views updated


MOND (Melchett ), British family of chemists and industrialists, of German origin. Ludwig Mond (1839–1909) was born in Cassel, Germany. In 1859, while working at a small soda works, he patented a method for the recovery of the sulfur otherwise wasted in the process. Mond went to England where he tried to sell his patent. His process was not economical under British conditions, however, and he left for Holland. In 1867 Mond returned to England where he met Ernest Solvay (1838–1922), a Belgian chemist who had devised a process for making soda based on the use of ammonia. Mond put this process into operation when he joined Sir John Brunner (1842–1919) in founding the firm of Brunner, Mond and Company in 1873. In 1884 he developed a new process for the recovery of nickel and formed the Mond Nickel Company, which is still in operation. He was a noted art collector and most of his paintings were donated to the National Gallery in London. Of his two sons, the elder, Sir Robert Ludwig Mond (1867–1938), a scientist in his own right, was also a notable archaeologist, associated with the discovery of the *Elephantine papyri, and treasurer of the Palestine Exploration Fund. He was vice president of the Friends of the *Hebrew University and leader of the British Empire's anti-Nazi boycott.

The younger son, Alfred Moritz Mond (1868–1930), later the first Baron Melchett, entered his father's firm. During his lifetime Brunner, Mond and Co. greatly expanded and, after merging with other companies, became Imperial Chemical Industries (ici) in 1926. Mond entered Parliament as a Liberal in 1906. He was made commissioner of works in the cabinet of Lloyd George (1916–21) and later became minister of health (1921–22). In 1924 Mond opened a debate in Parliament on the respective merits of the capitalist system and socialism, and his address was considered an outstanding defense of private enterprise. In 1926, in disagreement over land policy, he transferred his allegiance to the Conservative Party. He initiated a conference between leaders of commerce and industry on the one hand, and the workers organized in the Trades Union Congress headed by Sir Ben Turner on the other (1928). Out of this conference emerged the Mond-Turner agreement for industrial relations. In the same year he was raised to the peerage, as Baron Melchett.

Alfred Mond was not brought up as a Jew. His sole connection with Judaism in the earlier stage of his public life was that he helped to support the synagogue of Swansea, his parliamentary constituency, in order to present a more favorable picture there of the Jews and Judaism. Nevertheless, he was the butt of antisemitic attacks, and in consequence was won over to Zionism after the Balfour Declaration. He then became a dedicated Zionist and contributor to Zionist causes. Mond was one of the founders of the enlarged Jewish *Agency in 1929 and the chairman of its council. He acquired an estate in Ereẓ Israel in Migdal overlooking the Sea of Galilee, and a township in central Israel, Tel Mond, bears his name. Alfred Mond was married to a non-Jew and his two children, Eva Violet (1895–1973), who married the second Marquis of *Reading, and Henry (1898–1949), second Baron Melchett, were brought up in the Christian faith but converted to Judaism after the rise of Hitler. Lady Reading was an active Zionist and president of the British section of the *World Jewish Congress. Henry, also an ardent Zionist, succeeded his father as chairman of the council of the Jewish Agency and was president of the *World Union of Maccabi. Henry's son, Julian Edward Alfred (1925–1973), third Baron Melchett, was appointed chairman of the nationalized steel industry in 1967.


H.H. Bolitho, Alfred Mond, First Lord Melchett (1933); J.M. Cohen, Life of Ludwig Mond (1956); P. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943), index; W.J. Reader, Imperial Chemical Industries; A History, vol. 1 The Forerunners (1970). add. bibliography: J.R. Lischka, Ludwig Mond and the British Alkali Industry, 1985; J. Goodman, The Mond Legacy, 1982.

[Moshe Rosetti]