Sir Isaac Goldsmid


  • Richest of the Rich position: 157
  • Birth/Death: 1778-1859
  • Origin of wealth: Finance
  • Wealth: £2.5m
  • Net National Income: £640m
  • Net National Income Percent: 0.39%
  • In Today’s Money: £4.328 billion

The son of a City bullion broker, Isaac Goldsmid entered the firm of Mocatta & Goldsmid, bullion brokers to the Bank of England and the East India Company. He became a member of the stock exchange and amassed a large fortune, largely through financial dealings with Portugal, Brazil and Turkey. He was created a baron by the Portuguese government for settling a complex dispute with Brazil. But in England, aside from his financial affairs, Goldsmid’s main effort was directed to Jewish emancipation and he sought to have a Jewish Disabilities Bill passed by parliament. While the reformed Commons of 1833 passed the bill by a large majority, it fell in the Lords. But Goldsmid persevered with the cause and that of prison reform. He had the distinction of being the first Jew to be raised to a baronetcy in 1841.

He died in 1859, leaving around £2m in cash and other assets plus land worth around £36,000 a year in income. In all, he was worth about £2.5m or equivalent to 0.39% of the £640m net national income. In today’s terms that would be £4.3bn.

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