Montagu Family

(19–20th century)
   British financiers and politicians. Samuel (1st Baron Swaythling) (1832–1911), born in Liverpool, founded the City firm of Samuel Montagu and Company, international bullion dealers. He was a frequent consultant on financial matters to the Treasury, and a pioneer advocate of decimal currency and the metric system in Britain. He sat as member of Parliament for Whitechapel (1855–1900), was made a baronet in 1894 and a Peer in 1907, taking the title of Lord Swaythling. An observant Jew, Montagu formed the Federation of Synagogues (1887) out of the small places of worship of the Russian immigrants in the East End of London. He was very active in Jewish affairs abroad, and travelled to Russia, Palestine and the United States.
   Edwin Samuel (Lord Montagu) (1879–1924), second son of Samuel, was elected as a Liberal member of Parliament in 1906. During World War I he served as financial secretary to the Treasury and as minister of munitions. From 1917–22 he was secretary of state for India, introducing the Montagu- Chelmsford Reforms, that were embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. Vehemently opposed to Zionism, he fought in the British Cabinet against the BALFOUR Declaration of 1917, which was somewhat watered down under his pressure. He took it as a personal blow that his government should recognize ‘a people which does not exist’.
   Lilian Helen (1873–1963), daughter of Samuel, was a social worker and magistrate. She was one of the leaders of Liberal Judaism in Britain, conducted synagogue services as a lay preacher, and wrote extensively on religious topics.
   Ewen Edward (1901–85), son of the 2nd Baron Swaythling, was president of the United Synagogue (1954–62), a queen’s counsel and a London magistrate. Wartime service provided the story for his best-selling book, The Man Who Never Was (1953).

Who’s Who in Jewish History after the period of the Old Testament. . 2012.

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