Pedder, Thomas — 1729-1781

The Pedders of Preston
Over the course of two hundred years the Pedder family rose to prominence in the town, founding its first bank and entering the ranks of the gentry. The main branch of the family faced ruin when the bank collapsed in 1861, but fortunes were salvaged and the family entered the 20th century with their privileges intact.
The Pedders of Preston

Thomas Pedder, the son of Richard and Jennet Pedder was baptised 1 May 1729 at Preston Parish Church, died unmarried and was buried 7 December 1781. 1 He was elected councilman 29 January 1771, alderman 22 February 1779 2 and was mayor of Preston in 1779-8. 3

David Berry in his account of the Preston Election of 1768 quotes from one of the party addresses published during the campaign, which he believes, from comparing it with other sources, refers to Thomas:

Friday morning was ushered in by an assault upon the house and warehouse of a principal manufacturer in this town, in which they committed the greatest havoc and destruction. His goods and materials of manufacture were thrown out of the windows, and he himself at last reduced to the necessity of giving up his money, and begging his life on his knees. 4

David cautions that the account should not be accepted uncritically, since the contest was fiercely partisan. Thomas, and indeed the whole Pedder family, were lifelong Tories. What it does make clear is that in 1768 Thomas was regarded as one of Preston’s leading manufacturers. His house and warehouse were situated on the west side of the Market Place. 5

In 1755 Richard Pedder and his sons Edward and Thomas were described as linen drapers in a property transaction in Penwortham. 6 Nine years later when the Pedders were negotiating a £2000 bond on the property Edward and Thomas were described as merchants. Their father had died two years earlier.

Thomas was heavily involved in similar acquisitions of estates for miles around Preston. For example, in 1769 he bid £2260 to acquire Larbreck Hall, near Blackpool, and its surrounding estate, and he was renting it out when he came to draw up his will (see below). 7 He was especially concerned with property acquisition: in drawing up his will, which he signed on 10 November 1781, just weeks before his death, he reveals he was then engaged in negotiations to buy a property in Woodplumpton for £850, and he instructs his executors to ensure the deal was concluded if he should die in the meantime. He also urges the administrators of one of the trusts he established in his will to pursue property acquisition with the funds they were managing. Such micro-management extended to the disposition of his extensive property portfolio, the major portion of which he earmarked for eventual inheritance by one particular grandson, presumably to keep the estate intact. He provided separately for his nephew James, son of his deceased brother James, provided that he agree to be ordained and serve as vicar of Garstang.

18th-century portrait of Thomas Pedder of Preston

At some point in the middle of the century he sat for his portrait, which features in an article on the artist Christopher Steele by Mary Burkett, published in the Walpole Society journal. Thomas left the portrait to his nephew, the Rev John Pedder, the vicar of Garstang, along with the rest of his furniture, and it remained in that branch of the Pedder family when they moved to the Finsthwaite estate near Newby Bridge in the Lake District, (his elder brother James had died shortly after his uncle wrote his will, too young to inherit, and his brother was named as his heir in the will). Although the caption attributes the portrait to Steele, Mary Burkett suggested that while some features of the portrait support a Steele attribution, others do not. 8

The will of Thomas Pedder 9

(At this period, according to the National Archives historical currency converter, a pound was roughly equal to £86 in today’s money.)

Alderman Edward Pedder brother 20 guineas for mourning or rings for himself and family

Edward’s eldest son Edward 20 guineas for mourning or rings for himself and family

Mrs Pedder of Lancaster widow of Rev James Pedder brother 20 guineas for mourning or rings for herself and family

Mrs McClone daughter of Henry Barnes 10 guineas

James Hindle ‘my servant’ 10 guineas provided he lives with Thomas at the time of his death

James Pedder son of Edward £1000

Jane or Jennett daughter of Edward £1000

John Pedder son of James £1000

Margaret Pedder daughter of James £1000

Jane wife of James Knowles gentleman and daughter of his late sister Grace Derbyshire £1000

Ann Derbyshire daughter of Grace Derbyshire £1200

Mary Moss daughter of niece Mrs Knowles £200

The contents of Thomas’s house to nephew James to furnish the vicarage at Garstang when he succeeded there.

Stone Delf Field and the Meadow formerly one field near Avenham Walk bought from John Smalley to Edward Pedder and his sons in trust for Thomas Knowles eldest son of Jane Knowles

He then lists a number of properties in Woodplumpton and Larbreck:

He had recently contracted to buy a property called Mayfields in Bartle within Woodplumpton from the trustees of Coulborn for £850, and he instructs his executors to complete the purchase; the mansion, houses and farms of the Larbreck Hall estate in the possession of James Willacy; Whinney Field House and Cuckstool House in Woodplumpton in the possession of Anthony Billington [? part indecipherable]; property called Harrisons in Bartle in the possession of Richard Singleton; and property called Lorimers in possession of Widow Smith and her son Thomas

These Woodplumpton and Larbreck properties to be held in trust for his nephew James Pedder, provided he was ordained and became Vicar of Garstang (the Pedders had bought the advowson of Garstang vicarage a few years earlier). If James died or refused to be ordained the inheritance passed to his younger brother John, provided he was ordained and became Vicar of Garstang. If they both died or refused ordination then the estates would go into the common pot.

He then provides for his other property in Preston, Elston, Fulwood, Cadley, Bretherton, Greaves Town in Lea, Ashton, Ingol and Cottam, Walton-le-Dale and Layton Hawes ‘or elsewhere in the Kingdom of Great Britain’. These properties are rolled into a trust fund administered by Edward Pedder and his sons Edward junior and James for Edward the eldest son of Edward junior and grandson of Edward until he reaches the age of 24. Should he die before that age then the estate passes to the second brother Richard and so on. If no son survives to 24 then it shall be the first son of Edward’s second son James to reach the age of 24. Failing that it passes to the sons of the James, son of Thomas’s brother James reaching the age of 24. And failing that the sons of his nephew John Pedder. And if all fails then to his ‘right heirs’ forever.

His housekeeper Elizabeth Gibson gets eight guineas a year for life, provided she is in his service at his death.

1 ‘St John, Preston, Baptisms 1725-1752, Page 38, Entry 4. Source: LDS Film 1278740’, n.d.,; ‘St John, Preston, Lancashire, Burials 1781 – 1785, Page 14, Entry 1. Source: LDS Film 1278740’, n.d.,

2 W. A. Abram, Memorials of the Preston Guilds (Preston: Preston Guardian, 1882), 91, 101.

3 David Berry, ed., ‘Preston Court Leet Records’, n.d.,

4 David Berry, ‘Preston Election of 1768 – Propaganda’, Wyre Archaeology Group, accessed 21 July 2022,

5 William Dobson, History of the Parliamentary Representation of Preston: During the Last Hundred Years (Preston: Dobson, 1856), 14,

6 ‘DDX 3073/8 – Bargain and Sale’ (13 August 1755), Lancashire Archives,

7 ‘DDPD 8/10: Particulars of Sale of Larbreck Hall (52 Ac.) with Bids up to £2260 by Thomas Pedder.’ (12 May 1769), Lancashire Archives,

8 Mary Burkett, ‘Christopher Steele 1733-1767’, The Volume of the Walpole Society 53 (1987): 193–225 Fig. 203, not paginated.

9 ‘WRW/A/R113b/62 – Will of Thomas Pedder’ (16 June 1783), Lancashire Archives,

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