Nathaniel Mayer Victor Rothschild, 3rd Baron Rothschild, CBE, GM, FRS (October 31, 1910 – March 20, 1990) was a biologist by training and a member of the prominent Rothschild family. He was the son of Charles Rothschild and Rozsika Edle Rothschild (née von Wertheimstein).
He was educated at the Harrow School and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read Physiology, French and English and played cricket for the University. At Cambridge he was known for his playboy lifestyle, driving a Bugatti and collecting art and rare books.
At Trinity, Rothschild joined the secret society, the Cambridge Apostles, which at that time was predominantly Marxist, where he became friends with KGB spies Guy Burgess and Anthony Blunt, who were also members. Rothschild gave Blunt £100 to purchase a painting by Nicholas Poussin, and took up the cause of socialism. He is also alleged to have supplied an apartment in London where Burgess and Blunt could meet, leading to suspicions that he was the so-called Fifth Man in the Cambridge Spy Ring. The Fifth Man has never been formally identified, although more than a dozen names have been suggested, including that of John Cairncross.
Rothschild inherited his title at the age of 26 following the death of his uncle Walter Rothschild, 2nd Baron Rothschild on 27 August 1937 and sat as a Labour Party peer in the House of Lords.
World War II
Rothschild was recruited to work for MI5 during World War II in roles including bomb disposal, disinformation and espionage, winning the George Medal. Because of his association with the Burgess and Blunt, he was questioned by Special Branch at the time of Blunt's unmasking in 1964 and was apparently cleared, subsequently working on projects for the British government. Rumours continued to circulate, and Rothschild himself took the step of publishing a letter in British newspapers on 3 December 1986 to state "... I am not, and never have been, a Soviet agent." Roland Perry's 1994 book The Fifth Man repeated the charges without firm authority, and there remains no evidence to suggest that Rothschild spied for the Soviet Union.
After the war, he joined the zoology department at Cambridge University from 1950 to 1970. He served as chairman of the Agricultural Research Council from 1948 to 1958 and as worldwide head of research at Royal Dutch/Shell from 1963 to 1970. He continued to work in security issues, namely as a security adviser to Margaret Thatcher. He was also head of the Central Policy Review Staff from 1971 to 1974 (known popularly as the "Think Tank"), a high-level committee which provided policy advice to government until Margaret Thatcher abolished it. In 1982 he published An Enquiry into the Social Science Research Council at the behest of Keith Joseph.
In 1933, he married Barbara Judith Hutchinson (born 1911) with whom he had three children:
- Sarah Rothschild (born 1934)
- Jacob (born 1936) (later 4th Baron Rothschild)
- Miranda Rothschild (born 1940)
In 1946, he married Teresa Georgina Mayor. They had four children:
- Emma Georgina Rothschild (born 1948)
- Benjamin Mayer Rothschild (born 1952)
- Victoria Katherine Rothschild (born 1953)
- Amschel Mayor James Rothschild (1955-1996)
His sister Miriam Rothschild was a distinguished zoologist. Another sister, Kathleen Annie Pannonica Rothschild (Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter) was a bebop jazz enthusiast and patroness of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker.
Prominent English Rothschild family members
- History of the Jews in England
Kenneth Rose Elusive Rothschild: The Life of Victor, Third Baron London, 2003. ISBN 0297812297