BISCHOFFSHEIM , family of bankers in Belgium, Britain, and France. The family's founder raphael (nathan; 1773–1814) was born in Bischoffsheim on the Tauber and settled as a young man in Mainz, where he became a prominent merchant and president of the Jewish community. His elder son, louis (ludwig) raphael (1800–1873) found work at a banking house in Frankfurt. When he was twenty he moved to Amsterdam where he established a bank. Through his marriage to Amalie Goldschmidt, he became related to Europe's banking aristocracy. His business expanded rapidly and in 1827 he established a branch in Antwerp, in 1836 together with the Goldschmidt family a London branch known as Bischoffsheim and Goldschmidt, and in 1846 another branch in Paris. In 1848 he moved to Paris, where his bank cooperated with great French houses in national and international transactions. At some stages in the development of his banking business,
he had the help of his nephew, Ludwig *Bamberger. His many philanthropies were devoted to charitable and educational purposes, including support of the Association Philotechnique, of which he was president, and the Athenée Theater, which he founded.
His brother, raphael jonathan (1808–1883), moved to Brussels in 1830 after Belgium achieved its independence and became one of that country's most influential financial figures. In 1850 he helped found the National Bank of Belgium and served on its board of directors for twenty years. He was adviser to the royal house and in 1862 became a senator, who was regarded by his colleagues as the principal authority in his field. He was an active member of the Jewish consistory and was well known for his benefactions, such as the endowment of a chair for Arabic at the University of Brussels. A street in that city bears his name. His daughter, Clara, married Baron Maurice de *Hirsch in 1855.
Louis Raphael's son raphael louis (1823–1906), who was born in Amsterdam, succeeded his father as head of the Paris bank. His principal outside interest lay in astronomy, and his generous gifts made possible the building of a number of observatories, the best-known of them at Mont Gras, near Nice. In 1881 he was elected to the Chamber of Deputies.
Louis Raphael's second son, henry louis (1828–1907), married Clarissa Biedermann, the sister-in-law of James *Stern of Stern Brothers of London. He headed the London house of Bischoffsheim and Goldschmidt. In conjunction with other financial institutions his bank participated in many international projects, including railway construction in France, Italy, and the Balkans, and the government financing of Turkey, Egypt, and various Latin American countries. In 1881 his eldest daughter, ellen odette (1857–1933), married William Ulick O'Connor, the fourth Earl of Desart, and lived at the Desart seat at Kilkenny until her husband's death in 1898. Despite her anti-suffrage agitation, she became the first woman senator of the Irish Free State. This signal honor was the product of her efforts on behalf of Ireland's cultural and economic welfare. Lady Desart remained an active Jew throughout her life, holding office in a number of Jewish philanthropic organizations and supporting them generously. Her sister amalia married Sir Maurice Fitzgerald, 20th Knight of Kerry. She also retained her Jewish interests, was active in support of the work of the Jewish National Fund, and organized a project for the rescue of Jewish children from German-controlled territories in the 1930s.
P.H. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943), 536–8; idem, Money Powers of Europe (1937). add bibliography: M. Jolles, Jews and the Carlton Club, with notes on Benjamin Disraeli, Henri Louis Bischoffsheim and Saul Isaac, MP (2002).
[Joachim O. Ronall]