As Cunard prepare to start the celebrations in Liverpool for its 175th anniversary, we want to take you back to where it all began, charting the life and times of Samuel Cunard, who achievements solidified the name of the Cunard Line as a cruise industry leader at the start of a long history of transatlantic voyages.
Samuel Cunard was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1787 to master carpenter Abraham Cunard and his wife Margaret. The boy’s proficiency for business was noticeable at young age and by the time he was 17 years old, he was overseeing his own general store. As he got older, Samuel joined his father’s timber business, helping the company grow substantially by expanding into other sectors such as whaling, iron, coal and, most famously, shipping. Samuel was reputed as a kind, brave and generous man, having gained to the role of captain during the War of 1812 and held public offices including lighthouse commissioner. Despite these achievements, it was to be the shipping industry in which Samuel Cunard would make his name with his renowned Cunard line.
After his time as a budding tycoon in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Cunard travelled to the United Kingdom and, with the help of several other businessmen, bought the rights to control the transatlantic postal service between America and the UK, beginning his life journey in the shipping industry. The company that Samuel Cunard and his associates started that day would later become the Cunard line, known at the time as Cunard Steamships Limited.
In 1840, Samuel Cunard set sail with 63 other travellers from Liverpool aboard his first steamship, the Britannia, heading for Halifax, Nova Scotia. This journey would be the first of many transatlantic voyages, carrying people and cargo between the UK and North America. Cunard’s success was astounding, sweeping rival shipping companies out of the way with his line’s reputation for both speed and safety. The Cunard Line conquered the Atlantic cruise industry and constructed some of the world’s most illustrious vessels, including the original RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth.
Whilst the Cunard line developed and expanded, Samuel Cunard went on to enjoy a series of significant personal and prestigious life events, such as being made a baronet by Queen Victoria in 1859. He was also father to nine children, whom he had with his devoted wife Susan.
After his death in 1865, he was buried in Brompton Cemetery, Kensington and the Cunard line and Samuel’s baronetcy were passed on his son, Sir Edward Cunard. The success of the Cunard line is largely due to the efforts of the great man that was Samuel Cunard and his legacy lives on to this day. Cunard is most prominently remembered in his home town of Halifax, Nova Scotia at the area’s Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. Almost an entire floor of this fascinating museum celebrates the life of Samuel Cunard and the history of the Cunard line. Also, in 2006, an impressive bronze statue of Cunard was built on the Halifax waterfront, so that everyone who docks their will remember the face of Samuel Cunard and his astonishing achievements within the shipping and cruise industry.
Image credits: (1)-Treeman, wikipedia.org
(2)- Bryson109, wikimedia.org