Sir Edgar Speyer, 1st Baronet was an American-born financier and philanthropist. He was chairman of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London from 1906 to 1915. Speyer was a supporter of the musical arts and a friend of several leading composers, including Edward Elgar, Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy. He died in London in 1916, aged 80.
About Edgar Speyer in brief
Sir Edgar Speyer, 1st Baronet was an American-born financier and philanthropist. He was chairman of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London from 1906 to 1915. Speyer was a supporter of the musical arts and a friend of several leading composers, including Edward Elgar, Richard Strauss and Claude Debussy. For his philanthropy he was made a baronet in 1906 and a Privy Counsellor in 1909. After the start of the World War I, he became the subject of anti-German attacks in the Press. In 1921, the British government investigated accusations that Speyer had traded with the enemy during the war, and had participated in other wartime conduct incompatible with his status as a British subject. His naturalisation was revoked and he was struck off the list of members of the Privy Council. In 1912, Speyer consolidated the UERL’s control of the underground railways when he negotiated the purchase of the City and South London Railway and the South London Central Railway. He owned a pair of neighbouring houses at 44 and 46 Gvenor Street, Mayfair, that he had rebuilt as a single residence at the cost of £150,000. In 1911, the architects Detmar Detmar and Fernand Billery gave a large stone façade to Speyer’s house in Beaux-Arts style. As head of the London arm of the Speyer family’s businesses he became a wealthy wealthy man. He died in London in 1916, aged 80. He is buried in the St Paul’s Cathedral, London.
He had a daughter, Pamela, and a son, Vivien, who were both born in the United States. He married American violinist Leonora von Stosch on 10 February 1902, in Hamburg, and they had three daughters: Pamela, Leonora, and Vivien. On 29 February 1892, Speyers became a naturalised British citizen. His older brother, James, headed the New York company. The firm specialised in arbitrage with Europe and the U.S. and the financing of railway projects. In 1884, Speer became a partner in each of his father’s businesses. He headed the Frankfurt office before taking control of Speyer Brothers in 1887. By 1907, the three new railways had opened and the electrification works had been completed. By 1903, the company was in a difficult financial position. After bailing out the company,speyer, with Managing Director Albert Stanley, struggled for a number of years to restore its finances. This was finally achieved with the purchase of the General Omnibus Company in 1912, as its profits could be used to offset losses elsewhere in the group. In November 1912, he consolidated the London London Company in November, and bought the two other main tube railways, the Central London and the City of London Railway. In 1913, he sold the London and South Central Railway for £1.5 million. In 1914, he was awarded a knighthood for his services to philanthropy.