Alfred de Rothschild, banker, 1842-1918

Welcome to this site on the life and times of Alfred de  Rothschild

Alfred de Rothschild in suitably relaxed pose, at his home of Halton House, Buckinghamshire 

 

 Baron Alfred Charles de Rothschild

 1842-1918

Alfred de Rothschild has no published biography. He  has very little coverage in his own right  in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Moreover, there is only a cursory reference to him and his life in the numerous books about the Rothschild dynasty. 

 

There are many more references to him  in old newspapers – including his role ( with his brothers ) as a renowned banker and a patron of the arts. There is wide spread mention of his popularity as a host ( in late Victorian and Edwardian Society )  and for attending social gatherings, especially the theatre and the opera.

Alfred’s vast wealth brought him many contacts with celebrities,  politicians,  Royalty and foreigners.  Some narratives portray him much less as a businessman and typically show off his human traits and whimsical qualities and great acts of generosity to others in need  and in support for good causes including the stage and its artists.  He lavished large sums of money rebuilding his country home of Halton House in Buckinghamshire and filled it and his London house at 1 Seamore Place with fabulous  pictures, ceramics and antiques.   He was an insatiable collector.

 

         Alfred and Almina, Countess of Carnarvon

 

Alfred de Rothschild acted to ensure that his supplanted love-child, Almina Wombwell  ( she is  sometimes described as his god-child and he as her guardian) was well provided for. Alfred acted as Cupid in the marriage of Almina Wombwell ( 1876-1969) to George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon ( 1866-1923).    Besides this Alfred made sure that Almina’s mother Marie Boyer ( Mrs. Frederick Wombwell) was well treated. Alfred’s own family were lukewarm towards Almina and ice cold towards Marie, whom they  dubbed ( behind her back ) Mrs Rothchild or Mrs Wombwell.  The Carnarvons, especially Elsie, the 4th Countess ( the 4th Earl’s second wife ) were equally insensitive towards Marie.

 

But the Wombwells  obliged – especially Marie’s husband with his early death in 1889, and the Wombwell  family  saw that  Almina reached a marriageable state, and presentation at Court, without recourse to disgracing the Wombwell name. 

Yet it was  Alfred who  spring-boarded Almina into the British aristocracy by the side door, and made her a Countess by throwing cash at the 5th Earl of Carnarvon,  and covering  his considerable gambling and personal debts.  Alfred  placed additional sums of money and bounty in Lord Carnarvon’s hands after the marriage and also within Almina’s own control – and made the Carnarvons the principal inheritors of his personal wealth and assets.  Almina inherited 1 Seamore Place with its fabulous contents in 1918.

 

It was Alfred de Rothschild's wealth that largely funded the 5th Earl's many years of  work in Egypt, with Howard Carter, leading to the great discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamun, by Carter, in November 1922.  That immense discovery reaches its 90th anniversary in 2012.

Alfred  de Rothschild had relationships with men and women and enjoyed the good life.  He was born in 1842 and died in 1918 at the age of  76.   

This site is dedicated to Alfred de Rothschild, by William Cross, FSA Scot, whose biography of Almina, Countess of Carnarvon entitled " The Life and Secrets of Almina Carnarvon" will be completed in 2011.

William Cross, FSA Scot, is a writer and researcher based in Newport, South Wales, UK.  For further information please contact Will by e-mail -details below

williecross@virginmedia.com

 

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