Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839–1898) was a member of the prominent Rothschild banking family of Jewish origin which played a significant role in the economic development of Europe in the 19th century. Born in Paris, France, he later moved to England, becoming a British subject and a notable figure in British society and politics.

Background and early life

Ferdinand de Rothschild was born into the wealthy and influential Rothschild family. He was born in Paris, but his family was from Vienna. His father was Baron Anselm von Rothschild, a prominent banker in the Austrian Empire, and his mother was Charlotte von Rothschild, a member of the Naples branch of the family. This pan-European banking dynasty was known for its wealth, philanthropy, and patronage of the arts.

Ferdinand possessed the hereditary title Freiherr in the Austrian nobility.

Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild

Work with the Jewish community

In 1868-1875, Rothschild was Treasurer of the Jewsih Board of Guardians. For a time, he was also Warden of the Central Synagogue.

Political career

In 1883, Rotschild was High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire.

Ferdinand de Rothschild served as a Member of Parliament (MP) for the Liberal Party, representing the Aylesbury constituency from 1885 until his death in 1898. He was originally adopted as a Liberal candiate for St George’s in the East, but contested the Aylesbury seat instead – a seat which he won and held until his death.

His tenure in politics was marked by his advocacy for social reforms and his contributions to debates on economic and cultural matters, reflecting his broader interests in the welfare of society.

The issue of Irish Home Rule prompted Rotschild to joint the Liberal Unionists and many meetings were held at his Waddesdon Manor home. Eventually, this led to the formation of the Unionist-Conservative alliance.

Waddesdon Manor

Ferdinand is known for creating Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, England. Completed in 1883, this grand estate was built in the style of a French château, reflecting Ferdinand’s French roots and his family’s affinity for French culture and art.

Waddesdon Manor housed his vast collection of arts, antiques, and rare manuscripts, becoming a symbol of the Rothschild family’s wealth and status. Today, it is managed by the National Trust and remains a significant cultural and historical landmark, open to the public.

Philanthropy and cultural contributions

A notable philanthropist, Ferdinand de Rothschild contributed to various charitable causes and cultural institutions. He was involved in the funding of hospitals, educational institutions, and other philanthropic ventures.

His cultural contributions extended beyond the creation of Waddesdon Manor; he was also an important supporter of the British Museum. From 1896, he was a trustee of the museum, which led to him bequeathing his Renaissance collection to them. This collection – comprised of nearly 300 precious objects, including Renaissance treasures and medieval artifacts – is now exhibited as the Waddesdon Bequest.

Marriage and children

Just like his father, Ferdinand married another member of the vast Rothschild family, when in June 1865, he was wed to his second cousin Evelina de Rotchild (1839-1866). In December the following year, their son was stillborn and Evelina died later the same day.

In memory of those he had lost, Ferdinan Rothschild built, equipped and endowed the Evelina Hospital for Sick Children in Southwark, London.


Ferdinand the Rotschold died at Waddesdon Manor on his 59th birthday, the 17th of December, 1898. It is said that he died from complications of a cold that developed after a visit to his wife’s tomb. He was burried next to her at the Rotschild Mausoleum in the Jewsih Cemetery at West Ham, London.


Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild’s legacy is multifaceted, encompassing his contributions to British politics, philanthropy, and the arts. Waddesdon Manor stands as a testament to his taste, wealth, and dedication to preserving the cultural heritage of his family and the broader European artistic traditions.

His philanthropic efforts and political service highlight a commitment to public welfare and cultural enrichment that characterized much of the Rothschild family’s activities. Through his lasting contributions to British cultural and social life, Ferdinand de Rothschild remains a significant figure in the history of the Rothschild dynasty and British society.