Solomon Joel

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Solly Joel
Solomon Joel 01.jpg
Born (1865-05-23)23 May 1865
London East End, England
Died 22 May 1931(1931-05-22)
Resting place
Willesden Jewish Cemetery
Residence Maiden Erlegh, Berkshire
Occupation Financier & Thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder
Political party
Spouse(s) Ellen (Nellie) Ridley
Children Doris Irene Kathleen (d. 1919)
Woolf (d. 1923)
Stanhope Henry (1903-1983)
Dudley J. B. (1904-1941)
Eileen Daphne Solvia (1907-1974)
Parent(s) Joel Joel & Kate Issacs

Solomon Barnato Joel (23 May 1865 – 22 May 1931), born in London, England,[1] moved to South African in the 1880s where he made his fortune in connection with diamonds, later becoming a financier with interests in mining, brewing and railways.


Known as "Solly", he was born into a Jewish family, being one of three sons of Joel Joel (a London tavernkeeper of the King of Prussia), and Kate Isaacs, who was a sister of Barnett Isaacs, later to be called Barney Barnato. Along with his brothers Jack and Woolf, he was taken under the wing of Barney Barnato and made a fortune from the Barnato Diamond Mining Company. Within ten years, he had become a millionaire, primarily by buying seemingly worked-out diamond mines in South Africa. On Barney Barnato's death in 1897, Joel became head of the family business, Barnato Brothers. Despite having a keen interest in diamonds, he played a greater role in the gold industry. He established the Van Ryn Deep in 1902, the Government Gold Mining Areas (Modderfontein) in 1910 and the New State Areas in 1918. He acquired control of Langlaagte Estate and Gold Mining Company and Randfontein Estates Gold Mining Company from J.B. Robinson and became a director of the Diamond Syndicate.


Early in his business career he supported the Uitlanders against Paul Kruger's government, and was a prominent member of the Reform Committee. Having been found guilty of high treason for his part in the Jameson Raid, Joel never dabbled in politics again.


Joel married a beautiful young actress named Ellen "Nellie" Ridley. While highly successful in business, in his personal life familial relationships were not always cordial. His dislike of his daughter Doris' choice of spouse continued until she divorced after four years, at which point he resumed normal relations. Joel also disapproved of one of his sons, Stanhope's, marriage for two years. His daughter Eileen became the first woman jockey to win an open race when she rode Hogier to victory in the Town Plate at Newmarket. His son Dudley Joel was elected the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Dudley but was killed in action during World War II.

Joel's brother Woolf Joel was murdered in Johannesburg in 1898, probably by a blackmailing con-man named Karl Frederic Moritz Kurtze going under the pseudonym of Ludwig von Veltheim. Although there was plenty of evidence that Veltheim had been threatening Woolf Joel, the defense was that Veltheim had not been properly compensated for planning a kidnap scheme against the Boer leader Paul Krueger. That, the all Boer jury, and the mixture of anti-British and anti-Semitic feelings towards the deceased enabled Veltheim to avoid conviction. Freed, he was immediately deported from the Boer territories. For the next decade, Veltheim was following a series of con-games in Europe, but in 1907, he turned up in London, and started making threatening demands against Joel, who reported him to Scotland Yard, and the police arrested Veltheim. There was a trial for extortion, and Veltheim used the same defense he had previously used in Johannesburg, but the British jury was unconvinced and found him guilty. He was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment.

Joel's interests were wide and varied and included many business concerns. He was also kept busy with his enlarged family's diamond and gold mining interests, activities in brewing, the theatre (the Drury Lane Theatre in London) and railways (the City and South London Railway).

He was renowned for being a generous man who purchased the first motorised ambulance for the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Another illustration of his generosity was exhibited when he gave Sol Joel Park close to his estate was given to the Corporation of Reading in 1927. The official opening was undertaken by the then Duke of York, who later became King George VI and was again an extravagant event.

Thoroughbred horse racing[edit]

Solomon Barnato Joel

Joel had success in thoroughbred horse racing and breeding. He owned Polymelus, a five-time leading sire in Great Britain & Ireland who sired Pommern, the 1915 English Triple Crown champion. He also established a stud at New Farm, which was renamed Home Stud Farm located near his own estate. The Joel Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse is named in his honor.

In 1903 Joel purchased the Maiden Erlegh Estate in Earley, near Reading in Berkshire.[2] In 1922 he purchased the racing establishment at Moulton Paddocks, Newmarket, after the death of its then owner, Sir Ernest Cassel.

He and his brother Jack Barnato Joel had a long running rivalry on the turf as owners, with Jack having the greater success over the years including 2 Epsom Derby winners, Sunstar and Humorist.[3]

Joel died in 1931 at Moulton Paddocks[1] and immediately his estate and possessions were sold at auction. The Home Stud Farm was sold in 1932 but continued until the 1980s. Moulton Paddocks passed into the ownership of Joel's son Dudley, but the house fell into disrepair following his death.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Joel, Solomon Barnato". © Oxford University Press 2004–14. Retrieved 17 March 2014. 
  2. ^ Ford, David Nash (2002). "Maiden Erlegh House (Sonning)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 28 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Turf Loses Big Patron". Nottingham Evening Post - p12. 22 May 1931. 
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa vol. 6 (Nasou, Cape Town 1972) ISBN 0-625-00322-5
  • Ace of diamonds,: The story of Solomon Barnato Joel as told to Lloyd Mayer Stanhope Joel (Frederick Muller Ltd. London 1958) ASIN: B0007KCDIK
  • The Diamond Magnates Brian Roberts (New York: Charles Scribners' Sons, 1972) [P. 232-245] SBN 684-13344-X

External links[edit]