The fall and rise of Arthur Edward Pedder

The Old Bank in Church Street – a print facing page 456 in Charles Hardwick’s History of Preston. Dated 1857.

I was sorting through the papers that F. S. Moxon deposited at Lancashire Archives after he had published his short pamphlet, A brief history of Pedder & Co. Preston Old Bank, 1776-1861, gathering material for an article on the 18th-century Pedders. Amongst the papers I came across a letter Mrs Lettice Pedder sent to Moxon in 1952. Mrs Pedder was the daughter-in-law of Arthur Edward Pedder, whose father’s death led to the collapse of the family bank in 1861. She included the following information:

A. E. Pedder. the following as told to me by his son Guy, my husband.
At Eton reputed to be one of richest boys in Pop etc. When he left went on “Grand Tour” and was in India? when news of the Bank came to him. Hurried home to find himself penniless with mother and two sisters to support. He became a clerk in a bank. When Eton boys and masters heard of his ill luck, they sent round the hats, boys giving him an income for next 5-6 years and master[s?] bought him a small house in Highgate!! He tried unavailingly to repay both in later years, but met the reply that all had dispersed and no one would accept a penny!! (How wonderful!)

Wikipedia describes ‘Pop’ thus:

Pop: officially known as ‘Eton Society’, a society comprising the most popular, well-regarded confident and able senior boys. It is a driving ambition of many capable Eton schoolboys to be elected to Pop, and many high-performers who are refused entry to this society consider their careers at Eton a failure. Boris Johnson was a member of Pop, whilst David Cameron … failed to be elected … Pop is the oldest self-electing society at Eton. … Members of Pop wear white and black houndstooth-checked trousers, a starched stick-up collar and white bow-tie, and are entitled to wear flamboyant waistcoats, often of their own design. Historically, only members of Pop were entitled to furl their umbrellas or sit on the wall on the Long Walk, in front of the main building. Notable ex-members of Pop include Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (unlike his younger brother Prince Harry, who failed to be elected). 1

Despite this early setback, Arthur prospered later in life. He married the daughter of a Yorkshire vicar, had several children, bought Brandiston Hall in Norfolk and spent many years living in retirement on ‘private means’.

Brandiston Hall: entrance front in 1969. Image: N.A. Hallett.

Moxton did not include Mrs Pedder’s information in his short history, nor the information she supplied that Guy Pedder blamed their relative Richard Newsham for not coming to the rescue when the bank collapsed, as Mrs Pedder recalled, ‘Guy always said that the Bank could have been saved if Newsham had stood by, he was rich and could have done so, but wouldn’t!’

By the time Moxon came to write his account of the bank he was living in a nursing home at Stonyhurst and had clearly run out of steam, as he makes clear in a typewritten note that he attached to the end of his pamphlet in which he reveals that ill health had restricted his researches, that he was now over 80 ‘and instead of the larger work which I had originally intended, I have had to reduce it to the present “Brief History”. I will leave my notes with Mr Sharpe France [county archivist], who will be pleased to give access to them on application by anyone interested – but please to not bother me for my only interest now is bird-watching (the feathered kind).’

I’ve put a short biography of Arthur on line: Arthur Edward Pedder – 1841-1916.


1 ‘Eton College’, in Wikipedia, 26 July 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eton_College&oldid=1100540586.

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