Votes for Waddesdon Women

Archive photo of Miss Alice de Rothschild at Waddesdon Manor, a National Trust property in Buckinghamshire

Our Head Archivist takes a look back at the key women of Waddesdon and their political opportunities 100 years since some women were given the right to vote.

A comment over coffee made Head Archivist, Catherine Taylor, wonder - what did the Rothschilds think about women's suffrage and the Votes for Women campaign in the early twentieth century?

Waddesdon women

From a Waddesdon perspective the key women at the time were Miss Alice de Rothchild, who inherited Waddesdon Manor and the Waddesdon Estate from her brother in 1898, and Dorothy Pinto, who married into the Rothschild family in 1913 and whose husband, James, inherited Waddesdon from Miss Alice in 1992.

Alice de Rothschild

Ferdinand left his estate to his youngest unmarried sister, Alice (1847-1922). She was only 12 when their mother died and was raised by their eldest sister, Mathilde, in Frankfurt. After Evelina’s death, Alice also moved to England and often acted as Ferdinand’s hostess. She lived in a house adjacent to his in London and bought a country estate bordering Waddesdon.

Miss Alice de Rothschild circa 1870
Miss Alice de Rothschild circa 1870
Miss Alice de Rothschild circa 1870

She regarded herself as the protector of Ferdinand’s inheritance and is famous for establishing ‘Miss Alice’s Rules’ – guidelines for the care and preservation of the collections which even today form the foundation for those of the National Trust.

The first record of Alice having the vote is in the 1889 electoral register when she is listed among those eligible to vote in County elections but without a parlimentary vote. As an unmarried woman, who ownes her own property, Alice would have become eligible to vote in the county council election with the passing of the Local Government Act in 1888. She remains listed as a County Elector until the 1919 electoral register which records her as being eligible to vote in Parliamentary elections. Alice was 71 in 1918 when the Representation of the People Act gave the vote to women over the age of 30 or women who were householders over the age of 21.

Dorothy de Rothschild (née Pinto)

Alice left Waddesdon and her estate at Eythrope to her great-nephew James de Rothschild (1878-1957) of Paris. He was Mathilde’s grandson and his mother was Alice’s favourite niece. James married an Englishwoman, Dorothy Pinto, and became a naturalized British citizen.

Discover the history of the Manor and the Rothschild family
Old photograph of James and Dorothy de Rothschild from the archives at Waddesdon, a National Trust property in Buckinghamshire
Discover the history of the Manor and the Rothschild family

Dorothy does not appear in an electoral register in 1919, she was only 23 when the 1918 Act was passed and she became eligible to vote in both County and Parliamentary elections due to her husband's property ownership. It was not until she turned 30 in 1925 that she became eligible to vote in her own right and the electorial register records this. Her husband James was elected to Parliament in 1924.