The Cousinhood

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The Cousinhood is a term for an ethnic network of about twenty closely inter-related and mutually supportive Jewish families which existed during the British Empire. The wealth was derived from the fields of “banking, finance, the stock markets and bullion trading".[1]

See the article on the British Empire on Jewish influence more generally.


See also


Jewish financial and business interests were important participants in the imperialist enterprise. For example, the Indian railroad network that the Sassoons helped to finance was closely integrated into the imperial administration, and Julius Reuter's wire service functioned as the command and control mechanism of the colonial government. Upon occasion, the British government also turned to Jewish banking houses to finance imperial expansion. Disraeli's purchase of the Suez Canal in 1878, for example, was made possible by Henry Oppenheim's extensive contacts in Egypt and a four million pound loan from Lionel Rothschild. The role played by Jewish capital in the creation of Britain's nineteenth-century empire was not lost on its critics. In his classic work, which became the basis of Lenin’s theory of imperialism, J.A. Hobson argued that "men of a single and peculiar race, who have behind them centuries of financial experience," formed "the central ganglion of international capitalism."

Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, 1999.

Empire, of course, was also a field for pursuit of profit. The house of Rothschild concerned itself mainly with loans to governments and public bodies. However, in the 1890s it became heavily involved in diamond and gold mining on the Rand. When Alfred Beit and Julius Wernher floated Rand Mines in February 1893, Rothschilds were alloted 27,000 of the 100,000 shares. The scandals that beset the Edwardian Jewish plutocracy also illustrate Jews' involvement in the empire as a money making enterprise. The Marconi scandal of 1912, is it well known, centered on the allegation that four Liberal cabinet minister stood to profit from a contract awarded to the English Marconi Company. Two of the cabinet ministers in question — Sir Rufus Isaacs and Herbert Samuel — were Jews. The head of the English Marconi Company was Geoffrey Isaacs, the brother of Sir Rufus.

David Feldman, Jews and the British Empire, 2007.

External links


  1. Free to Cheat: “Jewish Emancipation” and the Anglo-Jewish Cousinhood, Part 1
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