Samuel Cunard
Sir Samuel Cunard, 1st Baronet (21 November 1787 – 28 April 1865) was a British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 shipping magnate, born at Halifax
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

, who founded the Cunard Line
Cunard Line
Cunard Line is a British-American owned shipping company based at Carnival House in Southampton, England and operated by Carnival UK. It has been a leading operator of passenger ships on the North Atlantic for over a century...

. He was the son of a master carpenter and timber merchant who had fled the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 and settled in Halifax.

Early Life

Samuel Cunard was the son of Abraham Cunard
Abraham Cunard
Abraham Cunard was a United Empire Loyalist carpenter, timber merchant, and ship owner from Halifax, Nova Scotia, best known as the father of shipping magnate Samuel Cunard....

 who was originally from Germany and raised a Quaker and Margaret Murphy, who was raised as a Irish Catholic who were Loyalists to the British Crown who came to Halifax in 1783. Abraham Cunard was a master carpenter who worked for the British garrison in Halifax and became a wealthy landowner and timber merchant. Cunard's business skills were evident at an early age and by age 17 he was managing his own general store
General store
A general store, general merchandise store, or village shop is a rural or small town store that carries a general line of merchandise. It carries a broad selection of merchandise, sometimes in a small space, where people from the town and surrounding rural areas come to purchase all their general...

. He later joined his father in the family timber business, which he expanded into coal, iron, shipping and whaling.

During the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

, Cunard volunteered for service in the 2nd Battalion of the Halifax Regiment militia and rose to the rank of captain. He held many public offices such as lighthouse commissioner and maintained a reputation as not only a shrewd businessman but also an honest and generous citizen.

Cunard was a highly successful entrepreneur in Halifax shipping and one of a group of twelve individuals who dominated the affairs of Nova Scotia. Early investments in steam included co-founding the steam ferry company in Halifax harbour and an investment in the pioneering steamship Royal William
SS Royal William
SS Royal William was a Canadian steamship that is sometimes credited with achieving the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to be made almost entirely under steam power, using sails only during periods of boiler maintenance, though the British-built Dutch-owned Curaçao crossed in 1827.The...

. Cunard went to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, where he set up a company with several other businessmen to bid for the rights to run a transatlantic mail service between the UK and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. It was successful in its bid, the company later becoming Cunard Steamships Limited.

In 1840 the company's first steamship, the Britannia
RMS Britannia
The RMS Britannia was an ocean liner of the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, later known as Cunard Steamship Company. She was launched on 5 February 1840, at the yard of Robert Duncan & Company in Greenock, Scotland...

, sailed from Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 to Halifax
City of Halifax
Halifax is a city in Canada, which was the capital of the province of Nova Scotia and shire town of Halifax County. It was the largest city in Atlantic Canada until it was amalgamated into Halifax Regional Municipality in 1996...

, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

 and on to Boston, Massachusetts, with Cunard and 63 other passengers on board, marking the beginning of regular passenger and cargo service. Establishing a long unblemished reputation for speed and safety, Cunard's company made ocean liners a success in the face of many potential rivals who lost ships and fortunes. The prosperous company eventually absorbed many others such as the Canadian Northern Steamships Limited, and its principal competition, the White Star Line
White Star Line
The Oceanic Steam Navigation Company or White Star Line of Boston Packets, more commonly known as the White Star Line, was a prominent British shipping company, today most famous for its ill-fated vessel, the RMS Titanic, and the World War I loss of Titanics sister ship Britannic...

, owners of the ill-fated Titanic. After that, Cunard dominated the Atlantic passenger trade with some of the world's most famous liners such as the and . His name lives on today in the Cunard Line, now a prestigious branch of the Carnival Line
Carnival Corporation & plc
Carnival Corporation & plc , is a American-British Company, and the world's largest cruise ship operator. It is a dual listed company, with headquarters at Carnival Place in the Miami suburb of Doral, Florida, USA, and at Carnival House in Southampton, England, UK...

 cruise empire.

Cunard owned a number of companies in Canada. His coal company, which he bought to fuel his liners, is still one of Nova Scotia's major fuel companies, although it is now owned by the Irving Family
K. C. Irving
Kenneth Colin Irving, OC also known as K. C. Irving was one of Canada's foremost entrepreneurs of the 20th century and ranked as one of the world's leading industrialists...

 of New Brunswick. He also controlled logging ventures and at one point owned a seventh of Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is a Canadian province consisting of an island of the same name, as well as other islands. The maritime province is the smallest in the nation in both land area and population...


Personal life

In 1859 Cunard was created a baronet
A baronet or the rare female equivalent, a baronetess , is the holder of a hereditary baronetcy awarded by the British Crown...

 by Queen Victoria
Victoria of the United Kingdom
Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until her death. From 1 May 1876, she used the additional title of Empress of India....


He was married to Susan, daughter of William Duffus (on 4 February 1815; she died 23 January 1828) by whom he had nine children. He was succeeded in the business and in the baronetcy by his son Sir Edward Cunard, 2nd baronet. Sir Samuel was the grandfather-in-law of the society hostess Emerald, Lady Cunard
Maud Cunard
Maud Alice Burke , later Lady Cunard, known as Emerald, was an American-born, London-based society hostess. She had long relationships with the novelist George Moore and the conductor Thomas Beecham, and was the muse of the former and a champion of and fund-raiser for the latter...

 (wife of the third baronet), and the great-grandfather of Nancy Cunard
Nancy Cunard
Nancy Clara Cunard was a writer, heiress and political activist. She was born into the British upper class but strongly rejected her family's values, devoting much of her life to fighting racism and fascism...


William Cunard, second son of Sir Samuel Cunard, married Laura Charlotte Haliburton, daughter of author and politician Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Thomas Chandler Haliburton
Thomas Chandler Haliburton was the first international best-selling author from Canada. He was also significant in the history of Nova Scotia.-Life:...

. The couple had three sons and one daughter.

Cunard throughout his personal life was not a religious man and was considered by many to be agnostic. His views on slavery in the 19th century were not known but his statements regarding Fredrick Douglass's segregated passage arranged by a Cunard Agent in Liverpool on one of his ocean liners in 1845 strongly suggests he was against any form of racial prejudice. "No one can regret more than I do the unpleasant circumstances surrounding Mr. Douglass's passage from Liverpool, but I can assure you that nothing of the kind will again take place on the steamships in which I am connected." His views on race reflected those of those Britons of the time who regarded mistreatment of the Negro as a moral wrong even though Negros were still considered to be socially and intellectually inferior to Caucasian people.

Sir Samuel Cunard died at Kensington
Kensington is a district of west and central London, England within the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. An affluent and densely-populated area, its commercial heart is Kensington High Street, and it contains the well-known museum district of South Kensington.To the north, Kensington is...

 and is buried there in Brompton Cemetery
Brompton Cemetery
Brompton Cemetery is located near Earl's Court in South West London, England . It is managed by The Royal Parks and is one of the Magnificent Seven...



At the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a Canadian maritime museum located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is a member institution of the Nova Scotia Museum and is the oldest and largest maritime museum in Canada with a collection of over 30,000 artifacts...

 in Halifax, a substantial portion of the second floor is dedicated to his life and his world-famous shipping line. A large statue of Cunard was erected on the Halifax waterfront in 2006.

External links


Transatlantic: By Stephan Fox
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