Samuel, Sir Saul

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SAMUEL, SIR SAUL (1820–1900), Australian politician and communal figure. Born in London, Samuel emigrated to Australia with his widowed mother in 1832 to join her brother, a successful Sydney merchant. Samuel became a leading merchant in Sydney and Bathurst and a large-scale pastoralist on the Macquarie River. In 1846 he became the first Jew to be appointed a justice of the peace in Australia. From 1851 he was involved in the search for gold in Victoria. In 1854 he was appointed a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, and in 1859 became New South Wales' first elected Jewish member of Parliament. When first taking his seat, he stated that he was happy that no difficulties existed in New South Wales regarding his taking the oath, since it was only one of allegiance and not based, as in England, "upon an exclusive and sectarian prejudice." Samuel sat in Parliament for over 20 years and held numerous ministerial posts. He was three times colonial treasurer and was responsible for the financial arrangements for separating Queensland from the parent colony of New South Wales. As postmaster general he negotiated a postal service to Great Britain in 1872, and as agent-general of New South Wales in London from 1880 was responsible for loans running into millions of pounds. He was knighted in 1882 and created a baronet in 1898. Samuel was a director of numerous companies, especially in mining and insurance. He was prominent in Jewish communal affairs as president of the Sydney Great Synagogue and was active in Jewish education. After 1880 he lived chiefly in London, dying at his South Kensington home.

add. bibliography:

adb, 6, 84–85; H.L. Rubinstein, Australia i, 375–76.

[Israel Porush /

William D. Rubinstein (2nd ed.)]