Worms, de

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WORMS, DE , family originating in Frankfurt and prominent in finance and politics in England in the 19th century. They traced their descent back to R. Aaron *Worms whose grandson, benedict de worms (d. 1824), married Jeanette von Rothschild in 1795. The family subsequently settled in London where Benedict, with his sons, maurice benedict (1805–1867) and gabriel benedict (1802–1881), established the family retailing business. As a result of a visit to Ceylon, his sons built up one of the biggest and best cultivated tea plantations on the island, known as the Rothschild Estate. Their brother, solomon benedict (1801–1882), spent some time there doing pioneering work on the estate. In 1871 he was made a baron of the Austrian Empire for financial services and charity, and three years later was granted a warrant to use this title in Britain in recognition of his work in Ceylon. His eldest son, baron george (1829–1912), was vice president of the Royal Society of Literature (1896–1900) and headed the family firm. He wrote The Currency of India (1876). Solomon Benedict's third son, henry (first Baron Pirbright; 1840–1903), was educated at London University and became a barrister, but, after a short time at the bar, assisted his brother George in conducting their father's retailing business. He entered Parliament in 1880 as a Conservative and in 1885 was made parliamentary secretary to the Board of Trade in Lord Salisbury's first government. He was the first professing Jew to hold ministerial office in a Tory government. In 1888, the year he was made a member of the Privy Council, Henry represented Britain at the international conference for the abolition of sugar bounties and was elected its president. He was undersecretary of state for the colonies from 1888 to 1892. In 1895, in Lord Salisbury's third administration, he was given a peerage. In Parliament he championed the cause of oppressed Romanian Jews. He held a number of communal offices, including those of treasurer and vice president of the United Synagogue. He was also president of the Anglo-Jewish Association (1872–86) until forced to resign after attending the marriage of his daughter at church. He was a Fellow of the Royal Society and a man of considerable erudition. His books included The Earth and Its Mechanism (1862); The Austro-Hungarian Empire (1870) and England's Policy in the East (1877).


P.H. Emden, Jews of Britain (1943), 282–6; J.M. Shaftesley (ed.), Remember the Days (1966), index; Roth, Mag Bibl, 155; Lehmann, Nova Bibl, 115; jc (Oct. 27, 1882). add. bibliography: odnb online; C. Bermant, The Cousinhood (1971); G. Alderman, The Jewish Community in British Politics (1983).