GOLDSMID, Sir Isaac Lyon 1st Bt. and Baron of Palmeira 1778-1859. Banker and philanthropist. Son of Asher Goldsmid, of Mocatta & Goldsmid, bullion brokers, he married his cousin Isabel in 1804 and became a member of the Stock Exchange in 1806. He steadily restored the family fortunes until, by the time his father Asher died in 1822, he was a wealthy man. In his day professing Jews were not admitted to the universities, but he had a first-class private education and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1826.

He took a great interest in social and political matters, particularly Jewish emancipation. He was sympathetic to the work of people such as Elizabeth Fry and Robert Owen, and became a trusted friend of the reformers, Lord Holland (nephew of Charles James Fox) and Lord Brougham. When the latter promoted a non-denominational University of London, Goldsmid gave it his full support. As a leading shareholder in the venture, he helped to buy the site in Gower Street where University College London opened in 1828 and stands to this day.

From 1821, Goldsmid lived at Dulwich Hill House, a large villa with extensive gardens and fields beyond, at the top of the south side of Champion Hill. According to the ratebooks Goldsmid remained the nominal occupier of Dulwich Hill House until 1839. However in 1830 he bought an estate in Hove which he developed. and a villa in Regent’s Park a few years later.

In 1841 he was made a baronet, the first Jew to be so honoured. Five years later the Queen of Portugal made him Baron de Palmeira, in recognition of his services in helping to settle some awkward financial disputes between Portugal and its erstwhile fief, Brazil. Goldsmid died in 1859, just after a bill for Jewish emancipation passed both Houses of Parliament.

René Quinault