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Armorial Bearings (NMR)

The Rothschild Name and Arms

The Rothschild family take their name from the house they occupied in the Judengasse in Frankfurt -'zum Roten Schild' (house of the Red Shield). The origins of the family coat of arms can be traced back to 1817, and the family motto, 'Concordia, Integritas, Industria' (Harmony, Integrity, Industry) to 1822.

Patent for the first Rothschild coat of arms, 1817

The title of nobility granted to the Rothschilds by Austria permitted the use of the 'von' in the name and stems from an Order in Council of Francis I of 21 October 1816. The design submitted by the brothers for their Arms was accompanied by a letter of explanation in Salomon's hand. The proposed design included: First quarter, an eagle sable surcharged in dexter by a field gules (referring to the Imperial and Royal Austrian Coat of Arms); Second quarter, gules, a leopard passant proper (referring to the English Coat of Arms); Third quarter, a lion rampant (referring to the Hessian Electoral Coat of Arms); Fourth quarter, azure, an arm bearing five arrows (a symbol of the unity of the five brothers). In the centre of the coat a shield gules. Right hand supporter, a greyhound, a symbol of loyalty; left supporter, a stork, a symbol of piety and content. Crest: a coronet surmounted by the lion of Hesse.  

The Rothschilds asked for separate patents of nobility for each of the four brothers as they lived in different countries. The separate patents were granted, but the design was considered too grand.  The response to the application had a 'suitable' design attached to it, without the coronet, heraldic animals supporting the shield, or the lion and leopard.  Also, the arm grasped just four arrows.  A letter in the Archive from Amschel to Salomon and Nathan in November 1816 reads, ".....James and Carl received the nobility.  It is a pity that Nathan did not want it."  

English grant of arms, 1818

The grant to Nathan and his heirs, and also to his brothers and their heirs, refers to Nathan's brothers as 'de' Rothschild. It was accompanied by the following armorial design: Azure, a lion passant guardant erminois grasping five arrows the pheons downwards, or, and for the crest on a wreath of the colours, out of a crown vallery gules a demi lion erminois holding between the paws five arrows as in the arms.

Austrian Barony granted by Imperial Decree, 1822

The design for the arms was modified at this stage: the seven-pointed coronet was restored, the lion was granted, there were five arrows, the lion and unicorn as supporters, three helmets and a latin motto. The lion was an important concession as far as the brothers were concerned, and they felt that its inclusion in the English Arms was a triumph which helped in the negotiations with the Austrian Heralds.  The Barony was granted to the five brothers and their heirs and descendants of both sexes. The description of the Arms is as follows: 

Arms: A pointed gold and blue quartered shield with a red central shield, in the middle of which is a right-facing shield; above right on a golden shield is a simple black eagle with open jaws, red outstretched tongue, wings spread, taken from the Arms; above left and below right in the two blue fields comes out of each edge of the shield a bare arm, the hands of which hold five white-feathered arrows with the points downwards; below left on a golden field is an upright natural Lion with open jaws, red outstretched tongue.

Crest: The shield is surmounted by a baronial crown, wound round with small pearls and decorated with five large pearls, topped with three crowns which are surrounded with, on the right, black and gold and on the left blue and silver covering, on top of noble "tournament-style" helmets; from the crown positioned above the visor of the helmet in the centre stands the eagle as described above, the helmets on the right and left are turned towards one another, from the crown on the right helmet floats a golden star between two alternately coloured gold and black buffalo horns, from the crown on the left helmet come three ostrich feathers, viz. two blue and one silver.

Supporters: In the foreground as supporters are, right, an upright golden lion with open jaws, red outstretched tongue, and holding the shield with the forepaws; left a silver unicorn, likewise supporting the arms with front feet. 

Motto: Beneath the shield are written on a flowing red and white band the Latin words: 'Concordia, Integritas, Industria' (Harmony, Integrity, Industry).

Armorial bearings: registration of NMR Grant of Arms with College of Arms, 1962

000/264, 1 item

NMR Secretary’s Department: NMR armorial bearings, 1962: copy of registration of Grant of Arms with College of Arms 10 January 1962.

Armorial bearings: artwork for registration of NMR Grant of Arms with College of Arms, 1962; 1987

000/1314, 4 items

NMR Secretary’s Department: Artwork for armorial bearings and badge granted to N M Rothschild & Sons in 1962, with note and compliments slip from D.H.B. Chesshyre, Chester Herald, College of Arms, dated 4 November 1987.

Armorial bearings: Royal Licence for Grant of Arms to N M Rothschild & Sons Limited and sundry images of Rothschild Grants of Arms, [1962]; 1988-1989

000/839; 000/1026, 3 files

NMR Secretary’s Department: sundry papers concerning armorial bearings and photographic images of 'Rothschild' grants of arms: original 1988 Royal Licence for grant of arms to N M Rothschild & Sons Limited;artist's sketch of 1822 Austrian arms c.1989; certified copy from the Register of the College of Arms of the 1818 English Grant of arms c.1910; Photographic reproductions of six different versions of the Rothschild family grant of arms:

  • Austrian grant of arms, 25 May 1817
  • English grant of arms, 26 February 1818
  • English grant of arms, 29 June 1885
  • Austrian grant of arms, 29 September 1822
  • Austrian grant of arms (English Royal Licence), 16 June 1838
  • English grant of arms (NMR), 10 September 1962

Armorial bearings: N M Rothschild & Sons Limited: Letters Patent, 1992

000/2162, 1 item

Framed illuminated and decorated vellum Letters Patent, dated 1990, issued on the advice of Garter King of Arms licencing a change of name to the corporate coat of arms granted to N M Rothschild & Sons Limited, by the monarch through the College of Arms. This document is a Royal Licence, that is to say a licence in the form of a warrant from the Crown directed to the Kings of Arms instructing them to exemplify the transferred arms or a version of them to the licensee in a new name, authorising the use of arms blazon therein as the perpetual property of the petitioner (N M Rothschild & Sons Limited).

Transcript available