Shanghai (Jun. 13)
The marriage of the late Silas Aaron Hardoon, the Jewish multi-millionaire who died here a year ago, to his widow, a Buddhist, to whom he has left the whole of his vast estate, having made her in his will sole heiress, sole executrix, and sole administrator of the estate, has been recognised by the court here to-day, although they were, not married according to Jewish religious law. The fact that they had lived together as husband and wife for 45 years was sufficient to make the marriage legal, the court has ruled.
Leading members of the Shanghai Jewish Community have given evidence that the widow, Mrs. Eliza Hardoon, never was Jewish and had always observed the Buddhist. faith, and the Baghdad Beth Din sent in a testimony declaring that the marriage was illegal and is not recognised as valid.
The decision of the court, upholding the marriage, has destroyed the principal argument of the family of the late Silas Aaron Hardoon, who claim that the estate should be divided among them, on the ground that the widow, not having, in their view, been legally married, was not entitled to inherit.
The case is being continued, however, in the hope that the question of the domicile of the late Silas Hardoon may be decided in their favour. Although Mr. Hardoon was permanently resident in Shanghai for 63 years, they contend that in this international settlement where Chinese or other domicile cannot be acquired, he remained a subject of Iraq, having been born in Baghdad, and claim that the case must therefore be tried according to Iraq law.
The Government of Iraq is supporting the claim of the family, demanding that as Hardoon was an Iraq subject who had never renounced his citizenship, the case should be heard according to Iraq law.
Alternatively, it is claimed that as Mr. Hardoon was in 1925 given special privileges accepting him as a British citizen, the case should be tried under British law, but in no case according to Chinese law.
Mr. Silas Aaron Hardoon, who died in July 1931 at the age of 84, is stated to have left the greatest hoard of gold ever gathered by any one person in the Far East.
Although married to a Chinese woman who retained her Buddhist faith, Mr. Hardoon continued to be a prominent member of the Jewish Community of Shanghai, and he died and was buried as a Jew.
Relatives living in Shanghai, Baghdad, Basra, Bombay, Jerusalem and other places have filed claims to the estate, and they declare that they will carry their case as far as the Privy Council in London.
Mr. Horace Samuel, who was formerly a prominent advocate in Palestine, is appearing in the case on behalf of one of the claimants, Mr. Isaac Hardoon, of Bombay.