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Sundry correspondence and papers

The main series of NMR correspondence will be found in the records of the Correspondence Department. This section of the Guide describes collections of early sundry correspondence and business papers including receipts and bills of exchange of the London business of Nathan Mayer Rothschild. It is assumed that many of these papers were removed from the main correspondence series; some related papers have also been purchased for the collection.

Early London business papers: English Receipt Book, 1714-1739

000/126, 1 volume

English Receipt Book, covering the period 9 November 1714-25 June 1739, Discovered in the Strongroom of the second New Court, prior to rebuilding in the 1960s. Origin unknown; it may have been brought to London by Nathan Mayer Rothschild. It may be unrelated to Rothschild business, and have been deposited by a Rothschild client.

Early London business papers: French bank notes, 1795

000/274/2, 2 items

Two early French Republic bank notes, 1795. Provence unknown. These items were originally stored in a box in the New Court vaults, 'Box 52: items of historical interest'.

Early London business papers: Post Office London Directory, extract, 1810

000/1157, 1 item

Original page from the Post Office London Directory for 1810 showing 'N M Rothschild' as resident at 2, St Swithin's Lane.

Early London business papers: sundry accounts, Liebman and Lowe, 1815-1817

000/444, 1 file

Loose sheet of accounts, Liebman Lowe dr. to M D Lindo, 1815, for saltpetre and indigo; deed of inspectorship and composition, in duplicate, 1 May 1817, between Liebman Lowe, and Nathan Mayer Rothschild and others.

Early London business papers: business card of 'Mr Rothschild', c.1814

000/1302, 1 item

Early printed business card of Nathan Mayer Rothschild: 'Mr Rothschild, 2 New Court, St Swithin's Lane.' The card was originally found attached to a letter in the Sundry Private Correspondence series, XI/109/0/3/22. No other example of an early business card has come to light in the collection. Why the business card should be attached to this particular letter is not altogether clear. The letter reads: "Harwich July 8 1814. N M Rothschild Esq. Sir, Mr Cullen has delivered to us eight packages of Bullion from you this morning, that there being no packet in port, we are unable for the present to forward it agreeable to your order. Mr Cullen ['s ship] The New Union sailed this day with passengers for Helievoet [French for Helvetoetsluys, on the Dutch coast] and could have taken your packages at a much less rate than the Packet Conveyance had we known your approval of such conveyances which Mr Cullen could not give us. We hope the delay will not be of consequences to your interest which we would very much regret. But all with respect Sir, Your most obed[ient] servants, Heseltine & Billingsley. P.S. The New Union is 35 Tons, and may return by Monday next, we shall therefore be obliged by your reply if shall ship by her in case no packet is here. H&B." Further correspondence from Heseltine & Billingsley to N M Rothschild, c.1813-1814 will be found in the early sundry correspondence series, XI/112. 

Early London business papers: N M Rothschild, sundry accounts, 1812-1813

000/1576, 14 items

N M Rothschild: sundry accounts, 1812-1813:

  • accounts recording remittances from James Rothschild in Paris to Nathan Rothschild, and some sheets recording remittances from Nathan to James, April to October 1812;
  • Page of accounts for N M Rothschild for September 1813, (verso headed ‘Amount brt forward by Richd Cullen’).

Early London business papers: sundry business papers of 'historical interest', 1792-1836

000/573/19; 000/573/20; 000/2074, 1 box, 1 file

Early business papers, including receipts, correspondence, sundry balance sheets and accounts. This collection originates from a tin trunk labelled ‘Box 64’ in the New Court vaults containing various items selected on grounds of historical interest by an unknown hand. It is is by no means a complete series and there are significant gaps.

000/2074 is a file from the Partners' Department, (ref 55/1), titled 'Letters of Importance. Rothschild & Sons, N.M. formation of in 1836. Death of Mr N.M. Rothschild in 1836, official circular, correspondence and cuttings'. This is a single file containing transcripts (not originals) of miscellaneous papers relating to the death of Nathan Mayer Rothschild and the formation of N M Rothschild & Sons, including extracts from 'The Times' of reports of the death of Nathan Mayer Rothschild. The originals of some of these papers will be found in 000/573.

List available

Early London business: Mr N M Rothschild, Cheque Book, c.1820

000/573/23, 1 item

Blank printed Cheque Book, 'Mr N M Rothschild, No.2, New Court, St Swithin's Lane. The date is pre-printed '182_'.

Early London business papers: framed extract of a copy of an entry in the account books of Smith, Payne & Smiths Bank, Lombard Street, London for the opening of an account for Messrs. N.M. Rothschild & Sons, 1820

000/1294, 1 item

Framed modern photographic copy of an extract of an entry in the account books of Smith, Payne & Smiths Bank, Lombard Street, London for the opening of an account for Messrs. N.M. Rothschild & Sons, 1820. The item is labelled 'Copy of original record of entry dated 8th July 1820 on the opening of Messrs. N.M. Rothschild & Sons' account in the books of Smith, Payne & Smiths Bank, Lombard Street, London'. The signature is that of Hannah, Mrs Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1783-1850). This copy is believed to have been a corporate gift to NMR.

In October 1806, Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) married Hannah Barent Cohen (1783-1850). Her father, Levi Barent Cohen came from a family of rich linen merchants and had moved to London from Amsterdam in 1770 where he achieved some standing as a merchant; the The House of Cohen was one with which Nathan's father, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) of Frankfurt had dealings, and one of those to which he recommended his third son Nathan for an informal apprenticeship on his arrival in London in 1798. At the time of his marriage, Nathan might not have seemed the obvious choice for a young woman of Hannah's background, certainly not to her father, but Cohen clearly had the measure of the young Rothschild's potential. When Nathan was courting Hannah, his future father-in-law asked him for the name of his solicitor so that the settlements might be put in order. The story goes that Nathan remembered having seen on the door-post of an adjoining house in Angel Court the inscription, 'Edwin Dawes, Attorney', and with his usual self-possession he gave that name to Mr Levy Cohen. 'That is very fortunate,' answered Mr Cohen, 'for Mr Dawes happens to be my own solicitor'. Mr Cohen was gratified to know that his future son-in-law, to whom some suspicion of recklessness then attached, was in the hands of so prudent an adviser. Cohen settled £3,248.14.6 in 3% consolidated bank annuities on his daughter and the marriage was held in London on 22 October 1806.

In late November 1806, Hannah went to Manchester to share her husband's home. Nathan was well established in a community made up of merchants, textile manufacturers and his own staff. They embraced Hannah wholeheartedly. Hannah took part in the work of the business, dealing with correspondence and orders and signing cheques on behalf of the firm. Nathan's associates acknowledged her role by directing letters to her attention if they knew Nathan was absent. Hannah’s involvement in the business amounted to much more than giving practical assistance with the books. The suggestions of strategy and reports on political and economic developments which are recorded in her letters must also have been a constant source of support to Nathan: "My dear Rothschild” she wrote, “your letters of today were rather grumpy ... today the reports are of a much better cast and the funds also are assuming a better appearance. I think dear Rothschild a little more patience and courage and the prices will again attain a good price." The correspondence between the couple was not without warmth and concern; in the same month, Hannah wrote, "I also must beg that you put on your slippers when you get out of bed; the season is getting changeable and you must take care not to get a cold." Hannah and Nathan had seven children and lived at Stamford Hill and later at Gunnersbury Park. Nathan died at the age of 58 in 1836. Hannah, and his son, Lionel were with him in his last days, during which time he drew up his final will. “My beloved wife Hannah ... is always to co-operate with my four beloved sons on all important occasions and to have a voice in all deliberations. Moreover it is my special wish that my sons shall not engage in any transactions of moment without having previously asked her maternal advice.” Hannah died at Gunnersbury in 1850, after collapsing while playing with her grandchildren. She was buried alongside her husband at the cemetery of the Great Synagogue, identified as Baroness de Rothschild.

Early London business papers: sundry correspondence, 1806-1837

000/122; 000/1267; 000/1644; 000/1662/1; 000/2375, 5 items

Sundry correspondence: these letters have in some cases been removed from the archive and their original provenance lost. Others have been gifted to, or purchased by, the Archive.

  • Business letter to Mr E. M. Ulmann of Frankfurt, from Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836) sent from Manchester, 9 September 1806. (000/2375)
  • Letter fom Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel giving power of attorney to NMR, 11 July 1814, for transfers of 4% Annuities consolidated 6 April 1780. (000/235)
  • Letter from Major General W. Cumming to Major General Sir Hudson Lowe, 16 July 1815 from Marseilles proposing to fix the rate of the Spanish dollar against French francs. (000/122)
  • Printed circular letter from Henry Watts, Secretary of the Committee of the Royal Academy of Music, to Nathan Rothschild, 10 May 1825. The letter is an invitation to Nathan to attend the 'Anniversary Dinner of the Institution' at Argyll Rooms on Saturday 28 May, with the Duke of York in the Chair, and the Anniversary Ball, to be held on Monday 6 June. (000/2906)
  • Letter dated 31 May 1837, addressed to Messrs Kendal, Bevan & Co., Beaufort, South Wales from N M Rothschild & Sons, seeking permission for Professor Sunner, recommended to NMR by the Austrian Government, to see their iron works for scientific purposes. (000/1662/1)

Early London business papers: letter to Nathan Mayer Rothschild from Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel, 1814

000/235/1, 1 item

Letter from Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel dated 11 July 1814, giving power of attorney to Nathan Mayer Rothschild for transfers of 4% Annuities, consolidated 6 April 1780. Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hesse-Cassel (1747-1837) was a younger member of the dynasty that ruled the Landgraviate of Hesse-Cassel. His older brother, Crown Prince Wilhelm I of Hesse (1743-1821), is often cited as the first 'Rothschild client.' In 1769, Nathan Mayer Rothschild's father, Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812) gained the title of 'Court Agent', managing the finances of Crown Prince Wilhelm I who became Prince William IX Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel on the death of his father in 1785.

The Rothschild family were to have a continuing tradition of service to the House of Hesse-Cassell; see 000/2244 for later papers relating to the administration of the estate of Friedrich Wilhelm I (1802-1875) the last Prince-elector of Hesse-Cassel, (Prince Friedrich Wilhelm's great-nephew) by Nathan's grandson, Nathaniel, 1st Lord Rothschild (1840-1915) in 1875.

Early London business papers: Prussian loan 1822: sundry correspondence , 1822

000/583/23, 11 items

Little correspondence concerning the early Prussian loans survives. This is small cache of eleven letters, relating to applications for the second Prussian Loan, 1822 from Montefiore, Walters, John and Cullen, Jeffery originate from a tin trunk labelled ‘Box 64’ in the New Court vaults containing various items selected on grounds of historical interest by an unknown hand. 

Early London business papers: letter of introduction from Nathan Mayer Rothschild for Richard Twining, 1827

000/1644, 2 items

Letter of introduction for [Richard] Twining, signed N M [Nathan Mayer] Rothschild to Messrs Oppenheim & Co., Cologne, 9 July 1827. Mr Twining was making a tour of the continent for 'amusement'. Also a letter from a clerk at New Court enclosing the letter of introduction. Richard Twining (the second) (1772–1857) was a British tea merchant. He was the eldest son of Richard Twining (1749–1824), a director of the East India Company, and the head of Twinings the London tea merchants. Twining joined his father's tea business in 1794, and worked for Twinings until five weeks before his death.Twining married Elizabeth Mary Smythies, the daughter of the Rev. John Smythies, on 5 May 1802. He and his wife had nine children, including the social reformer Louisa Twining, and the botanical illustrator Elizabeth Twining.

Early London business: postal wrappers, 1833; 1842

000/710; 000/2644, 8 items

A small collection of postal wrappers, addressed to N M Rothschild & Sons. A wrapper is a form of postal stationery which encloses the contents and may have an imprinted stamp to pay the cost of postage. Wrappers could be printed with designs and illustrations.

  • a private express letter from France, 1833, addressed to NMR, wrapper only;
  • a set of seven postal wrappers, (one framed) illustrated with classical figures, addressed to N M Rothschild & Sons, New Court, St Swithin’s Lane, London, postmarked  from Brighton and Worthing. The letters were sent from Lt Col. G.P. Baker [presumed to be an NMR client] to NMR and concern his account with NMR, and the forwarding of letters.

These items were presumed to have been retained for their decorative and illustrative value.

Early London business papers: volume of Post Coach and Royal Mail Bills, c.1835

000/573/27, 1 volume

Volume into which a small collection of "Old Post Coach and Royal Mail Bills”, have been pasted. The origin of the collection is unknown, but may have been collated from old bills found at New Court, dating from the time when the firm patronised the mail coach service. Mail coach contractors would place advertisements such as these in local newspapers and circulate hand-bills with details of the times and locations of the inns at which the coaches would stop.

Mail coaches began in England c.1785. The coach was a stagecoach built to a General Post Office-approved design operated by an independent contractor to carry long-distance mail for the Post Office. Mail was held in a box at the rear where the only Royal Mail employee, an armed guard, stood. Passengers were taken at a premium fare. There was seating for four passengers inside and more outside with the driver.  A mail coach service ran to an exact and demanding schedule. Aside from quick changes of horses the coach only stopped for collection and delivery of mail and never for the comfort of the passengers. Mail coaches were phased out during the 1840s and 1850s, and were eventually replaced by trains as the railway network expanded.

Early London business papers: sundry Bills of Exchange, 1804; 1811-1843

000/195, 000/700, 000/2625, 1 box, 2 items

Bill of Exchange, Manchester 28 August 1804, N M Rothschild  to Mr Joseph Israel; Papers of Nathan Mayer Rothschild including specimen bills of exchange, receipts, acknowledgements of payments and cancellations; Nathan Mayer Rothschild’s bill case, which he carried with him on the Exchange; Bill of Exchange, dated 25 January 1835, Issued in London and signed by Nathan Mayer Rothschild on reverse. 

Early London business papers: stock list for Domaine Johannisberg, c.1820

000/680, 2 items

Sundry circular papers relating to Domaine Johannisberg, the wine business of Prince Metternich:

  • printed 'Prices Current', being a wine merchant’s price list noting stock of Prince Metternich’s wine. The list details the stock of Hermann Fehrmann, Old Trinity House, Water Lane, Tower Street, The Depot of Prince Metternich's Johannisberg wine. The list gives the stock of wine from the Domaine Johannisberg, the property of His Highness Prince Metternich for vintages from 1811-1819;
  • business card of Mr Kieffer, the agent of  the Domaine Johannisberg, the property of His Highness Prince Metternich; the card gives Nathan Mayer Rothschild as a reference.

The Rothschilds and Prince Metternich (1773-1859), Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs were well-connected in business. In 1820, Metternich entered into negotiations with the House of Rothschild for a large loan that was to take the form of a lottery. The arrangements for this loan demanded the presence of a Rothschild in Vienna and thus Salomon Mayer (1774-1855), who had been handling Rothschild affairs with Austria, moved to the city and established a bank there. 

Early London business papers: Stockbroker's token, c.1824-1834

000/956, 1 item, 1 volume

Stockbroker’s token of John Ashby of 3, Bartholomew Lane, issued between 1824 and 1834. Together with this artefact is a copy of The Stock Exchange Christmas Annual, 1905-1906. This volume contains the article 'Brokers Medals and Stockbrokers' Tokens' by J.B. Caldecott.

Brokers’ medals were given by the Corporation of the City of London to each sworn broker upon his admission, in addition to the license granted by the City. These medals were to be produced, when required, as a proof of his bona fides. Some tokens were also issued by Stock Exchange firms themselves. Although these tokens had their origins in the shortage of copper coinage between 1785-1805 (when corporations and traders issued tokens that passed as coins, and were redeemed by their issuers), such Stockbrokers’ Tokens had no monetary value, but probably served as a useful reminder to clients of the hours and days of business, and as an advertisement of the firm issuing them. This Stockbroker’s Token was issued by John Ashby, of 3 Bartholomew Lane, Bank, (later known as Ashby and Young). John Ashby was admitted as a member of the Stock Exchange in 1824. One side of the token records the name “John Ashby, Stock Broker No.3, Bartholomew Lane, Bank”, and the figure of a bull with a human head, that of Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836). The other side records a list of thirty-two fixed holidays, when trading was not permitted, and a note that the business hours were from ten to three o'clock. This side also bears an image of a bear with a human head, that of the bullion broker Moses Mocatta. It is thought that images of Rothschild and Mocatta were chosen as an allusion to their views and a tribute to the power of Jewish financiers at that time.

Early London business papers: Reports of a Government committee to investigate the business of the Bank of England, and the Bank of England Charter, 1832; 1833

000/849, 2 volumes

Reports of a Government committee to investigate the business of the Bank of England, and the Bank of England Charter, 1832. Nathan Mayer Rothschild gave evidence to the committee.

  • Report from a Committee of Secrecy of the Honourable House of Commons on the Bank of England Charter, 1832, with Minutes of evidence, Appendix and Index  (James & Luke G. Hansard & Sons, Printers to the Honourable House of Commons, London, 11 August 1832);
  • Digest of The evidence on The Bank Charter taken before the Committee of 1832, arranged together with the tables under proper heads; to which are prefixed strictures and illustrative remarks also copious indexes etc'.(James Ridgway, Piccadilly, London, 1833).

In 1832, the Government, led by The Duke of Wellington appointed a ‘Committee of Secrecy’ to investigate the business of the Bank of England. In May 1832, the Spectator reported: “We are not aware that the Government could have pursued a fairer plan in reference to the renewal of the Bank Charter, than they have done by the appointment of a Committee to investigate and report on the advantages and disadvantages of its unmodified or modified renewal, or its entire abrogation. That the inquiry will be gone into ably and honestly, we think we have just reason to expect, from the character of the members that compose the Committee. All of them have, more or less, made the subject their study; they are selected indifferently from all the parties in the House … we are not aware that any of them have a direct interest in the question of which they are about to seek for a solution. When the report of the Committee appears, we shall necessarily be called on to examine the subject at some length. At present we shall merely indicate the points to be considered. The Bank possesses the exclusive privilege of issuing notes in London, and within sixty-five miles of it. No bank consisting of more than six partners can act as a bank of deposit within the same area. Here lie the questions of principle that the Committee have to solve. The mere fact of the Bank's possessing a monopoly, constitutes a prima facie case against it. It will be for the Bank to show that the monopoly is beneficial to the public as well as to themselves.” On Tuesday 24 June 1832, Nathan Mayer Rothschild gave evidence before the Committee. The Committee asked questions concerning the role of the Bank in the Exchanges and many questions concerning trading gold. The witness was asked if he thought the establishment of several joint stock banks was preferable to the Bank of England; the answer received was “As there would be jealousy, there would be rivalry in the amount of gold. One bank might act imprudently, and cause a run on itself which might involve others. In one Body the Bank can aid the Government, be useful to the country, be useful to everybody. I like the Bank of England to be the head bank; to have all the specie under their care, and all the issues, and to be as liberal of money as they can…” 

Questioned about the management of The Bank, Nathan was full of praise, tempered by pragmatism born of experience, responding “I think it is very good management; sometimes a circumstance may happen, where they do not manage so well as might be done, but we cannot always tell upon what ground a thing is done; but at the time of the last Panic, there was a great deal of credit due to the Governor of the Bank of England.” Pressed as the reasons for this statement, Nathan, referring to the crisis of 1825, replied “Because I feel the management, and I know that it is good. When the last Panic took place, the bank immediately came forward, and offered to lend to everybody the money upon good security; now if the Bank had been frightened at that time, they would have said, No we will not lend anything: and you would have had a worse panic that you ever had before”.

Early London business: The case of 'Brookman v Rothschild', published 'Report of proceedings of a hearing in the House of Lords', 1820

000/1944, 1 item

Volume of a Report of proceedings of a hearing in the House of Lords between Nathan Mayer Rothschild (Appellant) and James Brookman (Respondent) on appeal from the Court of Chancery. The volume includes the Case of the Appellant and the Case of the Respondent. James Brookman charged the Rothschilds with withholding money and stock due him from a series of transactions; judgement was made against the Rothschilds. A contemporary caricature of Nathan by Cruickshank, Stock Jobbing Extraordinary!!! Brookman v. Rothschild, (London, H. Stokes, c.1820) will be found in 000/693. A single file concerning the case will be found in the Correspondence Department, Subject Correspondence, Affaires, XI/4 series, (RAL XI/4/0).

Early London business papers: Circular announcing the death of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, and the formation of N M Rothschild & Sons, 1836

000/1798, 1 item

Printed circular letter sent by the London house to agents and business contacts announcing the death of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, and the formation of N M Rothschild & Sons, 1836.

Nathan Rothschild's three eldest sons Lionel (1808-1879), Anthony (1810-1876) and Nathaniel (1812-1870) personally signed a black-bordered printed circular to business associates announcing their intention to continue their late father's business 'under the firm of N M Rothschild & Sons, in every respect as heretofore, in connexion with the establishments at Frankfurt, Vienna, Paris  and Naples'. Their signatures show that they all, unlike their father, adopted the style 'de Rothschild'. This particular example, dated 9 August 1836, was sent to Frederick Huth & Co. 

The firm of Frederick Huth (later Frederick Huth & Gruning & Co.) was originally based in Germany but came to London because of the blockades imposed on Hamburg and Frankfurt by Napoleon in 1806 and 1812. It was a prominent merchant bank, and because it was a leading firm in the Latin-American trade, it had branches in Lima and Valparaíso and was involved in shipping quicksilver. Correspondence with Frederick Huth & Gruning & Co., 1838-1872 will be found in XI/38/149-150.

See also 000/2074 for copies of papers concerning the death of Nathan and the formation of N M Rothschild & Sons.