Constance de Rothschild

Constance ('Connie') de Rothschild, (later Lady Battersea) spent her earliest years in Paris with her family. In 1847, she moved back to London where she had been born on 29 April 1843, the daughter of Sir Anthony and Lady Louise de Rothschild. She enjoyed a thorough education, including drawing lessons, which was enlivened by sessions of whist with her father. As a girl, Connie became involved with educational issues at the Jews' Free School and around the family estate of Aston Clinton. The infant school in the village was a gift to her on her 16th birthday - at her request. Some of her lessons were published as well as her Reminiscences, some verses and a story set around Aston Clinton. After her marriage to Cyril Flower, Lord Battersea in 1877, Constance combined a lavish social life with charitable activities. Profoundly committed to the social concern instilled in her by her mother, Constance became active in English philanthropy, and became engaged in the temperance movement, taking the Pledge in 1884), and joining the British Women’s Temperance Association in the 1890s and eventually became a leader of temperance campaigns in London and the provinces. Constance was introduced to the women’s movement in 1881 by suffragist and temperance worker Fanny Morgan, whom Battersea helped to undertake a political career that resulted in her election as mayor of Brecon. In 1885 Lady Battersea was jolted into struggling with the sensitive issue of white slavery by a national scandal and journalistic exposés of child prostitution and white slavery. Constance first learned about the desperate plight of London’s Jewish prostitutes from an English missionary in 1885. Horrified, she engaged many among the liberal leadership of Anglo-Jewry in the fight to rescue Jewish prostitutes by founding the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women (JAPGW). The mixture of Jewish traffickers and Jewish victims, she believed, demanded the creation of a distinctively Jewish organization. The JAPGW was composed of an interlocking network of nationally prominent middle and upper class Anglo-Jewish women closely connected to women’s temperance, suffrage and educational campaigns. As a result, they had entrée to and worked closely with feminist and inter-denominational anti-white slavery organizations. Founding the JAPGW launched these Anglo-Jewish women into organized English feminism and established the roots of an Anglo-Jewish woman’s movement seventeen years before the founding of the Union of Jewish Women. In the mid 1890s, her reputation for social activism led her to become active in the movement for reforms of English women’s prisons, and she was actively involved with the prison visitors of Aylesbury Women's Prison. Her husband's political career took her to Wales for a period, but in London she had a residence at Surrey House and then Connaught Place. In 1888 the couple bought land at Overstrand, Cromer, where Lutyens built for them The Pleasaunce. Connie died there on 22 November 1931, the anniversary of her marriage.
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