Samuda, Joseph d'Aguilar (DNB00)

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SAMUDA, JOSEPH D'AGUILAR (1813–1885), engineer and shipbuilder, second son of Abraham Samuda, a broker and an East and West India merchant, of 10 South Street, Finsbury, London, by Joy, daughter of H. D'Aguilar of Enfield Chase, Middlesex, was born in London on 21 May 1813. He studied as an engineer under his brother Jacob, with whom he entered into partnership in 1832. Between 1832 and 1842 the operations of the firm of Samuda Brothers were principally confined to the building of marine engines. From 1842 to 1848 they were partly engaged in laying down railway lines on the atmospheric principle at Dalkey, Ireland, at Croydon, and in Paris; but the difficulties in the working ultimately led to the abandonment of this method of locomotion. In 1843 the firm commenced a shipbuilding business. One of the first vessels built was the Gipsy Queen, but during the trial trip on 12 Nov. 1844 Jacob Samuda was killed by the giving way of an expansion joint of the engine (Gent. Mag. March 1845, p. 321). From 1843 onwards the firm was uninterruptedly engaged in the construction of iron steamships for both the war and merchant navies, the passenger and mail services of England and other countries, besides royal yachts and river boats. Among ships built for the British navy were the Thunderer, the first armour-cased iron vessel; the Prince Albert, the first ironclad cupola ship; and the mortar float No. 1, the first iron mortar vessel ever constructed. Under Samuda's personal control they at a later period built the Riachuelo and the Aquidaban, two ironclads, for the Brazilian government, and also three channel steamers, the Albert Victor, the Louise Dagmar, and the Mary Beatrice, for the service between Folkestone and Boulogne. Samuda introduced into his yard on the Isle of Dogs all the efficient time- and labour-saving machines of the day. Among these was a hydraulic armour-plate bending machine, capable of exerting a working pressure of seventy hundredweight per square inch, or a total pressure of 4,000 tons.

In 1860, in co-operation with Sir Edward Reed and others, he established the Institution of Naval Architects, of which he was elected the original treasurer and a member of council. He subsequently became one of its vice-presidents. His contributions to its ‘Transactions’ were numerous, and there were few discussions at its meetings in which he did not take part. He was a member of a committee appointed by the admiralty in 1884 to inquire into the condition under which contracts are invited for the building and repairing of H.M. ships and their engines and with the practical working of the dockyards (Parliamentary Papers, 1884–5, C. 4219).

On 6 May 1862 he became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and frequently spoke at their meetings. To the minutes of the ‘Proceedings’ he contributed a paper ‘On the form and materials for iron-plated ships’ (xxii. 5, 130).

He was a member of the metropolitan board of works from 1860 until 1865, in which year he entered parliament in the liberal interest for Tavistock. He sat for that constituency down to 1868, when he was returned for the Tower Hamlets, which he continued to represent until 1880. He failed to secure re-election owing to his support of Lord Beaconsfield's foreign policy. He spoke frequently in the house, more particularly on naval subjects. He was captain in the 2nd Tower Hamlets rifle volunteers 6 April 1860, major 10 Nov. 1863 to 4 Dec. 1867, and lieutenant-colonel of the 1st Tower Hamlets rifle volunteers 4 Dec. 1867 to June 1869. He died at 7 Gloucester Square, Hyde Park, London, on 27 April 1885, and was buried on 2 May in Kensal Green cemetery. He married, in 1837, Louisa, daughter of Samuel Ballin of Holloway, Middlesex, by whom he had five children.

Samuda wrote ‘A Treatise on the Adaptation of Atmospheric Pressure to the Purposes of Locomotion on Railways,’ 1841; and with S. Clegg, ‘Clegg and Samuda's Atmospheric Railway,’ 1840.

[Minutes of Proceedings of Instit. of Civil Engineers, 1885, lxxxi. 334–7; Times, 29 April 1885, p. 5; Iron, 1 May 1885, p. 384; East End News, 1 May 1885 p. 3, 5 May p. 3; Vanity Fair, 15 Feb. 1873, p. 55, with portrait.]

G. C. B.