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Tribute to ‘Father of the Company’ – Michael Nathan FCA, Hon.FGE

Honorary Liveryman, Past Master and Father of the Company

Michael Nathan, FCA, Hon. FGE.

20th July 1927 – 29th November 2020

Born 20th July 1927 to Cyril Herbert and Violet Nathan. His brother Peter arrived in July 1929. In the early days Michael was educated at St. Cyprian’s, Eastbourne where he was head boy and then went onto Charterhouse, [Hodgsonites Boarding House 1941 – 1945] where he was deputy head of house and much involved in sport [cricket, football and fives] both at school and later for the Old Carthusians. [His brother Peter joined him at Charterhouse in 1943]

Michael was called up for National Service in the middle of a school term 1945, just before the end of the War, he served on the lower deck in the Royal Navy in charge of naval stores at a landing craft repair base in Scotland and later on a survey ship in the North Sea.

On demobilisation in 1948, he was articled to Whinney, Smith & Whinney [now Ernst & Young] at a salary of £150.00 per annum plus £10.00 extra at Christmas. Working as an audit junior, qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in 1951, with a salary increase to the princely sum of £750.00 per annum. After a time in their tax department, he spent a short time in industry, examining their best methods of budgetary control and cost accounting.

On 23rd September 1952 he was admitted as a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers following in his father’s footsteps. His father [Major RFC, Cyril Herbert Nathan FCA] had joined in June 1926 and was Master in 1934-1935. Cyril became an Honorary Member in 1951 and died in September 1977.

Michael was clothed in Livery 24th March 1953.

In 1953, Michael joined Howard, Howes & Co [later Howard Tilly & Co] where his father was then senior partner and later that year became a partner, the firm’s turnover at that time was about £60K.

The firm had recently acquired as a client, the Pye Group which was a major development, largely because the existing firm of auditors felt unable to cope with a new tax, Excess Profits Levy, so one of his first tasks as a partner was to learn how the provisions of this new tax applied to the company and its numerous subsidiaries both in the UK and abroad.

In those days, partners tended not to be specialists as today but generalists. Accordingly, the work programme extended from tax to audit, the principal source of the firm’s income, to investigations of every sort including mergers, acquisitions, back duty, share issues, etc. He travelled extensively for the firm in Europe, particularly France and Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Probably the most exotic overseas assignment was an investigation in Liberia relating to the construction of a new presidential palace in Monrovia.

Due to his numerous contacts, he was able to introduce a substantial number of clients over the years covering companies, partnerships, personal tax, and trust work as well as special investigations. Within the firm, he was for some time Staff Partner and Property Partner as well as involvement in other administrative matters.

Outside the firm his activities were numerous. In 1970 he became a Member of the Court, then served as Renter Warden 1971/2 – Prime Warden 1972/3 and became Master 19th December 1973 till 19th December 1974. As Master [1973/74] he organised an Exhibition at the Science Museum to celebrate the Tercentenary of George Ravenscroft’s patent resulting in the manufacture of lead crystal. This involved not only raising the necessary finance but also obtaining relevant exhibits from HM The Queen and other leading museums.

It was in the early 70’s that Michael learnt of a movement to form a Guild of Glass Engravers to revive a craft which had largely died out in the United Kingdom. Having been a Trustee of the Glass Sellers Charity Fund for several years, Michael persuaded the Trustees to sponsor the Guilds first exhibition and to provide a glass trophy as a prize for the best first time exhibitor at the Guild’s national exhibition. He subsequently served as chairman of the Guild for 4 years and president for 7 years before becoming an Honorary Fellow.

To promote UK Glass Manufacture and Glass Engraving he commissioned through the Glass Engraving Trust a collection of modern British engraved glasses for use at Downing Street and Chequers. The theme being Britain’s architectural and industrial heritage. The collection of some 40 Tumblers, Carafes and Water Jugs was formally presented to David Cameron at Downing Street on January 10th, 2013 following the original idea having been proposed to former Prime Minister, John Major. The idea to create a set of Dartington Crystal glasses for use by the Prime Minister and his international guests promoting British Glass Engraving and British Glass in general. At the time Michael was quoted as saying ‘Everybody says it’s through my doggedness and determination that the whole project has been fulfilled’

He has also been extensively involved with a large number of Jewish charities including Jewish Welfare Board, now known as Jewish Care [Treasurer for 12 years] Stepney Jewish [B’nai B’rith] Clubs and Settlement [Treasurer for over 35 years and President for 17 years] Association for Jewish Youth [treasurer for 35 years], the United Charities of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue [Chairman for 45 years]

In June 1984, Eric and Joan Abrahams announced the engagement of their daughter Jennifer Madelin Abrahams to Michael Ronald Nathan FCA. they subsequently married. Jenny became a Liveryman in September 2005.

He has also acted as chairman for 20 years of the Residents Associations of the estate where he lived. He was immensely proud when Jenny was awarded in 2005 an MBE for her charitable work.
In December 2012, Michael became an Honorary Liveryman and in recognition for his commitment and works to the Company of Glass Sellers given the title of ‘Father of the Company’ a title that had not been used since 1850.

In 2014 to mark the 350th Anniversary of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers of London’s charter of 1664, Michael together with his wife Jenny, commissioned a Sellers’ Salt, engraved by Katharine Coleman MBE [Hon. Liveryman] to grace the High Table at Dinners and Events of the Company.

Besides all this activity Michael also found time to enjoy Opera, The Arts, and a keen interest in Horseracing.

Michael at 93 had been a Member of the Company for 68 years.

Associated Links:

The Downing Street Collection of British Glass Engraved Glass