Mr Lionel de Rothschild, and Mr Edmund de Rothschild. A few papers relate to local Hampshire shows: Medal Award plaques, 1930-1953; 1959; 1983; 1989; 1992; 1997; certificates of Merit, 1930-1952; 2004-2005; correspondence and papers concerning competitions, 1930-1939; 1947, 1982-1985, 2004; watercolour of an orchid 'Cym. Swallow Var.Phantasy, RHS A.M. April 2, 1935'.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), horticultural papers, orchid cultivation, 1928-1938

000/2201, 3 boxes

Papers concerning the cultivation of orchids: correspondence and papers, including receipt books, lists of plants, catalogues and display cards from flower shows. Includes a typescript‘ Copy of Baron Edmond de Rothschild’s procedures for the aseptic germination of orchids’, and papers concerning the experiments to germinate and grow orchids and the Royal Mint Refinery in the late 1930s.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), private papers, n.d.

000/1580, 1 item

Invitation card to the Editor of the Jewish Chronicle to attend the first anniversary display and prize distribution of Hutchinson House Club for Working Lads, in the name of Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, President, "at which Mr and Mrs Leopold [Lionel's parents] will preside and present prizes", Wednesday 6 June [no year given]. 

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), private papers, 1884; 1904, 1925-1938

000/2147, 29 volumes

Lloyds Annals, 1884; Lloyds Register of Yachts, 1904; Lloyds Annals, 1934; Lloyds Register of Yachts, 1925-1938. It is believed that these volumes were kept in the the Partners' Room, New Court. The Rhodora I and Rhodora II are recorded in the register.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), photographs, c.1920-1935

000/2166, 2 items

Framed photographs of Lionel's yachts Rhodora I and Rhodora II

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), publications, 1909

000/1338, 1 volume

Bound volume containing two articles by Lionel Nathan de Rothschild published in The Car: 'A run through Algeria' 1906 (in two parts) and 'In sunny Spain' 1909.  The articles, with photographs, describe Lionel's motoring tours in Algeria and Spain.  The volume bears Lionel's book plate. Note: also enclosed is a letter from Vere (Earl Bessborough) to Edmund de Rothschild, dated 27 February 1952.  Vere accompanied Lionel on the Spanish trip, and the letter inter alia describes the taking of a photograph in the Alhambra, published in the 1909 article.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), publications, 1940

000/1563, 1 item

Barberries, cotoneasters and viburnums by Lionel de Rothschild. Published in: F.J. Chittenden (ed.) Ornamental flowering trees and shrubs (London: Royal Horticultural Society, 1940). Report of the conference held by the Royal Horticultural Society at the Greycoat Street Hall, 26-29 April 1938.

Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942), Memorial Service, 1942

000/1891, 1 item

Order of service for the memorial service held at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue for Lionel Nathan de Rothschild (1882-1942).