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Early London business papers

Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) arrived in Britain in 1798. He made his first home in Manchester, the centre of the English cotton trade, and set up a cloth wholesale business. Encouraged by his success, Nathan moved to London to establish himself as a banker, founding N M Rothschild at New Court, St Swithin's Lane in the the City in 1810. By 1811 he had wound up the Manchester wholesale business to concentrate on banking from his base at New Court. 

Temporary access to funds, invested by the Rothschild House in Frankfurt for William IX of Hesse-Cassel, greatly increased the scope of Nathan's London operations. These were based upon profitable speculation in British and foreign securities, and prominent dealing in foreign exchange and bullion. By 1814, Nathan was placed uniquely to fulfil the prestigious British Government contract to purchase and transport gold coin to finance Wellington's army on the Continent. After the latter’s victory at Waterloo, the London House won a further contract to handle English subsidy payments to the European allies. The position of Nathan Rothschild as the leading City merchant banker was consolidated in 1826, when the firm stepped in, with an instant injection of gold, to save the Bank of England.

With Nathan’s death in July 1836, the City of London lost a financier whose name had become legendary in his own lifetime. However, N M Rothschild & Sonswould continue to prosper and grow at the centre of the London financial world, and his sons continued the business under the name N M Rothschild & Sons.

This section of the Guide describes some small collections of papers relating to the early business on Nathan Mayer Rothschild, including the 'Waterloo' Commission. See also papers in the Correspondence Department.