Sir Ernest Cassel

Return to The Mountbatten Connection Born in 1852, the youngest of three children of Amalia and Jacob Cassel, who had a small banking business in Cologne. At fourteen he left school and apprenticed himself to a local bank of J.W.Eltzbacher, which specialized in financing large industrial concerns and foreign businesses.Sir Ernest Cassel

Just before his seventeenth birthday he left Germany for England. Ernest found a job with a firm of grain merchants in Liverpool;  he was paid two pounds a week. After a brief spell as a clerk with an Anglo-Egyption bank in Paris he returned to England. He had heard that Louis Bischoffsheim of the financial house of Bischoffsheim and Gildschmidt was looking for a confidential clerk. Ernest, who was now nineteen, quickly became a friend of the Bischoffsheim family and Mrs Bisch, as she was affectionately known,  liked him a great deal. At twenty-two he was made manager of the bank on a salary of five thousand pounds plus commission.

In 1874 his mother died and the following year his father and brother Max both died. Jacob Cassel's estate was valued at four thousand pounds, of which Ernest gave his half to his divorced sister Wilhelmina and her two children Felix and Anna.

In 1878 Ernest married Annette Maxwell. They had a daughter Amalia Mary Maud (Maudie). Annette died of tuberculosis within three years of marriage. Ernest had become a British subject and after Annette's death kept her dying wish to become a Catholic.

Ernest's sister and her children came to live in London;  she had dropped her married name of Schoenbrunn, reverting to her maiden name of Cassel. Wilhelmina was to supervise the nurses and governess and to run Ernest's household. She was called Bobbie by friends, and later, by Edwina Ashley, `Auntie-Grannie'. 

In 1884 while still working for Bischoffsheim in the offices at Throgmorton Street he began to undertake business independently, but it was not until 1898 that he took premises of his own.

In 1889 he jointly formed a stud for horse breeding with Lord Willoughby de Broke. In 1896 Ernest began racing his own-bred horses. It was at race meetings that he became acquainted with The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward Vll, and a close friendship was formed between them both.

The first public recognition of Ernest Cassel's importance in the financial world was the K.C.M.G. conferred on him by Queen Victoria in 1889. Under King Edward Vll he received the further distinctions of K.C.V.O. in 1902, a privy councillorship in 1902, G.C.M.G. in 1905, G.C.V.O. in 1906, and G.C.B. in 1909. He was also the recipient of various foreign decorations.

As a public benefactor during his lifetime Sir Ernest Cassel gave away altogether about £2,000,000.

The Cassel Hospital was founded in 1921 by the benefactor Sir Ernest Cassel for psychological casualties of the First World War.