Category:Courtauld family

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The Courtauld family are a leading family in England.

They are associated primarily with business, politics and the arts. By faith, they were originally Huguenots, but many key members became committed Unitarians. The main source of their success was the family firm of Courtaulds, which produced silk and crepe, before developing an equally successful line in artificial fibres, particularly rayon. The wealth that came with this success enabled the family to pursue careers in politics and in the arts. The family have a strong connection with the Braintree area of Essex. In the field of the arts, the Courtauld Institute of Art is a legacy of this family, which is also known for the Art Deco works at Eltham Palace.

Huguenots and Unitarians[edit]

The family arrived in the 18th Century, as Huguenot refugees from France. At first the family was engaged in the classical Huguenot occupation of being a silk-weaver in the Spitalfields district of London. However, they soon established their own business and moved out from London to Essex.

Several of the early family members, such as George Courtauld (1761-1823), Samuel Courtauld (1793-1881) and Sydney Courtauld (1840-1899) became keen members of the Unitarian church, originally at the Newington Green Unitarian Chapel in Islington. George had been christened at the Huguenot French Church in Threadneedle Street.


For two centuries the family has been closely associated with Essex townships in the Braintree area, such as Pebmarsh, Halstead, Gosfield and Essex.


The manufacture of silk and crepe was successful and lucrative but the company had the wisdom and vision to diversify into the production of artificial fibres, such as rayon as the technology developed , which enabled them not only to survive changes in clothing tastes and conventions, but to grow to become one of the leading textile companies in Great Britain, if not in the world.