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GIDEON, SAMSON:

English financier; born in London 1699; died 1762. He was a son of RowlandGideon (died 1720), a West-Indian merchant, who changed his name from the Portuguese "Abudiente" on settling in England, and became a freeman of the city of London and a member of the Paper-Stainers' Company Feb. 17, 1697. Samson Gideon began business in 1720 with a capital of £1,500, which increased so rapidly that in 1729 he was admitted a sworn broker with a capital of £25,000, invested chiefly in landed estates. His fortune continued to increase so that in 1740 he had become "the great oracle and leader of Jonathan's Coffee House in Exchange Alley." So prudently were his speculations conducted that he seldom suffered losses.

In the disastrous period which followed the South Sea Bubble (1720), Gideon had gained the public admiration by the calmness with which he ignored the gambling mania that almost brought ruin upon the country, and by his services to the prime minister in restoring the public credit. Similarly, during the panic ensuing when the Pretender advanced to London in 1745, and investors sold stock at any price, Samson Gideon continued to buy good securities, and had the gratification of seeing his fortune doubled by the operation. From 1742 he was consulted by the English government, to whom he offered loans during the Spanish and French hostilities of 1742-44. In 1745 he raised a loan of £1,700,000, and in 1749 carried through the consolidation of the national debt and the reduction of its interest. He is said to have raised in the following year a million three per cent at par; and at the beginning of the Seven Years' war (1756) he paid a bounty from his estates for recruiting the army. In 1758 and 1759, the great years of the war, he was almost wholly relied upon to raise loans for the government.

The great object of Gideon's life was to found a landed family, which was almost impossible to accomplish as a Jew. Accordingly in 1754 he resigned his membership in the Sephardic congregation, and from that time reared his children in the Christian faith. Through his influence with Sir Robert Walpole he was able to obtain a special act of Parliament sanctioning the purchase of an estate he coveted; and in 1759 a baronetcy was conferred upon his son Samson, then a boy of fifteen, being educated at Eton.

Gideon was a man of remarkable amiability and geniality, "of strong natural understanding, and of some fun and humor." He collected pictures with great care, having acquired many of those belonging to Sir Robert Walpole; these are now at Bedwell Park, Hertfordshire, England. He held liberal views, making an annual donation to the Sons of the Clergy, and bequeathing £2,000 as a legacy to that body and £1,000 to the London Hospital. He died in the Jewish faith, leaving £580,000, £1,000 of which was left to the Bevis Marks synagogue on condition that he be interred in the Jewish cemetery. It was found that he had throughout his life paid his synagogue subscriptions under the title "Almoni Peloni."

In 1766 his son Samson married the daughter of Chief Justice Sir John Eardley Wilmot, assumed the name of Eardley in July, 1789, and in Oct., 1789, was created Lord Eardley in the Irish peerage. The peerage became extinct at his death in 1824, his two sons, Samson Eardley and Colonel Eardley of the Guards, having died before him. His daughters had married Lord Saye and Sele, Sir Culling Smith, and J. W. Childers, among whom his estates were divided.

Bibliography:
  • Francis, Chronicles of the Stock Exchange, pp. 88-90;
  • Nichols, Literary Anecdotes, ix. 642;
  • idem, Illustrations, vi. 277-284;
  • Jew. World, Feb., 1878;
  • Picciotto, Sketches of Anglo-Jewish History, pp. 60-64, 84, 113, London, 1875;
  • Young Israel, June, 1899;
  • Dict. National Biography.
J. G. L.
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