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SIR DONALD CURRIE (1825-1909)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 649 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR DONALD CURRIE (1825-1909), British shipowner, was born at Greenock on the 17th of September 1825. At a very early age he was employed in the office of a shipowner in that port, but at the age of eighteen left Scotland for Liverpool, where shipping business offered more scope. By a fortunate chance he attracted the notice of the chief partner in the newly started Cunard steamship line, who found him a post in that company. In 1849 the Cunard Company started a service between Havre and Liverpool to connect with their transatlantic service. Currie was appointed Cunard agent at Havre and Paris, and secured for his firm a large share of the freight traffic between France and the United States. About 1856 he returned to Liver-pool, where till 1862 he held an important position at the Cunard Company's headquarters. In 1862 he determined to strike out for himself, and leaving the Cunard established the " Castle " line of sailing-ships between Liverpool and Calcutta. Business prospered, but in 1864 Currie found it profitable to substitute London for Liverpool as the home port of his vessels, and himself settled in London. In 1872 he came to the conclusion, after a careful study of all the circumstances, that the development of Cape Colony justified the starting of a new line of steamers between England and South Africa. The result of this decision was the founding of the successful Castle line of steamers (see under STEAMSHIP LINES), which after 1876 divided the South African mail contract with the older Union line, and was finally amalgamated with the latter under the title Union Castle line in 1900. Currie's intimate knowledge of South African conditions and persons was on several occasions of material service to the British government. His acquaintance with Sir John Brand, the president of what was then the Orange Free State, caused him to be entrusted by the home government with the negotiations in the dispute concerning the ownership of the Kimberley diamond-fields, which were brought to a successful conclusion. He introduced the two Transvaal deputations which came to England in 1877 and 1878 to protest against annexation, and though his suggestions for a settlement were disregarded by the government of the day, the terms on which the Transvaal was subsequently restored to the Boers agreed, in essentials, with those he had advised. The first news of the disaster of Isandhlwana in the Zulu War was given to the home government through his agency. At that time there was no cable between England and South Africa, and the news was sent by a Castle liner to St Vincent, and telegraphed thence to Currie. At the same time by diverting his outward mail-boat then at sea from its ordinary course to St Vincent, he enabled the government to telegraph immediate instructions to that island for conveyance thence by the mail, thus saving serious delay, and preventing the annihilation of the British garrison at Eshowe. The present arrangement under which the British admiralty is enabled to utilize certain fast steamers of the mercantile marine as armed cruisers in war-time was suggested and strongly urged by Currie in 1880.. In the same year he was returned to parliament as Liberal member for Perthshire, but, though a strong personal friend of W.E. Gladstone, he was unable to follow that statesman on the Home Rule question, and from 1885 to 1900 he represented West Perthshire as a Unionist. In 1881 his services in connexion with the Zulu War were rewarded with knighthood, and in 1897 he was created G.C.M.G. He died at Sidmouth on the 13th of April 1909.
End of Article: SIR DONALD CURRIE (1825-1909)
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Additional information and Comments

Donald Currie, did not work for a shipping owner in Greenock,his first job was with his uncle John Martin"s company Hoyle&Martin Limited, sugar refineries,in 1839 age 14 years. John Martin was his mother"s brother, Elizabeth (martin)Currie. Iam a distant relative of these families. Helen (currie)Martin my great grand-mother,was Sir Donald Currie, youngest sister the Currie"s an the Martin families disowned both her and my great-grand-father Gavin Martin, both of them were full cousin"s they eloped and were married in Edinburgh 1852.Both settled in Dundee with the help of Sir Donald"s brother Alexander Martin Currie, who owned a sugar refinery in Dundee,he was also a partner in the Hoyle& Martin Ltd, Sugar-house-Lane, Greenock, until the year he died,1886 in Jersey. I have given you good people a small peep into the family past. I am in possession of birth certificates, marriage-lines and Death certificates. I also have three files of printed documents covering our family history from 1679 up to this day. James Currie and Elizabeth (martin)Currie were my great-great-grand-parents my own parents are now deceased, George Morgan Martin and Elizabeth (mcGann)Martin both were born in the year 1899. Feb an May.I am of the same name as my father in full.still live in Dundee, aged 71 years this coming Decemeber 8th 1938.Grand-father name Thomas Farquarson Martin born 1858 died age 72 1932, conformation of our relationship can be found in the week-end local paper " The People"s Journal " 16th August 1932, in the Obituary column.His middle name is mispelt as "FERGUSSON" this was done by his eldest son Andrew Martin a World-war one hero, who lived up to a goodly age of 80years 1970.His only daughter lives in Canada London Ontario, in her eighties, Joan (martin) MacLean. I could go on for ever but starts to bore,here is a couple of name"s related to Sir Donald whom you may have missed Sir John Molteno,P.M of the cape colony"s. The Merrilees Russian store People who were great friends of the Fabulous Faberges! jewllers to the czars,here I must end, Ive spoken by mobil to a few, but never personally met them but whats in a name.still researching and fnding little snippets of life. 2
My Grand Father Commador- Captain Samuel Currie told me before he died I was related to Sir Donald Currie - some how his father was the black sheep of the family and went to Ireland where he had a plumbing bussiness - also put some of the plumming into the Titanic. Maybe you someone has information on this side of the family - I am the last Currie in this line and would like to pass on the family history to my Children .
I am replying to the last paragraph concerning Capt Samuel Currie. He was my great Uncle & my grandmother was his sister Jane Currie. I have been researching my family tree & Uncle Sam wrote to me about our connection with Donald Currie. Perhaps the person who wrote would get in touch as he must be the son of Clifford or Max Currie.
Question? Is this the same Currie family that purchased the estate of Clatto Fife which was previously owned by Sir John Low? From the book 'Fifty Years with John Company', a biography by Ursula Low, it is documented that General Sir John Low, was a soldier and diplomat of the East India Company He was closely associated with two Governors General, Lord Dalhousie and Lord Canning, The Lows were also connected through marriage to William Shakespeare and William Makepeace Thackeray. The estate is documented to have been sold to "the Curries the shipping people" but no further explanation is given.
I recently met a Dirk Currie who now resides in Adelaide Australia. He claims to be a distant relative of the Currie family of Currie Cup fame. Was originally from Swaziland , Johannesburg , Cape Town. Peter Wright
WE HAVE BOUGHT A HOMESTEAD FROM MR ELGIN & MRS ROSE CURRIE IN SOMERSET WEST IN 2001. THE STATELY MANOR HOME WAS ON LARGE GROUNDS. THE FAMILY WERE KEEN MUSIC LOVERS HENCE THE RATHER LARGE FAULTED CEILING MUSIC ROOM. THE LAND WAS SOLD OFF AND DEVELOPED WITH 23 LUXURIOUS HOMES CALLED CANELLUN ESTATE. WE HAVE KEPT TWO OF THE MOST ELEGANT BOHEMIAN CHANDELIERS - BOTH ARRIVED BY SHIP IN MID 1940'S IN CAPE TOWN. MR CURRY BOUGHT THE BIGGEST CHANDELIER OF THE LOT (WE HAVE IT WITH US) AND THE OWNERS OF THE MOUNT NELSON HOTEL BID ON THE SMALLER CHANDELIERS. FOUR OF THE CHANDELIERS ARE HANGING IN THE MAIN TEAROOM AREA AT THE MOUNT NELSON IN CAPE TOWN. MR CURRY WAS A DIFFICULT BUT ASTUTE BUSINESSMAN AND ROSE WAS A VERY SWEET LADY.
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