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Nathan Meyer Rothschild

Rothschild, Nathan Meyer, 1777–1836, British banker, b. Frankfurt, Germany; of the famous Rothschild family. He went to England in 1797, was naturalized in 1804, and opened a business house in London in 1805. He acted as agent of the British government in supplying subsidies to the powers opposing Napoleon I and was of vital help in the defeat of the French emperor. Aside from his financial acumen, Rothschild was aided in his transactions by a very efficient information service. Thus he was informed of the allied victory at Waterloo by carrier pigeons and, in a single day, made a fortune and saved the London stock exchange from collapse by buying up all the shares sold by frightened investors. In 1822 he became Austrian consul general in England but never carried the title of baron presented to him by Austria. His loans to France, Russia, and other countries (particularly in South America) were popular in England because they required repayment in sterling, thereby avoiding disadvantageous exchange-rate fluctuations.

After his death the house of Rothschild was dominated by his son, Baron Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, 1808–79, who established a virtual family monopoly for the flotation of large international loans. He handled the Irish famine loan (1847) and the Crimean War loan (1856). First elected to the House of Commons in 1847, he was not able to assume his seat until 1858, when he was finally allowed to take the parliamentary oath in a manner acceptable to his Jewish faith.

See R. Davis, The English Rothschilds (1984).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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