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Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009)

Edmund Leopold de Rothschild was born in London, at 46 Park Street, Mayfair, on 2 January 1916, the first son of Lionel de Rothschild (1882-1942) and Marie-Louise née Beer (1892-1975). Mr Eddy (as he was known) was brought up at Exbury House, the estate in Hampshire his father acquired in late 1918. After Cambridge, in 1937 Eddy was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world. He returned to England in May 1939, and joined his father Lionel and his uncle Anthony (1887-1961) at New Court in 1939. However, Eddy barely had time to get to grips with the business, for he was immediately seconded by Anthony to work on the pressing needs of Jewish refugees; Anthony coordinating activities of The Central British Fund for World Jewish Relief from offices at New Court. In 1940, Eddy joined the Royal Bucks Yeomanry, and was to see active service in Italy and North Africa. In the months after the war ended, Eddy served as a major in the Jewish Infantry Brigade, and drove through Austria and Germany where he saw at first–hand the horrors of the conflict.

Lionel died in 1942, leaving Anthony as sole partner, to steer the business through the dark days of the war almost single-handedly. Upon his return to New Court in 1946, Eddy, conceded that his “knowledge of banking remained virtually non-existent”. Thus Anthony decided that it was time for his nephew to do a short ‘stage’- what would now be called work experience - at two banks in New York, and afterwards to go on a whistle-stop tour of the United States. Anthony had foreseen a developing role for the London business in America, and during the war had assisted the French Rothschilds in New York in setting up a joint-venture company, which was to become Rothschild Inc. Anthony arranged for Eddy to undertake two stints at two New York houses with which the London business had long-standing associations: Kuhn Loeb, and the Guaranty Trust Company. It was whilst in America, in March 1947, that Eddy received a telegram from his uncle Anthony which read “pleased to inform you have been admitted to partnership with effect from 1 January 1947”. Speaking to Anthony on the telephone afterwards, Eddy recalled that “he [Anthony] did not know whether to offer me his congratulations or to commiserate”!  

Senior Partner, N M Rothschild & Sons

Edmund de Rothschild effectively became head of the English branch of the family firm in 1955, when his uncle Anthony suffered a severe stroke. From 1952, Mr Edmund's chief preoccupation was with what was then the most costly project ever undertaken by private enterprise: the development of the vast hydroelectric potential of the Hamilton (later Churchill) Falls in Labrador. He led the consortium, and crossed the Atlantic more than 400 times over the 20 years the project took to complete.

In 1960, his position as Senior Partner was confirmed. He opened the partnership to non-family members, beginning with David Colville, brother of Sir John Colville, Churchill's private secretary who was appointed in July 1960 as the first non-Rothschild partner. Mr Edmund presided over the bank's transition from a highly conservative family firm to a modern institution, and oversaw the demolition and rebuilding of New Court 1962-1965. In 1966, Mr Edmund de Rothschild welcomed the Japanese Economic Mission to Europe to New Court strengthening ties between the UK and Japan; in 1973, The Order of the Sacred Treasure, one of Japan’s highest honours, was conferred upon Edmund de Rothschild by Emperor Hirohito.

The first Chairman, N M Rothschild & Sons Limited

Edmund de Rothschild bcame the first Chairman of N M Rothschild & Sons Limited in 1970, when the firm became the last London accepting house to relinquish its private partnership status. He stepped down as chairman in 1975, to be succeeded briefly by his cousin Victor, 3rd Lord Rothschild (1910-1990), and then by his cousin Sir Evelyn de Rothschild (b.1931). Mr Edmund de Rothschild died on 17 January 2009, aged 93.

Business papers of Edmund de Rothschild


Sundry business papers of Edmund de Rothschild will be found listed below. See also records of the Secretariat Department.

Partners' Room: Mr Edmund de Rothschild, personal ledger, 'EdeR Notes 1946/7', 1947; 1961

000/1249/2, 1 volume

Office of Mr Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009), sundry papers: personal ledger: volume entitled EdeR Notes 1946/7'. Educated at Trinity College Cambridge, Edmund de Rothschild  was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world in 1937. Returning in May 1939, he joined N M Rothschild & Sons until the outbreak of war in September, re-joining the bank in 1946, becoming a Partner in 1947. This volume comprises notes made by Mr Edmund de Rothschild upon first entering employment at N M Rothschild & Sons, recording how New Court and the business worked. Included in the volume as a later addition is a listing of staff for 1961, together with their individual starting dates. Mr Edmund de Rothschild retained this volume in his office, until 2003, when Mr Edmund relocated his office from 18 St. Swithin's Lane to Exbury.

Partners' Room, Mr Edmund de Rothschild, Special Correspondence files, 46 series, selected files, 1947-1996

000/757, 000/874, 000/2018, 000/2059, 42 files

Papers of Mr Edmund de Rothschild in the 46 series of files maintained by NMR Corporate Records Department. Selected files selected concern the re-building of New Court, correspondence relating to the Royal Mint Refinery, matters relating to the Exbury estate, and various charities with which Mr Edmund was involved, correspondence with notable individuals and cards and photographs sent to Edmund from family and friends. Most files are closed.

Office of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, artefacts, 1937

000/1911/46, 1 item

Silver plate engineer-turned cigarette box monogram ‘E de R’ (Edmund de Rothschild) on lid, inscribed inside ‘Jan 3 1937, with very best wishes [name illegible]’. From Mr Edmund's desk at New Court.

Office of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, artefacts, 1957

000/1911/21, 1 item

Commemorative silver and wooden item, marked ‘Part of the First Board produced at the Rainham Plant of British Plimber, 1957’. Plimber was an artificial material made from waste materials such a sawdust, straw and other fibres to create a high-grade, low-cost material that could be cut in pre-fabricated sections for constructions purposes such as inner walls, partitions and flooring. MR handled business for British Plimber.

Office of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, artefacts, 1962

000/1911/30, 1 item

Maundy Money coins, in leather case, presented to Mr Edmund de Rothschild by Master of Mint [Sir Jack James] when he lunched at New Court, 13 September 1962. 

Office of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, artefacts, 1964

000/1911/28, 2 items

Piece of silver nugget, with explanatory letter: ‘Pure silver, presented to Mr.Edmund de Rothschild, by Prime Minister John Robarts of the Province of Ontario at the Official opening of Ontario House, June 4 1964. Taken from the world-famous Gillies Nugget, discovered in Cobalt Ontario 1923, the largest pure silver nugget in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Weight – 1500lbs. Value $18,000.00.”

Office of Mr Edmund de Rothschild, photographs, c.1994

000/1002, 1 item

Colour photograph of Mr Edmund de Rothschild with Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, President of Chile (1994-2000), signed by both men, c.1994.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls)

In 1952, Joseph Smallwood,  premier of Newfoundland and Labrador proposed a plan to foster the development of 50,000 square miles in Labrador and 10,000 square miles in Newfoundland, an area of huge untapped mineral wealth with deposits which included iron ore, copper, nickel, cobalt and uranium. Churchill Falls offered significant advantages as a potential hydro-electric power site. On a visit to Britain, he put his ideas to Anthony de Rothschild (1887-1961).

A great many people shared a vision that Churchill Falls would not only provide a world class source of hydro-electricity but the opportunity to bring other economic development activity to Newfoundland and Labrador. In response to the province's desire to see its largely untapped water and mineral resources developed, a group of banking and industrial firms established the British Newfoundland Corporation Limited (BRINCO) in 1953 to take over the development concession.

N M Rothschild & Sons was one of the founder shareholders, together with Rio Tinto, Bowaters, Anglo-American, English Electric, Frobishers and Anglo-Newfoundland Development Corporation. The prime mover of the enterprise throughout was the late Edmund de Rothschild (1916-2009). It was his enthusiasm in the project which had helped to found BRINCO and in the ensuing years he made more than 200 trips to Canada.

BRINCO was granted exclusive mineral and water rights for a 20 year period over more than 129,450 square kilometres (50,000 square miles) in both Newfoundland and Labrador, including the right to develop the river systems in both areas. Under the terms of its agreement with the province, BRINCO undertook to carry out extensive exploration within Newfoundland. The major accomplishment of BRINCO was the Churchill Falls hydro-electric project. BRINCO turned its attention to the unused water power of the Churchill Falls. The harnessing of the Falls was the largest construction job tackled by a private company anywhere at that time. Its billion dollar cost dwarfed that of any previous Canadian enterprise. It was officially inaugurated in 1972.

Most NMR records relating to this project are not yet available for research, although some published and printed materials are available in the collections of the Archive. A large number of files concerning BRINCO will be found in the Secretariat Department 1 series files. See also BRINCO: The Story of Churchill Falls, Phillip Smith (McClelland & Stewart Limited, Toronto: 1975), a copy of which is available in the Reading Room.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), maps, 1947; 1955

000/1197, 2 items

Map of Labrador (1:1,013,760), 1947, with hand colouring and attached legend showing land concessions and licences; map of Newfoundland (1:633,600), 1955.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), artefacts, 1966

000/2158, 1 items

Two framed items that relate to the BRINCO project, Churchill Falls, a a major NMR project led by Mr Edmund de Rothschild: framed photograph, inscription and pen. Inscription reads: 'Pen used to sign the Letter of Intent on October 13, 1966 between Hydro-Quebec and Churchill Falls 'Labrador' Corporation which after several permitted development to proceed on the Churchill Falls Power Project. Presented to Edmund L de Rothschild, one of the Fathers of BRINCO, by D J McParland, President of Churchill Falls 'Labrador' Corporation and principal signatory for the Company'; framed specimen share certificate, 'BRINCO Limited'.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), 'Churchill Falls News', 1967-1973

000/1018/355, 7 volumes

Churchill Fall News, 1967-1973, a bound set of weekly reports published by Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited: Vol 1, 1967-1968 (2 copies); Vol 2, 1968-1969; Vol 3, 1969-1970; Vol 4, 1970-1971; Vol 5, 1971-1972; Vol 6, 1972-1973.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), artefacts, commemorative medallion, 1972

000/624/7, 000/2736/5, 2 items

Two examples of a BRINCO commemorative medallion in a presentation case, 1972. The medallion commemorates the completion of the Churchill Falls hydro-electic power project. One side features the words "Churchill Falls (Labrador) Corporation Limited" with a representation of water and waves, and the words "7,000,000 H.P.". The other side bears the name "BRINCO" and the company logo.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), photographs, 1958

000/1197, 15 items

Black and white photographs of Hamilton Falls, Labrador, June-September 1958. 

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), secondary sources, 'Maclean's' magazine, 1956

000/1805/1, 2 items

Maclean’s 'Canada's National Magazine',  7 July  1956, The magazine includes an article 'The Rothschilds' fabulous stake in Canada' concerning the investments and developments of Anthony and Edmund de Rothschild in Canada.

BRINCO (Churchill Falls), secondary sources, 'Time & Tide' magazine, 1970

000/1805/2, 1 folder

Copies of issues of Time & Tide, 'The British news magazine', published between January-March 1970. The issues contain a series of brief articles by about NM Rothschild & Sons, BRINCO and Churchill Falls.

  • Time & Tide, 29 January-4 February 1970. The magazine includes an article 'A visit to Rothschilds'. A photograph of Mr Edmund de Rothschild features on the cover.
  • Time & Tide, 5 February-11 February 1970. The magazine includes an article on the Churchill Falls project. 
  • Time & Tide, 12 February-18 February 1970. The magazine includes a second article by Mr Edmund de Rothschild on the Churchill Falls project. A photograph of Mr Edmund de Rothschild features on the cover. 
  • Time & Tide, 19 February-25 February 1970. The magazine includes the final part of a three-part article by Mr Edmund de Rothschild on the Churchill Falls project.
  • Time & Tide, 26 February-4 March 1970. The magazine includes an article on the Churchill Falls project.
  • Time & Tide, 5 March 11 March 1970. The magazine includes an article on the Churchill Falls project.