A Blupete Biography Page

The Last Years, Part 10 to the Life & Works of
Samuel Cunard

Cunard's last years were spent, pretty much, in England. He had homes in London, but at some point took a ten year lease on a place called Bush Hill House. At the time, the place was a country estate fit for an English gentleman and his family. It was located about eight miles north of London. In those days Bush Hill House consisted of entrance lodges, stables, gardens and a large park -- consisting all together of 74 acres. The place was usually full up with family members both those in residence and those on a visit from America. Samuel Cunard had a large number of children; they married and had large families themselves. At Bush Hill there were always children who were all welcomed by Grandfather Cunard. For example, by 1860, there were 36 children, a number of whom, at the same time, were to be found at Bush Hill House; there to ride the ponies and explore the great park in behind.

As for business, Cunard, as the years advanced, was happy to leave the running of the companies to other members of the Cunard family, who, though, undoubtedly, would bring Sam into any discussions concerning major decisions. During the years from 1850 to the time of Cunard's death in 1865, the Cunard steamship line did well. It had competition, mainly from the Collins Line run by Edward Knight Collins out of New York. The Collins line had established a reputation for being fast, with orders to go full steam through storm or fog. Not only were the Collins steamships faster but they had more luxurious appointments, such as crimson velvet on the sofas and steam heat in the comparatively larger passenger compartments. Cunard, in running his steamers, stuck to his old ways including running the line in a profitable manner, while Collins lost money. The Collins Line went out of business in 1858.

"The efforts of the Collins Line, although backed by lavish capital and unstinted support from the Government of the United States, ended in a complete collapse."41
In 1859, six years before his death, Samuel Cunard was made a Baronet and thereafter known as Sir Samuel.42 At the last of it, with the ten year lease on Bush Hill House having expired, Cunard took up residence at 26 Prince's Gardens at London. By 1863, Samuel at the age of 76 gave the full reins of the Cunard operation over to his son, Edward, who had held down the Cunard interests at New York where he continued to make his home.43 On April 28th, 1865, Samuel Cunard died; he was buried at Brompton Cemetery, Kensington.

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Peter Landry
2011 (2013)

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