Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/660

This page needs to be proofread.
Montagu
Montagu
640

Eastern Question,' 1877 (a vigorous exposure of the inconsistencies of English foreign policy). A spirited cartoon by 'Ape' of Montagu as 'A Working Conservative' appeared in 'Vanity Fair,' on 1 Oct. 1870.

[Burke's Peerage; Men of the Time, 1899; Luard's Grad. Cant.; The Times, 7 and 12 May 1902; Who's Who, 1902; Hansard's Parl. Debates; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. Le G. N.


MONTAGU, Sir SAMUEL, first Baron Swaythling (1832–1911), foreign exchange-banker and Jewish philanthropist, born at Liverpool on 21 Dec. 1832, was second son and youngest child of Louis Samuel (1794–1859), watchmaker and silversmith, of Liverpool, by his wife Henrietta, daughter of Israel Israel of Bury Street, St. Mary Axe. His parents were orthodox Jews, and he was through life a strict adherent of orthodox Judaism. Whilst still a lad his parents reversed his original name of Montagu Samuel to Samuel Montagu, and he obtained a royal licence for the change in 1894. By a second licence in 1904 he assumed the surname of Samuel-Montagu.

After education at the Mechanics' Institution, Liverpool, now the Liverpool Institute, he came to London when his father retired from business in 1845. He obtained his earliest employment at thirteen with his brother-in-law, Adam Spielmann, a foreign banker in Lombard Street. Soon dissatisfied with his salary and prospects he became manager of the London branch of a Paris banker named Monteaux, opened at 21 Cornhill. Quickly cancelling this engagement he acted as a bullion-broker on his own account, but in Feb. 1853 he resolved on founding a new foreign exchange and banking business. He was still under age, and a small capital, stated to be 3000l., was advanced by his father in his behalf to his elder brother Edwin, a small banker in Liverpool, who became Montagu's partner without an active role in the concern. The firm was first known as Samuel & Montagu and had an office in Leadenhall Street. Two years later Montagu took over Monteaux's London branch which was in difficulties, and he moved to its premises in Cornhill. From the start Ellis Abraham Franklin, who afterwards married Montagu's sister, was in the effectual position of Montagu's partner, and he was made a full partner in 1862, when the firm's style was changed to Samuel Montagu & Co. New premises were taken in 1863 at 60 Old Broad Street. The house at Cornhill then became a branch, and later, with capital of Samuel Montagu & Co.'s provision, the independent concern of A. Keyser & Co. By subsequent agreement two sons of each of the three partners of Samuel Montagu & Co. were taken into that firm's partnership. Five survivors of the six younger partners carry on the business at 60 Old Broad Street.

At the outset Montagu and his colleagues took up with energy the foreign exchange operations from which great firms like those of Rothschild and Baring were withdrawing in view of other occupation. Montagu's house quickly secured a large proportion of the exchange business, and, while establishing its own fortune, helped to make London the chief home of the clearinghouse of the international money market. Montagu's knowledge of intricate exchanges was, even among Jewish exchange dealers, remarkable. He calculated profit in the most complicated transactions, involving the conversion and re-conversion of foreign currencies, with a miraculous rapidity. In the silver market his firm's transactions were on an exceptionally large scale. He owed much in later life to his partners' sagacity and to his choice of able assistants.

Self-confident, and of a masterful personality, Montagu soon exerted much influence alike in general financial and public affairs, as well as in the Anglo-Jewish community. The demonetisation of the French copper coinage in England was largely due to his agitation. Mainly ovdng to his representations the Royal Exchange was roofed in by the City authorities, and the merchants assembling there were protected from the inclemency of the weather. In 1897 he gave one of the picture panels in the Exchange, painted by Solomon J. Solomon, R.A., depicting Charles I's visit to the Guildhall in 1641-2 to demand the surrender of the Five Members.

Montagu, who in politics was a staunch liberal, was elected in the liberal interest M.P. for the Whitechapel division of the Tower Hamlets in 1885 and held the seat for fifteen years. He grew intimate with the party leaders but took little part in the business of the House of Commons save on financial matters and on those touching the Jews. He was chief author of the Weights and Measures Act (1897), which legalised the use of metric weights and measures, and he procured the insertion of a clause in the Finance Act of 1894 (sec. 15) exempting from the death duties bequests to public libraries, museums, and art galleries. An ardent supporter of bimetallism, he was a member of the gold and silver commission (1887-90), and he was president of the