Hannah de Rothschild
Hannah Primrose, Countess of Rosebery (27 July 1851 – 19 November 1890) was the daughter of Mayer de Rothschild and his wife Juliana, née Cohen. Upon the death of her father in 1874 she became the richest woman in Britain. During the final quarter of the 19th century her husband, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, was one of the most celebrated figures in Britain, an influential millionaire and politician, whose charm, wit, charisma and public popularity gave him such standing that he "almost eclipsed royalty." Yet his Jewish wife, during her lifetime regarded as dull, overweight and lacking in beauty, remains an enigmatic figure largely ignored by historians and often regarded as notable only for financing her husband's three ambitions: to marry an heiress, win the Epsom Derby, and become Prime Minister (the second and third of these possibly apocryphal ambitions were achieved after her death).
In truth, she was her husband's driving force and motivation. Her marriage into the aristocracy, while controversial at the time, gave her the social cachet in an antisemitic society that her vast fortune could not. She subsequently became a political hostess and philanthropist. Her charitable work was principally in the sphere of public health and causes associated with the welfare of working-class Jewish women living in the poorer districts of London.
Hannah de Rothschild was born into a world of great wealth and luxury. She was the granddaughter of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, who had founded N M Rothschild & Sons, the English branch of the Rothschilds' banking empire. Niall Ferguson states in his History of the House of Rothschild that by the mid-19th century the Rothschilds regarded themselves as the nearest thing the Jews of Europe had to a royal family, and the equals of royalty. Whether or not this was strictly true, the many Rothschild homes and their art collections, in England, Austria, France and Germany, certainly rivaled those of the crowned heads of Europe.