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Manchester business

N M Rothschild in Manchester: A  Manchester man and his legacy

Nathan Mayer Rothschild acquired his first Manchester premises in 1799. He lived in Manchester for a decade, revolutionising the burgeoning textile trade through his use of ready cash to buy up large quantities of materials and his reliance on a network of family and friends to ship Manchester goods throughout Europe. Nathan established Rothschild Brothers in 1799 as commission agents to coordinate the supply of British textiles to the continental market for his father's account. He built up an impressive reputation as a successful merchant operating on the principle of high turnover and modest profits, taking advantage of the opportunity to bypass the middle men and purchasing textiles direct from the manufacturers, quickly turning the £20,000 with which he arrived into £60,000.

He was soon trading on his own account. Items in the Manchester warehouse, listed in his Stock Book, c.1805 include arungos, baftaes, bandanas, books (probably of material), beads (mock pearl), cambrics, corals (red), cane table mats, cornelian beads, dimities, emeralds, white flush cambric handkerchiefs, jacconets, ink (china), lappett sprigs, muslins, plain buff nankeens, pullicates, pearls, pockets, shawls (various), thicksetts, velveteens, vandykes, wine.

Nathan probably registered as a merchant in London in 1804 and by 1810 N M Rothschild & Sons was established at New Court. When Nathan moved to London, the Manchester business was taken over by one of Nathan's clerks, Joseph Barber, and the company finally ceased trading under the Rothschild name in 1811. 

Records of the Manchester business

A good range of records of the Manchester business has been preserved in the Accounts Current series (I/218), but as the reason for them being considered as part of the Accounts Current Department is unknown, they have been treated separately here. A notable feature of the volumes listed below is that the dates of some volumes within a series run concurrently, to enable Nathan to keep a record of the business when he was travelling or based in London.

A handful of additional volumes were included in the I/218 series when the Old Catalogue was made up. There are two volumes of accounts sales relating to the business of Edward Brice and Edward Wheler, 1758-1764, including details of shipments of goods such as quicksilver, indigo, wood and turpentine to Daniel Shatford in New York. The provenance of these books is unknown.

Account statements and invoices of N M Rothschild, Manchester, for business with the Frankfurt House for chests of goods, textiles, specie and bills of exchange, including price lists, 1801-1803 will be found in 000/274/3.

Further reading

For an overview of Nathan Mayer Rothschild in Manchester see 'Nathan Rothschild in Manchester' by Bill Williams in The Life and Times of N M Rothschild, 1777-1836, Victor Gray and Melanie Aspey (eds.) (London: The Rothschild Archive, 1998).

An analysis of the 'Manchester books' in the collection of The Rothschild Archive may be found in the monograph N M Rothschild 1777-1836 by Stanley Chapman (London: privately published, 1977) and his article 'The Foundation of the English Rothschilds: N. M. Rothschild as a Textile Merchant 1799–1811' by Stanley Chapman in Textile History, Vol 8, 1977, a copy of which is available in the Reading Room.