Being a family historian is a true labour of love, but it is also quite the learning process. We are going to try something much different. Instead of doing a monthly newsletter or even a quarterly newsletter we will do a blog. Here is where I can post neat things that I have found or post the puzzlers that I run up against.
Join me as I time travel through time uncovering stories of our wonderful ancestors!!
Thursday, 30 June 2016
Week 26: Rothschild Relish
A few years ago I came to realize that there were a number of
people in our tree that had published books to their credit.
Some were born in the family and some married into the family. I created a Palin bibliography and listed all
the books that I could find online written by family members. I also hoped
that perhaps one day I might be able to find and purchase one or two of these books.
Here is a brief book review of one of those books that I was able
In the summer of 1925 Ronald Palin as a young man of 17 had an
interview for a new job that would change his life. He wrote in the first paragraph of the book
that he was not even sure he was at the right place. "The words "New Court" were nowhere visible
and there was no name-plate or other indication that this was the office of
N.M. Rothschild & Sons."
He had to pass the security, a man wearing a blue serge suit
topped with a bowler hat and then handed over to an escort that took him to the
office of the Staff Manager. The staff manager was sitting at a massive old
fashioned desk with his back to a fireplace and windows that over looked the
courtyard. Ronald verified that he was introduced to the firm by a director of
the Bank of England who was a friend of his father. The staff manager then asked if Ronald could
spell the words "parallel" and "acknowledgement". Ronald spelled the words correctly and
then was taken to meet with Mr. Lionel de Rothschild.
Ronald stated "The Room" which was to play a large
part of his life was a large and lofty chamber with a fireplace at each end of
the room, glossy wood paneling up eight feet high and then white plaster above
that. There were two massive mahogany desks
with brass edges. He had to cross the
vast expanse of thick Turkish carpet and was invited to sit in an armchair that
was covered in a dark reddish brown leather.
Ronald stated that when he first laid eyes on Lionel de Rothschild he
was smoking a cigar and his last site of him many years later, Lionel was
smoking a cigar.
In the "get to know you" part of the interview
Ronald stated that he had wanted to go into the Royal Navy but because of short
sight he was turned down. He also stated
that he really wanted next to go to Oxford for which he was possibly going to get a
Lionel de Rothschild then responded with "If you are
going to come, you’d better come now" then quickly followed by "It
will be ten years before we know whether you are going to be any use to us or
On September 29 1925, Ronald Palin entered the service of
N.M. Rothschild and Sons at a salary of 100£ per year. Over the next 11 chapters, Ronald described the different positions that he held within the
company and the people that he met and the travels he took.
He stated that the book is not a history of the firm and no
secret details of financial operations would be revealed. It is not a biography of the Rothschild family, nor is the book an autobiography of Ronald’s life. Ronald stated that he “attempted to convey in
a light hearted manner something of the unique flavour of life at New Court and
something of the nature and atmosphere of that awkward, inconvenient but strangely
lovable building”. He also wrote “New Court is where he worked
and played; where he ate and drank and occasionally slept; where he was by turn
happy and miserable, exhilarated and frightened; where he met good men and bad,
charming nonentities and dull celebrities, beggars and multi-millionaires,
statesmen and tycoons and the boys with brains in the back rooms of the world.”
In 1962 the first sledge hammers started the renovation of New
Court and in 1965 the offices were moved into the new building. Ronald referred to this as a “Dawn of a new Era”. On his fortieth anniversary with the company he
had moved up the corporate ladder and had the position of Secretary of the
firm. Ronald wrote that the Secretary
was concerned with specific charities, activities and appeals and nothing to do
with banking. The work was political, diplomatic,
literary, artistic, even philosophical and he loved it!
Ronald ends the book by saying that he was called into the
senior partner’s office. The senior
partner liked to run ideas or rough drafts by Ronald – so that Ronald could
tweak them or loving referred to as “Palinese” them into perfection.