Samuel Cunard

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Sir Samuel Cunard, 1st Baronet (21 November 1787 – 28 April 1865) was a British shipping magnate, born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, who founded the Cunard Line. He was the son of a master carpenter and timber merchant who had fled the American Revolution and settled in Halifax.[1]

Contents

Career

Samuel Cunard was the son of Abraham Cunard and Margaret Murphy, Loyalists 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.[2] Cunard's business skills were evident at an early age and by age 17 he was managing his own general store. He later joined his father in the family timber business, which he expanded into coal, iron, shipping and whaling.

During the War of 1812, Cunard volunteered for service in the 2nd Battalion of the Halifax Regiment of 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. Cunard went to the United Kingdom, 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. It was successful in its bid, the company later becoming Cunard Steamships Limited.

In 1840 the company's first steamship, the Britannia, sailed from Liverpool to Halifax, Nova Scotia 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, 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 RMS Queen Mary [3] and RMS Queen Elizabeth[4] . His name lives on today in the Cunard Line, now a prestigious branch of the Carnival Line cruise empire.[5]

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