Charles Rothschild

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Charles Rothschild
Charles Rothschild
Nathaniel Charles Rothschild

(1877-05-09)9 May 1877
London, England
Died12 October 1923(1923-10-12) (aged 46)
Occupation(s)Banker, entomologist
(after 1907)
ChildrenMiriam Rothschild
Elizabeth Charlotte Rothschild
Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild
Pannonica Rothschild
Parent(s)Nathan Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild
Emma Louise von Rothschild

Nathaniel Charles Rothschild (9 May 1877 – 12 October 1923) was an English banker and entomologist and a member of the Rothschild family. He is remembered for The Rothschild List, a list he made in 1915 of 284 sites across Britain that he considered suitable for nature reserves.


A slide of a plague flea collected and described by Rothschild and his colleague Wollaston

Nathaniel "Charles" Rothschild was the son of Nathan Rothschild, 1st Baron Rothschild, and Emma Rothschild (née von Rothschild), who were cousins and Jewish members of the Rothschild banking clan. Charles predeceased his older brother Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild (1868–1937), who died without issue. The peerage therefore passed to Charles's son Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild. Charles boarded at Harrow School, which he found somewhat traumatising for incidents of bullying on account of his religion.[1]

He worked as a partner in the family bank NM Rothschild and Sons in London. He went to Rothschild's Bank every morning; despite all his interest in science and in natural history, he never missed a day. He was also very interested in the gold refinery operated by Rothschild's, and invented a variety of devices for collecting gold, and working on gold from a scientific point of view. He also became Chairman of the Alliance Assurance Company.[2]



Like his zoologist brother Walter, Charles devoted much of his energies to entomology and natural history collecting. His enormous collection of some 260,000 fleas is now in the Rothschild Collection at the Natural History Museum; he described about 500 new flea species.[3] One of these, which he discovered and named, was the Bubonic plague vector flea, Xenopsylla cheopis, also known as the oriental rat flea, which he collected at Shendi, Sudan, on an expedition in 1901, publishing his finding in 1903.[4]

Nature conservation[edit]

The bungalow in Woodwalton Fen, built by Rothschild in 1911 as a base for field trips

Rothschild is regarded as a pioneer of nature conservation in Britain, and is credited with establishing the UK's first nature reserve when he bought Wicken Fen, near Ely, in 1899.[5] Wicken Fen was presented to the National Trust but the Trust declined to take Woodwalton Fen, near Huntingdon, which Rothschild bought in 1910, and this wetland, now a National Nature Reserve, was kept as a private nature reserve.[6] In 1911 Rothschild built a bungalow at Woodwalton Fen as a base for fields trips, which still stands.[7][8] During his lifetime he built and managed his estate at Ashton Wold[9] in Northamptonshire to maximise its suitability for wildlife, especially butterflies. He was concerned about the loss of wildlife habitats, and in 1912 set up the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves, the forerunner of The Wildlife Trusts partnership. In 1915 he produced "The Rothschild List",[10] a schedule of the best 284 wildlife sites in the country, some of which were purchased as nature reserves.[6]

Public service[edit]

As well as a Lieutenant of the City of London, Rothschild became a JP for the county of Northamptonshire in 1902.[11] He served as High Sheriff of Northamptonshire for 1905.[12]

Personal life[edit]

In 1907, Rothschild married Rózsika Edle von Wertheimstein (1870–1940), a descendant of an old Austrian-Jewish family that was ennobled long before the Rothschilds.[13] She was born in 1870 at Nagyvárad, Hungary (now the Romanian city of Oradea), the daughter of a retired army officer, Baron Alfred Edler von Wertheimstein. Alfred's sister Charlotte was married to Moritz von Königswarter [de].[14] Rózsika was one of seven children and had been a champion lawn tennis player in Hungary.[15]

After their marriage on 6 February 1907, they lived at Tring and in London. Rothschild, who worked in the family's banking business, was a dedicated naturalist in his spare time: the young couple had met on a butterfly-collecting trip in the Carpathian Mountains. In the evening, they might go together to a concert or a dinner party, but he really preferred to sort out his butterflies. Together, they had four children:

Suffering from encephalitis, in 1923 Rothschild died by suicide.[16] His suicide, when he was 46 years old, was a severe shock to his wife and four children. Rózsika died on 30 June 1940.[17]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hannah Rothschild, "The Butterfly Effect", Bonhams Magazine, Spring 2009, page 21.
  2. ^ Who Was Who, 1916-1928. A and C Black. 1947. p. 1277.
  3. ^ "Siphonaptera collections". Natural History Museum, London. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Charles Rothschild". The Wildlife Trusts. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Charles Rothschild: The banker who changed the world for good". The Independent. 12 May 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b Barnes, Simon (2015). "Prophet and Loss". Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  7. ^ "Woodwalton Fen". Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire Wildlife Trust. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  8. ^ "Naturalist's bungalow gets a face-lift". The Hunts Post. 5 July 2011.
  9. ^ Pevsner, Nikolaus (1961). The Buildings of England – Northamptonshire. London and New Haven: Yale University Press. pp. 94–5. ISBN 978-0-300-09632-3.
  10. ^ "The Rothschild List: 1915-2015 A review 100 years on" (PDF). The Wildlife Trusts. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  11. ^ Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1916. Kelly's. p. 1277.
  12. ^ "No. 27777". The London Gazette. 21 March 1905. p. 2179.
  13. ^ Fraenkel, Josef (1967). The Jews of Austria: Essays on their Life, History and Destruction. Vallentine, Mitchell. p. 103. ISBN 9780853030003.
  14. ^ Drewes, Kai (2013). Jüdischer Adel: Nobilitierungen von Juden im Europa des 19. Jahrhunderts. Campus Verlag. p. 361. ISBN 9783593397757.
  15. ^ "February 2016: Portrait of Rozsika Rothschild, c.1910". The Rothschild Archives. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  16. ^ "Nathaniel (Charles) Rothschild (1877-1923)| Rothschild Family". Retrieved 31 July 2017.
  17. ^ "The Rothschild Archive :: Genealogy".