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Samuel, Sir Saul (1820–1900)

News has been received by cable of the death in London of Sir Saul Samuel, Bart, formerly Agent-General for New South Wales. The deceased gentleman had been connected with the public and official life of the colony for the remarkably lengthened period of about forty-four years, a fact which taken by itself speaks volumes for the estimation in which he was held, but apart from this his career in the various capacities in which he served the State was one of great usefulness, whilst the results of his financial knowledge and acumen at more than one critical period in the history of the colony were widely recognised and appreciated.

Saul Samuel, who was the son of a London merchant, was born there in 1820. He arrived here in 1832, and after receiving an education at the Sydney College, had some years' experience in the mercantile office of an uncle. On attaining his majority he engaged in pastoral pursuits in the Western District, after ten years of which he gave them up for mining and manufacturing. His first appearance in political life was as a member of the Legislative Council under the old constitution in 1854. Two years later the system of responsible Government was inaugurated, and during the first session of Parliament—in 1858—he was returned to the House of Assembly as member for Orange, from which time until 1872 he remained a member of that branch of the Legislature, occupying at various times different offices in the Government. In October, 1859, he was appointed Colonial Treasurer, and whilst in this position it was part of his duty to arrange the financial terms of the separation of Queensland from the mother colony. Next year saw him out of office, but towards the close of 1865 he was again in control of the Treasury, though only for a few months. From 1868 to 1870 he was again found filling the same position. In the latter year he attended an intercolonial conference in Melbourne, at which he moved a resolution in favour of intercolonial Freetrade and a uniform Australian tariff based as far as possible on Freetrade principles. In 1872 he resigned his seat in the Assembly in order to represent the first administration formed by Sir Henry Parkes in the Legislative Council as vice-president of the Executive Council, and subsequently also as Postmaster-General, In the latter capacity he was successful in negotiating for the establishment of the San Francisco mail service with this colony, and his efforts to this end were recognised by his being entertained at a public banquet on his return to Sydney, and later by his receiving from Her Majesty his first distinction at her hands, that of C.M.G. The revolutions of political life caused his retirement from the Executive in 1875, but in two successive Governments formed by Sir Henry Parkes he again filled the position of Postmaster-General, which, in 1880, he relinquished on being appointed Agent-General, an office he continued to hold with advantage to the colony until 1897. He had the honour of knighthood conferred on him as K.C.M.G. in 1882, and for his services in relation to the Colonial and Indian Exhibition the further distinction of C.B., whilst in 1898, on his retirement from the representation of the colony after a year's leave of absence, he was created a baronet of the United Kingdom. During the term in which Sir Saul Samuel acted as Agent-General he was instrumental in negotiating loans for over £46,000,000, besides several millions of Treasury Bills, and his success in these operations was largely due to his great experience and sound judgment in financial matters.

Sir Saul Samuel took an interest in communal affairs, and in 1877 was a member of the first committee of the Sydney Congregation appointed after the opening of the Great Synagogue. In 1878 he was elected president, and the two following years re-elected to that office without opposition, but in October of 1880 he resigned it on being appointed Agent-General. Sir Saul Samuel was twice married, firstly to Matilda, daughter of Mr. Benjamin Goldsmid Levien, of Geelong, by whom he had three sons—two of whom survive, Edward Levien (the present baronet), Harry (captain in the Imperial army)—and two daughters; and secondly to Sara Louisa, daughter of Mr. Edward Isaacs, of Auckland, by whom he had one son, Randolph. Sir Edward Samuel is married to Ray, third daughter of Mr. Abraham Cohen, formerly of Tamworth, and now of London, and has a son and daughter.

The Premier, Sir William Lyne, has sent the following letter to Sir Edward L. Samuel, Bart:—"4th September.—Sir,—Permit me to express my regret and that of the Government of this colony at the death of your respected father, the late Hon. Sir Saul Samuel. The deceased gentleman was closely identified with the Government of New South Wales for a great number of years in a variety of capacities, in all of which it can be truthfully said he rendered distinguished service, besides earning a reputation for capacity and probity of which the heir to his well-earned title may justly be proud. I need hardly say that I arranged that this colony should be officially represented at the obsequies."

At the annual meeting of the Great Synagogue a resolution of sympathy with Lady Samuel and family in their bereavement was passed.

Original publication

Citation details

'Samuel, Sir Saul (1820–1900)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/samuel-sir-saul-4534/text36005, accessed 19 April 2019.

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