Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted
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Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted JP (5 November 1853 – 17 January 1927), known in later life as Sir Marcus Samuel between 1898 and 1921 and subsequently as The Lord Bearsted until 1925, was a Lord Mayor of London and the founder of the Shell Transport and Trading Company, which was later restructured including a Holland-based company commonly referred to as Royal Dutch Shell.
Samuel was born into an Iraqi Jewish family from modern-day Iraq, in Whitechapel, London. His father, also named Marcus Samuel, ran a successful import-export business, M. Samuel & Co., trading with the coalition in the Far East, which Marcus carried on with his brother, Samuel Samuel. The Samuel & Co companies launched the first Japanese gold sterling loan issued in London, and was largely concerned in the introduction of Japanese municipal loans, and in the development of the coal trade in Japan.
He was educated at Edmonton and in Brussels, and travelled extensively in Asia before settling down in business, visiting Ceylon, Straits Settlements, Siam, the Philippines, China and Japan. Marcus Samuel realised the potential of the oil trade during a trip to Bukharia, near the Caspian Sea in 1890, and ordered the construction of eight dedicated tankers, the first of which was Murex, which was under the command of Captain John R Coundon. His were the first such ships to satisfy the Suez Canal company of their safety, allowing him to ship his product to Bangkok and Singapore. In 1897 he formed Shell, after his first business, which sold painted seashells. He was knighted in 1898 for assisting in the salvage of HMS Victorious, which had grounded under questionable circumstances and was pulled to safety by the Shell tanker SS Pecten.
In 1907, Samuel's company combined with a "Dutch" company of the Netherlands to create the company today known as Royal Dutch Shell. M. Samuel & Co., having transformed over the years to a merchant bank, merged in 1965 with Philip Hill, Higginson, Erlangers Ltd to create Hill Samuel, which is now a part of Lloyds TSB.
Samuel had a long career in the civic government of the City of London. He was elected an Alderman of the London ward of Portsoken in 1891, and elected Sheriff of the City of London in 1894 (serving October 1894 to September 1895). While Sheriff, he took a leading part in the scheme for the unification of London by the absorption of the City and the metropolitan districts into the London County Council (which had been created in 1889). In late September 1902 he was elected Lord Mayor of London for the coming year (serving from November 1902 to November 1903), and received the traditional Baronetcy in 1903. He was on the Commission for the Lieutenancy for City of London, a visiting justice of Holloway and Newgate prisons, and chairman of a City committee in connection with the Royal Commission on the Port of London (1900–02). He was also for three years a member of the Thames Conservancy board as the elected representative of the shipowners, and was a Justice of the peace for Kent.
In recognition of his contribution to the British cause in World War I, he was created 1st Baron Bearsted of Maidstone in the County of Kent in the 1921 Birthday Honours. In 1925, he became 1st Viscount Bearsted. Lord Bearsted was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law (LLD) from the University of Sheffield during his lifetime.
Marcus married in 1881 Fanny Elizabeth Benjamin, a daughter of Benjamin Benjamin, of Stranraer House, London. His son, Walter Horace Samuel, succeeded him both in his titles and as Chairman of the Shell Transport and Trading Company.
His country estate at The Mote in Maidstone was sold after his death to Maidstone Borough Council for use as a public park now known as Mote Park. The house has since been used as an orphanage and a nursing home and was commandeered by the British Army during the Second World War. It is now being converted into retirement housing.
- Mr Marcus Samuel (1853–1898)
- Sir Marcus Samuel (1898–1903)
- Sir Marcus Samuel Bt. (1903–1921)
- The Rt. Hon. The Lord Bearsted Bt. (1921–1925)
- The Rt. Hon. The Viscount Bearsted Bt. (1925–1927)
- Biography, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by the Viscount Bearsted
- Shell International history
- Jewish Encyclopedia
|Peerage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation|| Viscount Bearsted
1925 – 1927
Walter Horace Samuel
| Baron Bearsted|
1921 – 1927
Sir Joseph Dimsdale
| 574rd Lord Mayor of London
Sir James Ritchie
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
|New creation|| Baronet
(of The Mote and Portland Place)
1903 – 1927
Walter Horace Samuel
| Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading
Walter Horace Samuel