Nathan, Joseph Edward

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NATHAN, JOSEPH EDWARD (1835–1912), New Zealand businessman and communal leader. Born in London, Nathan prospected unsuccessfully in the Australian goldfields before arriving in Wellington in 1857. There he went into partnership with Jacob Joseph and built up the flourishing wholesale import-export business which later became Joseph Nathan and Company. He held office on the Wellington Harbor Board, the Chamber of Commerce, the Gas Company, and other enterprises, and was chief promoter and chairman of the Wellington-Manawatu railway. Glaxo Laboratories, which later became important in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products in England, developed from his cooperative farming ventures. (The pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Wellcome, developed in part from his firm, became one of the largest drug manufacturers in the world. Nathan's son Alexander registered the name "Glaxo" for his dried milk powder in London in 1906.) In 1887 Nathan retired to London after having been one of the leaders of the Wellington Jewish community for over 40 years and president of its first synagogue (1870). His family remained prominent in New Zealand life.


L.M. Goldman, History of the Jews in New Zealand (1958), 148, 150, 219. add. bibliography: J. Millen, "Joseph Edward Nathan," in: Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

[Maurice S. Pitt]