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Nathan Mayer Rothschild (1777-1836)

Born in Frankfurt on 16 September 1777, Nathan Mayer Rothschild died in that city on 28 July 1836. In the intervening 59 years, Nathan Mayer Rothschild - the name he never changed in spite of honours offered and declined - led his brothers to the pinnacle of the financial world.

Nathan Mayer Rothschild, the first of his brothers to found a branch of the family firm, arrived in Britain in 1798, aged 21. With funds from his father's merchant house, he made his first home in Manchester, the centre of the English cotton trade, establishing himself as an innovative textile merchant in the closing years of the eighteenth century, setting up a cloth wholesale business - N M Rothschild - to streamline the supply of printed cottons and other textiles from British manufactories to the European markets. He quickly became accepted as a 'Manchester man' and then after a decade, encouraged by his success, moved to London to establish himself as a banker.

Nathan in London

The emergence of a London branch of the merchant house of Rothschild was a direct result of the rapid decline in British textile exports during the Continental Blockade.  This slump took its toll on the business of commission agents like Nathan Rothschild, and obliged to develop other aspects of business, Nathan looked to London to extend the purely financial activities of his mercantile trade - discount and acceptance, for which he was gaining a considerable reputation.  His marriage to Hannah Cohen, the daughter of one of London's wealthiest Jewish merchants, in 1806 cemented his position in the capital. Upon arriving in London in March 1809, Nathan moved to New Court St Swithin’s Lane, establishing N M Rothschild as a finance house dealing in bullion and foreign exchange. The Manchester business was renamed 'Rothschild Brothers', but by 1811 was wound up in favour of N M Rothschild of New Court in the City.

Many of the business areas in which the Rothschilds excel today can be traced to Nathan's time: bullion, services to government, and experience of industrial finance, including expertise in natural resources. 

Business papers of Nathan Mayer Rothschild

 

Very little of Nathan's personal private correspondence from this time survives in the Archive. See Early London Business papers and  records of the Correspondence Department. See also Rothschild Family papers: Nathan Mayer Rothschild.