Samuel Courtauld (industrialist)
Samuel Courtauld (1793 – 22 March 1881) was an industrialist and Unitarian, chiefly remembered as the driving force behind the rapid growth of the Courtauld textile business in Britain.
The Courtauld family were descendants of Huguenots (French Protestant) refugees who ran a highly successful silver and goldsmithing business in London.
In 1818 Samuel Courtauld expanded the business – by building further mills in Halstead and Bocking. In 1825 Courtauld installed a steam engine at the Bocking mill, and then installed power looms at Halstead. The mills, however, remained heavily dependent on young female workers – in 1838, over 92% of his workforce was female.
Courtauld was strongly interested in politics. A supporter of the Whigs, he supported the 1832 Reform Act, was involved in the Nonconformist campaign against the paying of church rates, and was an active supporter (particularly financially) of the Anti-Corn Law League.
By 1850, Courtauld had recruited partners including (in 1828) his brother, George Courtauld II (1802-1861). By this time, Courtauld was, by any estimate, an extremely wealthy man but was also suffering from deafness. He planned to spend more time on his large country estate Gosfield Hall near Halstead, but could not convince himself to retire, and continued to play an active role in the company until just before he died in March 1881.
His great nephew Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947) became chairman of the Courtauld company in 1921 but is chiefly remembered today as the founder of the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Another great nephew, Sir Stephen Courtauld MC (1883–1967), was also an arts patron and in 1933 restored Eltham Palace in south-east London where he and his wife lived until 1944.