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Samuel Beale 1803-1874, Mayor of Birmingham 1841

Updated: Jan 2, 2023

Samuel Beale was born in Birmingham on 4th of June 1803 the eldest son of Sarah and William Beale. Samuel’s younger brother, William John Beale (1807 – 1883), was the founder of Beale and Company, well-known solicitors of Birmingham and London.

Samuel Beale was to become a prominent figure in and around Birmingham, and in his early working life he was a glass and lead merchant. In 1836 he was a founder member of the Birmingham and Midland Bank, which later became the Midland Bank, and which is now the HSBC plc. Beale was also involved in the same capacity with the Union Bank of London.

In 1841 he was appointed Mayor of Birmingham, continued to be active on the town council where he also served as a magistrate in 1849. In 1857 he was elected a member of Parliament for Derby and held the seat until 1865.

He was also the chairman of Midland Railway and held the position for some 20 years until his health failed. The Birmingham Post, reporting his death, stated that he had ‘joined the company at the time of its greatest depression and left when it was in its most prosperous condition’. The company became one of the largest railway companies in the United Kingdom, and the largest employer in Derby where it had its headquarters. On his retirement, his son William incorporated the company under the name Parkgate Iron Company Limited, which later became the Park Gate Iron and Steel Company Limited.

He married his first wife Emma in 1823, the daughter of Edmund Butcher a unitarian minister. He was an active Unitarian follower, becoming a member of the Church of the Messiah Birmingham. In August 1847 Emma died, and he later remarried. His second wife was Mary. It is believed he had at least two sons and two daughters.

Samuel Beale died on 11th of September 1874 aged 71, survived by his second wife Mary.

Image: Colin Giles Samuel’s Memorial Inscription in Key Hill Cemetery formally known as the General Cemetery.

In remembrance of Samuel Beale of Warfield Grove, Berkshire, late of this town born June 4th 1803 died September 11th 1874. Also of Emma his wife who died August 13th 1847 aged 50 years. Also of Mary his wife who died September 28th 1886 aged 71 years. Thomas Beale of Sutton Coldfield and this town who died August 18th 1861 aged 85 years. Also in remembrance of Sarah Eliza Beale who died December 24th 1845 aged 20 years. Edward Franks Beale who died January 10th 1852 aged 26 years. Children of Samuel Beale.

The Birmingham Post, in summarising his life, said that ‘for a quarter a century previously no man occupied a more prominent and useful place in the public life of Birmingham’, and that he ‘possessed a genial and kindly nature, a cultivated taste, and broad and liberal sympathies’.

Complied by C. Giles, M. Jenkins, J. Fielding

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