A Blupete Biography Page

The Life & Works of

Samuel Cunard

[1] Lynch, p. 194.

[2] William Hazlitt, "On Effeminacy of Character."

[3] Russ Lownds wrote, with particularity, that Thones Kunders "was a prosperous dyer in Crefeld, Germany." And, that this family of Quakers had fled from either Worcestershire or Wales to Germany. The common information from the sources checked is that the Cunard family came to America in 1683.

[4] "... the final evacuation of New York by the British forces in 1783, brought to our town over 25,000 persons. Halifax at the close of the year, was so crowded, etc." [NSHS, vol. 12 (1905) p. 78. See my earlier work.]

[5] Due to his industry and foresight, Abraham made a good living, not only from the regular wages as a master carpenter at His Majesty's Dockyard, but also as a private contractor: he built houses for people. One of these people was the Lieutenant-governor, John Sherbrooke. (Langley, Steam Lion, p. 12.) His connections with such people as Sherbrooke were to serve the futures of both Abraham Cunard and his son, Samuel, very well.

[6] Abraham Payne gave details as to this property's location, but, given the development of this area over the years, difficult these days to follow. It was located, in 1905, in behind 257 Brunswick St., near Lockman St. and a little north of Proctor's Lane. (P. 75.) Incidentally, Abraham had a penchant for buying land in the province, vast stretches of it. In 1797 or 1799, he bought 1,000 acres near Pugwash; in 1810, 2,800 acres near Tatamagouche. (Langley, Steam Lion, p. 14).

[7] One should not think that goods were much exchanged on credit. A merchant carried his coin with him, in a leather sock. If the merchant was out in the street, then his servant or a pair of them followed along behind with stout sticks ready to hammer anyone that made a sudden move towards their master.

[8] Abraham Payne gave the name of John Duffus? (P. 78.)

[9] From Kay Grant, we read (p. 33) that the wedding took place on a Saturday and at dawn on Monday morning Samuel was on the dock supervising the unloading one of his vessels just in from Jamaica. Grant wrote the marriage took place in the drawing room of the Duffus mansion; Langley wrote at St. Paul's by Rev. Robert Stanser.

[10] William Cunard's death was a tragedy, a blow to the family. He died in the wreck of the Wyton off Cape North, Cape Breton Island, November, 1823. (Langley, Steam Lion, p. 100.)

[11] John Cunard "spent most of his life at sea as the captain of various family vessels ..." He was buried in the Old Dutch Churchyard on Brunswick Street. (Langley, Steam Lion, p 106.)

[12] The children of Samuel and Susan Cunard were: Edward (Ned) (b.1815; descendants), Mary (1817-85; m.; no descendants), Susie (1819-29), Margaret Ann (1820-1901; m. Captain Mellish; descendants), Sarah Jane (b.1821; m. a Francklyn; descendants), Anne Elizabeth (1823-62; m. Lieutenant Allen from England; descendants), William (1825-1906; descendants), Isabella (1827-94; m. a Holden from England; descendants), and Elizabeth (1828-89; m. a Wilson from England; no descendants). A note on Sarah Jane: She married Gilbert William Francklyn, a colonel in the 37th Reg. The wedding took place on September 1st, 1840. Samuel Cunard gave to the couple a house called "Emscote" which over looked the Northwest Arm at Halifax. A note on William: He married Laura (1824-1910) Charlotte Haliburton (the judge's daughter). William and Laura built a home near the Francklyns which was called "Oaklands." Langley wrote (p. 108) that the "gatehouse of the original estate still exists and can be seen behind the stone pillars that lead into the property at the corner of Robie Street and Oakland Road." It was then, in the early 1850s, when "Oaklands" was built, that Samuel and his youngest daughter, Elizabeth, took up permanent residence in England. It is reported that William was the last Cunard to leave Halifax; he left for England on his father's death in 1865. (Langley, Steam Lion, p. 119.)

[13] Langley set out a picture of the farm house in his article at p. 100.

[14] " ... a life long friendship developed between the Dalhousies and the young Cunards." (Grant, pp. 39-40.)].

[15] Mechanics' Institutes were formed to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working men. Mechanics' Institutes were first set up in Great Britain and spread to the colonies. Local businessmen were of the view that they would ultimately benefit from having more knowledgeable and skilled employees. "The Mechanics' Institutes were used as 'libraries' for the adult working class, and provided them with an alternative pastime to gambling and drinking in pubs." (http://en.wikipedia.org) In 1848, the lieutenant-governor of Nova Scotia, Sir John Harvey, reported that: "A Mechanics Institute has been sustained in Halifax since 1831 at which gratuitous lectures on scientific and other subjects are given throughout six months of the year."." (As found in "Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Public Archives of Nova Scotia, 1947," p. 32.

[16] Grant, p. 62.

[17] As quoted by Grant without giving a direct source, p. 119.

[18] Steam Lion, p. 61.

[19] Samuel Cunard, himself, was not free of financial difficulties. For instance, in 1842, Samuel suffered from cash flow problems. The value of his assets exceeded his liabilities and he had to carry out a liquidation to save the company; he sold off part of his large real estate holdings, including the farm at Rawdon which he had bought for his parents when they were alive, and acreage on Prince Edward Island. It was at this time that a substantial loan was made by the Bank Of Nova Scotia one that saved the Cunard Company. (Langley, NSHS, pp. 102-3.) An interesting note is that "Cunard eventually owned one-seventh of the landmass of Prince Edward Island." Langley continued and wrote that Cunard's estate, after 1865, sold all of the Cunard lands in Prince Edward Island to its government. (Steam Lion, p. 124.)

[20] Grant sets out an interesting episode in her work, p. 140-2. Joe Cunard nearly missed being lynched by the people around the Miramichi. He lived the balance of his life in England (Liverpool) and continued to be connected to his family, though Sam's feeling towards his brother was cool and progressively so as the years went by.

[21] Langley, NSHS, p. 101.

[22] The Samuel Cunard (303 tons) was a full rigged ship which was built in 1827 at Big Bras d'Or. It was built by Samuel Cunard's brother-in-law, William Duffus. The Rose (416 tons) was built at Brighthelmsea, England, in 1826.

[23] A little bit about early mail delivery: Prior to the establishment of a transatlantic mail service provided by Cunard, c. 1840, sending mail overseas was expensive. The ship letter rate was one shilling for a single sheet, two shillings for a double. Thus, every transatlantic traveler had his pockets and luggage stuffed with "home letters" handed to him by friends, which the traveler either delivered by hand or sent on by post at the end of the voyage. (Grant, p. 109.)

[24] At this time Boston was yet a small town. Cunard was very much appreciated by Bostonians. In preparation for the regular mail run to Boston, Cunard built a new wharf and warehouse there, at a cost of £10,000, a very large sum of money in those days. (MacMechan, p. 207.) Langley wrote that it was in 1819 that Cunard contracted to carry the mail between Halifax and Boston, and, St. John's and Bermuda. (NSHS, p. 99.)

[25] Cunard's extensive business involvement included mining. He was appointed agent for the General Mining Association. The G.M.A., a British operation, monopolized the mines and minerals in Nova Scotia for a thirty year period (c.1827-57) after which the mineral rights were returned back to the province of Nova Scotia. I deal with the G.M.A. in my larger work.

[26] The letter, at least in part, was set out by Langley. (Steam Lion, p. 63.) Most of the letters and other documents collected up at his warehouse on Lower Water Street were, unfortunately, burnt when the building was demolished in 1917. (There is a picture of the office and warehouse of S. Cunard & Co. taken in 1917, a copy of which can be found in the article written by Abraham Payne, tipped in at p. 78.) Samuel Cunard was described as being "brisk of step, brim-full of energy and always on the alert." And of "quiet manners and not overflowing speech." (Payne, p. 88.)

[27] At some point Joseph came to head up the Miramichi operations. Though considered different in critical ways, Joe was as ambitious and dynamic as his brother, Samuel. "He owned a packing plant for fish, brickworks, stores. He built the first steam sawmill in the province and a gristmill." (Grant, p. 77.)

[28] MacMechan wrote that it was in 1848 that Cunard took up his permanent residence in England, though he continued to pay visits back to Halifax, indeed, he paid a visit to Halifax just a year before his death in 1865. (P. 209.)

[29] Some would claim that the first transatlantic voyage of a steamship was the Savannah in 1819. But, as Abraham Payne points out "her adjustable paddles were only used for eighty hours in the passage of thirty days, between Savannah and Liverpool. (P. 80.)

[30] There is a picture of the office and warehouse on Upper Water Street (nos. 189-193) with the caption that it was built about 1823; it was demolished in 1917. The picture is to be found in Abraham Payne's article, p. 78.

[31] See the account in Grant, p. 75 and in Langley, Steam Lion, pp. 49-59.

[32] Grant, The Tribune, pp. 93-4. Now Grant's account would imply Cunard was aboard the Tyrian. But Longley (Steam Lion, pp. 66-8) wrote there was only three aboard: Haliburton, Howe, and another friend of Cunard's, Charles Fairbanks.

[33] A sweetener, as far as the British government was concerned, was that Cunard would lend his steamships to the government in the event that Great Britain went to war. Fourteen years later the Crimean War broke out and Cunard, without any hesitation, converted his entire fleet of fourteen steamers so the British could ship supplies and troops to the Crimea in 1854. (Langley, Steam Lion, p. 112.)

[34] We see where Payne wrote: "Not a single steamship owner in Great Britain tendered." (P. 81.)

[35] As set out in Langley's Steam Lion, p. 78.

[36] Grant, pp. 108-9. Only in 1852 did Cunard build his first iron-hull, screw-driven vessel, Andes. Generally, by 1860, steamships of wood with paddle wheels had been replaced by steel hulls with screw propulsion.

[37] Unlike its competition, the Cunard Line, "always conservative," had a record of safety and it "had never lost a passenger or a letter." (Grant, p. 178.)

[38] Grant, p. 138.

[39] Grant, 59. Up to this year, 1833, the East India Company "brought British goods to India, exchanged them for silver, and, with the silver, obtained Chinese silks and tea for the home market." (Woodward, p. 296.) The China trade consisted of more than just silk and tea: there was the opium trade. Due to this trade, there developed problems between the Chinese and the British which resulted in two Opium Wars: the First (1834–1843) and the Second (1856-1860).

[40] More can be learned of the set up of the Halifax Banking Company, such as an expanded list of the incorporators. See Lynch, pp. 182-3.

[41] Payne, p. 86.

[42] Edward Cunard was not at the head of the firm for long, as he died just four years after his father, in 1869. At that time all of his eight children were at school in England. Edward's coffin was placed in the McEvers vault located in the Trinity churchyard, New York. (Grant, p. 177.)

[43] Baronet: "A titled order, the lowest that is hereditary, ranking next below a baron, having precedence of all orders of knighthood, except that of the Garter. A baronet is a commoner, the principle of the order being to give rank, precedence, and title without privilege." (OED)

[44] As set out in Langley's work, Steam Lion, p. 131.

[45] William Hazlitt, "On Thought and Action."


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Peter Landry
2012 (2020)